Ben came out of nowhere when I was 18. Suddenly, he was in a Facebook message telling me that he liked my blog post and then asking to write me letters during the fall. Before I knew it, he was standing in front of me, all sheepish, and warning me about his bad spelling.
Well, that didn’t bother me.
I liked the old-fashioned idea of letters. I liked that I had no real idea who this guy was. I had seen him here and there, and I remember thinking that whoever got to be his wife was going to be one lucky woman…because that smile…that smile was good. Little did I know that I would be his wife. Seriously. Out of nowhere.
In those first few weeks, we talked about all the serious stuff. Even though I was only 18, I was done wasting my time with small talk. I wasn’t going to spend months on fluff, only to find out six months in that we didn’t agree on something really important. And well, Ben felt the same way. He was tired of college girls that didn’t think for themselves, and I was tired of college guys who had no plans for life and no determination to get anything done.
And then one day a couple months in…we said, “hmmm…maybe we should talk about fun stuff…like our favorite colors.”
We wasted no time, and ended up having the best time.
Every letter that came from Ben had doodles all across the envelope. He could have just sent me empty envelopes and I’d have been happy. Soon the letters turned into phone calls, and the phone calls turned into Skype calls. The calls got longer and happened more often. We connected very quickly and very deeply. Then one October night, he called and couldn’t speak without tripping over every word. I think I filled in the blanks for him, and then answered the question he was trying to ask.
Yes, of course I’d date him!
November came and I went home for Thanksgiving. It was our first time together….really together…since only writing letters & calling on the phone. In our first few days together, we were already dressing up for the fun of it and taking photos together. I couldn’t imagine anything more fun…or anything feeling more right.
On the canoe dock in that same November, he told me he loved me. And surprisingly, he didn’t trip over his words this time. I loved him too, of course. How could I not? I’d never had a better friend. He wasn’t just another college guy, he was a young man. I could give my heart to a man.
By December, we were certain we were going to marry one another. And I knew it the moment we walked into a Chinese restaurant and the first thing he did was show me exactly where the bathroom was. YES. That was the moment.
Ben even asked my Dad to marry me (but that’s another story for another day…of which we smile & laugh about now). I turned 19 that January, and we continued to grow even closer to one another. And the best rule we ever made in our relationship was to never talk about anything serious past 10 pm. That’s still a rule in our home today. 🙂
In April, he and my siblings surprised me at Morro Bay. I have never been more surprised..over the moon…shocked…or shaky! On the beach in the spring, we really talked about marriage….time-lining what we wanted and what made sense for us. Dad had given us the OK by now (phew!).
So, we looked at rings in the summer (like one time, because I really didn’t care), waited and waited, grew closer and closer while we dreamed and dreamed.
Then just past the one year mark of dating, Christmas came. And he tripped over his words again.
And I said yes.
We had no idea what were doing or getting into, but we were gonna have that adventure together. And we did!
It’s the best yes that I ever made as a teenager. And that yes is turing into the best love story. It’s not some fragrant, fluffy rose bouquet. There have been a lot of tears, a lot of growing pains, a lot of hard things we didn’t expect, a lot of good things we never imagined for us, a lot of laughter, a lot of arguments (of which I drop the half-n-half in the grocery story), and a lot of forgiveness.
Yes, there are still bunches of wildflowers, outdoor picnics, and over the moon bursts of love…but mostly there’s grace. Grace for the humanity we bring to our marriage. Grace for the wilderness we get to walk side by side. Grace for the new people we keep changing into. Grace for the healing of our hearts. Grace for the broken world we’ve built together. Grace to always choose yes.
And then there is this joy that just keeps following God’s grace. And His grace is relentless while our broken selves learn what selfless is. Joy keeps on coming when happiness does not. It’s joy ever after, because God doesn’t end and His grace doesn’t end. And He never ends on us.
God is love. And he covers our pages with Himself, and meets our humanity with His grace and forgiveness.
That’s the real story.
God is the Reason for any happily, any joy, any still waters in the wilderness, rich laughter springing out of the dark, any wholeness in these beat-up human hearts.
How else could an 18 year old and a 20 year old meet then marry? How else could we choose yes all the way until death..if it wasn’t for God Himself and His grace to cover these young, naive, bruised and bleeding hearts?
God is the real story.
There is no better love story than the slow, persistent realization that it’s not about us at all, but rather about the richness of Who God is, and the wholeness we know in Him!
So I can confidently say that yes…the best is yet to come.
And yes, it has nothing to do with us.