Saturday, February 10, 2007

Eternal Love

There is a framed picture that I keep in my bedroom of Darren and I perched high atop a rocky formation in the mountains, immortalized in a reckless embrace, photographed by my brother during a brief respite on one of the many hiking excursions we so enjoyed while we were dating. Young and in love, the sky was our limit, and we had lofty hopes and aspirations of a fairy tale life together...

Darren was thirty and I a mere nineteen years old when we first met at the university we both attended. I was a sophomore, still living at home with my parents, very active in the Catholic community, and had never been involved in a serious romance. Darren was a "non-traditional" student, having recently been discharged from the army after seven years of service (four of which were spent in Germany). He was divorced. And an atheist. And was, to this small town girl, deliciously sophisticated!

To some we seemed doomed for disaster. We were, however, inexorably drawn to each other, and it wasn't long before we were absolutely, irrevocably, head-over-heels in Love. And because I cared so deeply for him, I was troubled greatly by his thoughts on God. There has never been a time in my life when I didn't know God, and certainly I had never wavered in my belief. I desired, with all my heart, for Darren to know the love and peace that comes with believing, and trusting, and knowing God. Often we talked about our different beliefs. There came a point where, despite being a "cradle Catholic", I just didn't feel I had adequate answers or arguments to rebut his interrogations. So I began inviting him to Mass with me. He came, week after week, to the Life Teen Mass at which I was involved as a member of the Core Team. And then, after continued prayer and conversation, we began attending RCIA meetings together at my church, where he had the opportunity to learn even more about the faith he knew was so important to me, and which was beginning to mean more to him, too. His change of heart was gradual. It came with much prayer, many tears, intense periods of doubt and longing, but ultimately culminated with his full reception into the Church at Easter, 1998. He was radiant, transformed by Christ, and I had never loved him more.

As the season of Lent approaches once again, I've been reflecting on how far Darren has come in his spiritual journey...and how far I, along for the ride, have come as well. In the nearly nine years since Darren joined the Church, he has proved himself time and again to be truly devoted to knowing and serving our Lord. The man who once insisted that he didn't want children is the most incredible father to our precious children. He's a better husband than I deserve. He loves us and guides us and strives always to prayerfully discern God's calling for our family.

We really are living our happily ever after, but the sky is no longer our limit. We're working together now towards a destination much further, above and beyond, where we hope to enjoy an eternal reward long after we've passed through the beautiful light of this life.

11 comments:

He who wears the most black wins. said...

Oh my gosh, Melissa, that was so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story. It really brought tears to my eyes. God had a plan for Darren and a large part of it was to meet you. To meet you so he could meet God. So that he could meet God and you could serve Him together. What a beautiful, beautiful story yours is.

Here's to a very long and spritually rich marriage-

Michelle said...

Sweet.

Jill said...

What a beautiful love story! And the way the sky is in that picture makes the whole thing seem right out of the movies! I read a post he wrote in his blog several months ago when you linked to it about his desire to seek God's will instead of listening to society's view on how many kids a family 'should' have. I never would have guessed those words came from someone who wasn't a devout Catholic all of his life. What a change God made in his heart.
I think you and I are fairly similar in that we both met our husbands at 19, and are now both 29. Except in my story, I did the converting (albeit from Lutheranism!). I'll have to share my conversin story someday since they are so interesting to read.

Anyway, I assume this will be in the Loveliness of Romance fair. I will have to read it again then!

Mom to Almost Four said...

I loved reading this. What a beautiful love story in so many ways. We never know where God will use us. May your marriage be blessed for always.

Celeste

Jamie said...

What a beautiful love story, love for eachother and love for God. I love the picture and how the sky is, wow! Your post brought tears to my eyes.

Blair said...

What a wonderful romance! God is so good :)

Cheryl said...

This story is beautiful. The picture is too.

Matilda said...

I love stories like yours where you can look back and see the strong hand of God working tirelessly to bring you two together.

Jane Ramsey said...

What a beautiful story, and what an awesome picture!

Misty said...

Gorgeous picture & touching story. I love a good love story!

mom-in-training said...

Thank you so much for sharing your personal story. How beautiful it was. And how close to home it hit. A part of your story is very familiar as my husband is also an atheist. He attends church with me and even joins in saying blessing each meal. I just keep praying for God to change his heart. Thank you for giving me hope through your own incredible experience.