One bold choice

There is something about when you get a chance to tell your love story…

Am I right?

Colors, outfits you wore, smells, deeply rooted feelings that may or may not make their appearance often come pouring out.

Over a recent meal shared with another couple, the chance to walk down memory lane came.  We were actively trying to get to know this couple, welcoming them to our church family and just be Richard and Sarah, nothing else, no show, just us.

Richard, in his best attempts gave his immensely short version of our story.  I couldn’t help but intrude on his memory. He was leaving out the best part.

So there I was unashamedly telling my side and sharing the details that he so quickly glossed over or failed to bring up.

You see, because of one person’s bold choice, our love story continued, even though it should have ended in August of 2004.

I was done, just done.

His childish lifestyle with his brother and their friends had reached a capacity that I no longer could tolerate.  They were more interested in planning their classes, lives, work schedules and weekends around things that were leading nowhere.  

I on the other hand was faced with the alarming reality that nursing school was not going to be part of my story (the lowest GPA they accepted the year I applied was a 4.0).  I was sitting at a 3.8 and had no hope of pursuing a calling I thought was my destiny.

Failure, defeat, dreams crushed and a relationship that seemed to be going nowhere led me to make a uncharacteristic choice.  I decided to leave the small private school I was attending, near my boyfriend and move far away, to a place where the sun shined everyday.  In the deepest parts of my soul, I believed this was how I was going to make a clean break. He wouldn’t have the gumption to follow me, he was too content not growing up and making choices that didn’t say to me that our future mattered.  I really believed that was the end to our rollercoaster relationship the last 4 years.

Little did I know…

October 2004, the same month that we started dating in 2000, he asked me to marry him.  

How did we get there from where I said we were heading?

In those months of self realization as well as the wake up call that he had been given, he began to change.  A good paying job, saving account to build, breaking away from his youthful surroundings began to be his norm.

Even in the weeks leading up to our marriage, heck even our wedding day, I had people fully questioning the decision I was making.  They couldn’t let go of the Richard they had watched “grow up” and not really change. I saw something. They couldn’t yet see it, but I saw something change for him.  

Flash forward to October 31, 2018.  We had our first date, on this day, 18 yrs ago.

18 yrs ago.

Somehow, we managed to convince my mom to take the kids for us earlier this month.  We ran away for 6 days. When my favorite uncle found out, he asked us “what do you think you will do with yourselves for 6 days without the kids to bother you?”. Richard and I nervously laughed, knowing that we knew full well that we didn’t have a clue what it would be like. All we have known for the majority of our relationship is a love story woven in with 5 little lives.

He then told us, “you will either be running back home because you missed the kids too much or you will not want to come back because you had too much fun without them, lets hope its the latter”.

You want to know the truth?

We didn’t want to board that plane home.  We didn’t want to pack up and leave the little sanctuary we had lived in for the last 6 days.  Free of responsibilities, free of meals to make, bottoms to wipe, fights to referee, life lessons to teach, discussions on who’s turn it is to deal with whatever bomb just went off or speaking in fragmented sentences. We missed their little faces and wanted to squeeze them for a few minutes, but we would have turned right back around to be alone again in a heart beat.

6 days of hand holding, exploring new places, eating ridiculously good food, going to a concert, getting tattoos, connecting and yes at times, just sitting in silence with each other.  I don’t know if you could have pried us off each other, we were in constant contact with each other.

we couldn’t get enough of it.

That thing that drove me to walk down the aisle, down the aisle to a broken soul that had yet met Jesus, had yet to show me what he was really made of under deep soul crushing circumstances, had yet to transform into the God fearing man he is today, the thing that no one else could see was what led me.

He was the echo to the cavern of my heart, a heart that was fiercely cautious and unwilling to give it over freely to anyone. My self preservation didn’t scare him off and I knew that if he could see past all that walls I had built and still want me, there was something in him that I needed.

I have witnessed marriages struggle, break and not repair, because both partners in the equation forgot to put each other first. Somewhere in between raising the kids and dealing with life, they forgot to ask their best friend to come along with them, they forgot to come running home and tell each other about their day, just like they did in the early dating years, where they would share every detail with each other. They forgot to make each other the most important part of their day.

Many kind people have told richard and I to be careful, be on guard for the coma that the enemy wants to put marriages in.

To be honest it is the thing that we have agreed since day one that we would be vigilant about.

Without any chances to experience what it would be like without kids for the last 11 yrs, we never knew if there were cracks forming, we were unaware if we were letting our marriage dance with the looming chance of forgetting each other in the chaos of the Harney 7.

It is with joy and encouragement to anyone who takes the time to read this (lets be honest the blogging world is starting to die as people’s patience to sit and focus on one thing for more than a few seconds or even minutes is where we as a society are at), its my hope that you and your spouse in the midst of the hard years, say no to the world’s desire for you to hook up to the anesthesia and sleep your way through your marriage.

It hasn’t been easy.  We had many chances in the last 18 yrs to say “peace out”.  We had opportunities to say, “this crap is too scary or hurts to deep, so I am just going to cut my ties with you and find someone else”.  We had to physically say to each other “I don’t care what you say, I am not going anywhere, I would never break your trust no matter how much your fears tell you I would”.

By the grace of God, I am blessed to say he is my best friend.  There is no other person on the earth that I would want to spend every single moment with.  No other person I would want to see me at my lowest and weakest points of my soul and to celebrate the victories or highes that come as I learn what it means to be me.

6 days wasn’t enough.  But it was long enough for me to see that we are going to be just fine when the last little harney flies the coop.  Enough for me to dream about what it will be like when it’s just me and him. Back to the basics.

If you haven’t had the time to get away with your spouse…btw it took us 12.5 yrs to finally have a honeymoon, 11 yrs since having kids to go away with each other, so no judgement .  I would encourage you to find a way to break away. Go stay the night at the hotel, ask for someone to watch your kids for a full 24 hrs. So you can enjoy 3 complete meals, go to bed, rise with just each other.  

Go have your health screen check, don’t fall asleep.  Your marriage is the most important human relationship you will EVER have on this earth.  

Where is your love story at right now?  How do you want it to end? What are you doing to make sure it has the ending you hope for?

18 years later and he still makes my heart beat faster when our eyes lock in a crowded room…