In 2006, I became friends with Jacob McKinney and my stomach instantly filled with butterflies. I developed a big crush on him. Like daydreaming about him and hoping he would ask me out. There was a catch though if he ever did ask me out, he would need to ask my youth pastor for permission. You're probably thinking... "Whaaaaattt?!?"

Now before you start thinking, “Does this girl go to some backwards church of some kind?” The reason is - my dad was not around at the time or involved in my life at all and my youth pastor was like a big brother. One day before I started high school, he said I couldn’t date anyone without his permission. I agreed but he had to agree to walk me down the aisle when I got married. We shook on it so it was like super official.

Back to Jacob; we had somewhat of the same group of friends and talked quite a bit. Then one day a couple of weeks before summer break, it finally happened. We were talking in the hallway and he asked me out! Y’all! I about lost it and in my head I was doing jumps and squealing but kept it cool on the outside and was like “yeah that would be cool”. Later told him he needed to ask Jason (my youth pastor) - he did thankfully and Jason said yes (no at first but as a joke - not funny)

We dated for two years and were like so in love, but then we broke up. It didn’t end badly, but he had started college and I was still in high school and that was really hard. We eventually lost contact and had moved on.

My heart stayed stuck on him though. I dated other guys but would bolt when things got too serious and in my heart it never felt right. I knew that he had moved on and after some hard nights of my heart pouring out to God, I finally “let go and let God” and knew that no matter what my future looked like, God was in me and in the situation. My faith grew in God and I had hope for the unknown.

Faith and hope are words we sometimes use lightly and toss around, but we need to remind ourselves the root of our faith and hope and the One we can always trust in.

After many years of no contact with Jacob, somehow our lives slowly began to intertwine again. We started grabbing coffee at sunrise most mornings at a favorite coffee shop in town. Coffee dates turned into any time we could be together, we were. Within a few months, we were engaged and then two months later married; and yes Jason (the former youth pastor of mine) walked me down the aisle and I couldn’t have asked for a better man to walk by me at that moment (we both cried).

My faith in God was always there but true faith happens when no matter good or bad things come our way, do we trust the One who holds it all? Do we believe He is who He says He is? For me, it was a heart/love issue. Was I a child of God even when I couldn’t figure out dating and singleness? Yes. Was I a child a God when I laid broken before Him questioning who I was? Yes. Was I a child of God first and foremost walking down the aisle towards Jacob? Yes!

Faith, hope, and love are braided together so beautifully

and when we learn to lay those pieces together,

we can live confidently as a child of God.

Shawnda was born in Tennessee and raised with a love for Jesus and the river! On the Enneagram scale, she is a 7 through and through. She loves a good book and her favorite book is, "My Stubborn Heart," by Becky Wade. Shawnda co~runs Breathe + Maintain. She and her husband along with their children live in Rocket City, Alabama.