In 1995, I was a starry-eyed college senior, ridiculously in love with this cute boy and his big brown eyes. He wanted to be a doctor. He gave me a ring. And together, we planned our future. We had no (insert multiple swear words) idea what we were getting ourselves into. Which is definitely a good thing.
Deciding where he would go to medical school was our first major joint decision. He applied and interviewed at multiple schools, then narrowed the list to two: UT-Southwestern in Dallas, and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
Have English degree, will travel—I had zero career opportunities lined up. We figured I would find something in either city. I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up, only that I loved words.
(Not much has changed in nineteen years.)
So we talked about it. And talked. And talked. And talked. For weeks, I think. And we prayed and prayed and prayed, then talked some more. We weighed all the pros and cons. We begged God for a lightning bolt to set a bush on fire and unleash an audible voice, telling us what to do. Obviously, that didn’t happen.
It came down to this:
- all our friends were moving there
- our families were close to the area
- comfortable and familiar
- the armpit of the entire country
- don’t know anyone
No brainer, right?
I spent part of my childhood in Houston, and I was well into adulthood before I forgave my parents for moving us to Dallas. I stewed in fury for the latter part of my adolescence because we were no longer living in Houston. I was an angry, angry teenager. The irony of not wanting to return to Houston as an adult does not escape me. Life is weird like that.
But BCM had a great school, and at the time, it was structured a little differently, which Michael liked. We continued to talk and pray.
I remember tears. Lots of tears.
As we prayed together, we always said the same thing. God, show us where you want us to be. We only want what you want. We only want to be where you want us to be.
And also, pleasepleasepleaseplease tell us.
We kept waiting for the lighting, the burning bush, the audible voice. We’d even settle for a whisper. We just wanted to know.
After weeks of this, and a looming deadline, and silence, we sat on the couch in my apartment and looked at each other. We knew.
We were moving to Houston.
And I cried. Again.
As much as we prayed and begged God for a clear answer, we never got it. But what he gave us was a gift far better, and one we have carried with us and returned to throughout our marriage.
It doesn’t matter where you go. I will bless either decision. What matters is the process. What matters is how you snuggle up close to me and ask for my wisdom. That’s what I want for you. And because of that, I am giving you the freedom to choose. Go ahead. I am with you. I am for you. You are mine.
In hindsight, Houston was absolutely the best place for us to be. Yes, sometimes we couldn’t see the skyline because of the smog. Yes, the traffic was horrendous. Yes, walking from the front door to the car in July left us drenched in sweat and stink.
We formed priceless friendships with people who challenged us and walked with us and shaped us, many of whom are still precious friends. We would not be the same people today without them.
All of these babies are now in high school. Seriously.
We loved our church—not only the community, but also the blend of liturgy and art, the embracing of silence, the learning of meditative Taize prayer and worship.
We loved the city. Houston’s food and culture and diversity rivals New York City. (Almost. Even though we were too broke to experience most of it.)
We needed to be away from our parents and our friends. We did. We needed to be in a place where we only had each other, where we were forced to depend on each other and begin our marriage without a safety net.
Sitting on the couch in my college apartment, we couldn’t have known any of this.
But it was absolutely the best choice.
Could we have spent the first four to five years of marriage in Dallas and still have been blessed? Undoubtedly. But we didn’t, and neither of us would want to go back in time and change a single thing.
(Except perhaps the eyewear. And the clothing choices.)
Nineteen years and countless decisions later, we still return to that experience, and now we are teaching our children. Who you are is more important than what you do. When we have reached other proverbial forks in the road, sometimes our next steps are clearly lit. Most times they are not. Regardless, we know that our hearts and our love for God are the priority.
In the seeking, we find wisdom.
In the trusting, we find peace.
In the silence, we find him.
The two roads diverge in a yellow wood, and God will go with us down either.
And that makes all the difference.