Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Post-It Note Kind of Love

Life is pretty weird these days.
When people say words like fiancee, or wedding, or bride...they might actually be referring to me. It's plausible. It's surreal. And pretty awesome.

I feel like a lot of people have been asking, "Debbie- who the heck is this guy and where in the world did this come from?" It's a valid question. Unless you were walking closely with me in life, you probably only knew I had been dating someone for a few months and that it was serious. But engaged... already?!
I can only give credit to the Lord in the orchestrating of all the events.

So, here's the story (part 1, anyway):
I met a blonde, long-haired man last August (2012) a week or so before I left the camp I was working at in Texas. He was younger than me, rambunctious and about to be thousands of miles away from me. I barely gave it a second thought. I saw him again the following May (2013) during an extended stay at the camp to help out with a few things. That trip allowed for more conversations and, for whatever reason, he had officially caught my eye. The summer consisted of almost daily long-distance communication and I found myself, yet again, stuck in a place of wondering what in the world was going on. Could he like me? Could I like him? Am I just setting my heart up again for another disappointment? Sometimes I played games like: don't respond to his text message immediately or try not to talk to him for at least a few days or don't ask him any questions to see if he still responds. He always did.

By September I was in a place of needing to know if our fast-growing friendship was actually anything more than friendship. I made a surprise trip down to Texas and after some face-to-face time with him, I recognized that I was pretty head over heels. I really liked this guy and I had no idea how he felt about me or if he felt about me. The next two and a half weeks were brutal. It was that waiting time where you feel like your heart is going to pound out of your chest. Desire felt consuming, but I was stuck in a place of being able to do nothing about it. I tried to change my normal sarcasm, flippant remarks about how he might mean nothing to me and make sure he knew that he mattered, that he was a priority in my life.

When I got to go back down to Texas for a friend's wedding, it was time for a conversation. A DTR, if you will. Are we on the same page? Are we moving in the same direction? After a few hours, we decided we were. We decided to move forward and see what this could be. At this point in my life I felt like even if I didn't know if I was going to marry the guy, it was worth trying to find out. And so we did. That was October 8th.

On October 20th, he was visiting his parents and woke up and headed to brush his teeth. He often started his days by praying for us, for our relationship, for the Lord to prepare and equip him to be what he needed to be for me. This day was no different...he thought. As he brushed, he noticed the post-it note of Scriptures his mom had put up on the mirror. His eyes were drawn to Psalm 27:13-14:
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!14  Wait for the Lordbe strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! 
In that moment, he felt this overwhelming peace about our relationship. That I was who he wanted to be with forever and that I was who he would be with forever. He didn't know where it came from or why it came when it did...but that it was undeniably from the Lord.

I found out about the "revelation" a few days later. The next day, he called my mom and told her he intended on marrying me (remember how we'd only been dating about 2.5 weeks?) It was ridiculous and forward and freaked my entire family out... I mean, how could it not? They didn't even know this guy and I had only started dating him a few weeks prior and had barely even mentioned his existence in my life prior to that. It was crazy. But, he wasn't deterred. And while I was slightly caught off guard, I knew that I cared deeply for this man. I decided to go back and read my journal from October 20th (the day of the Post-It Note revelation) to see if I had written anything substantial. This is an excerpt of what I had written:
It's so hard for me to not tell him that I love him. It's the one thing I want to say that comes close to expressing all of this stuff inside of me...and I can't. Not yet, anyway. ...... I feel like the Lord just reminded me (not only about how good He is and how He lavishes His blessings on me when I don't deserve them) that I have to choose. That I get to choose. To love [this man] everyday. That there will be some days where I don't want to or am scared to...but to choose to love him selflessly and in a way that reflects Christ. That the Lord is reminding me that love is a choice, not a feeling (as wrapped up in all of the swelling emotions that I'm in right now). It's a good reminder. When the feelings ebb and flow, will I choose to walk in love? I don't know why I'm so scared, Lord. I don't know why it's hard for me to fully receive without questioning and doubting. But, I know that out of the blue, [this man] has become a vital part of my life. That he's a man that I'm quite sure I want around forever. Can you give me peace that this is okay? That he's really mine to have? That You won't take him? And that we would honor You with our lives forever?
He was spontaneously able to come to New Mexico for a few days and I had the hunch that he might tell me he loved me (I mean, we're talking marriage the big 'L' word has to be coming soon, right?). I knew that if he told me, I wanted to read him this journal entry. I felt like on that day I had asked all the questions and he had received all the answers. I was blown away because I felt like in looking back on that day, the Lord had answered my prayers....but had given the answers, the peace, the clarity to this man. He hadn't asked for it, but he woke up, was praying about us, for us... and then there it was. This crazy peace and realization that I was it for him. 

I was right. On that trip, he told me that he loved me. 
He told me what it means when he says that. That it means forever. That he's not going anywhere.. That he's in this for the long haul. That he's committed. That, to him, this is happening. I am who he wants...even in all my imperfections and insecurities. 

So... I read him the whole journal entry (there was some more to it than what's above). Choked up on tears, realizing how incredibly vulnerable it is to read your journal out loud to someone...especially as I rawly admitted my fears and and worries to a man I care deeply about. And then I told him that I loved him, too. 
Because, I do. 
I choose him. 
I haven't just 'fallen' in love. I'm making a very conscious decision in this. 
And I told him that I don't say it lightly, but I say it fearfully. Because, there's a part of me that was scared...because it's all CRAZY. And I get that. 

We sat there, facing each other, holding silence. Kind of just overwhelmed by it all. He couldn't really fathom how he had received an answer to something I prayed for on the same day I had prayed for it. And the longer we sat, the more I had this aching urge to pray with him. I wanted to say something... to ask him if it'd be okay.. but I didn't want to be the one to make it happen. So I wrestled for a while about if I should say something or not, but decided to choose silence. 
Literally less than a minute later, he broke the silence and said, "Can we do something? ...Can we start praying together? Can we start taking our relationship before the Lord together, asking Him to lead us and guide us and making sure our relationship is completely about Him?" 
Struck by disbelief and humbled completely by how the Lord had given exactly what I had wanted... I threw my arms around him and basically wept. How could the Lord be this good and kind? In that moment, I knew. With every certainty....that is it. 
He was the man I would marry. 

knew it was crazy.
knew it was sudden.
knew I didn't know everything about him yet.
But I knew and I trusted that the Lord was in it completely. That He had orchestrated all of it completely. That it wasn't anything we could have made up or made happen... 
trust that this man loves the Lord abundantly more than anything else in this world and that he'll do everything he can to live his life accordingly and to encourage me to do the same. 

I knew that as we would continue to get to know each other that there would be things we didn't necessarily like about the other. I wasn't worried about it. They weren't what defined him. I knew it wouldn't always be easy. I knew there would be times when I don't want to choose him... but I will. Every time. 

That's just the story of how we met, how we knew...
I'll get to the engagement part next (it's just too much for one post). 

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