The Story of Us: Part 5

For new readers, you should read parts 1-4 of this post series if this is going to make any sense. You can read Part 1 by clicking here.

Resolution and Recommitment:

Elizabeth told me she had been thinking about me--about us. She told me the last few months of talking had convinced her we still loved each other, and I couldn't argue. I felt the same way. But this wasn't a scene from a movie; it was real life. I told her we needed to move slowly. I wasn't rushing head first into disaster again! We decided to keep in touch and test the waters. I thought it might be a bad idea to make a life-changing emotional decision in the midst of stressful, chaotic circumstances. I needed to get home and clear my head before I committed to anything.

At home I weighed the decision. I loved Elizabeth, but how could I know that she wouldn't hurt me again? The truth is, none of us can ever know this about our spouses. And the the hard part to swallow is that your spouse (or future spouse) will almost certainly hurt you at some point. Those who are closest to us have the greatest potential to deeply hurt us. But loving someone means being vulnerable. I'm not a Shakespeare scholar, but I'm pretty sure he said, "'Tis better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all." I probably butchered that quote, but you get the idea. It was a risk, but life without risk is not true life. I called her to tell her that I was playing for keeps. This was real.

We talked over Christmas break and into the next semester. Things were going amazingly well. We had both learned and matured in our time apart. We were nearing college graduation and were getting serious about our adult lives. I had decided not to go to medical school, but I still wasn't sure about after graduation. What is a Science geek qualified to do? The obvious answers are: research, medical school, teaching, or Wal-Mart. I thought about Wal-Mart really hard, and then decided to look for a teaching job. I have always enjoyed public speaking, writing, and Science; so teaching seemed like a good fit. I spoke with two men that I greatly respect, and they both thought teaching was a great choice for me.

April of 2006 I interviewed for a Science teaching position at Calvary Christian Academy in Fort Walton Beach, FL. Admittedly, I chose this school so I could live near Elizabeth. If we were going to be serious and make it work, I needed to end this long distance business and spend some time with her--face-to-face! The school accepted my application and told me to arrive in August to start preparing for the school year. 

It would have been nice to spend the summer with Elizabeth, but I'm a glutton for punishment. I signed myself up for an outreach program ("TruthAlive"), which meant I'd be traveling the country for eight weeks during the summer. So Elizabeth and I graduated from college in May 2006 on the exact same day, then she flew to Pensacola the day after our graduations and spent the day with my family and I. It was a great time! I was so amazed by how God had brought everything together, even with all the bumps in the road. I went back to Minnesota for a week or so to earn a little extra cash and then turned right back around to Florida/Alabama. Elizabeth and I got to spend about a week together before I left for my summer travels. It was fantastic! We were so thrilled--until that week ended. Now we had to say goodbye for the summer. It was a very difficult goodbye. Elizabeth told me later that she had to pull her car over because she was crying too hard to drive. I missed her so bad it hurt; but we had waited this long--what's a few more months? 

That summer my partner and I went to Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Tennessee to help churches run week-long youth ministry outreaches. My partner was my good friend Josh Florence, who is now raising support to be a missionary in Papua New Guinea (click here to see their mission video) . We had a fantastic time that summer. Elizabeth and I snuck in a few phone calls (actually, a lot) and sent letters and cards. Distance made our hearts grow fonder.

I flew home to Minnesota at the beginning of August, packed up my life and headed south. The experience of transplanting from North to South is discussed further in my post, "The American Transplantation." I didn't know where I would live or if I could make it on my own, but I trusted that if God wanted Elizabeth and I together, He would take care of me on my adventure. I arrived in Fort Walton Beach, FL in August of 2006 to start my life as a teacher (see also "What Teaching Taught Me"). I lived two hours away from Elizabeth, but that was closer than we had been since we lived in Minnesota! Being a teacher is a difficult task, but every Friday I would be so excited to get in my car and go see the one I loved! Occasionally she would come to Fort Walton to visit me too. Many times we met in the middle, which happened to be Pensacola. Her grandfather lived there and we would stay at his house. Everything was going great! 

I was broke. I mean really broke. Thankfully I graduated from college debt free, but I had no money. I wanted to marry this girl, so I went ring shopping. I bought her a fake ring to save money. Kidding. I picked out a beautiful ring for her. And check this out! We did NOT go ring shopping together, but after I bought it, she said it was the exact one she "had her eye on". I know what you're thinking--she just said that to make me feel good. I asked her that, and she vows it was the ring she wanted. So score one for Dan! But seriously, one of the great things about being married to the person I believe God intended me to marry is that we see so many things the same way. We disagree too, I'm not being stupid. It was just another hint to me that we were meant to be. 

Elizabeth was also teaching, which was nice because it meant we both had a decent chunk of time off around Christmas. We made plans to visit Minnesota for Christmas. I had plans too. Wednesday, December 20th, 2006 Elizabeth and I braved the frigid cold to take a walk around Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. I love that lake at night! It was cold, so we needed to be close--how convenient. I started whispering in her ear all the reasons why I loved her, why she was so incredible, and why I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. Then I knelt down in the ice and snow and asked her to marry me. She was a little bit excited, but only a little (sarcasm). I will remember it forever. We went back to my Dad's house that night to tell him (see picture on left). Everyone else found out the next day.

After Christmas it was back to the grind. We went back home to teach and kept seeing each other every weekend. She developed relationships with my new friends in Fort Walton Beach and everybody there was happy for us (except my students--they didn't care). We had a great support network there. One family in particular, the Dixons, treated us like their very own children. When God puts people like that in my path, it reminds me He is always looking out for me (and my family). They helped us with anything and everything. We love them like family! Elizabeth and I had a great time dating during those months. The only downside was we had to drive through Gulf Breeze (cop fortress/city revenue generator) every weekend to see each other! 

We were set to be married July 7th, 2007; how appropriate--the number of completion. We found out later that thousands of other people got married on that day! We're not as creative as we thought, but it was still a great day. I won't lie--it was not the best day of our lives. It was amazing and crazy and busy and a little stressful; but the best days were yet to come. Marriage is just the kickoff, and the life that follows is the blessing!

Genesis 2:18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone.

Proverbs 18:22 Whoso finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor of the Lord.

Proverbs 5:18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.

We took off the next day on our honeymoon to the Rocky Mountains in Denver. I knew whoever married Elizabeth would be a lucky man, but perhaps it's more appropriate to say a blessed man. There is no greater blessing in my life! One day our child(ren) will grow up and leave home. My jobs will change. My health may fluctuate. But until death separates us, I can always count on one thing--my wife loves me and is on my side!

I hope you enjoyed our story, and if you did, please share it on social media or tell your friends to visit my blog. Thanks for reading!

Being married has taught me a few things. Check out "Five Things I Don't Say To My Wife".

We started a family! See "Baby Waiting" or "Why I Love Being a Dad".

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