In February 2007, I noticed a slender, contemplative young man smiling in the corner of our professor's home. I knew him to be studious and deeply devoted to God, but it was when I saw him smile that wintry evening that something in me shifted. I began to pray for God's guidance, and we started a friendship shortly thereafter.
But I approached our blossoming friendship with much trepidation. Craig was from a stable, committed Christian family, while I had patched my faith together in the storm of an abusive childhood and adolescence, and was only beginning to heal from those experiences; not to mention the scars from my own sexual sins. I couldn't imagine that someone so pure and committed to Christ could see any beauty in my devastated soul.
But God works despite our fears and scars, and Craig and I grew closer. By the time our spring semester was over, I was certain that I wanted to marry him, but he had not confessed that same desire. We hugged goodbye, and he headed to Brazil to determine if God wanted him to serve there long-term.
For two months we corresponded via email, instant messaging, and letters. I felt like I was about to burst from concealing my growing interest in him! But I was also terrified that my abuse rendered me impure, and therefore inadequate for him. Not wanting him to be surprised by anything, I shared details of my past that I thought were fit for a friend to know, and despite my worry, tried to rest in God's sovereignty.
At the end of his time in Brazil, Craig headed to his family in Virginia and we were able to talk on the phone. He hinted that he'd come for a visit, but I wasn't sure when. On the fourth of July he surprised me at work, and on my break we headed out together to talk.
At a park we confessed our mutual affection, and shared that we thought dating/courtship was for the purpose of marriage and as soon as we determined God did not want us to marry, we would break it off. I was elated! The following day he read me a sweet poem, and handed me a present that he got in Brazil. I opened the package and saw a beautiful wooden box and thanked him.
Craig went on, "In Brazil, this missionary teaches young men skills and trades. One of them is taking old pieces of wood and frames and making jewelry boxes. What someone considered trash is now a box for someone's treasure. You should open it; there's something beautiful inside."
Expecting a piece of jewelry, I opened the box and saw each side lined with mirrors. Craig put his arms about me, "See? Now every time you look in there you'll see something beautiful. What other people treated carelessly, or abused, is actually a treasure; and I'm blessed to know that you're willing to be mine." I cried and returned his hug. One who had not been beloved, who had her purity sacrificed on the altar of perversion, was given an object lesson in Christ's love through a young man.
We married in May, 2008, and through our relationship God has taught me much concerning restoration. My fears and impurities were replaced with truth and purity; my ambition to prove myself was replaced with the desire to serve this man and our future children wholeheartedly. My tattered, stone heart was replaced with a heart of flesh. I am by no means perfect and complete, for I still struggle daily; but my husband's tender love reminds me that I am Christ's masterpiece in progress, and that I can stand on His sacrifice and love when my soul falters under the weight of the past.
Columbia, South Carolina, USA