Shades of brown and gold scattered over sun-kissed waves, his hair reached down to the middle of his back. It was a dreary day the first time I laid eyes on him. He was dressed in a black raincoat, black gym shorts, black shoes, and a black Jansport was resting over his shoulders. I just noticed him and that was the extent of it. He never returned the glance, and his eyes remained focused on the sidewalk. Something about his somber stare struck a chord with me though, and the image of him remained with me until we were to meet again.
My third year in college had finally arrived. Year two had brought about many life changes, and I began the year with registration as usual. In order to be eligible for financial aid required me to register for a class I really didn’t want to take.
That’s right I was going to spend my spring semester in rubber waders with a D-frame net taller than me, knee-deep in muddy creeks, catching water bugs.
Now don’t get me wrong the thought of being outside was thrilling. It was the thought of taking two field classes together on top of a full course load and with Dr. B of all professors. He had a thing for bugs and perfection, and failing students. So needless to say I was NOT thrilled.
Regardless, I registered and sleepily stumbled my way to the second row of seats in the notorious Roney 100 aka the snake room. A room filled with persevered herps and live snakes. A room that reeked of formaldehyde and dung. A room that never got cleaned because janitorial staff refused. A room that Biology majors would get way too comfortable with pulling all-nighters, dissecting cats, and eating snacks.
It was there that I saw him again. That long hair and those same dark clothes. He was very attention-grabbing. Yet not one of those people you just easily move into casual conversation with.
Until one day it was time to suit up in the class waders and head out to the pond. Somehow Colby and I managed to get last dibs on the boots. Dr. B grumpily rattled off the question in his New Zealand accent, ” whet size de ye need?” I answered with an 8 and surprisingly so did Colby. At this point, I knew two things about this mysterious boy. His name and that we wore the same size shoe.
All of that was about to change. We grabbed our waders up and walked to the bench to put them on. That is when I saw them. These awful black, white, and red Asics that he removed from his feet revealing a large wad of silver duct tape, obviously holding the shoes together after they should have long ago been retired. That’s when it happened; I spoke my first words to him. “Boy, you need some new shoes,” I said. And surprisingly he laughed. Then we went to the field where I continued to seize the opportunity to make witty jokes to try and make him smile.
We became friends, me and the long-haired boy. A couple of least likelies. I say that because the more I got to know this mysterious boy the more I realized that he and I were a lot different from each other. There was something unique about him. Something about him that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. He was shy but brave. He was quiet and a low-layer, but his actions caught the eye of those around him. I wanted to know more, but I was also in a very strange place in my life. A distracted place. A crossroads if you will.
You see a year before that class I decided to take the summer off. I had experienced a difficult last couple of years. My family and I were all in turmoil from some bad choices. I was about an hour away at school trying to process everything and simultaneously live the college dream. However, there was this spiritual battle happening in the midst of it all and I was running. Running as far as I could and as hard as I could from God.
That summer I made some really poor choices and found out how much pride was an issue in my life. Not to worry though, God is in the humbling business, and that is exactly what needed. In those moments where God brought me low, He also did something amazing. He quieted my soul.
I had time to reflect and realize just how far I had strayed from Him. That’s when I fully surrendered my life to God. Later, He clearly showed me just what Jesus had done for me and how He was orchestrating things in my life to draw me back to Him.
Taking that class was one of those orchestrations, but I was still new and easily thrown off the path.
We went on our first field trip in the class to Florida. These field trips were notorious in our program. It was my first time, and I wasn’t exactly stoked about giving up my weekend for a school trip. I loaded my things on the van not knowing that I was being observed from afar. Colby, yes the mysterious, shy, long-haired boy scouted me out and placed his things in the seat next to mine. I was so taken aback by the gesture that I asked another of my seemingly insulting questions. “Are you sitting here?” I asked. Quickly he rattled off an excuse that he needed to talk to Dr. B, and I let it go.
It was on that van that I learned that he had a dream of building a house one day and letting his wife paint the front door. I realized that he desired a family and that made my heart burst into a million tiny pieces. We spent the rest of the trip following each other around catching snakes and lizards. He made me laugh until my belly ached.
