In just a few days, my husband and I will celebrate our 5-year anniversary. Now, we may sound like “babies” to some of you, but in a world with a steadily increasing divorce rate, I consider every single year a celebration. So, today I’d like to share my side of “our love story.”
When Evan and I met in college, we had both just experienced break-ups which were frustrating and heart-breaking. I had been in a two-year relationship with my high school sweetheart, who I believed was “the one.” Obviously, he didn’t view our relationship the same and dumped me. It does seem very trivial and meaningless now that I’m a grown woman and the mother of two children. I literally shake my head at myself. But at the time, I was certain it would be the death of me.
Time wore on, and I had begun to convince myself that I would NEVER “find the one.” (Spoiler alert: You don’t find your spouse, God destines you a spouse.) A broken heart, disbelief in God’s timing, and raging hormones brought me to many places I still regret to this day. I became so crazy obsessed with proving my worth to men and finding love, that I didn’t even realize I was creating not only a disaster but an ever-growing feeling of worthlessness inside my very soul. In just one year of college I threw away everything I had, including my purity, my dignity, and my sanity at individuals who were never meant to have it.
“I’m so filthy.” I would constantly mutter to myself. “No one will ever love me. I’m damaged goods.”
My heart was hardened, I was no longer a virgin, and I hid secret cuts in my skin. I hated men, HATED them, to the point of contemplating playing for the other team. I had completely given up hope, so I reasoned my only option was to raise my white flag to God. To be honest, it was a miracle I was even thinking about God at this point in my life. My surrender was bitter and begrudging at best, but nevertheless a surrender. I consented to cease my man hunt and focus on school.
Months passed and guess who I reconnected with? Mm-hm, Evan Staehle. Funny how that works, huh?
Enter the Groom
I had always really liked Evan, I thought he was very attractive and I greatly admired his heart for God. So, I didn’t hesitate to hang out with him. It was obvious he liked me, despite my fears. We went on a big group date with friends for Valentine’s Day and about a week later he asked me to be his girlfriend. For him, it was a very serious decision he did not take lightly, he wasn’t fooling around. This was a new and unexpected world for me. I was soon terrified of what he would think if he discovered my past.
Well, all the truth eventually came out during a late-night stroll on campus. I mean, I spilled the beans on EVERYTHING. I was certain he would break it off right there and go find some nice Christian girl with a clean record and her virginity still intact. But he didn’t. Instead of relief though, I immediately began my suspicions of his character. It was just too good to be true! I even went so far as to accuse him of being one of those Christian guys with a “Jesus complex,” trying to “save” me.
After deeply offending and hurting him with my bitter accusation, I slowly began to realize something. He really liked me! For whatever the reason, Evan chose to look past my filth on the outside and he genuinely admired the girl he saw on the inside. That was someone I couldn’t even see anymore.
That summer, during a secluded mountain hike above a scenic waterfall, Evan declared his love for me. He confessed he had never loved any woman other than me.
Months later, on a cool winter evening, after gazing at the stars, he asked me to be his wife.
August 5th 2012, we became one flesh. This Saturday we celebrate 5 years of union.
The Real Story
But let me tell you what really makes this story good. God so very often loves us through other people. “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) And that perfected love manifests itself in people because “God made man in his own image.” (Genesis 9:6)
It took me some time to really understand this, but my relationship with Evan wasn’t simply Evan loving me. It was God loving me.
God used my marriage with Evan to write a story of restoration and worth on my heart. He showed me that He still loves the “unlovable.” I was a wayward soul during that time in my life, but the love of Christ stands against everything and fights! I was heaping dirt on myself, but God was saying, “No! I love you!” I believed I was worthless, but Christ said, “Never! I died for you. You have infinite worth, which no one can take.”
If there’s one thing I want you take away from my story, it’s this: you are not worthless.
YOU ARE NOT WORTHLESS.
You may think that your story is over, because you’ve been used and abused. That’s nothing more than a lie to keep you down. Redemption and restoration become realities at the foot of the cross, where the blood of an innocent man washes over us proclaiming to the whole world, “You are not filthy, but clean.”