Two College Football Seasons.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Yesterday at school was Fatima Family Day. It's pretty much what it sounds like -- each student brings a family member or family friend to school. They spend an hour doing a lesson in class, and then we all go to an assembly in the gym.

Yesterday's assembly was about character. At the end of the assembly, the presenter told a short story. In a nutshell, a teacher wanted to teach her students about patience, so she put a jar on her desk and told the students that if they were patient and waited till the end of the year to look in the jar, they would each get a diamond. One student couldn't wait, and he knocked the jar off the desk and saw it was full of coal. The teacher, of course, puts all the coal back in the jar, except one piece, and, at the end of the year, every student received his or her diamond, while the student who knocked the jar over had to keep the coal. This story was told to illustrate the virtue of patience: the students who were willing to wait each received a diamond in the end.

And it hit me, I waited for Joe (sometimes not so patiently), and I got a diamond in the end too.

And I don't mean my ring, although it is beautiful.

I mean him.

This post is a couple of days late, but on September 11, Joe and I celebrated (although long-distance) the fact that we have now been together for one year. On September 11, 2016, Joe and I met for lunch at Black Sheep Burrito, which turned into a long walk in Ritter Park, which then turned into a very long talk in my living room. All in all, it lasted 9 hours, and it was the last first date I would ever go on. I think I even knew it that day.

Because Joe doesn't live here, we had to celebrate a week early, when he was here over Labor Day Weekend. We recreated that date, eating lunch at Black Sheep and walking in the park. (We recreated it so well that I put on what I wore on our first date, which Joe remembered I wore, and then I saw he was wearing what he wore that first day as well. :) ) Of course we had many conversations about how different our lives were last year, how quickly things can change, and how we can't wait to get married.

I think my favorite part, though, was this:

Me: "Can you believe we've been together for two college football seasons?"
Joe: "Is that how we're going to measure this? 'How long have you two been together?' 'Well it's been 13 college football seasons now.'"
Me: "YES."

Joe has said to me before that he couldn't believe I was still available, and I have said as much to him. And then we both agreed that we've just been waiting for each other.

And waiting.

And waiting.

But as I told him once, I'd have waited even longer for him.

But I'm glad I didn't have to.

The truth is, there were a lot of times in my life when being single was very hard. It was hard to watch friends couple up, get married, and have children, while I just got older. I didn't always handle it gracefully, and God and I had many talks about it.

And then, about two years ago, I just decided one day that if this was all my life was -- this school, this apartment, this rabbit (rest his sweet soul) -- then okay. I was good.

And I was.

And then I met Joe.

And then I realized what God had been doing for me all these years. He had been keeping me away from people who weren't right for me, while preparing my heart (and Joe's) for real love. The kind of love you hope for.

Joe is a good man. His aunt (my second mother) described him as "loyal and good-hearted," and that is what he is. For sure. He gives and gives and never asks for anything. He listens to me when I am happy, sad, frustrated, upset, and not being nice. When I get short or salty with him, he responds in kindness. Always. He's never been short with me. Not once. He's never even gotten an attitude with me. Never anger. I've never seen him angry. (Except when he's in traffic. He hates traffic. :) ) He doesn't raise his voice, and he's not scary. He's calm, he's constant, and he is whatever the opposite of volatile is. (I just looked it up. It's "steady," "enduring," and "steadfast." And that's what he is.)

The truth is, I could go on and on about him.

The truth also is, I do not deserve him.

But, he doesn't deserve me either.

And what I mean by that is that we are two imperfect people who are trying to do our best with this relationship that God has entrusted to us. (Originally I ended that sentence with "blessed us with," but I don't think I like that because I'm not sure it's okay to make people feel like God "blessed" me with a husband but is withholding that blessing from them.) Love is not something that you earn or deserve (truly, I know many women much more deserving of a man like Joe than I), and I have no earthly idea why God saw fit to bring the two of us together. But I hope and plan to spend the rest of my life not making God sorry. In fact, the Catechism tells us that the purpose of marriage is to get the other person to Heaven. (Amongst the many other things it has to say about marriage!)

When I was in elementary school, I remember that a teacher once told my class that God has our futures written on our hearts before we are born. She said that our hearts said things about what we'd be when we grew up and who we'd marry.

And I smile when I think of little first grade Anna who had no idea her heart said "Teacher" and "Joe."

Joe, you are magic. I love you so much.

Incidentally, I saw the following online today. I sent it to Joe. Isn't this written so beautifully? 

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