We often find quick and easy ideas from the media about what to do for our special someone. But when it comes to bigger decisions like who to marry, where do we look for advice? I don’t have a quick fix answer but I have a story of how I met my wife and the lesson I learned through it. My hope is that what I learned will be of help to you and that even when our plans don’t work out the way we want, there may be a better plan going on behind the scenes.
Several years ago, I met Valerie at a university club meeting. She immediately caught my eye. She was caring, considerate, good-looking, and had a deep love for God. Our paths did not cross often but in my final year we were on the same student leadership team. Perfect! I would be able to get to know her more and then sweep her off her feet, right? Well, things didn’t go as planned.
One day, I ran into her in the library and my heart started racing. We talked briefly but I knew there was something more I had to do. I was very nervous but I finally got the words out, “Oh…I was also wondering…would you like to grab coffee sometime?” After a moment of thinking, she agreed.
I leaped for joy inside! Done deal, right? Wrong. I did not expect what came next.
We went out for coffee that Saturday night. It went okay. At the end of the night as I dropped her off, she told me she had a good time but would rather not go out again. Whoa! This was not how the plan was supposed to go. I continued to show interest. Three months later, I asked her out again over Facebook (bad idea). She said she would like to talk. No! I knew what that meant.
We met up, made small talk for awhile, and then she said, “I value you as a friend, but I don’t see you as more than that.” Ouch. I didn’t know what to say. I knew it was finished. She had made up her mind. I needed to move on. Could any good come out of this? This disappointment forced me to think more seriously about questions I was previously ignoring: “Where am I placing my identity?” “What are God’s purposes for my life?”
Then came a surprise.
Three months later, my friend Nate approached me and said, “I have some information that could be useful to you.” I was shocked to hear that Nate found out (through a three-person grapevine) that Valerie now liked me. What! How could that be? I couldn’t believe it. There was only one thing to do now: go to the source.
The next day I asked Valerie if she would like to play squash. She said yes. After squash, we grabbed a drink at Tim Horton’s and I said, “So I have a question. I remember last time we talked months ago you said you didn’t see anything between us. Has anything changed?” She paused, looked down, then smiled at me and said, “Yes.” When I asked her what changed, she said that once I stopped trying to impress her, she got to know who I really was. Still stunned, I asked her on another date and two years later we got married!
What would have happened if everything worked out the first time? I would have been proud and conceited in my efforts. However, by being rejected twice, I was forced to see that there was a better plan being worked out in the background by God in his greater wisdom. It was a plan to humble me and force me to question where I was really placing my identity–in Valerie or in the greater love Jesus was offering me.
I love being married to Valerie. But Jesus proved to be a greater refuge for me during that time of rejection and he is still a greater refuge than Val can ever be for me. His promise to me during that period of rejection was incomparably precious to me:
Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Col. 3:2-4
Whatever stage you are at in a relationship, I encourage you to consider the limitations of your plans are an opportunity to see the limitless wisdom of God’s plans.
This article was written by Eric Nielsen and originally published on an affiliated site with The Official Blog. It has had minor edits.