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“Can you believe that?” Those were the dreaded knife-cutting whispers I heard from across the table. I sunk deeper into my chair. My hopes fell as everyone would forever remember that I had left my fiancée on Valentine’s Day.

Maybe one day it would just dissipate like the dream wedding I had planned or the canceled plane tickets for the Hawaiian honeymoon. Some bridesmaids and guests had already booked plane tickets. It was my own nightmare that kept replaying in my head over and over again. I had messed up. Big time.

To be honest, if it made any difference, I didn’t actually know it was Valentine’s Day. It was a normal Monday, but I was scared out of my mind that I was making the wrong decision. So I told him quickly and swiftly that I couldn’t get married, packed up my car, and left a surprised, sobbing country boy in the driveway of his home.

I was his first kiss. His first love. His first breakup. His first ex-fiancé . . . and no longer his first and only bride. I felt I had ruined Valentine’s Day for lovers all over the world.

RELATED: Dear Daughter, About Valentine’s Day…

I packed up and drove three hours to my parents’ house in the city. I knew the moment I got there I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I did love him. I did want to spend the rest of my life with and marry this man. But why was I so scared that we weren’t meant to be? I had doubts. I was scared.

I knew no one in a small town. I sat at home all day taking care of a 2-year-old. I moved away from my own loved ones to start a life with him and planned a wedding. No wonder I was on breakdown’s doorstep and acted out of compulsive and impulsive fearI was stressed out.

I had prayed long and hard for a loving, Christian man to walk into my life. As a single mom, my chances weren’t great anyway. I was asking the Lord for a tall order.

Brook was an amazing gentleman, provider, musician, and project guru. He proposed, and I had, of course, said yes! Someone wanted to marry me and be a dad? Awesome.

How had I messed up this up? Terribly.

But maybe, just maybe the Lord would clean it up. He knew my heart and what was best for both of us. So I handed my big breakup mess to the Lord and left it in His hands. My first Love needed to repair the mess I had made with the man whom I had let down.

Surprising to many, and the first of many testimonies in our love story, he forgave me. Brook quickly dusted me off, embraced my imperfections, and took me as his beautiful bride. We married four days after our original wedding date at the courthouse and went away from a newly scheduled Hawaiian honeymoon.

RELATED: Dear Husband, I Am With You Even When It’s Hard

I learned what real love looked like on that Valentine’s Day. It’s easy to love those when they are good to us, but what about when they break our hearts? How would they respond then? Would they quit? Would they snicker and hurt us with words? Would we get canceled like culture craved?

Not this time. He chose to have a heart like Christ by showing unconditional love and forgiveness. After that, I knew without a doubt I had made the right decision because I saw my first love, Jesus inside his heart. He was definitely the man for me. There was no shame, no condemnation anymore. He just loved me.

We now tell people all the time about our horrible Valentine’s Day . . . not because I’m proud of how I handled it, but because the two who loved me the most still showed up in my brokenness. And that’s when you know love is true.

Every Valentine’s Day we use it as a reminder of Christ’s relentless love. He will always pursue us. Always choose us. Always redeem us. His love never fails.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32, NIV)

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Rachel M Redlin

Rachel Marie Redlin is a Jesus lover, a wife to Brook, and a mother to five. She is an American author, speaker, newspaper journalist, and award-winning radio personality. Best known for her online public journal platform, it continued to grow with her love of devotionals in two published books, Blooming Grace and Blooming Wisdom. Although seasons have changed in the last two years, her now private lead ministry has not waivered in its continued focus on encouraging, embracing, and equipping women to go deeper and bloom in their personal relationship with Jesus Christ, their families, and fellow believers. Rachel is passionate and determined to help provide an outlet and resource for deeper relationships with women and Christ in the modern Christian world.

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