It's a love story

Three months ago, I met the love of my life. The man who I've been praying for since I was little. Who I've been writing letters to since I was 17. The man who prays with me, serves me, and leads me closer to the Lord. I've been dreaming of him for years, and could feel him coming closer and closer, and now he's here :) Our love story is just beginning, and it's truly beautiful, but there's a love story that's even greater. Although I love Tanner with all of my heart, he's never going to be my source of joy, peace, or even love. He's never going to be the one that I place my identity in. Tanner is a gift that has come from devoting my heart fully and irrevocably to Jesus. God knew that I wouldn't be able to receive a love like Tanner's before I came to know Him better, because our love isn't founded upon each other, but rather, it is built upon our mutual love for Christ. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). 

If I had met Tanner any sooner than I did, I wouldn't have been able to recognize him. I would have pushed his love away because I wasn't secure in my identity. I would've searched for someone to give me attention and affection because I was so thirsty for love. I didn't understand that the love I was seeking could only be found in Christ.

Allow me to take you a few years back. It was March of 2014...

I didn't think I'd be able to breathe again. It wasn't just any old break up. It was a shattering.

At the time, my identity depended upon my ex. His acceptance of me and my post-surgery body became my lifeline. When I lost him, I lost myself. Who was I without him? It was paralyzing. As the cliche goes, I began to look for love in all the wrong places, only feeling as valued as the number of guys blowing up my phone, telling myself it was just 'nice to have someone to talk to.' Anything to distract me from the depth of emptiness that was harboring inside. 

My identity rested upon quicksand because I was trying to place my happiness in the hands of a person. I finally understood that the world is not capable of unconditional love.

Inherently, I knew that there was greater love. I knew that a love existed far beyond anything that I had ever seen or experienced. For years, I prayed for this kind of love, wrote songs about him, like this one, and kept a journal of letters for him. I knew he was out there, but I just couldn't wrap my head around actually finding him. I had never met anyone remotely like him.

But I was tired of being loved in pieces. So I stopped searching for love in the world, and started searching for something greater.

And then it hit me. It took me 29 years, but I finally realized...The love that I was longing for was never going to be found within a man.

It could only be found in Jesus. He keeps His promises. He honors His word. His love isn't broken, it's the opposite of insecure. His love is not self-serving. His love is pure. He leads with a servant's heart. He keeps me safe. He sure doesn't have commitment issues.

And so, my love story began. 😍  Although Jesus had been pursuing me my whole life, I never gave Him my whole heart. I wasn't sure what that even looked like. Truth be told, I didn't even realize that I hadn't given myself completely over to Him.

For the first time, my heart became whole. I finally understood that my identity didn't depend on me earning love, my identity was already established in Him. My true identity is that I am a daughter of God. God is a good Father, so that means that He loves me for the mere fact that I am His daughter. His love is life giving. When I understood my identity as loved, I become new, authentically confident, alive, and filled with true compassion. It's incredible how knowing my identity has changed me from the inside-out. 

Now that I know my identity, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am loved. Because I know that I am loved, I am finally free. The chains have been broken. When we know we are loved, we can receive love.All I need, all I want, all I desire is God. I can tell you with full confidence that even if I never got to experience an earthly love story, it wouldn't matter.

It's funny how when the need disappears, what we desire shows up. I truly believe that God had Tanner in mind for me all along, He was just waiting for the perfect time to bring us together. He had to wait until the time came when He knew that all I needed was Him. I don't need Tanner, but I sure do want him around! :) I know that the plans the Lord has for us are beautiful. I'm so grateful that God didn't let me settle for a love that was based in worldly desires, I'm so grateful that He set my heart aside for a man who deserves the love that I have to offer, the man who knows how to love me - only by loving Jesus first. ❤

It's a true love story. Baby, just say yes 😘

Tanner and me :)