I realized tonight as I found myself with some unexpected time on my hands, that it's been a very long time since I've just processed with written words. I've done a lot of talking in the past few months but not a lot of writing and especially not the kind of writing that feeds my soul. So, I have no idea what this will be about or where I'll end up but here goes nothing...
Today I listened to a sermon by my sweet pastor and friend, Corey, that was full of principles and truths that I've heard a million times. It resonated deeply today. He tells a story about how he cheated his way into the state golf tournament in high school as an illustration for the way that we put our hope in so many other things, begging them to satisfy us and make us happy. We take things that are good and make them ultimate, which immediately makes them bad. We become willing to do absolutely anything to achieve or acquire that thing, disregarding anything or anyone that stands in our way. Whether it's our significant other, our looks, our success, our children, our bank account, our career, etc. you name it, we take these things and put them at the center of our lives and beg them to be enough. The problem is that these things weren't created to support the weight of our souls. The only one who can even begin to support and bear the weight of our broken souls is Jesus. There's one 'weight of glory' that we are called to place in our hearts and say 'deeply satisfy me' and it actually happens. It's Jesus. Only he will ever be enough.
For years I've waited and wondered and dreamed about being married. From the white dress to having babies to old wrinkly hand-holding and even to the arguments and frustrations of living day-to-day life that closely with another sinner. If I'm honest, what I've really longed for is to be known and loved and for someone to stick around long enough to 'do life' with me for more than just a couple years. I have amazing friends, really. I am SO spoiled in the friend department. but reality is, most of my friends live far away or they have their own families or they are too busy to just share life. Now, I'm not nieve. I've walked through the past few years pretty closely with a few families that I love dearly and who love me deeply. I've seen the reality of marriage. I've seen the beauty of grace and forgiveness fleshed out in front of my eyes and I've also seen the power that just a few words have to wound when they come from someone who knows you so deeply. I've seen the laughter and the tears, the fun days of parenting and the days of sheer survival, the excitement of sweet blessings and the weight of bitter suffering. I know it's not easy but I also know that it's wonderful.
I'll be honest, I was skeptical. I couldn't imagine a man who would love me and want to pursue me and marry me. but then I met John. This guy came out of nowhere. Although, I'm fully aware that God knew all about this every night that I cried myself to sleep, terrified that I'd never get married. All along, he's whispered 'be patient, I got this.' I have had seasons of true patience and trust and seasons of sheer unbelief and anxiety but somewhere deep down, I've always known it would be ok. Even if I never got married, I'd be ok. BUT I am so unbelievably thankful for the sweet, abundant gift that God has given me in John.
Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure this isn't a dream. Life isn't perfect and things are still hard and complicated sometimes but if God has taught me anything over the past year, it's that He loves me and knows what I need. Whether it's through a chronic illness like Diabetes or a sweet man like John, He is merciful to me.
I have spent my entire life doubting my own worth and working hard to convince myself and others that I really am unlovable. In case you wondered, that makes accepting, believing, and trusting both God's and people's love for me near impossible. It makes for a lot of fear and a lot of relational work 'earning my keep' as a friend. Those of you who have been best friends with me for a while are all too familiar with this perpetual struggle in my life and I apologize for the way that it has run all of us ragged. It's hard when you fight so hard to love someone through their darkest days and they still doubt your love. I tell you this to set the stage for what has been my most recent adventure. Last year was perhaps the hardest year of my life and the year before that was the second hardest. Let's just suffice it to say it's been a rough few years.
In January of this year, I met John. From the very first Facebook message, I could tell he was quality. I was skeptical, though, because the last 'quality' guy I knew hurt me deeply and that kind of wound doesn't just go away quietly on its own. So, we talked. We talked a lot. After hours on the phone every night for almost 2 weeks, John asked me out. He has spoiled me from day 1. He is more than I ever imagined God would give me in a man. He loves me and he reminds me every day. He has never given me time to wonder whether or not he cares about me or thinks for me. He affirms me in every way imaginable and he loves making me feel special. He listens when I ramble and calls me when he says he will. He cooks for me and asks me questions and holds my hand. He tells me what he thinks about things and answers my questions and hugs me. He watches my favorite shows with me and comes with me to meet lots of people and is so thoughtful. He knows how to love me and he sacrifices for me and he tells me when and why he's frustrated. He talks to me and lets me cry on his shoulder and takes care of me and rescues me from the side of the road when I get in an accident. He brings me lunch and surprises me and adjusts his schedule for me and shaves his face for me. He gives me flowers and cards and he reminds me what's important and every time I'm amazed at his love for me, I'm forced to acknowledge that God's love is even greater and deeper and more satisfying.
I have felt the love of my Savior in a new and different way through John these past few months. I have never once doubted how John feels about me because he doesn't give me time or room to doubt. I can honestly say that I have 'felt' beautiful more often in the past 3 months than maybe ever before in my life. When I spend time with John, I'm constantly reminded of the integrity of his character, the depth of his commitment, the strength of his trustworthiness and dependability, and his willingness to sacrifice his own desires and plans for my sake. The truth is, one day, John will disappoint me or life will throw us a curve ball and things won't go the way we plan. But God will never disappoint and he doesn't give me room to doubt that. Everything in all of creation shouts and proclaims his love and commitment to me. Jesus's life, death, and resurrection is the most profound expression of love and sacrifice known to man yet it blows my mind how easily I forget that or fail to rest in that when life gets hard or I get distracted. He loves me perfectly, pursues me constantly, forgives me, shows me compassion, surrounds me with his hedge of protection, holds me when I'm sad, meets me where I am, rejoices with me when I'm rejoicing, and walks alongside me promising never to leave or forsake me even for a moment. I could talk about the beautiful way that John loves and cherishes me all day long but it wouldn't even begin to compare to the way that the Lord has loved and cherished me these past 27 years and the way that he will continue to keep his promises and prove himself faithful in my life.
I love that he is choosing to use John to show me some new facets of his love and to remind me that he sees me and hears me and knows me deeply. Dating John is so fun. We've been on lots of adventures in our short 3 months and we've gotten to know each other pretty darn well considering that we've technically only known each other for 12 weeks and 3 days. We spend a lot of time together and we just enjoy each other so much. We've had our fair share of disagreement and frustration but even that has been a blessing as we've been able to talk through things and communicate with each other in a productive, loving way.
Last year I begged the Lord to just give me something new. I begged him to let something fun happen in my life because I was so tired of suffering and wrestling through hard things and fighting my illness. Well, I had no idea what he had in store and it's been even better than anything or anyone I could have come up with on my own. So far our relationship has been a beautiful picture of God's grace and provision in my life and I am just excited to see how He uses it to further his kingdom in the weeks and months and years to come.