Y’all, this has been one of the longest weeks I can remember. It was emotionally exhausting, physically draining, leaving me feeling sad and spent. And to top it all off, Jim and I experienced our first taste of tornados here in Mississippi at 3:30 this morning. I’m sure it’ll be our first of many. Technically, it touched down in Petal, which is about 30ish miles south of us, but it was gradually moving north. Jim and I woke up to our phones beeping with “TORNADO WARNING,” telling us to take cover. About 10 minutes after that, the tornado sirens began sounding. For someone who did not grow up with tornados, they are some of my least favorite types of natural disaster (not that we have a favorite natural disaster… but you know what I mean). They spook me the most, because they’re so unfamiliar to me. After an hour hunkered down in our bathroom, we made our way back out the our bedroom because the coast was clear. To be honest, this entire week has felt like one, giant storm. But I know we’re supposed to find and choose joy, even amidst the icky circumstances. It’s just been hard to choose joy this week. It’s a lot easier to give into self-pity and anger, but just because it’s easier doesn’t mean it’s right. So I’m choosing joy, because God remained faithful through it all, being our safety and refuge through the storms – literally and proverbially.
Instead of focusing on these tornados, I want to transport you back a few years ago on this very day, January 21st. As a little pick-me-up and because we desperately needed something to celebrate this week, Jim reminded me of what today is – it’s somewhat of a special day in our story. We don’t typically celebrate it, but we always smile and reminisce when it rolls around. Today, January 21st, is the day Jim asked me to be his lady. Today marks 5 years we began dating. 5 years! 5 years of pursuing each other, seeking each other, loving each other, traveling together, strengthening one another, praying for each other, caring for each other, arguing with each other, crying together, forgiving each other, learning about each other and sanctifying one another, just to name a few. This year we will celebrate our second wedding anniversary, but I wanted to give you all a glimpse into our story before we became established as Mr. and Mrs. Hurt, to how it all began.
My first weekend of my first semester of my freshman year at Covenant College, I was assigned to work in the bakery for our school’s cafeteria. You can imagine my lack of enthusiasm. My first weekend away at college and I was stuck in the cafeteria baking brownies, cookies and scones (oh hey freshman fifteen!). My supervisor came over and let me know he was sending someone over to help me. In walks a boy with the bluest eyes and kindest smile. He introduced himself as Jim. I’ll always remember those blue eyes. He was funny, pleasant, respectful and kind. We learned we both were from Virginia, grew up at “rival” private Christian schools, and had a decent amount of common interests. Our paths had crossed unbeknownst to us in years prior – we had attended the same sporting events and youth camps in Virginia. We found this out years after dating. It just took us moving 370 miles from home to meet on top of a mountain in Georgia. God has a sense of humor like that. I knew from that first shift we worked together, I was smitten. I just had to wait around for the next 6 months for Jim to notice me.
I remember scheming to give Jim rides back to Virginia for breaks, planning to conveniently run into him in the Great Hall during lunch, casually working out while catching the end of one of his intramural soccer games, cause I’m just smooth like that. It wasn’t until during December finals that Jim finally took notice of me, and asked me to the movies when I came to Lynchburg over Christmas break. Lynchburg, VA is only a hop-skip-and-a-jump from Roanoke, VA. As it turns out, I had family in Lynchburg, so I went to stay with them for a few days, and our movie date happened. I remember coming back to my cousin’s home, thinking to myself “that was awesome, and he’ll probably never ask me out again.” Jim told me months later that as soon as he had dropped me off, he thought to himself “that was awesome, I’m totally seeing her again.” Ha!
We returned to school for our second semester of college, and began hanging out regularly. And then, on a cold, blustery Saturday in late January of 2012, Jim asked me to go on a hike. And on that hike, he took me to a bluff with a beautiful view, because Lookout Mountain had plenty of those. And on that bluff, he sat right next to me, looked at me with those big, blue eyes, and asked me to be his lady. And, being the smart and patient woman that I am, said yes.
And I’ll have you know, on a warm, sunny day in late May of 2014, Jim took me on another hike. And on that hike, he took me to the same bluff with that same beautiful view atop Lookout Mountain. And on that bluff, he got down on one knee, looked at me with those big, blue eyes, and asked me to be his lady… forever. And, being the smart and patient woman that I am, said yes.
In a few years, I probably won’t remember January 21st as the day I experienced my first tornado at 3:30 am, hunkered down in our bathroom here in Mississippi. I won’t forget the experience, but I won’t remember the date. I believe I’ll always remember January 21st with fondness, it marked the beginning for Jim and I. But every day since is another day I’ve known Jim, so I look forward to every new day, because we can continue to pursue each other, seek one another, love each other, travel together, strengthen one another, pray for and with each other, care for one another, argue with each other, cry together, forgive each other, learn about each other and sanctify one another. I’m thankful to be known and loved by you, Jim Hurt!
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” – Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage