At the time, that was that. A simple scrawled note amongst 100 simply scrawled notes in my beat-up journal.
I didn’t contemplate more than that. I didn’t really like to think about relationships.
Relationships to me meant bad memories, and broken dreams, and the stuff that I’d spent the last few years trying to rebuild my life after.
Maybe at the time I, like most people on the other side of some bad choices and some painful experiences, thought that maybe it would just be easier to give up on romantic love. I mean, I had a ton of friends. A great church. A love for Jesus. A love for people. But romance? Intimacy? Giving that deep part of my heart to someone else? Well, honestly? It seemed too scary. Too risky. Too darn difficult.
I was happy and I was free.
And then I felt the Holy Spirit ask me this question.
‘Do you have the courage to trust love one more time and always one more time?’
My answer was no. I didn’t have the courage. I was scared, and I felt like I would always be scared. I felt like I would never really be resilient enough to risk my heart ever again.
I’d wrestled with the theology of what I believed, and I’d processed the reality of my experiences, and I’d moved forwards into the newness of a free life.
But trusting another person, another man, with my heart? That was something else.
Yet the thing with Holy Spirit’s questions is that they often preempt Holy Spirit’s moving. And over the months that followed I found myself growing closer and closer to the man who would challenge me to once more be courageous.
It has been a journey. A journey of learning to love someone and learning what that looks like. Of learning that vulnerability is bravery. Of learning that I can show someone every part of me and still be completely accepted, and that I can be shown every part of someone and still completely accept them.
A journey of ferocious laughter and fierce joy and yet at times still facing tears and challenge. A journey that has unmade me and remade me. A journey that has led me to understand the mercy and restoration of God in a new way. A journey that has led me to simply run back to pure gratitude in its deepest form. A journey that has led me to trust another person with my heart in a way that I didn’t think I would be able to ever again.
A journey that has meant I can promise and talk about forever.
A journey that has meant I could trust the promise and talk about forever.
That I could change with someone and that it would bring out the best in me.
He proved himself steadfast, this fiancé of mine. He showed me it was safe. One step at a time. He showed me that he would be faithful to my heart. He showed me what love looked like. He mirrored the nature of God in the depth of his care for me. In his relentless pursuit. In his words and in his actions. In his vulnerability and in his strength.
And almost a year into this adventure, I finally had enough courage to know that I could say yes to carrying it on for the rest of our lives.
So when he took me to look at the stars on a bridge overlooking a deep night-blue lake, and pulled out a ring that he had painstakingly handcrafted, and told me that he wanted to spend the rest of his life loving me before a God who loved us, I knew with my whole heart that I wanted exactly the same thing. I finally understood that love is both complete bravery and complete vulnerability, which are both really two sides of the same coin.
And so I can say boldly: I have found the one whom my soul loves.
I have decided to be brave. To risk. To trust love one more time and always one more time.
To laugh loudly in the freedom. To sing under the stars. To understand that God is for me. To know that I am worthy of love and affection. To believe His promises are true. To stop being afraid. To forgive myself. To step forward.
To love someone fiercely and be loved fiercely in return.
‘To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees – these are the risk that involve vulnerability and often pain. But, I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude and grace.’ (Brene Brown)
So here’s to forever. And here’s to love. And here’s to joy, and peace and gratitude.
We have an engagement service with our church and families on 31st July, and our wedding date is provisionally set for 8th April 2017.
It’s going to be some party, and everyone’s in! So if you want to bring your laughter, your love, your music, your dancing shoes, then get ready and get over here.
I love you guys. I can’t thank you enough.