There is no doubt in my mind that Matt and I were meant to be. However, as I’ve retold this story, it struck me more than ever before how important the other players in the story were. I need to acknowledge their goodness and influence.
- First, I’d link to thank you– my readers/blog friends– who, by your interest and enthusiasm, reminded me how remarkable our story really is and made me enjoy even more the retelling of it.
- As strange as it may seem, I need to thank KK. He and I were perfect together “on paper,” but he recognized that something was missing– something that couldn’t be identified because it had never been felt. Without that experience, I may not have given Matt the chance he deserved because, on paper, he wasn’t at all what I thought I was looking for. He was a convert, from a small town and a broken home who loved to ride motorcycles and shoot stuff and had practically never left the state of Utah except for his mission. Matt likes to say that if my dad had known him in high school, he would have rather had me marry Ozzy Osborne because at least he was financially stable. But something– the acknowledging and encouraging hand of God (through His Holy Spirit)– was there when we dated, and that made everything more than enough. It made it right. I will forever be grateful to KK for knowing what I didn’t, and for teaching me that a “list of requirements” for a future spouse is only secondary to God’s blessing and will.
- I so appreciate my mother’s role in all of this. As I look back through my story from beginning to end, I am amazed by how spot-on all of her counsel and encouragement was. The advice she gave me when KK broke up with me literally became prophecy fulfilled as the Matt story unfolded. She was clearly in touch with the Spirit and had a deeper understanding of God’s plan for me than I myself had.
- I’m thankful that my dad was as supportive as he was when, truly, this all happened so fast and would have been so easy to doubt. When Matt asked him for his permission to marry me, my dad said, “You know Matt, we hardly know you at all, but we trust Stephanie.” (He also said that if Matt ever abused me in any shape or form, he would pursue the full course of justice both within and outside of the Church, but that’s another story.)
- How can I not be grateful to Sarah? She was a dear friend who for many years supported me through turbulent dating and unsurpassed drama. She had cried with me and been sincerely happy for me, even when it hurt. While Matt and I were dating, he encouraged a mutual friend of ours to ask Sarah out on a date. He eventually did, and they were married the next Spring. They now have two beautiful daughters. I love how much he cares for her and treats her kindly. We still stay in touch and see each other whenever our travels allow it. I’ve probably never told her how much her friendship influenced me during those critical decision-making years of my life, and I should. I will.
- And thanks to my children, who systematically broke me down from the glamorous girl of my dating days to the haggard woman of my profile picture in ten short years, and who have convinced me that I love and need Matt even more now than I did then.
- Finally, to Matt. (Let’s see if he reads this.) Thanks for having the courage to ask me out and the courage to stick around when things got rocky. Thank you for loving me almost as much as God does, and for making these ten years as wonderful as I imagined they’d be when we dated.
From my journal, April 24, 1999, written on the plane on my way to Spain:
“Matt always loves me. He is thoughtful and patient. I have been on an emotional roller coaster these past couple months, and he has held my hand, and listened to me cry, and offered me support, and told me how wonderful and beautiful I am even when I didn’t believe it was true. I am amazed that God could ever offer me someone who is willing to love me so much. I don’t think I’ve ever given enough love in my life to deserve this kind of love in return. He quietly supports me in everything I do. It’s amazing to me— truly a miracle. . . . He loves so unconditionally that it almost surprises me. It does surprise me; it almost frightens me that I may not be worthy of it. That, in itself, makes me love him more because I realize that, without asking, he makes me want to be so much better. I’m so, so lucky.”
(Deep breath. Big sigh.) Thanks again, readers. I feel like we’ve all just hung out at a big slumber party and we shared our best stories and gasped and sighed and smiled together. Thanks for “listening.” Just in case I decide to turn it into a book someday, I’d love to hear your suggestions for a title. What should I call our Love Story? Someday when I’m a world-famous author, I’ll credit you in the acknowledgments.