Part 2.

I believe we all have a story to share. God has put each one of us on this earth with different gifts, talents and passions and we are called to use them to glorify God and His name alone. Whether you’ve been a Christian your entire life or are just figuring out who God is and if He even exists, I believe you have a story to share.

This is my testimony.

(Don’t worry- you will hear from Mark soon… we write these blogs together even though it’s mostly from my perspective, but continue reading through the series and he will write from his perspective too! )

Mark and I still weren’t together. (Grade 12-Mark 1st year) After years of talking and conversations we hadn’t ever dated for more than a few months. Mark strongly believed that he didn’t want to play with girls hearts and made conscious efforts not to date a bunch of girls but planned on dating only one woman. Mark hadn’t dated anyone other than me (which I adore to this day) and had never kissed a girl. So when it came to his relationship with me, his intentions were always clear: this terrified me. I wasn’t near ready for marriage and although Mark didn’t mean that he wanted to marry me right away, he knew I had the qualities he wanted in a future spouse. It scared me knowing how ready he was for a committed dating relationship and how insecure I still remained about relationships and commitments. If you remember (from part 1) I dated a fair bit and got involved with men that were very manipulative- lets just say my view on relationships wasn’t a great one.

I had commitment issues and didn’t trust men, including Mark. What amazes me is the patience Mark has shown with me throughout the years. Because Mark remained a constant friend, supporter and encourager he allowed me to slowly…(key word slowly) open up to him about my hopes, fears, dreams to live in Africa and of course my past. Each time I opened up to Mark I always thought he would be so upset with me and never want to hang out with me again… and each time I was proven wrong.  Instead he loved me more, encouraged me more, prayed with me even more and never left. God used Mark to paint an earthly picture of His (God’s) patience with us every single day. God is constant and is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) Whether you’ve been a Christian your entire life or figuring out who God is, we are constantly disappointing Him and sinning and yet God still gives us another chance. He is patient with us and never gives up. Each time we run back to the Lord admitting we screwed it up He takes us back. I love God and how patient and loving He is. Those characteristics’ of God are qualities Mark modeled as I worked through all my commitment issues. Mark knew I’d been hurt by other men and was so loving and patient as I worked through it all. I am such a blessed woman to be loved by a man who strives to love me like God does.

Mark and I spent the summer of 2010 together at camp. By the end of the summer I knew. People always told me “wait for a man who loves Christ more than you. Wait for a man who treats you right and if he loves you like Christ loves you, it will be ‘easy’ to submit to his leadership.” I knew Mark did this. Yes, it took me three years to figure it out and as you’ll read another two years to be mature enough to act on it but I knew Mark was not just another boy I’ve dated and been close with.  Trying to summarize how I knew is difficult. Mark loves me with a love that can’t be found in this world; it can only be found by knowing Christ and that was/is the difference. All my past relationships I had been loved with a worldly type of love. But Christ’s love is selfless and giving. This love doesn’t give up when times get tough or the emotions of happiness goes away. This love puts the other first: always. That’s what Christ did for us by dying for us. He loves us so much that He died so we could be with Him forever.
& that’s how I knew Mark was a man I could marry and love- cuz Mark’s love was so different, so pure.

My first year of university was tough though (Mark’s 2nd yr.) Dealing with the intense pressure of high school was tough already, but living on my own in a university culture where drinking every day in frosh week and the weekends is considered normal brought it to another level. This ‘free and be single’ attitude kept Mark and I away in the fall after being so close the previous summer. I needed to go to God for my worth but was timid and reserved most of the time so I looked for it once again men and partially in God. These few months were tough for Mark and I figuring out what the summer was and if our futures included one another. Mark and I eventually started dating in December after I got my life ‘back on track’ with God because I still ‘knew.’

There was just one major issue that led me to break up with him three months later:  I didn’t know how to love Mark with that Godly pure love because I refused to fully grasp God’s love for me.  Even though I longed to love Mark with God’s love - if I wasn’t accepting that God was crazy in love with me, there was no way I could show and lead Mark in that same love.

I didn’t realize this all until I went to Africa five months later where I spent a solid year discovering and being romanced by a God who longs to love me and learning to love 18 abused and vulnerable children with that pure and selfless love that can only come from Christ.

But I’ll leave my Africa lessons and the exciting parts of how Mark and I are together today for part 3.

How part 2 ends is bleak. I broke up with Mark in March 2011 and left for Africa in August where I spent a year serving beautiful children and educating refugees. Mark was fed up with me constantly breaking up with him and he told me in March we were over for good. He was done trying and gave up.

When editing this blog Mark asked that I write about how he wasn’t perfect and did give up… I’m quoting what He said: “even though I was trying to love you with Gods love I wasn't perfect and still gave up. Cause we talked lots about me striving to love you like Christ but I think its also important to show even with that desire I did still fail and only God can love you perfectly.” This shows my mans heart so perfectly!! Yes, Mark waited patiently and strived to love me like Christ through these years but he isn’t perfect and eventually did give up. God never gives up – ever.

After all these years of talking and hanging out, we only saw each other once for 20 minutes at a campfire before I left in August 2011 and that was it. I left for Africa with zero hope of a future together with Mark.

Little did Mark and I know what God was going to do in both our hearts in 2012.

Stay tuned for part 3.


Part 1 - Growing Up

 Where to begin?

Since it’s been five years in the making, we need to start at the very beginning…all the way back to 2007. We will share the basic details of the past five years in the first few blogs to develop context and then each talk about the difficult yet profound lessons that God has taught us. We pray that you will be encouraged through this and realize that God wants to use you wherever you’re at. 

But let’s start at the beginning shall we?

Picture this with me.

14 year old girl. Beginning high school. Excited for new adventures. Insecurities about puberty, being liked and fitting in. Longing to be loved.

