28 Days – Donatello

28 Days – Donatello

So, I finally reached that moment; the moment where I finally decided to give up. Or rather, to surrender my expectations for what I thought my future was supposed to look like. Up to this point in my life, I had compiled quite a list of competencies and I believed that I was to employ one of those competencies and become an organic gardener. One that would help change the culture of an entire community and heal that people group through changing their lifestyle through proper diet and nutrition. “LET’S CHANGE THE WORLD!!” But where I had found myself in the midst of this benevolent endeavor was, well, tired, broke, depleted, with my physical body breaking down and my spiritual and emotional health not far behind. What I thought was supposed to happen wasn’t happening. Doors were closing. Things just weren’t flowing.

So, in a random moment, not too long after, I declared to the Lord, “I give up! If I’m never an organic gardener again a day in my life, so be it. If there is something else I am supposed to be doing, I’ll do it.” And this statement came from the heart, deep within, from my spirit. I spoke it out loud, not a soul was around…and I meant it.

What happened next, was amazing. I noticed a girl. “What?! A GIRL!?!?” At this juncture in my life, this is the last thing I wanted. No money. No career. No confidence. I definitely had no desire to put myself around any woman, let alone contemplate pursuing her. But I kept noticing this woman whose heart was on fire for the Lord. A woman that had no need of me or any other man. She was pure. Her name was Seraph Raeden. And although my mind, intellect and logical reasoning were trying to convince me otherwise, something in me was completely drawn to her.

Not long after, I spoke with a mutual friend (Mads) and asked about Seraph and whether her heart was in a good place. Despite getting the go ahead to ask Seraph out on a date, I was in no hurry. It was almost like I had no interest in doing so, yet there was a strong something inside of me that wouldn’t be okay if I didn’t. At this point, I began to contemplate that this may be the Lord speaking to me. So one day, maybe a week later, it felt like the time was right and I contacted her. I asked her to dinner, she said yes. We made arrangements to meet at a nice restaurant the following week.

At dinner that evening, I was nervous but excited. I hadn’t been on a date in quite awhile. We started dinner at 7:00 and began to share about our lives, hardly even eating our food in the meantime. Seraph mostly shared, describing her journey, her passions, and what the Lord had done in her life to this point. As the evening wore on, we moved to an outside table and got even further lost in our conversation, like no one else was around. As I began to learn more and more about her, excitement began to well up deep within me. I saw how similar not only our life paths had been, but also how our passions, desires, beliefs, and interests coincided. Toward the end of our evening, I was transparent with her and explained that I didn’t know why I had asked her out, only that I had noticed how the Lord was working in her life and that I felt that I was supposed to. After explaining these intentions, I expressed a desire to spend more time around her, if for no other reason, for the purpose of learning how she had slowed down in her life and learned to sit in intimacy with the Lord. She welcomed that possibility, explained that she had no expectations of me, and thanked me for dinner. Pulling us out of our blissful interaction, the waiter came up, apologizing that he would have to take our table from us to lock up inside. It was 11:30!! We were so lost in our conversation, we were oblivious that the restaurant had closed. Wow, what an unbelievable evening. I walked her to her car, wished her goodnight, and headed home to rest.

Now what I expected to be a restful night of sleep, with the bliss and excitement of the night’s experience, proved to be something entirely different. That “something” that had been moving me into the direction of interacting with Seraph, had been stirred up. And there I found myself, up at 2:30 in the morning, wide awake. I couldn’t get what had happened off of my mind. “Who did I just meet?”, “This is like the woman I have been looking for my whole life!”, “I want to spend the rest of my life with this girl!”, were the thoughts that were screaming from deep within me. But, another voice immediately countered, “What are you talking about?!” “You just met this girl”, “Don’t get all wrapped up in this girl like you always have in the past.”. A battle had begun. And it continued in my mind from that point forward.

Friday morning I was prepping and selling vegetables all that day and I couldn’t get Seraph off my mind, I was literally freaking out. The best way to describe my feelings were that I had come upon something that is once in a lifetime and I absolutely couldn’t mess it up. Feelings of extreme focus/ambition and fear were intermixed. I couldn’t tell if this girl had any interest in me whatsoever, but I couldn’t ignore the ever-present interest for her in myself. I expressed these feelings to my spiritual family; and they assured me that any girl would be blessed to be with a man like myself. Although I may not have fully believed that about myself in that moment, it was becoming more evident that the Lord was definitely doing something; I just didn’t know how to react to it!

