Friday, February 17

a love story: leslie padgett

99% of me wants this story to be different. 1% of me knows better. And that 1% of me is writing this post.

It's hard not to compare. I've read all the amazing love stories featured here on Danielle's blog for the last two years and I would be lying if I said that I didn't sometimes want to trade mine for one of those. My husband and I will be married fifteen years this summer. And when you start being able to measure the length of a marriage by decades, you start to see the years as if they're flattened together into a big stack, and you can stand back from them enough to see the seasons. Sometimes, I wish our love story was simple and sweet and romantic, one long season of happiness. And at times, it has been. But instead, for about a decade, I longed for love. God knew all I ever wanted was to be loved, and somehow it was the very thing that continued to elude me.

But let me back up. One night, when I was in college, living in an amazing beach house with my two best friends, I remember lying in the dark, curled up on my bed, literally aching from loneliness. I was dating my now husband at the time, and I was certain that getting married - finally sharing our lives - would alleviate that ache. I'm sure you're not surprised to learn that it didn't. We spent the better part of ten years continually trying hard not to disappoint the other person. Naturally. That's what you do with your loved ones. Try hard not to hurt them. But the problem was that we still did. We were broken and immature and not whole.

And how can someone who is not whole themselves fill up someone else who is equally needy?

Around year 11, I remember Valentine's Day. It had gone badly. The scar tissue in our hearts by this time was interfering with each of our abilities to love and be loved. Our relationship was a train wreck. I stood at the bathroom sink, washing my face before bed, and I wept into the water, letting the noise of the water drown out my sobs.

I was past all valiant efforts at fixing this. All the really great ideas that I read in all the really great books had failed. I had prayed everything I knew to pray. I had worked so hard to change things, and I was at the end of myself.

The only remaining choices were giving up, or putting my face into the carpet and asking God what He was going to do with the mess. I chose the latter. And here is where I find myself at a loss for words (and I am pretty much never at a loss for words). Jesus met me there, on the ground. He spoke into my heart of hearts the value and affirmation and love I so desperately needed. He quieted my chaos, covered me with grace, and hid me in the shadow of His wing.

This was over several nights, and through many tears. Just He and I, when everyone else was asleep. He took my hand and walked me to the edge of the cliff where together, we stared into my deepest fears, and He asked, "Do you trust me?" He overwhelmed me with a supernatural love like I've never known, and said, "Do you know that my love is the only kind that can satisfy you, that is able to heal you and make you whole?" And in my heart, with all that I had left, I said, "I do."

It was like reading a book when you think it's that one guy all along who will win her heart, who will be the hero. But suddenly, when you least expect it, a different guy pulls off the rescue. The One for whom she was intended all along. The One she never knew she needed. That is the best kind of love story.

That is the kind of story in which I am the heroine. One exciting part, following my series of nights on the carpet, was when I became totally freed up to love my husband as the regular guy he was because I was whole. I had a God, so I stopped expecting him to be one, to love me in a way that he couldn't. My heart changed dramatically. I can confidently say that Jesus healed my woundedness without a single thing changing in my circumstances. It was nothing short of miraculous, and that work is not over. Jesus is still authoring my story. I still desperately need Him to counsel me, speak worth to me, and bandage every injury to my tender heart. Every day, I try to walk closely with Him.

This love story has little to do with my marriage, at the end of the day. I dearly love my husband, but it was through the love withheld from me that I learned what true love - epic love - really was. Thinking back to who I was early on in our marriage compared to now, I wouldn't alter one page in that story. Yes, it was quite the page-turner, and I didn't know how it would end. I still wonder, to be honest, because the story isn't over. But I am loved with a never stopping, never changing, never giving up love. And I'm a living, thriving part of the adventure for which I was made.

As for my husband, he's a part of his own adventure. His story is unfolding alongside mine, and it is a beautiful one as well. Equally surprising, equally miraculous. It is such a blessing to be married, if only to intimately witness how God's love transforms us from the inside out.

I'm so thankful for the love story I'm in with Jesus and the story He's writing in our marriage. Those are the stories I will always tell.


Leslie blogs at Top of the Page


  1. ohhh my word so precious! thanks danielle & leslie for sharing!!

