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What A Beautiful Mess

July 15, 2009

Today (July 14, 2009) marks the 555th day Sarah and I have been dating (yes, Koreans count that kind of thing), but our story hasn’t always been beautiful, in fact it began quite messily. But, through all of our ups and downs, trying times and wonderful times, God has been an ever-present constant: guiding us, leading us, and cleaning up our messes. And I for one happen to know that we would never have made it even to Day One without His help. So, let me start our story with Day One.

Our Firsts

Our first meeting in May 2007 was one I consiously ignored as I was busy flirting with another girl. Our first phone call was very impersonal as I was to help her draw name cards for her Sunday School students. The first date we went on was a lonely, needy fiasco as I tried to hold her hand through Die Hard 4 while she continually rejected my advances. I actually had no real interest in her at that time, I was just bored, lonely, and looking for fun.

Fast forward four months. The first trip we took together was with a group to Jeju island and one I didn’t want to go on (because I didn’t want to go with her). Our first long talk on the island was filled with hints of “I’m waiting for God to provide my boyfriend, and you’re not him.” Our first serious talk after returning ended with more than a hint of rejection.

Two months later, our first Christmas together was one in which we’d agreed to “take a break” from each other – before she’d even become my “girlfriend.” In January 2008, when she finally told me she was “ready” to be my girlfriend, I wanted to reject her for the three months of rejections I’d experienced after Jeju island. Weeks later, our first kiss was sudden, unexpected, and uncomfortable.

Our Seconds

Those were our firsts, but unfortunately, our seconds were no better. There were numerous times I wasn’t sure we’d stay together. A dozen times she broke down in tears because of the enormous pressure from her family to break up with me. More than once she worried aloud that she’d never dated a Korean so she couldn’t be sure I was the right guy. Each time I was stubborn and insisted that she would have to leave me before I left her. And every time we made it though another round of “you’re a foreigner, you have no family here, no real job, no house or car of your own” I felt like we’d dodged a bullet. Yet through all that mess, God was with us. Only much prayer, patience, and tons of waiting saw us through.

I knew right away that Sarah was serious about God. I made it a point anytime we hung out to walk her home and pray with her, even before we started dating and it’s a habit that we’ve continued through today. In fact, we later discovered that we’d both prayed a considerable amount for each other before we’d even started dating. Over the past two years of prayer together, we’ve seen some interesting answers to our prayers, but often not in the ways or time frames we’d expected.

Waiting

Call us patient, waiting has been the largest sum of what we’ve done. It took four months after our first meeting before I was willing to really get to know Sarah, and three more months before I could date her. I knew I was serious about her, and we’d both agreed not to date if it was just for fun – dating was to be a serious relationship leading into something much more serious. My plan was to date her for six months and marry her within one year. God’s plan included waiting months to meet her friends, half a year to meet her siblings, and over 15 months to meet her parents (in Korea, nothing happens without the family’s approval). My plan was to kiss her quickly and incorporate physical touch into our relationship. God’s plan was to give me a girl who was stubbornly committed to purity before marriage and would insist we wait for everything, including the first kiss. Eventually, God’s plans became our plans.

A Mess Made Beautiful

All the things we’d worried about and everything we’ve prayed for God has answered in his own time. God has taught us patience we didn’t expect and has developed character we didn’t have. We’ve learned that through all things, if God has a plan, He will see it through, and if things aren’t quite happening in the time frame we want, it usually means He’s just asking us to wait a little longer. We’ve learned that if we try to force our hand and aren’t content to wait on God, we usually just make a mess of things. But waiting on Him cleans up all our messes and makes them beautiful. After all, what mess could be more beautiful than a couple of imperfect people learning to wait on a perfect God?

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