Dear newlyweds,

Right now you are somewhere in the first couple years of marriage, getting into the rhythm of living with another person that isn’t a sibling or parent. There’s so much to learn, and so many conversations to have as you build this new life together. There’s a lot of laughter and adventure ahead of you, as well as many peaceful moments, as you enjoy the fact that you are now finally together. You can rest in the love you share, and look forward to an amazing future together.

But if you’re anything like Luke and I were when we got married, you’re also wondering when you’re going to get that big house, new car, and land that dream job you’ve been waiting for.

But don’t be in a hurry.

We were in a hurry. We began spending our money according to a pay grade we didn’t earn. We were under the impression that once you got married, things like working cars and nice homes would automatically fall into place. I think it was subconscious, but it was there nonetheless. We didn’t want to live within our means, because that meant living a lifestyle we weren’t used to. I came from renting a beautiful house with five other girls, and only having to worry about myself. Luke came from his parents’ house. Living within our means meant a very strict budget – one that neither of us were used to. It meant it would be a few years before we could get a house…maybe more. I was the only one working for the first six months, and neither of us wanted to accept those financial restrictions.

As that first year went on, we both became really discouraged, and our mismanaged money turned into a mountain of credit card debt. Our friends had all the things we believed we should have, what was wrong with us? Why were we behind in life?

It took moving out to Colorado for us to realize that the reason we were feeling so behind was because all our friends were a life stage or two ahead of us. What I mean by that, is that they were almost a decade older. They’d been married for a while, had kids, and longevity in their careers. When we joined a small group of other young married couples without kids, it blessed our socks off. We all had similar struggles when it came to money, career, and marriage. We were in the same stage of life. Suddenly we fit in – there were others like us who didn’t have a house yet and were just trying to make ends meet.

God also showed us that it’s okay if our life doesn’t follow the normal progression of what seems to be the American Dream – get married, buy a house, have babies, and do this all immediately. He has a unique journey for Luke and I, and as we look to him for direction, peace, and fulfillment, we will have everything we need. He will provide us our daily bread.

We’re not behind. And really, no one’s life is ever as smooth as it looks on the outside. Some people get the nice cars and own their own houses young in life, and some don’t. But we’ve learned some amazing things through our years of “have nots”. We’ve learned appreciation, both for each other and the things we have.

Five years in, through God’s grace, Luke has just landed his dream job, and I’m staying home to write and take care of my husband, the finances and our home. We’re in a great townhouse with the lowest rent we’ve ever had, and we finally have two vehicles again: a Toyota Camry, and an old 1988 Dodge RAM. We couldn’t be happier.

Maybe that doesn’t sound like much to you, but when you’ve walked through what we’ve walked  through, you learn that life is good, and it’s less about the things you have and more about the love and joy you share. We’ve learned that we can be happy with our life. We laugh a lot. We don’t need a new car or a beach house to bring us joy. As long as we have each other and our Lord, we have all we’ll ever need.

Life isn’t meant to be rushed, it’s meant to be lived and enjoyed.