In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
I was a determined, ambitious girl.
At about 6th grade, I was deciding what college I wanted to go to. My first choice was Northwestern, near Chicago, Illinois — sometimes called “the Harvard of the Midwest.” So I worked really hard in junior high and high school, achieving good grades and involving myself in many extracurricular activities. I also managed to hold two jobs – one at Chuck E. Cheese and the other providing childcare during fitness classes at my church. In my senior year of high school, I even made it to editor-in-chief of my high school paper. I really wanted to go into journalism and build my media empire. I thought that I would get married someday, maybe when I was closer to 30 and had experienced life. I was definitely on track for all of that, until shortly after my senior year began. I started having major “tummy troubles” keeping me home from school. I was finally diagnosed with 4 bleeding ulcers after several months of tests, but even after they healed I was still suffering. I lost the trust of many of my teachers and even some friends, who thought I had a bad case of senioritis.
Of course, all of this led to depression.
After I was physically assaulted at my job at Chuck E. Cheese, I developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and saw a psychiatrist and a therapist. I was in a really bad place emotionally and even tried to end my life. In the midst of all this, my boyfriend and I broke up – that was the best thing that could have happened, since I was only staying with him because I formed an unhealthy attachment to him when he raped me a few months earlier. On New Year’s Eve 2009, I went to a party. And that is the night I began to fall in love with my husband, who I had known for a while.
But something changed in both of us that night.
My husband (whose name is Brandon, by the way) says that during that evening, it was almost as if he couldn’t even see anyone at the party but me. We began dating a few weeks later. After my high school realized how sick mentally and physically I was, they let me finish my senior year online at home. I had sent in a few college applications, but not to Northwestern. I was too afraid of a rejection letter. But I did get into Drake University, a smaller, but wonderful school in Des Moines, Iowa. I got a fantastic scholarship, but decided to defer a semester. That spring, I switched gastroenterologists (stomach doctor) and the new doctor suggested another test to help figure out why I was still having so much trouble with my stomach – a hydrogen breath test for fructose intolerance. Brandon drove me to my appointment and a few days later we found out I had tested positive. I had fructose intolerance too! I cut out all fructose for a year, and started feeling much better. I got stronger emotionally, too, through the support of family, Brandon, my church family, my therapist and my doctors. I never went to Drake, basically because I didn’t feel strong enough to leave my hometown. It was hard giving up on my big college dreams, but I did take some online classes through a nearby community college.
In the spring of 2011, Brandon decided that he wanted to join the Navy.
I supported him, because it was something he had been thinking about for a long time. We went to speak to his recruiter together, who teased us about getting married someday. But it got both of us thinking,
“Should we just get married now?”
Throughout our relationship, we often talked about marriage and a family. I just always thought we would wait a while, and at that time, I was only 19.
If God had told me a couple years earlier that I would get married when I was 19, I would have thought Him crazy!
But I knew I was in love with Brandon. Brandon proposed in June 2011 and we were married at my church on November 5th, 2011. Two months later he went to basic training. After that, I moved to be with him in Great Lakes, Illinois while he went to school for his Navy job. After all that, I did end up in the Chicago area! I learned how to be a wife and run a home, and I even got my writing groove back.
Plus, I was happy.
I’ve finally figured out that God knows what He’s doing, and my plans for my life aren’t necessarily in His plan.