"When you know, you know."
I'd heard it so many times before, but I never understood it until the knowing actually happened.
"What do you mean, I'll just know? Will something change physically? Will I hear an audible voice? Will I suddenly mature out of loving animated movies, calling my mom three times a day, feeling awkward while alone in public, and avoiding laundry for as long as possible, and instantly be able to visualize myself throwing dinner parties, doing expert wine and cheese pairings, actually making the bed, and birthing 2.5 children?"
For me, mostly, the answer to all of the above proved to be a resounding no.
No, I'm still not over Pixar films. No, I haven't cut back on the number of times I call my mom. (In fact, serious concerns such as "How do I wash a pot holder?" and "Can you get a bacterial disease from putting frozen chicken in the crockpot?" have probably increased the number of times I tell Siri to "call Momma.") I still wait to do laundry until I'm down to my two least favorite pairs of underwear (TMI, sorry), still haven't thrown a classy dinner party with jazz music playing in the background, and still am not in a life stage that involves carting around a tiny human on my hip.
Weirdly, though, something did happen physically during the I-know-that-I-know moment. And because it frustrated me to no end that not a soul out there could describe how the whole thing was supposed to happen and/or feel, I thought I'd share my own experience for your consideration.
photo: Suggs Photography
How I Knew My Husband Was "The One"
First, a little backstory. My parents have been friends with Taylor's parents since way back when—like, our parents were in the same newlywed Sunday School class when both of our families were living in Texas (aw!) and Taylor and I also spent some playdate time together as wee ones (double aw!).
me staring at Taylor, age 2 | he's had my attention since way back when
After traveling to and living in multiple countries for different work opportunities during Taylor's early childhood, his family made a permanent move to North Carolina when he was in the fourth grade. Despite the distance, our families stayed in touch and would reconnect every now and again. (I have distinct memories of being blown away by Taylor's hotness during a visit he and his friend made to Texas at age 15...please see below. HAHA!)
Taylor, upper left | me, lower left
Fast forward a few years. In 2012 our families decided to take a short joint vacation in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. "Taylor is your age and might bring a friend. It will be fun," my dad said, doing his best to convince me to get on board with the plan. (I had been begging to go to Hawaii and was disappointed that instead we were going to a location that, in my mind, was associated with golf, old people, and nothing else. #CueTheEyeRolls)
So we end up going, and suddenly it's day three of our vacation. Taylor and I are sitting on the beach talking. Adventure, travel, dreams, plans. But mostly, Jesus. No matter which topic we landed on, everything was Him, because He was the lens. In my own life, I've seen again and again that there's no adventure better than the one He's planned. No travel experience that can bring the kind of ultimate fulfillment, joy, and satisfaction He does. No dreams that have life without Him, no plans that have merit without His orchestration. When I realized that Taylor saw life like this—no separation between his faith and his day-to-day, his decisions informed and his perceptions shaped by Christ—it's like a spear went through my soul.
There is not really an elegant way to say that, because it was not gentle. It was sudden, sharp, and intense—like a valve or a switch flipped on that enabled me to recognize and know and see Taylor in a deeper way than what our surface conversation could have enabled me to. The whole thing literally took my breath away. I remember actually gasping at one point because I was so flooded by the overwhelming desire to lay my head on his shoulder, see a thousand sunsets sitting right beside him, gain access to the emotional space he kept so well-guarded, pour salve into wounds he carried that had not healed, speak truth over any lies that held his mind captive, and protect and nurture his dreams until all of them came true. Which is SO not appropriate to admit on day three of a family vacation when you know, logically, that you're both about to go your separate ways.
But I knew. In fact, I knew it so hard that I wrote it in my prayer journal and irrevocably claimed it as mine. Taylor was my husband. I didn't know when a wedding would happen, or what our relationship would look like, but I trusted. Not the emotion or the fantasy or the "feeling" of it. Not a kiss. Not a spoken promise. I trusted, in the most unabashed way I have ever experienced, the heart of my Heavenly Father. The Giver of the kind of good gifts that are "immeasurably more than all [I] can ask or imagine." (Eph. 3:20-21) Knowing that Taylor was going to be my husband also helped me know on a more intimate level that the Lord was real, and active, and pursuing my heart. That He was close, and near, and present.
I wept that night as I wrote in my journal not because of the overwhelming love I felt for Taylor—that hadn't fully formed yet—but because I felt to my core that Taylor had been given eyes to see me like my Heavenly Father does, and vice versa. I didn't have to pretend during our conversations on the beach. I didn't have to act. I didn't have to explain, or phrase things just the right way, or manipulate, or control, or present myself in the best possible light, or gloss over the ugly parts of myself or my story. I could be accepted and known and cared for just as I was…and I could rejoice in the new capacity growing within me to "love as [my Savior] first loved [me]." (1 John 4:19)
Keep in mind that nothing even close to romance, love, or marriage had been said between Taylor and I at this point, y'all! And it didn't need to be for a long time after, either. Because that wasn't fully the point. That wasn't the measure of my knowledge or my assurance. And while I think that "when you know" experiences can look and feel a lot of different ways for a lot of different people, there's one thing I'd love to tell every girl out there in the middle of determining how serious she is about forever:
Understanding that Taylor was going to be my future husband did not increase my infatuation with him. Instead, it caused me to fall deeper in love with my Lord and Savior. I wasn't in awe of Taylor's perfection, blind to his faults, or convinced that he was my other half. Instead, "knowing" that I was going to marry him left me in awe of the perfect love of the King of the Universe and the wholeness I have in Him. I was humbled and brought to my knees. I literally laughed and cried at the same time, which I previously thought only happened in movies. I felt compelled to run into the arms of the Father, rather than into the arms of Taylor.
Praise God, six months later I would learn that Taylor felt the same...and that he had journaled the exact same thing, on the exact same day (July 27, 2012).
We were married on July 27, 2013—4.5 months after Taylor proposed, and exactly one year from the date of those journal entries. And that, friends, is why planning a quick wedding made so much sense to us. In our minds, it was the only appropriate response to the love story that had been written for us. We weren't trying to hang around in engagement limbo for 12+ months in order to plan a party when there was the jackpot prize of a marriage waiting for us...you know what I mean?
When I knew, I knew. And I'm so thankful that Taylor did, too.