Joy!

RJoyIf there has been a time in my life that read like a fairytale, it would be the months after I met my husband. I had just moved to college, had just said good-bye to my parents for the next couple of months. And my life was just beginning.

My new suitemates and I decided to get out and meet people, so we headed for one circle of benches and a swing in the court yard. It was still hot and muggy, late summer in North Mississippi, and the shade called to us. We sat down beside two guys none of us had met, but we quickly learned that they knew a youth group friend of mine.

What started out as an amicable conversation quickly grew terse. One of the guys seemed to think that my friend and I resembled each other. I was not nearly as amused as they were. Before long, I’d had enough, and after a few biting words, I started walking back towards my dorm. One of my suitemates walked back with me, chuckling, and said that she would laugh her head off in five years when we were getting married.

She was wrong, by the way. We were married in a year and a half.

When I say my husband is my favorite, I’m not exaggerating. And I say it often. There is no one who has made me question more of what I believe or has been okay with my own questioning. There is no one who has watched me at my worst (ahem, pregnancy.) and still cared enough to see me at my best. And there is no one with whom I’d rather live out my life.

When we were dating, we spent a lot of time talking about the future. Both of us knew that this relationship would end if it wasn’t leading to marriage. In all of our scheming and dreaming, we never once planned for what actually happened, but we both wanted to see God’s hand on all of our tomorrows. At the same time, we were aware of our fears, our doubts, and our frailty.

One afternoon, while Drew was working hard, planning big things for his youth group, I realized that I felt out of place. I wanted to believe that he did, in fact, love me like he said, but I felt marginalized and unimportant while he worked. Heavy with feelings trying to sort themselves out, I stayed quiet for the rest of the evening. On the way back to the dorms that night, Drew asked me what was wrong.

I finally answered, “I just don’t believe you when you tell me that you love me.”

Taken aback, he fell silent. After several minutes, he pulled into an abandoned parking lot where we could talk. He finally dragged my thoughts out of me, the admittance that I felt like I was invisible when he worked. We mulled over what that meant and why it was that he worked that way. In true form, he ended by declaring the depths he would go to get me back if I were taken from him. And I cried.

He drove the remaining distance to his apartment, and we sat in his car for a while. In the surge of the moment, he repeated his declaration of love…and ended it with those sweet, sweet words, “Will you marry me?”

There was no ring, not yet, but I definitely said yes. And when the ring finally did come in, he repeated his declaration again, word for word.

We were married on another hot, muggy day, this time in South Mississippi, and then we drove for what felt like an eternity to a condo in Florida. That summer and the year that followed were happy days. We were newly married, adjusting to life with each other, and still young enough to be a bit irresponsible. I carry the memory of them like a hot stone in my pocket, a warm reminder of what life was like before. Because the after came all too quickly.

This post is part of a 31 Days series on Raising My Ebenezer, part of my story and my own testimony of God’s goodness and faithfulness. As the song Come Thou Fount says, “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thine help I’m come.” For the month of October, I’ll be writing our story, outlining the Ebenezers in recognition of His mighty hand on our lives. His doings and His workings because of and sometimes in spite of our best efforts. My hope is that you’ll see a lot of Him and little to none of me. Because in the end, it is by His help that we have come this far.

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