I feel like it’s probably about time I share a story with everyone. “The” story. Like all good fairytales, it goes like so:
Once upon a time, In
a wonderful little town the town in which they were raised, a handsome young man met a beautiful always feeling a bit sub-par young woman. Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah…and they lived happily ever after…Sort of.
Ok, let’s be honest….I can put “once upon a time” at the beginning of my love story, but it’s been no fairytale. Although the story played out very differently than I had planned, it is still a story of love, of grace, of hope, and of God’s healing power. It’s our story!
As many of you probably know, Shane and I were married in June of 2008. Shane and I had known each other for several years and ran around in the same circle. When I walked down the aisle towards him, we had come such a long way from that 10th grade art class where we met and set across from one another. Once we started dating years later, I found out that Shane had a crush on me from day one way back then. Back then, I looked at him as the cute little boy that sat across from me, (I was sooo much wiser being a year older… Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and punch myself.) but only 5 years later there I was, walking down the aisle towards wisest man of God I knew.
Shane and I had an EXTREMELY rough first year of marriage. (This is my plea to older, wiser married couples: Elaborate a bit more when you say, “Marriage can be tough.”) Nothing had quite prepared us for the huge struggle fusing two lives together can be. The fact that I was a full time student, and Shane was a youth pastor, meant that we also struggled financially, as most young couples do. We hit completely uncharted territory, and it terrified me…to the core.
This is the part of the story where I wish I could say, “So I reached out for help. I went to my pastor, my mom, my dad, my friends, and asked for help.” However, that’s not the way the story went. I wish it had. I wish I had felt comfortable enough to do so. I kind of wish churches made it easier to seek help (some do). I wish Satan didn’t whisper, “You’ll look young and dumb if you admit you are struggling” into our ears… Pride, mixed with what I think was serious spiritual attack, made me shut down, and I felt alone. I did try to reach out to Shane, but our communication always seemed to get tangled up and turned into hurtful confusion.
Shane and I both dug in and maintained. I buried myself in school, romantic movies, and projects around the house. Shane buried himself deeply into ministry. We masked the daily struggle and carried on.
Almost a year into our marriage Shane took a new venture. He put his talents into use and took a job that required us to pack up and hit the road. When I say “pack up” I mean we literally packed up everything we owned in our little two bedroom house and put it into storage. We rented out the house, bought a truck and a travel trailer, and set off on a new adventure. Remember when I said the uncharted territory we had already entered terrified me to the core? Imagine how scared I was on this new crazy rollercoaster, but I saw Shane come alive. He loved this new venture, and he was good at every part of it.
I tried. I tried really hard to make this the venture a positive move for us. I did my best to make stay at “camper” wife work for me. I cleaned all 30ish feet of our camper top to bottom daily, I made Shane lunches, I cooked spaghetti dinners on our gas grill. (Please, feel free to applaud. Cooking meals in a camper with a broken stove is tough, but I succeeded.) At the end of the day there just wasn’t enough to burry myself in and distract me from the fact that our marriage had all but fallen apart. I was lonely, hurt, and bored.
I’ll spare you all the details of our horrific divorce, but let’s just say it ended in deceit, infidelity, and a whole lot of pain. Right before it was time to sign the dreaded “papers” I had a change of heart. God had already begun speaking words of reconciliation in my heart. This is the part of the story where I finally reached out to everyone I knew. I started spreading our story to everyone. I cried on too many living room floors to count. I asked everyone I knew for prayer, and I cried out to God with fierce intent. God answered. In all my prayers, I always felt his power. I knew in the deepest crevices of my soul, to the tip of every hair on my head, that God would reconcile our marriage…and it would be beautiful. Shane had washed his hands of me, however. I somehow convinced Shane to not sign the divorce papers for two weeks. God was stirring so much in my heart and my life that I felt certain within two weeks time God could break through Shane’s defiance for reconciliation.
As quickly as God had swept in and stirred my heart and my life, he backed away and fell almost completely silent. At the end of two weeks, I was overcome with peace and signed the divorce papers at Shane’s request. At first, I was confused. Why had God made reconciliation so absolutely certain? Now He was shutting the door? I couldn’t make any sense of it. All I knew was I had to pick up the pieces and move on.
Two years went by, and I did move on. I was happy. I found a sense of success. I found new friends. I even found love, but something inside always felt a bit broken. Shane and I had virtually no communication, but he loomed… Somewhere, on some hidden shelf of my heart, sat the pain, the void, and the embarrassment of our marriage. You wouldn’t have known it looking at me or interacting with me, but on dark and quiet nights…I felt it.
