I’ll never know the purpose behind the events in my life – why God allowed things to happen the way they did – until I get to heaven, but from my extremely finite view of my life I like to speculate the reasons.
If you asked when I was a little girl what I wanted to be when I grew up I would have told you most definitely “a mommy”. That was really all I cared to be. But somewhere along the way I realized that mommies don’t make money. Plus I couldn’t major in homemaking in college. So my thoughts went like this, “What job can I have and be at home with my kids the most – that is if I had to work a job for money?” So I majored in education and became a teacher. I honestly did not think I would teach for forever. I thought I would have several children – three or four – and be a full-time homemaker the rest of my life.
Boy did God have other plans!
For years I asked God every day to bring me the man He chooses for me, but He never did, and in the meantime He protected me from several people who definitely weren’t who He wanted me to marry. After several years of not meeting John – the person God had chosen for me – I came to the place of peace that maybe God did not intend for me to be married. I still wanted to get married, but I began to think of all the things I could do and be without being married. It took a long time of surrendering through different events in my life, but I finally had gotten to a place where it was o.k.
I began to see through the eyes of the Holy Spirit that God does love me, and He knows what is best for me always. Due to my free will, I could have demanded my “right” to be married and married someone I wasn’t sure was the one God had chosen for me. I could have gotten angry at God and insisted that His ways were not always right and that I was not going to follow Him until He did what I wanted. But all of that would have just taken me down a dark, lonely road with a long detour to where I ultimately needed to end up, and would most likely end up again, in His arms. So after many years of kicking and screaming – I surrendered.
Shortly after that John came along.
John and I met on Match.com. Now I know tons of people who met this way, but three years ago that wasn’t the case. John contacted me on a Sunday, and we met the following Friday. That was July 13 – one day after my birthday. One cardinal rule of Match dating is that you never, ever, ever let someone pick you up for a date because you just don’t know them. I wasn’t on Match for long before I met John, but the few dates I did go on I followed this rule without thinking otherwise. I had two “rules” for myself on Match: I was very selective with who I chose to spend my time with and I was very cautious.
With John I was still very selective. My first response to him after he contacted me was, “Are you a Christian?” I figured that if this scares someone off, then they’re certainly not the person for me, so I just put it out there. John’s response was, “Yes, but I like beer.” I laughed and said, “Well, since drinking beer (or not) isn’t a qualification for being a Christian, then I guess we’re o.k.”
However, I didn’t follow my second rule with John. I don’t know why, and I would never recommend it to anyone because it is a very dangerous thing to do. I just remember John saying that he’d pick me up, and I said o.k. without ever thinking, which is very much unlike me. When I told my friends about the fact that he was picking me up they were immediately concerned. I went back to John and told him their concerns, and he said, “Well, when I get there if you don’t feel comfortable I’ll leave.” Really that still shouldn’t have made a difference, but nonetheless he came to pick me up. Not to overspiritualize it, but personally I think this was God giving me peace that it was o.k. because He knew the plan. However, I still would not advise anyone to ever do this themselves!
John came from work in his little, red Ford Ranger decked out with Georgia Bulldog stickers, floor mats, steering wheel cover, and drink holder decorations. It was over-the-top, but it was John. He was wearing a pair of khaki pants and a hot pink and blue striped Polo shirt. When I opened the door and saw him standing there for the first time, he was holding one dozen pink roses. He knew that pink was my favorite color. I can still see him in my head like it was yesterday. He said the roses were for my birthday the day before and for our first date.
That night he took me to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. Again, I asked him if I could pray over our food. Again I figured that if he got scared away, then he wasn’t the one. After dinner we watched The Notebook because I told him that no guy would ever watch it with me.
Eleven months later we were married.
People who haven’t known me long, but know that John and I haven’t been married long, have asked me recently if I knew John had this disease when I met him. I know what they are really asking. How did I make the decision to continue the relationship? Was it hard to fall in love with him? Was I scared? John told me on our second date about his diagnosis with Cardiomyopathy. I can’t say that I was scared. I thought about it, but only for a minute. Looking back on it I really feel like God was protecting me from knowing all the details so that I wouldn’t be scared. Back then John seemed fairly healthy and “normal”. He has always taken a lot of medications, and I knew he could run marathons or anything, but most people can’t. Cardiomyopathy never interfered in our life in those early days.
In the spring before our wedding date in June, John’s company decided to consolidate all of their offices to their corporate headquarters in Chicago. If you know anything about John and me the last place we’d want to live is Chicago. It’s a great place to visit, but for us not to live. This was when the economy was at the beginning of getting worse and people were losing jobs and not being able to find new jobs pretty much all over the country. The housing market was also down.
So here we were, three months from getting married, and we both had to find new jobs (I was moving from Atlanta to Winder where John lived). Strangely enough, though not for God because He was orchestrating this whole thing, John found a job in Greensboro, North Carolina in the same industry he had been in for years. What? Relocate to another state when we are just about to get married, and Georgia is where everyone we know in the world lives? Well, we did what we had to do and what we felt led to do, and we decided to move. So now I had to find a job, and we had to buy a new house and hopefully sell our old house in a horrible housing market, all one month after our wedding. It was stressful.
After a few months of the house in Georgia being on the market, after we both had jobs and were living in North Carolina, the house still wasn’t getting a lot of traffic to be sold. One night we were eating dinner, and we were talking about how concerned we were about the house selling when it occurred to me that we really hadn’t asked God to sell the house. I told John this, and we prayed and asked God to sell our house in Winder. The house sold two weeks later.
Since then life has gone on like a typical life goes on. We have enjoyed our new home. I’ve enjoyed decorating it. However, we still miss our family and friends in Georgia and dream of moving back there one day. John has been fairly healthy until recently when we found out he needed the transplant.
When we moved here we never thought about what hospitals were close by even though we’ve always known in the back of our minds that John may one day need a transplant. We thought briefly about leaving his doctors at Emory, but never discussed the hospitals.
When John’s cardiologist in Greensboro referred him to see a doctor at Duke we immediately researched how Duke was ranked compared to Emory. We have a lot of respect for Emory, and it’s what we’re used to, so we wanted to see how Duke was ranked compared to Emory. Well Emory is ranked 13th in hospitals for heart transplants, and Duke is ranked 8th. Immediately we saw God’s hand.
As I look back on the past three years of my life, the events seem to fit together like a perfectly planned puzzle. I can see God’s hand in each phase of it.
John needed a wife, and I asked for a husband. God knew that John was going to need a heart transplant. He spared John’s life four years ago and allowed him to get better so he wouldn’t have to go through a transplant alone. I am confident that He chose me to be his helper through this process this time around. God answered my prayer by giving me John and allowing me the experience of the miracles that are taking place in our lives.
And He led us to North Carolina, which is a very unlikely turn of events for a Georgia boy who eats, breathes, and sleeps Georgia, Georgia football, and everything southern. Now we see a glimpse of the purpose behind it all, even with the houses and jobs in a bad economy, because the have the opportunity to be at Duke.
God, through His grace, has blessed us with this amazing love story that is all our own. It is precious to me, and it has made me rest in God’s perfect plan.