May 20, 2012

As I prepared to make a not-so-fancy grilled cheese sandwich for my husband, John, he walked into the kitchen carrying a book without a title on the cover.   Hmm. Odd, I thought.  "Look what we were doing eighteen years ago today, he said."  And then he started to read aloud.  

"April 22, we're on the bus heading to Bruges, Belgium for a class trip to visit....".  And my heart squeezed and then quickly soared.  Really? A diary? John had written a detailed diary those months in school in Europe?

As he read the next line, " I've begun to fall in love....... (heart skip) with the architecture."  I burst into laughter and told him I thought he was going to say ME!  
I was mentioned a few sentences later and was thrilled to be reminded again of what a wonderful man God had found for me. 

I often think about the view God must have of our lives.  The path that twists and turns and goes up and down and from his perspective is a tale of what should have been.

How sad he must feel when we mess up the story he has written for us.  How full of grace He is to never leave us,  but to faithfully offer us switchbacks and detours to His best laid plans. 

My John was truly a gift from God.  I had been in a long term relationship throughout my early twenties that had been hardened into permanence by my fiancés family's strife as they went through divorce and  suicide.  At the age of 22, I was already trying to fix it all and too involved to accept the obvious limits my heart knew I faced and the many warning signs others pointed out. 

I look back on the seemingly random circumstances  leading up to my semester in the Netherlands and can attest to the fact that I blindly followed each of the opportunities presented without emotionally accepting the changes I was making in my life.  I couldn't admit to myself I was trying to escape but I made each decision toward that outcome and an amazing series of choices presented themselves to me. Choices God presented. 

I ended up arriving in Europe in January and in a class of 13 students, one of which happened to be a handsome guy from South Dakota.  I was now sharing a semester in The Netherlands and the plan I had been emotionally fighting against,  started to become evident.

Away from the intensity of the relationships at home and the painful turmoil I had been immersed,  I found a new story and the woman God had planned me to be.  I had fought and kicked against all the chances He had given me but I had humbled myself just enough to allow His plan to push through.  Phew!  Why was I so stubborn?  Why was HE so persistent? 
I realized then that I had been saved and now, many years later and able to better connect the dots,  I see glimpses of the second chances God offered me and  the wonderful things He has made out of my mistakes. 

Because we were given the ability to choose - yet are stubborn enough to try to figure it out for ourselves, we will never live the story God wrote for each of us. But, I've learned that He loves us so much that He is willing to allow us to try again when we admit our need for Him and to then edit the chapters to bring the story back to His creation. 

Who would have ever thought eighteen years ago I'd be brave enough to fly to Europe alone, meet a cool Midwestern guy, fall in love  and create a life of kids, home and business?  I'll tell you who- He did! 

I am far from perfect but know with my whole heart that He is way smarter and stronger than I and when I feel the need to wrestle control I need to step back and say, " it is all in Your hands, Lord.  You choose the next chapter!"

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