The house was beautiful. The ocean blue paint was almost dry on the walls, chairs were set in our living room, the sunshine was streaming in through the windows, and the smell of a wonderful meal waiting for us wafted in from the dining room. My dress was perfect, his suit was flawless, and the stage was set for one of the most special days of our life.
Our guests started arriving. No one really knew what to expect from – or even wear to – a vow renewal in our home and I think they were surprised. We wanted to honor our families after all we had been through. (And all we had put them through).
Our amazing neighbors had kept eyes on our children for 10 minutes while we got dressed and the caterers moved everything inside.
And then the children blew back in the door smelling like wet puppies in August Texas heat. G had managed to keep her hair intact and headed upstairs to put on her dress and shoes like an angel. Brother rolled his eyes to Jupiter and every ounce of sweetness in him went on vacation.
As our loved ones were signing frames and picking up prayer cards, we wrestled our squirming son into a button-down shirt and frantically licked-down and combed his hair. He was most upset because the penny loafer “awesome shoes” we sold him on neither fit him well, nor held a penny as we had promised. Why would someone manufacture a penny loafer whose slot is too small for a penny?!
The pastor had arrived by this point and I realized with a sinking feeling that brother’s brand new pants were… in the washing machine.
I am not perfect, ok? Sometimes I cannot remember to dry my son’s pants for our vow renewal.
We grabbed an old too-short pair and because I did not have time for my brain to melt, I chose to ignore it along with his black tube socks and brown non-penny loafers. The boy had clothes on and although he was pouting like a champ, he had at least stopped complaining. There were biscotti and cake on the counter and they worked as shameless bribes the rest of the evening to get at least a few good backyard pictures out of him.
I have to hand it to the kid – he showed up when it counted.
Fast forward. The other day we were swimming outside and the smell of the jasmine covering the trellis was divine. He paused and quietly said, “Mommy, I wish we had these flowers for our vow renewal.”
Nearly a year later, this little boy remembered that special day. Not his pants, or his shoes, or how mad he was. He remembered the love that filled our home and thought some extra flowers would have been nice too.
Thank you, 6-year-old, for teaching me. How often we get mired in the mess of the moment. How rarely it actually matters in the long run.
I bet there was something that went wrong at your wedding. Hopefully it was closer to “wilted flowers” than “drunk uncle.”
The mishaps are what make it funny. (In hindsight of course.) In the moment it feels like a disaster, like all eyes are on it, like it will single-handedly destroy anything good in the situation.
As we were putting our marriage back together, every setback felt like this. Every new problem, resurfaced hurt, public embarrassment, personal slip-up, felt colossal. Each wound felt unforgivable. All mistakes felt unfixable. Every tiny problem was an Everest.
When you’re right in the middle of the mess, it feels like you’ll never climb out of it. It also feels like everyone is looking at it too.
But they’re not.
People are so wrapped up in their own stuff they mostly have no idea what you’re going through. They worry less about anything we’re doing than what’s going on in their own head.
I realize that probably 75% of my worry and “nervous cat” behavior during that hard year in marriage counseling was my anxiety about what other people were seeing and thinking.
Why did I do that to myself?
How much more quickly could I have found some healing if I had chosen to worry less? What if I had redirected that 75% energy towards my own learning and growth? I would have slept better for sure.
100 years from now, will it matter? What about 1 year from now? Chances are, the answer is no. So why are we fretting when we could enjoy our lives and worry less?
This is not a profound or complicated post today – more than anything it’s a simple reflection on how needlessly preoccupied we get with worry and anxiety over stuff that doesn’t matter. “What other people think” should have absolutely no place in my head or heart. We could use this energy in a million different – better – ways.
Whatever your worry today, my prayer is that you’ll set it free. Worry less. Live more.
God, I cannot solve this problem with my own mind.
You know what it is and it is not bigger than You.
You already know the outcome and I believe You will equip me
with the wisdom, patience, and skills to reach the solution.
Thank you for leading me through this with grace and love.
Help me erase worry from my spirit and keep my eyes on You.
Jessica is a writer, musician, entrepreneur, wife, and mom. Jessica's mission is to write "real" - shining light into the dark places of the tough stuff we all experience. She and her husband Jack live in Houston, Texas and have weathered the storms of grief, infant loss, adoption, and a marriage that almost fell apart. Jessica and Jack have 4 children, LJ in heaven, Grace, Jackson, and brand new baby Elisha.