After a series of bad relationships that left me feeling hurt, broken and insecure I realized that I needed to get back to church. I had always loved God but I knew that I wasn’t living for Him. My loving parents used to take my to church as a young girl but I never had a personal relationship with God. It was until then, at age twenty-one, that I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. I have made a lot of decisions in my life but that was by far the best decision I have ever made. For the first time in a very long time I felt joy, peace and confidence come back. I felt like a whole person.

I was saved but I was single! At the time my young adult pastors encouraged me to wait twelve months before entering into a relationship; that was great advice. At the end of those twelve months, I had just graduated from university and decided to do Bible College. There was an unspoken rule that whilst you were in college that you could not begin dating and so for another twelve months I focused on college. Two whole years was a long time for me to go without being in a relationship but what I didn’t know then that I do know now is that God had a plan. He was working on me without a guy in order for me to be ready when he brought along the right guy.

It was actually during Bible College that God spoke to me about my future; dreams were implanted about the type of man that I would marry. Since becoming a Christian I had thought that I would marry someone who would attend church but that would be about the level of his involvement. That was until one day in a chapel service; Ps Lucas Connell prophesied over me, that I would marry a man who carried the same double anointing. God had challenged me and lifted my expectations of what my husband would be like. I laugh about it now but secretly had also feared that God would make me marry someone that I wasn’t physically attracted to. I had some many lies and theories about boys that God had to dissolve.

At the end of the year I was graduating from Bible College in a typical gala graduation formal. I had worn this beautiful black dress with gold trim and it was that important purchase that made a lasting impression. Daniel was emceeing the graduation ceremony and while I do not remember much of what he said I do remember that I honestly felt like he couldn’t take his eyes off me! I found out later that that wasn’t far from the truth.

For New Years Eve my beautiful sister and cousin organised a party pretty much so that Daniel and I could welcome the New Year in together. For the entire evening however, Daniel didn’t speak to me! Fortunately his youth pastor, Ps Kerrin Wallis diagnosed him as having ‘Hot Bum Syndrome’ – a debilitating disease that causes you to become shy and lost for words when you are around a girl that you are attracted to. So he encouraged Daniel to get over it and ask me out for coffee. Funnily enough shortly after the challenging diagnosis, I received a text message asking me if I’d like to go to coffee – to which I said, of course!

After a couple of weeks with frequent coffee dates Daniel said to me that he wasn’t going to hold my hand until he had asked my Dad if we could date. It might sound funny but that was a big thing for me. Here was a guy who I liked and who liked me but he respected me enough to include my Dad. Nobody had ever asked my Dad if we could date and I’m pretty sure that when it came time for Daniel to ask my Dad; my Dad was just as shocked. I was in my mid-twenties but this simple gesture made me feel more loved than any past relationship ever did, plus it won my parents over in a heartbeat.

Sure enough my Dad said yes and in our first few months of dating we spoke of our families and our early childhood. We had so much fun. To say that Daniel made me feel like a princess during the time that we have been together would be an understatement. No guy had ever made me feel so beautiful, secure, safe, confident and loved. I was and am completely smitten – he loved God, was certainly attractive, had a vision for his life and had a wonderful family.

Sure we had some pretty difficult conversations especially when we came to the point of admitting past mistakes. That conversation was among the most difficult conversations we have ever had but we wanted to make sure that when we got married there wouldn’t be any future surprises. It was difficult but it was worth it.

We dated for twelve months before Daniel had another important question to ask my Dad. Fortunately Dad said yes but more importantly we said, “I do”. The 24th day of June 2011 was our wedding day and was one of the most special days of my life.

What would I tell my 16 year old self.

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Ps 37:4 NIV)

By Elise Pappas