Stories matter.  My fear is I will forget my story of how Joseph and I grew into husband and wife.

So today I will write all the moments where I saw God change our hearts as we went along.

For those of you who have read lots of my story you know Joseph and I started off in an unconventional way. I had been in relationship prisons till I met Joseph. When we became “friends with benefits” it was wonderful to be part of something that had no demands. No expectations. I know lots of people won’t agree with outbstart. But I truly believe it was Gods way of showing me I could be part of something great without demands.

I remember defining moments that showed me how we progressed from friends to being so much more.

We went camping five months into dating. While driving, Joseph saw this sign that said they were having a tiny town carnival. He said,  “we should go so I can show off my girlfriend.”

Consider my shock. This was the same guy who texted me one day after we were just hanging out and said, “In another life I think you would have been perfect for me.”

My divorced status and my girls would scare any mid 20’s man. With strict Christian parents, I knew I didn’t look like the best option for someone’s son.

That same night, lying under the stars, Joseph held me close and with nervous laughter in his voice said, “I just love all of this so much”

More shock. God was changing his heart and mine. I didn’t know what to say. I don’t know if he heard me but in my fear I whispered it back. 

The second time he said I love you was to the tune of the goldfish jingle. “I love Tiarra cause she’s so delicious.” In the beginning I know it was his way of letting me know that his love was there but in a way that helped him share it without the seriousness he wasn’t ready to admit.

8 months into our relationship one night, Joseph and I stayed up way too late. We didn’t want to end our evening so we watched comedy videos till midnight. He had school and me work the next day but admitting bedtime meant he had to go home. Neither of us wanted that. He looked at me, illuminated by my computer monitor and said, “I don’t want to go.”

My reply, “Then don’t.”

He stayed. Just another piece of us trusting each other slowly with more and more of our hearts and our commitment.

Another moment was us sitting at the table eating lunch. He said he loved me. More serious than his previous ones. I told him how I felt every time. I shared my soul with him that day. I saw something in his eyes that day. A gratefulness that I can’t explain in words. I wish I had told him sooner what his words meant (and still mean) everytime he said them. Perhaps I would have seen that bond strengthen in his eyes sooner. But all in Gods time.

One day after an afternoon lunch, as he was headed out to class he turned to me and said, “I can see myself spending the rest of my life with you. But I don’t know about marriage.”

The rest of his life. The rest of mine.

As the time kept going we had many late night talks. One included Joseph asking me what I wanted to do. What was my big dream? I told him that someday I wanted to teach photography. As a professor in a university setting. There was a pause, as if he was considering what to say next. 

“Professor Tompkins. I like that.” He said

My shock. This many who had just said he didn’t know about this marriage thing just replaced my last name with his. 

He didn’t get down on one knee to propose and our wedding was a small elopement. But it was the most wonderful thing to me to commit my life to him. As I watched us grow into each other I saw something that is amazing. He loves me the way Christ loves the church. And I love him as Christ loved the church. 

Why did I write this today? Gratitude. Today the message at church is gratitude. I’m grateful for my husband, for our journey. For his love and commitment to me and our girls. I have never in my life met a man with more integrity, that works so hard. Who wants to take care of this family. In our written wedding vows he said his life was hollow before. That he was just going to school to learn to do something. That we came along and gave his life purpose. Meaning and direction.

My dearest love, you give me that too.

To those of you still waiting for your love story, God will bring it to you. Even if it’s just Christ’s love for you.

Have an amazing day everyone.

Love,

Tiarra

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