The Most Romantic Thing

I’ve always referred to Keenan as my most favorite way God loves me. And it’s not because we see eye to eye (we don’t) or are alike in many ways (we’re not). It’s because of the way he has loved me in and through each season of our marriage- unconditionally.

It wasn’t his fault that within the first year of wedded bliss I was depressed, drinking heavily and gaining weight.

Our first anniversary

I was a huge season of change-  fresh out of college, newly married in a new home with my new handsome husband. We were coming off that honeymoon high and like many newlyweds we got comfortable. I enjoyed making comfort food dinners and drinking every night with my man. The drinking made it easier to forget that I wasn’t happy (with myself) and despite what I had hoped, marriage wasn’t the magical fix I needed. Despite my history of physical fitness, I let it all go and slipped into a state (actually un-)ease. To this day I jokingly refer to that season of life of being “fat and effed up.” The calories were adding up but I was too drunk to care. Eventually it caught up to me.  

I was overweight that compounded the fact that I was clinically depressed. (My lucky husband!) I couldn’t fit into any of my clothes so I stayed ( and worked) in forgiving workout gear. (What I needed to do was lay of the booze and ACTUALLY workout- physically & mentally) But whenever I started to feel depressed I just postponed the feelings with alcohol.

Anyway- one day Keenan and were invited to a friend’s birthday party in the neighborhood and I broke. I did NOT want to go anywhere and be seen by anyone- while I looked and felt like I did. I was ashamed of gaining weight and I wanted to hide from the world. I told my husband so. I told him through tears that I had NOTHING to wear and I was NOT GOING. The End.

He didn’t say another word.

The weekend rolled around and when I came home that evening from work to drink the day away I found FOUR complete outfits in a size I had never worn, laid out side by side on the edge of our bed. I was confused but processing. They were stylish- matching tops and bottoms in beautiful prints and colors. And they were all…big. Bigger than I was used to anyway. But they fit. Keenan came in the room and said, “Pick something to wear- I’m taking my beautiful wife to a party.

I have never felt more completely loved in my life. Here I was- a former fitness trainer/ bodybuilder lost in season of depression and numbing the pain with alcohol. Standing in front of a man who loved me anyway and would go out if his way to show me and SHOW UP. (Looking back I realize that this was some next-level newly wed wisdom from my young husband!) I sobbed in his arms. Arms that I knew would never let me go. I was at the bottom and he was still here loving me.

I couldn’t believe that everything he picked out actually fit! I asked him how he knew what size I wore (because even I didn’t know!) and he held out his hands as if he was holding a Bonnie-sized waist. I was overwhelmed. He knew what would fit because he knew (as only he could) how I felt in his arms. He’s held me in “thickness and in health.” He’s held me. And that’s how he knows what would fit- what would cover me. What I needed to feel safe and beautiful.

Our marriage is so strong and beautiful because of what we’ve been through over the years, and Keenan has done many thoughtful things throughout our marriage to show his love, but I will never forget his gesture of pure kindness in buying those outfits for me to choose from so he could take his “beautiful wife” to the party. He was loving me like Christ loves His bride. In every season and situation (and in every size)…

He knows what we need because He’s held us, He’s still holding us, and He will never let go.

I wore a blue checkered skirt, a white flowy top and straw wedge sandals to the party. Bigger than I wanted to be with struggles ahead…but hand in hand with a man that I knew would love me regardless. And that was the foundation I needed to begin my healing. It just fit.

Blooming where you are planted.

On my run this morning I passed a neighborhood with an iron bar gate and just as I got to the edge of it, something behind the black bars caught my eye.

It was a bright magenta flower that stood in stark contrast to the dull gate. I turned my head to get a better view and saw dozens of the same flower behind the gate. It was a gorgeous sight and yet I suddenly felt sad that these flowers were hidden from human view. Someone like me would have to accidently discover them and then intentionally stop to appreciate their contribution to world.

My own thought surprised me.

Those bold flowers weren’t looking for pity. They weren’t even looking for lookers. They were just being bright and bold and beautiful right were they were planted. On task. Fulfilling their mission. Quietly bringing beauty in the world and joy to their Creator.

Maybe they didn’t get a gorgeous hill from which to display their gift.

Maybe only one or 2 lucky ones would ever enjoy the vibrant magenta petals smiling behind the harsh dark bars.

Maybe no one would see.

I smiled and received the subtle gift from the blooms: Love and joy and real beauty are just behind hard things.

Sometimes we have to seek them out, and sometimes they will just find us, but never are you overlooked by the One who knows exactly where you are planted.  

He sees.