When You’re Not Looking… pt. 4

This post is part four of a series. Here’s where you can find posts one, two and three.

 

The day we left for outreach was the day I realized I was falling hard.

We were in the airport – the five of us on our way to Bosnia for the next 14 weeks. I think everyone was a little tired and at least a bit nervous, so conversation was pretty sparse. Someone would make a remark every couple of minutes that would spark a mini conversation that quickly fizzled out into silence. Most of us picked up our phones or iPads and zoned into the world of social media. But these little conversations started to build my hope. I realized that if I said something or chimed in, Ben would look up from his iPad and listen.

Just that little bit of attention gave me hope that lasted for weeks.

And then it happened.

Two weeks into our 14 week outreach, we realized that there was actually something more than friendship on both of our ends. I remember we were sitting on the back porch of the apartment our team lived at in Sarajevo. We had spent the previous two days painting the interior of a house and the whole team was pretty exhausted. The students decided to watch a movie, but I wasn’t really feeling it. So Benjamin and I ended up sitting outside, staring at the five stars visible from our balcony while eating fancy cheese and crackers and listening to indie music. That’s when I decided what I wanted. That was when I made up my mind that we were more than friends.

We tried to ignore it as long as we could.

Both of us wanted to just do outreach and then talk about it later. But 12 weeks is a long time to pretend that feelings don’t exist. It’s like have an itchy mosquito bite. The more you think about not itching it, the more it itches.

The more you think about ignoring your heart, the louder it screams.

Halfway through the outreach, we felt like it was time. Ignoring the feelings had made it a bigger distraction than acknowledging them. We decided it was time to actually talk about things beyond the “I like you a lot” conversation that had already happened. It was time to decide if this was for real or not; if we were going to go for it or walk away.

That conversation went something like this:

“So. What are your dreams? Where do you feel like God is leading your life?” (We already knew the answer. We’d talked about it like a million times already. But we shared again anyway.)

“Do our dreams line up?” (You know… I think they do…)

“Do we want to do this? Do we want to… get married?”

Yeah. Yes. Yes we do.

“Let’s get married!”

That was our first date. We were sitting on a rock along the coast of the Adriatic Sea, the sound of the waves crashing in the background and we decided to get married. (Eating cheese and crackers, of course. That somehow became our thing. 🙂 )

Obviously since then, there have been more than a few ups and downs. Making a major life change in less than four months causes a bit of chaos – no matter how you try to avoid it. I hate to admit that I’ve cried more than I would have liked to. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never doubted if this is the right choice. But I keep coming back to what I feel like God has spoken. And I believe He’s told us to go for it. The night after Ben and I had our first little “chat,” I went to bed on an emotional high (maybe a slight understatement). I think I texted my mom for like an hour, letting my inner teenage girl freak out for a bit. And as I laid in bed, I felt like God spoke to my heart.

“Make your choice. Because once this starts, it’s going to go fast.”

It was a bit of reality amongst all of the raging emotions. But I made my choice. I chose Benjamin.

And He was right. It did go fast. Hard as we tried, we couldn’t slow it down. I think when God spoke that, He was trying to prepare me for the journey ahead. He didn’t say it was going to be easy. He asked me to make a choice.

So I did.

And I have to say, I’m happy with my choice.

In five days, I’ll walk down the aisle and say ‘I do’ to one of the biggest blessings that’s ever come into my life.

Yeah.

I’m very happy with my choice.

 

the end & yet, to be continued

 

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When You’re Not Looking… pt. 3

This post is part three of a series. Here’s where you can find parts one and two.

 

It was our last week on base before heading out on outreach. Since Ben and I were leading together, that meant lots of last-minute meetings to tie everything up. And somehow there was a switch in my mind. I can’t pin-point when it happened but I just became super curious. I just really wanted to know if Benjamin liked me. So I just started paying closer attention to how he treated me and how he treated the other girls. I probably went back and forth several times a day. Picture Courtney holding a daisy, pulling out the petals one by one, “He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not.”

That’s how it went. Over and over. Back and forth.

I was so confused.

