Once upon a time there was a girl, who traveled to a far away land in search of herself. This girl felt lost. She had spent years looking for love and acceptance, for joy and life, in all the wrong places. The drunken nights left her nothing but lonely. The fleeting relationships did nothing to fulfill the whole in her heart. And so this girl had made a decision. Under the roar of the Iguazu falls, a midst the dense jungles of Latin America, the girl decided to take a chance, and give her heart back to the One who had created her. She looked at the power, beauty, and majesty of that turbulent water, and it felt like a gift just for her. It was as if He said to her, “Look at my creation – how beautiful and perfect it is. And yet, I have created you more beautiful and perfect than this, for I love you enough to create this simply for your enjoyment.”
So the girl had followed the call of the One, and found herself a few short weeks later in a strange and foreign land. This land was seemingly fraught with danger, as active warfare and clandestine attacks were still commonplace, but it was also beautiful, and the girl knew that she must go where He had led her, and felt a peace about whatever came her way. The further she traveled from the safety of her own home, her own culture, the more she realized that she was on a wondrous journey that would take her farther than she could ever imagine, and not just in geographic terms. She sensed that something truly special was in store for her in this adventure, and she became determined not to let anything or anyone distract her from experiencing the fullness of what was in store.
Those first few days in that land the girl began to pray. It had been years since she had tried to converse with the One. At first it was awkward, and the girl felt she was speaking into the air. After so much time deliberately ignoring the Voice, it was difficult to hear it. But as she continued to share her heart with Him, she realized that He had always been there, anxiously waiting to hear from her, anxiously waiting to speak to her heart. It was the beginning of a love story, and the girl became even more determined to turn her eyes from the distractions of this world, and give her heart wholly to her God – to make Him her first love.
But one day, on a retreat by a lake in a neighboring country, as the girl sat soaking in the sun, a boy came and sat nearby. And as they talked, that boy smiled at that girl. And it took only that small instant for the girl to know, though she did not realize then the extent of it, that a part of her heart already belonged to the boy.
As the weeks passed by the girl prayed ardently against the feelings in her heart. She spent every morning, and every night, and many moments in between asking her Maker to prevent her from feeling what she was feeling. She prayed that the boy would show interest in someone else, that he would become unavailable, so that she could put the distraction aside and focus once again on the One who had called her there.
But the feelings did not go away. Instead, with each conversation, each casual smile, each shared laugh, the feelings grew.
Only the boy did not know of the girls feelings, and she had no reason to suspect he felt the same way. As weeks turned into months, the girl began to despair of this unrequited romance. She prayed and prayed, but nothing changed in her heart. Finally, one night, she asked directly, “God, is this the man for me? Is this the one I am meant to be with?” And for the first time in her life, she heard the Voice, not only in her heart but also in her ears – and the Voice seemed to both whisper and roar, “Yes.”
Shocked and amazed the girl began to doubt almost immediately what she had heard. And as the months turned into a year, and then a year and a half, the girl became convinced she had heard wrong. For even though the boy and the girl were friends as well as teammates in that foreign land, the boy had never given any indication of being interested in anything else.
And so the girl continued to endure the school girl crush she had on the boy, until one day, as she listened to the words of “Cowboy take me away,” the girl realized that she didn’t just like this boy – she loved him. And in that moment the girl simultaneously experienced both the joy of first love, and the pain of first heartbreak, for she knew that the boy did not love her back.
Months continued to pass, and the girl had a big decision to make – to continue her life in that foreign land, or to come home, and begin a new journey. On February 13th, the girl sought advice from her surrogate big brother, and was advised to move on with her life. The next day, she told the boy (who was now also her boss) that after 2 years, she would be leaving that foreign land which now felt like home.
That night the boy asked her to meet with him. As she waited for him outside his office, the girl stared up at the night sky, full of twinkling stars. Maybe it was the warm afterglow of the romantic chick flick the group had just watched, or the fact that it was Valentine’s Day, but the girl began to dream that the boy had something extra special to tell her. Catching herself, the girl shook off those dreams, and told herself sternly, “That’s not going to happen. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment.”
The boy arrived, invited her to sit with him, and began to tell her that he hadn’t been honest with her concerning his thoughts about her leaving. As the girl sat, awestruck, the boy shared his heart with her. At first his words made no sense. Something about feelings, and thinking she was beautiful, and realizing she might not feel the same way but feeling a peace about sharing these thoughts with her.
The girl began to wonder if she was dreaming. In what seemed like minutes, but was surely only seconds, the girl reviewed the night – they’d had supper, cooked by the boys, they’d watched a movie, then he had asked her to meet him. No – she hadn’t gone to bed. So how could she be dreaming?
The girl soon realized the boy was staring at her -those sparkling blue eyes alive with excitement, but also a hint of nervousness. Amazed, the girl realized this was not a dream. The blue eyed boy had set his sights on this brown eyed girl.
From that moment there was a surreal understanding that this was so much bigger than just these two people. That God had a purpose, and a plan beyond what we could imagine. Though there were bumps along the road, that night marked the beginning of something truly special – a friendship and love that has been brewing since that first month in a foreign land.
It’s been ten years to the month since the first time that boy smiled at me. Through the year and a half that I wondered and waited and worried and agonized, and fell deeper and deeper in love with that boy, God continually showed me how good, how faithful, and how generous He is. And as I fell in love with my future Hubs, I also fell more in love with my Creator – for how could I not love One who gave me so much love to give?
Ten years seems like a really long time. But I can still see that first smile so fresh in my memory, and feel the glow of it in my heart. And even better than that – I get to see and feel it every single day.