When I graduated High School I didn’t really understand who I was. I had a really rocky childhood and went through a lot of hard family things. Completely and totally by God, I moved to Missouri and attended a Discipleship program called Master’s Commission. Here I am hearing about this God who I have heard about for years, but just didn’t really understand who He was to me. I had nothing to compare Him too, no way to understand Him, but I wanted to. I wanted to experience Him and I wanted to grow. After a couple of months of struggling to figure out why I was there, I dove all in. I got real about my relationship with Christ and things started to change. I started to change.
I had a boyfriend back home at the time, he was my best friend. I would call him whenever I could and celebrate all that was going on in my life and share everything God was doing, but it just wasn’t the same. He didn’t seem to celebrate with me. He didn’t want to celebrate with me. He didn’t seem to understand.
I had been in a program for the past few months surrounded by men who were seeking after God relentlessly. These were guys who celebrated God working in my life and in the lives of those around me. They were actively serving the church, actively growing in their relationships with Christ. But I wasn’t experiencing that with my boyfriend, and I started longing to. The more my heart grew in the Lord, the more my heart longed for a man who loved Him too.
But I loved him. I wasn’t ready to let go. So I held on.
In early December there was an outreach that the Kid’s Ministry was in charge of. We went to three different lower income schools that day, put on an assembly, and handed out gifts to all the kids. Chad, my roommate, and I ended up having to carpool throughout the day. It was then that I really got to learn a lot about Chad. We all talked throughout the day, we laughed a lot, and had a really good time. It was probably the most I had heard Chad talk the entire year. Chad was always this quiet guy in the kid’s practicum, we never heard much from him. I believe that was the start of a really good friendship between us.
Christmas break came around and I began to feel really conflicted. I had a lot of time to think. I was still in a relationship with the guy back home, but things felt so different. I couldn’t talk to him about what God was doing in my life, I just felt like he wasn’t excited for me. Something in my heart was tugging me towards Chad, something in me was starting to like him, but I didn’t want to. To be honest, I didn’t think I deserved him.
After the holidays I received a phone call about a very exciting opportunity to dance at a Women’s Conference. I began choreographing the dance every free moment I had, but then I hit a wall. One day as I was practicing and praying about every twist and turn, I felt off, something didn’t feel right. I could not come up with any more choreography. I could not focus on what I was doing. It was in that moment that I felt extremely heavy. I felt like God was telling me something. I felt lead to call my boyfriend, so I did. Out of nowhere I asked him if he wanted to be with me. Taken off guard, he told me he wanted to be with me, but he was starting to have feelings for someone else. I decided we needed to take a break and get our heads clear. I was getting ready to go on a mission’s trip and I was going to take that time away to think, and then figure out what I felt I should do.
I told Chad what was going on in practicum, and he gave me some long speech about letting go of things so that we could receive what God wanted for us. That holding onto this relationship may have been keeping me from what God wanted to place in my hands because my fist was too tightly clenched on what I thought I wanted. The next day my husband’s brother (go figure) was a guest speaker in chapel. He talked about needing to let go of things in our life so God could take us where we He wanted to. He had everyone write on a piece of paper something we were holding on to that we knew we needed to let go of, to crumple it up and throw it at the front of the room and to leave. It was supposed to be symbolic of leaving it behind and never coming back for it. I knew that I was holding on to my boyfriend, I knew I had not fully let go and I was supposed to. So I wrote his name down, I crumpled it up, threw it to the front of the room and ran upstairs. I ran upstairs to call my boyfriend and cut it all off, not to call him after I thought about it some more, but to end it all because I knew that was what I needed to do. Then I called my mom right after that and told her, I knew if I told her than I would have accountability.
The next few weeks were hard. It was a big letting go process for me. I was learning that God had something better in store for me, I didn’t know what it was, but I just knew He had to have a different plan. After I broke up with my boyfriend, Chad really thought he had a chance. He thought that since I was actually free, maybe by the end of the dating fast he would have a chance with me. But I still didn’t want a relationship with him, he was still just my friend. So I needed to clear things up. I told Chad that I needed to talk to him. We sat backstage of one of the kids chapels and I downloaded my life story to him. I told him how I hadn’t been a Christian my entire life, my dad was addicted to drugs, my mom had a rough past, and just my life was a mess. I told him that I crossed every line I possibly could with my last boyfriend and left barely hanging on to my virginity. I was a mess. He didn’t want to be with me. He was a great guy and he deserved something much better. I cried. He sat quietly barely saying anything. He hugged me afterwards, just stood there hugging me, didn’t say anything. The next day he came back to me saying none of that mattered. It didn’t matter who I was before, it mattered who he saw now.
