Monday, March 31, 2014

Dark, Dirty, Glorious Love

I know my husband is the one God made for me. I know this beyond a shadow of a doubt. I've shared so many other pieces of my life here, I am going to share this one too.
Jason walked into my life in 1994. I was 17 years old, a freshman in college. It was a small Christian college in Iowa. My first memory of Jason is from before I had met him, before I had ever laid eyes on him or heard his name. It started my first week of school. There was a small local newspaper in my room. When I saw it, the front page caught my eye. There was a story about a young girl who had just been killed in a car/train accident. When I read it I felt so filled with sorrow for her family. That night I prayed for them.

The first day of classes there were announcements, I believe they were read over some sort of speaker system. One of the announcements was for a prayer request for a freshman student whose girlfriend had just been killed in a car accident. I immediately put it together that she must have been the girl I had seen in the paper. I felt so bad for whoever that guy was.

That night when I was back in my dorm I sat down with my journal, which was and still is the way I pray. I prayed for that guy. It was such a young and immature prayer, but it must have been exactly what I was supposed to pray. I prayed that he would be OK. I prayed that he would heal and that God would bring someone else in his life to love. It was the silly and romantic prayer of a kid. I had no idea how much that prayer would shape the rest of my life.

A few weeks later I was sitting with my sister outside the cafeteria waiting for some friends. While we were waiting, this big, tall and sweaty guy walked past us to get his lunch.(Sweaty because he had just finished track practice) As soon as he was past I looked at my sister. I'm pretty sure there was drool running down my chin as I said "I am SO gonna marry him! He is SO hot!" (Sorry, I had a little "Valley Girl" accent going on back then.) My sister can back me up on this story. She thought I was crazy. She rolled her eyes at me and I believe her exact words were "YUCK!" (Her vision has always been a little off, probably all that eye rolling.)

After this chance encounter with prince charming, I spent all of my free time trying to figure out who this dashing guy was. There was some light stalking involved, I'm not too proud of that. I finally casually made my way into his circle of friends. I worked up the courage and decided to seek advice from his roommate. I can still vividly pull that conversation up in my head. I told him I liked Jason. I asked him if Jason was seeing anyone or if he thought I could ask him out. His reaction was immediate. He told me that was a very bad idea. He then told me the story of how Jason's girlfriend had just died. As he was telling me this, I could feel my heart just sink.

Somehow, this sad story didn't really stop me. It did slow me down and make me much more cautious, however. I spent months just hanging out with Jason. He never invited me anywhere alone with him, he'd always ask my roommate and I if we wanted to do something, I'd quickly say yes and she'd say no, then add "but you guys go ahead without me."
I spent many hours holding various wires for him while he was installing his stereo system or helping him sand the outside of his car. (I was clearly in love, because you couldn't pay me to do that stuff now!) After a few months we started dating.

It was a crazy mess, we didn't do any of it right. Jason broke up with me twice over the next year, his reason was always the same. He didn't love me as much as he loved his girlfriend who died. It broke my heart. I had no idea how to respond to that. He was breaking up with me for someone who had died. I spent days just sobbing from the pain and the confusion of the whole situation.

Looking back, I know what a mess that all was. I know he was still in so much pain from losing her, he needed more time. Despite the pain of his rejection, I went back. I loved him. I knew he loved me. I knew he needed me to be OK with him still loving her. I don't know how or where I learned that level of maturity at 17, God just gave me what I needed to get through it.

We were so young. So many things would've been so much easier if we had gone slower or waited longer. My parents thought we were too young and going too fast. Jason's parents weren't thrilled and thought it was way too soon for him. God knew what he was doing.

God brought us together at that time to protect us, to protect us from ourselves. Jason had lost a ton of weight, he wasn't sleeping or eating. He had seriously contemplated suicide. He was spiraling quickly out of control.

I was in a very bad place too. I was running around, partying all the time. I was so desperately alone I would follow anyone who paid me attention.

I smile now, thinking about the beginning of our relationship. I wanted that affection so badly. I can see exactly how God orchestrated my life so that my only choice was to fall onto him. He created this magnetic attraction to Jason in me, knowing that Jason was completely unable to meet it, even just a little bit. God knew that would create my need to fall straight into his arms, it would draw me to him.

God knew that by putting me in Jason's life it would give him hope. He knew that when Jason heard how I'd prayed for him before I ever knew him, he would hear how much God loved him. He knew that Jason needed someone to chatter his ear off, to drag him out of the black hole he was sitting in.

It was young love. It was crazy, broken and dysfunctional love. Being able to look back and see how clearly God's hand was involved is the glue that holds it all together. There have been times I've wanted to walk away from it. Honestly, there have been many times.

I am thankful I have documented so much of our lives. When things get tough, I have proof of who put us together. No matter what kind of division has been planted in between us, I know, beyond doubt, this love was created by God, not me. It had nothing to do with Jason or I, God planned us. He made each part of us to be the exact thing the other would need. 

It can be ugly and painful, but honestly, nothing beautiful comes without pain. Every battle we face draws us closer to each other. When he hurts me and breaks my heart, it pushes me to my knees. It gives me no choice but to cry out to my Daddy. God then heals me and gives me the strength and grace to be able to continue.

Thank you, Lord for the ugly and broken but beautiful life you've given me!

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