Monday, March 31, 2014

Perspective

I remember my wedding day, nearly eight years ago, pretty clearly. Becoming engaged, registering, picking a dress, showing off my wedding ring (with nary a scratch), and then finally marrying the man of my dreams. It was amazing.
(Moments after we were married...
 Right before we realized that we had no clue what we'd gotten ourselves into)

I also remember thinking to myself how sad I would be when it was all over. And there was nothing left in life to look forward to. Except maybe having the occasional baby now and then. But that was it. I wondered if my friends and relatives who had married years before me felt envious of the beautiful bride and groom, as we danced together, lost in each others eyes. 

I was an idiot, per usual. 

Recently, my youngest (and onlyest) sister, Megan, married the love of her life, and they are living happily ever after. Did I feel jealously on the day of her wedding as I watched her and my handsome new brother-in-law embark on their new romance? In that moment, did I wish I could turn back the clock to my own happiest-day-of-my-life?
(Moments after Megan and Caleb were married...
Right before they realized marriage was no cake walk.)

Quite the opposite, actually.

While memories of my wedding day are warm and happy, being a newlywed was no picnic. For starters, we didn't have jobs, a place to live, or any money whatsoever. I don't know what we were thinking, getting married. My new husband was about to start student teaching in Las Vegas, a place where we had only ever visited in passing. We didn't know anybody but each other (and let's face it, we barely knew each other!) and we were young and stupid.

It was terrifying and lonely, trying to find our place in the world. Through what could only be described as divine intervention, we somehow survived the first few months on the generosity of friends and family who had given us money and gift cards. After the longest few months of my life, I finally got a job, though I still didn't know a soul or have a single friend, aside from my husband. After his student teaching it took him another three months to find a job. I wondered if we'd ever feel like we were on solid ground.

It wasn't too long ago that I found myself driving around in the small suburban neighborhood in Las Vegas that we started our life together. I blame my pregnancy hormones, but I started to cry as I thought about the young newlyweds beginning life with nothing but each other, and the struggles we were faced with. Of course we made it through those first terrifying year, and like the saying goes: what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Those struggles bound us together as a couple and strengthened us both individually and as a family, but I hardly ever look back, and I'm grateful to have lots of ground between us and our beautiful wedding day.

As my sister has approached me multiple times with her own newlywed struggles, as she and her husband attempt to find footing and make sense of life as adults, and as a family, I can offer no other wisdom, except: just keep going. It gets better. Nobody can take away the struggles for you, you just have to work through them. Life's challenges are meant to change us, and in my experience, change never happens without at least a little pain and heartache.

Now I realize the value of experience. That when we look back on life we'll note the highlights of course, but we'll also learn to marvel in the beauty of the ordinary moments that taught us how to be, and who to be. I look forward to partaking in the wisdom and experience that my parents and grandparents have lived and earned.

Perspective is a gift that you earn with your blood, sweat, and tears. Embrace it, and be grateful for what you've been given, and never look back. Onward, always onward. 

1 comment:

Brandee Evarts said...

Thank you Melissa. I have been thinking a lot about just this principle lately. Sometimes it is so hard to look outside of our little realm of existence and see what others are going through. Experience gives us perspective into the struggles and lives of those around us. It makes us more compassionate and more likely to let things go. We are all at different places in our journey and we need to remember that those who we meet along the way are all in different places, experiencing different things and learning and growing. We just need to extend our hands in friendship and helping to those we come across.