God has a sense of humor.
He also has great timing.
Well-wishers and encouragers throughout my lifetime have always referred to this as “His Perfect Timing” but let me tell you, I never bought it. Even if was as true then as it is now.
I was always the girl that would have been a shoe-in for the academy awards of “Best Supporting Actress.” My life was a romantic comedy… I just never got the lead role.
Ok, let’s be real: I never got the guy.
So, ladies (& gentleman) reading this who feel qualified for the gold in the supporting role you’re living, bear with me. Because I want to tell you a story… After what felt like an eternity of epic dating fails, I was done.
The whimsical dreams I had as a kid of Prince Charming were slashed by the realities of the Mr. Right Nows. Several shallow, insincere, even so-called Christian guys later, I was absolutely done.
I came home from a particularly disappointing date last summer and prayed, “Alright, God. I get it. You want me single. Fine. Let’s do this. But please, start changing my heart now because finding someone to spend my life with has been my deepest-seated dream for as long as I can remember…”
And clichés aside, it wasn’t long after that that Nick came into my life.
I met a former colleague to catch up just a few weeks shy of my 30th birthday. The conversation soon turned to include, “So, I’m not pushing anything here but my sister knows this guy…”
Oooh, here we go again. Cue the movie soundtrack!
My attitude was admittedly terrible. I saw meeting this guy as a favor to a friend; and another set-up doomed for failure.
Oh no, I’m sorry. EPIC failure. I had done this first date thing too many times before to think this one would be any different.
And at first, it wasn’t.
“So you mentioned that faith was a big deal to you… what do you mean by that?”
“Well, just that. I’m a Protestant, which basically means I follow Jesus.”
That was my line. The slam-dunk to never hearing from a guy again.
I never said it with the intention of pushing a guy away (though Nick would tell you otherwise) but more, why shouldn’t I? I decided a long time ago that I was going to live my life to follow Jesus. If a guy came on the scene who wasn’t in the same boat, why pursue the high seas disagreeing at the helm?
Nick didn’t get up and run—or let on that he might have even been considering it—as I essentially gave a Cliff Notes version of the gospel in 60 seconds. And let me tell you, I know it wasn’t my charming good looks that kept him in his seat. As I said, at this point, I was done before we even started. Seriously. I wore my clunky rain boots and never even took my coat off throughout the time it took to chat while draining the contents of our Tim Horton’s cups.
Folks, here’s the first part of the secret: God had this whole thing worked out well before that first date. It made very little difference that I didn’t have the slightest clue of it.
As I got up, thanked him for the coffee and gave him a quick hug, I headed to my car and thought, “Hm, nice guy. I’ll never see him again.”
But this time, I was wrong.
First thing the next day, my friend texted me to ask how the date went, along with more question marks than would be appropriate for even one of my blog posts. I responded simply: He was a really nice guy but I just think we’re on different pages faith-wise.
Her response was immediate: I am SO SORRY.
I chuckled and started drafting a response about how this is just how it goes, but was interrupted by her incoming call: “No, no, Marissa, I’m sorry, he really likes you.”
Well this was new…
I started to feel a little nervous. Did he hear what I said about Jesus? Maybe he didn’t pick up on the fact that I mean it when I say I’m a Christian.
Like, for real.
Sure enough, he called and we arranged to meet the next week for dinner, followed by a walk around the Glenn Falls park. As we walked I laid it all out–in what was likely one drawn-out breath (and run-on sentence): “Listen, I just need you to know… I am a really slow mover and I have no intention of sleeping with anyone I’m not married to and really I’m not interested in dating anyone who doesn’t share my faith. So…”
“I respect that but would you be open to just being friends and seeing where it goes?”
“Well… sure! I don’t have a problem with that.”
“…because, you know, I don’t even know what my faith is.”
“Sooooo, what I hear you saying is that you want to come to church with me Sunday, huh?”
“Well, I’d be open to it!”
And has every Sunday morning since; rolls up to my front door with a coffee ready and waiting in the consul and Bible in the back seat. Paying no mind to the fact that he had to drive a half hour to get to my house before driving the additional half hour to get to our church downtown.
This man could only have been from God, I tell you what.
What ensued from there was a hilarious season of “non-dating” as I resolutely insisted that we were just friends, while the rest of the world just looked on and smiled politely.
Until he asked my dad for permission to date me. (You need to know my father, his house rules and family history to fully appreciate this but I’m ok if you just read that and brand it as purely Duggar-family strangeness. Judge away, it was the sweetest thing ever.)
In and of itself, Nick’s asking was hinged on his own decision to make a commitment to follow Jesus. Not necessarily to instantaneously share my level of spiritual maturity, but fervor. And he certainly did. He knew this was no small decision and wanted to be sure he knew what this was all about before making any sort of commitment (just one of the many qualities that made me fall very quickly for him). We talked a lot about church, about Jesus, about the Bible. After a few months, he recognized–not just to ‘win’ me–but for himself, this was what he wanted.
Nick and I talk all the time about how we wish we’d met sooner but how that might have actually messed our story up. He might not have cared to pursue a girl quite so complicated (and religious! Bleh!) and I might not have even agreed to go on that first date with a guy that didn’t really give any thought to his faith. Who knows? Only God.
All I can say is I have never been so grateful that God knows what He’s doing. And He doesn’t answer all of my requests in the way and time frame I ask Him to. Because Nick couldn’t be more perfect for me.
I don’t mean to trigger your gag reflex, but all I can say is this man is everything I have always been told fell under the category of “Oh, honey, you’ve got to adjust your expectations.”
Everything branded as “hoping too high.”
Sweet, kind, caring, compassionate, open-minded, wildly considerate, generous, patient, thoughtful, persistent, honest, tender-hearted, appreciative, respectful—never late! We complement and balance each other out in so many ways.
And today, in the falling spring snow (!!!) of late March, he got down on his knee in the same park we walked that night several months ago.
If you’ve seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you know the reaction of Toula’s family to the news of her engagement. Her boisterous aunt and uncle crowd around her and too-honestly let her know: “Toula! Toula! Oh! We never thought this day would come—tell her.” “NEVER thought this day would come.” “—and it CAME!”
That line was looping in my head all day today.
I NEVER thought this day would come.
And it came.
I am engaged to the man of my dreams.
Not the dreams I saw coming; the ones God had planted and I was convinced were too beautiful, too sweet, too perfect to ever really cross into reality.