A few times this Christmas season, I’ve heard criticisms of the sentiments that come with this time of year with regards to nostalgia. Personally, I don’t see the problem with this feeling– it’s one of my favorites, actually. Of course I don’t try to live in the past, but I think it’s special to feel that little ache of time gone by, mingled with the sweetness of the memory.
December is a month thick with nostalgia. I feel it when I go through the boxes of ornaments, small trinkets that we’ve pulled from the attic every year of my life. I feel it when I hear Amy Grant’s “Breath of Heaven,” when I smell the pine in our living room, when I sip cool frothy egg nog. Three years ago, something happened that gave this season even more sweetness, and maybe I will write about this each year- I have for the past two, but with each passing year it never gets old. Three years ago, in mid-december, I met Andrew. And my life changed forever.
I was dwelling on this sweet season a few weeks ago, letting my mind and heart feel that nostalgic feeling whenever I think about the moment I first met him. It feels a little more dream-like now — now that we’ve been together for so long, now that we’re engaged to be married so soon. But I still remember it clearly, and I play it over and over in my mind so I never lose that moment.
I was thinking about how wonderful that time of life was, and so I want to share what made it so special, and what brought us to each other, and what held Andrew and I together in the months that followed.
Oh how I could ramble on about all the goodness overflowing in my life during that season (I will try not to ramble, no promises though ;) ) but lately I’ve been processing something new that has surfaced, I think simply because it now has been quite some time and I can look back on that period from a farther distance. The bird’s eye view keeps unfolding sweetness, rightness, and clarity. It’s beautiful, and I’m grateful, and I thought it might be worth sharing.
The gentle, beautiful unfolding of God’s constant presence in my life was perhaps the best thing that I started to learn at the time when Andrew came into my life. The christmas break after I just met him was spent so much with Jesus: he brought closure to so much of my past and sweetly embraced me as I said “yes” to an unknown but trustworthy future. It was that December that I willingly told God I guess maybe someday I would possibly be ok if I had to get married. Little did I know! It was that December that I learned how trustworthy my Savior was, that there is so much to receive from His hands of grace, and yet– I had no idea that he was bringing me to my future husband. I remember telling my roommate a few months later when Andrew started pursuing me, that the walls around my heart started falling so quickly it was like I could almost physically feel a difference. Weight lifted and freedom found.
Another really special thing that I’ve been realizing more on this anniversary of that time is the very specific and meaningful loves and desires that had been planted in my life that year, that began to grow right along my friendship and love for Andrew. These things molded who I am, who I was/am becoming, and it’s just incredible to realize now- three years later, that alongside Andrew, my life has become so much more rich because of these meaningful aspects.
To name a few:
> creative nonfiction – both the reading and writing of it. I learned and experienced such sharp, deep, stabs of joy and inspiration for the first time in my life that year and the first words I ever intentionally wrote “creatively” bled out of me.
> Sally Lloyd-Jones – I randomly found a quote by her on someone’s instagram and looked up The Jesus Storybook Bible. Talk about life-changing. Creative, true, and beautiful. The power of the gospel in simple language, but profound and weighty. Her words struck me and softened my heart for the Gospel even more.
“Behind what you were doing, underneath everything that was happening, God was doing something good. God was making everything right again.” -slj
Andrew Peterson – It may sound silly how much my love for this singer/songwriter and his incredible lyrics have shaped and molded and pulled Andrew and I both closer together, and through so many seasons, but it’s true. I heard my first Andrew Peterson song when I first started to like Andrew. We started to enjoy him alongside each other, and his songs slowly started to sink into our hearts the more we grew in love for each other. When we encountered sweet times, the songs that reminded us of one another got sweeter. When we encountered hard times, the songs that reminded us of each other got sweeter. And when we encountered heart-shattering times, his songs reminded us of Jesus, and there is nothing sweeter than that.
He was driving me to meet my roommate in Virginia somewhere as I was going back to Cedarville one last time before graduating, and we were listening to one of his albums. The song called “World Traveler” came on and I remember looking to him and saying something like — ‘this is so high school but this should totally be our song.’ Over two years later, the richness of those words have grown deeper and deeper into our hearts.
And you guys — this brings me to my favorite part of why I actually started to write this post. Now, I don’t even really know how to articulate the deep joy and gladness of what the upcoming season has for us. I think it’s just so cool of God and so obvious that he is all-wise and completely sovereign: that He would bring Andrew home from Guam during the same season that causes me to so deeply reflect on our first encounter. So my heart is exploding… there’s no other way to put it!
In SEVEN days, Andrew comes home. And this massive mountain of time that we have been anticipating and wandering over since the day we met will be completely behind us. It is surreal. We have handled long-distance far from gracefully, but we are sure and confident in the grace of God as the sustainer of our weary, tired hearts. He has given us joy when there was none to be found. He has given us patience when the frustrations were rampant. And He has given us one another to remind us of his grace and kindness through every season since that December so long ago.
With all that being said, thank you Jesus. We have loved being world travelers, together and apart. But it’s time for my boy to be back. It’s just about time to get married, it’s time to walk the hills and blaze a trail in the vast expanse of our souls. If the beauty, goodness, and growth of the seeds that were planted three years ago have been any indication of what the rest of our lives might hold, then “in the grace of the God of peace let’s wade into the battle.” Yes & amen.
Oh, I’m a world traveler
Pack your bags and dig down deep
Ride the storms and sail the seas
To the distant pole
I’m a world traveler
Into these uncharted lands
To blaze a trail in the vast expanse
Of the heart and soul
In the grace of the God of peace
Let’s wade into the battle
So come on, come on with me
And get up in that saddle
There’s a million mysteries I’m ready to unravel
Come on, let’s travel the world