We went to Watertown that night. He wears Nike sneakers instead of work boots and his old ones were wore right through.
I was exhausted but wide-awake. My body flip-flopping between anxious stomach-wrenching questions and calm reassuring promises. It had been quite the week. Two funerals, a lot of thoughts, mourning a failed adoption, migraine headaches.
He bought the black sneakers, put them directly onto his feet. We found a dumpster for the hole-filled ones on the way back to the car.
“Let’s walk to the grocery store,” he said. He was hoping the Price Chopper across the parking lot carried old fashioned Turkey Hill iced tea, orange flavored if we were lucky.
I slowed down on the way, glanced at the women’s clothing store with the huge clearance signs. He rolled his eyes slightly but winked, “Meet you back here in a few minutes?” We parted ways. I bought several shirts and a floor-length maxi skirt.
Outside I saw him, sitting on the bench between stores. He waved and I slipped through the darkness toward him. When I was close, I saw them, a dozen red roses, ends wrapped in a grocery bag. I looked at him, the five o’clock shadow darkening his face, the brown eyes that warmed me right through.
“You’ve been sad,” he whispered in explanation, “I’ve seen the tears behind your eyes. I’m sorry, love.”
I slipped into his arms and buried my face into his chest, smashing the roses between us.
He wasn’t really the guy I figured on marrying.
He wasn’t tall like I had pictured. He was ten years older than me. On one of our first dates he told me he probably wanted 3 kids instead of the 7 I’d always dreamed of. Our first kiss didn’t make me swoon or anything.
It wasn’t really anything out of a fairy tale.
It was better.
It was this slow growing, this gentle affection that multiplies and takes shape and fills every aspect of life. It is this moment where you look at the friend beside you and say, “Oh, it’s you. Of course it’s you.”
God works that way so often. Taking the dreams we think we have and refining them with fire. Hot, blazing, painful fire.
You walk through experiences where you think you won’t be able to withstand another burning moment. You rage at the heavens and in the stillness, He is there. Gentle and soothing. Tearing away your blinders and opening your eyes to Truth.
He is good. And all is done in love. Even the painful things.
This past summer was fiery.
But I am believing the God I serve has something better in store for me than the things I wanted. I believe He has things of lasting value. Things that will bring Him honor and glory, for He is worthy of it all.
Are you walking through the painful moments right now? Let’s believe together, shall we?