How I Found Mr. Right

A group of girls and I have been reading a psalm a week together, via the internet. Last week we did Psalm 77. Familiar favorite? Me neither, really. Until last week. I really resonated with the first part, where he’s crying out, and desperate, and pleading with God. (Nevermind that David was probably fighting soldiers with spears in caves, and I am pining for my husband to get home. The point is, I get it.) The second part, though, was even better. Instead of staying there, he uses memories of the past to uplift his spirits again. He reminds himself of God in the past, so the future isn’t so scary.

Which made me think of the story of me and Todd. I have actually been meaning to write it out for a while. You know, while I still actually remember, and while we still actually like each other. And let’s be honest, things around here have been pretty redundant for a while (think: domestic version of Groundhogs Day) so it’s nice to have some different material to write about. I know I always loved hearing about how my parents met, so years later when Sam and Ty read this blog (they will read it, right, with interest?) this story is chronicled somewhere.

Speaking of parents, I used to wonder/hope/joke that how one found a spouse was genetic. What I mean is, as a girl I longed for same luck my mom had: namely, that God SPOKE to her in words and intuitions and told her, when she saw some guy (Dad) raking the yard, that he was “The One.” This is the sort of divine direction I sub-consciously expected (or consciously, come to think of it, as I journaled, prayed, and chatted with girlfriends routinely about the word from God we were all expecting on my future hubby.)

But back to my story, about my Mr. Right. Fast forward to college. The July before my senior year, in a whirlwind of events, I found myself engaged. Granted, there were no high-flying banners or rainbows appearing at the right moments, but I could not be more elated. I had met him through Young Life, where we were both leaders, and for nearly two years, harbored a secret, desperate, seemingly hopeless crush. For two years, only a handful of friends knew that I had fallen for my “team leader” (nevermind the lingo…point is, it’s off-limits in Young Life). We were very different – me: practical, detailed, and scheduled; him, a dreamer, idealist, free spirit…But after a two-year massive crush, when I realized (gasp) he liked me too, NO ONE could talk me out of anything. The six months we dated were a magical, disbelieving blur. Then we got engaged in New York City, at the top of the Empire State Building; he wrote me a poem to propose. Our little Young Life circle rejoiced with us. I still remember calling my friend Jen from the NYC hotel, my brother hugging me so hard in congratulations, the voice mail from our would-be best man, telling me he was so happy for us, and to be involved in our day…

Then, it’s odd, but in my mind there is about a four-month mental block. I remember nothing until my birthday, in October. I am standing in my dorm suite, putting on eyeliner, and I can’t get it on right because I crying. I just remember feeling so odd inside, and not knowing why I am crying.

Then I remember about two weeks later. Again, it’s odd…I have no idea of specifics – what made me upset – but I remember there’s a vaccuum next to me, and it’s after midnight, and I’m hiding my tears in a housekeeping closet so I don’t wake my roommate. pCrouched next to tupperware, phone trembling in my hand, I call my mom. I’m 21, and I’m busy and grown-up and mom hasn’t been needed for a few years, especially not in the middle of the night. But I didn’t know what else to do, so I call her and I am shivering, not from cold but from fear. I remember telling her I feel like I’m going to throw up, and I remember saying the words: I’m afraid I’m making a mistake. She asks why; I don’t know, or I can’t say. I’m just afraid I’m making a mistake.

It was about two more months of that – the crying for help at all hours, the fear, the nonsense logic, the tears out of nowhere, the not knowing what I’m thinking or feeling or need to do with it all.

There were so many awful things. There was a dress hanging in the closet – what would I do with it if…? There were tickets booked to an island – would we just waste them if…?? There were posters with glitter and clippy magazine pictures outside my dorm – would I just rip them off? And there was my friend who hung out with me every night, who struggled through every problem with me, who I genuinely cared for and enjoyed, what would life be like without him? But the most awful thing, honestly, was knowing I could never be happy, either way. I couldn’t be happy in this marriage – everyday it was more painfully obvious. We were too different. It didn’t feel right. But how could it ever feel right without him? No one would ever “get” me like him. I could never fall more in love with anyone.
I remember sitting in an airplane, unscheduled visit to home, and my stomach felt sick. It was like my whole wonderful life, all 21 years of it, were thrown upside down, splattered and jumbled against a wall. Peace, happiness, hope – gone. My friend Marty loaned me a book, “Peace Like A River,” to read on the plane. It was the only way I didn’t sob the entire two hours. It was the most scary, foreign place in my life. I had never been so confused. I’d never had a broken heart. And honest to goodness, I’m pretty sure up until then I’d never made a mistake.

From what I remember, all of the awfulness got worse and worse until one moment where hope started coming, the first little bit. It was a very specific moment, the one where I was sitting on the brown couch in the sunroom at home (remember the unschedule trip), and FINALLY, made a decision.

