“Why don’t you stay?” he said. It was rather out of the blue and I was a little confused by what he meant. I looked at him and I could see that he was very nervous. We were on our way to the British embassy in Pretoria, to pick up my passport and visa. Only days away from my next adventure; a working holiday in London.
“Why don’t you stay, and marry me?” he said.
“I’m only 23!” In hindsight, that may not have been the best way to answer the question. Now, he was looking confused. And I had a sinking feeling that the next few hours would be awfully awkward.
“What is that supposed to mean?” he asked. And I was right, the rest of the journey there (and then back to Johannesburg) was rough. I had only been back in South Africa for about three months. He was an old friend, who I had known for years. We had spent quite a bit of time together whilst I was back in the country, and I enjoyed his company. In fact, I loved him so much, but not in a romantic way.
I couldn’t wait to get out of the car and run inside my parents’ house. Dust filled the air as he sped off to get away from me too. I felt absolutely awful. I spent the rest of the day crying in my bedroom.
My dad had arranged for me to meet up with some friends who were living in London at the time, but they were in South Africa on their honeymoon. They would help me with accommodation over in the UK, until I found my feet.
Puffy eyed and sniffing, objecting to go out and be seen by people, I reluctantly got into my dad’s car. All the way there, I cried and my poor dad had an earful: “Why is it that things never work out for me?” Sniff, sniff. “Every time I fall in love with someone, I get rejected.” Sniff, sniff. “And now I have to be the villain! Why can’t I just find someone I like, who likes me back?”
Honestly, this may sound like a small pity party or a little tantrum now, but at the time it was total, raw heartache. Up to that point (and a fair while after that) I had a thorough history with rejection that had put some deep roots down in my heart.
As we met our friends, they introduced us to another young man. Pleasant looking. Lovely personality. No sooner had I cried over one, and I was already tempted to give my heart away to another. My dad was just so relieved that I had stop my sobbing. As we drove back home he said: “I have the weirdest feeling that you have met your husband tonight.”
(Big dramatic silence!)
He was wrong. Although, not entirely. It turned out that these friends had already met my future husband in London. It would just be a matter of time before I bumped into him.
One Summer’s night, some time in 2001, as I was sat reading in the lounge of the house my friends lived in, on Woodville Road, London, a boy walked into the room. He noticed the book I was reading. We started talking. We learned that had so much in common. We instantly connected. The thing that connected us most was a shared love for the same man: Jesus. We talked for hours and hours. We became really good friends.
Five years, a lot of drama (too much to write in one blog) and a few more heartaches after that, we said our vows in the magistrates office in Preston. We have just celebrated fourteen years of marital bliss. We share a beautiful home, two awesome children and one smelly dog. We share a life.
I thank God for the heartaches. The ones that didn’t work out. Because there was one that was ordained. And it has been the greatest blessing of my entire life.
“So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.”
Romans 8:28 TPT
A few days ago, my daughter said to me: “Mum, it’s like God made you at the same time as he made Dad. You are like ham and cheese. You just go together.” She is not wrong. As much as I don’t believe that you have to find the “right one” for a marriage to work, I know that God worked out this detail in my life. Because he loves me. Even more than my husband does!
Today, I pray that you will be able to rest in the knowledge that you are loved beyond human measure. There is no heartache that cannot be healed. There is no root of rejection that cannot be destroyed. There is Someone who loves you more than anyone could ever love a person. He loves you more than all the stars in the galaxy. He loves you more than ham and cheese!
Happy Valentines Day!
Today, I hear the Father whisper: “Beloved Child, you are the apple of my eye. To me you are perfect. I see no flaw in you. I have loved you with and everlasting love and with kindness I draw you into my presence, so that I can be good to you. So that I can show you how much you are loved and how wonderful you are. If you will trust me, you will see how I weave every detail into the tapestry of your life. I don’t miss a thing. I work all things together for your good. Your good is my first priority. You are, and will always be, my Beloved.” ❤