Bear with me as I type this with one hand. My non-dominant hand.
This last weekend, my boyfriend and I spent the weekend down in Portland, OR, a rare weekend with just the two of us. It was reminiscent of last March when we spent the weekend at Cape Disappointment State Park in a yurt and exploring the coast. We were supposed to go backpacking both times but in March he had just torn his meniscus while participating in SAR and I just dislocated and broke my shoulder while backpacking two weeks ago. Both weekends were consolation prizes of sorts, I guess. Trying to make the best of the change in plans and just enjoying our time together but still somewhat disappointed it wasn’t quite what the original plans had promised.
I love Portland, especially for the FOOD. Funky food carts, farmer’s markets and niche eateries, there is always a new treat to try. Add Powell’s crowded warehouse of a bookstore (which may have been a mistake with a broken shoulder) and a handmade bike show, we had a great time in the city of bridges, even if just a bit gluttonous.
One of my favorite finds at the bookstore was the devotional, My Utmost For His Highest, in a worn faded purple leather cover. On the drive down, we had been talking about wanting to do a devotional together as a way of having something meaningful to share each day on the phone. We did find a fun one for dating couples but my bf reads this book often and I liked the idea of sharing that with him so I picked up my own copy, as well.
Since our original plans had involved staying in a tent for the weekend (which fit our budget), my bf opted for taking advantage of an Airbnb instead of a hotel in town. While at dinner at my favorite place, Cultured Caveman, the couple whose home we were staying at messaged to ask when we would arrive because they were headed to church. When we said we were a ways out, they said they would simply leave the door open for us.
When we pulled up to the home it wasn’t quite clear where to park or which door to enter, so we sat in the car a bit and debated what to do. It was just a bit awkward, I’ll admit, walking into a stranger’s home like this. Or maybe I should say my bf got frustrated and I tried to gauge from the Airbnb ad where to go and which room was ours. He was going on about his stupid idea of doing Airbnb, staying in the home of some strangers instead of paying more for a hotel and I was reminding him that I loved this kind of hostel thing (even if it didn’t totally lend itself to a “weekend away”). I probably don’t have to say that it put a bit of a damper on the fun we had had that day. Fun we desperately needed.
You see, we had our first couple’s counseling appointment scheduled for the upcoming Tuesday and it was out there beyond this weekend like a mother-in-law coming to stay for a visit. Struggling with my bf’s anxiety over getting married for some time now, this is our attempt at a step forward. You know anyone else who has a date set but no ring? Yeah, me either. It’s been a weight we’ve been carrying and it can turn any sunny situation into a rainy day. And things like the fact the hospital wouldn’t let him talk to me because he wasn’t family when I was there a few weeks ago are only salt in the wound that we didn’t marry last spring as planned.
We did eventually let ourselves in and found our room, our hosts showed up awhile later and introduced themselves and their home and we settled in for a quiet night of somber devotion and a promise to make the best of the next day. August 12th from Chambers’ book turned out to be apropro (in my mind, anyway): Matthew 8:26. Why are you so fearful, oh you of little faith?
We awoke the next morning to the smell of coffee and joined the couple in the kitchen for breakfast. They were gracious and talked of their life, mostly of their mission work in Papua New Guinea. I was bouyed by this, my bf and I have talked about what our future ministry together might be beyond the work we do now in a community kitchen.
Sitting there at the kitchen table, I glanced out the sliding glass door and could see that we may have interrupted them as we got up this morning as there were two opened books turned down on the patio table and some pads of paper and pens. On closer inspection I could see the books were identical devotionals: My Utmost For His Highest was written on the covers of both.
There have been many times I have given our relationship over to God and many times I have not been sure that I have the strength to make it through my bf’s battles with anxiety. But I can tell you in that moment, sitting at that table with that couple in what really was a random turn of circumstance, my heart was filled with peace and I thanked God for whatever may come next.
Just like this weekend, our relationship has turned out to not be quite what the original plans had promised. But I have to hold onto hope that what God has in store will turn out to be so much better.