The music started as I took my place behind the double doors. Arm in arm with my dad, I felt my heart beating faster and my hands began to sweat. To be honest, I was afraid my giant bouquet would slip from my grip but somehow I managed to hold onto it long.
The high note played, I took a deep breath, looked at my dad, and the doors opened. I saw my groom’s misty-eyed face crack a smile at me and I could feel the earth beneath me shake. I took my first step toward my future – and then another, and another.
As I walked down the aisle little by little, I didn’t notice the extensive decorations I had spent months researching, designing, preparing, and purchasing. I didn’t notice how imperfect or perfect the mismatched bridesmaid dresses we took so much time coordinating looked against the back wall of the little white country chapel. I didn’t notice the eucalyptus boutonnieres and navy tuxedos I had spent so much time pinning on Pinterest. I forgot about all the days leading up to this very moment.
Because when the doors opened, I only saw one thing: home.
I saw my former home in the face of the man walking next to me – the man whose black hair had turned grey, the man who raised me in his home for so many years. I looked ahead and I saw my new home in the face of my groom – the young man with a twinkle in his eye, the man whose arms I would dwell in for the rest of my days here on earth. I saw my heavenly home in the old rugged cross displayed just a few feet behind my groom.
A few months have passed since my wedding day. As I’ve settled into my new home and faced the beauties and challenges that come with being a newlywed, I’ve nearly forgotten the feeling I had when those doors opened. However, I was recently reminded of it when a friend asked me a powerful question:
What would you have done differently before your wedding if you could go back and do it again?
I was stumped. I hadn’t thought about that. I told her I would get back to her.
A few weeks later, as I carried some wedding decorations out to the recycling bin, I reflected on all the time I spent looking for these very decorations. And now, here I was, preparing to get rid of them. I no longer needed them. They no longer held the same value to me that they once did. I opened the lid, tossed them in, and didn’t look back.
In that moment, the answer to my friend’s question became very clear.
At first, I was tempted to tell her that I wouldn’t have spent so much time worrying about the things I can’t control. I would have liked to say that I would have focused less on the details throughout the planning process. Don’t get me wrong, to some extent, that’s true. But then I realized the real, honest answer that I had to give. And I’m going to whisper it to you because it was at once simple, yet profound:
If I could go back to before my wedding, I wouldn’t have changed anything. I wouldn’t have changed a single thing.
Yes, I spent far too much time perfecting every detail beforehand. But I’m grateful for the late nights and long shopping trips with my mom and friends. As a result, we learned to problem solve and be creative together.
Yes, I could have done without Pinterest because it served as a vessel of comparison, constantly reminding me of all the ways all that I had done wasn’t enough. I actually had all intentions to delete it six months before the big day but I didn’t end up deleting it until six weeks before the big day. But I’m grateful for what it taught me — that despite my best effort on my best day, my life isn’t made to look like a Pinterest board. And that’s okay.
Yes, I could have done without having to change our wedding date three times due to my husband’s football career. But I’m grateful for the ways that those changes challenged us, strengthened our relationship, and our trust in the bigger plan.
… I’m grateful for what it taught me — that despite my best effort on my best day, my life isn’t made to look like a Pinterest board. And that’s okay.
Yes, I could have done without all the meetings with the florist. But I’m grateful for the relationship I was able to develop with her along the way. Her giving heart reminded me to serve others wholeheartedly because that’s when our work is the most rewarding and fruitful.
Yes, there were a lot of unnecessary components and headaches I could have done without. And yes, I know my selfish heart got in the way sometimes. But you know what? When it was all said and done, I stepped into that day a bride and I stepped out of it a wife. And that’s all that really matters.
I think that the temptation to wish for a do-over, to change something about our decisions or stories can become overwhelming. Regret tends to haunt us like an ugly spirit – sometimes so much so that we dwell on what we could have done instead of really being present in what we are doing.
The reality is that we aren’t going to do this life perfectly. We aren’t always going to get it right and when it comes down to it, we might realize that we’ve lost sight of the bigger picture.
But there’s a glory that surrounds us each and every moment. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss it. I don’t want to be too busy living in the Land of the Should-Haves or Valley of the Could-Haves. And I’d bet that you don’t, either.
So if you’re wrestling with regret, caught up in comparison, or overthinking your decisions from yesterday, please remember to keep walking forward and fix your focus.
… I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss it. I don’t want to be too busy living in the Land of the Should-Haves or Valley of the Could-Haves.
There will always be weddings that look more beautiful than yours – but there won’t be a love story more beautiful than yours. In other words, the outside of another’s life may look prettier on a Pinterest board than yours does. And there will always be the temptation to compare your insides to somebody else’s outsides. But before you do, remember that every chapter of your story serves a purpose.
And in your last breath, when you get to the last few pages and reach your happy ending, all the work and mistakes and broken pieces from the days leading up to it won’t even be worth looking back on.
So hold on tight. Keep on walking, one step at a time. I promise, even when life is daring you to fear change and challenging you to regret every last step, if you fix your eyes ahead, then you’ll make it home – even with a racing heart, sweaty palms, and all.
Images via Bethany Schrock