To borrow a line from John Greene "I believe we have a choice in this world about how to tell sad stories." I feel like in this moment I have a choice in how to tell this story, the story of how Daniel & I met and began our lives together, and I want to remeber it with all of the happiness that I felt in that moment.
Through the years our marriage has brought both of us an enormous amount of both pain and happiness. I think that's pretty normal. Marriage is hard, everybody struggles with one thing or another. Some of our story has already been published in the book on interfaith marriages "In Faith & In Doubt" this is the story if how we met:
This photo was taken shortly after we started courting
we were working on memorizing the book of 1 Peter together.
Daniel and I met at church. He was a friend of one of my friends and we would all chat after church or hang out together at youth group. I liked him, because he asked good question, he seemed to be trying to understand me - something I'd never experienced with a guy before. And he was deep. He was serious and intelligent, gentle and thoughtful, and when He spoke his words pointed to Christ. He ocassionally led youth group and when he did I felt he made the scriptures come alive. Everyone knew he'd be a pastor one day - it was obvious. He was also quite a bit older than me. When we started emailing, I was 15 and he was 19.
From our first Christmas together.
I wrote emails to almost all of my friends, (it was the year or so before texting became popular). I had pen pals all over the world and wrote to lots of girls and a few other guys, mostly ones I had met at youth camp. Daniel was my only friend who would reply right away, and stay on topic.
Daniel & I wrote mostly about what we were reading and what we were thinking. He leant me books on theology, and I would ask questions about them. He emailed me every day. One time I didn't reply the same day, I thought "I don't really want our friendship to become too intimate or too intense - after all, he is the one guy in my life right now that I can talk to without worrying does he like me? and I want to keep it that way" he emailed me later in the day asking "ARE YOU OKAY?!!! Did you get sick or something?" I was like whoa. No one had noticed me like that before. I was hooked.
Then one day his email said that he was engaged to a girlfriend that he had not mentioned to me even once. I was more than surprised, more than shocked, I was heartbroken. That was the first moment I realized how important Daniel was to me. One of my first thoughts was but he was supposed to marry me!!
That relationship didn't work out and when it ended I was right there, waiting. Shortly after his break up we went to the same summer church camp. We sat together at every meeting and every meal. We spent so much time together that someone mistook me for his wife, only we were "just friends". That week began the conversation of "is this something more?" The day he asked me if he could ask my dad if he could court me, I was walking on air.
Our first date was for my 16th birthday. Daniel took me to see Riverdance. It was wonderful, though the best part was sitting close enough to Daniel that our shoulders touched. It was electric.
Our engagement portrait.
We courted for about a year, he asked me to marry him on my 17th birthday and we were married five (long, awful) months later.
|This was taken Christmas 2001|
Daniel worked four different jobs in that first year of marriage. A few months in commercial pest control, awhile in restaurant management and finally ended the year in new car sales (he got the job the day Beth was born!!)
I had a lot if time to myself that year. I slept alone in our apartment (while Daniel closed the restaurant, cleaning till 2am) anxious about all of the strange noises in a new environment. I went to church by myself for the first time, while Daniel worked. Looking back I feel like God was preparing me for what I'd walk through a few years later. I learned something about obeying God even if I was the only one. There were entire days I'd spend just reading. Reading "Little Women" as a newlywed is a totally different experience than reading it at any other season of life! After Beth was born I spent many days just sitting on the couch reading & nursing all day long. It was a hard season, and yet a good one.
During that time I heard God speak to me for the first time. If you'd asked me at the time how believers know God and hear from Him I would have said "sola scriptura" the Scriptures Alone. But it happened anyway - God spoke to me. I was sitting there in a communion service, I was pregnant with Beth and just pouring out my heart to God, struggling in every way. In that moment I heard God say "I will never leave you. I will never ever let you go." That is a moment I have carried close to my heart in all of the ups and downs of life since then.
It was a hard year for me, but the next year was even harder... but you'll have to read about it tomorrow!!