aly blogs at blossom & vine
there's nothing like meeting the guy you're going to marry when you're fifteen years old. and by that i mean, it's the worst possible fate that could befall anyone. you can think of our love story as a tragic soap opera filled with high school drama, countless breakups, and all kinds of dating-my-friends-behind-my-back mini scandals.
we started "dating" at fifteen, though neither of us could drive and our "dates" took place at each other's houses. but i fell fast, head over heels, totally in love within months. by the time i was sixteen, i knew that i was going to marry him. not in a naive and hopeless romantic way, but i really did perceive that he was the person i would be marrying someday. there were times i hated how strong that feeling was, because there were times when he was really the worst possible guy for me.
we dated through high school, breaking up every fall during football season. he was the quarterback of the football team and i think he liked to take advantage of all that extra attention he was getting from the other girls. we went to a small christian school, so every girl that he "dated" was my friend. we'd always get back together a few weeks later.
he was confident and smooth, and everyone loved being around him. he brought out some really great qualities in me, and i learned a lot from him. but most of the time i concerned myself about what he thought, how he treated me, and i basically found my identity in him. it was such a volatile time in my life. poor guy never asked for it, but he consumed my every thought, good and bad. it was a mess. we were just so young.
i graduated high school a year before him and went to college here in town. that was an awkward year, and we broke up a few times. once he graduated we planned to take a few classes together at the community college. things were going well, especially with us both being mature college students (ha!). both of his brothers had gotten married that year and one of his cousins, too. at each wedding, everyone kept commenting how we were next. though i loved him, and knew that i was going to marry him, it flipped me out. i was 19.
so i broke up with him this time. it didn't hurt that i had my eye on someone who i worked with at TGI Friday's. after we broke up, i decided very quickly that i would never get back together with him again. i had determined that our relationship was toxic for both of us and i had to move on for good. i did pretty well, moved out of my parents' house into an apartment with my best friend, and when he'd call i wouldn't answer. there was about a month where we had no contact at all, but not because he never tried.
finally he insisted that we talk. he took me to a really nice dinner and basically confessed his undying love for me. i remember how he drove me through the ATM and pulled out $300 to cover my cell phone bill that i'd run up by talking to the other guy i was dating... that was awkward.
but then he gave me a letter that i still cherish to this day. it was everything that i had ever wanted him to say, and it made me feel like i had always wanted to feel: like he actually cherished me, like he actually wanted me to be happy, and like he could actually make me a priority.
it still took me a month or so, but my heart gradually started opening to him again. the other guy was still in the picture, and they even both gave me gifts for valentine's day. i know. it was about a week later that i broke things off with that guy and decided i would let Joel pursue me. things were different for a long time, in the best possible way, and i was smitten all over again. it wasn't long until my identity was completely wrapped up in him again.
we were 19, and my parents were adamantly against it for that reason, but he asked me to marry him on May 30, 2004. he did ask my parents, and they did agree, but it was still one of those things that they would have prevented if they could have.
we got married June 12, 2005 at twenty years old. it was beautiful and wonderful and all those happy things. we genuinely liked being married, but we were young and stupid and naive and hadn't sewn any of our "wild oats" yet.
it's strange to look back at our wedding photos and look into his eyes. because i remember them so vividly, as if it were only yesterday i was gazing into them at the altar. but also it's strange because they're so different now. you'd expect me to say that those eyes are still the same eyes i fell in love with? but i'm thankful that they're not.
today they're softer, humbler, sweeter, more discerning. they see me like they never did back then. those eyes captivated me in the beginning and they endear me today, though in such different ways than i ever imagined.
looking back, the first half of our marriage was a trainwreck waiting to happen. that trainwreck finally did happen and our world crumbled to pieces around us...
God used our brokenness to bring us to our knees. He used it to teach us Grace and unconditional Love. He used it to develop a deep and abiding Trust in Him that i had never known before. He used it to completely transform everything about me in the best possible way. He used it to reveal Himself to me in ways that still blow my mind to this day. my identity is finally founded in Him alone.
through our roller-coaster ride, through all our immaturity and silliness and sin and heartache, one thing has remained constant, even though we've never deserved it: God has been so faithful to us. He is the only reason why we are still together and more in love than ever. He is the strength of our marriage, and without Him? in our own strength? we literally have nothing. i can honestly say that i would not trade any of our hardship or trouble if it would mean that we were not exactly where we are today.
today i have a husband who is pursuing the Lord to guide his life, who counsels me in Truth and love, and who genuinely wants God's best for me, for our family, and for himself. i am a better woman because of him. because of the good and bad parts of him. and more than that, i know a God who creates beauty from ashes, Who brings gladness from despair, Who died and rose to set me free, and Who is completely for me and for my marriage. and that, my friends, is is the real love story here.