Later that day, I received a text from Seraph letting me know that she would be spending some time with the Lord in a coffee shop that Saturday morning and had invited me to join her. I responded “Sure, sounds good”, but my spirit was saying “Heck yeah, I’ll be there!” I had planned on being there early, but an early morning interview in one of my gardens had run long and I didn’t arrive there until about 9:00 a.m. What I hadn’t told Seraph, was that I had been planning on going to a wedding that day and that I had actually planned on leaving the coffee shop from visiting with her around 9:00 a.m. to get there in time. On my way to meet her, I kept picturing myself inviting her to go to the wedding with me. “Don’t ask her!” “You just met her, it’s too short notice!” I decided not to ask her. But upon walking in and briefly greeting Seraph, I asked ”So…want to go to a wedding?” Looking up at me, she promptly replied “Yah……when is it?” I replied, “We have to leave Abilene by 10:00 a.m.

Seraph: “What time is it, now?”

Me: “9:15”

Seraph: “We gotta go!”

For one, I was shocked that the words to invite her came out of my mouth. Secondly, I couldn’t believe that she had said yes…and so quickly! After I gave us a game plan for getting out of town, we each headed back to our respective places to get ready for our spontaneous journey. As I headed back to my place, my spirit was excited. But, I was also surprised how I had actually asked her to go with me. It was almost as if something inside me wouldn’t allow me to not do so.

Being at the wedding with her was something otherworldly. It hadn’t occurred to me that we would be surrounded by our mutual peers. And up to this point in my life, in this situation, I would be wondering what people were thinking about seeing us together, taking in their reactions, etc. But, for the first time ever in my life, I could care less about anyone’s reaction. I just knew that I was there with her. And, I felt a peace and a rightness that made any concern for surrounding perceptions to softly melt away from my awareness. As we walked into the chapel, I felt honored by how she interacted with me. Being with her just felt right. I remember looking back over our shoulders as the bride was walking down the aisle toward us. Seraph was seated next to me, temporarily removed from my view as I turned to look, but it was as if I could feel her spirit right there with me. We finished our time with the wedding and proceeded to hike that afternoon around the campground at which the wedding had been hosted and that I had been previously employed. We shared more about our lives and continued to connect.

Now even though we were being drawn together and the Lord was definitely working, I was still second-guessing whether or not this girl had any interest in me. This may partly be due to the manner in which she related to me…very honoring, without vying for my attention or giving me subtle hints that I should pursue her. But mostly, I was unsure because I didn’t believe that I was a man that was worthy of such a spiritual gem. I was believing the lies that were coming into my head about my lack of value or ability to be with someone that was walking so closely with the Lord. In other words, the battle continued.

The next 10 days or so, Seraph went away for a family vacation and I continuing on with daily life. We continued to correspond daily during this period, learning more about each other and I only got more and more interested. As her return approached, and our seemingly platonic relationship continued, I got bold and asked “So, when do I get to see you next?” My heart was truly on fire for her and for the next time we would be together. She let me know the next time she was available and we made plans for her to come have dinner with myself and my spiritual family. That next Thursday, we had dinner with Keith and Elizabeth and heard their story of how God had shown them within only a few weeks that they were to get married. I watched as Seraph’s face beamed in reaction to how masterfully the Lord had brought them together. At that moment, I was beginning to see the softness of her heart, which only further stoked the flame that had already began to burn in mine. After dinner, we went up to my place to talk before she headed home. I wanted to be transparent with her, being that I didn’t know where she stood concerning me, and asked her if I was contacting her too much. She very tactfully explained to me that I am free to contact her as much as I would like and that she was very blessed by the time spent with me. Now, even though this woman had just given me an open door to contact whenever I wanted, I was still battling whether or not she saw me as anything more than friends. I was experiencing a very strong desire to pursue her heart, but feared that I was going to be overbearing and scare her off. I didn’t want to mess this up!

As Sunday approached, I kept picturing myself running into Seraph where I would always sit at church. Part of me was excited and hoped this would happen, but another part of me hoped that I wouldn’t so I could give her some space. In the event that she did happen to be there, I had resolved to just say hi and then go sit by myself. So, what happened? Of course, she was the only person sitting in that section as I arrived. “What do I do? Stick with the plan!” So, of course, after briefly greeting one another, I ask: “Do you mind if I sit with you?” It’s like I couldn’t keep myself from asking that question!…Like something else took control of my decision making in that moment. She said yes.

