Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Lonely on Valentine's Day?

Lonely on Valentine's? Maybe my story could help. It's a long read, but the end will explain...

10 years ago today, my life would be forever changed. I was in the middle of my senior year of high school, and the middle of a commitment to not date. Previously, anytime I would go to church conferences, I would wonder if there was a guy there that I could date. But not this time. It was a first for me to attend a youth conference without distraction, of pure motives. The first night they told us about a movement called "Tru Love Waits" and how they wanted us to sign little commitment cards to save sex for marriage, and stake them in the ground in front of our high school, so people passing by would know that other students were waiting. So the next morning, I staked my little card, which promptly wilted with the rain and was basically pointless. Did I mention it was Valentine's Day that day?

That night, back at the conference, there was an intermission before the sermon, so I went outside to the concession stand. As I was walking back in, there was a guy walking in front of me. All I could see was his back. But what I saw was a Promise Keepers baseball hat and a Christian t-shirt. So, in my head I was thinking, "Wow, that guy wore all that to his school. He must be unashamed of Christ." I was impressed. So that led me to my next thought, well more like a prayer, in my head, "God I want a man like that, who will be bold about his relationship with You. One that will be united with me about what's important, namely, following You. I want us to be a team for You."

And my reverie was interrupted, as I saw a couple of my girlfriends, and reached to give one a hug. At the same time, the other one then says, "Hey Chuck!" and that guy walking in front of me turns around. What a coincidence! Out of at least three thousand people from the Austin area at this conference, my friend who had ridden with me there, knew this stranger. So we began chatting, laughing about how our Tru Love Waits cards had wilted that morning. I mentioned that one girl had been smart enough to put a baggie over hers, and it stood erect all day long. "Yeah, that was my youngest sister, Tammy. My sister Melanie did the same thing on my campus at UT." So we put two and two together, and I realized that I knew all three of his sisters. So not only did my friend know him, but he was from my area of town! I was amazed, because I'd had a few classes with one of his sisters, but had never heard her talk of him. I also found out that they all went to a nearby church, and Chuck was at this youth conference because he was a youth leader. Anyhow, our time ended, and we went back in to hear the sermon and finish up our conference for the night. And I went home with a "that was wierd" feeling.

One more little detail. During this time of not dating, I'd been praying and searching Scripture often to see what my future boyfriend/husband should be like. And in my anxiousness I had asked God to just let me meet "the one." I didn't have to know it was him, I didn't have to start dating as soon as my commitment was over. I just wanted to know him.

Later I mentioned to a friend that I had met Chuck Thier, whom he had graduated with. My friend told me, "Oh, Ang, he's got a girlfriend." I was still in my commitment, that truly wasn't my motive in asking, but still that information told me to he was not in the realm of possible dates when the commitment was up.

Then a few months later, my commitment had ended, and my family had decided we couldn't attend my church anymore. I was devastated about having to leave. Then a coworker invited me to his church, which his parents were the youth pastors, and the group met at his house. So I gave it a try, and from the moment I walked in the door, I felt like I was "home." But then it happened... I saw Chuck Thier. This was his church! I instantly thought, "Oh no! Dear God, please don't let him be a distraction. He's not the reason I'm coming here." Besides, he had a girlfriend.

So my family joined this church, and it was incredible. The people were so awesome and I learned so much. Somehow I became close friends with Melanie, and therefore I saw Chuck a lot, not only at youth group, but at his parents' house. Pretty soon I joined their college group, where I also got to see what he was like among friends. I later became a youth leader, serving with him in ministry. And I found out he was single. ;) And I continued to be impressed with his humility and kindness in all facets of his life. Thus began the time of, "Is he the one I could date? Does he like me? Is this the the right time? Am I showing how I feel when I shouldn't?" So, I let the peace of God rule* for two and half long, even torturous, years, and held back. *or at least tried, although sometimes I flirted when I shouldn't have! And of course, Chuck was totally confused, poor thing! But underneath it all, I was observing him in every situation, and he was constantly passing tests he didn't even know about. Did he honor his parents? Did he care for his sisters? Was he honest? Did he act different when his friends were around? The more I watched, the more I liked about him.

