This is part 1 of our love story. It is by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever tried to put to words. It’s nearly impossible to communicate the emotions, the love, that led to and was our marriage. I’ve tried to draft this many times in the last few months without success. I want it to read as perfectly as it was felt. I’ve come to realize it’s just not possible. How do you accurately describe someone that felt like home? How do you communicate all the ways he made me feel protected, alive, accepted, joyful, understood, forgiven and loved? It’s not possible to share with you all the ways he filled my heart. He was my best friend, the person who completed me. I love words, but they fail me when it comes to sharing with you how I felt about him. I’m going to try though, so here’s my imperfect version of our imperfect story.
In 1995, I was a very lost 23-year-old. I’d spent much of my early twenties seeking happiness where it doesn’t live. I was looking for fulfillment, love, and acceptance in all the wrong places, which led to an unexpected pregnancy. Later that year I delivered my firstborn. I was on bed rest for a month before her arrival and was laid off from my job at the same time. Just super. The future was bleak and it was truly one of the scariest times in my life. I was ashamed, scared and felt broken. But this precious newborn was the beginning of my transformation and inspired me to change paths to a road that would lead to redemption, healing and forgiveness instead of pain and heartache. It was this uncertain and dark time that allowed me my first understanding of God’s grace. It seems I’ve always required “extra grace.”
The first years of B’s life were difficult for me. I was the best Mom I could be, but I struggled financially and emotionally. Raising a baby alone was hard! But I can look back now and clearly see how God placed people in our lives that would be instrumental in drawing me closer to Him. The small town church that hosted a baby shower for me and prayed with me at the hospital, the co-worker who just lost his preschool-aged son yet made the effort to invite me to his church, the group of ladies at our eventual church home who would encourage, help, defend and love me…so many who looked out for us and showed us God’s love. None of this by chance or luck. It was God’s plan.
Fast forward to 2001. B was now six years old. I graduated college,
was holding down a decent job and staying mostly afloat on all fronts. My relationship with God was growing deeper and wider and I was feeling mostly content with my life. It wasn’t perfect, but I was doing ok. I was looking for a way to serve at church again and so I responded to a call for singers and instrumentalists to form a new worship band at church. I remember gathering in a basement meeting room with people I had never met. One, a sort of nerd meets mountain-man looking guitar player named Mark.
We went around the table and introduced ourselves. I learned he grew up in the same state I was from and that he was super smart and single. No sparks, but duly noted. We began rehearsals that summer and named our band Soli Deo (God Alone). Soon it was clear this was more than a band. This was our small group. This was family. Weekly rehearsals and time spent laughing, singing, worshiping, and glorifying God together – it was special. B would often come to rehearsals with me – she was part of the Soli Deo family too. We prayed for each other, celebrated each other’s victories, cried with each other through trials, and made an obnoxious spectacle of ourselves singing loudly in many a restaurant after church services. I was so happy…and yet still I felt incomplete.
I read once that you don’t find the right person until you become the right person. Around this time I remember praying that God would help me become the person He wanted me to be. I remember praying for the husband He had in mind for me, even though I didn’t know who that would be. I prayed for the father B would one day have, for the family we would become.
Let me be clear – I was NOT desperate. Not at all! I was a strong, independent and capable single woman. Girl power, remember? Hear me roar! Bring home the bacon (scraps), fry it up in a pan! And yet, I just knew God had a plan beyond anything I could imagine and that it would involve a man that would grow our family from two to three. I didn’t know who, I didn’t know when and I had no idea how. But I knew. So I continued to pray for that man and also for me. I prayed that God would prepare me for the gift I was sure He would one day give.
It must have been a year or two later when Mark invited me to a Singles Group outing. I hadn’t really been involved in the Singles Group and didn’t really know many of the people, so I was a little reluctant to go…but I went. I knew this wasn’t a date, but rather two single friends looking to go to a singles event together. I had the occasional fleeting romantic thought about Mark – I mean – I am sort of a sucker for guitar players – but he really wasn’t “my type” – like at all.
When we arrived at the Singles Group bowling outing, I was 100% sure he wasn’t my type. He owned his own bowling ball, shoes and the fancy professional bowling wrist guard thingy. He used the air doohickey where the bowling balls shoot out. Yeah, not a chance. Nope.
But here’s the thing – God knew he was exactly my type. We continued to do things together in group settings and I found myself enjoying his company more and more. Then he started asking me to dinner and picking up the check. It became clear (to me anyway) that we were now dating.
But then one day after church, he approached me to introduce me to the “girl he’d been dating.” WHAT?! Are you kidding me? What followed was a bit of jealousy within me that sealed the deal on what my true feelings were for him. I guess the bearded, pro-bowling gear, scientist guitar player really had stolen a piece of my heart. (Later, his response to all of this was “What can I say? I was an idiot.”)
It wasn’t long before his relationship with “that girl” ended and we were back on track to learning more about each other and enjoying each other’s company once again. We talked for hours on the phone each night and I was feeling more and more comfortable with him. He already knew I was a single Mom, and seemed to enjoy B’s company too, but what would he think of me when he knew my whole story? What would he feel if he knew every skeleton in my closet? I distinctly remember the conversation where I told him every possible secret that would surely send an intelligent man running for the hills…except he didn’t run. Do you know what he did? He reassured me. He encouraged me. He defended me. He accepted me. He loved me.
God knew the type of man I needed long before I realized it. God’s plan was far greater than any plan I could have imagined for myself. This is true for all of us, isn’t it? We think we have it all figured out. We think we know what we need, what’s best for us, what our future should hold. We think we know our “type.” But God has bigger and better in mind for each of us. If you’re feeling lost right now, like I was 21 years ago, and like I sometimes feel right now, I’m hoping this story serves as a reminder that God’s plans are greater than anything we could imagine for ourselves. He isn’t going to let his sheep stay lost, especially if we yearn to be found.
Coming up: Our love story part 2: The proposal & the wedding
Don’t want to miss anything? Subscribe here!
Miss the Prologue of this love story? Find it HERE.