I wrote the following piece for another website’s series called “God Written Love Stories”. In this Covid-19 environment, date nights and alone time with my husband have been plentiful. (Insert eye roll.) So I decided to share this here, since it’s the most romance I foresee in the near future. *Sigh.* This too shall pass. I hope!
To some, our love story may seem pretty ordinary. But it’s my favorite love story. With a hunky leading man. And the author is a bestseller. Maybe you’ve heard of the Bible?
My husband and I both come from privileged backgrounds. Both sets of our parents are still married, raised us in the church, and earned enough to be labeled middle-class. And yet we each took detours on the winding road that brought us together.
I willingly hopped off the path of righteousness during my college years. For two and a half years I made mistake after bad decision after foolish error. With friends, with men and with alcohol. By the grace and kindness of God, I realized that the way I grew up was the way I wanted to continue to live. More importantly, I chose Jesus for me. My relationship with God’s son became mine – separate and yet connected to my family of origin.
My husband was married before we met. After a son and five years, his youth and innocence betrayed him like she did. After a year’s worth of pleas to leave the extramarital relationship and attend counseling fell on deaf ears, he saw no other option but divorce. I found him a couple of years later – a little broken, but a little hopeful.
Although I didn’t attend a Christian college to get my MRS degree, I always assumed I would be engaged by graduation. When that didn’t happen, I moved to the big city for a job. I hated it. Calling people who are late on their car payments ALL DAY LONG was not my little girl dream. Lucky for me, my sweetie was waiting for me at my next job. He just didn’t know it yet.
The fact that he was my boss complicated things a little. It didn’t matter initially because I was dating someone else. He says he was attracted to me immediately but thought I was too young and innocent to be interested in him and his son. He assumed when he remarried, his wife would be divorced as well. God had other plans for us.
When we both confided in the same co-worker that we were attracted to each other, the adult workforce became a little like middle school. That co-worker acted as go-between until Chuck stepped out in bravery and asked me out. All very hush-hush since company policy forbade “fraternization”.
In what is probably the funniest part of our story (now), we were both fired for dating each other. My husband asked our boss to find a transfer for one of us because there was an interest. The boss agreed but we went on a couple of innocent dates in the waiting. An employee who Chuck had previously disciplined saw us out holding hands and sent a complaint up the chain past the boss who was helping us.
Chuck and I were both called in separately and fired (and asked to reapply after the 90 day waiting period). Having worked together for several months, I already knew Chuck was the kind of guy I could fall in love with. So it scared me when he confessed on our second date that he had trust issues with women. I wondered if I was getting myself into a no-win situation. But job hunting together and finding ourselves with extra free time expedited our relationship. We also attended church together and searched the scriptures as we discussed the different beliefs of our religious denominations.
Less than 3 months after our first date, Chuck bought me a ring. Although he didn’t propose right away, I found the ring in his sock drawer while doing his laundry. I not only found it, but took it out of the box and tried it on my finger. I didn’t confess this until a year into our marriage.
Since I knew it was coming, the next three months before he popped the question dragged and dragged and dragged. He wanted to ask my parents’ permission first and by then he had his son for the summer and didn’t want to leave him (since he got so little of his time). I ended up orchestrating an arrangement – my parents keeping Chuck’s son for the night – to give us the opportunity.
I think my intended stayed up half the night planning out the proposal. He drove me to several spots (where we met, where we had our first date, etc.) to read me different pieces of the following letter:
I must be the most blessed man alive today. You have filled a void in me that I never dreamed would ever be touched. I was a scarred and bitter man content to never open my heart to a woman.
Then there was you…
I turned my head around the day you walked in on the scene. You have shown me your faith, sincere heart, beauty, maturity and poise. I am stunned and speechless as I told you early on in our relationship. I must sit and gaze at times trying to take you all in.
Then there was us…
I somehow know now that God has a plan in all this. I just do not always open my eyes. You have opened my heart and I am in awe of my feelings for you. Our faiths, though slightly different, are exactly the same at the core now. Thank you for accepting me as I am in heart, soul, mind and strength.
Then all three of us…
I am not sure how you came to care for my son so much, but it has only stoked my passion to love and care for you more. You see I have always realized that I presented no easy relationship. You have not thought twice about embracing Chandler and he can feel your genuine love and concern for his little soul. I am grateful to you beyond words.
Now there is our future!!!!!
I am excited to say I am able to move no other way. I am drawn to your soul. I want to be right in the center of you and you in me. I am 100% convinced that I cannot let you go now or ever. Please accept my package offer. I humbly and prayerfully ask with all my heart! Will you marry me? I must be with you always.
How could I refuse? I had watched this man as a leader at work, as a worshipper at church, and as a father to his son. I already knew I wanted him to be the spiritual head of my household. And I knew I wanted him to be the father of MY children.
We married in my hometown 6 months later. My parents sang at the ceremony – “One Hand, One Heart” from West Side Story – the same song they crooned to each other at their own wedding. And I cried as Chuck sweetly sang to me as well.
Chuck’s job transferred him a month before the wedding, so we bought a new house in a brand new town. Within the year I was expecting our first child. Shelby was born with a gene mutation resulting in Dravet Syndrome. She began having seizures at just a few months old and they continue today (she is almost 20). Her development stopped at about 2 years of age and she hasn’t progressed much since. Having a special needs child comes with lots of challenges, tears and fears; but it also affords us many opportunities to minister to others as God gives us grace to handle the difficulties.
The role of stepmom came easy at first, but became harder as I began raising my own kids and dealing with an ex-wife, court dates and custody agreements. I have made mistakes and had to apologize more than once to this young man who now calls me Smom. It’s often been messy, but always beautiful to open my heart to him and now 4 grandchildren (even though I’m entirely too young for that).
A blonde-haired beauty who loves Jesus rounds out our brood. I won’t sugar coat it, teenagers are tough. But my Allie makes good grades in advanced classes, sings in a voice so beautiful it can’t possibly be from me, and commands a stage (at church or school) with a naturally dynamic presence. I pinch myself that God gave me a front row seat to watch as she grows into the woman He saw fit for me to raise.
In our 21 years together therapies, job losses, cancer, first boyfriends, medical treatments, parenting challenges, financial woes and extended family drama have, at times, paralyzed us and robbed us of peace. But God is so faithful to always bring His joy in the morning (Psalms 30:5)…or the next month, or the following year. Whenever we have taken our eyes off painful circumstances and looked back to Him, He stands there with another big heaping helping of forgiveness and grace.
I don’t know that I believe God chooses one person for us. I think Chuck and I fell in love and we make intentional choices for the health of our marriage. And I am thankful everyday that we found each other. Our love story isn’t perfect, but it’s still my very favorite.
Comment below with one favorite tidbit about a God-written relationship in your life. Then we can all read a little happy today!
And now for this week’s featured post!
God keeps putting articles and sermons in front of me about how we should listen and speak to others. I have even started writing my own blog post about listening. I think He was preparing me to be with some folks that I don’t often agree with. Linda from Being Woven was one of the voices of wisdom and reason that I am clinging to right now. I think the whole world needs to read Words, Words, Words before uttering another. We just might find ourselves in a much kinder place.
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