I met my husband, Graham, the day before he left on a one-way trip to New Zealand. After months of staying in touch via messaging and video chats, and as our friendship flourished and began to grow in depth, I decided to go visit him with one of my sisters.
A little over a week into our two-week trip, I reached an overwhelming point of fear and emotional exhaustion. The three of us had spent the first week on a road trip taking in countless jaw-dropping landmarks around the South Island. Most of our waking moments were spent around each other with few breaks to digest what was happening. The pressure mounted, culminating in a long evening to morning stretch filled with tearfully confronting Graham (both passively through my sister and in person) in my frustrations with him and asking him to leave, a sleepless night, immense frustration with God, a heart-wrenching phone call to my parents, and finally some journal-filling reflection. What could have gone so wrong in a land filled with such beauty?
I was so fearful to take any steps forward with Graham because of the weight I was putting on the ‘success’ of this trip. Fearful because I couldn’t fully foresee the outcome through the darkness. And fearful because, truthfully, I feared failure and making painful mistakes. I wouldn’t look at Graham for too long, I wouldn’t let him hold my hand for too long, and I wouldn’t even allow myself to walk next to him for too long. I sat, paralyzed to the point of paralysis – is he really the one for me? What if he’s not? Why am I so nit-picky? Is it my own pride? If I feel so fearful, is this right? What if I hurt him? Why am in New Zealand???
Before the trip, Graham and I had lived in a relationship fantasy world. We were communicating from so far away and across time zones, he in New Zealand and me in New York. Because of that, we had ample time to digest and understand anything that was said, time to let feelings grow and be nourished naturally.
Together in New Zealand, things felt rushed and we no longer had the buffer of time. I saw him and fear took the wheel. I almost immediately forgot our joyful conversations, our hopes for the future, and his loving, Godly heart. I only saw a broken, insecure man, one seemingly incapable of taking ‘care’ of me. I saw him through judgmental, fearful eyes: a man with only a temporary job, few local friends and no family nearby, limited wardrobe and possessions after his car was stolen, body still weak from back surgery, ignorance with how to treat females, unsure about the future. He had honestly laid out all that he was and had invited me into his life. And how did I respond? With snotty disgust.
In my retreat, I contemplated all this. I was full of emotions and exhausted all at once, so I decided to call to my parents. This turned out to be a God-send, as I had a much needed, slap-in-the-face realization through my mom’s words, “Can you imagine the tears he’s spilt last night knowing all of this?”
My eyes were unveiled and I began to see what was truly happening. If there exists a man, when stripped of his confidence, of his outer strength, of human accolades and away from loving friends and family, who not only endures this but shines through with a heart of gold, how can I not sit and realize how in his weakness he reveals his true strength (and, in comparison, my own weakness!)? Strength to still be so carefree, selfless and accepting of constructive criticism; to admit faults and brokenness and desire more.
If I was not attracted to this, yet have always said I wanted this, what did this say of the condition of my own heart? I sat back and considered my own judgmental self. Up to this point, God had shown me so much grace. I had reached incredible lows of weakness, sin, & filth, and yet He’d seen and continued to love me in all my wretchedness. He still saw the beauty that my heart had the capacity to possess, and He lovingly pursued me to the point of redemption.
I realized I was not extending Graham even a measure of the grace that had been given to me. God, through my parents, lovingly convicted me of how selfish and self-centered I had been considering him.
Later that day, I walked from where we were staying to Graham’s house and asked if he wanted to go on a walk with me. You can imagine his surprise when I showed up at his door, less than 24 hours after tearfully telling him that I “needed some space” and that I was seriously contemplating ending our trip early. Thankfully, he accepted the walk, and, in doing so, gave me a second chance.
Throughout the earlier part of the trip, I had forgotten that God doesn’t operate out of fear. He’s the God of shelter, of security, of confidence. And I chose to doubt all of this, and to doubt the words He had so clearly spoken to me that had led me to make the trip in the first place. Instead of trusting Him and taking the step He was calling me to take into the ‘unknown’, I sat in the place of fearful thinking, unmoving and full of torment.
It was only when I let go and gave in to trusting Him that I finally felt at peace. While I didn’t immediately have an “aha!” moment, by the night after our walk I was simply able to look across the table at this man and not worry if I was being too forward, not worry that I’d lead him on with my actions if it ended up not being the right thing. I laid down my anxiety and just enjoyed our time together… and in this feat I realized it was something I secretly wanted to do the whole time. I smiled at him and even openly stared at him thinking, has he always been this handsome? By the end of the night, I wanted him to hold my hand, I wanted to walk next to him, I wanted be kissed by him. In trusting God, I felt free.
Lord, give us the heart to love as You love. To extend relentless mercy and grace to others as You have given to us. To not judge others when we ourselves are sitting in brokenness and shame. To overcome the lies that the world throws at us. To not consider others through the eyes of insecurity, pride, arrogance, anger, resentment, envy – but instead through Yours. The eyes to see those around us and see the potential, not the weakness.
And Lord, teach us to trust You in all things. To remember your nature and to trust the words You speak to us. To walk into darkness and have not fear of the unknown, but faith in Your guidance and relentless love for us.
Miriam grew up in New York and has always had a passion for written word. She works both as an analyst in the financial industry & as a personal consultant for startups. She loves to travel, explore nature, and also has a knack for hot sauce and popcorn (sometimes together)! Miriam and her handsome husband, Graham, currently live at an altitude of 5,280 ft on the outskirts of Denver.