The following is Part I of our love story (from my point-of-view). I hope to have Andy write his version soon!
Ever since I can remember, I’ve dreamed of the day when I would wear a beautiful white dress and marry my knight in shining armor. I dreamed of a home of our own, the smell of little babies, and growing old together. I didn’t know who or when or how, but I knew that that’s what I wanted. It’s what my parents had taught us girls to hope for, and what our deepest souls already knew to dream of. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to wait.
As my sisters and I grew, “boys” became more and more of a conversation piece. We talked about the qualities we looked for in a man, we talked about what kind of wedding dress we wanted, and we talked about what boys were cute. (Come on…what young girl doesn’t?) And so we grew and pined after our future husbands, observing different young men in our lives, and all the while staying mostly out of the dating scene. Those years were sometimes lonely. We saw friends of ours with boyfriends, and we craved that too. We dreamed of the day when we too would get a bouquet of roses, be taken out to dinner, and have someone special to talk about and do things with. I believe that desire is inherent in every woman, and that God placed it there for a reason. How we handle that desire is what controls our fate. For my sisters and I, our choice was different from a lot of other girls. We didn’t just want to date around and give our hearts to any boy…but only those that were worthy and only in God’s proper timing.
After finishing high school, I started school at the local state university that was literally minutes from my parent’s house. This was something we prayed about, and I really felt like the Lord was leading me to get my degree in Elementary Education. I joined an on-campus Christian group called Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, although I was not actively involved that first year. I think I was too timid and afraid to take the risk of going somewhere where I didn’t know anyone. My friends and I would go to large group and then leave…all the while making excuses why we couldn’t be part of a small group Bible study or go to other events. Looking back, I was hopelessly scared.
And then came Capernwray. The Christmas break of my freshman year, I was invited to go to England with my new but dear friend Caris. Her brother was at a Bible school at Capernwray Hall, and we would be going to visit him, attend a New Year’s “Holiday” there, and do a little sight seeing. Looking back, our parents might have been a bit crazy. 🙂 I was eighteen and she was sixteen, and here we were tramping around England all by ourselves. Yet, I see how good it was for me. In many ways, I was forced to become the adult that I was afraid to be.
I’m not sure what I expected at Capernwray, but it certainly wasn’t what I experienced. I see now that I was looking for a way out of the scary world of college. Like a princess waiting for her prince to “save” her, I was looking for something to save me from loneliness, fear, and oblivion. What I found was strength…strength found only through Jesus Christ.
Everything about Caperwray revolved around one thought…giving your life to God that He might be able to use it. Forfeiting your life so that it is no longer you living, but Christ in you. During my time there, I realized that God was putting me at NAU for a reason, and that I needed to stop running away from it. I needed to stop searching so earnestly after marriage and children, thinking that those things, although honorable and worthy, would save me from everything, and start letting Him live through me.
The next few months were difficult. I was in the process of laying down my dreams and desires at the feet of the only One who can be entrusted with them, and learning to be bold in Him. However, by the end of that semester I was slated to lead an Intervarsity girl’s small group the following year with my friend, as well as drive 700 miles to Colorado with a bunch of college kids I didn’t know to Intervarsity’s Chapter Camp. My two friend’s and I really didn’t know anybody when we went, but at the end of that week we came home part of a family of believers. It was such a neat experience, and truly a maturing one for me.
It is here that I note that there were a lot of guys at Chapter Camp. Never before had I seen so many grown-up guys…before they had always been merely boys. I don’t deny that a part of me hoped that one of them might be “the one”. There was even a guy from another state that I did keep in touch with for a little while, but it was very quickly apparent (even before we left camp) that that relationship was going nowhere. It just wasn’t right. And then there was another one, someone from our group. Without going into details, there was never anything “official” but there very well could have been. Never before had I experienced that kind of attention from anyone, let alone from such a great godly guy. Yet, in my heart-of-hearts, I knew that it just wasn’t right.
I wanted it to be right. I so desired to finally have “someone”, and such a great guy to boot. But as I prayed about it, I felt like God was clearly telling me “no”. I didn’t realize until then how hard it was to tell someone you really like and respect that you can never be more than friends. You feel like your heart is ripping out right along with them.
My heart really was ripping out of my chest, but it was being safely put in the Lord’s keeping. He had to be the Author of my love story, and I couldn’t write it for Him. I don’t deny, though, that it was hard. I kept wondering if there would ever be anyone else…if there ever could be anyone better. I feared that in laying this guy down, I risked the chance of never meeting anyone (despite my grandmother’s telling me that ‘men are like buses…there’s always another one coming’. lol!) Yet, I knew that I had to trust God. I knew that His plans for me were far better than my own.
It was then that the Lord put something very specific on my heart. It was a strange desire, and a thoroughly new one. And, truthfully, came out of the blue. Yet I see now how God was weaving our love story without me even knowing it.
That “thing” he put on my heart was HSA.