This isn't going to be some dumb post about how "everything happens for a reason." To that, I say no! The fact that I ate a whole bag of hi-chews yesterday probably doesn't have a significant cosmic effect. However, I do want to argue thatsome of the hardest, most exhausting things in our lives are often followed by the sweetest relief that borders on the impossible.
After a traumatic family event my senior year of high school, my brother and I were both court-ordered to attend a few sessions of counseling. I had three different therapists tell me I was diagnostically emotionally numb and socially stunted. They told me the night terrors I was having wouldn't be going away any time soon. They told me suffocating myself with extracurricular activities probably wasn't helping as much as I thought it was. Honestly, those things they said didn't bother me-- I'd known all that for a long time. What bothered me the most was the last things they said: that I'd have a very hard time forming long-term relationships in the future. And that marriage was going to be almost out of the question.
The scary thing is, I had a feeling about that already, too. I'd always imagine myself getting married by 25, settling down and having two or three kids before getting divorced and then handling everything myself. In my brain, it seemed much easier. Yes, I was one of those girls who'd been planning their wedding since birth, but the groom never really had a face. He-- It-- was a facilitator.
All while this was happening, 8,000 miles away, someone very special to me was struggling himself.
I didn't really date until halfway through my senior year of high school, and it was fun. I enjoyed the time I got to know the different young men I dated and it was a great growing experience. However, I always had this tickle in the back of my mind. "If I marry this guy, I'll be ruining his life" and "I've got too much baggage, it's not fair to him." I felt guilty and would often find an escape plan before a relationship would even take off.
This is where Grant comes in. We met in Business Calculus my freshman year of college. I was late for class one day and took the first open seat I saw. He gave me the weirdest look, so I sat next to him out of defiance. We talked, he walked me to the library, and that was it. I was dating another guy and the guilt was starting to set in, so I didn't think about it.
That was Wednesday.
Thursday my previous relationship ended and I was so tired I decided to go on a boy fast. No dating for at least a month or two.
Friday, Grant ran into me again, walked me to the library, and asked me out. He presented it like a business deal-- it was actually pretty funny-- but before I could think of saying no, I had agreed. We went to get ice cream that night, and a date that I thought wouldn't last longer than an hour turned into a three and a half hour conversation that flew right by.
Grant was different from the start. Before the first date was even over, he had asked me out on a second date. The next day, he called me just to see how I was doing. Before I knew it, I was spending most my free time with him and using emoticons in my texts. Emoticons. Grant is someone who has so many feelings to spare. He wears his heart on his sleeve and as much as it confused me, I loved it. He was honest and open with me, he shared his successes and his failures with me, even when I was still closed off and private. He wasn't afraid to be himself-- he owned his quirky, endearing personality, which I found terribly attractive. He was a creature I'd never encountered before and it made me so excited.
All of a sudden, I could talk to him for hours. All of a sudden, I was telling him about all the skeletons in my family closet. All of a sudden, I could trust him.
All of a sudden, I found myself falling in love with him. And I didn't. Feel. Guilty.
Around this time is when the government shut down. To some, it was pretty scary. To others, it was pretty funny. I didn't think too much about it. Little did I know it had had a huge impact on the life of the person I was getting to know. Two weeks before we had met, Grant had had an incredible opportunity to work for the government in DC. It would have been the job of his dreams, leading to a career he always fantasized about. Then the government shut down, the funding was frozen, and Grant's internship was gone. It was a major blow to him and at the time he didn't have anyone to support him. A week later, though, we met.
We joke that the only good thing that ever came out of my Calculus class was our relationship. We joke that if it weren't for my overwhelmingly loud flower pants I was wearing that day, he wouldn't have even looked over at me. We joke that if he hadn't presented the date like a business transaction, I would have turned him down cold.
One thing I secretly like to think to myself, though, is that God loved the two of us so much, he shut down the whole government to make sure we ended up together.
I know that sounds terribly selfish and self-centered. At face value, my happiness is not important enough to shut down arguably the most powerful government in the world.
In God's eyes, though, it is.
We are all children of a limitless God. A limitless God who has a fantastic sense of humor. If the government hadn't shut down, Grant would be who-knows-where and I'd be feeling just as isolated as I was 20 months ago. The only other person who knows how I spent the first 18 years of my life is God himself. For 18 years I prayed to be comforted and always wondered why I never felt fully relieved of my burdens. Now I know that Grant is that balm I was always asking for, and because of him I can't even remember how isolation feels. My capacity to love and to feel has grown ten-fold. It's something that is astounding both to me and to my various therapists
After 16 months together, Grant and I decided to get engaged. We'll be getting married in July and I'm over to moon knowing I get to spend eternity with someone who understands me. God sent me someone whose presence alone makes me happy, who is patient with me, and who loves me more than I can comprehend.
Bad things happen to good people. When my family fell apart, I felt like I was in a pressure cooker. It also gave a bunch of counselors a great case study. When the government shut down, my life started. For others, it ended. We live in a world of give and take, of push and pull. Good things happen, then not-so-good things happen. Some people get the short end of the stick and others want for nothing.
I mentioned before that I've only learned one thing in life. Now I've learned one other thing: sometimes the things we endure, the things we suffer through, are for the benefit of someone else. Sometimes things are hard because Heavenly Father needs to answer someone else's prayer and He knows that you're strong enough to help. It gives us the divine opportunity to experience a taste of what Jesus Christ did for us through the Atonement. That kind of perspective has helped me through the resurgence of some skeletons and it's helped me make my relationship with the man of my dreams even stronger.
I love my life. I love my Savior. I love my God. And I love my handsome, wonderful, intelligent Grant.
TELL ME YOUR THOUGHTS!
How have you handled hard trials?
Do you think I'm totally over-exaggerating?
Do you think it was the pants of the business deal date? ;)