Monday, October 28, 2013

Our story: episode two

So, where were we?

Beausoleil, France.

Oh, yeah. Southern France. AKA, where I was living and working as an au pair (read: tutor/housekeeper/grocery-shopper/general assistant) for a fantastic French family in the fall/winter of 2011.

If you read this post, you'll remember that moving to Monaco was one of the greatest experiences of my life. But it was also one of the loneliest. This entry from my journal pretty much says it all:

Nov. 10, 2011

After being in France past the "honeymoon" phase, the glamour is stripped away. The truth is, it's lonely here. People are lonely. Kind of an every-man-for-himself mentality. For me, plain and simple, I've realized I don't need any of the glamour in this life, because it's all just a fleeting facade at the end of the day. It turns to ash. You remain, and You give life.

And by the way, yes...I was dating a French guy at the time. And yes, to the world (and apparently, my dad) the whole thing seemed like a "fairytale." He regularly brought me flowers and chocolate. He had an accent. Contrary to most stereotypes, he was both polite and kind.

But he wasn't a follower of Christ. Yeah, yeah, I knew the verse about not becoming "unequally yoked"—but I never really felt it until I got to France, where daily I found myself getting deeper and deeper into a "relationship" I'd never intended to enter in the first place. It was glamorous. It was romantic. It was exciting.

However, because we weren't able to connect spiritually, it wasn't real. Christ wasn't our foundation or focal point. Consequently, we didn't see life through the same set of lenses—and finally, I admitted as much in my journal.

Life isn't travel, or intrigue, or accumulating experiences, or living my life so that people will say, "Wow, she's really doing something." I can't marry a man who can't communicate with me. How will he ever know me, or my heart? How can I know his? Continue to prepare my heart for marriage, Lord. I believe that when the time is right, I will have no hesitations. Help me to mature into a woman who can give and receive romantic love that is first a reflection of the way You love me.

So imagine the, um, spiritual freak-out moment I had when, in the middle of all this, Taylor sent me a message on Facebook telling me that he'd been praying for me. Specifically, that the Lord would be "filling my cup to pour out His love to others" and provide me with spiritual community.

Woah. That was real. That was an example of God's love in human form. At exactly the right time, He gave a man in North Carolina a spot-on word of encouragement for a lonely girl in Southern France. Suddenly, the should-I-or-shouldn't-I fog of confusion I'd been in about dating the Frenchman vanished.

Thank you for prompting Taylor Kiker to send that message. How cool that you put him in my mind and me in his, and prompted both of us to lift the other up in prayer. Help me avoid spiritual manipulation in this renewed friendship, Lord, and help me not to see him as a piece of Prime Rib in the Christian meat market. Truly though...

Yes. As ridiculous as it sounds, that was a real-life, unedited journal entry (I'm sure the Lord got a good laugh out of it, so feel free to join in).

After Taylor messaged me, I knew what I wanted—or more accurately, what I needed—in an altar-bound relationship. No, I didn't know then that he would become my husband in the not-so-distant future. But his message reminded me that in Christ, relationships (specifically, marriage relationships) are meant to do so much more than create a heart-to-heart or body-to-body connection. They're made to unite spirits.

Only in a Christ-centered relationship can God deeply minister to and intensely love each partner through the other. Only in a Christ-centered relationship can a man and woman be half a world apart, and simultaneously be called into prayer on behalf of the other.

*Single guys and gals, this is an aside from "our story": But if that's not the kind of relationship you're in, get out. I know that's firm, but hear my heart: Don't settle for less than His best. Don't cheat yourself out of the opportunity to see Him do "immeasurably more than all you can ask or imagine" (Eph. 3:20-21) in your future marriage relationship. Don't waste time messing around with "almosts" or "good-enoughs." Really cool "God-stories" are out there for everyone, not just for Taylor and me. I encourage you to resist the temptation to script your own knockoff fairytale, and let the Author do His divinely beautiful, masterfully creative thing. I've tried dating both ways, so I can tell you from experience that the rest of your life is so worth the waiting that's involved in finding God's best. Promise.

Alright, back on track with the story. With a clear mind and several insanely long journal entries in the bank, I said "goodbye" to France, came back to America, signed up to compete at a local beauty (I mean, scholarship) pageant, and...didn't talk to Taylor again for six months, when we both ended up on vacation with our families in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

But how did my dream of becoming Miss Texas nearly derail our relationship? And how many days did it take for us to know that we had met "the one," anyway? And did we really both journal that we were going to marry the other one on the Exact. Same. Day. ?

To find out, you'll have to—you guessed it—stay tuned. Can't say I didn't warn you that this thing was really, really extensive. :)

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