13 July 2013

Just Married!

This may have been one of the longer breaks I've taken from this blog since I started it, but I promise I had a good reason.




Getting married is a lot of work. So is being married, in ways I never fully imagined. Learning to weave my life--my desires, my imperfections, my identity--together with another person's has not been easy. But the rewards have been the sweetest I have ever known.

The story of how I met my husband is one of my favorite stories to tell. It has taken on the life of legend to me, and he swears that I exaggerate it more with each retelling. I thought about sharing it here because it was such a part of my spiritual journey, but it always seemed too soon to do so. Now that we're married, I feel like there's enough of a beginning, middle, and end to the story to share it.

It all began with a phone call in November 2009...


 


That was my voice-mail answering message. It was intentionally longer than the ability of most people to wait to leave a message, because I hate voice-mail. Too many unknowns, they made me nervous.

So when I left the BYU testing center at 10 o'clock at night to discover that I had a voice-mail from a friend over two thousand miles away, I was both annoyed and intrigued. I had really liked this guy while I was at home that summer. But I assumed I had a pretty good list of reasons of why he didn't care that I even existed. I was 19, he was 25. I was away at school, he was already established with a good job back home. I wanted to serve a mission, he hadn't yet served a mission. In fact, he was putting in papers and we had already talked briefly about that fact. In every way he seemed unreachable to me, so I refused to ever consider the possibility of liking him--let along dating him.

That didn't stop me from putting the postcard he had sent me into a frame on my desk. Sometimes I caught myself staring at it like a missed opportunity, wondering what might have happened if...

"First off, that was the best voice-mail message I've ever heard..."

What? Why is he calling me? What was so important that he would leave me a voice-mail?

"... and I was just sitting here thinking... needed someone to talk to... call me..."

He actually wanted to talk. On the phone. To me!


And we're going to get married and have kids and get a big house and have a tire swing!

Yeah right. Like that would ever happen.

I wish I could remember everything we talked about that night until 4 in the morning. And the next night. And the next. Or any of the nights that followed for the next 2 weeks. We talked about our lives, our testimonies, our hopes, and our desires for the future. We talked about our passions, our thoughts, our challenges in life, and what we cared about most. The more we talked about what we each wanted from a relationship, the more we recognized that the person on the other end was an exact match in every description. We were falling in love at an alarming rate of speed that felt exactly like flying. Or falling.


Flying AND falling!

He was still, in many ways, a stranger to me. But that's what made it all the more exciting. How could someone I didn't even know be such a perfect match for my soul? Every moment of every day suddenly existed only for me to discover more of what he was like. To marvel more at the person God had made in everything he was. By the time the beginning of December came, we had only been talking to each other for 3 weeks.

And just as naturally as talking to him has always been, our thoughts turned to marriage. Dating hardly seemed to matter, for how perfect everything seemed to us in that moment. And the first time we spoke of marriage was when we decided we wanted to be married to each other.

Now this is where you would think the story would end with that magic carpet ride into moonlight, wouldn't you?


Well, you would be wrong!

Remember the part where I said he hadn't served a mission yet? Yeah, that part comes back.

He had already started his papers. He wasn't even sure he was going to get a call because his 26th birthday was fast approaching. And the reality was beginning to sink in that how I felt then was not going to last forever. The enchanted Disney ride was quickly giving way to the largest reality check I had ever experienced. He wasn't coming to take me away from BYU to some enchanted castle in the sky. He was leaving me almost as quickly as he had come, and there was nothing I could do but say goodbye.

In January of 2010 he was called to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was assigned to labor in the Nevada Las Vegas mission. He reported in April, left on a mission, and was gone almost as quickly as he had come.

To say that I waited for him doesn't really do justice to what it was that I did. It wasn't just waiting--that's what I do in the line at the grocery store. I said goodbye to the other half of myself. I felt incomplete every day he was gone. It was a pain I carried for two and a half years, and I felt every moment of it.
 
Did I say two and half years? Yes. Because two years of waiting turned into two and a half when I received my mission call in February of 2011--only to discover that I didn't report until June 22nd. The Skype calls with my best friends to read my call letter hadn't even ended before I had counted the months out on my fingers. I had learned a long time ago to accept it every time the sentence was extended.

I still can't see an Air Mail envelope without getting excited
I served in a wonderful mission that gave me so much more than I was capable of giving to anyone at that point. I felt so spent and empty, and every day I woke up inexplicably filled. Out of all the people who needed my service, I was the one who needed it most. I wasn't going to make it the remaining time I had to wait for him to come home. I needed to forget myself and my pain, and that's exactly what I did.

When he and I were reunited at last, he and I were two very different people. We had to get to know each other all over again. He had written me a letter once a week for three and half years, but those letters had no way of showing me the change in his eyes.

Once we were together again, we struggled just as much as we celebrated. We finally came to see each others imperfections, as well as the truth of what our lives together would be. We had no money, no where to live, and there wasn't going to be a magic wand to take our problems away. Only working hard and sacrificing even more could do that.

We finally got married, and it was the sweetest day of my life--but not for the reasons I always imagined. I expected it to be a lot like being a princess and being taken to an enchanted castle. I lamented so many times in two and a half years that it couldn't be that way. It wasn't until I actually got married that I understood the value in our sacrifice.

In the time we waited for each other, he and I came to know everything about each other. I know his likes and his dislikes, and he knows mine. I know his struggles, his mind, and his heart, and he knows mine. By the time I looked into his eyes over the altar, I loved every inch of the person who was looking back at me. Not just because of time--but because in that time, we had struggled together.




We still work hard, because marriage will never be easy. We still have so much to learn about each other and about life. But I couldn't imagine anyone else being by my side. Anyone else, anything easier, any other way than the one we traveled would seem cheap and incomplete by comparison. And for the rest of our lives, we have all that we gave for each other--all that we cherished in being apart.

I know that God lives. He is my Father, and He loves me. I've seen His hand guiding me through the hardest experiences of my life to a place of peace and happiness. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior, and because of His atoning sacrifice I can be with my family for all eternity. I know Them. I trust Them. They have asked difficult things of me in my life, but it has only made me a wiser, better person.

I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church of Christ on the earth. I have given my life to serving within it, and all the happiness I possess is a consequence of its authority and power. I am so grateful that we have a living prophet with the sealing authority, and for the promises I've made with my husband in the temple. Without the temple, life would be so meaningless to me. I know it is a place of comfort, peace, guidance, and revelation for me. Worshipping there prepared me for marriage more than anything else I did, and I know it is the literal dwelling place of God on earth in our day.

I leave my witness with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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