I loved, loved, loved being engaged. All of the uncertainty was gone. No more wondering: will he or won’t he? Does he or doesn’t he? Should I or shouldn’t I? It was settled. I loved him, he loved me, and we were getting married.
We got engaged on May 13, 1997 – seven months and one day after the accident, almost 3 1/2 years after we met. We were engaged for almost 15 months. During that time, we were both finishing graduate degrees – me at Georgia Tech, and he was back in Auburn.
Although he was determined to finish what he had started, David had never actually wanted to teach history (in spite of pursuing a master’s degree in education). As I mentioned earlier, he was supposed to start driving for UPS right after the accident, and he had planned to just stay in Auburn in that job. Now that driving a delivery truck would no longer be an option, he needed a new plan but had no idea what that might be.
Then God opened his eyes to a new possibility: prosthetics (making artificial limbs). David would tell you that amputees used to kind of freak him out, but then he became one. As he watched his prosthetist go through the process of making a leg for him, he began to feel God calling him into that field. One night in Atlanta (sometime between the dance night and the engagement), he asked my opinion. Not really knowing what I was signing up for, I said I thought that sounded like a great idea!
I absolutely hated most of my time at Georgia Tech. It would take several more posts to fully explain that, but suffice it to say it was not what I was expecting or prepared for, and it was a completely different environment from my beloved Auburn. However, I did enjoy three parts: teaching freshmen as a graduate teaching assistant, living in Atlanta, and the weekends when David and I alternated between him coming to Atlanta and me going to Auburn. When it was his turn to come to Atlanta, I’d watch for him out my window, and he loved looking up to see me there.
While finishing up his classes, David started working for an orthotics and prosthetics company in Columbus, Georgia. Since this was in the days of expensive long-distance calls (no cell phones for ordinary people!), I got a phone plan that included calls within a certain radius of Atlanta. David found a pay phone on his way home to Auburn that was within that radius, and he called me every night come rain, shine, cold, or heat. We would usually talk for at least an hour before he headed home. A couple of weeks ago, we found it. I can’t believe it’s still there!
Although I was in the PhD program at Tech, I very happily chose the option of stopping at a master’s after the second year. Through nothing short of a miracle (no really – maybe I’ll tell about that some day), I passed my master’s oral exam and graduated in June 1998. David also got his diploma from Auburn in June 1998. In a move that only David could manage, he had actually graduated in March 1998, but didn’t know it.
A week after graduation, we went to a wedding of a good friend of ours – Russ. He married Jennifer (Other Girl). It was a beautiful ceremony, and I was so happy for them both. Clearly, all 3 members of that Evangelism Explosion team from January 1994 had ended up with the right people.
Finally, it was time for our wedding. At the rehearsal dinner, David made one of the most beautiful speeches I’ve ever heard. I think it was less than 15 words. Lots of people had been saying the usual nice things about each of us. Some people were telling funny stories. People had talked about how beautiful I was on the inside – the usual mushiness. It’s kind of like getting to attend your own funeral.
David stood up and said through tears, “Everything you’ve said about Laura is true. But she’s beautiful on the outside, too!”
Oh my goodness. My Grannie shouted out, “Amen!,” and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room. He knew my struggles and insecurities, and he said the most perfect thing he could have said at that moment.
Finally, August 1, 1998, arrived, and I became Mrs. David Baggett.
Nathan and Megan, if you’re reading this someday as you are either walking through your own love story or waiting for one to begin, here are a few lessons I learned along the way:
1. God writes the best love stories. Some have twists and turns like mine and your Daddy’s. Others are short and sweet. They’re all wonderful. Let HIM do the writing, not you.
2. It’s so important to have a strong friendship with your husband/wife. Those lovey-dovey feelings will wax and wane through the years. Friendship will maintain the relationship through the tough times and make the good times even better. Your Daddy and I have always been glad that we were friends before we started dating. We were always real with each other, not trying hard to impress each other.
3. Pursue God, and He will bring the right people into your life at the right time. I met your Daddy at church. I found out about that Valentine’s dance at a Bible study. (This also includes friends. The value of Godly friends is incalculable.)
4. True Love Waits is not just a catchy slogan. It’s a true statement. The person God has for you is worth waiting for in every way.
So we’ve now been married for 18 years. He’s still my hero. And he still thinks I’m beautiful. Our story has continued to have twists and turns that I could never have anticipated, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
This is the end of my blog series, but this Unexpected Love Story continues….