If you know me well at all, you know that pain is always met with reasoning in my head and my heart. I reasoned away why Shane and I were terrible for each other, why it was better that we parted ways. The reasoning made sense! (Reasoning is a strong suit of mine.) I had moved on and I was happy about it, but here comes the turn around…
On my 50 minute drive to work one morning, about 7 or 8 months ago, I prayed for movement. My heart had been feeling the gentle nudge from God to dive in deeper with him, and I desperately wanted to see His works in my life. I prayed he would work and move in my heart. I went about my day, my night, and went to bed. I suddenly awoke at 2 the next morning. I fought to find sleep and eventually gave in to the urge to do a bit of Facebook creeping…and there it was. A message from the man I had hurt and wronged. A message from the man who, for two years, wanted nothing to do with me. A message from Shane.
Shane said that God had laid me on his heart. God had laid specific things about me on his heart. Words of truth. Words about my need to seek my worth in God rather than the world. Shane wrote in a way that I knew it was directly from God. Every word hit me hard, rippled in my heart. Each word set forth the motion in my heart that I had just prayed for that morning. I shot a quick message back to Shane thanking him for his words and asking him to continue to be in prayer for me.
The next morning I felt renewed. I had the satisfaction that God was moving in my life again, and it felt big. There was no doubt God was doing something big. Later in the day, I got a text message from Shane. It was a simple, “How are you doing today?” and in came the confusion. I hadn’t really thought about the impact of Shane contacting me until that simple little text. The Facebook message felt like a message from God, and I was able to quickly and easily dismiss the fact that Shane had been the portal in which it came. This text message was different, though. Shane had chosen to send this. The lines of communication had been opened…
After a few moments of struggle in my head…”How do I respond? Should I respond? This is soooooo weird!” I answered the truth. I let him know that I knew God was working in my life, but I was confused as to why it would have anything to do with him. (I can be so hard headed.) It became pretty clear pretty quick that Shane felt there might be a possibility God was working to get us back together. I resisted…with force. After all, I had spent the past two years reasoning in my head why we were both so much better off apart!
I was dating someone else at the time. Out of respect for him, and the fact that I just flat out hated the idea of Shane and I getting back together, I asked Shane not to contact me anymore. I knew God was moving and working, but I desperately wanted him to work in a different direction.
I’ll be honest. Something in me knew from the moment I saw Shane’s name in my Facebook inbox what God was up to. Very early on in our dating, Shane had a dream about us. He dreamt that we were clay figures, and all the sudden we were torn to pieces. God came, put us back together, made us whole again, and then put our little clay bodies hand in hand. Maybe that seems silly to some, but God speaks to Shane in so many ways. That dream ALWAYS burned in my mind. I always took it seriously. It burned in my mind then, but I wouldn’t (I couldn’t) let me mind go there. I ignored it and decided that God could work in the situation in other ways, and he did, but that is a WHOLE other story about God’s amazing power to do good things in our lives even when we flat out ignore him.
Months went by. I felt God saying that the person I was dating wasn’t what he had in store for me. I agreed. (One of the few times my Heavenly Father and I have ever agreed….children…always a handful.) I ended it with him on a Saturday morning and Saturday evening I randomly ran into Shane.
You know when Saved By the Bell pauses and Zach Morris has a little powwow with the camera? I totally had that kind of moment with God… “Really, God?!?! You lead me to break up with my boyfriend and then the same day I run into Shane??!?! This cannot be happening!” (Hit play.) I did my best to “act cool.” My insides were crawling. Did I mention we are at a party surrounded by friends? Yeah, it was so weird. Thankfully, Shane walked away in conversation with someone else, and I was able to take my first real breath in the 15 minutes I had been there. The party carried on and so did conversations with old friends. I was just starting to steady my knees again, when Shane reappeared.
There we were, standing painfully close to one another staring into a bonfire. Emotions began to overtake me. That pain, sitting on the hidden shelf somewhere in the depths of my heart fell to the floor and exploded like a full can of paint. I pulled Shane aside, asking if we could “talk.” Truth be told, he talked and I just cried. The few words I was able to muster were about how I had just ended it with my boyfriend, and now, here he was. I told him I was just so confused. What was God doing? Shane talked and I heard Charlie Brown Teacher. All I could do was look at him and try to make sense of this completely new man I was looking at. It looked like Shane, It talked like Shane, but he radiated “man of my dreams.”
Somehow (I can’t remember how) the conversation came to an end. I went home and went to bed, exhausted from emotional overload. I gave no thought to what had just happened. I couldn’t.