After church, she again invited me to join her at the coffee shop. I agreed. As we hung out and connected the next long while, it was becoming apparent internally that I had to share my heart with her. She needed to hear my heart and that I was beginning to realize what my intentions were concerning her, and us, going forward. Now, I would love to describe myself as Rico Suave during the following interaction, but I could probably more accurately be depicted as…a stammering, 13 year-old-boy. Haha. I was nervous! It was like I was trying to communicate something to her that was coming from the depths of my heart, but I had little experience in doing so. It was as if something else was communicating through me. I realize now that this was the Holy Spirit. I proceeded to communicate, “Listen, I think about you all the time. I want to be around you. I want to be right next to you. I feel that we are supposed to be in ministry together and living life together. I am interested in being more than friends with you and I am curious if you feel the same way.” There I was, vulnerable and completely transparent…finally just asking her where her heart was concerning us. She then explained her heart and finally said, “Yes, I am interested. I have just been waiting on you.” I was completely ecstatic! As I left to go about my day, I was filled with joy.

That next Wednesday, we would both be attending Mads’ going away party. I was excited to see her there, but still had concerns about being overbearing. Upon arrival, I found her, briefly said hi, and then proceeded to grab a plate of food and go sit by myself. I was still experiencing fears about not being accepted by her, that if I over pursued even in the slightest way, she would reject me. She grabbed a plate herself, came sat beside me, and didn’t leave the entire night. Toward the end of the evening, we had moved to a love seat together. We were shoulder to shoulder, in contact with one another, but I had this strong desire to connect even more. She apparently sensed this and discretely slipped her hand undermine. I snatched it up, and for me, in that moment, all fears and doubts disappeared.

The next day, I was planning on surprising Seraph with a nice evening at a beautiful house that a client had offered to let me use while they were out of town. I planned to cook her a nice dinner, share a fancy beer and show her some of the remodeling work that my company and I had done at the house. We arrived and proceeded to enjoy a peaceful evening, hanging out and further connecting. Toward the end of dinner, as Seraph was sharing more of heart for her passions and what she desired for the future, something deep inside me began to bubble up. Again. As she spoke and continued to share, a passion and desire for this woman was pairing with visions of us operating as one in the future. I almost had to interrupt her! There were some things that had been on my heart and were now on the tip of my tongue that I absolutely had to communicate to her in that moment. I looked at her and said, “Listen, I’ve got to tell you something. I feel like I am supposed to spend the rest of my life with you. I think that you could be my wife. You inspire me to get closer and closer to God. I think that God specifically created us to walk in ministry together.” As I spoke these words, I remember thinking, “Am I really saying this right now?” Even though I had made the conscious decision to communicate this to her, again, it was like something was guiding me in doing so. As I am pouring out my heart to this woman, I am noticing that she has this smirk on her face and that she is fighting back laughter. Because I have learned her heart more by now, I know that she is not laughing at me, but that she is laughing at the situation. All of the sudden, it occurs to me…she knows something. I say to her, “Wait a second. Do you know something? Has the Lord been talking to you?” She bursts out laughing! She then proceeds to tell me her story…the story of how the Lord had spoken to her specifically about me. He had told her, even before our first date, that I am the man that she is going to marry, that we were both ready, and to trust Him. Perplexed would probably be inadequate to describe the look that was on my face at this moment. I mean, that feeling was definitely paired with joy because of the amazing news that had just been revealed to me. But, what was happening in that moment was something beyond me…something that I neither could have anticipated nor could adequately process. As Seraph sits there, watching me and my face process what had just been revealed, I prepared to ask her one last question. You see, up to this point in my life I had always envisioned having this amazing, heartfelt story about how I would propose to my wife. This was definitely a very strong desire of my heart. I thought that I would set up some extravagant, super-meaningful proposal that would bring my future bride to tears and cause us both to erupt with joy because of the heartfelt emotion and desires that had just been shared. But, at that moment, I realized that there would be no surprising her. I had just communicated that I want to spend the rest of my life with her, that I think she could be my wife and she shares that the Lord instructed that I was to be her husband. I look into her eyes and ask my question, “Well, will you marry me?’. She immediately responded, “Yes.”

What ended up happening that evening is this; the Lord, with His unbelievable creativity, wrote an amazing, heartfelt story about how I proposed to my wife. A story that we can tell over and over the rest of our lives to glorify His name. With His immeasurable love, He placed in my life a woman that He had so lovingly and masterfully molded to fit me perfectly. And by His grace, I knew that something amazing was on the horizon.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

– 1 Corinthians 9:24

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