On September 11, 2006, I listened to a sermon that messed me up.
I know this because I wrote about it in my journal immediately afterwards. The message talked about dreams that we have and carry around that actually end up weighing us down; they may not actually be God’s dreams for us. Much as I hated to admit it, the Holy Spirit was bringing to mind one big dream that I had in my heart, one that definitely needed some refining.
My biggest dream at the time, and really for the previous twenty-seven years of my life, was to be married: to meet my Someone, have my happily ever after. And while I would never admit that I was holding God to a dream of my choosing, He showed me that day so clearly the demands I was placing on His dream.
I share with you a portion of my journal entry that day: (in all its unedited glory)
“Oh yeah. I’ve got dreams. I’m not even sure that ‘dreams’ is the right word. Maybe ‘plans’ is a better one. I say I don’t really have any preconceived notions about a future husband, but when it gets right down to it, I find myself wrestling to let go of some things.”
And I did what I vowed I would never do. I made I list: a list of my future husband.
What do you think was at the very top of it? The most pressing characteristic on my mind for my Someone? Here it is. Straight out of the journal.
- “I don’t want someone with a last name that starts with “L.” Their name has to sound great with my first name.”
Now that’s the stuff dreams are made of, right there.
The list gets better.
- “I don’t want someone a lot older or younger than me.”
- “I don’t want someone that will take me away from Pittsburgh.”
- “I want to live close to my family and have my kids live close to their grandparents.”
- “I don’t want to be worrying about money the rest of my life.”
- “I don’t want to fully give up this sense of singleness, adventure, flirtiness, the unknown.”
- “I don’t want to give up the ideal that I’ve created for a husband.”
- “I don’t want to be with someone that I don’t find to be attractive, that others don’t find to be attractive.”
I didn’t say this was pretty.
As I dug a little deeper, though, some of the other facets of my dream began to take shape.
- “I want someone who has a heart for ministry and that will bring out the best in me.”
- “I want someone with a great family, a Godly family, a family that I truly love and respect and enjoy and that my family loves and respects and enjoys.”
- “I want someone who loves football.”
- “I want someone who makes me laugh, really laugh, and who thinks I’m funny, too.”
- “I want someone who will lead me, that I want to follow, that I trust and who trusts and respects me, too.”
- “I want someone who is instilled with a sense of adventure, who inspires and leads me in that adventure, too.”
- “I want someone who is smart.”
- “I want someone who loves children and children love him.”
What I realized that day, what that sermon helped me realize, is that I really did have a dream. I’d been carrying it around in my “backpack” my whole life. I wanted to be married and have a family.
Along the way, however, maybe with every romantic comedy that I’d watch, or Jane Austen book that I’d read, I began adding a lot of other “dream rocks” to that backpack. They were different sizes, and I weighed them accordingly, with the most pressing matters right on top (i.e. last name, geographic location, being in control).
It wasn’t until the Holy Spirit so graciously sat down and opened up that backpack with me, that I could get to the bottom and find some real gems that had been hiding all along.
I had heard people my entire life talk about being honest, making a list to God of what they wanted their future mate to look like, and then God giving them every single item on their list. Well, maybe their lists were a lot more noble than mine. I realized I didn’t want everything on my list. With an empty backpack and a dream full of possibilities, I asked Jesus to replace whatever rocks He chose, and to fulfill, or not fulfill that dream however He saw best fit.
I listened to that message, “Baggage Claim: 301, Dreams,” several more times after that. God continued to purify and clarify that dream to me, morphing my ideal “Someone” into an actual someone.
I looked inside my backpack and realized I had a crush . . . on the preacher of the message. Yep, I was that girl. I’m so ashamed.
What fun God must’ve had over the next year when I actually met my crush, and we fell in love. Really. Eat that, Jane Austen. The next year on September 11, I was engaged and celebrating his birthday, and on January 19, 2008, we were married.
Brad, you are so much better than any list I could create. I love your heart for ministry, your humor, your hotness, and even your last name. The last seven years of marriage to you have been beautiful in the truest sense of the word. Through the moves across the country, joys and messiness of three children, challenges of starting a church, and greatest tragedy we’ve ever known, you have loved me unconditionally. Jesus truly gave me more than I could have asked or imagined. Thank you for loving Jesus more than me, and me more than yourself. You are a dream come true. I love you. Happy anniversary, Baby!