Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Okay, so I didn't initially join TWR for the holiest of reasons.

Many of you know the story of how Mike and I finally got around to marrying each other.  For those of you who don't know, here's a brief summary of our relationship after we met at Cedarville University the fall of my freshman and his junior year:

Boy meets girl.
Boy and girl become best friends.
Girl falls in love with boy.
Boy and secret-keeping girl remain best friends for two years.
Girl finally spills her love to boy.
Boy doesn't feel the same way.
Girl moves to Europe--naturally.
Boy misses girl a lot while she's gone.
Girl gets over boy, returns..
Boy falls in love with girl.
Girl not quite as over boy as Europe led her to believe.

I called Mom days after meeting him to announce I'd found the boy I was to marry.  That, however, was not divine knowledge.  That was freshman craziness.  Eventually, though, as Mike and I spent our time together and God used us so strongly in each other's lives, I began to love him in such a way that I knew there was no one else God wanted me to love like this.  I knew Mike didn't feel the same way, and oh! how it hurt; cue a very, very patient college roommate.
At a time in my life when I felt worthless and broken, God used Michael again and again to beat it into my head that I was worthy of God's love and someone else's. Little did we know, God was preparing us to love each other.

I know that seems foolish and pretty pathetic, but it was really a struggle between God and I.  God, I know this is the man who have for me, but he doesn't feel the same way!  Why are you messing with me?!   I could not understand God's plan and why it involved so much pain on my part.  My dear, dear roommate (who earned her bridesmaid spot with blood and sweat) often sang to me the song I've written out below.  

Mike graduated from Cedarville, and I was transferring to Rutgers University in Philadelphia.  I'd finally confessed to Mike that I'd been in love with him for some time, and he was speechless.  (Before you think Mike should've seen this coming, I must admit I'd misled him on the true nature of my feelings in the past and, God bless him, he believed me.)  We agreed to remain friends and parted ways.  When the chance came up that summer for a semester-long internship with TWR in Slovakia, I jumped at it.  Yes, it would look great on a resume and, yes, it would be a great chance to serve God.  But, I gotta be honest; I had one thing in mind: getting over Mike.

I know that seems like a goofy story to write on our TWR blog, and I don't think I will ever be able to fully explain what this taught me about the character of God.  Through all my fist-shaking and crying and praying and listening and frustration, God remained faithful and understanding.  He didn't shout Would you just hold ON a second?!  It will work out!  He said, I know this hurts.  Just wait, though.  I have your best interests in my heart.  I can only imagined God burst out laughing when Mike first prayed, God, what the heck?  I think I might be in love with Heather Wenzel.  

Here's the thing:  it would have been a disaster if Mike and I had come together outside of God's timing.  We had so much growing to do separately.  I can't imagine I'd take off to Europe if we were dating, and the thought of missing out on that experience is ridiculous.  Not only did I grow immeasurably in Christ and figure out who I am in Him, I never would have been bitten by the missionary bug, and Mike and I would not be returning now to serve.  God knew everything would come together in His timing, and the intensity of that lesson will make that characteristic of God a strong part of my relationship with Him because he knows what I'll need to know about Him as we go through life. God did not fully give me my desires until I had fully given over that desire to him, and, yes, that took a trip to Europe.

Last night, Mike kissed me and suddenly said: "I just had a flashback to our first kiss."  I scowled and tried to look as hurt as possible, but it's a running joke between us that our first kiss wasn't so great.  (Hello?!  I was finally kissing Mike Colletto!  I was terrified!)  Mike laughed.  "No, no, not like that.  It's just-- I don't know.  It's just that everything had finally changed."  I wanted to cry right then, because God used that as a reminder: His perfect, perfect plan must happen in His timing, and we'll be blown away by how beautiful it will be.

Here's a song by Nicole Nordeman that I pretty much had on repeat for a year or so.  It was one of many that were used to bring patience and peace to my heart.  I'm using it now to calm my anxiety about God's plans for us with TWR, and I hope you find it as an encouragement.  I have a feeling I'm going to need this song a lot as a reminder in the coming, oh, decades...

The pathway is broken, and the signs are unclear.
I don't know the reason why you brought me here.
But just because you love me the way that you do, 
I'm gonna walk through the valley if you want me to.

I'm not who I was when I took my first step,
and I'm clinging to the promise you're not through with me yet.
So, if all of these trials bring me closer to you,
then I will go through the fire if you want me to.

It may not be the way I would've chosen when you lead me through a world that's not home.
But, you never said it would be easy.
You only said I'd never go alone.

So, when the whole world turns against me, and I'm all by myself,
and I can't hear you answer my cries for help,
I'll remember the suffering your love put you through,
and I will go through the valley if you want me to.