Shadi, it has been one of my deepest honors to have called you mine for the last half decade! 5 years of celebrating our birthdays, failures, successes, new jobs, and continually learning how to give each other the space to come into our own as young professionals.
When I was a sophomore in college, I remember praying – “God, I’m really okay with being single for the rest of college. But if you want to surprise me, that’s okay too.”
Shadi lived in my dorm when we were freshmen, and we had really never had a conversation until a year and half later. Shadi was the BEST surprise.
If I could go back in time to exactly 5 years ago, here’s what I would tell myself:
#1 Marriage is an everyday choosing.
When Shadi and I first started dating, we were only 19 and 20. Since we were essentially still teenagers, marriage seemed like an incredibly difficult commitment. The longer we’re together, the more comforting it is that each day is an opportunity to choose each other. We can’t will ourselves to promise 70 years in this moment, it’s an everyday choosing.
#2 Conflict isn’t the end of the world.
Before meeting Shadi, I was horrible at conflict resolution. Bringing up conflict, talking through a conflict — I was so utterly uncomfortable with the whole thing. Fortunately, Shadi is pretty much the king of bringing up conflict without it being an attack or an overwhelming endeavor. After 5 years, I’ve learned that conflict can not only be handled, it can be a tool to deepen and grow our relationship.
#3 Your job will not, and should not, define you.
Shadi and I have had to relearn over and over again that a job will not fully satisfy. No matter how creative, flexible, or fun a job may seem, work is work. Both of us have taken our turns feeling disappointed when a job fell through on our expectations.
#4 Give each other space to have your own relationships with God, then and only then, do that together.
Growing up, I really wanted to be with someone who would encourage me in my faith. As a teenager, I had no idea what that should look like in a relationship in my own life. I’m so glad Shadi and I grew in that area of our lives separately before we started dating, and then got to encourage our individual walks with Jesus. I cannot stress enough how thankful I am that Shadi willingly prays over me, challenges me, and reminds me who I am in Christ! What a gift.
#5 Make room for new experiences.
Shadi makes fun of me for getting the same exact meal at every restaurant, but I am such a creature of habit! I like consistency and predictability, but he encourages me to go outside my comfort zone. We even created a 2018 date night bucket list to create more accountability to try new things! (You can check that out here).