Pat and I met on the Hinge Dating App. I was working at Charlotte Football at the time, and he was a college coach at a school about 40 minutes outside of Charlotte. When I saw him for the first time at Hickory Tavern on our first date, I had no idea how much he would mean to me. I had no idea how deeply he would change my life for the better. I had no idea that our relationship would highlight some of my flaws in the healthiest way possible – and make me want to work on them daily to be better for us both. It is amazing the power that one person can have on your life.
As I sit and reflect on all that this year has taught me, I thought about the biggest four lessons I am grateful to have learned.
- Be thankful for the rain.
Not every day is a walk in the park. Some days are really hard. But no matter how hard the day is, whether it’s about something we are dealing with in our relationship or an external situation, I have learned to be grateful for the rain. To know that in order for our garden to grow, the flowers need as much water as they can get. I used to be so quick to think God was out to get me when he brought storms in my life. Now, I look at storms and I remember that before I start complaining I ought to be grateful that God loves me enough to give me the chance to continue to grow and evolve. Complaining about a storm does nothing but cause me to miss the beauty of it. Pat is really good about being intentional in what he decides to give his energy to and the perspective he is going to choose when life is hard – and honestly it is one of the most important lessons I have learned in dating him.
- I will forever be thankful for grace and patience.
Grace and patience – I could write a dissertation on the impact they have had in our relationship. Pat and I are two different people – raised by two different people, in two different environments. Inevitably we don’t always see things the same way. And grace and patience are more than just giving someone the space they need to grow through what they struggle with. It’s being at peace knowing that the growth won’t be completed overnight. Or the night after that. Or weeks after that. But even in the thick of the growth journey, it’s choosing to love that person on their journey because God loves me on mine. Patience is always something I have had a hard time with. I want to know the answer before I even ask the question. I want to see the results of hard work 30 minutes later (kidding, I promise). But this past year has taught me knowing and seeing the answer when I want takes away the validity of the statement when I say “I will trust in God even when I can’t see.” That, is where grace and patience fill the waiting period and have shown me that when they are applied they make even the longest waiting periods feel purposeful. I can’t expect Pat to show me endless grace and patience if I was not going to do the same myself.
- Be okay with being wrong.
I am not always right. He is not always right. And if either of us are too focused on making our point heard and not conquering the situation together, we both will lose every time. There will be no winner. I had to realize no matter how strongly I felt about something, that if it was causing me to drift onto a separate island from Pat then I was going to do more harm than good. There is strength in being able to admit when you are wrong – if I thought I was right all the time, I would never be able to grow with Pat in those moments. In fact, the moments that we were wrong taught us more than being right ever did.
- “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (New International Version, 1 Corinthian 13:13).
Over this past year that has become one of my favorite bible verses. Faith is what allows me daily to trust in God, to fill my head with so much Godly word that there’s room for no other false thoughts. It’s what Pat and I strive to build our foundation on, and the reason our devotion together is one of my favorite parts about our weekly routine. Hope is what allows me to be excited about the future. It’s taking the deepest desires for what I want my life to become and filling me with a level of excitement that sometimes causes me to sit and daydream for hours. However, hope without action is just that – hope. Hope is what gives me the discipline and motivation to do what I need to do now so hope can turn into a reality.
But then there was love. What a powerful message to know that even though faith and hope are essential to this life, there is something deeply transforming about love.
On our hardest days, when nothing seems to be clicking it is my love for him and our relationship that reminds me of my faith in God and hope for the future. It’s in those moments when I just look at Pat and feel so deeply thankful for my faith and the way that God knew what I needed in my life long before I even could verbalize it myself. What a reminder it is that his timing in my life is far better than my most concrete plans. As if God had not given me countless examples before, sometimes when I catch myself fearing the future or becoming anxious I will think about the fact that God brought someone as incredible as Pat into my life. He alone serves as a daily reminder that I ought to not ever doubt God, who has bestowed on me one of my biggest blessings.
I look at Pat and feel hope. I get excited by the way we push each other to grow, the way we can make each other smile when we both are trying to stand our ground and be mad, the way we can be doing an ordinary thing and it still brings joy to my day, the way we can talk about anything under the sun and be the most loving critic, biggest cheerleader, and safest place to run when life is hard. Even on days when life tries to push us both down in more ways than one, it is because of how love is displayed that my hope remains solid for what is yet to come.
I’m no relationship expert, no guru, there are a lot of you that have been married and dating way longer than I have, and my relationship will never be perfect. And what a blessing that it isn’t perfect. I am so grateful to be with someone who makes this imperfect life worthwhile. Who reminds me that there is something to ALWAYS be grateful for, no matter how dark the day. Who has shown me daily that true love changes your life in a way I didn’t know existed. I could have NEVER imagined that when Pat walked into Hickory Tavern, he would be the best thing that ever happened to me.
So thankful for you Pat – and here’s to a million more milestones.
With love always,