Exactly eight years ago today, Mgo and I took a long walk in my parents' neighborhood. We had met a year prior and had gotten a taste of what a long distance relationship was like. It took a toll on both of us. We were hesitant to tell each other what we were thinking, but we finally realized we were both scared to keep things going because we were so far away from one another. I, for one, was scared to be in a relationship with someone I barely knew. Yes, we talked for hours on the phone each day. We wrote each other letters, emails, texts, and sent each other gifts in the mail, but it wasn't enough. We weren't in each others circle of friends. We couldn't attend each others family get togethers. We couldn't be spontaneous. We couldn't be a typical couple. However, as we walked, all I could think about was how much I didn't want it to end.
We walked and walked and walked until we finally stopped in front of a gas station. We had shared all of our concerns, but we were still holding hands. He pointed to something behind me and when I turned around, there was a sign that read “Take time to smell the roses.” And right there, we made a pact. We would stay together, even though it was hard. We wouldn’t dwell on the bad and take time to enjoy the good things happening in our relationship. No matter how difficult life got, we would trust God.
And we stuck together.
And life got difficult.
Recently, Mgo went to Armenia on a mission trip. While there, he led a seminar on preparing for marriage. He shared our story. When he read it to me prior to his trip, I was a bit overwhelmed. I hadn't realized how many hardships we have actually faced during our life together.
How sick I got during our first winter in Rhode Island. The year of aggressive testing and treatment to diagnose me with Fibromyalgia, which led to depression. Mgo's mom battling cancer. Mgo having to live with a woman who was slowly losing herself. Enduring a year of unemployment when God called us out of the church in Rhode Island. Bed rest during my pregnancy, fourteen trips to triage, and the traumatic birth of Emelia during which we both faced death.
I'd never really thought about it all. In the midst of the afflictions, I was definitely weakened and frustrated. However, God ALWAYS pulled us through, even when it felt like we'd never get answers or relief. Even if I was angry with Him. Even if I didn't always cling to Him.
While battling my symptoms and waiting for a diagnosis, I met a young woman who was diagnosed with arthritis at a young age. And she became a source of God's indelible grace, coaching me through the entire process and encouraging me to face the frustration I was feeling. She is one of the most encouraging people I know. Her, her husband and kids are now family to us. They are a gift. Mgo's mom fought and won and has been cancer-free for years now. God led us to Fresno, and just like in Rhode Island, we are beyond blessed by the church. Although I had a difficult pregnancy and delivery, and despite all the scares that Emelia wasn't healthy, she made it and is thriving.
I know that He will hold our hands when the next trial comes. He will walk us through each tribulation, even if they last a long time. Even if we don't always get a happy outcome.
And thinking back on my time with Mgo, even though we have encountered a lot of hardships, I wouldn't change a thing.
It has been the best time of my life.