The snow clung to the trees on Saturday in a wistful, woeful spectacle of white. It was cold outside, but as soon as it was light enough and we were awake enough, we donned hats and coats and gloves and raced ourselves right out into the magical brightness that six inches of snow created.
Just the day before, my friend Laura had wondered about the snow, whether there would be a fresh falling for my wedding day. “Wouldn’t that be sweet?” she had said. “God sending down his blessings over your promises…” She meant my wedding day that was planned for January 19. She didn’t know that her very wishing was coming true on the day she wrote it, December 28, my actual wedding day.
And so the snowy adventure with my hand held firmly in the hand of my husband was actually my first morning as a married woman. And the softness of the snow that smoothed over the rough places in the world around me reminded me so clearly of the softness of God’s grace that does a similar soothing in the scratchy places in our lives and hearts.
It wasn’t our plan to get married on December 28. But it was God’s plan.
Two weeks earlier, Steve and I were sitting together in Starbucks still reeling over the news we had gotten the night before that my cancer was back. It wasn’t supposed to be like that. I was doing so well – am doing so well – and it seemed possible, likely even, that I had seen the last of it. I don’t know if I would ever have even thought of dating if I hadn’t felt some confidence that cancer was in my past.
But on a routine CT scan, my doctor found the tiniest little pea of a tumor, just like the last two recurrences, and if it is even possible that one person can have cancer four times and still be called a “best case scenario,” that’s how the doctor described.
“Don’t change any of your plans,” he had told me over the phone, hating to break the news that way. “It’s just like before. We’ll get it taken care of and get you back to remission.”
I pressed “end” on the call and then burst into tears. I screamed at the Lord; it’s true. I asked him “why” and just kept telling him “no.” Like I was four. “This is the worst possible timing,” I prayed. And even as I said it out loud, I felt the sting of the words that had been written in the comments just that day of my post on The High Calling in which I finally revealed I was engaged. It was God’s timing that people kept invoking for this happy occasion. His wonderful, perfect timing, they had said.
It felt right to talk about his timing that way when the news was in my favor. When the news went the other way, I struggled to believe it.
That night in Starbucks, Steve hatched a plan. What if we just went ahead and got married? Amid all of the uncertainty, facing down another surgery and more radiation, and under the likely reality that not all plans could remain unchanged and I still get the treatment I need when I need it, we decided to pray whether God’s wonderful and perfect timing might mean marrying a little earlier.
As we parted for the night, I felt the deep and abiding love of Jesus through the embrace of my fiancé who wanted me more, not less, in the face of uncertainty and pain.
Three weeks later, our plans still remain uncertain as holidays and weather events and vacation schedules have made coordinating my treatment among several doctors more difficult. It’s likely in the next 2-3 weeks I will have surgery, and then 4-5 weeks later I will start radiation. Whether Steve and I are able to still celebrate our marriage with our friends and family on the 19th is up in the air. And a trip to California we had planned the week after that also is uncertain.
Honestly, we are struggling not to bend under the weight of all the future uncertainties, the number of which could break us if we let them.
But what we do know is that God brought us each to an altar of grace where we made promises to each other for a lifetime. It wasn’t the way we planned; it was better. Perfectly and wonderfully better.
I have a new name! Over the next few weeks and months you will see my identity shifting from Charity Singleton to Charity Singleton Craig. I am honored to take my husband’s name, and thankful to keep my maiden name as my middle name. So that people might recognize that it’s me, I’ll use all three names in my writing and online presence.
And will you pray? My doctors are so, so encouraged and optimistic. But sometimes, I feel so fearful.