  2. this brought tears to my eyes. thank you, Leslie, for sharing this story so vulnerably and beautifully.
    and thank you Danielle, for asking her to. this is amazing.

  3. Leslie is an amazing lady, inside and out. Thanks for sharing her with your readers.

  4. this is why i love you leslie! you're so honest! thank you for many women reading this will benefit from it!

  5. This...this is incredible. I like a good love story but THIS is true, unconditional love. The messy, hard stuff that teaches us to love unconditionally and selflessly. Wow. I'm just so blown away by this! Thank you for posting this. It's a breath of fresh air...truly.

  6. This blessed me. Thank you for sharing your story, it so closely reflects mine. Just last night I was reminded that the greatest, most satisfying love I can ever experience is being held in the arms of the Lover of my soul. So thankful for a wonderful husband, but even more thankful for a Wonderful Savior.

  7. This blessed me. Thank you for sharing your story, it so closely reflects mine. Just last night I was reminded that the greatest, most satisfying love I can ever experience is being held in the arms of the Lover of my soul. So thankful for a wonderful husband, but even more thankful for a Wonderful Savior.

  8. Thank you for sharing your story. It was a blessing to see one that so closely mirrors mine! The most beautiful love stories are the ones He writes!

  9. all i can say is WOW! Such raw emotion and honesty. Thank you for sharing, what an amazing testament to the power of Him.

  10. What a beautiful story! And it feels so much like mine in a way too. Thanks for sharing. I've been working on my love story on my blog too, in parts. Part 3 today sometime! Come visit!
    Hannah at

  11. It is obvious marriage has sanctified you, brought you to a new place with your Savior and healed your broken, lonely heart...what a testimony of TRUE LOVE. Christ's true love manifesting itself in your relationship. Thank you for your words. Thank you for your honesty! Especially your first statement "99% of me wants this story to be different. 1% of me knows better. And that 1% of me is writing this post." Thank you for the 1% of courage it took to be honest. beautiful.

  12. I am so, so grateful for bloggers and writers who choose to share their hearts so boldly and openly. This story is so genuine, and I know the Father takes pleasure in that. Leslie, your love story isn't so unusual. We all are in constant need of reshaping and remolding, and I am so glad for the reminder you've presented here: that there is only One who can help us in that. The moment we stop turning to our spouse (or our family, or our friends) for comfort only found in the Father, the moment we (and they!) can finally become free. Beautiful. Thank you!

  13. I have a similar story in some ways and awhile back,reading your story, I was heartened that the Holy Spirit had taught us both the same thing.
    I came to understand that I'd expected something from my husband that was impossible for a human being to fulfill.
    But God showed me that He was capable of loving me the way I longed to be loved and known.
    As I found my security in His arms, I was able to free my husband to be what he was, a human being growing in the Lord just as I was.
    Our marriage after year 10 has been Fantastic!
    Our love is classified in the "growing into" more than the "falling into" category.:)

  14. Wow, I have tears in my eyes. Such an incredible testimony to love. God is the perfect roots for a long marriage, and thank God we have him to heal our hearts and make us new. Thank you for sharing your story!

  15. so beautiful, leslie. you've encouraged me.

  16. Very beautiful! God is an amazing God and the wonders He can do for two people and their love never ceases to amaze me! He can take what satan meant for evil and turn it into good!! Many blessings of continuing love together in Him!!!

  17. Loved this! Thanks for sharing Leslie!!

  18. this is so valuable!
    i love a sweet romantic story as much as the next girl, but i always feel sorta alienated when people's love stories seem bigger than life and wonder about the stuff between the lines, that they can't or won't share.
    leslie's story makes me take a sigh of relief.
    i may not have a perfect husband who is my best friend every minute of the day, but i do have jesus.
    and that's enough.
    and that makes me able to be grateful for the cute little guy that my husband is...flaws and all.
    thanks danielle!
    thanks les!

  19. aw leslie... you do it again!
    capture every amazing emotion in writing.
    so good!
    and so amazing that this love story is for ALL OF US!!!!
    i'm humbled!
    and so blessed to call Jesus my savior.
    thanks for this.
    you're always speaking to my heart, girl.

  20. Not all are true. Everyone has their own way of thinking but I think they have to reconsider. I like to argue for the most accurate results.