Unexpected

with 28 Comments

nicole reyes

 

Unexpected.  Ben getting down on one knee, pulling out the perfect diamond ring and popping the question in his kitchen on a Sunday afternoon was unexpected.  But then again, so was Ben.

 

engagement ring

 

When I met Ben, he had just spoken at Visionaries, our church’s business community gathering.  I was taken back by how articulate and charming he was as he taught a captivated room on his expertise- digital marketing strategies.  Words like “digital” and “marketing” didn’t sound all that fun to me, but Ben made the content accessible and exciting.  When I introduced myself to him at the end of the night to congratulate him on a job well done, I expected a short and unmemorable exchange.

 

I certainly didn’t expect to go on a pseudo-date with him a couple weeks later.  You know, the ones where a guy is asking you to “hang out” or “grab coffee” or “get together”?  The word “date” was never used, but I found Ben interesting enough to wear a dress, put on lipstick and show up after work for.  And I’m glad I did.

 

It was about 3 months later when we went out again, but even with our crazy travel schedules we made a second date finally happen.  I didn’t expect it.  I had quite frankly given up on the idea of any type of romantic future with Ben.  A lot of life happens in three months’ time, and I had quickly moved on to other interests and projects and opportunities.

                                                  

That second date was easily the best date I had ever been on.  Conversation came easy, and we laughed a ton.  Plus, he took me to a Mexican restaurant!  I mean, that immediately makes the date worth my time.  But there was more.  It’s hard to put into words, but there was this sense that we got each other.  We barely knew each other, but we were familiar friends, and kindred souls.  Ben likes to say that “our crazies are compatible.”  I got the glimpse that we would be compatible with each other, but also champions for each other.  Already, there was a mutual love and respect developing between us.

 

Someone recently asked me when I knew Ben was the one.  For me, it wasn’t one moment but a series of moments, all special for me in different ways.  And new moments continue to reveal themselves every day.  But the first moment was when I mistakenly mixed my words in a simple statement I was making.  As soon as I had misspoken, we looked at each other and immediately began belly laughing.  And I thought to myself, “I could spend the rest of my life laughing with this man.”  It was an unexpected moment, and an unexpected thought, one that caught my heart by surprise.

 

It’s been over nine months, with many unexpected moments along the way.  When Ben first told me that he loved me it was unexpected, not because I didn’t feel the same exact way, but because he declared his love with such boldness, sincerity, and vulnerability.  I was taken back by it.  We live in a world where either the word “love” gets thrown around impulsively and with an attached set of conditions or the word “love” becomes a weapon of mass heartbreak to be feared.  But Ben owned the word.  He didn’t avoid it.  And he didn’t say it as a reaction to an emotional high.  He didn’t fall into it like someone falls into a trap or falls into anything, really.  He chose love and he chose the commitment that love demands.  He chose love and he chose me.

 

When Ben held me while letting me ugly cry all over his nice shirt after my family moved across country, and I didn’t know if I could bear the thousands of miles between me and my sister, it was unexpected.  Not that he wouldn’t listen to me and comfort me.  I had come to expect that kind of compassion and strength from him.  But the fact that I let myself so openly cry in front of him was a surprise.  For various reasons, I grew up in a home with not a lot of room for my tears. Tears were a sign of weakness.  Tears and the vulnerability that go with it was a dangerous game to play where you could be hurt or rejected.  But Ben had become someone safe.  His character and conviction had unexpectedly eroded my walls and defenses, and by the grace of God, I discovered a freedom to be me- even if that meant balling my eyes out till my mascara was everywhere but where it was supposed to be.

 

Fights are also unexpected.  And there have been a few of those too.  But there have always been unexpected treasures of truth and grace excavated as we have disagreed and conflicted and resolved.  We continue to learn more about each other, about Jesus, about life in the most unexpected ways.  Ben has taught me to lean into those lessons each time we butt heads, and that conflict is not something to run from but to embrace with godly maturity in the effort to become more Christ-like along the way.

