Little Did She Know
When I decided to title this blog Little Did She Know, it was an anthem to the immeasurable grace God pours out to us when we know and trust so little.
This is a special post because not only is it the story of how God brought me and my husband together, but it is also a testament to God’s faithfulness in spite of my continuous stumbling in the dark. Falling in love with Jon was a three-year process that happened simultaneously alongside my falling deeper in love with my Father who truly cares about the big and little things in our lives.
I have copied several of my journal entries to go along with this story because I think it is the best way to show how my thought process developed over the three years that led to me and Jon finally dating. (You have my permission to laugh)
If you are worried and fretting over who you will marry—or even what job to pursue, or any other big decision—I hope this can be encouraging to you.
When I was sixteen, I prayed to God that I would only ever date one person, and God answered that prayer, but oh so differently than I expected.
One of my greatest expectations of God growing up was that God would be my matchmaker. I decided to never enter into a relationship with anyone I did not think I would marry. I still believe this saved me from a lot of heartache, but I still somehow found myself getting burned by unrequited love and poor judgement. After cyclic seasons of infatuation and heartache, I finally decided that I was incapable of making decisions on my own. Self-doubt and fear of the unknown eventually became God-doubt and fear that I was actually on my own in this. All the “signs” I had seen that a guy was the one only ever revealed my excessive imagination.
It’s amazing to me how our faults can distract us from the faultlessness of God. This is what I was doing—focusing on my weaknesses rather than on God’s strength. So when I was a sophomore in college and a friend told me someone liked me, I was curious but wary.
It didn’t take me long to puzzle out that my secret admirer was a tall red-head in my English class. I had considered him as a “potential” before, but suddenly I was considering it a lot, and I had no idea what to do. In fact, on January 6th, 2014, I wrote in my journal:
How am I supposed to know what’s right? Which part of me is telling the truth?
Which part of me is telling the truth? How are we to ever know the difference between our feelings and God’s urgings? I hated not knowing, and God had given me no visible sign that Jon was the one, so after Jon had asked me a fourth time to “hang out,” I told him I just wanted to be friends.
When I’m alone with him, I realize how good he is and how much we actually have in common. I think if he was the only one—I could stay with this guy. I could stand by him—but I have too many hold ups, and the biggest one is that I don’t know God’s will and I don’t know if I “feel” strongly enough. I’m just afraid to follow my feelings because they only lead me to like people I can’t date. Maybe I’m supposed to trust my head, not my emotions. But I don’t want to be too logical either. I want to listen to the Spirit’s guidance, and so far I don’t feel anything.
So we stayed friends, but—and this deserves a post of its own—being just friends is not so bad a thing. He and two other guys at our school became some of my best friends. We hung out all the time watching movies, going to bookstores, playing video games, and meeting up in the cafeteria for almost every meal. Because it was clear we would be friends, Jon and I became close friends without the awkwardness of “what-ifs” floating behind every word or action.
I am so grateful for that season. Not only because of the amazing friendship but also because neither of us were even close to being ready to date each other. We had a lot of growing to do first.
March 15, 2016
…I don’t know how I’ll ever really grow to be 100% sure about being in a serous relationship with someone. There will honestly have to be a sign over his head or something that says “This is him!” Because I’m not sure if I even trust my own instincts anymore. If I’ve been wrong so many times about “God’s will,” then how can I choose the guy I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life with? I guess I need to trust myself a little more—and trust God fully.
The same sentiments repeat in my journals over and over with different potential relationships until after I graduated college and came to a critical point in my life. I realized that my plans had not worked out. I didn’t marry the guys I thought I might marry, and I had no idea who God wanted me to be with, if anyone.
That summer, Jon and I gardened together, carpooled to church and bible study, hung out with mutual friends, met each other for lunch at least once a week, and even began writing a Christmas play together. My family kept asking me if we would date. I always responded with solid no. Jon and I had settled that three years ago. There was no reason to even consider that again.
Sept. 2, 2016
I think what I want is for every door to close but the one I’m “meant” to walk through. I want to know that I am making the “right” decision. But that’s not how things work sometimes. Sometimes we’re in the dark. But I trust God. I think He might want me to start trusting that He has equipped me to make good choices. His Spirit is in me, and that I can trust.
Ironically, I wrote a blog post about making decisions called “Flipping a Coin” only a week later–just days before God essentially told me, marry Jon Brooks. Did I hear those words? Not really, but God may as well have bellowed it in my ear.
