Monday, November 4, 2013

Our story: the final chapter

When I was 14, I penned my first entry in a brand new journal. It had blue and white stripes on the cover and a title written in Sharpie: "Only You." 

Separate from my prayer journal and everyday journal-journal, I began "Only You" to write letters to my future husband. See, I had braces on my teeth. I wore a back brace to school to help correct my Scoliosis. I was skinny, lanky. Male attention of the "I want to date you" variety was non-existent (never mind the fact that I wasn't even allowed to date until I was 16). But one day, I knew that would change. My future husband would desire me, pursue me. He would call me beautiful. He would see what all of the lame 14-year-old guys surrounding me couldn't. He was out there somewhere, and over the years, I took great comfort in writing him pages upon pages detailing the strength of my affections for him...despite the fact that I didn't know his name.

"Just think," one early entry read. "I could know you in five-six years."

My husband was always real to me.

Through the years I would forget about the journal until a breakup, a bad date, or a particularly lonely day reminded me of its existence. Of his existence. My 18-year-old self shared a laugh with him about the dramatic poetry penned by 15-year-old me. At 19, I told him I was pretty sure he didn't attend Pepperdine, and if he did, he was taking his sweet time trying to find me. At 20, I told him to keep growing and discovering who he was in Christ—to see the beauty that can come from pain, to grow into the spiritual shape of a man after God's own heart. At 21, I let him know that I was a bridesmaid in two weddings, and that I was still waiting for him. That I always had been.

And then, on July 27, 2012, I told him I had met him.

I didn't use Taylor's name in the journal until his ring was on my finger—that had long been the unspoken rule of the journal. But in faith, three days after saying goodbye in Hilton Head, 22-year-old me pulled out "Only You" and let my future husband know that finally, finally, I was his.

"This is the beginning of our story."

On Thanksgiving, I wrote about his handmade turkey card—the one that kept me from thinking I'd made the whole thing up in my head. I wrote about how I didn't know there was a note written inside...until my dad started reading it out loud. I wrote about how I compared the size of his hand-shaped turkey feathers to my own hand, and wondered how the two would fit together. I wrote about reading that little card again and again whenever I began to doubt what the Lord had done at the beach. 

When his family invited mine to celebrate the New Year together in Tennessee, I wrote that I was nervous. I admitted that I didn't know what I would do or say when I first saw him. Would I hug him? Give him a high five? Immediately pour out my soul and tell him that we were meant to be together...forever? 

In January, I wrote that it was hard to find the words to say. That God was so good. That I was blown away. That I couldn't believe he had felt the same way all along...and never asked for my phone number! I wrote that I was honored when he asked my father for permission to date me, and told his parents he intended to pursue me—despite the fact that he was still living in North Carolina, and I was in Texas.

In March, with his ring on my left hand, I wrote his name for the first time: Taylor Ross Kiker. I let him know that everything that had transpired in the past, and everything that would come in the future, I accepted wholly and took on as a part of myself. That I couldn't wait to begin our joined adventure. That I had always been his. That I always would be.

In July, on the night before our wedding, I wrote that I loved him deeply, expansively; more than I knew was possible. But I also confessed that I would never be enough for him—that he would always and only be found in Christ. I promised to celebrate the good in him forever, and call him back to his true identity when he could not see or feel Truth for himself. That always, always, my heartsongs had been written to only him. "Only You."

And then, on July 27, 2013—one year from the date I journaled that our story had begun—no written words were necessary. Because waiting for me at the end of the altar was my faith personified; my prayers in the flesh. And with his hands holding mine, he spoke these words:

"According to the will of God and my desire, I, Taylor, take you, Karley, to be my wife."

14-year-old Karley, you are chosen.

"Leaving my father and mother, I cleave to you."

15-year-old Karley, I'm forsaking everything I've known to unite myself with you.

"Through every year and every circumstance, I will remain constant in my commitment to you."

19-year-old Karley, I've always been there, and I always will be.

"I will love you as Christ loves the church, giving my life to you."

21-year-old Karley, your waiting has been worthwhile—I am yours completely, and I vow to love you how my Savior first loved me.

"I will always hope all things and believe all things in you and for you, turning your eyes constantly to Him who gave us one another." 

23-year-old Karley, 45-year-old Karley, 62-year-old Karley, and 89-year-old Karley, I will never stop pointing you in the direction of the One who loved you first; the God who joined us together in His service until death do us part.

. . . 

It's my prayer that in reading this series you have become more aware of how "wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (Eph. 3:18-20) That those who have considered compromise in their dating relationships will be encouraged to hold out for what's real. That those who, like me, have attempted to write their own love stories will lay down their pens and just rest at Jesus' feet for awhile. That those who have questioned God's goodness and faithfulness or feared that His provision can't or won't reach them, will experience the healing power of His love and better understand His heart as a Good Father. That those with longing hearts will soon-and-very-soon exchange vows with their own God-given answer to prayer, and experience the strength of Christ's love in human form.
Please understand that the movie of "Our Story" doesn't end with our vows, our first kiss as man and wife, or waving goodbye while boarding the plane to Mexico for our honeymoon. It carries on still, marked by scenes of washing the dishes, going to the gym, making Crockpot dinners, and doing all of the ordinary things that ordinary people do (yes, even arguing). But there is a new-found richness in the everyday and the mundane. That's because...

Every time I look at Taylor, I marvel at what God has done.

Every time I share our story, I am overwhelmed by His goodness. 

Every time I say "my husband," I stand in awe at the provision, the creativity, and the story-weaving ability of Jesus, the unshakeable, inescapable Lover of my soul. 

The bottom line: If you read episode one, episode two, and episode three very carefully, you'll realize what we've realized. That if you took God out of the equation, we wouldn't have a story. 

Why? Because He is our story, and He is our song. 

Ephesians 3:20-21: "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen"
Karley with a K. Todos los derechos reservados. © Maira Gall.