I thought 2019 was difficult. Then what happened? We were all hit with arguably the most unpredictable, unsettling, emotionally draining year of the century… and perhaps the most life-giving year for some, myself included.
Now allow me to preface this by saying I truly cannot overlook the pain and trauma that this year has brought into so many lives. For many, 2020 was a year defined by loss in countless forms. I, too, experienced loss. I lost my job. I said goodbye to plans I had for years. Even my wedding plans seemed to be sucked down the drain before my own eyes. Yet what God gave me was far greater than anything I “lost.” I didn’t really lose — God simply replaced my expectations with what turned out to be better.
2020 kicked off, and I couldn’t wait to marry the love of my life. I had waited for so long! We had planned so many pieces of our dream wedding during our two-year engagement, and everything was falling into place… or so we thought.
“Coronavirus” suddenly stole headlines, coming out of what seemed like left field to me. It felt distant, until it no longer did. I’ll never forget the day I heard the first case had been reported in our county. Lockdowns were imminent, businesses were suddenly shutting down, and then my work indicated that we would all be working from home, effective immediately. In a matter of several weeks, conversations surrounding layoffs became frequent, and inevitable anxiety about our wedding plans rapidly grew in intensity.
I knew I needed to conquer one battle at a time, as my multitasking abilities only reach so far. So I began applying proactively for other jobs, since it became quite clear that layoffs were on the horizon at my company. Along with that, my now-husband and I began brainstorming solutions in advance to our wedding problem, which was only heightening in complexity.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore, where we had been planning on holding our wedding for two years, halted all matrimonial ceremonies due to the governor’s orders surrounding group gatherings. And of course, Baltimore’s tentative lockdown date had been extended beyond our original wedding date of June 13th. This also meant that the Circuit Court, responsible for issuing marriage licenses, was closed indefinitely. Our wedding plans seemed to suddenly be paused, and we felt cornered by sudden restrictions from every angle for reasons outside of our control.
My husband and I evaluated our priorities, diving deep into the plans we had for several years and honestly evaluating our hopes from that moment forward. We realized we just wanted to be joined together in Holy Matrimony, regardless of the circumstances. With that, we received support from the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, where marriage ceremonies were still being held, to move our wedding across state lines.
Against what is typically traditional, we found a priest we had never met who was willing to host our gathering of eleven people (nine guests plus the happy couple) at a parish we had never attended. We became parishioners there, and somehow managed to move our wedding date forward to May 29th, following tons (and I mean tons!) of paperwork. A local family-owned ice creamery agreed to host our small reception, complete with milkshakes and sundaes, hot dogs, fries, and canned soda. We were happy. We felt peace.
Fast forward two weeks to our honeymoon. We decided to put our health in the Lord’s hands and traveled to Wyoming, where we would spend two weeks on a secluded ranch, horseback riding and enjoying the scenery with limited phone service. One morning, we headed into town for iced lattes with some of the ranch staff, and I received a phone call. My new job offer, which I had accepted after leaving my previous position, had fallen through due to COVID. I was flabbergasted, but I remember saying aloud that I trusted I would find another opportunity soon, and that I would continue to enjoy our honeymoon.
I also felt physically strange that day, and felt a strong calling to stop at the local drugstore on the way back to the ranch to pick up a pregnancy test. About one hour after I found out I had lost my job, we learned that we were expecting our first child. Joy overtook us again, during what was certainly the most confusing morning of my life. The anxiety surrounding my job had faded in the distance as we celebrated this new life within me.
Needless to say, the past few months since then have been a whirlwind. Our wedding plans were entirely different than we thought they’d be, but we knew God wanted our wedding to be exactly the way it was for a reason. I still laugh, knowing the reception fit for a king and queen my parents had planned on throwing us was replaced almost overnight with a $180 hot dog dinner… and it was perfect. Then I showed up to countless job interviews after suffering from morning sickness, only able to drink chocolate milk and eat toast on some days, and God blessed me with an amazing new career path that is even better than my previous opportunity. And my favorite part? My husband and I have gotten to know our son through heartbeat scans, ultrasounds, and belly kicks, and he will be here in just a couple of months now. Despite the challenges, time has flown, and God has been gracious.
2020 has still presented us with some unresolved challenges, but that’s okay. We are trusting in Him. And the best part is knowing how much we have to look forward to, with such beautiful and incredible blessings coming out of this confusing, baffling year. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
If all of your plans have been ruined this year and you are feeling down, rest assured that God is with you in the mess and He has not forgotten you. God has a plan and it is Good, so place your trust in Him.
Siena Michaud is a newlywed and mother-to-be, residing with her husband, German Shepherd, and tabby cat in Northern Virginia.