Double tap. Scroll. “So happy to be marrying my best friend!” flashes onto my screen. Tap. Tap. Scroll. “The Lord provides, and I can’t wait to take these next steps with him…” Double tap. Scroll. “Only 160 days till we’re man and wife.”

The screen dims, and something small in me sinks. I’m being pursued by a man who, quite frankly, I can’t get enough of. He is strong, considerate and kind – everything I could want and more. Our two year anniversary is in July. We’re running together toward what we believe is the final role for man and woman: husband and wife. If that weren’t the goal, we wouldn’t be together in the first place. And yet, the sinking feeling persists.

No matter how much I dream, no matter how much my sorority sisters ask, no matter how many wedding bloggers’ posts I favorite, the fact of the matter is that he and I won’t be tying the knot in the spring of next year. The course we’ve been set on simply does not veer at the scenic overlook of “22 year-old bride and groom, no flash photography please.”

 

Reasons why are multiple: financially we aren’t prepared, we want time to develop as individuals and to date outside of a college campus– all valid and understandable. The point I’m trying to get across is that reality is tugging me farther and farther away from the fantasy I’ve been told to believe in.

Double tap. Scroll.

Being raised by a family of young brides, attending a Baptist university in the South, joining a wonderful but expectant sorority and, to cap it off, meeting my boyfriend on campus are a few of the many factors placing a hefty weight on my shoulders.

Internally and externally, I’ve been known to perform with excellence in everything to do. I perform at my hardest when watched, and I honestly won’t stop until an outside voice tells me I’ve done well enough and deserve a break. So, when given a task that ends in something borrowed and something blue, you can bet I’ve tried to micromanage and manhandle every detail of my relationship until it could end with me, degree in one hand, and a 2.2 carat round, rose gold (size five) on the other.

The forces around me are saying that at this point in our relationship, Will and I should be talking about marriage. We should be looking for rings in about six to eight months from now. We should be examining internships in close proximity to one another, and oh, don’t forget to look in Austin, because that’s where his family is from, right?

Double tap. Scroll.

Not right. But, it took us a year and a half to realize we didn’t need to be right. In fact, we didn’t need to be anything to anyone, except wholeheartedly ourselves and, for us, wholeheartedly running toward the Cross. But, we quickly realized that run couldn’t be a three-legged race, dependent on one another. My run must be entirely my own.

Having to take the wool from our eyes and put blinders on to only see what is ahead has been the hardest road bump for us to pass over. What is great for everyone is not necessarily great for us, and that is okay. There is simply more life to live before we can get to that point. If anything, the conversations of doubt and uncertainty have placed necessary barriers up around my own heart. My identity is being bent to be found in the eternal, and not the coveted or most-frequently-liked.

The scrolling slows, and my screen darkens completely.

What Will and I have is something worth waking up, rolling around and sleepy-smiling over. It is leading and following, perfecting patience and learning to not take ourselves too seriously. It is dinners made, drives taken and looking doubt dead in the face because we know that regardless of each turn in the road, we are taken care of. And while that road may not be what the expectations and cravings are screaming for, it is just what I need.  

“Our Own Road: Dating Amidst ‘Ring by Spring’ Culture”
Photo courtesy of: Stephanie Welch