What are you afraid of?

It took a while after stepping into widowhood to begin thinking about dating and possibly remarriage. 

Being an obsessive list-maker, I drafted an inventory of what was important to me: A man who is family oriented, active outdoors, someone who is making a difference in the lives of others.

 

Photo by Joe Yates on Unsplash

 

And then a friend counseled: “You don’t want to limit God to a list.” So, I filed it away.  

In time, I went out with a couple different men, but eventually decided that dating wasn’t for me.

But then, Maybe I can do this.

Followed by, Nope, too complicated.

A regular roller coaster ride.

As brave as I like to think I am, I suspect it was fear that fueled this particular roller coaster. 

On a hike through snow-covered hills last winter, I finally admitted my fears and spoke them out loud to God.

Among other things, I was afraid the man wouldn’t understand that my writing is a calling and requires time and effort. 

I was afraid he might not understand how my deceased husband’s family is just as much my family as my blood relatives—that these are my nieces and nephews, these sisters-in-law are the sisters I never had while growing up sandwiched between two brothers.

I was afraid of change. Transitioning into a married life after being comfortably and contentedly single sounded scary.

William Bridges said this:

We resist transition not because we can’t accept the change, but because we can’t accept letting go of that piece of ourselves that we have to give up.

Did I really want to lose my independence? My ability to say, “Yes, I’d love to go to Israel with you,” “Yes, I’ll meet you on the Outer Banks,” “Yes, I’ll come to Mexico to help celebrate your husband’s birthday” ?

Hence, roller coasters.

And then … Dan. 

We met over an interview for the shower truck story. The conversation naturally turned to our similar experiences as cancer caregiver and widow/er. 

He thanked me for listening. 

I said, “Anytime.”

And he took me up on it. 

Our conversations continued over hiking and Chai tea and snowshoeing and a concert and dinners out and more hiking and more Chai tea. 

 

 

It just happened. I hadn’t planned on it, but I grew to love this good man.

Not too long ago, I stumbled upon that old “dating qualities” list in an online file.

Ironically, Dan fit each item, even this one: “Romantic in a thoughtful way, not in a spend-lots-of-money way.” 

The last item on that list was cancer widower. It wasn’t a deal breaker, but still … when I wrote it, I was thinking how nice it would be to partner with someone who had trekked through the same harsh wilderness I had. One more thing in common.

Dan is a rescuer of people with dead batteries and leaky faucets, and sweet elderly ladies who need a man’s fix-it powers. 

He’s the co-designer, builder, towel washer, and one of the drivers for the shower truck that serves the homeless. He volunteers at Ochoco Christian Conference Center on maintenance projects. 

He enjoys hiking, camping, snowshoeing, kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking, and snorkeling (previously a scuba diver)—and I’m having fun trying to keep up with him. 

 

Dan also refurbishes vintage motorcycles (I’ve officially been outfitted with a black leather jacket and helmet).

 

 

There is dust gathering in his easy chair at his house.

Last Sunday, this kind, thoughtful, big-hearted man said, “Here,” as we stood warming our hands in front of the woodstove at a friend’s cabin on the Metolius River. “You’ll need to set your tea down.” 

He took my hands in his, and looked me in the eye, and listed all the reasons he believes we belong together.

And then he asked me to marry him. (I said Yes rather joyfully, in case you’re wondering!)

Wow. Just … wow.

This isn’t about not wanting to do Friday date night alone. 

This is about partnering with a teammate headed in the same direction in life, a best friend who loves adventure, a man who enjoys giving his time in helping make life a little easier for people going through hard places.

Jake Canfield writes:

Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

I am in the process of transitioning toward marriage, toward belonging heart and soul to a good man. 

I am not losing anything—not my freedom, not my independence, not … anything.

Rather, I’m gaining someone who will venture out with me, someone I can serve alongside.

And there is no fear anywhere near—oh, miracle!

What if?

What if we could conduct an honest search of our hearts to determine if there’s something we’re a little afraid of? 

And what if we could name those fears out loud—to God, to someone we trust?

Jesus said: 

Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. … Do not be afraid. – John 14:27

This is me, choosing not to be afraid as I transition away from a single life that was comfortable and familiar.

This is me, hanging on tightly to this good man. Because I have a suspicion the ride is about to get deliriously fun and wildly purposeful.

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108 Comments

  1. Richard R Kelly

    I’m so happy for you Marlys! Rich

  2. Tanya Neelon

    Dear Marlys,

    I am so happy for your and Dan’s happiness! It is wonderful that 2 deserving people have found one another
    to enjoy life with! God Bless you both!

    Tanya and Will Neelon

  3. So happy for you, Marlys, and what an encouraging message. Love the quote, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

  4. Michelle

    YAY YAY YAY! So happy for you two! Hope to run into you (not literally!) having many adventures!

  5. Gary

    We are so happy that you are more happy you meet this great guy. Dan seems to be the great person for you.

    • Thank you, Gary … and thank you to you and Carolyn for being such an important part of Gary’s and my cancer team, and then my widow team. And now … TEAM DAN!

  6. Linda

    You look so happy Marlys! Congratulations to you both

  7. Lonnie Johnson

    I’m so happy for you Marlys, and we are looking forward to such a great addition to the family! Congratulations to the both of you.

  8. KAREN

    I am so very happy for you, dear Sister and anxious to spend time with the both of you! He must be quite the MAN to keep up with you! ❤️❤️.

