When I chose "voice" for my word for 2020, I knew immediately that I would need to tell this story. One that has been forming for over a decade. I wasn't sure what it would look like to pour out the words of this story without melting into a blubbering puddle in the first syllables. A few weeks ago on the beach with my husband, I began with these words, "I have dreamed of a moment like this my entire life, but the past 10 years of our marriage have exceeded anything I could have ever dreamed up or asked for..." He has always been the person I pictured, but our wedding day 10 years ago, was not what I had ever pictured.
During our wedding ceremony I passed out and headed with my new husband to the ER while our wedding continued. I was entering marriage at 21 and found myself facing grief head on. That one day has triggered a long road of healing. Not in the ways you may imagine either. I didn't miss the cake, the dancing, the toasts. Throughout the years people have expressed feeling sorry for me over missing those experiences, but those weren't the real issue. All I wanted was for people to forget. Forget the whole day entirely. See, my core desire my whole life had been to not look weak in front of anyone, ever. It has guided basically everything I've done. Yet, in this moment I felt like the vision I had of myself and the one that I had created for people, was shattered into a million pieces at that altar, even though it was something completely out of my control. This was too memorable to ever be repaired. I had taught myself to forget hard experiences, but I knew I couldn't make 250 of our closest friends and family forget.
I didn't feel angry with God. I was just always confused on how this story was going to weave into our lives in a purposeful way. I couldn't see it. In no way do I believe that this was the day God planned for us. I also know that He is the best story spinner to ever be and that He can make anything speak to glorify him. I have written here before that I struggled with anxiety and depression as a kid and teen. Going into marriage at 21, I thought that period of my life was done. I didn't know it at the time, but this event triggered things that had been growing inside of me for years. Now, in my early 20's anxiety came back head on with panic attacks along with it. I would manage the best that I could, with help from my amazing husband, and then it would pass. I cycled through periods like this for years on and off. In the spring of 2015 after my Grandma died, the anxiety and panic attacks I was experiencing were starting to show signs of becoming debilitating. I knew I needed external help. I started therapy, and God used it to shift my life. It only took the first 15 minutes of my session for me to mention my wedding experience. Much of my panic attacks and anxiety were triggered at public/social events. Quick breathing, shallow breaths, my hands would go numb and I felt like I just needed to bolt out of the room. Always afraid to look weak again or to ruin someone else's day. As therapy progressed I could tell that the healing was about so much more than this one event, as almost everything is. I started to get many strategies from my therapist, and God did so much heart work in this time. I slowly decreased the amount of time I saw her over two years as I was learning how to manage better on my own.
Fastforward to a few months ago. We had just celebrated 10 years of marriage and have an incredible two year old son. It hadn't been the most amazing year for me personally, but thankfully for the hard heart work from counseling I was doing surprisingly well and managing in situations that would have used to sent me spiraling. I was reorganizing our bedroom when I came across a framed wedding picture that we have kept out on and off in our home depending on how I'm feeling about it. I immediately started bawling. After all of this time I thought that I would have an epiphany day where I would be brave enough to display these pictures throughout my home for people to see. It had been 10 years and I still didn't feel that way. In that moment with God I let down my guard and allowed myself to be okay with it not being okay. I didn't want to see a daily reminder of what that day looked like, even though I adore the person that was with me in it. God immediately showed me a new dream of us on a beach doing this again. He began speaking to me about the healing he was bringing, and my word for the year "Voice" was born out of this moment.
My sweet husband was all in, and we planned to have this be in the first month of 2020 to start our year. An amazing woman from our church did photography for us, and was the perfect peaceful presence. That day on the beach I didn't experience any of the looming feelings that I thought I would. We laughed, danced, listened to our son play his guitar, and ran into the water together.
So this is me breaking the silence and exposing the shattered pieces of my life to an even larger group. Why? Because this is what God does, taking the broken pieces of life and building something better than we could ever plan on our own. I don't know what life would have looked like if the first day had gone perfectly. I do know that it caused enough anxiety in my heart and mind to finally make the choice to seek help with things I had been trying to manage my whole life. Then I added counseling tools (my husband and I still agree that counseling is some of the best money we've ever spent #plug) and was able to manage at a higher level. I was not being brought down by things that would used to have thrown me. The theme of all of this being managing. Then comes God, meeting me right where I'm at, cleaning in my bedroom and giving me a gift that brings me beyond managing and into thriving. He is true transformation. The only one that knows me well enough to offer the exact healing my heart needs. I find myself already growing in appreciation for details of our first wedding day. I appreciate our incredible families that support us every day, our amazing friends who we still love doing life with, even the photos that remind us of the sweet person who took them who is now with Jesus, and for the same person I'm standing next to in each one who dreams big and is willing to run into the waves with me.