Tuesday, February 10, 2015

[two full years]

 Two full years. That's how long it has been since we exchanged vows and said "I do." I still remember driving to his apartment with him after the wedding reception and thinking, "I'm a wife now! And we are going home to our apartment!" 

Two full years of marriage to the man who was my first-ever kiss, my protector, my real-life fairytale, and has continually proven to be my dearest friend.

I have always dreamed of a lone ranger with untamed, passionate youth, yet full of wisdom that comes from age and experience. From the moment we first met, I knew he was a man so unlike all the others. It was "love at first sight" for both of us, yet it took two years (ahem! Took him two years...) to finally confess it to each other. I love our story because it reminds me that the Lord delights in giving the most magical surprises. 

Nolan was a surprise in every single way.

He first entered my life five months after a painful betrayal of a friendship with a young man that I had originally thought there was potential in. It was a humbling experience, but I had yet to come to full forgiveness even five months after it all came to an end. Then, here came Nolan..."friending" me on Facebook at the request of my cousin (who was obviously still in the match-making business, haha! ;)). My cousin had told me just three months earlier that this guy she knew in New Mexico had come to the Lord and had called to share with her the story of his new life. I remember vividly the day she told me a friend of her's at come to the Lord. I was sitting in the grass of the college campus that I had been attending, still heartbroken and still trying to figure my life out. It made me smile when I saw her texting me this news on my phone. I sensed a comforting confirmation that the Lord was truly still at work in this world even in the midst of much failure and heartbreak. Five months later, this young man and I were getting to know little snippets of one another on Facebook, of all places!! I recall our first mini-conversation was regarding Scripture. Shortly after, he and I discovered we both enjoyed blogging. Reading his blog was a way for me to get to know his thoughts a little more. However, at this point, I was busy preparing to leave to a Bible retreat/school for 11 weeks over the summer. I was seeking renewal in my relationship with Christ after the previous year's heartbreak and the last thing I could bear was another "potential" in my life in regards to a relationship. 

Was I deeply attracted to Nolan at this point? You can sure bet I was! 

He was handsome [that smile, those blue eyes...swoon!] articulate, clearly loved Scripture and the Lord, a thinker-type, reserved, and held good manners.

But I just couldn't bear it. I wanted it all to stop. My heart couldn't take it. 

  I meant to never speak to him again for, at least, three months (as I had made plans to deactivate my Facebook that summer and only write letters to a few close girlfriends and family). I thought, maybe he will have forgotten me by then. Then, in my inbox arrived an unexpected email from Nolan. In the email he requested the address of the retreat I would be attending so that he could write me. My heart fell and then soared! Now, I would be distracted all summer long by this young man while I was trying to renew my relationship with the Lord! I heartily confess that I can be an obnoxious hyper-spiritual sort of person. I couldn't comprehend how a friendship with a man could actually draw me unto the Lord because I didn't think it was possible due to my past experience. 
  From June, our letters began and even as I excitedly awaited each one during that long summer, I began to see how pure his intentions towards me were. In all of my communications with Nolan from the beginning of our friendship, he never once flirted with me [I don't believe we actually flirted until we were engaged, which is most amusing!]. He never once led me on. He always asked me simple questions, nothing ever deeply personal. I never felt that he was asking me to unveil my heart. He simply regarded me as a friend. I have said before that if anyone were to read all our handwritten letters and our emails, no one would find anything terribly interesting or romantic in them because all the letters read just like anything you would find from a friend writing to a friend. Although it was so difficult for me to spend two years slowly building a friendship with a man I was head-over-heels in love with yet couldn't ever express it to, I am genuinely thankful for that period of time of not-knowing and taking things slowly and waiting on the Lord and Nolan. 

I did not do anything to make our relationship come about. I simply took one step after the other, learning the painful art of trusting that there would be a place for my foot to fall after each step. I confess that I had much fear and anxiety in me during intervals of that time, especially because there were also many hard and grieving things occurring in my life at home that I had yet to have answers in, either. Every morning, I awoke to unanswered questions and I spent many days walking through each one.

The February that he came to visit and first expressed his heart to me was all the more lovely because of those two years of silently waiting and aching.
 Then, the following February, we were enjoying a quiet and simple wedding next to a field of blooming peach trees.

It was magical. All those memories of our budding romance seem to have a haze of golden light around them in my mind. But when I call it magical, I mean that it was all Spirit-led. Not due to my own worth. I was not pure-hearted or doing all the "right" things through our friendship. It was totally the Lord's doing. He chose to bless me, to bless us, with a gift of something that we could never ever take credit for. This, our marriage, it is a gift. Even after two years, during financial and job struggles, moving to a new state, experiencing massive heartbreaks and disappointments, being isolated not by choice, and so many varied valley-lows and mountain-top-highs. It is all a gift, even when I cannot see it. And there were many events that happened towards the end of our first year and into our second year that I cannot see or accept as gifts. To me, those event ruined my marital bliss. Yet, I now understand all of those things are teaching me Grace at deeper and deeper levels. And Grace is always what brings renewal in my marriage, come what may!

God never promises that just because a marriage begins easy and fairytale-like that it will remain that way, at least not all the time. He means us to walk through everything we could possibly walk through together. Only then, years away from now, will we have battled every battle that gifts us with the understanding and the humility to Love as sacrificially as He loves. I hope I learn to appreciate that God's "fairytales" are more colorful and massive and far-reaching. Certainly, they will always end in "happily ever after" because He shall be the one we meet at the end of our days here on our earth and that is the happiest happily-ever-after that shall ever be! Being married has made me even more desirous that day, that very moment, when faith and hope will fade because Love will be present.

On a humorous note, while I thought I was undergoing the cruel torture during those two years of waiting for an answer....little did I know until later how long Nolan's mother was waiting for her son to make a move and "just say something!" to me. Apparently, after the first time he and I met in person [about 7 months after we had first met online and had been writing], he went to visit and parents and told his mother, "She is way out of my league." Then, he continued to give his mother further impressions that he thought nothing could ever happen between us. Nevertheless, a mother's love always knows and she kept affirming and encouraging him in small, subtle ways. Today, that same mother is now a dear friend and a second mother to me. Gifts and grace abounding.

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