MaryAnn’s Love Story: A Changed Heart
In honor of Valentine’s Day this month, and in an effort to share more about our own stories here on Play Eat Grow, we are each writing about how we met our husbands. Don’t worry – we’ll try not to include too much “mushy stuff”, as my kids would say! Christina posted her story last week. This week it’s my turn.
I moved from New York down to the Philadelphia area at the end of the summer in 2002. This was a big deal because it was the first time I was living independently, having lived with my parents while teaching school for two years after college.
God had already provided for this transition in some really neat ways! I had felt strongly that I was supposed to move to the Philadelphia area , so I had given notice at my school that I would not be returning the following year. Needless to say it was rather scary to have them hire my replacement before I had a job in my new location. Then I found housing through a friend of my sister – I would be living in an apartment above someone’s garage and taking care of their kids after school in exchange for my rent. That was a big deal because it mean that I’d be ok financially even I couldn’t find a full-time teaching job.
But God had something better than substitute teaching in mind for me! I had applied to a Christian school in the area and the principal at my current school had reached out to headmaster and asked that I be given an interview. I had an interview scheduled for sometime in June, but then I received a call asking me to come in several weeks sooner for an early morning interview, followed by the teaching of a sample lesson. I then figured out that the “curtesy interview” that had been scheduled meant I actually had no chance of being hired, since it was happening after they had their prospective candidates teach sample lessons. I think that when the building principal actually read my application he decided I was supposed to have a “real chance”. Needless to say I was terrified, but I went and did my best, and the principal told me I’d hear back early the next week with a yes or no. Imagine my surprise when he called back that evening to tell me that everyone one present had felt so strongly I was the right person for the job that there was no need to wait until the next week to offer me the position.
Now you might be wondering what on earth this has to do with how I met my husband. Well, I think the background is important because it helps to illustrate my frame of mind – that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to be doing. I really had such peace that I was where God wanted me to be.
I met another teacher at my new school who invited me to come to church with her. I was pretty happy not to have to try out new churches by myself! The church we went to had a large singles group, and it was there that I met my future husband. I had actually been asked out by a couple different guys (because I was so awesome, apparently), and had said no because I was totally overwhelmed by teaching and nannying, and also because I was still kind of “getting over” the previous relationship I had been in. I told myself that by December I needed to be open actually saying yes to a date.
I met Dave right at the end of November, and over the next couple weeks he tried more than once to ask me out on a date. I kept telling him no because I had to babysit. Finally he said, “Do you want me to just stop asking since you keep telling me no?” I laughed and explained that I really did have to babysit because of my nanny job, but I gave him a date at the end of December when I knew I didn’t have to work. I thought maybe he would suggest dinner, or coffee (you know, something normal!), but instead he asked me to go skiing with him! Boy was I surprised! But I had already said I was free, and I did like skiing, so off we went on our first date.
Things went pretty well and we enjoyed our time together, but I didn’t exactly find it to be “love at first sight.” We continued to spend time together, and I found that Dave had many of the qualities I had said I was looking for in a spouse. However, I was struggling because I just didn’t really have strong feelings for him. Finally that spring I started praying, “God, I don’t know what to do. I think maybe I should break up with Dave because my heart just isn’t in the right place toward him. So if this is the person you want me to be with, then you are going to need to change my heart.” It turned out that without my knowledge, my mom and a couple of my close friends were praying the exact same thing for me.
Not long after I prayed that prayer, Dave drove away from my apartment and left behind a little surprise for me. A yellow sticky note inside my kitchen cabinet that said, “I like your smile”. And something happened in my heart at that moment – the warmth that had been missing started to creep in, and I felt that God was indeed changing my heart in answer to my prayers.
Dave and I continued to date, and to grow and share fun experiences as a couple. Eventually we began talking about marriage, and I told him that I would not consider getting engaged to someone I had not known for a least a year. “Does it have to be at least a year from the day we met, or would sometime in the same month be ok?” he asked. I laughed and said that I supposed sometime in the same month would be all right. Lo and behold Dave proposed to me on November 1, 2013, which was the first day that he was allowed to do so according to my guidelines. He took to me to the Catskill mountains up in NY and we had a wonderful day together, and we’ve enjoyed visiting that spot with our kids several times since.
During the time that we were engaged, we went through several challenging experiences, the most notable being that we both lost our jobs! I was, and have continued to be, so thankful for the way that God arranged our story. It made me feel sure that we were supposed to be together, despite the difficulty and uncertainty. After all, I had been on the verge of ending our relationship and my heart towards Dave only changed after I asked God to please make it clear if this was the person I was supposed to be with.
The road we have been on these past 11 years has not always been an easy one. There have been times of great joy, and there have also been tough times. Sharing life with another person can be hugely challenging and I fully admit that it does not always bring out the best in me. But through it all I have felt certain that this is a path God intended for us to walk together, and that he does not leave us to walk it by ourselves. I’m thankful that I can always trust in in God’s presence and his love, and I can’t imagine my life without Dave and our two little boys.