That’s how I would summarize entering the new world of high school. I wanted to be in the ‘right’ group, have the right friends, right boyfriend and partake in all the right activities. I was a Christian and loved Jesus, but I didn’t truly grasp that He could love a girl like me. I believed in God but I doubted if He really believed in me. Because I longed to be loved and wasn’t accepting that love from the Lord I found it in friends compliments, activities and boyfriends. Ask any of my close high school girlfriends how many boys I would “talk” to at once… this was an ongoing joke all throughout high school… sometimes they would make the list past ten. Point being: I got my affection, love and belonging in the world from others: humans that are imperfect and will make mistakes… I was basing my worth on them.

Typing this isn’t easy. O how I wish I could shake myself back in grade nine and ten and tell myself to run to Jesus for my worth knowing that the world can never and will never satisfy and that Jesus longs to love with me with a love that isn’t of this world. Jesus loves me enough to die for me…. He died knowing everything I have done, will do and are dealing with… if only I grasp’d even a piece of that concept in high school…sigh*

Summer of grade nine came and went and for two weeks at the end of the summer I worked at Conestoga Bible Camp, which is where I met Mark. Mark noticed me, thought I was good-looking and we got along great but I didn’t really care for him to be honest. He was a senior in high school and a “great Christian man”- He would never be so low to date me, so I never really gave it much thought. You see I’ve been dating boys since middle school, looking for my worth from their words and actions. (I didn’t know this consciously but looking back it’s obvious to me) Mark and I had great conversations but none that filled my need. After talking to Mark at length about it now, Mark knew he liked me back in the summer but was to nervous and thought “there’s no way I would ever go for him- I was way out of his league.” However he mustered up the courage to ask me to Christmas banquet that the churches put on. I would love to say that the rest is history, we started dating shortly after and have been smooth sailing ever since- but I can't. What I can tell you is that God was working on us all the way back in 2007. I love how God works, how His timing is never our own, but it’s always perfect in His plan. Many times Mark has asked “why God” through the times I’ve broken it off with him and what is God’s plan in all of this… looking back now it’s clear to both of us just how much God was working.

I did fall for Mark, absolutely. But like I mentioned above there were other boys I’d been dating so Mark became another great guy friend who I was interested in.

However, I was fifteen, super immature and just trying to survive the pressure of high school and was dating another guy. I so desperately wanted to be loved and cherished by him that I started going sexually farther than I wanted to: this was a massive wake up call. By this point I’d been cheated on and took him back but was so terrified that he would leave me for another girl again… so I kept convincing myself that going just a little bit farther wasn’t a big deal if it made him stick around. By this point I had myself convinced God didn’t want to use me and after begging the Lord for forgiveness and not feeling any different my patterns didn’t change much.

I let Satan control me in the area of shame because I compromised my values.  Let me quickly explain. When we ask for forgiveness God forgives it all and we can go boldly in confidence knowing He forgets the sin and we should too. (And change our ways/strive to never do that sin again) However, I never got the “walk boldly in confidence of who I am in Christ part.” So I let myself stay in shame. Feeling so guilty about everything but continuing to sin because I had already gone ‘this far’ I just kept going or at least doing the same.  After all this, I broke up with him and a few weeks later Mark asked me out before the summer and I ran directly into his arms. After three weeks of being so confused and trying to work on this new relationship with a guy I truly cared about, I convinced myself if Mark ever knew my past there is no way he would want to be with me, so I saved both of us heartbreak in the future and ended it quickly.

I spent August working at camp again and Mark was there. That left me with little time to be focused on other men and more focused on God. At this point, during my summer going into grade 11, I had started a mild eating disorder and was pretty confused about life.

Let me pause for a moment and tell you that during these years I was happy and did love life. There were so many great things that happened but I painted a picture that I had it all together when inside I felt that I didn’t. But looking back at these years I’ve learnt that God loves me (and you) whether we have it all together or not and we shouldn’t have to hide our imperfections and insecurities.

Getting back on track: Mark and I continued to chat over August that year and had so many amazing conversations. He was so different. He led me closer to Christ and wanted to pray for me and encouraged me so much. We got along so great without the pressure of school, boys and fitting in. Summer was amazing with Mark… and that’s the trend our friends saw... 

Date/get close with Mark in the summer and then ditch and run as soon as high school hit again and my reality set back in.  Throughout grade 11 (Mark’s 5th year) we stayed very close. I dated a guy off and on through this time and had some very manipulating and abusive encounters with other men that year that left me heart broken and even more cautious about the labels being put on me and the extra five pounds I was desperate to loose. I also wrestled a lot with trust and commitment issues. I was sick of breaking boy’s hearts and breaking my own in the process but I was so deep in this cycle of looking for love in all the wrong places that it just continued.

Mark and I ended up dating again that next spring, but once again I ended it not being in any place emotionally to be in a committed relationship. Mark was committed: always.  And I wasn’t near ready for that….

These years were tough for me but especially for Mark. Liking me constantly for years and getting to date me for months here and there but that being it. It was hard for him to trust me and trust God that he was actually doing what God wanted him too. But I’ll let him share more of his story in the upcoming blogs!

To close this blog off, high school for us was a time when we noticed each other, dated twice, facebook’d almost every day and grew together a lot through the summers. Mark was striving to love me like Christ and I was noticing. I wasn’t acting on it yet, but bit by bit Mark slowly started to get to know all of me, my secrets and fears and things that I swore if he ever knew about he would break up with me instantly. As I slowly started sharing, Mark remained; something Christ does so perfectly. God never gives up on us and Mark wasn’t giving up on me yet either & as 2012 is coming to a close I am so thankful that Mark and I can share this story now knowing that he  never gave up.

Stay tuned for part 2


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