A LOVE STORY: by sarah nelson
When I was thirteen, God told me I was going to marry Ian.
That was also when God began speaking to me through dreams. I hadn’t originally asked God to show me who my husband would be, but I woke up one morning after having an incredibly vivid dream of my wedding day. When my groom turned around to greet me, I saw his face.
It was Ian Nelson’s face.
That's a lot of information for a thirteen-year-old to keep inside--for five illegal years. Although I had doubtful “Gideon moments” (Judges 6:36-40), I tested, waited, and trusted that God knew what He was doing (brilliant idea, I know).
As an eighteen year-old worship leader in my youth group and a close friend of my big sister’s, Ian and I were nothing more than “pals”. He was my guitar teacher. He took my sister to his senior prom. We don’t remember the moment we met. And he was five years older than me! Even though we were just friends (and not only because it would’ve been creepy if we were more…) there was obviously an unusual connection between the two of us. I’m pretty sure everyone saw it, but no one understood it. We didn’t either.
I remember conversations that took place in my parent’s living room between us friends—OK, so maybe I was the tagalong—about the kind of person we wanted to marry someday. Ian was part of that group and I was sneaky. I’d compare what he said in those groups to qualities he’d already pointed out to be some of my strengths. I paid such close attention to him because, in the back of my mind, I was testing what I thought God had spoken to me.
(Ian, 18 Me, 13)
Ian went away that summer and we wrote each other letters in order to maintain our friendship. But when he came home in August, things began to change. We decided that since I was going to be in high school now, the stage in life where the once innocently significant age gap between us began to shrink and things would start to look weird.
Ian started dating someone and so did I.
[Enter the three-year period of awkwardness]
I was embarrassed that I was so quick to believe that a couple of meaningless dreams revealed my future. I was embarrassed that I’d confided this to my mom. I was embarrassed at the thought of Ian finding out.
Somewhere though, in the deepest crevices of my heart, I was certain that it was God who had spoken to me
“Let us hold tightly to the hope we profess, for He who has promised is faithful.”—(Hebrews 10:23)
and that in the end, I would end up spending my life with Ian. Things had changed so much though, it was going to take a miracle!
Sure enough, two years later, during the summer before my senior year of high school, we began connecting a bit more over the death of a mutual friend. We talked to each other about everything and saw each other regularly. During that time, I remember sitting outside on the curb next to him. He asked me “At what point do you think we’ll no longer be in each other’s life?” I responded with a long pause and then an “I just can’t picture that ever happening.” He agreed.
In December 2007 I started getting signs that Ian was interested in me. It was easy to tell since he paid so much attention to me! I didn’t dare say anything though, and I didn’t let him treat me like his girlfriend (hanging out every time he wanted to/sit by him/let him pay for my coffee, etc.)
Two months later, in February 2008, during my last year of High School, we both went on a church trip to Israel. We sat by each other on the plane, and then on the bus. I was embarrassed that he was being so obvious in front of everyone without having talked to me about it first, but it didn’t bother me enough to reject his company on a long bus ride : )
We stayed up late, walking and talking, and on about the third night of the trip, on the beach overlooking the Sea of Galilee, he finally admitted that he had “big boy feelings” for me. Yes, those were his actual words. Then he sat me down and listed all the things he loved about me and the reasons he knew his feelings were real. (He says now that at that point his mindset was “if this girl will have me, I’m going to marry her.”)
I acted surprised and tried to hide my smile.
Even though I was nervous to finally be faced with my dream in the form of reality, and even though things had changed so much over the years, God helped me desire what He desired for me--the very thing He’d promised me five years prior.
After that conversation we planned to date as soon as I was done with high school.
That was in February and in April I started getting cold feet selfish.
I was barely eighteen and not even done with high school.
I was two months away from starting a dating relationship with the guy I knew I was going to marry.
Do you know what that feels like?
I knew that once our relationship started, that was it.
Us dating = us together forever.
I told Ian everything and he was heartbroken, but we still had two months until we made things official so it was not yet a public upset.
As soon as I got over myself we were able to move forward (funny how that works).
And on my last morning of school, I walked out to my car to find three dozen pink roses and hundreds of gold-foiled chocolates sprinkled all over the seats. On the driver’s seat was a little picture of our heads glued onto a picture of a male model carrying a female model on his back. At the top of the picture were the words “Will you be my girlfriend?”
I called him later that day and [obviously] said yes!
He came to my graduation with a bouquet of flowers. I think we were both giddy…
We dated for another nine months (June 2008-February 2009) and on February 27th he proposed! He got down on his knee at our favorite park in Corvallis and then we rode off to the beach in a limo!
(Right after he proposed)
On a rainy day in September 2009, the clouds parted and the sun shone down on us as we made our vows to God and each other in front of all of our friends and family. We just celebrated our two-year anniversary and we still love life together!
Looking back on our relationship used to make me feel funny, but now I think of it as “special”. I am so glad everything evolved the way it did and that we get to spend forever together!
Journal entry to my future husband 11/11/03 (age thirteen):
I wonder if I know you right now, at age thirteen. That would be so weird to look back and see what our relationship was like at this age. I may not even know you until college.
January 21, 2004:
I had a dream the other night. It was abut my wedding day. I saw everyone’s face. Including yours!
January 25, 2004 (three days after I turned fourteen):
I think that God has revealed who you are to me. It is hard to think of getting married to you if you are who I think you are. But I think that God is molding my heart to first love you as a brother and a friend so that one day I can best love you as my husband.
July 26, 2005:
Ian, you broke up with your girlfriend a couple of days ago and I was completely shocked! During the time that you two were dating, the Lord was doing an incredible work in me regarding my faith and trust in Him. When you guys first started dating, I was beginning to doubt that God had truly spoken to me. Then I finally came to the realization that He is in control and He can do whatever He wants and if what He wants is for you to get a girlfriend to see if I still trust Him, than He will do so. Since I have to come to the realization that it is OK for God to work this way, He has broken you two up.
June 23, 2008:
We just went on our first date and you kissed me and told me you were in love with me. Instead of returning the compliment, I asked how you knew and your answer was “Because I can’t imagine living life without you.”
September 3, 2009 (two days before our wedding):
I can’t believe that I’m already here—writing a real letter to my real husband-to-be! You are the love of my life and I am so grateful that the Lord brought us together!
I think the moral of our story is to trust God and let Him work out the timing. We’ve all tried to get ahead of God at one point or another, and not just when we think it is “of Him”. Whether you know, or you don’t know, or you wish you did or didn’t know; ask, listen, and then trust God. I was so certain and yet still worried about this for five whole years of my emotional teenage life! It’s not worth it. God designs the most beautiful scenarios and then we spoil them with our impatience. Just don’t do it.