Monday, September 17, 2007

Happy Birthday Ton O'Bricks

My sweet husband turns 34 today. He has been my sweet husband for almost five years. I love this picture of him because it sums it up. It's been a silly, dishelveled, exhausting time. And very very blessed time.

Recently, at a girls night out, a friend of mine mentioned that she never even really thought about marriage, much less her wedding, until she met her husband. I asked her to repeat herself to make sure I had heard correctly. Never? And Elizabeth was no child bride - she was around 30 when she got married. Never even thought about it?

I was not one of those girls. Pathetically, I was the opposite. When I did get married, it was just a matter of pulling together the details of the wedding I had been planning for years. All I had been lacking was the groom.

My aunt and uncle were one of the first on the planet to buy a Mac. My mother and I were visiting their home in Austin and as they showed off this little (and they were little, remember?) miracle of modern science, I was just dying to get on it and play around. After all the grownups were in bed, I stayed up until the wee hours toying on Word, fascinated with the ability to center text and choose different fancy fonts. Here's the ridiculous part - again and again I sent my future wedding invitations, complete with some dorky 14 year old boy's name, to the squawking inkjet printer.

In high school, I tore out dresses from the Bride's magazine in the school library and carried my two top favorite in my wallet. I still have them - one is not too bad. The other is hideously 80s, with lots of beading and brocade. Blech. In college, I told my roommate, "Ok! We're seniors now! Only nine months to find a husband! Ready, set, go!"

Well, it didn't happen by graduation (shocking. Wasn't desperation sexy to 22 year old guys?). It didn't happen for a very long time after that. My stepmother used to tell me, "I am praying that God will not send you a husband until you are 30" and every time she said this, I had to resist the urge to claw her eyes out. And she said it a lot. Being single at 30 was not in my plan. I dated several guys, but the relationship always ended, sometimes painfully. As often happens, God's plan and my plan were not merging and I was growing increasingly frustrated.

At one point when I was about 27, I attended a party. There was a cute guy there, and we began chatting. Now at this point, I was wondering if every male I locked eyes with was Him. This particular guy seemed nice, funny, good looking, with decent FEP (future earning potential). Could be Him, could be Him. But after talking for a few minutes and it became apparent that he was most certainly not Him. I can't remember what he said to me, I only remember that it was incredibly offensive.

Driving home, the tears were making it too blurry for me to see the road, and I felt a desperate urge to pray. I parked the car in front of church in Montrose and sat on the steps under an old column, and sobbed. Something about the latest disappointment caused the floodgates to open, and I poured it all out to the Lord. I couldn't believe that I had thought that guy was nice - and he very obviously was not. The frightening truth was that I had zero discernment when it came to men. Who was I to try and choose a husband, when I couldn't even tell the who the decent guys were at a party? I was terrified that if I did get married, it would be to the wrong person, and then I would be in an unhappy marriage - which I knew was a fate worse than singleness. The disappointment combined with the fear overwhelmed me. I confessed that I needed God to not let me, in my infinite lack of wisdom, have anything to do with husband choosing. I begged him to choose my husband for me. I prayed as I cried, "And don't be subtle God. Please be very very obvious, because you know I will miss it if you aren't. When you send him to me, please let it be so blatant, that it just hits me over the head like a ton of bricks."

I pulled myself together and drove home. For a while after that, I would pray for Ton O'Bricks, as he came to be known in my mind. Eventually the memory and the moniker faded.

Five years passed. Still single. Still wanting to be married, but not desperate - and not unhappy. God used those years to strengthen my relationship with himself significantly, and sent some older wiser women into my life, particularly one named Barbara, who gave me an entirely new understanding of what God intends marriage to be, and what qualities "Him" needed to display. While I did want to start my family more than anything else, I praised God that my stepmother's prayer had been answered. None of the men I had known in my 20s had been suitable candidates for a marriage to mirror Christ and the Church, not by a long shot. I thanked God a million times for his protection. But, now, I was 31, so anytime he wanted to get the show on the road...

Very long story short, I began dating someone. A good guy, one Barbara would approve of. We dated several months, we were both willing to get married, but it just wasn't going well. We constantly misunderstood each other, constantly disappointed each other, despite our best efforts to the contrary. It was just so difficult.

I often complained about the relationship to another guy who had grown to be a very close friend. His name was Walker. One day I realized I was in love with Walker. A week or so later Walker told me to break up with Guy#1 and date him. Two days later I broke up with Guy #1. And two days after that, Walker accidentally told me he loved me, then tried to back out of it, then, in the most romantic bumbling way, said, "Oh, let's just get married." I said ok. We gazed into each other's eyes, completely flabbergasted, laughed, cried, and he went home and I went to bed, in a bit of a trance.

Then I woke up. The next morning I went to work and the reality of the previous night began to hit me. Many emotions bombarded my heart and head. I was elated, yes. I had waited for this day for two decades, and I had yellowing Mac printouts and tattered magazine pages to prove it. But I was utterly shell shocked. I survived the morning on auto-pilot and waited till lunchtime when I knew I could go to the sanctuary at the church school where I taught and fulfill another desperate need to pray.

Sitting alone in a pew, in the semidark, I tried to sort through the tempest in my brain. I thought I knew exactly how Rebekah had felt, in Genesis 24. The girl was just going to the well, minding her own business, and boom, she's engaged to Isaac. She may have been happy, but I can state with a good degree of certainty that her head was spinning like a top.

I knew I loved Walker. I did feel that we were supposed to get married. But I felt very overwhelmed at how quickly it was happening - and, I confessed, a little irritated, yes, ok, irritated, that God had completely left me out of the husband selection process. I was alarmed at my own impudence over his sovereignty. But I needed to be completely honest with him about it. For years I had tried to manipulate several a man into marrying me. I was trying to make a relationship work with a completely different guy just two weeks ago. "I was just out watering my camels God, and then along comes Walker, out of the blue, and he just falls on me like a ton of bricks..."

As soon as I prayed the words, it hit me. Ton of bricks. Walker was my Ton O'Bricks. That prayer I had prayed years before, the one I had completely forgotten about, God had not only remembered but had answered down to the detail. My prayer became one of gratitude and joy - and a complete sense of peace flowed over me. I got up, went back to work, and emailed the church for available dates.

Six months later, we had an absolutely gorgeous wedding.

According to Plan.


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