Falling in Love
Matt and I continued to spend time together through that first week of training for Totus Tuus. I told him about my experience and he was so happy for me. As the week went on, we began to joke around with one another a lot, quoting lines from our favorite TV show, Scrubs. This was huge for me, our mutual interested in Scrubs, because although I knew he was a devout and faithful Catholic, I guess I thought ‘good Catholics’ didn’t watch shows like Scrubs. I thought he would judge me for watching crappy TV, watching rated R movies, drinking wine, playing video games, smoking cigarillos (on occasion!), etc. But he didn’t. In fact, he loved all those things too! Was I starting to like, I mean “Like” like, a seminarian? Crap. So I went to confession.
I told the priest in confession that I thought I was falling for a seminarian. He warned me to STAY AWAY. So, heart sinking, I did just that. I thought I should distance myself from Matt. He knew something was up. He asked if I was ok. I was polite but distant. The more distant I became, the more attention he gave me. Finally at the end of our two weeks together, he asked if we could talk.
I had no idea what he would say. I had a couple hopes, but did not want to entertain anything. He told me he was very confused. Although he discerned the priesthood, he felt like God kept introducing wonderful women in His life. He then said that He was wondering if God was calling him to someone other than Himself. He told me he had feelings for me and asked if I felt the same way. Because I knew what an amazing priest he would have become, I was tempted to lie. But then, knowing that God would never want a lie over the truth, decided to tell him I shared his feelings.
So what now? We have 2 more months of Totus Tuus. We would be separated almost the entire Summer. Pray. We had to pray for one another, pray for clarity, pray for peace, and continue to talk over the phone, to get to know one another better.
We did. And the more I knew about Him, the more I loved him. He was the first person I loved, even before I liked. He was (and is!) such a clear representation of Christ to me. Being with him was like praying, a deep and personal prayer. There HAD to be something here.
Flash forward a few weeks. It was July 4th, 2006. We were on break from Totus Tuus and decided to get together to watch the fireworks with my family. Afterwards, we just wanted to talk to Jesus so we went to the only perpetual adoration chapel we knew of, at the local Catholic hospital. So there we went.
What happened next not only convinced me of my vocation as Matt’s wife and mother of his kids, but it also shed some light on God. He’s a hopeless romantic!
Once we arrived at the lonely chapel, we found we were alone, the candles provided a nice, dimly lit atmosphere, comfy and cozy. We sat down next to one another, adoring our Lord. I decided to pray with my palms turned upward, resting gently on my lap, a stance showing God I was ready to receive Him. As I was praying, I was thinking about resting in God, reflecting on my Summer, still unsure about God’s true will for Matt and me, and knowing if it was God’s will for us to be married, what was next? The song, “On Eagles Wings” came to me. It was a song that I knew by heart and the lyrics captured how my Summer was going:
You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord
Who abide in His shadow for life
Say to the Lord
“My refuge, my rock in whom I trust!”
And He will raise you up on eagles’ wings
Bear you on the breath of dawn
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of His hand.
Here’s where God’s hopeless (hopeful?) romantic side shines through. (We later refer to God as Matt’s wingman 😉 ). Right as the lyrics, “And hold you in the palm of His Hand,” comes up in my head, Matt reaches over and grabs by hand. We have never held hands, kissed, or done anything ‘romantic’ because he was still in seminary at this point, so grabbing my hand was very unexpected and quite courageous on his part! Anyways, as soon as he grabbed my hand, I dissolved into tears. You see, God is holding me through Matt. Matt made himself known to me as the clearest representation of Christ in my life. I then heard God’s voice say, “Stacy, this is your husband, take care of him.” Yes you heard right, God actually gave me my husbands hand. He betrothed us. For this moment, I will be forever grateful!
Later, I explained to a terrified Matt why I broke down in tears when he held my hand. He told me how nervous he was to reach out and grab my hand, saying he was arguing with the Holy Spirit for a long time before finally giving in and reaching out. God’s timing is just perfect.
I often re-live this moment in our lives. When marriage gets rough and tough, I am blessed to fall back on this moment: That God hand-picked this man for me, and I for him. He called us together. We are closer to the people God created us to be when we are with one another, even closer to God than if we had become priests and nuns.
But marriage is hard and comes with a lot of sacrifice and maturity. My 19 year old self was so excited to have such a clear call from God, but my 19 year old self was also scared about how quickly I would have to grow up… the following verses from “On Eagles Wings” were like God’s warm and comforting whispers in my ear:
The snare of the fowler will never capture you
And famine will bring you no fear
Under His wings your refuge
His faithfulness your shield…
You need not fear the terror of the night
Nor the arrow that flies by day
Though thousands fall about you
Near you it shall not come….
For to His angels He’s given a command
To guard you in all of your ways
Upon their hands they will bear you up
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
Oh, how He loves us.