People used to tell me, "God will bring you a husband when you least expect it!"
That never made sense to me, because I was never not praying for or keeping my eyes open for a husband. I wasn't desperate. I wasn't chasing down every potential candidate. But I desired marriage and I was always aware.
So how in the world would God bring me a husband when I "least expected it"?
When my family moved from Vermont to Virginia, I agreed with myself that I would not get into a relationship for at least six months. A year was better.
There were many reasons for this.
After years of praying for a husband, now I said "No" to marriage.
And for the first time in my life, unknown to me, God said "Yes" to my prayers.
Soon after beginning to attend our new church, one of the associate pastors asked me: "Have you met Paul?"
"No. Who's Paul?"
"He's one of the pastoral interns here and runs the caregroup for young adults. You know--not in college, but not with families of their own yet."
The singles group. Uh-huh. I saw where this was going. Still, if it meant I might meet some young ladies of my age and situation, I was game.
One Sunday thereafter, the family sitting in the pew ahead of us introduced themselves. During the course of the conversation, they asked: "Have you met our son Paul? He runs a caregroup for people of your age."
Paul again? I conjured up the image of the sort of man I would never have an interest in. Had to keep those mental and emotional walls up.
One night, three weeks after we had moved, my brother needed a ride to youth group at our new church. Bone-weary and heart-weary, I nevertheless reluctantly said yes. While waiting for my brother, I mingled with the church-goers who were enjoying refreshments following the evening service. ("Oh yeah, they have evening services too.")
"Hey!" The same associate pastor discovered me amongst the families. "You're here! Stay right there. I'm going to find Paul!"
Apparently, there was just no escaping this Paul guy. Who was so intent on making sure that I met him?
Paul, at that moment, was trying to sneak away from the gathering to go home and tackle his mountain of seminary homework. But the intrepid pastor found him.
"Paul! There's someone I want you to meet!"
Reluctant to be torn away from his student duties and suspicious of match-making (which Paul had specifically forbidden), Paul followed the pastor.
And neither of us had any idea that we were about to meet The One.
After an hour of discussion, my evaluation of Paul was TOO MUCH PERSON. He had a strong and very masculine physical presence, a resonant voice, a direct way of speaking, and a lot of energy. Frankly, he scared me a little. Past experience with the leader-type personalities made me wary of bullying behavior. Paul didn't bully me but... I didn't know him, so I didn't trust him.
So when Paul asked me out to coffee a little over a week later, I said no.
Paul, however, is not the sort of man to give up easily. Maybe there were reasons for my caution. Maybe I needed to develop the friendship at a slower pace. So he waited and prayed and kept reaching out to me in little ways--inviting me to caregroup, loaning me fantasy books, offering for me to come early to caregroup to hang out with his sister.
As I got to know Paul better, I quickly realized that I needed to adjust my initial evaluation of Paul. He wasn't scary. He wasn't a bully. He wasn't even TOO MUCH PERSON.
In fact, he was... Christ-like. And--to my shock--he was also quickly becoming my best friend.
His parents trusted and respected him. His sister was very close to him and had nothing but positive things to say about him. The pastors at church invested a great deal of time, trust, and responsibility in him. He listened to me, even when he had a differing opinion, and treated people with respect and compassion. Most compellingly, he had a burning love for the Lord that translated into every aspect of his life.
He didn't just talk the talk. He walked the walk. His life was an open book and his "free time" was spent serving others.
In February, Paul asked me to join him for coffee and I said no. In May, Paul asked me to join him in exploring if marriage might be in our future. I said yes. In October, Paul asked me to join him in his entire future life. I said YES!
It is so strange to me now, looking back on the whole year of 2017. From meeting to marriage, our relationship was 11 months. And yet I am absolutely confident that my "yes" to Paul aligned with the Lord's "yes" to me. The Lord brought us together, in a manner far beyond my wildest imagination. He literally uprooted me from my entire former life just so I could join a thriving, healthy church and meet the man whose mission was meant to be mine also.
The Lord really did answer my prayers when I least expected it. And He didn't just answer them mediocrely, giving me the bare minimum of what I had asked for. He answered "exceedingly abundantly above all that I could ask or think." (Eph. 3:20)
Why? Because He's God, and He loves blessing His children.
In the coming posts, I'll tell more about our story and group them under the blog category "Our Story."
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.