The next morning I woke up, pushed the previous night’s event completely out of my mind, and headed to church. I have to say, God put a completely new pep in my step that morning. I don’t know why, but I felt light and freed. I sat down in my usual pew at church, and scanned the sermon notes…. PAUSE….. “God, this is a joke right? A sermon about marriage?” God wasn’t joking. Not one bit. In fact, I quickly learned that this was only the first part of a three Sunday sermon about marriage. “Here we go.” I slumped a bit in my pew. Marriage sermons always made me uncomfortable. I was divorced after all! I felt like I was in for a very uncomfortable hour, but that didn’t happen at all.
The pastor did his thing, and I felt fine. I felt better than fine. I felt peace and joy. My heart agreed with the words he spoke! For three Sunday’s I sat in that pew and felt a new love for God’s bond of marriage.(Now, one would think that SURELY by this point I would have accepted what God was doing in my life. Nope. I’m honestly surprised my story doesn’t scream even more similarities to Jonah’s story. I all but got swallowed up by a whale before I accepted the direction God was pushing me.) I never thought about Shane. I didn’t want to. I thought God was healing my heart. I thought the newfound love and respect for marriage was for my next relationship.
The Sunday after the three Sundays about marriage, I was standing in my front yard with my family. Shane drove by. My heart jumped a little, but then it sparked an idea. (Please don’t believe a word I say when I lie to you and tell you the reason I convinced myself I needed to contact him. Really I just wanted to hear from him.) I decided I should contact him to see if he wanted to buy my house. I was working in Indianapolis. I had just been promoted, and I was sick of commuting. When Shane and I had brief communication 5 months earlier, he had mentioned possibly wanting to buy the house. Off the text went, asking if he was still interested in the house. His response was no….darn the luck, but then randomly he mentioned something about our past. Specifically, he mentioned a particularly good day we had during our marriage. Finally, I couldn’t ignore the rather large elephant in the room anymore. I replied this, “You seem to be this looming this that just won’t go away.” He laughed a bit about how I called him a “looming” thing. I plainly told him that’s how I really felt. Then, there it was. That ever important question… “Would you consider going on a date with me?” I shot back the quickest “yes” ever! I convinced myself that I agreed to go so that I could finally close the door. I told myself we’d go on a date and remember all the reasons we didn’t work and then walk away forever.
We set the date for the following Saturday. I had a week to talk myself out of going. He said he’d stay in touch. I carried on with my week in total disbelief. I maintained that we absolutely would never work, but throughout that week, Shane sent the sweetest messages. He consoled me gently when I started to freak out about what we were doing, and made me feel…special. That week something happened in my heart that I know could have only been the work of God. By Friday we were too excited to wait until Saturday to see each other.
When God orchestrates a story, he carefully pulls together every single detail. It amazes me the care and careful detail he put into our story. Shane and I decided to have a quiet night where we would catch up in his camper. I know how weird that sounds, but Shane travels. Remember? His camper is his home, and it just happened to be parked at his mom’s house while he was in town for a few days. As I drove to meet him, I realized the irony in the fact that I was driving to meet Shane in his camper, parked at his mom’s house. This is the very scenario in which Shane and I ended our marriage. We were back in town for a short period of time and we were staying in our camper parked at his mom’s house when the mess of our divorce happened. It’s as if God was putting us back right where we left off. I knocked, Shane came to the door…PAUSE… “Oh my gosh, he’s sooooo hot!” (Play.) We spent the night talking, catching up, laughing, talking about how we’d changed. He showed me pictures of his travel to South Africa and Australia. I told him all about my job. We tried to watch a terrible movie. (my pick. Opps) We played a game instead. He kissed me. I nearly fainted. He kept his cool. He were instantly friends again. All the pain, the hurt was gone. Not a trace to be found. God had cleared every shelf of our hearts, and we started new.
The moment I laid eyes on Shane that night, was the moment I finally accepted that God was putting us back together. He had put us back together. As reluctant as we were, God persisted. The next day we went to the Zoo. We walked and looked at all the animals, the whole time talking about what this would mean for us. What being together would mean for us. We talked about what it would look like. We talked about our shared desire to give glory and praise to God for what He had done. Ultimately, we decided we didn’t know what it all meant. We didn’t know what it would look like. We didn’t know exactly where we were headed. All we knew was that it was good, and it was right.
That was 10 weeks ago, and Shane and I have been enjoying falling in love all over again. God is so good, and we feel so blessed that he has given us such a beautiful story of His grace and love. Shane and I are excited about where God will lead us and the journey we know we will share together. Please pray for us. Pray that God will use us and our story to bring Him glory.
10 Weeks of Falling in Love all Over Again!