One thing I learned about him was that he had dumped a girlfriend on Valentine's Day. It had been a two year long relationship, but he had heard a sermon at a Christian conference that made him realize he needed to end it, and had done so that very day...Valentine's Day... That's right, just after he met me, he heard that sermon and became single! God was preparing both of us, and I think His timing is amazing. I joke that he became single because he met me, but really he was just being obedient to God...

I also was sure that if God wanted us together, He would have Chuck make the first move. So after those 2.5 long years...that finally happened. He held my hand. The funny thing is, he doesn't remember it. Then he did it again a few days later, so I knew, obviously there's a confrontation coming. But then we went separate ways for a week on trips, which gave me lots of time to think and pray. I was camping with my family, and met a woman who told me how her husband had left her for another woman after many years of marriage. I thought, "Here's my sign. I'm not supposed to be with Chuck. How do I know we would make it?! How would I know it'd be a successful marriage?!" Then that woman said, "Is your Chuck a Christian?" Yes. "Then he won't do that to you. He'll love you like Christ loves the church. (Ephesians 5)" Not that Christians are immune from infidelity, but THAT was the real sign I needed. I read Ephesians 5, and learmed that in Christ, we would have the ability to have a successful (and faithful) marriage! And I realized that I didn't just want to date Chuck, I wanted to marry him, and I was completely ready.

So we both get home and then see each other at our college group, we end up talking til 5 am about how we'd been searching through this matter for years, and laugh at how we'd confused each other along the way. A few days later he asks my dad if he can date me. Of course all this came as a surprise to just about everyone because we'd been just friends for so long. Two weeks later, as we both felt like dating was pointless because we knew each other so well, so Chuck asks me if I'm ready to get married. I know I said I was, but I didn't expect it to happen this fast! But the peace of Christ was there, and I said yes. You should've seen my dad's face when he asks to marry me a couple of weeks later! It was hilarious! Anyhow, one month later he made it official, and four months after that we were married.

So here I am, 10 years later, still in awe of how God worked in my life so long ago. My fears have been replaced with confidence that a successful marriage can be attained. It has to constantly be "worked on," but it is amazing. I'm often totally blown away about how we agree on so much (not that we don't disagree, too!). We are united, and truly a team- in ministry, in raising kids, in life. I'm humbled when I think of how God answered my prayer to know my future husband, even when I didn't know it, and to introduce us on Valentine's day of all days?!. And that God taught me how important our friendship was, how it needed to be grown over time, and it is the foundation of this marriage. And true love does wait...

I share this story because I think if God could do this for me, He could do it for anyone. God knows your needs, and He is faithful to care for you when you surrender your life and plan to Him. And, if you're alone this Valentine's Day, take heart! (That's not meant to be a pun, really!) I never had a date on Valentine's, until I had a husband. And I'm so glad. I wish I would've never dated anyone before Chuck. Just trust God with your love life. His plan is always the best, no matter what it may be.

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:16-19


Angie said...

Comment from Scotty Kunkel:

That's a truly inspiring story... I don't know if you've ever read a book called "Boy Meets Girl", but it's like the perfect tool for courtship, and just knowing if your ready for marriage and how to go about it in a God loving way, the way he wants the relationship to be defined. The author of this book, has also made a book for younger people called "I kissed dating goodbye". And to, it's indeed good. Chloe and I aren't aloud to date. But we hang out all the time, and people call us a couple, and we don't mind that. We've been "together" for a half a year now, and we're going at it strong(our team work for living for God). I can just hope, if God is putting us in this position, and this growth of learning we have, that's she's the one. But if we feel that God is taking us in a different direction, then we will praisingly close this door. We'll praise him for closing the door, and not letting us go in that direction if he didn't want us to.
Truly inspiring.


Melisse said...

What a wonderful testimony to the AWESOMENESS of our heavenly Father! Thanks for sharing this story and I will definitely share it with my daughter....I know she'll be encouraged and hopefully she'll share it with her friends!
Thanks again!