I had every reason to trust God about this area of my life. Not once had an infatuation led me into a relationship I didn’t need to be in because I was patient and waited for God to move. I knew from experience that God led me to where I needed to be every time.
Hello, My Old Heart
The song Jon and I exited our wedding ceremony to was Hello, My Old Heart by The Oh Hellos. We chose this song because it’s lyric is all about taking chances on love. I felt like I had done that and ended up hurt, but I knew I had to take another leap.
Soon after writing “Flipping a Coin,” I wrote a long journal entry venting about my confusion about guys and what I really, really wanted in a guy (another post, another time). Halfway through that entry, I felt a pressing feeling in my chest, and the thought of Jon came up in my mind. It was like a light switched on. I didn’t feel that way about him–and then I did. And I’d never had so much peace about a relationship before.
Maybe God has been preparing for me a dear friend. Maybe that’s enough.
I will keep quiet about my feelings because I know they are fickle. But I trust guidance from the Spirit. I don’t need advice from anyone else right now. I can trust my judgement—with time. I will wait, and I will see what God does.
God has been guiding me so much—even when I didn’t notice Him doing it….
I believe He is guiding me and preparing me to make a big decision. I am cautious, but I am strangely unafraid. I feel so much peace about it.
You, future self, get to read on. You can flip through to the last page and read the ending. I have to go the long way, but I am anticipating the journey with the kind of “breathless anticipation” that Oswald Chambers writes about. Because the future is uncertain—but that is so exciting. I used to fear that. Just last year I was dealing with so many fears because I couldn’t see two steps in front of me. But God has shown me that there is always possibility. He is my present and my future. I can trust Him. there is still so much left to this journal, and I hope that, whatever happens, God will be in it, and He will make it beautiful.
I keep praying that God would give me a restraint in my spirit if this is not right, but I haven’t felt anything but peace. I usually freak out and pray constantly and just go in circles. But this is totally different, and that’s how I “just know.”
I’m ready. If I’m not, I know God will intervene as He always done. I trust Him. I think the more I fall in love, the more I love God. And the more I love God, the more I fall in love. It’s like love is not something that is just directed at things. It’s living. Love is Christ. Christ is love. Love feeds love. And I’m so full of it today.
I’m sure I will be writing again. (See, Emily, it all worked out. Why were you so afraid? I am grateful those fears did not feed doubt or despair. Rather, God buried them and faith grew from the dirt).
Reader, I married him.
Not only did I marry him, but I even wrote a him letter asking if we could talk about our relationship. My God-confidence shattered my self-doubt, and I was able to take a leap I had once doubted I could take. I made a decision knowing that not everything was up to me anyway. I could trust my actions because I could trust that God was at work.
I never looked back.
The God of Everything
My favorite part of our ceremony was when we stopped to sing “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” We chose this song because God had been so faithful to us, and we know that will continue to be true.
Until the day we started our relationship, those few “dates” I’d had with Jon three years before were the only dates I had ever been on. I had no idea that God would be so faithful to the desperate prayers of my sixteen-year-old self–and trust me, there were days when I wanted to take it back!
I don’t talk often about “the one” because that idea just seems ridiculous when so many good Christian people get divorced. Even Jon, when we were “just friends,” said it was bogus, which made me angry at the time because I knew there was only one person for me. But Jon would not say that now. We knew right away that God had intervened in our lives.
I don’t want to say right here and now that there is or isn’t a “one” for you. Because we’re not talking about an objective fate here, and we’re not talking about “soul mates.” We’re talking about our relationship to personal and creative God who works with everyone differently, and to whom everyone responds differently.
But the pit we fall into most often as Christians is that we forget how much God actually cares about the little details in our lives. God is not a micromanager, but God is a Father. So often in the Gospels we see Jesus being guided by the Father, not because the Father forced him but because he was so connected to the Father that he knew his desires and will. This is how God wants us to live—in such closeness that we see God everywhere, in everything, all the time.
When we live that close to God, we shouldn’t have to doubt our moves or motives. We should be confident that God not only knows our needs and desires but also shapes our needs and desires as we mold ourselves to God. As we do this, God equips us to make good decisions
God is faithful and knows our hearts. He knows our self-doubts, our fears, and our hold-ups. God knows how our minds can mess us up over and over. But God never gives up. Even when we are not faithful to God, God is faithful to us.
When our heads keep shaking no, God builds us up until we can cry out on our tip-toes a big, solid, continuous yes.