How did I get here? I reflect on this question often. From a small town in Nebraska, how did I get to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. To this place? To this day? Where I am happier and more at peace than I ever dreamed was possible?
The path was not straight or clear. I moved here for a boyfriend in an abusive relationship that did not end well. I was alone in a strange city living with people (angels) I hardly knew who took me in to help me get back on my feet. After attempting and failing to restart school at the University of Iowa, I ended up at Mount Mercy. That place on the hill, the people I met, and the mentors I “stumbled upon” literally changed my life.
I hurt a lot of people including myself navigating through the next few years. I carried and continued to build up emotional baggage that would take me years to undo. I almost married soon after college because I was so focused on my plan and timeline instead of God’s. We courageously called it off one month before the wedding.
I had stumbled and wondered for so long, I wanted clear direction. I was forcing life and trying to take control of the plan. But God had a greater one. I often wonder where I would be had I not listened to those “feelings, longings, questions” that brought us to call off that wedding. I might have been the star of my puny production, but I would have missed a chance to be a small part of God’s grand show.
Once I gave up on my plan to get married, God allowed me to find love I never could’ve dreamed of. My husband has been the best thing that ever happened to me for so many reasons. God put him in my life and in my story to help me get to this place. To this moment. Without God and without Mitch, I would not be here.
My husband is loyal, respectful and honorable. So different than anyone I dated before. In fact, for the first two years, I was convinced I was not good enough for him. I almost destroyed our relationship because of my own issues and insecurities. But he saw me. I have a feeling God helped him see me. I was wounded and afraid…a work in progress. I didn’t trust Mitch, God, or anyone else. Those first two years were tough. He was patient, even as I pushed him to the edge.
And then I pushed so far that he needed a break. I disrespected him in a real way by calling his loyalty and honor into question. He broke up with me. I had been punishing Mitch for years of what other men had done to me, and I wasn’t dealing with any of it. I was spinning and no closer to healing. Mitch calling things off was a wakeup call. It hurt so bad, but I needed it and I wasn’t going to waste it. God gave me space to seek out the guidance and healing I needed to become a good partner for Mitch.
During “the break” I questioned whether we should be together. Wasn’t it supposed to be easy? But I never stopped thinking about him. I prayed for God to help me heal and move on, but Mitch was always on my mind. I wanted to be with him, but more than that, I realized I wanted him to be happy. For the first time, I wanted to put another person’s happiness before my own. Whoa. This was an ENORMOUS step on my own personal journey. I had worked a lot of my own issues, and realized through all of it that I could trust Mitch.
We reconnected and we started to see each other again. It was hard, and it was uncomfortable. I knew that even if we didn’t end up together, God was teaching us both something through this relationship and I had invited Him in wholeheartedly this time around. We shared fears, guilt, shame, and stories that were hard to tell, but they helped us understand each other. We aired what we struggled with in each other. We talked about our values, our dreams and our non-negotiables. One was that neither of us saw divorce as an option…at all.
We spent the next 4 years learning about each other and growing together. People kept asking if we were getting married and what we were waiting for. I’ll admit, I got anxious and antsy about it from time-to-time and put pressure on Mitch, but I tried to remind myself of how beautiful this was all unfolding because we were being patient. I came from a multi-divorce family and he didn’t. The way we were raised was different. Our life experiences varied greatly. We had different love languages and communication styles. We had to work through all of that to find common ground and a starting point.
We laid in bed a couple days before we were to get married. In the silence, I felt compelled to ask, “Are we sure we should do this?” It wasn’t that I wasn’t sure, but I wasn’t sure that I was sure either. Neither of us were. I mean…we’re talking FOREVER! But we also knew divorce was not an option. I spun on it all for a while, and then I gave it up to God. I realized I was trying to reason my way through all of this with logic and I was seeking a straight path and clear plan again. That isn’t God’s way. All I knew for sure is that I wanted to spend every day of my life with this man figuring it out.
God brought me Mitch. Mitch gave me space and grace to work through my past. God blessed him with the strength, courage, and patience to get us here. Mitch and his family brought me back to church and to God. God brought me to this place and this day where I never could have in a million years dreamed of being. The road was hard, and I was uncertain through most of it, but looking back gives me more courage to let go and follow His plan from here forward. To give up familiarity and step into what God has ahead no matter how uncomfortable it might be. To make faith-based decisions instead of fear-based decisions. My willingness to surrender to God’s plan brought me Mitch.
I wrote this poem about our wedding day and now see it as a token of love and surrender not only to Mitch, but also to God. Our marriage is a reflection of His goodness and a gift to each other. We work each day to respect, honor, and cherish it.
Heart pounding. Dry mouth. Sweaty palms.
Everyone is out there. Waiting.
You are waiting. Right?
Are you sure? This is forever.
In front of everyone. In front of God.
We don’t know how. But I think we know why.
Will we ever knew for sure?
Excited. Scared. Shaking.
Dad and I lock arms. He pats my hand.
We turn the corner. Tears stream down.
I see your eyes. Your smile. This is it. I am sure.
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.