So I finally decided to pray about it. Sometimes I get scared to ask God these questions. It’s a silly fear and I know that. But it’s not so much that I’m afraid of asking, I’m just afraid of what the answer is. And yet the point came when I decided that hearing the answer would be better then the emotional yo-yo I was subjecting myself to. And as I prayed about it, I started feeling more peace about the friendship I had with Ben. I even felt like God was saying that it was ok for it to keep getting deeper. I didn’t really know what He meant with that, but I figured it would be ok. I mean, if God was giving me the go-ahead, I must be in an ok spot right? And I figured it meant that Benjamin didn’t really like me either. So I just accepted that. We were just friends. Weren’t we?

But then He said something else.

For about a year, I’d worn a ring on my wedding finger. I had switched it from the other hand before leaving for DTS as a promise to God. When I put it on that finger, I decided that it was a commitment to remain faithful to God and to do my best to trust that He’d tell me when to swap that ring out with an engagement one. So I’d always joke about it and say that I was married to Jesus. Because in my heart, I was. I loved the ring too. I’d had it since I was thirteen and even if you could tell by the style of it, I still loved it. There was a little heart around an opal at the center. I wore it every day, all the time. And then I woke up one morning and the opal was gone. Naturally, I freaked out. But I promised God in that moment that even if the stone was gone, I wasn’t going to take it off until He brought some guy along to replace it.

So I wore it proudly. A gaping hole in the middle of a delicate heart. But I wore it anyway because I’d made God a promise and I didn’t want to break it.

But then that last week in Switzerland before outreach, God told me to take it off.

I think in that moment I knew what that meant. I just didn’t want to admit it. I took it of pretty reluctantly. I had no idea if I was ready for this. Somewhere in my heart, I knew that taking off that ring meant that my heart was available. And I had no idea if I was ready for that.

“Do you trust me?”

It was time to put those words into practice. Saying I trusted God was one thing. But would I actually act on what He was asking me to do? That’s what trust really looks like. And if I wasn’t willing to do that, had I really come as far as I thought I had? I reminded myself of all of the times God had been faithful in the past and reminded myself that He would be faithful again. If He was asking me to take my ring off, if He was telling me that it was ok for my heart to be “on the market,” would I trust that?

So I did it.

I took off the ring and gave my heart to God.

And that’s when I realized that Ben had already found a special spot in my heart.

 

…to be continued…

 

When You’re Not Looking… pt. 2

This post is part two of a series. If you missed part one, you can read it here.

 

From that moment in front of God and my classmates, I started to let God take my ideals and replace them with more trust for Him. Whenever I would start to feel sorry for myself (as lots of girls do… 🙂 ) because I felt hopelessly single, I would ask God to replace that with more trust for Him: trust that He would bring a man along in His own time and on His terms. I began to focus less on how single I was and more on who I was and who God had created me to be.

During this time, Benjamin and I actually started to become pretty good friends. He was a volunteer at our base and just always seemed to be around and ready to hang out. When I first met him, I thought we wouldn’t get a long at all. To me, he seemed way “out of my league” – even on a friendship level. I just thought we wouldn’t really have anything in common. But all of the sudden (I still don’t really know how it happened exactly) we were friends. He was the one skiing with me last year when I had my accident that put me out for the season. He came to the hospital with me and was a great support throughout that whole day and even through the rest of DTS.

And before I knew it, we were just good friends.

(In my mind, at least.)

There may have been a few times when I wondered if we were really just friends, Benjamin and I. I even remember my roommate Aleah telling me once that Ben “really adored” me. At that time, I was still trying to just focus on God and figuring out who He said I was. I didn’t have time for boys. And if I just told myself over and over that Ben didn’t actually like me, I believed it and it wasn’t something I had to try to figure it out. So basically, I ignored it – pretended it didn’t actually exist – and moved on with my life.

Fast forward to October of this year. I arrived back in Switzerland to staff the 2016 DTS and was so excited to see what God had in store for the upcoming season. I was back in one of my favorite places with some of my most favorite people and I couldn’t wait for the adventures ahead. I also felt like I was in a good spot. I could honestly say that I trusted God completely with my future – including marriage. I truly trusted that He had a good plan for me and I knew that no matter what happened, I would be ok with it – no matter what the outcome.

And wouldn’t you know it, Benjamin was back to staff, too. As our staff training went on, there would be these moments. I don’t really know how to explain them. We would be hanging out as a staff group and these random thoughts would pop into my head. They would skitter across my mind and they startled me every time. It would be a thought like, “Oh, did you see that? Did you see what Ben just did? That’s something you’ve said you wanted in a husband.” I never knew what to do with these thoughts or even where they came from. This was after I’d told God multiple times that I was not on the market when it came to boys. I was here in Davos to disciple the students that came through and to grow in my relationship with Him – not to chase after boys.

