Mile Markers: Remembering God’s Hand During the Tough Times

in the midst of all the Crazy (something I’m exploring in this series) that has invaded our family’s life over the past few months (and years), I found myself reminiscing about the many ways I fell in love with Dave. there are lots of love stories being written in other people’s lives every day, but ours is my favorite. I kept thinking about what happens when two people decide that the person standing beside them is the one they want to wade through all the crap with for the rest of their lives. it’s magical.

mile markers in the dark: recognizing God's hand when you're in the midst of crap // the modern locket

today is the anniversary of the day Dave proposed. it was the coldest, COLDEST night, nearly midnight, and Dave decided we should go walk around the harbor. I argued reason. ‘it’s freezing. it will be so windy. WHY?! it’s SO COOOOOOLD. why do you not recognize this?’ but, because I loved him, I decided I would indulge his idealistic nature (one I recognize in myself) and take a walk in the biting, freezing wind ‘because there will be Christmas decorations and it’s cold like it should be.’

as I told him that I’d go because I love him, my mind turned to the first time we said those three words to one another. the exchange went like this:

me: I heart you.

Dave: (with a twinkle in his eye) don’t say that. say what you really mean.

me: (now even more in heart with him) I love you.

Dave: I love you, too. (first ‘I love you’ kiss – you know the kind. *winky face*)

we made it to the harbor, but not without a last ditch effort on my part to illustrate just how cold it was going to be, and got out of the car in a completely deserted parking lot. I used this to my advantage, explaining how smart those people were to stay home for fear of frostbite. we walked to the giant fountain that feeds into the lake. it was frozen. the streams of water down the tiers of pools were now perfectly delicate icicles. I remarked on how beautiful it was, but immediately used the illustration to draw a parallel to how freaking cold it was.

the only two people there, we walked along the harbor admiring the twinkly lights and Christmas decor. we happened by the bench where we shared our first kiss and Dave reminisced aloud his thoughts leading up to it and then after when he couldn’t believe I let him kiss me. Dave wanted to sit. I said, ‘that bench is metal. I bet it’s freezing cold.’ but I recognized the romantic gravity and sat. we chatted & shared a kiss of remembrance even though I couldn’t feel my face. as we walked the length to the lighthouse he continued to remark on how special this place was to us. it was the location of many chatty strolls, our go-to date spot & our first kiss.

then it hit me.

this is it.

he’s going to ask me to marry him! he’s been so romantic, despite my suspicion that I had snot frozen to my face. but what you can’t feel, you don’t sweat. am I right? (please say yes)

it sank in further – I was actively trying to sabotage a beautiful story all because of the fear of being cold and then the displeasure of actually being cold. if I’d known what was coming, would I have acted this way? most definitely not!

taken a year after we were married in front of the lighthouse where Dave proposed.

taken a year after we were married in front of the lighthouse where Dave proposed.

we made it to the lighthouse and he proposed. he was so excited that there wasn’t a speech. it was direct. exactly what he meant and exactly what I needed to hear. exactly who Dave is down to the core. after I said ‘yes. dammit! yes!’ he shivered and said, ‘I’m freezing! let’s go!’

“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen.
He named it Ebenezer (which means ‘the stone of help’),
saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”
1 Samuel 7:12

remembering the mile markers in our relationship I’m reminded, not just of a lovely event in our romantic history, but of a beautiful truth that pushes on my soul every day. Jesus walks with us through the cold, through the dark, through the uncertain. he gives us exactly what we need, not flowers to make us feel better about ourselves, but truly what we need because what we need is him. all of him. in the dark, when we are shivering and complaining because we can’t see the reasoning behind the journey, he guides us & understands that we are limited. reminding us along the path all the ways in which he has provided for us with ebenezer stones planted purposefully along the way to remind us that he has helped us this far.

during advent and the joy we share in remembering the birth of our savior, I remember that God knows our life can be dark, freezing cold and lonely sometimes. the difference is, he knows the story and where it’s headed: glorification. a beautiful realization of the whole redemption story that our limited selves have only experienced in bits and pieces. I lean wholeheartedly on that in this season of the unknown. He has helped me. not for my sake, but for His, and that benefits me eternally greater than anything I could dream up on my own.

doesn’t it bring peace to know that, even during the crap, we are *not* what it’s all about? what “stones of remembrance” can you or have you recognized in your life recently? I’d love to hear about them!