My heart has been fighting, every time I start to write a blog post: “Don’t write of romance,” it says. “Write about things of general interest–things like spiritual truths and the culture of Bangladesh! Life, you’ve always said, is so much more than falling in love and getting married. It happens to almost everyone, and your story is not so extraordinary, surely… Don’t act like marriage was the goal of your life, when it wasn’t.”
And it wasn’t, but every time I start typing I find that I cannot write about my life without writing about the new hopes that have grown in my heart in the soil of my exile in Bangladesh. I can’t write about Bangladesh without writing how Ben came and redeemed the dusty roads for me, sort of like Jesus came and redeemed planet Earth by walking it with us. Being separated only taught me how much I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life without him, like the separation from God showed us how deeply we needed Him.
And yet, surely love has come to many lives, and that moment on the beach here in Bangladesh that forever sealed our relationship does not mean to others what it means to us. Surely love has come into many lives, but as it comes to me, it is new and world-shaking, and I can’t shrug my shoulders and act like it means no more to me than a romance story I can lay down at will. No, this is my life, and if I am to write I must write about the thing that has come to pass–as real as God’s love and sometimes seemingly one and the same.
And so, this is about Ben. He walked into my life like a new friend and stayed long enough to become the person I will weave the rest of my life around. He didn’t run away when I opened up my heart but stayed and asked that I would give everything in it to him, and he promised to be kind.
I am no longer single, free, and twenty-three. I am free, but free in love. Instead of detracting from God’s love, this love reinforces the reality of living loved and loving when it hurts. This is a great mystery, but I speak of Christ and His love for me… (See Ephesians 5)
In writing of love, I cannot write as though marriage is the fulfillment of all my longings. I cannot act as though I have finally found purpose, when surely I had purpose all along. And yet, there is a light in my life that wasn’t there before, because God has used Ben to illuminate things I never knew about Him, like the beauty of sacrifice and the sweetness of surrender. For God weaves each of our lives, single or married, into a love story, and this, this is part of mine, and I will not treat it lightly.
Moments before he asked me to marry him, we sat side-by-side next to a fire on the beach, while the waves sang a love song in the background. Dusk was falling, and he opened my Bible app at random and found it was at 1 Corinthians 13.
He read it, his voice husky, as the fire danced on our faces. “Love is patient, love is kind… now I know in part, but then will I know even as also I am known… And now abideth faith, hope, charity…”
Then will we know also as we are known… The words whispered in my mind. “Hope plays into love so much, doesn’t it?” I commented. He asked me to explain, but I couldn’t explain, it was far beyond me, and had something to do with him, and something to do with the way God had brought hope of eternal, tender love into my life…
And now I think, as a girl engaged who has never been married, that perhaps marriage is the foreshadowing of eternity where we will know each other as God knows us.
This is a story as old as Adam and Eve, this learning to know and be known, but still new to me. I cannot shrug it off lightly and write of other things. And so I write, and I find the story eternally relevant and meaningful to my life and also to yours. This is not just my love story.
It is God’s love story, and as Ben loves me and I promise to be his, so God loves each of us and dies to win our hearts. There is romance enough for all of us, and I invite you to drink deeply of it today and see life differently.
Because love has come, and it is always new, and nothing can be the same again…