Before flying out of Atlanta, we stayed a night with Randy and Betsy Garmon, one of the most influential couples in our relationship—our mentors, role models and friends. During our visit, they offered to do our premarital counseling and to walk alongside us through our first year of marriage. To this day, we're able to seek wisdom and counsel from the Garmons when we're not sure how to handle a certain aspect of our marriage. What a blessing their guidance has been!
Saying goodbye to Julie days after I proposed was about as easy as a Monday morning... and yes, I did leave on a Monday! I remember running back to the car for one last hug before boarding the plane to Baton Rouge. Moving to a city where I knew basically no one was difficult to say the least, and I had a month to go before I'd be reunited with Julie again. I was a lone ranger walking into a season of new. New faces, new job, new car, new roads, new environment, new culture, new everything. What I didn't know was that I'd also find a new family, the Tuckers, who were God's belated Christmas gift to me.
I started doing journaling that month. It's now a practice I exercise on a daily basis to do necessary "soul work"—processing where I've been, where I am, and where I'm headed. Betsy blessed me with a custom-made journal before I left for Baton Rouge. And by putting pens (very colorful ones) to paper, I was able to work through years of past life as well as receive vision for my future.
God reminded me that He was not in the wind, earthquake or fire... but that He was in the whisper. He called me to an unexplored depth of intimacy and catapulted me into a season of introspection. That month of my life was so intense that I thought I wasn't strong enough to finish it. I was correct—I wasn't strong enough, but He who is in me was. The Apostle Paul encourages us to boast about suffering and trials rather than luxuries and accomplishments.
I was put to the test, and internally, suffered a great deal.
By the time Julie arrived in Baton Rouge, I was a wreck, and I didn't know how to communicate my feelings in a healthy manner. Instead, they oozed out when I wish they hadn't. I struggled to be consistent. But I began to learn how to better ride my roller coaster of emotions, and even now, I sometimes get sick from all the ups and downs. Shedding the false parts of myself and stepping into my true identity were big parts of my three months in Baton Rouge.
The highlight of February: the day of love. It was our first Valentine's Day as a couple, and hey, we were actually together! We went on our very first solo date on February 13th, and on the 14th, I cooked a meal... for the first time ever. Sushi starters, seared tuna steaks, sautéed tomatoes, baked sweet potatoes, a bottle of Malbec. It was a great success. I ran her a bubble bath before dinner, then proceeded to light 65 candles throughout the house. That evening, we ate ice cream while watching her favorite movie, Eat, Pray, Love, and in that moment, I wished time would just stop.
Our time together passed faster than we'd hoped, and the next thing I knew, we were headed back to the airport. This time, I was dropping her off.
Goodbyes are never easy, even when you know you'll be back together soon. I imagine that at the age of 40, 60, or even 80, it'll hurt just as bad (or worse) to say goodbye to the woman I love. I suppose that lovesick kind of pain is a part of life, and those who get to experience it should count themselves lucky.
To read our full story, please visit our Love Story page.