Once upon a time, there was an 8-year-old girl living in Southern California.
For reasons nobody remembers anymore, she was talking to God about the far-distant future.
Dear God, I would really like to be a wife and mom someday. But I don’t want to do the whole date-and-break-up thing. That sounds hard, and I think I’d give up pieces of my heart that I would rather keep whole to people who don’t deserve it.
I don’t know if this is an option, but I’d really like to just, like, be best friends with a guy. And then get married to him. I have no idea if that happens, or how it could. But that’s how I’d really like it to go. If that’s what you want. Amen.
(I know. She was kind of a nerdy kid. But that really is the conversation, as best she remembers.)
Shortly after the above conversation with Jesus, her family moved from California to Alaska.
Now she’s about 13.
As the oldest of five, she needs to find creative and free ways to spend time out of her house, away from her family. (Because THIRTEEN.)
Score! There’s a program at a local Christian summer camp where teens can come and wash dishes for a week at a time. For free.
A funny thing about camps…
The next year, there’s a boy. He’s fairly good-looking. Lots of girls think so. She thinks so, too. But also, she’s hopelessly awkward basically runs away from him at every opportunity and he has no memory of her at this point.
A couple of summers pass like this. She’s now 15.
She sees him and is awkward. As time progresses, they both spend a little more time at camp in the summers and eventually start talking. She attends a church that began as a plant from the church he goes to. Occasionally, the youth groups do joint activities or she’ll just go join his group, because it’s bigger and they do more.
They talk on ICQ. (Kids, ICQ is kind of like facebook messages without the facebook. Say it out loud. I-C-Q. I Seek You. Very clever. All on computers, of course. Smart phones weren’t a thing, and nobody even had cell phones. If you were REALLY cool or, you know, a drug dealer, you might have a pager. This girl was neither cool nor a drug dealer, so she was stuck messaging on the computer. Late at night when nobody would be getting any calls, because the internet was actually the phone line. It was very cutting-edge in the mid-to-late-90s.) They share a little more deeply. She especially prefers this, because she writes far better and more comfortably than she speaks in person. And high school is hard.
Spring of Junior year.
She is in JROTC and in charge of planning a military ball. Because she has an official position at the dining-in, she needs a date. She has never had a boyfriend. She hasn’t had any offers. (Remember, awkward.) But she does know a guy that she’s become reasonably good friends with…
Awkwardness and hilarity ensue.
And again the next year.
Also around Senior year, without talking about it, they both decide to go to the same tiny one-year Bible school in Oregon for a year. Weird, right? They’ve also become friends with each other’s immediate and extended families.
They go away to Ecola Bible School after graduation. It’s October ’00.
They naturally hang out a lot. People ask with some frequency if they’re siblings or just good friends. Their stock answer is “yes.” Occasionally, someone will ask if they’re dating. This is awkward because he is actually dating someone else from school. So that would be a definite no. She still has a latent crush on him, but realizes this is never going to happen and ignores it.
Fall of ’01, back in Alaska.
He is single again. They are taking classes together. And they both work with the youth group at the church he grew up in and they lead worship together and his car died back in Oregon, so riding around together just makes sense.
Over the next years, it becoms increasingly (sometimes painfully) obvious that they’re going to end up together. They continue as friends, though… With all the stuff going on in this season, who has time for dates? They’re too busy hanging out and doing life.
December 22, 2003.
He says “I love you”for the first time. (So does she.) This is followed immediately by “Will you marry me?” (she says yes, after a solid minute of All The Thoughts, mostly trying to find a more articulate way to say “yes” since “heck yes” seems inappropriate at this moment) and a first kiss.
Later, they figure out this date is actually one year exactly since she caught the bouquet at his best friend’s wedding. And he caught the garter.
They endured the longest six months ever as they planned and waited for their wedding.
But then it finally happened.
And they lived happily ever after.
The years since that beginning have been amazing. It’s not perfect… One sinner married another sinner and that presents issues on a regular basis. Even after all this time. But it’s good. He is God’s good gift to me.
This is my favorite love story, partly because it’s ours.
But it isn’t only about a love story between him and I.
It’s also a story of a little girl (not so much older than my firstborn girl) who asked God for something ridiculous that she couldn’t possibly understand then. And, for reasons I can’t quite fathom,
He said yes.
He hasn’t, by any means, said yes to every ridiculous thing I’ve ever requested. For instance, I somehow never made the US Olympic gymnastic team. (Shocking.)
I have a friend who talks about these as “bread crumbs” of God’s faithfulness. (She’s on her own divinely romantic adventure now!) This trail, the abridged version I wrote here and all the pieces I couldn’t include because it’s already far too long, is full of those.
And I know the God who was faithful to answer the prayers of an honest little girl will be faithful to continue the work he started in both of our hearts decades ago.