The night of April 17, 2019, is forever etched in my memory. I sat next to my fiancé on my pastor's brown couch at one of our premarital counseling sessions. My pastor got us started.
"I know you both have been thinking about a lot from our last session, and I wanted to start by seeing where you are both at," he said.
I said to my fiancé, "I know a lot of questions have come up, and we've seen minor problems, but I was processing a lot this week, and despite our problems, you're it for me. I still want to try. I chose you. I'm still going to choose you. I know we have to work through some things, but I'm in even if we have to postpone the wedding."
Silence hung in the air like thick black smoke. And then my fiancé said, "I've also been thinking about a lot. And I actually wrote down my thoughts because I didn't want to get my words wrong." He pulled a folded piece of notebook paper out of his jeans pocket. At that moment, my stomach plummeted like I was on a roller coaster. My eyes focused on the blue pattern of the carpet. I felt my hand start twirling my ring around my finger. A habit I'd formed since the day he'd given it to me.
As his monologue continued, I kept willing him to get to the end. He finished. I slipped the ring off my finger and said, “Then this belongs to you.”
He took the hollow circle from my fingers. I sat there, stunned. My pastor's wife suggested we get some space. I stood up, numb. I walked to the door with a stone face, but when my hand touched the cold doorknob—I broke.
In an instant, five years of my life were gone, and my heart was shattered into a million pieces. Sitting in my pastor's wife's car, I managed to choke out, "I will never trust or love another man again."
She gently said, "I'll let you think that, but I know that's not true. Want to know how I know that?"
With bitterness on my tongue, I said, "Sure," expecting some prepackaged church answer.
But she said, "One name, David Baker. You have seen your dad love your mom so sacrificially and have seen him love you and your brothers, so I know you'll be able to trust a man again." In the deepest crevice of my mind, I knew she was right, but currently, the ache in my chest was shrieking too loudly to hear the gentle whisper of logic. I couldn't fathom risking this again.
Once my sobs were slightly under control, I called my mom to come and get me because I was in no condition to drive home. About thirty minutes after we got home, I found myself in a puddle on the floor. My mom swooped down and held her adult, broken daughter in her arms. I was in the middle of the family room, curled up on the hardwood floor, asking over and over, "What's wrong with me?" "Why am I not worth staying for?" As my mom's tears mixed with mine, my father attempted to soothe me through the phone. During all this, my dad was out of town on a business trip. I could hear the helplessness in his voice. He couldn't get to me. He couldn't hug me. He couldn't make it better.
But the night's trauma wasn't over. Just a couple hours later, my mom got a phone call.
"This is Henry Mayo Hospital calling. Your son was in a car accident. He's stable, but you need to get here as quickly as possible." We jumped in the car and sped to the hospital. Come to find out, my brother had a compound fracture in his lower left leg where both bones had come out of the skin, and he cracked his sternum.
My brother had slammed into the center divider and spun. He was T-boned and then clipped again. We were told that if he had hit that center divider at a slightly different angle, he would have been dead on impact. The police said he was lucky. I say the Lord wasn't done with him.
In the aftermath of the accident and the broken engagement, I remember reading Romans 8:28, which says, "God works all things together for good for those who are called according to his purposes." As tears jumped from my face, I cried out to God, saying, "God, this is miserable right now, and I can't see how you're going to use it for good, but I trust you, Lord. Despite how it feels, I know you will use it for good."
I looked at my brother lying in that hospital bed and realized we were living the story of a broken leg and a broken heart. Two very different kinds of pains. Two very different roads to healing, and yet I recognized that our journeys were at the very start.
The road to healing was littered with rocks to trip over, boulders to walk around, and dark valleys to walk through, but the Lord shepherded us through the journey. Eventually, we both made it to our destination. When we looked back, we saw all the signposts pointing to what God was doing all along the way, yet we were clueless about how much God would use our stories in the years to come.
Immediately after the ordeal, I believed I would never be capable of loving a man again. I used to shudder at the thought of risking another broken heart. After fulfilling my healing journey, God brought a godly man onto my path. A man who showed me that not all men are the same. I stepped out in faith, risking it because I knew that even if my heart broke again, the Lord would be there to put all the broken pieces back together.