Sunday, September 23, 2012

thirty days of thirty years: twenty-eight

Year twenty-eight, age twenty-seven: September 2009-2010.

I had been dating Nathan Thum for just a little while before I knew that he was the one for me. We had our ups and downs like every couple, but most of our downs came from outside of us. We were pretty great together, actually. We figured that 90% of the time things were easy and we wondered why we ever wasted so much time in relationships that didn't have such a positive percentage yield. I think that too many people hear the cliche that relationships are hard, and they forget that they are not supposed to be that hard. Also, it is difficult to know until you just know, as they say. You spend a lot of time wondering, could this be it?

On our first date, months earlier, Nate said to me at one point, "I like how you share what you're feeling." I think I said something like, "Really? Thanks," but inside I was going, What? No you don't. Guys don't like when girls share their feelings. That's when I really knew that this guy was something special; he wasn't squeamish about what he found inside when I opened up a little.

The thing is that so many of my previous experiences with Christian guys-- although not all of them, to be fair--  led me to believe that they wanted more of a wall flower than wild flower; someone who would not speak until spoken to, at least when it came to my feelings about our relationship. I don't mean to judge their hearts, by any means, because I did after all find something admirable and honorable in them. But I do think that too many Christians have been ill-prepared for entering into dating relationships in a healthy way.

For a long time I knew that I wanted an out-of-the-box kind of Christian, someone who didn't necessarily speak the language or obey all of the rules of the sub-culture. I went a little too outside of the box for the comfort of many who knew and loved me when I started dating someone who didn't quite match me in the way we walked our personal faiths. We weren't even sure if he was a Christian. Or if he was but just didn't like using all the same words to say so, or didn't yet know how to really go to church or fellowship or do all the other things that Christians normally do.

Nate and I were very intentional about working this out because we both knew that even though we were a match in every other way, the faith piece was a deal-breaker. I would come to realize over time that we were very like-minded, actually, and that he was more pure of heart than many so-called Christians I have met.

We loved to travel and find adventure together and one day we found this mid-century church building that was for sale in Granby, CO. We started dreaming about the life we could live together up in the mountains, and I love that we weren't afraid to do so.

It is a long story, really, the way we came about getting engaged and buying a church house within a matter of minutes, although not necessarily in that order. Suffice it to say that by this time Nathan had earned my trust and, as I told him when he had gotten up off his knee in the basement of a hotel in downtown Denver with the auctioneer bid-calling in the background, "I don't know about all this going on around us, but I know about us."

Two-and a half months later Nathan and I were married on the most perfect Sunday afternoon in June. I wore Spanish lace and walked down the aisle to Jars of Clay's, This Road:

All heavy laden, acquainted with sorrow
May Christ in our marrow, carry us home
From alabaster come blessings of laughter
A fragrance of passion and joy from the truth

Grant the unbroken tears ever flowing
From hearts of contrition only for you
May sin never hold true that love never broke through
For God's mercy holds us and we are his own

This road that we travel, may it be the straight and narrow
God give us peace and grace from you, all the day
Shelter with fire, our voices we raise still higher
God give us peace and grace from you, all the day through

Two months after that we finally packed up the big, yellow moving truck that we affectionately called Banana Boat and headed out west. This road, as it turns out, is "the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."

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