I had planned on writing this blog in 12 days, but tonight seemed just as timely as any other. I'm not sure if it's my inability to sleep right now or tonight's Bible study on testimonies that has given me the guts to go ahead and type up what I felt would be more suitable in 2 weeks. Nonetheless here goes...
That past year has been a journey, a rough and ragged expedition, to say the least. A year ago today I was engaged to a man I wished and hoped and longed to live the rest of my life with. He was stunningly handsome. He had an attention-getting personality. His personality melted a room with laughter. In his presence I forgot the rest of the world even existed, and my stomach would roll over time and time again with butterflies.
I remember the day he proposed to me like it was yesterday. It took my breath away, and I stood there shocked as he was down on one knee telling me of his love for me. We both knew we wanted to get married, but I was caught so off guard by his timing that shock controlled the rest of my weekend.
The next few weeks and months were filled with showing off the ring, building a wedding website, dress shopping, engagement pictures, and the whole works. We searched all over for houses, put a bid in on 2 different ones, and finally accepted an offer on one. We were so excited to start building a life together. I thought.
On October 29, 2009, he came to my house I lived in at the time. When he walked in, I knew immediately my life was about to change. The look on his face was not the look I had seen since we had started dating. It was emotionless. Expressionless. Hopeless.
In five short minutes the entire life we had begun to build came crashing down like a straw house being blown down by a big, bad wolf. I remember those fateful words he mildly threw at me, "I don't love you. I never have. I don't want to marry you. I never have." Those words pierced me, and I could feel Cupid's arrow being pulled out of my chest. This was my fiance...the man I was supposed to marry in 4 months.
I struggled. Honestly, I more than struggled. I barely functioned. My friend Heather would come over before work many days and get me out of bed. I would barely manage to literally pick myself up out of the floor on multiple occasions. I remember looking in the mirror and telling myself, "One day you'll share these emotions to someone and you'll be okay. One day you'll be okay." I would repeat that in trying to persuade myself.
On my way to work one day, I found a Christian radio station. Kutless had a fairly recent single out entitled "That's What Faith Can Do." I whole-heartedly believe that song got me through my fiery trial. The lyrics say, "I've seen silent prayers get answered and broken hearts become brand new, that's what faith can do." The first time I heard that song I was on Adams Road driving to work with dew still on my windows. I cried out to God, "I want THAT faith. God, I want that faith that will make my heart brand new."
Christmas time came around, and my whole family was staying at my parents' house. It seemed unbearable still that I had to live daily without him. I was lying in bed and began to wail with such agony that my sister came in the room to check on me. I had my head stuffed so hard into a pillow that I couldn't manage to look up at her. I curled into a fetal position as she rubbed my back for hours just whispering, "Shhh, baby, shhhh...you're going to be okay." Through the sobs I somehow fell asleep, probably from pure exhaustion. I woke up the next morning with my sister's arms still around me in that little twin bed.
I was trying to get my life back in order as quickly and quietly as possible. Just a few days after the break-up, I had put an offer in on a house and had lived there for a month at year's end. I was hoping to find friends my age, maybe a church to attend more regularly, and get back out into the world. Still I would cry out that I wanted that faith that Kutless sang about. If God could just see me through with that kind of faith.
By Spring I was doing much better and to the naked eye, I was healed. On March 1 I sat in a Beth Moore Bible study in a little church called Southside Baptist. That evening Beth used the verses from 1 Peter 1:6-7 "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ." I wrote out to the side, "Thought I'd die if he ever left me, but I'm making it." I'm making it. Simply making it. What a staunch contrast from that moment to where God has taken me.
It was the next Sunday I visited Southside for the first time during regular worship services. To say my life was turned upside down is an understatement. In fact I can't even fathom my life without my church family now.
I made 2 of the best friends I could ever have in Zach and Leslie. Dee Ann and Phil have become my adopted parents, and I credit them for saving my life time and time again. The Dilbecks have opened their homes and hearts to me numerous times. Harold and his horses...how he always makes me smile when I see him walk in! Sunday morning worship. Sunday night dinners. Wednesday night youth. Crowning Creation. Women's ministry. An amazing preacher, to say the least.
It wasn't until May that I joined the church, but my heart has been fully entrenched inside those white walls since the moment I set foot in them. In 7 months I've jumped with excitement, kneeled in adoration, raised my hands in worship, cried tears of sorrow, and hugged with delight all within the confines of my new home church.
Tonight I sit here and don't remember the girl I was a year ago. The thoughts of an upcoming wedding have long surpassed, and my hopes no longer rest in man's arms. I've had no relation worth writing home about since that night, yet I have more joy in my life today than I did the day I got engaged. Tested by the fire? I thought I was scorched and scarred for eternity. But God saw me through that fiery trial. He not only held my hand, He picked me plum up and carried me straight out of it.
Looking back, the fire wasn't the break-up. The fire was the engagement. My sinful legs wouldn't have walked out, so God had to sweetly escort me back to His plans.
I had not seen or talked to my fiance since that fateful night in October.
A couple weeks ago, I had a visitor. He looked the same as my ex-fiance. He talked the same. He smelled the same. And he laughed the same. But he wasn't the same. He couldn't have been. Because I tried to look with all my might at what it was I would have been in love with. I scowered him over, up, and around..but there was no sign for a person I would marry. He asked me, "Have I changed?"
"No," I replied. "I have."
THAT is what faith can do.
No, THAT is what God will do.