When we returned from the trip he placed my bag from the van into my roommate’s trunk. “I think I like him,” I said to her. Something she’d probably heard so many times from me, and from her one glance at him and all his hair she probably thought I was mad. Later I inquired from a friend that he was seeing someone and that it was complicated. I was devastated.
I went home for spring break and met someone. It wasn’t long after our first date that I realized that it was going to be just like every time before. He would say all the right things, but we would do all the wrong things. I was partying again just like before. This time God wasn’t letting go of me though.
I told myself I would stay away, but it didn’t work. Colby ended up taking me to Wendy’s where I poured my heart out to him about how I wanted to do all the right things, but I kept getting sucked into all the wrong ones. We talked about our families and bonded over the similarities of our family dynamics. It was then I realized I was drawn to him like a bug to light, and it was inevitable. We had more in common than I realized.
The second field trip rolled around this time to the mountains. A beautiful waterfall that was worthy of a proposal. Lots of creatures to be caught laughs to be had, and seats to be picked. We were inseparable again.
However, he didn’t sit with me on the way home. So I sat in the front of the van and sulked while he laughed it up in the back with his friends. I was so mad that when he shouted to me when we passed my current workplace I responded by giving him the finger.
He still pursued me in all my wickedness and messiness.
We parted ways with the people who were all wrong for us. We both knew that we belonged together. He helped me finish up my final project while I was away at the beach. On that trip, we talked every single day and every single day after that.
He graduated that semester and my roommate did too. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I told him that I was probably going to have to move home, but he told me not to. And I did the strangest thing. I listened to him.
However, we met resistance along the way. Everything inside of me, past experiences, regrets, doubts were all telling me that I knew how this ended. And it was going to hurt. He kept fighting for me though. The quiet, reserved guy had taken a giant stand for me again, against all my earlier preconceptions about him. Strangely enough, I listened to him again. I trusted him for some reason and something inside of me told me it was safe to submit to his authority.
He was so gracious with me when I came clean to him about my past. He even took me to his special place on the river and as we sat on the dock he told me he loved me for the first time. Everything began to fall into place when all of sudden the doubts started to creep in again.
As it became apparent to me that Colby had been a Christian since he was thirteen I began to feel very inadequate in comparison to him. I started to feel self-conscious and guilty. I also felt at the time that I did not deserve a man like him. Someone who opened my car door every single time, someone who treated me with so much respect, someone who had fought the temptation of sin his whole life to wait and give himself fully to his wife. I did not deserve that. I found myself with all this built up turmoil wondering if maybe this was God’s way of making me suffer the consequences of my actions. I knew the only place to take it was to God. I had to be sure that He was allowing this. I had to know if He wanted me to be with Colby or if I was going to end up broken-hearted.
God answered my wrestling shortly after. A friend brought me a book that I was reluctant to read, but once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down. It was a fiction story on the account of Hosea, a book in the bible.
That’s when I realized that God was not punishing me. That I didn’t deserve Colby, but also that Colby didn’t deserve me either. All any of us deserves is death for our sins. We are all Gomers and Jesus is our Hosea. God used this story and Colby to show me how much He loved me in spite of how far I had run. That I deserved nothing but He withheld nothing and would do anything for me.
I was so blown away at how God had flipped my life around so fast, just as soon as I had surrendered it all to Him. I then knew that Colby and I were called by God to be married.
I was still in school doing my best to witness to my nonbelieving professors and friends when Easter started approaching as well as the mountain biology trip. We had gotten really involved with our church, and I debated on whether I wanted to go on the trip or not. I ended up going and Colby tagged along as well as some other biology grads.
We made the hike up the mountain to the beautiful falls. We were bouncing around taking pictures when I saw a friend up really high. I told Colby we had to get up there and get a picture, you know the lovey-dovey kind where we kiss. Well right after I kissed him he almost fell off! I immediately advised we get down, but he kept getting lower. I realized he was on one knee. That’s when he asked me to be his wife, and I, of course, said yes!!!
Bottom left: van ride 2013
Bottom right and top : van ride 2014
Not only did I get asked to marry the man of my dreams, but we also got to show God’s love and mercy throughout that year to those special people like our professors and friends. What a better witness than a proposal on Easter the day that Jesus overcame death and rose from the grave. It was quite magical, unbelievable and ALL God. I am so glad that I stopped trying to do things my way and let God have His way because it is so much better than I could have ever imagined.