When I was 15 I started a journal of letters to my future spouse. I wrote down everything. How my school work was going, how swimming was progressing, things that made me nervous and things that made me excited. I would ask him questions that I knew wouldn't be answered (at least for a while). I'd ask him what kinds of things he liked, what sports did he play, and what his favorite food was. Super deep I know. As I went through high school the letters got a lot more serious and personal. They seemed less "middle school check yes or no"-ish and more "dreams and anxiety about the future" sort of stuff. When I got to college I wrote the letters less often. I was busier and started to see the letters as childish. I also started to feel more vulnerable. Even though no one knew the letters even existed, sometimes I felt like they were burning a whole in my desk drawer. I had put so much of myself into those letters and there they were, just sitting in my desk in my dorm room.
I decided to take the letters back to my parents house because I felt it was safer there (plus I wasn't writing in it as much when I was at school). Looking back on it that was probably the DUMBEST move I could have made considering my six siblings were still living at my parents house. Anyway, there they stayed tucked away in my closet buried by boxes of junk I knew no one would come close to.
The summer after my freshman year I was emotionally drained. My first year of college had been filled with ups and downs. As a student athlete I was just realizing the kind of work it was going to take to make my swimming and academic dreams come true. One day towards the end of the summer I was laying on the couch in my parents living room. We were all gathered around the t.v. watching World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia. Even though we were watching from the other side of the globe, we were all impacted by that WYD. In my heart I knew I needed to be at the next one. When Pope Benedict announced that WYD 2011 was going to be in Madrid, Spain, I made myself a promise that I'd be there.
Then I had another thought. I couldn't shake the feeling that I wouldn't be making the trip alone. Now I don't mean with other pilgrims. Obviously I would't be alone in that sense. But I felt that there would be someone special with me. Someone I loved. I ran upstairs and pulled out the letters. I turned to a new page and cranked out a fresh letter. I poured my heart out about the past year and then explained my excitement about WYD. I told him that I would love to make the trip to Madrid with him by my side. I told him that I thought it would be so wonderful if we were newly weds making the pilgrimage together, maybe it could even be part of our honeymoon. But then I did the math. There were currently no love interests in my life. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Plus, WYD was only 3 years away. Seemed like a bit of a rough timeline to meet someone, date, get engaged and then tie the knot. I wrote to my spouse "all this would be so wonderful but I'm afraid we'd have to meet within the the next couple weeks for this to even be possible..." I closed the journal with a sad heart.
Then two weeks later I would meet Andrew for the first time.
In the summer of 2011 we would be married and then less than a month later, be on our way to WYD in Madrid. Funny enough, I didn't make the connection to the letters until I gave the journal to Andrew after we were married. I was completely and utterly blown away by God's divine providence. All the puzzle pieces had come together to form a beautiful image. The grand scheme that I couldn't see for so long was finally right before me.
Now here we are, going on four years of marriage, and three kids to show for it. I'll occasionally look back at the journal (because I'm sentimental like that) and reread some of my entires. Though some of my letters are painfully awkward to get through, I can see how each one was preparing my heart for Andrew. Letters still play a role in our relationship today. When Andrew goes on trips I always pack few letters for him to read while he's gone or even just leaving love notes in his lunch box. I'm finding that it's the little stuff like letters that help keep things new and fresh, especially when we are up to our eye balls in dirty diapers.
I won't pretend to have a ton of marriage experience or advice. Because I don't. Maybe if I'm still blogging when I'm 50 I'll have something worth while to offer. For now, Andrew and I are still trying to figure all this out one day at a time. All I can say is that God has an amazing way of making someone who is broken whole again, just by simply uniting them with someone else who is broken too.