Sunday, April 27, 2014
A Love Story
This May will mark the tenth anniversary of my college commencement ceremony and the fifteenth anniversary of my high school graduation.
In between those two milestones, a more significant milestone occurred. My love story.
You see, I had been courted for my entire childhood. Told of a love so deep it surpassed all other loves. And? My insecurities, especially in my non-perfect-skin pre-teen and teenage years caused me to despair that I would never really know love. This other love, though, TRUE love, still enticed me and beckoned to me.
Once in college, I was surprised and flattered at the attention I began to receive, feeling as though I'd finally passed my ugly duckling phase. Infatuation led to heartbreak, however, as those short-term relationships flickered and then fizzled, leaving me less than satisfied.
In the spring of the year 2000 I had been in a relationship where I'd compromised my standards, believing this was true love, and ignoring all the other signs pointing to infatuation. I longed so badly to be special and cherished and loved, that I threw everything I could into a doomed relationship. (He had recently broken up with a long-term girlfriend and I was the rebound)
I had been avoiding church to spend time with this boyfriend, so I sheepishly returned on a Sunday just after our break-up. The pastor was speaking on The Prodigal Son.
Oh how that message was different to me this time. God weeping with joy and open arms that I had returned! No lectures or shame or judgment, but simply LOVE!
I went for a drive after the sermon, my mascara most likely wiped all over my face, and pulled off to the side of the road. In Nebraska, where I attended college, there were many open fields. And in that field, I made a promise to a God who had always loved me, that I would never again pursue a relationship without Him.
The next year, after a 6 month "courtship" that was long-distance and also ended in heartache, I felt that perhaps my dream of being a married mother of four was not going to be fulfilled. That caused some grief and anger in my heart. I again bared my heart to God and demanded that, "If this is what you have for me, help me to be okay with it! Because right now? I'm really angry!" (Angry and sobbing at the same time. I had always dreamt of being a mom. I thought I would make a good mother.)
For two years, I wrestled with God to allow Him to replace that need for a husband within my heart. Slowly, I began to accept my destiny. I still had small infatuations but I never put energy into them. One of my younger sisters got married. Shortly after, another of my younger sisters got engaged. There was a lot of doubt in my mind, and coupled with that, I had braces on my teeth for the first time and had gained some college weight that wouldn't seem to leave despite my best efforts!
Just before my fifth year of college I was in love with Jesus. I could pray, and His thoughts would interrupt my own, reassuring me or confirming something I'd just read in my daily Bible readings. That summer I drove 1,000 miles away to my grade-school best friend's college town for a summer job.
To make this shorter, I ended up becoming deep friends with one of her friends, and we eventually pursued a relationship. I again had a deep conversation with God, "What are you doing?! Don't screw this up! I don't want a relationship! I am perfectly happy with you! How will I be able to have room for you in my heart if I let him in?!!!"
Because a husband was no longer my idol, God used Dave to show me that it was my heart that was beautiful. As my self-confidence soared, my depression lifted, I was caring better for myself, and got back to a healthy weight. I got my braces off that fall after I returned to college for my final year.
By Christmas time, though we hadn't seen each other in over three months, we were fully committed and had spoken every other day for hours on the phone. He proposed, I said yes, and four months after graduation, we were married.
That love story I was speaking of? The one I always wanted? Truly, it was that ever-satisfying love that I first developed with my Jesus.
"but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:14)
And today? Almost ten years after I said "I do" to my husband, and 14 years after I said "Your will be done" to God? I am more in love than I ever could have imagined. That God of the Universe that created me also cares for me and stirs my heart to compassion. Consoles me through some of the darkest days I've ever experienced (a lost pregnancy), and ultimately waits while I wrestle through extreme emotions until I'm spent and ready to be held and loved. He fills my heart with joy even when I am choosing to let my circumstances overwhelm and stress me.I am so thankful He allowed me to realize my dream of becoming a mother, but I underestimated how much I would need His help to navigate these uncharted waters.
Through it all, it is becoming more about Him and sharing His love with others, and wanting everybody I know to experience their own beautiful love story.
I am glad to be journeying together with you!