If this story stopped where it ended yesterday, it would still be an amazing story of how God has plans for us and sets them in motion long before we ever have a clue. But it doesn't stop there... I learned today that this story goes all the way back to May 19, 2012.
The Lenoir church was having an evangelistic series at that time, and my parents decided to go one Saturday night (I think it may have been the last night) just as a show of support for Eric (their pastor) and Haskell (the one preaching the series). Eric had done the same for my dad's evangelistic meetings (my dad is a pastor as well). I really wasn't friends with Christin yet. I knew her, but she was more my mom's friend. I decided to go with my parents because I had nothing better to do. I remember the church, and the gentleman that I spent a very long time talking to that evening. He was an older gentleman, and we talked about his deceased wife and his son or daughter. He orders pens in bulk and gives them to people; it's his little ministry/ witnessing tool. Until today, that was all I really remembered, but this morning as I was thinking about that day, I realized that I think I may have seen Rachael there. I think that I may have even seen Brian's mom. It's a very vague memory, but present. then I started thinking a little harder and remembered a guy... Ok, so I'm going to put a hold on this part of the story and skip to Brian and I this morning.
This morning, I told Brian that I'm looking forward to the day that I'm back in a smaller church and can minister through music. He teased me about what church that might be (Lenoir, duh!). I asked him who the man is who gives away pens and he told me. Brian said that he didn't remember seeing me at his church, so I told him when it was and that it was for an evangelistic meeting. About 10 minutes later, I got the following texts:
B: You are on my list!
B: I was there....
B: [link to dropbox file]
B: Look at the bottom
Sure enough! My name, address, and phone number was on his list from that night. I didn't think that I remembered him, but told him that I have a very vague memory of Rachael and his mom, perhaps because I was probably hanging out with Christin and Eastan.
Brian teased that he doesn't remember me flirting with him. And I was thinking that if he was there, then I was definitely would have noticed and remembered, so the fact that I didn't have a very clear memory of him told me that for some reason, I wrote him off and dismissed him from my mind. So I asked if he was still married then, and he said he was. Immediately I realized why he didn't remain in my mind... I would have looked at him, liked what I saw, realized that he was married and in that realization, removed him from my mind. I would have thought, "Oh. Bummer. Of course he's married... they all are. Oh well."
So, let's go back to the actual story of me being at the Lenoir church. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the possible reason for why I didn't remember Brian was actually pretty accurate. I do remember there being a guy close to my age that I was checking out (and it wasn't Rocky, because Brian said he wasn't there that night), and then realized that he was married. I was disappointed, but got over it quickly I'm sure. I never talked to him because I would have been wayyyyyy too shy to do that, plus... he was married, so what was the point? I don't typically just strike up a random conversation with a married man. Conversations that I have with married men always have a reason for happening... and I had no need to talk to Brian. Thinking that maybe my memory was just playing tricks on me, I asked my mom if she remembered that night. We were always scoping out the options for me, so if he had been there and I had noticed, she and I would have had a conversation about it, nudged each other back and forth, etc. So I asked, "Do you remember me checking anyone out that night that we were at Lenoir?" Well, she confirmed that she remembered there being someone... she thinks maybe it was in the fellowship hall.
Who would have thought that the handsome married guy with the cute little girl that I was checking out would later be the handsome guy that I'm dating who still has a bigger, cute little girl?
God thought it, that's who. I wonder what God was thinking that night... I wonder if He leaned over to His angels and redneck-style said, "Hey y'all... watch this." And then just told them to wait for it.
Brian was married and God was already beginning to unfold His plans for us. I checked him out way back then, on the internet this year (and I think before I started dating J), and then we were introduced. Everything happens for a reason... and today, I began to see some of God's plans.
I hate that things didn't work out for Brian and H despite what I have gained from it. And I do hate it; no one should have to experience the pain of divorce, especially when there is a child involved. Marriage is supposed to be forever. I'm very sorry that each of them have had to go through this experience. He was married and I know that there were happy times. What they had was real... but it's also history. I have no jealousy or resentment when it comes to his ex-wife. His marriage and she are both part of what has made Brian who he is today, and that is someone that I feel very blessed to know and to love. Together, they had a beautiful little girl that I adore and who has completely stolen my heart. I don't just get Brian, I get the bonus gift of knowing and loving Rachael... which wouldn't be possible if not for Brian and H. I wouldn't want to erase what they had and I don't want to discount their marriage and relationship... because it's part of the reason for what I have today. I am saying all of this because I don't want you to misunderstand my next statement, and take it as one of resentment or jealousy... instead, what I'm about to share leaves me in awe of a God who creates beauty from ashes and makes the broken beautiful. The very first experience I had with Brian (though it was just seeing each other and a realization of the others' existence) was May 19... his and H's anniversary.
I think it's awesome that God took a day that has memories attached to it and the pain associated with those memories... and assigned it another memory. God took a time that was a difficult time in Brian's life and has softened it a little when you can look back and realize that while it was an end... it was our beginning.
More importantly, I see that God's plans are not altered by anything that I can ever do. Just life God's love for me is not changed by my actions, neither are God's plans for my life.
1 Peter 1:17-20 tells us that before the foundation of the world was laid, God had worked out the plan of salvation.
Since you call on a Father who judges each person's work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things, such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him, you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.A God who loves me so much that He created the plan of redemption because He knew that when He created the earth and the people on it we would sin and need that plan... the same God who still created me despite what He knew would happen... That God is not moved by my choices and my mistakes. The plan that God has for me is not altered, is not ruined, and is not erased by anything that I can ever do. When I was in the depths of my sin, God knew. God knew the mistakes I would make, God knew the good choices I would make... God knew the heartache I would experience and all of that was woven into His plan for my life.
Ellen White writes in Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, "The Father's presence encircled Christ, and nothing befell Him but that which infinite love permitted for the blessing of the world. Here was His source of comfort, and it is for us. He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. The blow that is aimed at him falls upon the Saviour, who surrounds him with His presence. Whatever comes to him comes from Christ. He has no need to resist evil, for Christ is his defense. Nothing can touch him except by our Lord's permission, and 'all things' that are permitted 'work together for good to them that love God.' Romans 8:28 (Page 71)." If there is nothing that touches me that has not first passed through the hand of God, then He has woven those things into His plan for my life and has used those things to work together for my good. Jeremiah 29:11 is one of my favorite verses, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"
And what that means, my friends, is that God is still on the throne, He is still in control, and his plans for me are amazing. I simply have to sit back and let Him do His thing. I can rest knowing that not only am I forgiven for stupid choices I've made, but I am also not knocked off track by them. When God forgives, He also restores if we'll let Him. His plan is still in place and I do believe it's all starting to make sense. And I do love it when a plan comes together. ;)