- Pronunciation: \ˈprä-və-dən(t)s, –ˌden(t)s\
- Function: noun
- Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin providentia, from provident-, providens
- Date: 14th century
1 a often capitalized : divine guidance or care b capitalized : God conceived as the power sustaining and guiding human destiny
Sarah’s clarity and blessing was more proof of Providence in our ever-intensifying relationship. Matt and I began to spend every free moment together that we could. I continued to be amazed by his patience and kindness. He worked nights so we tried to meet most days for lunch. One day, when he picked me up at my office on campus, we ran into KK as we left the building; I had no regrets about the company I was with.
I could not believe that for the first time in my whole life, I might actually have a date on Valentine’s Day— and with a boy I was fast falling in love with. My roommates and I went out to dinner the night before, and when I came home, it looked like the Valentine Fairy had blown up in my room. Normally, I would find such a display of affection a little annoying if not downright nauseating. But everything about this was different. It was different because I felt like I almost didn’t even deserve him, and to see him give so much attention to me felt unreal. There were a dozen red, long-stemmed roses, a bouquet of balloons, a teddy bear, a box of chocolates, Martinelli’s and goblets, potpourri, a mug and Hershey’s kisses, a dozen velvet roses, a pink rose and two white carnations, and a card that began like this: “I just wanted to show these flowers how beautiful you are,” and ended like this: “This is one step into the darkness that’s not hard to take.” The middle part would melt your guts out. Trust me.
Our Valentine’s Day was magical. We spent most of the day studying and just spending time together, and then I went home to get ready for our date. When he showed up to get me, my roommate Lisa took about two dozen pictures of us posing in sundry locations around our apartment like we were going to our first prom or something (see photo above). We played along, but couldn’t wait to be alone and talk. I quote from my journal:
“The night was so good. We played the question game in the car, where we could ask each other any questions and had to answer them honestly. We talked about our first loves, embarrassing moments, life stories, some dreams and hopes, the future . . . everything. I felt so close to him and, like always, at peace with him.”
Matt’s journal account of the same event says: “The steak was good.” Okay, there was some mushy stuff, too, but I just wanted to clarify that not everything about this story is all fairy tale.
We took road trips to meet my grandparents and some of his family. We mostly relished the time together in the car to talk and talk and talk. The more we spent time together, the more I felt deeply that I loved him. We had talked marriage, talked future, talked feelings— all without fear. We each felt like it was a privilege, an unworthy honor to be with the other. We felt blessed. It wasn’t all roses and Martinelli’s. I wanted to die of humiliation the day he took me to Snowbird and tried to teach me how to ski. It took me three hours to complete one run. On my butt. And he had to spend several hours laying on his living room floor staring at the ceiling mumbling to himself that he could never make me happy after he had accompanied me to one of my favorite pastimes– Latin dancing. We talked through these things. It was okay that I would never be the svelte ski-bunny that I was afraid he’d dreamed of all his life, and he would never be the hip-swiveling Don Juan that he feared was my greatest desire. We convinced each other that we loved each other anyway. And we did.
I’ve only briefly mentioned my upcoming departure. We didn’t like to bring it up then, either, but I had accepted a job as the Assistant Director for BYU’s Study Abroad program in Madrid and I was scheduled to leave at the end of April. I would be gone for approximately eight weeks, which happened to be as long as we had dated. We shopped for engagement rings a little, but at my father’s encouragement, we decided to wait until my return to do anything official. In those previous short months, I finished and defended my thesis, completed authoring two Independent Study courses, deferred or turned down the five schools where I had been accepted into the Ph.D programs, graduated with my masters degree, and began interviewing for some local jobs. None of this was as huge or risky as it sounds; I had never been so sure of things in my life. I felt like my priorities were right where they should be, and I could feel the blessings raining down.
I had sensed the hand of God so powerfully in all of the circumstances of our dating, but I had never really asked Him directly if I was supposed to marry Matt. One day my parents happened to be in town (read: my parents frantically bought plane tickets to fly out and meet this lunatic who had caught up their daughter in a whirlwind romance and changed all her life’s plans in the blink of an eye), and we all sat around the table together at Matt’s house, where they asked us every question they could think of. We told them the whole story about how we had arrived at where we were in our relationship. Matt made some comment like, “so we figured as long as we were talking about marriage, we might as well get to know each other.” My mom laughed and laughed. I don’t remember my dad laughing.
When I was eighteen years old, I had received a patriarchal blessing that promised me I would know when I had met my future husband. I expressed to my mom how scary that was to me because how am I supposed to know if he’s him or not? My mom said, “You’ll know.” I asked, “How?!” She replied, “You’ll just know.”
Then she asked me, “How do you know the Gospel is true?”
“I just know.”
“But how do you know?”
I shrugged and immediately said, “Series of events.”
A little light switch flipped in my brain, and I literally saw an image in my mind like a wormhole that my thoughts traveled through, and it carried me back to several weeks ago when Matt and I sat in his room that very first day when I went over to study at his house. We were discussing the miraculous circumstances that seemed to push us together, and in our conversation we had used those exact same words: “Series of events.”
And that’s how I knew I knew. The knowledge became as sure to me as my own testimony of the gospel. And there was no turning back.
When I returned from Spain, he proposed within a few days, surprising me with a ring I had found in Madrid and pointed out to my brother who was visiting. We spent a few more short weeks preparing for a wedding, and we were sealed for time and eternity in the Provo Temple on August 14, 1999. I almost said it was the best choice I ever made, but really, it was the best choice that God ever made for me.
The end (of the beginning).
Coming next…. Chapter 7 (last one): The Epilogue and Acknowledgments