Part 1: How we met and became “us”
If you would have told me at the beginning of my junior year in high school that in ten years, I would be married to my best friend, we would own a home, have a beautiful daughter, two hilarious dogs and would be preparing to one day move overseas, I wouldn’t believe you. There’s something so amazing about how time changes your perspective on how life has worked out for a greater purpose. Psalm 37:3-6 has become our life verse and as I write this entry—I can’t help but marvel at God’s faithfulness to “give us desires from HIS heart” that He has fulfilled beautifully in our lives over the past ten years.
Elijah and I met at Kamp Kingsland in the summer of 2005. Back then, I wore too much eye-liner because I thought it made me look older, had a totally skewed vision of how I wanted my life to be, and was short sighted, living my life for me, even though I professed to be a follower of Jesus.
I met him by being paired up in doubles softball—one of those weird games where you pair people up by making them hold hands, conjoined awkwardly, to participate in a sport that neither of them are inclined to do. And man, we were awkward. I had an instant liking for Elijah though. There was something between us that I didn’t recognize at the time—but from that moment onward, God began working in both our lives to bring us together in order to accomplish His desire for us.
Our sisters, who recently formed a friendship from the previous school year, discovered that we were on the same rec team and decided that they wanted to “set us up.” Their brilliant plan to become sisters one day began by “talking up” Elijah and his endless attractive qualities to me over meals in the cafeteria that week. I liked him for sure, but my junior high self would have never admitted that to them. Our time at camp sparked a quick friendship, as I began to enjoy spending time with this easy-going, shy kid who incidentally, liked me back.
Over the next summer, we both went on a mission trip to Blackshear, Georgia with our youth group. There was a strong emphasis for missions and service to others in the group, and these trips were something that each of us thrived on. Throughout the school year, we would prepare to go by participating in small group bible studies (a requirement of attending) and then attend the trips, broadening our world view’s and growing in our relationship with God. I got to know Elijah very well on this trip—his fun-loving personality, strong sense of loyalty, and subtle sense of humor won me over. He quickly became one of my closest friends, helping me navigate the challenges of high school, and being a dependable friend to count on with the door of our relationship always being open (even if just a little bit) to becoming something more.
An agonizing note to our relationship was that he was there, patiently waiting for me to come around and truly see him as the guy that God had for me. Teen romantic comedies have nothing on the ups and downs of our high school years. I knew of his affections for me and his willingness to have a relationship with me, whatever form that would take and didn’t fully appreciate that for three years as I dated other guys, unknowingly hurting him each time I embarked on a new, short lived relationship. But patiently and gently, God was working in my heart to keep bringing us together.
After seeing me flounder through yet another relationship that wasn’t meant to be—Elijah jumped at his chance to get out of “the friend zone” in the fall of our junior year. (Another great story of his impressive persistence for another time.) He made it known very clearly, that he was committed to pursuing me so that we could begin dating. A few months later, we had our first date at a drive-in movie theater, on top of his mini van on a freezing November night–it was quite a romantic evening. As we gazed up at the stars, discussing the possibilities of our futures, I had to drop the biggest hint of all time to get him to hold my hand.
The following summer, we embarked on yet another trip, this time overseas, to Managua, Nicaragua. Our church had partnered with a variety of ministries that served different people throughout the city, and we were both drawn to a life of service. We each felt clearly called to living overseas to serve God and others. After dating for almost a year and feeling that God had a life planned for us—we were at a standstill with many questions about the future hanging over our heads. As old souls, we were confident at the ripe age of 17, that we would be married one day. I had prayed that God would give me a husband I could grow up with as well as and grow old with, but we were about to step into the unknown: life after graduation, pursuing God’s will for our lives that seemed to be going in opposite directions.
How could we follow the call that God had placed on our lives and stay together? Why was God clearly speaking His plan over our lives together, but leading us in different directions? Where does Psalm 37 fit into any of this?
To be continued…