I planned on posting this a while back. In fact, I put on my social media weeks ago that this post was coming soon. So why the delay? Well, I have been struggling with how to tell this story and how to do the story justice.
How do you tell your love story when you really feel like God guided you every step of the way to this man?
It’s NOT easy! I’m telling you, I have rewritten this post more times than I can count! So please hang in there with me. I might go into small detail that may seem irrelevant to you but to me it’s so important. I may not even do our love story justice but I am going to try my hardest to because my husband and our story deserves it!
So here goes…
At the age of 13 years old I met the man who would later (way down the road) become my husband. From the moment I met him, I was in love. I know that sounds so cliché but it’s true. Back then it was a simple school girl crush with hearts around our names and my name written with his last name but it was still love. You see, we met while he was on his high school wrestling team. I wasn’t in high school of course, but my mother was the chaperone for the female wrestler. That meant I got to travel to the wrestling tournaments and spend pretty much every weekend with him (and the rest of the team but not the point). That’s pretty much a girl’s dream when she’s crushing hard on someone.
Through that time, I got to see the character that Michael had and still does. Even back in high school, he always had the most upstanding values and morals. He tried to do what was right each and every time. I saw him sit with everyone at the hospital when one of the wrestlers was injured and he did anything he could to put a smile on each of our faces. When a pillow fight turned wrong for me, he was the first to acknowledge it and help make sure I was okay. Honestly, there are so many stories that I would have to write a book. I may have only been 13 years old but it didn’t escape me that I wanted to marry someone just like him.
Let’s be real, who really thinks they will actually marry their childhood crush?!
I tried my hardest to keep in touch with him but my mom quit chaperoning and then he graduated. Life seemed to be pulling us apart. I got my hopes up for a brief time when he started working at the McDonald’s by my house in the mornings. I would stop in and buy breakfast every single morning (most mornings I didn’t even eat it) so that I could say hi. I know, it sounds a little creepy but I promise it wasn’t. I missed my friend and I was crushing HARD!
That was short lived though. One day my mom came home to let me know we would be moving. Not just down the street either. We were moving from Florida all the way to Seattle! My last two years of high school I attended 3 different high schools and needless to say, I lost touch with Michael. We had never been anything more than friends (a 4-year age difference is big at that age) but you could say I was pretty heartbroken over it.
Life carried on though.
Eventually, I graduated high school and joined the Army National Guard. I went off to training and six months after completing Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) I was deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom. I spent a total of 15 months deployed and when I returned home to Florida, unbeknownst to me, I was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). (I’ll post more on that later.)
On Black Friday 2005, while waiting in line at Walmart, I ran into Michael and his dad. My step-dad and I were waiting in line and luck would have it that Michael ended up in line right behind me. You can imagine my excitement at that moment. My childhood crush is right behind me and looks exactly the same. Then I noticed it…
He’s got a wedding ring on?!
What is he thinking?! Didn’t he know how hard I crushed on him?! (LOL, just kidding, I knew he wasn’t waiting around on me.) I won’t lie, that wedding ring made my heart drop. All I could think about was how lucky his wife was to be married to him. Like the gentleman he has always been, he made sure I got the laptop I was there to get since he was there for one as well. (Those crowds are freaking crazy!) We went our separate ways and I made a commitment at that moment to marry someone like him. I didn’t have the best of examples growing up when it came to marriage and by this point I was no longer speaking to my biological father (you can read about that here). But I knew in my heart that I had found what I wanted in my husband and future father of my children. Too bad it wasn’t going to be this exact man though.
Or was it?!
In the years following, I was in and out of bad relationships. I had been cheated on, verbally abused and borderline domestic abuse. I had been proposed to and even accepted one but God always found a way to speak to my heart. At some point during each relationship I would sit down and go back to the qualities that I loved so much in Michael. Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t compare them to Michael. I simply knew the qualities that I loved and wanted and if the person I was with didn’t exhibit those then I found my strength to end it.
Eventually, the end of my enlistment neared and in 2010 I made the decision to leave the military. At the time, it was the hardest decision but as always, it all worked out. I ended up getting a job at the college in my town and one day, with coworkers surrounding me, something inside me told me to look Michael up on Facebook. To my surprise, when I found his profile there was no woman and no mention of being in a relationship/marriage. So, I sent him a private message, something along these lines:
“Hey, not sure if you remember me but I used to travel with the wrestling team. How are you doing?” Pretty daring if I say so myself. (LOL)
Not long after that, I got a message back and two months’ worth of back and forth emails started. Come to find out he was no longer married and was currently deployed. We spent numerous nights on email (back in the days before texting apps) getting to know each other again. I have to admit, I gave him the cold shoulder for the last month or so of his deployment. I got back in touch with an ex and was working on that relationship. Probably the worst mistake I could have made but God knows exactly what he is doing! The exact day that I left that relationship (literally an hour after ending it) I received an email from Michael telling me he was home on leave and would like to catch up. At that moment, I knew where I belonged. I knew that God had brought us both through all the crap we had been through and somehow, we had found our way back to each other. I returned that email and told him I would LOVE to catch up. A first date and a week later:
“How should I introduce you?”
“How do you want to introduce me?”
“As my girlfriend.”
“Sounds good to me.”
That was the conversation we had in front of his family’s house before attending his welcome home gathering. From that moment on it’s been him and I!