  9. Barbara Winterfeld

    Mountains of joy as you expand your life with this special gentleman. God is SO good! And you are so special, Marlys.

  10. Eileen Chiechi

    So happy for you. May you have many happy adventures together. Keep writing I enjoy your articles.

  11. Cyndi Barkley

    I can’t think of anything to add that hasn’t already been said. Just know that I’m sitting here with a big smile on my face for you both!
    Hugs,
    Cyndi

  12. Chris Wheeler

    Maryls reading this make me so happy for you both . Congrats & I look forward to reading more blogs along the way . God’s love for you Chris

  13. Grace Lawson

    Dear Dan and Marlys,

    CONGRATULATIONS !!! We are so very happy for you both !! Dan and Grace

  14. Marlys!
    Oh my goodness! Congratulations. I am SO happy for you! Cannot wait to hug you in person…Meanwhile, God bless you and keep you always. XOXOXO

  15. Kathy D Poncy

    This is the most joyful, impacting thing I have read for weeks. Marlys, I am thrilled for your future with Dan. God is good and in control and look at what He has done. All the best to you two.

  16. Beautiful, filled with hope and the resounding voice of saying YES to living! Exciting and so proud/happy/joyful for you.
    Love

    • “YES to living” – I love how you said that, Marni. And I love that you’ve said YES to living in widowhood. Blessings, my friend.

  17. Shelley Espinoza

    So very happy for you both. Brought tears of joy to my heart. God’s blessings!

  18. Kathy

    Oh, my! This good news on top of Easter joy! God is so good. Beautiful! So happy for you both! ?

  19. Patty Coleman

    Marlys, I’m so happy for you! Congratulations to you both! ❤️❤️❤️

  20. Kit

    Marlys! You had me at “He thanked me for listening. I said, ’Anytime.’ And he took me up on it.”

    Words can’t convey how much joy fills me at your news. You deserve every happiness and I’m grateful to God for bringing you Dan!

    Big love, sister!

  21. Julane Dover

    Oh this made my eyes leak, and just feel so happy for you. God is so good. What a blessing- I can’t wait to read about your adventures together! Congratulations to you and this lucky guy!!!

  22. Tom F Stutheit

    Hey Marlys, Tricia & I are so very happy for you both. We could see there was something between you guys from that very first interview. All the best .

  23. Rosalee Reynolds

    Hi Marlys, I am so happy for you. I think of you often and enjoy reading your blog. God bless both of you.

  24. Katie

    Marlys! Congratulations! I am so very happy for you and yes, it is quite a transition. I asked myself all those same questions with so many of the same emotions. I would love to chat more and listen when you have time, since I’ve walked this road too. 🙂

    • Katie – Thank you for your kind congratulations. Yes, let’s connect. I’d love to learn from your wisdom of having walked this widowed/remarriage road.

  25. Larry Lewman

    Oh what wonderful news! Our Lord always shows up on time to give us the desires of our heart…love that God has found you someone you have to try and keep up with which is something we had a hard time believing would happen..?B’cuz you are a firecracker! .. We can see your other dreams becoming a reality too! ???dianne and larry

  26. Joan Mimiaga

    Congratulations to the both of you, that God put you together. God is Faithful and gives us the best! Joan

  27. Lori

    How wonderful for you, Marlys. Sounds like a perfect match. May God richly bless you both and our joint families.

  28. Esther

    So happy for you, Marlys!

  29. Debi

    I am so excited for you Marlys! Isn’t it funny how good things come to us when we are not even looking? I always enjoy your stories girl and can’t wait for all of the new adventures in this next chapter of your life.

  30. Loretta

    Maryls,
    “God has poured out His love into our hearts” – Romans 5:5
    I’m so very happy for you Maryrls, what a joy to read you wonderful news.
    It seems God has granted you all of life’s blessings and love’s joy all in
    Dan. Everything you listed plus some you didn’t think of? I can’t stop smiling.
    Loretta

  31. Kristen

    You made me cry happy tears, sweet lady! What an amazing story. I’m so happy for you. Congrats!!

  32. Vera Lynn Holiday

    Oh Marlys, Mark and I are Rejoicing with you! We can imagine the smiles on your families faces! “Joyful, Joyful we adore thee…?” We too have been asking God to reveal to us our fears holding us captive then allowing his transforming power to speak truth into our lives… so delighted for you and Dan:) Thank you for saying yes to God’s call of writing…Hugs ?Lynn Holiday

  33. Marlys, this was such a fun read! You’ve described the dating after widowhood so well. And now you’ve moved beyond fear to saying “Yes” to Dan’s proposal. He sounds like the perfect teammate for this next chapter of life. Adventures await. I often marvel at how good God is. When we aren’t looking He brings the just-right blessings into view.
    Congratulations. Love to you both. Maxine

  34. Marlys Keenan

    Congratulations,Marlys. Very happy for you.

  35. Shirley Hartzler Berry

    Hi Marlys,
    So very happy for you. I know God has been with you every step of the way and will keep leading you and your new husband.
    Love, Shirley

  36. Congratulations! Our Lord is Good. May He continue to bless you!

  37. Becky Lawry

    Dan truly IS a good man and I love him too – like a brother. I am very happy for both of you! Hoping we get to meet one day, Marlys. Congratulations!