On July 4, 2010 I met Eric Nelson.

Really, we met during the Spring of 2009 in our general chemistry lab section, but the timing wasn’t right yet. Ask either one of us and we’ll tell you we definitely noticed each other (he’ll call me mean, I’ll say I enjoyed challenging him). Either way, it wasn’t our time yet and we both continued on with life.

July 4th of last year was a Sunday. I was not feeling great about my decision to go to Hope by myself. This was a summer of “independence.” My family was all back in Fargo, ND and I was braving the city on my own. I followed my small group leaders, Jordan and Emily, into the parking lot and felt a little less alone. When they didn’t immediately go sit in the sanctuary I decided to be bold and sit near a cute guy I had seen walk in ahead of us. That way when the awkward get-to-know-your-neighbor time came, I could maybe talk to him. [Can I just say, the thoughts that go through my head are hilarious.] That time of the service came, and since no one had sat next to me in my pew (a Wobbema curse I think), I turned around to find Eric where this other guy had been previously sitting. We both recognized each other immediately and began discussing the question about whether or not we’d be watching fireworks. I was going to hang out with my chemistry fraternity friends; he was going to read about optics.

It was love at first geek-out. [Well, for me it was…himmm not so much]

I was at a point in my faith where I was questioning God a lot. I don’t think I have ever actually questioned His existence, but I have often wondered if normal people like me are actually capable of living for Him completely. During this summer on my own, I had discovered something: the road between the old self and new self is actually one big energy curve. [All analogies break down but bear with me]. The old self is the reactant. We meet Jesus and are transformed to our new selves…one that is “being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (Colossians 3:10). As we journey through life we are running towards the Creator. Desiring to be made more and more like Him. But perfection is impossible by human power. We saw it in Genesis 3…and every chapter following. By human effort, the activation energy required to reach “new self” is insurmountable. The secret I discovered was that there exists a catalyst that lowers the activation energy. He is the Holy Spirit. I made the mistake of thinking worldly things could propel me over the transition state…that after suffering so much, release from that could make me “be perfect.” That just wasn’t true.

So I was discovering all of this around the time I met this boy who felt oddly significant. It wasn’t until August that we began to spend any time together (I’ll admit it, I found him on facebook…but HE initiated hanging out! Even began with how unique my last name is…). I didn’t know what friendship like this was supposed to look like. But I knew that I was working on giving Jesus my entire heart and was going to have to guard myself (luckily, Eric was in a VERY similar place). When we spent time together, we talked about Jesus. The Lord used this intense, sometimes abrasive, man to show me that walking with Him was going to require a lot of work, a lot of death to self and stepping outside of the comfort zone I had developed where my motto was something like “as long as I can still drink coffee” (I’m sure that story will come out later). SPOILER ALERT: coffee is never just coffee.

Men, leading your woman to the throne of Christ is THE most attractive thing you can ever do. The way Eric chose to get to know my heart and mind was by revealing his own. And granting grace where my pride and fear to be known held me back.

Marriage is designed to model Christ and the Church. One year ago, I was very far from this concept. In six weeks, my name will change and the reality will set in. Currently, Eric is spending four more weeks in the Middle East. And I get the opportunity to prepare my heart, with just Jesus and I, to become a wife as designed and laid out in His word.

So. As I prepare to become a Nelson, I want you to know the collision that is my heart and my head. Because this world likes to create lies. But Jesus enjoys destroying them.