I realize it’s romantic and all meeting someone online, falling head over heels in love and whisking away to the other side of the world for weeks in paradise. Our situation has had romance written all over it and whenever we face struggles, it’s been a great reminder that God did not orchestrate this whole elaborate affair without a positive plan in mind.
Still, when I look back at all the things we waded through during our courtship from afar–and here I confess to a picture in my mind of Humphrey Bogart dragging the African Queen through the sludgy, leech-infested, vine-draped water–I’m stunned. It almost feels as if I’m looking back at someone else’s life because I have no idea how we managed to get through it. The obvious answer, at least to us, is that God made it all work in incredible ways by a preconceived plan that we knew nothing about until it actually played out. Thank God we didn’t know ahead of time!
Based on that premise, I find it helpful, encouraging and faith building to replay the events every so often. So this is where I backtrack from the illustrious Christmas proposal and list some of the complications we faced in long distance dating and marriage preparation.
Let’s talk about jobs. Brendan had been a commercial insurance broker for about 25 years when I met him, and he was pretty much over it by then. We both felt like God had something new for him, and we began discussing his interests and dreams: he loves airplanes and flying; he’s always wanted to go back to school to study aeronautical engineering; he has an unending list of ideas for inventions in his head and in scattered notes on paper; his business idea list is almost as long; fitness is important to him…the tricky part was what could he begin building in Australia to then continue in the states? It’s not like with unemployment the way it has been, our country is aching to bring more people here who need work. Not easy.
Then there was my work. The year I met Brendan, my business partner, Carol and I had been writing a business plan to develop transitional housing for destitute women. My traveling interrupted our work, and we suddenly found that all our tremendous business plans began to falter a bit as we traveled and planned two weddings. We maintained some of our work, but most slowly ground to a halt, and we had to rethink what we would do as we each got married.
Children. As I’ve pointed out, I had four grown children and Brendan had three still at home. We longed to become one big blended family, but that meant each of them embracing the other as a sibling. If you have any children or even know of any, I’m sure you’ve witnessed first hand that incomprehensible situation called sibling rivalry! Not only that, but my youngest was just twenty-one and headed back to school for another degree; we would be uprooting Brendan’s oldest at the beginning of adolescence; and Brendan would be made an instant grandfather! Can I also add that parenting and step-parenting are NOT the same thing?
Housing. He owned a home in Australia, and I was part owner of a condo here. The condo wasn’t really suitable for our family, and I owned it with housemates so it wasn’t like I could kick them out and say “I’m getting married and we need the house.” That meant we needed to find a house–while he was in Australia, and decide what to do with two house payments. Should we sell? Not an option for me. Buy? Rent? Not impossibilities normally except that we were on two different continents!
Relationships. I met his friends and family in Australia and hated that he would have to leave them all. I hated that I had to say goodbye to them! They graciously accepted me, and I expected mine in the states would do the same with Brendan. Nonetheless, a challenge did exist as Brendan entered into my world of friends. That meant that my friends would become his, but his friends would all be across the world. I also had ex-husbands for Brendan to deal with and even though contact was limited, any time we celebrated a wedding or birthday of one of the grown kids, Brendan would be thrown into that situation. And of course, there’s navigating in-laws. Enough said.
Visas and Immigration. Oh, don’t even get me started…we’ll have to talk about that in another post!
Actually, all of this reflection brings a sense of satisfaction. It reminds me that we have overcome some truly horrendous obstacles that have shaped our relationship’s foundation of strength. It also serves as proof that life is a process, and while at times it can be overwhelming and seem hopelessly impossible to navigate, one step at a time will take us somewhere. For us, with God leading, that somewhere has been good.