I’ve always been a big proponent of counting down days. In my line of work, it’s pretty par for the proverbial course: how many days until the weekend or the next long break or summer? So I’ve gotten good at keeping up with countdowns. Here’s my latest:
2 months, 1 week, 6 days
7 months, 6 days
Whichever suits you best.
If I’m being dramatic, then this is the countdown to when my entire life changes forever; but if I’m choosing to go a little less so, it’s the months or weeks or days until I get married. The story of how we got here is long and complicated, and it will likely find itself the focus of many a blog post–if not something longer–in the coming months; but the getting to the big day over the last few months or so has been a much more trying time than I anticipated.
Our engagement has mostly existed during E’s semester of student teaching, meaning she’s been anywhere from knee-to-neck deep in her school, all the while making sure that L is taken care of and other relationships are covered, too. So while my schedule is all over the place and constantly changing, E’s has been consistently asking much of her. And while the time constraints have begun to melt away in recent weeks, my crazy mind is already trying to think ahead to complications that may arise during the summer months.
And that’s the problem: may arise. I’m a classic over-thinker, especially in terms of thinking ahead and trying to anticipate potential issues that may come up. But the truth is I never know, there’s no way for me to know, and that in all honesty, all I’m doing is adding unnecessary stress by majoring on the not-yet. The extra stress pushes me to the edge of anxiety, forcing me to add more stress on E that she doesn’t need.
And this is all self-inflicted and wildly detrimental.
Here’s the thing about the countdown, though: I think it’s a very telling obsession of mine. To be honest, I’ve gone back and forth on my feelings regarding wedding planning and the whole process of getting past the next 72 days and onto the rest of our life together. There are days where I want to be heavily involved (although for various reasons that doesn’t always work out anyway) and there are days (and this is my overwhelming go-to position) where I’m just ready for it all to be over. And that’s the thing about the counting down in my eyes. I’m looking so far ahead because that’s where I prefer to be, not necessarily because I fully hate being a part of this process. But it also means I don’t stay in the moment and am easily frustrated by the fact that I don’t own a TARDIS so I can skip ahead to the “good” part.
But that’s dangerous, because it assumes that no good can come from this period of life, that it’s just a piece to survive or get through as opposed to enjoy or learn from. Instead of embracing opportunities to grow, I get stuck looking forward and forget to live in the now. In doing so, I also signal what I’m trusting in and I miss this:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25-34)
And that should be the most vital thing here. Yes, I am also missing out on chances to grow my relationship with E, to show her my best self as often as I can and embrace more of my soon-to-be wife and her family; but those elements feel secondary in this case. The thing is, it’s on me to give of myself and get out of my own way.
Maybe I’ll still keep the countdown, though. It maintains the high levels of excitement. And that matters quite a bit, too.