On September 29, 2013 my very best friend asked me to marry him and it was a dream.
Let me preface the story by mentioning that my older sister Jennifer had just gotten engaged on September 20th so I was not expecting Sam to ask me that soon after her engagement. But I did know it was coming soon because my dad had called me about a month earlier and said “Sarah, Sam asked to go to lunch with me and I think I know why, is it alright for me to say yes?” So basically I gave my dad permission to give Sam permission. Poor Daddy hadn’t done this rodeo before. So Daddy kinda dropped the hint that it was coming soon.
Sam and I had planned to go hunting at his property for the weekend so I drove home from North Georgia to spend the weekend with him and his family for the weekend to hunt. Saturday night when Sam and I went hunting he shot a deer and didn’t know if he had a good shot so we went looking for the deer but couldn’t find it. Sunday morning when we were getting ready to leave in time for church Sam said he was going to check one more spot to look for the deer. So I stayed back at the house and cleaned up and got dressed for church. His dad left earlier so it was just Sam and I left down there. Sam came back and we loaded up the truck to leave and Sam said he wanted to check another spot for the deer down by the lake. It was a cool and pretty Fall morning and the sun was still slowly coming up so when we got to the lake Sam said “It’s such a nice morning lets get out and stand by the lake.” As I got out of the truck I looked at the dock and saw two chairs facing each other, three Bibles, his guitar, and a bucket full of water. That’s when I knew.
I kept looking at Sam smiling and he was smiling back at me on the short walk to the dock. We knelt down together as he read my favorite verse out of the first Bible; Jeremiah 29:11. Then out of the next Bible he read his favorite verse; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Verses that each of us had clung to for hope in our walk with Jesus. Then Sam sat me down in one of the chairs and started playing his guitar and sang the song The Wine We Drink by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors. A song I had recently fallen in love with that talks about the simple love in marriage. I started to cry as he was singing to me and I think he started tearing up too. Then Sam removed my shoes and socks and placed my feet in the bucket and washed them with water from the lake to symbolize that he was going to serve me like Jesus served us in our life together. I was losing it at this point. My Sam has a heart of gold. Finally he brought over the last Bible and read Genesis 2:18-24 where it talks about how God created woman because man should not be alone. Then he told me that I am the woman that he loves and reached in his pocket, pulled out a sweet and beautiful ring and said “Sarah Jane Johnson, will you marry me?”
I said yes and look where we are now! That day was perfect and it’s one of those memories where I didn’t think I could love him more than in that moment but he just keeps surprising me and making me fall more and more in love with him every day. Marry a man that runs toward Jesus and who is your very best friend and you will be the happiest woman alive, I know I am!
I’ve been trying to be more in tune with what I’m feeling lately. I’ve always considered myself as someone who wears their heart on their sleeve but I’ve realized that’s not me. I put masks on and lie to strangers and friends alike and say I’m doing great when having small talk and then I turn around and mope about how tired and sad I am to my poor husband. Sam hears all of my whining and still loves me and encourages me just the same (thankful note). I pray over my list of worries, hopes, and dreams but ten minutes later I cry about how the praying isn’t working. The truth is it’s really hard to give all of my worries to God. I remind him what’s going on in my life (even though He already knows everything) and then I continue to worry just the same about my problems. Then I try to stop and think about what makes me feel better when I hit lows like that and I try to write because giving words to the struggle makes me satisfied and peaceful. Let me be honest with you, I’ve started to type up a blog about five times before this one but ended up erasing each one because I was writing them about other people’s problems instead of addressing my own. No one wants to admit something’s wrong with them so it’s easier to try to dissect other people’s problems. But when I try to write about other people’s lives Jesus humbles me down with writer’s block because it’s not my life and it’s not my problem. Here I am trying to wear my heart on my sleeve and confessing one of my sins to you. I know that God wants to use what’s going on in my own life to reach others so that’s why I’ve been trying to be in sync with my heart and to really understand what season God has put me in to be able to share about.
I just haven’t felt like myself lately. It’s like that feeling you get when you pack a bag to go somewhere and you’re afraid you’re forgetting something but you can’t figure out what it is. Just out of place like I’ve misplaced something important. This morning I was trying to figure out the word to describe what has made me feel out of place. A Ray LaMontagne song came on my Pandora station that I’d heard before and I really liked the sound of the music so I pulled up the page to see what the title was and there was the word I’d been looking for: Empty. I blinked and almost strangely felt relieved that I had found the word I’d been waiting for that sounded so sad but so perfect for this season. Then I looked up the lyrics to the song and one of the lines caught my attention and rung so true to me:
I never learned to count my blessings, I choose instead to dwell in my disasters – Ray LaMontagne
I dwell in my disasters like a boss. I dwell in the past full of friendships lost, chances not taken, and dreams given up on. I also dwell in the glory days where bills didn’t exist, summer nights consisted of catching fireflies and staying up all night, and my biggest concern was an upcoming exam. I thrive on my melancholy because somehow I’m way too comfortable being sad and pitying myself. But trying to live in the past and be filled with things materialistic and long gone is impossible and leaves me feeling empty and blind to the blessings I have right now in the present. I know we’ve all experienced this empty feeling and we want a quick fix. Something that will just get us through the night or the next day. But if you keep filling that hole with temporary solutions-whether it’s retail therapy, cutting yourself, searching for attention from that boy/girl, smoking, looking at women on the internet, or just ignoring the emptiness until it makes you numb- whatever it is will only fill that hole for a limited time. The only thing that will fill that deep emptiness I feel, that we all feel, is with Jesus. Yes, Sam makes me feel so loved and beautiful, my sisters make me feel fun and adventurous, and being outdoors makes me feel revived and new; life offers so much beauty to make us feel alive. But there is a hole in my heart, in all of our hearts, that only Jesus can fill. But I get a little confused because I assume Jesus will fill up that emptiness with crazy exciting things that set me on fire for him. I expect him to fill that emptiness by answering all of my prayers and instead he cures my anxious heart by answering a prayer I didn’t even know I needed to pray for and he fills that emptiness with rest (Matthew 11:38). I got angry at God because all I could focus on was the prayers I wasn’t seeing get answered when all the while he was answering unspoken prayers and trying to pull me closer to him. So I’m preaching to myself and the world when I say stop getting angry at God when he isn’t answering the prayers exactly how and in what time you want him to. And when he doesn’t answer that prayer stop trying to fill that angry void with things that will only make you hurt more in the long run. Jesus is the answer to those prayers. He is the answer to every question. If you fill that hole with worldly things you’re going to live a fleeting worldly life. But if you fill it with Jesus and get to know him, your life will be heavenly, filled to the brim.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Dear Jesus, make me break
Let me feel the collapse in my heart
When I witness the acts that break yours
I want to obey you as I make this climb
Breaking the silence with my prayers and feeling my heart beat double time
Teach me to be beautiful
And give me wrinkles and scars full of memories
Help me to hold the hands on the clock instead of making them my enemy
Make my feet quick when I am hunted
Like a deer escaping a gun instead of being stunted
When my husband holds me I will breathe praise
Because you have answered my prayers for me to have him all of my days
You give me purpose and fill the holes that fall deep
Like pennies filling a well to the brim
You give me hope for my wishes and direction as the light grows dim