The Story of Us: Part 1

Life is a continuum of choices, but few choices impact a person's life like choosing a spouse. It can be stressful, daunting, and complicated. I certainly don't have all the answers, but I consider myself to be very happily married. I think this post can benefit any age group, but if I were to choose a target audience, it would be single people from the ages of 16-25.


This is more than a story about my personal decisions. It's a story of God's masterful weaving of circumstances. My decisions are important, but they are only part of the larger picture in which God takes care of things I cannot control and gives me responsibility over what I can control. The main topic of this post is how my wife and I decided we should spend the rest of our lives together. But surrounding that topic is a story you might find entertaining!

For you single folks wondering how God is going to bring you to your "perfect spouse", be encouraged. You might be looking around at your life with your eyes and seeing very little hope. You might think God has forgotten about your desire to be married. Maybe He's been too busy. Maybe it's all up to you, and you should just marry the first person who will have you. Maybe you should give up on marriage because there is no way to "know" if a person will love you and stay faithful to you for your whole life. These and other discouraging thoughts plague all single people (that I have encountered). I certainly don't intend this post to be an exhaustive rebuttal to every discouraging thought; but I do intend it to be an example of how God operates perfectly in an imperfect world. He creates direction from confusion, clarity from chaos, and assurance from doubt. I will be candid and transparent in my story, not because I'm proud of how ignorant or stupid I have been, but because you will see that God was gracious and merciful to me, and He is to you too.

The story starts a long time ago (2001) in a place far, far away (Minnesota).

Stupidity:

During the summer of 2001 I was 17 years old. I had just graduated high school and was feeling pretty excited about my "adult" life. I had a rough few years from 13-17 in terms of my Christian life. It's safe to say I was not living how God wanted me to. My speech, my attitudes, my motives, my actions, and my faith in God were all pretty dismal. Thankfully though, God was patient and merciful during those years and kept me from messing up my life too badly. I was raised in a Christian home, so I had a good sense of right and wrong; but wrong just seemed so much better to me at the time. That summer I made more stupid decisions and got in some trouble (with my Dad and the police). I had applied to attend several private, Christian colleges; but my behavior was not setting me up as an ideal candidate.

Mercy:

I decided to attend a Christian college one hour away from my home town. This is important because it meant I was returning home almost every weekend and attending church with my Dad. I was still not living like a Christian at the time, but God was still working on my side. My Dad recently felt we should start attending another church. He had his reasons. I was a little indifferent.

We started attending First Baptist Church in Rosemount, MN. They also had a Christian school. Interestingly, I had a reputation with this place because my high school had played basketball against them for years. They thought I was, well, a jerk. I think it's just because they couldn't stop me--sore losers. No really, they smeared us on the wall when they played us. Good times.

Most importantly, there was a 17-year old girl attending this church named Elizabeth. Enter Cupid. Wait, this is church. Enter Holy Spirit. This girl was (in my opinion) pretty hot, I mean beautiful. Her parents advised her to be nice and keep her distance. She was nice. In fact, she decided to be friendly one day and introduce herself to me. I remember I was sitting down. She walked up, all perky and bubbly, and introduced herself. I cannot fully explain what I remember about that moment, except that somewhere in the recesses of my heart there was an outline of what type of woman would "complete me". Cheesy? Yep. Cliche? A little. I can't think of a better way to say it. I knew she fit the mold. I'm not saying I knew I would marry her. Far from it. I thought she was a sheltered suburban girl (which she was) that would never be allowed within fifty feet of me (outside of church that is).

Change:

I don't intend this blog to be a theological commentary, but I cannot exclude theology from the explanation of my life because God orchestrates it. After a person becomes a Christian, they have a choice whether they want to go on in their old ways or become the person God intends them to be. This changing process is called "sanctification" in the Bible. I won't use that word much in this post because it's hard to say and type, but if not before, now you know what it means.

My first two years in college were a great time for me. I was exposed to people that genuinely cared about me and my well-being. Some were peers--roommates, floor supervisors, and friends. Others were mentors--basketball coaches, dean of students, and academic professors. These people helped me--slowly, daily, one step at a time. I carried a lot of baggage into my first two years of college, but God can handle baggage.

I met Elizabeth during my first year of college. Much to my surprise, she was interested in talking to me. We exchanged email addresses and phone numbers and started "talking". When two people are made for each other (in my opinion), it doesn't take long to figure it out. We had both been interested in other people in the past, but something was different with her. I found out later that this scared Elizabeth's Mom. She could see it.

Let me be very clear about something. None of the change that happened in my life was a result of me trying to be "good enough" for Elizabeth. I wanted to change my life because I saw where my sin was taking me. I was smart enough to know that changing outwardly to make a person happy is a great way to make yourself miserable. Plus it's fake, temporary, and eventually you will revert back to the real you. Never, ever do that! I wanted real change. Throughout these two years we talked on the phone for hours and hours. On the weekends I would come up the Twin Cities and see her. In the summer of 2002 I was at her house every night her parents would let me come. Thankfully, that was pretty often. Elizabeth was a year behind me, so she went to college in 2002. Great, right?

Controversy:

Elizabeth got accepted at a fantastic college, but this college was in California. For you that are geographically impaired, that's really, really far away from Minneapolis. So now what? Give up? Maybe we were wrong about each other. Maybe we were meant to go separate ways. This was the first big obstacle to our future together, but it wouldn't be the last. Oh no, there would be many more.



Perhaps you're struggling with who to marry. Is he the one? Is she right for you? Is God really leading you together? If so, why are things not working out like you thought they should? God orchestrates our lives to bless us, to teach us, and to test us. Wherever you are in your life, remember that the most confusing times are often when class is in session.

What happened then? Read on in Post #2 (click the link).

Image credits:
Bang head on wall image from http://www.theweightlosstips.co.uk/how-to-lose-weight/
Heart image from http://inmamasheart.com/
Baggage image from http://baggagefreeliving.blogspot.com/2010_09_01_archive.html
California on US map image from http://www.geographyalmanac.com/information/california/

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