The best thing to do was to put a hold on the wedding.

I could do that. Just take a break. {breath of fresh air}. I have no idea why it was so helpful to me, the baby steps of breakups, but that is how it needed to happen. First, a break. Then, broken engagement. Soon after, just friends. But not permanent, yet… And you know the oddest thing? What I had been fearing so much, at each step wasn’t quite so horrible in actuality as I had feared in my head. Like giving back the engagement ring. I put on some lip gloss, and picked it up off the bowl where it had been sitting on my dresser, met him in the lobby and handed it back to him. Then we went and got ice cream. I know that sounds ridiculous. But it wasn’t that bad. Grace for each step – Jehovah Jirah. The Lord provides. And you know something else? That semester I had been dreading, the one I almost skipped…it was the best I ever had. I went on trips, I loved my classes, my friendships blossomed, the Young Life girls I had been discipling, well, they were suddenly a lot more interested in what I had to say about everything…Our friends (who probably saw this coming anyway) were supportive. The would-be best man, the next time I saw him, told me he was proud of us, and he knew how hard it was for us to do what we did…There are so many things I’ll never forget, like the letter my cousin sent me in my mailbox, the way my roommate held my hand when I cried, how my sister let me watch American Idol with her on nights I would have been alone. …

And then I graduated and moved home. And the life that at one point seemed destined to be so awful was actually really, really great. I taught middle school. (You’re supposed to read this as a positive:). I got an apartment, and found a great church. I ran a half-marathon. I got a new wardrobe, and made lots of new friends.

And in the process, I rediscovered a few old friends. One of them – you remember Todd, the would-have-been-best-man? 🙂 Well, turns out I wasn’t the only one who’d grown up a bit in the last five years. I had always enjoyed Todd in college, but as I was a bit distracted then, only a few things stuck out. One, he played guitar and had a tan all year long. Two, he was a pretty crappy on/off boyfriend to my friend Jen, and three, he was just so easy to be around. The more time we spent, the less I seemed to mind #2 (actually, it was quite convenient, come to think of it:), and more the list kept growing. He had character. He was fun, but didn’t party. As a single guy, he spent most extra time reading John Grisham, hanging out with high schoolers via Young Life, and playing soccer. Um, cute. The New Year’s Eve I saw him dancing with someone else, I knew it for sure. I had fallen for Todd. The fact that he almost wore a tux at my big day for quite a different reason was an afterthought, and a humorous one at that. And all that tragedy and trauma of a few years ago? I hardly remembered.

If I think of it at all now, the only emotion remaining is gratitude. GratefulI got out. Grateful I’m a better (humbler) person because of the suffering. Grateful for all the good that came out of it, in a million ways.

Of course, life isn’t perfect. There were quite a few moments (which will remain anonymous) during the first year of marriage that weren’t all bliss and euphoria. But a thousand times over, I love that I married the best man. He isn’t perfect, but he’s perfect for me. I love our boys…can’t fathom that I wouldn’t have THESE boys. It’s different from my mom’s, but mine, too, is a great story.

And like all the other great stories, there’s a few morals behind it. (Come on…you can’t be surprised – literature teachers always find the moral of the story:) These are the things I need to remember, my Psalm 77, my reminder when I’m frightened.

Often what seems like the worst thing ever is exactly what needs to happen.

Even when it feels like the end, it’s never the end. The best is yet to come.

Suffering produces character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint.

When I remember this story, and others like it in my life (less dramatic ones :), I know why God tells us constantly to remember. The same God who was with me next to the vaccuum cleaners and boxes in the closet while I cried is with me in the kitchen when I’m worried.

I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
(Psalm 77:11-13 ESV)

disclaimer: i sort of rushed the end part of this, the part where I do justice in words and paragraphs to all the wonderful things about dating my husband. Rest assured (Todd) it is coming. I just felt like this epic needed to end. Stay tuned for Part II!


9 thoughts on “How I Found Mr. Right

  1. Well, my eyes are welling up with tears. You really did marry the BEST MAN for you and you're story needs to be told to lots of girls who are in that place where they feel like it's "the end". You're right, it's never the end. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Well, my eyes are welling up with tears. You really did marry the BEST MAN for you and you're story needs to be told to lots of girls who are in that place where they feel like it's "the end". You're right, it's never the end. Thanks for sharing.

  3. You have such a way of telling your story that is so transparent and so real. It is wonderful story and your two are a wonderful story. I can't wait for the time that God will show me my Mr. Right, and I begin my love story! Miss you and Todd and the boys so much.

  4. Aww this is such a sweet and precious love story!! I too fell for a long-time best friend after a breakup. And it’s so worth it!

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