So these thoughts couldn’t be God, could they?

Since I didn’t know what to do with them, I just ignored them. Shoved them off to the side and decided I was crazy. My mind was just being a stereotypical girl’s brain and I could get over that. All I had to do was ignore them and just keep focusing on God. But these thoughts got my wheels turning. I started to think about what I actually looked for in a spouse and what God thought about my “list.” As the year went on, I began to realize what my heart really wanted. I wanted someone to dream with. Someone to grow with and to follow God alongside. My daily prayer became, “Lord, I want someone to dream with. Can I have someone to dream with? But give me patience. Help me to focus on what You’re doing in this season.”

Then one Sunday afternoon in March, it all began to click.

It was the week before we left on outreach and all of the sudden I realized what was going on.

 

 

…to be continued…

When You’re Not Looking… pt. 1

A little over a year ago, I gave God my idea of relationship.

It was during my DTS and all week the speaker had been talking about God’s character. “His character is always consistent, but unpredictable.” He said that over and over throughout the week, challenging us students to look at our relationship with God and see where we were expecting Him to react in a certain way. He had this great analogy to go with his phrase. He described God as a bouncy ball. He said the bouncy ball will always bounce – that’s not the question. The question is where is it going to go once you throw it on the ground. So by Friday, we’d had plenty of time to think about where we tried to box God in by our expectations. During our last lecture time that week, we spent the whole hour and an half taking our expectations to the cross and laying them at God’s feet. Some people laid down their financial situations or their future plans.

That week, God had begun to show me that I had a very structured idea of what a dating relationship should look like. I think I expected what most people would consider “normal” – or something along that line. I expected to meet someone and get to know him as a friend for maybe a year or two… then if there seemed to be some attraction, maybe start dating after that. And then after one or two years of dating, after we were both good and sure that we wanted to, we’d get engaged. Then we’d be engaged for six months or a year or so and then get married and live “happily ever after.” As God began to show me that, He began to challenge me on that. I felt like He was asking me if that was His way of doing things or my own. I was pretty sure it was my own, but I saw nothing really wrong with that formula, so I left it. I thought it was healthy. Wise. Smart. Why rush in to something that you’re committed to for life?

Then on that Friday morning, as the speaker was explaining what he wanted us to do, a question hit my heart hard:

“Would you marry someone you’ve only know for six months if I told you to?”

My heart just about stopped.

That was crazy. Only crazy people did that. You don’t just marry someone after knowing them for six months. That’s just a bad idea. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn’t a question of if I was spontaneous enough or daring enough, but rather it was a question of if I was willing to trust God that much. Was I willing to just jump when He told me to? Not because I was necessarily sure, but because I trusted Him completely.

So as other people started speaking out these things that they wanted to trust God with more, my heart was pounding out of control and sweat was trickling down my back. I believe that our words have power; when we speak things out loud, it makes a difference. And I believed in that moment if I said these things out loud, God would hear them and would take them seriously. So I was nervous. It’s hard to let go of things we like to feel in control of. And that’s where the trust comes in.

It was time for a leap of faith, and I knew that.

Then all of the sudden, it was time. It was one of those moments when you just know that you have do act right now. Something just stirs inside of your heart; there’s an intense burning and you know that now is the moment. I remember kneeling there and speaking out these words in front of all of my classmates:

“God, I give you my idea of what a relationship looks like. And I trust You. If you tell me to marry someone and I’ve only known them for six months, I trust You and I’ll follow through.”

You know how sometimes you say something that has been bothering you for a long time and you instantly feel better? Like a huge weight has been lifted off of your shoulders?

Yeah, this wasn’t like that.

I didn’t really feel any differently and in all reality I didn’t really expect anything to happen out of that moment. But like I said, I believe our words have power. And I believe in that moment, God saw my act of faith and He heard the words that I said. I think He was proud of me then, too. I also think He saw what a difference this heart attitude would have in my life. Because it was then that I started my journey of truly letting go my idea of what a dating relationship should look like. That’s when I started to let go of my right to a husband and trust that if God wanted that for my life, He’d bring the right guy along at just the right moment.

And wouldn’t you know it….

That’s exactly what He did.

 

….to be continued…..