 

One of my favorite things to do with Ben is to dream.  Ben is a unique blend of dreamer and achiever.  Some people talk a lot of talk.  But Ben gets stuff done.  He is both an idealist and a realist, if that is possible.  He counts the cost, but is rarely motivated by fear.  He is a man of great faith.  And his hustle matches his faith.  I’ve come to expect that from Ben.  It’s just who he is.  But what I didn’t see coming was just how much faith he has for my dreams.  He’s never once been intimidated by me or in competition with me.  There has always been enough room between us for all our hopes and dreams.  He believes in me to such a degree that it has forced me to face my own fears and go after the things Jesus has called me to.  Ben is not just a constant verbal support, but he is willing to lend practical skill and time to see the things in my heart come to pass.

 

The last nine months have been unexpected to say the least.  And there will be plenty more in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.  And in case, you were wondering, that Sunday afternoon a couple weeks back, I said, “yes.”  And then started screaming.  And jumping up and down.  And then screaming some more.

 

ben and nicole engaged

 

In four months, the real adventure begins.  Marriage.  After 34 years of being single, I will change my name and my address and my relationship status and begin a new chapter with a man I didn’t see coming.  He was unexpected because, well, he has exceeded my prayers and hopes in every possible way.

 

Truth be told, I’ve had a lot of unexpected thrown my way over the last couple of years.  And some of it not only caught me off guard, but brought with it discouragement and pain.  I can’t tell you that I understood it all when it was happening because that would be a lie.  I can’t tell you that I navigated all the changes and transitions with grace.  Half the time, I embraced them publicly while kicking and screaming and crying and mourning privately.  But what I’ve come to learn on the other side of the unexpected is that God works wonders through the deviations from our plans.  And some of the best of our Heavenly Father’s gifts come by surprise.  They often appear to the naked eye as disruptions or challenges or disappointments.  Or they may be disguised as small and insignificant moments.  Word to the wise: don’t discount them and certainly don’t despise them.  Be open.  Be alert.  Be present.  Be hopeful.  Be ready to be surprised in the most miraculously of ways.  Expect the unexpected, yes.  But do more.  Gratefully and hopefully embrace it.  Some of Heaven’s sweetest rewards are the ones we didn’t see coming.

 

 

28 Responses

  1. Loriene
    | Reply

    Absolutely love this love story ..you and Ben are truly blessed . May the Lord use you both mightily for His Kingdom and may the desires of your hearts be fulfilled .

  2. Crystal Marie
    | Reply

    Hate to go against this whole unexpected theme, but a beautiful soul such as yourself finding love is something I always expected! 😍

    I love this story, I have loved watching your love flourish and I am so excited for your future!

    Congrats Nicole and Ben and thank you for reminding us that God specializes in the unexpected.

    • Nicole Reyes
      | Reply

      Thanks, Crystal Marie! Congrats on your recent wedding. You looked stunning!

  3. Aprile
    | Reply

    I’ve been touched by your messages so much, Nicole. Thank you from the heart. This is my first time reaching out because I have so many thoughts to say and share as I am bubbling over with happiness for you. To know that God has delivered to you this unexpected blessing makes my heart so very joyful for you. And you both look so wonderful together and so happy!! 😄🎉 Love it. Blessings to you and all you will do, create, accomplish, and love together… to the glory of God. What a beautiful love story to say ‘amen’.

    • Nicole Reyes
      | Reply

      Wow! Thank you for taking the time to leave this comment. Your words are beautiful. Thank you.

  4. Alexis
    | Reply

    Such an awesome story Nicole. When you came to speak at my church this last time (The Way World Outreach Shine Conf) I remember being truly inspired by your life, knowing you were my age and at the time you were single. I remember looking at you and the other speaker (Jen) and being totally encouraged in my waiting season. Thank you for being a true example of what it means to wait on the Lord and thank you for sharing your life with us.

    God bless you both!

    • Nicole Reyes
      | Reply

      That’s great! I love hearing that. Jesus is faithful, my friend. Always.

  5. Kristen
    | Reply

    Love you sister! So excited for you and Ben and all the unexpected moments of life and love to come.

