If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ve noticed the name Carlos creeping in more and more often...
About a year ago, I was in the gym, bright and early, doing some stretching before tackling one of the leg machines. There was a guy working out nearby. Of course, my gym here is very small, where you can literally ‘reach out and touch’ the person on the machine next to you, so everyone is kind of nearby!
This guy commented on how flexible I was, and we started talking about working out. We also talked about how we enjoyed the beauty of the area, and hiking. He told me his name was Carlos and that he had recently moved from Santo Domingo.
He asked why I was here in Jarabacoa, and when I told him I was a missionary he got really excited and started talking about how he wanted to serve God. “For me, the cross of Christ is the most important.”
We saw each other again, a week or so later, and this time we talked about relationships. Carlos told me that he wanted to be remarried, (we’re both divorced) but it had to be someone who loved Jesus even more than she loved him, and who wanted to serve God with her life.
He told me he had been praying for a woman like that, who also enjoyed his love of exercise and being outside, especially hiking in the mountains.
True confession: instead of being happy to have met a guy who loved Jesus and wanted to serve Him, I was skeptical. After all, what better way to impress a missionary than to talk about God?
And, the truth was, I wasn’t actually looking for a relationship. As I had declared forcefully (and often!) I had left the US single, and had every intention of returning the same way.I’m so thankful that God is at work, even when we’re being closed-minded and prejudiced!
I’m also thankful that sometimes God opens doors we have firmly shut. I truly was content and at peace being single. It took a long, long time to heal my heart after my failed marriage and divorce.
Forgiving myself, having the courage to trust that I would not repeat the mistakes of the past, allowing myself to be open to the investment of time, energy and emotion that a healthy relationship requires… all of this took time. And, a lot of it!
|Hiking last year... still one of our favorite things!|
But, all the while, God was at work. In my life, and in the life of Carlos, too. Not only that, I discovered friends and family had been praying for me what I would not (or perhaps could not) pray for myself.
"I remember a conversation where you made it quite clear that you had no interest in marriage. Case closed! Let's get on with other things. But if you expressed no interest in marriage, I continued in my prayer asking God to bring the right person into your life."
My sweet dad emailed me these words last year when I told him about Carlos. I was surprised, and so very touched to learn of his prayers - and many others, as well!As much as I have loved serving God as a single woman, I now see ways that I can serve Him more deeply with a partner in life and ministry. With someone who believes the cross of Christ is the most important thing. With someone who has a hunger and passion for knowing Jesus that inspires me to know Him better, too. With someone who wants me to love God even more than I love him.
I can honestly say that what Carlos said a year ago standing in the gym was not just words to impress a missionary. Instead, he has shown me in more ways than I can count, that his desire truly is desire to spend his life loving and serving God – and to be with someone who desires this, too.
Of course, we both know that there will be challenges in the future. There have been plenty already! But, we stand back in awe at how God has brought us together.
Carlos and I have spent a lot of time in prayer both alone and together, time seeking wise counsel, time reading the Word, and books on marriage. We have shared our dreams for seeing God glorified in the lives of those who do not yet know Him. We have been blessed to serve together teaching English, and some with Students International. All of this has helped confirm that God truly has led us to this point.
And, so…Big breath.
And so...we are prayerfully planning to marry. Soon.
I know, I know, crazy, right?! But, we feel at peace (and excited!) to begin this new adventure together. We cannot wait to see what He will do in us and through us next!
For all of you who’ve been praying… Thank you! Please continue to pray that God would be glorified through our lives as individuals, and together. And, please feel free to say, “I told you so” as often as you’d like!