Valentine's might be over (I hope you all ate chocolate, sniffed roses and snuggled with your luuuuv all day long!) but I have a few more luuuuuuuuuv posts to go. And this one is my own love story. The title is another Shakespeare quote. I've quoted him a lot this month; that fellow wrote a lot about love! And that sentiment is certainly true of my love story with Peter. It was a bumpy ride. For me anyways. I think Peter might have sailed merrily along through all of this....
Peter and I met as sophmores in high school at the tender age of 15. But it wasn't until we had attained the ripe old age and accompanying maturity of 17 that we began dating (I guess Peter was 18, which means he was even more mature). It was our senior year.
It was a predictably immature high school romance. We dated several months and then, tragically and surprisingly, our feelings changed. So we broke up. We went our separate ways but to the same university- Texas A&M. This wasn't on purpose. This happened because I was stupid enough to only apply to one public school in Texas and A&M was it. When it was determined that the finances were not available to go to a private school, I had no choice. I'm really the most pitiful Aggie a person has ever seen. I have regrets about my choice of colleges but I suppose if I hadn't gone there then I wouldn't be telling this story (and I'm so glad I am!).
My freshman year was so hard for me. I had had a close group of friends in high school and we spent hours upon hours together. This level of camaraderie has eluded me since those days. But never more so than that first year of college. It's not that I don't have good friends now. It's just that the amount of time you can spend just hanging out decreases rapidly outside of high school. In my experience, having less time to spend with friends really limits the depths of the relationships. None of my best friends went to A&M and I struggled to make strong relationships.
But Peter was there and we ended up doing things together by default since neither of us knew very many other people. This was uber unhealthy for me. In typical female fashion, I really wanted to still be good friends with my ex. In typical male fashion, Peter couldn't have cared less. Eventually there was some falling out, I don't presently remember what it was about (which will tell you how serious it must have been) and I stopped wanting his friendship and started hoping that he would die. "I don't actually want him to die because his family would miss him," I reasoned, "but it would be easier for me if he was dead."
It was a good thing to stop being friends with Peter though it left me even more lonely. But something was happening. Freshman year was difficult but it was a turning point in my life. A really wonderful thing occurred. I had always considered myself a Christian and had gone to college with a goal of getting closer to God. So I joined a freshman Bible study. I slowly realized that most of my beliefs actually contradicted teachings of Christianity. I realized that I either needed to believe and act like a Christian should or stop calling myself one. Though the latter was really never a valid option for me. So it came down to essentially changing my worldview from a secular-yet-quasi-spiritual, self-centered, materialistic, culturally acceptable one to a Biblical one. This was difficult and would have been impossible apart from God's grace. One of the most painful things was confronting the wickedness of my own heart. But, of course, that is why Christ came to die. Because we are all evil and in need of a savior. So there was pain but there was immense hope. And throughout my college years and beyond I continue to lean more and more on the promise of this hope in Christ that I had found.
Interestingly enough, across campus, Peter was having a similar experience. And these two experiences are really the crux of the story because had we not each become Christians, this story would be completely different. And it would have been more tragic than anything Shakespeare ever wrote. I shudder at the thought!
Fast forward to sometime Sophomore year. I no longer wish death on Peter and we've ended up going to the same church. We're not really friends but we have some common acquaintances and we can say hello to each other with no hard feelings.
One day around this time I'm sitting in my dorm room at my desk and I suddenly have the knowledge that I'm going to marry Peter. It just bombarded into my brain. I didn't put much stock in this revelation or make any wedding plans just yet. We hardly even spoke to each other except in passing! But I felt that it was an urging of the Holy Spirit and I knew I would just have to be patient to see if it came to pass.
Fast forward again to my senior year. I'm slightly frustrated by now because I felt like I was going to marry Peter but we're still merely acquaintances. I certainly wasn't making any of my life decisions based on a feeling I once had when I was sitting at my desk two years before. Besides, there was this nagging friendship with another guy from high school that always had the expectation of something more (in my mind anyways). So, I'm a senior in college and I have a mind full of possibilities but no actual dates. It's not that I was in a hurry to run down the aisle but I was anxious for a resolution to these two possibilities. One afternoon I was sitting in the chapel on campus and I prayed that God would bring just that- a resolution to these relationships so that I could either stop thinking about them or move forward with one or the other (or neither, not both!). And, similar to the time at my desk, I just knew that in three days I'd have an answer. Again, I felt this was an urging of the Holy Spirit but I would just have to wait to find out. It was a Tuesday.
On Friday Peter called and asked me out on a date! From then on was a whirlwind. We were married eleven months later. The eleven months we dated and the first year of our marriage were not without their rocky patches. I was having major struggles with grief over my dad dying in 2003. The years between his death and 2006 were difficult for me.
But I don't doubt for a minute God's grace in putting Peter and I together. We are so blessed to have each other. We are like minded in all the important areas including (especially!) outdoor recreation. If we had not both become Christians early in our college years I definitely would not be saying that. Because as far as we are from being Christ-like now, those two teenagers who first started dating over ten years ago were utterly without hope for this life or the next. We have a long way to go but we have Christ's righteousness that covers our sins and God's faithfulness to sustain us on our journey through this life. Our love story would not be if it were not for God who loved us first.
"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth." Ephesians 1:8-10