  6. Jamilla Jackson
    | Reply

    Sooooo looks like UNEXPECTED will be the title of your next book 😉 You can write it right after your first year married! Ill preorder mine now Hahahaha congrats Nicole. Saying that I’m excited for you doesnt event come close to what my heart is doing right now

  7. Diana
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing with us. This blog has come right on time and its beautiful to see the beauty that is unexpected and how amazing our HEAVENLY FATHER IS!

    • Nicole Reyes
      | Reply

      I love the timing of Jesus. So glad this was an encouragement to you!

  8. Leonard
    | Reply

    So happy for you, Nicole! What a lucky guy he is! Love and blessings on your new adventure! Marriage is an amazing thing!

  9. Nan Baker
    | Reply

    Nicole,
    We have known Ben since his high school years. He was in my husband’s band, so we know how crazy, fun, hardworking & dedicated he is. Ben has a passion for life, love & God. His family was so blessed to have him in their lives & in ours.
    We are so thrilled he has found the woman of his dreams.
    May God bless you & Ben in happiness, love & laughter.
    Can’t wait to meet you!!

    • Nicole Reyes
      | Reply

      Wow! Thank you for leaving this comment. It means so much. And it’s special hearing from people who have known Ben from back in the day.

  10. Arlene
    | Reply

    This is a great story. Always enjoy your posts and am super excited that you’ve found your true love and are best friends and celebrate Jesus together. May you continue to grow more in love with each other and enjoy the blessing that the Lord has provided you. May He grant you wisdom, understanding and peace. Thanks for sharing

    • Nicole Reyes
      | Reply

      Thank you!! It’s so great to hear you enjoy my posts. That means so much. And thank you for your prayers.

  11. Jeannie-Marie
    | Reply

    Beautiful. Honest and authentic. Thank you for sharing the story. Sometimes the most amazing things are delivered to us after the most challenging times. Divine compensation. Wishing you both happiness and joy and the ability to learn and grow together.

  12. Sunny Stone
    | Reply

    Oh Nicole. I first met you at the church here in Los Angeles when you were 19 years old, and it was a great loss to see you leave, But!!!! A greater gift to my heart is to read such an encouragement from you today (one of my favorite servants and speakers of my time.) about your personal journey on the path to recognizing the ONE and ONLY man of God for you.

    Thank you for sharing your incredible and encouraging story to someone like me who sometimes have given up on such a possibility of sharing my life with the ONE God designed especially for me.

    You are and have always been a great inspiration to me and I AM VERY HAPPY THAT GOD LED YOU TWO TO EACH OTHER!👣❤😚
    I am loving the unfolding of this love story.

    Love and smiles
    Sunny Stone

  13. Steven S
    | Reply

    “He chose love and chose the commitment that love demanded”
    Such a powerful line.
    Congrats Nicole!

  14. Brooke wright
    | Reply

    Love you sweet friend!! I am so excited for this new adventure!!

  15. Lora
    | Reply

    You write as well as you preach! I cried a bunch too when your sis moved…good thing for social media and that my family is out in the NW too. Love doing life in NYC with you and many, many congrats to you and Ben!

  16. Janis M Austin
    | Reply

    Dearest Nicole….
    I remember your first sermon….
    and feeling your vulnerability…I could relate to your honesty…about your family.
    As a fan….My heart is jumping roper…Now that Love found you…you are so beautiful inside and out…your sense of style IS….it just is …and I appreciate
    your story; And your Love for God and his children.. Your sincerity and kindness
    and now you have someone to share your Dreams…One Love, One Heart
    and One Spirit….God is the Spiritual angle to the Love Triangle….
    May you always have laughter and butterflies that tingle with excitement for one another….your ring is elegant..and your smile….always infectious….
    God Bless you….You R Brand New!!!
    I Love You!!!!

  17. KaYesu
    | Reply

    Dear Ms. Reyes,

    Amen! I am so happy for you Nicole!
    I am embarking on a gap year this fall and it certainly was the unexpected- so we will both be on a journey! I am so excited to see all the wondrous God works through both of you! I am praying for your peace and joy!
    May God bless your life together and your marriage! GOD IS FAITHFUL!

    Blessings,
    KaYesu

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