God is very much still active in the world today. To help illustrate that fact, I’d like to share a personal story. It’s a love story. One of the best, in my opinion. Course, I’m biased.
“We can’t do this. It’s not right for either of us.”
So were the words I spoke to a former girlfriend and fiancé. At that point, I had been wrestling and praying about this decision to get married to her or not. We were a little over two months out and I couldn’t bear to go another minute realizing that this was not the path that either of us were called to. Once we discussed it, and after shedding many tears, we both realized that it was the right choice. The Lord was working and had a plan; I just had to make sure I was open to his promptings.
About 6 years ago, as I type, I realized that I loved Liz. I tried to check it. I tried to be objective about it. Alas, it was to no avail. At this time, as I explained above, I was praying a lot. I went to adoration during lunch time at our tiny Newman center and prostrated myself before the Lord. It was so peaceful. I would set an alarm so that I would wake up when lunch was over. I could have spent the entire day there. While I was praying about my situation, I was including how I should be taking these feelings. I was in another relationship for goodness sake! This was not supposed to be happening. But God had different plans. I submitted that God knew better than I did at this point.
Remember, I had just ended my previous relationship and didn’t want to jump into anything too soon. We were just friends. Really. But, God had different plans.
I had known Liz for about 3 years prior to her internship. We’d met when I was a senior and she was a freshman. Part of the reason she was so cool was that she was Catholic and she loved her faith. That alone made her attractive as a person. Luckily, that was only one of the things that made her attractive, in addition to everything else. We got to know each other through the Newman center on campus. For such a small school as Eureka College, to have a Newman center was a miracle in and of itself. We were able to come to know each other as friends first because each one of us was dating other people. There were no expectations. When I graduated, I immediately began work for my alma mater as an admissions counselor. I was able to stay involved with the Newman center as a staff advisor. Again, God was at work. These were formative years for Liz and I and we didn’t even know it at the time.
In late May 2010, I said a temporary goodbye to a good friend and someone who I really respected as a person. This moment was to be the start of a truly amazing (and ongoing) love story. Liz was going to intern at the Kansas City zoo for the summer since she planned on becoming a veterinarian. We promised we would keep in touch. We ended up writing to each other daily. I would always look forward to reading and composing the night’s e-mail. Luckily, we still have them to look back upon.
During the e-mail exchange, I would joke around with her about coming to visit if she made fun of my age just one more time. (We’re only two years apart, by the way.) She did and I planned a visit. Then I went. I said a rosary as I departed and I’m pretty certain that I sang the entire way there. I barely had a voice by the time I got to KC. Of course, at this point, I had realized that if we started dating, this was it. I was going to marry this girl. Finally, I was starting to see His plans.
It rained the first night there and we tossed around a football, splashing as we went around the condos where she was being hosted. I’ll admit (and she will too) that I wanted to kiss her then and there. However, I didn’t want to show my hand just yet. I didn’t want to give my heart to her just yet, even though I was pretty sure she felt the same way. I also didn’t want to lose a friendship if it was not supposed to be the way I wanted it to be.
We had fun during her off days from the zoo and I played a song on my guitar that I had written (for her, she just didn’t know it yet). We sat on a rooftop and watched the sun go down. I still hadn’t put my heart on the line yet. It was coming. God was making it just right.
By the third day, I finally got enough gumption and I said we should go out to my truck and listen to some Frank Sinatra on a mix tape I made. I’m old school like that. During the song “You Make Me Feel So Young” I said a little prayer and grabbed her pinky with my pinky. Then she moved her fingers into mine and we interlocked our hands. It was complete. We were meant to be. You know how I know? The first thing she did after she turned her head was ask, “Did you pray about this?” I laughed and said that I had. I completed a novena and everything. She had as well. Everything finally made sense.
From that point on, as they say, it was history. We started dating that day, still discerning, but this time about our potential marriage. I asked for her hand a little over a year later and we were married the following July. Now we have a beautiful daughter, born just this past January. We couldn’t be more blessed. Yes, yes we can because “The Best Is Yet To Come.”
At every point, God has been directing us and our lives. Through the hard breakups, to the points where we were discerning different paths and then discerning each other, to our marriage, and now in our current situation, God has been with us every step of the way. Sometimes it’s hard for us to come to grip the fact that our God is at work daily. It’s hard to trust some days, but then I look back on everything that has happened in my life and realize how amazing He has been to me. Truly He loves me. Doesn’t He deserve our love back? He wants to be in our lives, if we only let Him and if we are disposing ourselves to receive His messages. The Church is a good help for that. God wants to give you the best; He desires it because He loves us. His power is manifest everyday throughout the world and in our everyday lives. We just have to make sure we take the time to realize and see it.
If anyone is interested in the overly detailed love story of my wife and I, let me know. It’s better than a fairy tale.
Matt Vander Vennet currently works as a research assistant and is pursuing his doctorate in Church History both at The Catholic University of America. He also writes for EpicPew.com. He is married to a beautiful redhead named Liz and is daddy to their newborn daughter! He loves a good brew, good music, the Green Bay Packers, & also plays guitar. Feel free to check out his website below. Matt resides in northeastern Virginia with his family.