This is supposed to be one of the happiest times of my life. I’m engaged and planning a wedding. Shouldn’t I be all aglow? High on love and drunk on happ’ly-ever-after?
I’m pretty sure I should be day-dreaming about forever and doodling Mrs. Jason Redmon on my notebooks complete with little hearts.
Instead, I’m battling panic. What began as low grade anxiety and uneasiness has been rising and has reached my eyes where it spills out as my old companion, tears. Hot pools of fear well up in the corner of my eyes, get caught in my lashes, and tattle on me to my friends and family when they break loose to make their way down my smiling face.
The thing is, I’m worried. And I don’t worry well.
Anxiety is one old friend I did not want at my wedding. I sent her no invite. I don’t need her help. Yet, here she comes nosing around and getting involved in every aspect. She pretends she has come to help: “Just want to make sure you’re not forgetting anything,” and “Have you really considered every detail,” and “Let’s make lists and lists and lists of what we need to do.” Yet the truth is she has only come to sow seeds of doubt and worry, like an embittered envious long-time rival. How do I send her packing?
She’s got me worried about the planning. Weddings are awash in detail. What color should the ribbon ’round the flowers be? What shall we use to decorate the aisle? What will the guests eat? Where will they sit? Who’s minding the guest book? Who’s arranging the flowers? How much do we tip the minister? What song will you walk down the aisle to? First dance to? Who will stand where? Who is invited? Who is actually coming? How many? Where? When? How? So many questions I don’t know the answer to and frankly, care little about. Detail has always overwhelmed me and anxiety knows this.
It will all be fine, I argue with her. Mom and her army of volunteers are handling all this detail so I don’t have to. So many people have offered to help. It’s all being taking care of. Just leave it alone.
Anxiety whispers back, “There’s too many balls in the air. You’re going to forget something crucial.”
She’s got me worried about the money. Every aspect of a wedding has a price tag attached. Dresses and alterations, shoes and jewelry, make-up and hair and nails. The church has a fee. The flowers must be purchased. How much do I tip the minister? How will I afford to feed all these people? Anxiety turns into a stern accountant and follows me around tallying up expenses and tut-tutting.
I assure her that it will be fine. My relatives have been more than generous. My gracious parents have picked up virtually every cost so far. We’re not extravagant people. It is going to be a simple wedding on the cheap.
But Anxiety will not be dissuaded. She reminds me, “If there’s one thing you and Jason don’t have enough of, it’s money,” and “Your credit card balance is becoming unmanageable again.”
She’s got me worried about the future. Are you prepared to be a wicked stepmother? How are four teen-aged girls going to live in one three bedroom house? Maybe you should move. Someone’s going to have to move somewhere. You should never have agreed to marry a man who lives in a different state. Has Jason found a job in Arizona yet? You’ll probably have to move to Colorado and start all over again. Do you remember what happened the last time you moved. It almost broke you.
I remind her that God is good and he’s got my future in his hands. I counter back with verses, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with Thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Anxiety takes malicious pleasure in reminding me that God has led me through dark and difficult places before and she fears he is likely doing it again.
She’s got me worried about the forever. Anxiety remembers every failed relationship I’ve ever had and every heart I’ve ever broken. She likes to dredge up the fact that I have always had commitment problems. She keeps bringing up that I always run from the hard stuff. Are you really fit for marriage, she wonders. Some people just weren’t made for forever.
I am not who I was, I spit back at anxiety. All that was many years ago and I have healed. I love Jason and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, am going to be an amazing wife to him.
Anxiety laughs and recites the same old ugly lies, “Broken beyond repair. Incapable of real love. Destroyer of good men.”
She is trying to steal my joy and rob me of peace. Anxiety, however much she insists she is just here to help, has never been a friend. Her to-do lists, friendly little reminders, whispered warnings, and unsolicited advice are no longer welcome in my life. They certainly have no place in my wedding.
Today I will choose Joy.
Photo credit: 20101205-Steph&Jeff’s Wedding by Vincent Miao. Flickr. Used under creative commons license.