I started looking for the man who would become my (second) husband when I was a tiny girl. I knew Mom had been seventeen when she'd married Dad, twenty-one when she'd had me, and I expected to meet THE ONE at a young age.
All through high school and college, I looked, pushed, rushed. I put an incredible amount of pressure on myself, and those who've known me longest will confirm: I've spent precious little time, in my adult life, being single.
I was on a mission, but I was no missionary; I'd given my heart to Christ when I was eight, but I didn't ask Him to help me find THE ONE.
I met my first husband five months after graduating from college and married him one year later, when I was twenty-three. I'd broken, already, two wedding engagements, and I felt old. When Mom was twenty-three, she'd been married for six years, and she was pregnant with her second child.
Two years before I met my first husband, I'd met my second. In the Center for Campus Ministry, where light streamed through stained glass and, in it, he glowed. He stood tall, with the wide shoulders of a football player, and I felt a thrill for the hunger in his eyes when he looked at me. But he was gentle, and fun, and--to see me smile--he borrowed money for flowers, wrote poetry, drew with sidewalk chalk.
It didn't work out, so either it wasn't love, or it was, and I blew it, anyway. And since I married him three months after reconnecting with him thirteen years later, and since I've spent every single day for four straight years thanking God for second chances, I believe the latter: love, and I blew it.
I met him in the Center for Campus Ministry in a shaft of colored light; still, I missed it. I was twenty. I wasn't ready to see it: the this-is-THE-ONE of it.
It took me more than another decade to get it right, and I'm still trying to understand it.
I woke my beloved up, the other night, because it dawned on me, suddenly, that--for the first time in my entire life--I trust myself inside a relationship. Because, truth be told, I'd trusted others, before, but never myself; I'd always wondered if THE ONE might be someone other than my significant other?
But now I rise and rest and sleep and smile and shine in knowing: I have found THE ONE. He wears my ring, brings home my bacon, draws smiley faces on the pet rocks of our older daughter.
I can't say I'm angry with myself for not recognizing Jim, in 1994, as my future husband. I can say I'm proud of myself for recognizing him, now, as my forever husband.
Mom is extraordinary and has always been an amazing example, but her timetable was never meant to be my timetable. I needed to be well into my thirties for marriage to feel just right.
And, as I try to record thoughts for my children, I just want to say: "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6, KJV).
You don't have to be on anyone else's timetable. Just because (s)he got married, had a baby, earned a degree, or bought a house at a certain age doesn't mean you have to do it at the same age. Or at all! Your story is your story, and it's best written by God and understood, by you, through your earnest seeking of His face.
Trust me: if you try to grab the pen and write your own story, you're going to need a lot of Wite-Out.
And Wite-Out won't make your mistakes disappear, entirely.