As many of you know, I recently got married to my perfect man and long-time boyfriend, Matt. Making the decision to marry Matt was easy – he’s the most wonderful man I’ve ever known and I’m a lucky woman. For me, the hardest part of the entire marriage process was filling out the marriage application. Why, you ask? You may or may not know that I’ve been married before – twice. Matt is number three for me; however, I didn’t realize I would have to indicate this on the marriage license application.
The question stared me in the face: “What number marriage is this?” Of course, it’s no secret to anyone who knows both Matt and me that this would be my third marriage but something about having to actually write it down on a piece of paper made me cringe. UGH, I thought, as my heart sank. I have to document this in writing…. And then I wondered if I’d have to bring proof of my prior divorces to the courthouse with me. More dread filled my gut. I pushed aside the marriage license application and decided I’d fill it out at a later date.
Eventually it was time for us to go to the courthouse and get the marriage license so I had no choice but to complete the application. We were getting ready to leave and Matt sensed my anxiety as I dug through old file drawers to recover my divorce documents, name change documents, and anything else I thought I might need to prove that I was truly divorced and able to marry this wonderful man. I was visibly upset and agitated and, of course, Matt inquired about why. I told him I was bothered by the fact that I had to write the number “three” next to the question “What number marriage is this?” In a way only he could, Matt looked at me with his empathetic, caring, concerned blue eyes, laughed softly and in the kindest tone, said, “Seriously? You’re going to let that number define you? And our marriage?” And then he hugged me and said, “Come on, it’s time to go”.
That was definitely a light bulb moment for me. For several weeks, I had been stressing and anxious about writing a number on a piece of paper. I was letting that number define me when, after hearing what Matt said, it was so obvious that the only weight that number truly carried was the weight I gave it. It meant nothing to him and yet, for a short period of time, I was letting it define me because it reminded me of past failures. It reminded me of things I was not necessarily proud of but that I learned from and have gotten me where I am today. Those failures enabled me to get to Matt. For that, I am eternally grateful.
I know I am much more than any number or title on a piece of paper yet, it was a reminder of how strongly we can identify with things like numbers or titles and how we often let them define us. This carries into so many areas of our lives – titles we have in our jobs, roles we play in our families. What happens when those titles or identifiers disappear? What are we left with? The lesson and reminder for me was that titles I hold, certifications or higher education degree letters next to my name, and anything external to me does not define me. What defines me is the value within my heart. I must identify with what I know is true about the person I am. What should define us are those things that can never be taken away from us. It’s what will remain when one day, all the titles and numbers that you identify with today are no longer there.
Who are you without the title or the number? What defines you? I’d love to hear some of your thoughts! Feel free to comment below or visit us on Facebook and add your comments there!