To say I was shocked at the response Chad gave me is an understatement. I could not believe that he was willing to forget all of that. I was shocked that a man who made far better choices for his life than I did for my own would be willing to leave all that in the past for a future he saw with me. He left it at those words though, “none of that matters.” That was all he said. He didn’t push me; he didn’t do anything to make me change my mind. It was like he was telling me that if that is why I don’t want to be with him then it doesn’t matter. Then he stepped back, nothing more.
My heart and mind didn’t change overnight. I had no idea what I wanted, I had no idea what I felt, and I had no idea who I was. Something inside of me was tugging at my heart, something inside of me was pointing towards Chad, but I buried those feelings under feelings of inadequacy and regret.
Chad never changed though; he was still my best friend. He still listened to me talk, he still encouraged me, and he still made me laugh. Little by little those feelings in me changed, little by little they grew. I loved watching Chad with the kids at church, it inspired me. I loved watching him serve, it challenged me. I loved that I felt like I could talk to him about everything, he was my best friend. There was a special place growing in my heart for Chad, and I didn’t fully understand it. It was entirely different than anything I had experienced before.
This story is not only our love story, but it is my story. It is my story of finding and discovering my worth in the eyes of my Heavenly Father.
Before I could admit to myself that maybe I was beginning to have feelings for Chad, I had to face those feelings of inadequacy in my heart. I had to confront all those feelings of regret. I realized for so long I knew that my ex-boyfriend wasn’t the one. I knew that I couldn’t have what I needed in him, but I was willing to settle. I was willing to settle because I had given so much of myself to him that I could never get back. I didn’t want to leave him with only pieces of myself for someone else. So I wanted to make it work.
But then something clicked. God sent His son to die for all that junk! Those regrets, those feelings of inadequacy, and those mistakes that He knew I was going to make; He already took those to the cross. Just because I crossed the line with this guy, didn’t mean I was supposed to be with him. God forgave me for all of that; I just needed to forgive myself. I needed to write it on a piece of paper, crumple it up, throw it to the front of the room and leave it there never picking it back up again. I didn’t need to punish myself by settling for something I knew wasn’t for me. Ladies, might I just add, no matter how good it looks if it isn’t God’s will, it’s settling. This guy may have not been bad, he was a good guy, but he was not God’s best. God had something better in store for me, and I knew it wasn’t this guy. I couldn’t be with someone who didn’t get excited about what God was doing in my life. No matter what mistakes I made, they didn’t matter to God. He still loved me and wanted the best for my life. I may have broken up with him a month ago, but it took all that time for it to make sense to me. It took time for me to let go of those regrets and forgive myself. I finally realized that I was worth what God had for me. I was worth more than my mistakes.
I wasn’t sure that Chad was that person though. Little by little he intrigued me. He made me passionate about God and the kids we worked with because he was so passionate about it. I felt challenged by him. I felt inspired by him. I told him any girl who had him as a husband was going to be lucky. I just wasn’t sure if that was me. Another month goes by and I am sitting on a bus for hours on the way to Florida with plenty of time to think. You know what I think? I think I might be falling for this guy. It has never happened this way before. My best friend, this guy who inspires me to be a better person, who I feel like I can trust with my deepest secrets; I think I like him.
I spent the whole week in Florida tossing around those thoughts, wondering if it was just in the moment, or if I really thought there was something stirring in my heart. By the end of the trip, I knew I liked him.
I finally told him that I thought I was falling for him. Even though I was falling for him, I wasn’t ready to move forward with that. The dating fast was still a month from being over, and I just wasn’t ready. I did not want to get into another relationship and it end up being meaningless, I wanted to know that the next person I entered into a relationship with was the one that God wanted me to marry.
I was tired of doing things wrong in the past, and I wanted to do things right this time. For me to have peace about moving forward, I wanted to know that this was God’s will. I prayed about it a lot, and I asked God to help me to know He was the one before I even entered into a relationship with him. God did just that, in the simplest way. February 19, 2009 I gave Chad a hug and immediately I felt God speak to me, “This man is going to be your husband.”
Then March 15, 2009 rolled around, the day the dating fast ended. I wasn’t expecting anything to happen. My roommates and I were getting ready for church when I got a text that said, “Look on your doorstep.” I got my roommates attention and told them the text I just got. One of my roommates came running out of her bedroom throwing the front door open and squeals like a little school girl. All my roommates wondered why I was just standing there. I ran to the front door and found a dozen roses in a beautiful vase, my favorite chocolates, and a piece of paper. I opened the paper to find Proverbs 31 written out on the pages with a note on the bottom saying, “You are my Proverbs 31 woman.” Tears filled my eyes; I didn’t even know how to react.
In that moment I realized just how amazing God’s love story is for us. The rest is history.