We don’t like to be out of our comfort zone. Disability means I can instantly be out of mine. There is a discomfort around disability.

Being uncomfortable is a way of life for me. I can be immune to this fact.

In the past year, several friends have said, “You push me out of my comfort zone, Laura.” I don’t even realize that’s what I’m doing until they point it out. I’m often unaware that I am expanding the perspective and comfort zones of my community.

Friends have jumped into new adventures…witnessed awkward interactions…They have seen with their own eyes scenarios I try to describe.

At the same time, I have also become more comfortable in the uncomfortable. I’ve grown to embrace the fullness of my humanity, including the hopes and dreams that I carry in my heart. For a long time I wasn’t comfortable with my desire to date and get married. I didn’t believe it for myself. Until last year.

These dreams are no longer hidden. I have written, spoken, and brought them into everyday conversations with friends, siblings, and my parents. I met the two couples in Raleigh. I listened to their stories. Plus I experienced more firsts and honest talks that taught me to finally believe in my dreams.

The following three stories are small, yet strong evidence of my growth.

*******

A few months ago, I went out to dinner with a friend. The waiter guy flirted with me the whole time. Very directly. It took me by surprise.

Is he flirting with me?” I asked when he walked away from our table.

She said, “Oh yes. Is this normal for you?

This is NOT normal, it’s never happened to me with a stranger. You must be my wing woman.

We debriefed until the guy came back to take our order. I asked about gluten-free. He said, “If you ate something that made you sick, it would break my heart.

I commented about the sake cups, “Those are so cute.

He said, “Oh, cute like me?

I didn’t really give an answer. I just looked at him and then my friend. My eyes were wide with a plea, “Help me out here.” This guy was throwing me off. I didn’t know what to say or how to act.

I whispered, “Well, this is fun and good practice. Maybe we should come back another time.

When he brought the sushi to the table, he commented, “It’s my turn next.” He seriously wanted to help feed me.

Don’t let him, don’t give him the fork. You know he’ll be back.” He had already helped when I got out of my chair.

I kept asking, “Why is this happening? What do I do?

At the end, he asked, “Pineapple dessert on me? Do you like pineapple?

Sure.

He quickly returned with pineapple on a toothpick. He gave me one. No chance to refuse his offer.

He told me his name before we left, repeating it to make sure I would remember. I only gave him my first name. I can leave this guy wondering if and when I will return.

*******

While I was at Panera one afternoon, I saw a lady from church. She asked if I was going to the upcoming youth leaders’ party, adding, “You can bring a date or a spouse.

A friend watched this brief interaction, holding my arm until I was ready to keep walking. I told her what had immediately come to mind, “I thought, thanks, I have neither.

The lady’s statement stung at first, but my friend didn’t let me stay there.

You know that just means she thinks it’s possible for you to have one.

Lightbulb moment. I agreed, “OH, that’s a good thing. Because it IS possible.

I didn’t need a date to go to this party. Friends would be present. And I find fun wherever I go.

*******

Just a few weeks later, I sat in a circle with the seventh grade girls. We talked about finding the abundant life in Jesus.

I started to share bits of my story. “Sometimes a dream doesn’t happen when we want or the guy we like doesn’t like us back. What do we do while we wait? I thought, I won’t be living with my parents 10+ years after college and I’ll be married by a certain age…I learned to be content and embrace the story God unfolds. I’ve had so many cool experiences since then. He really does more than we can imagine. My hope isn’t hanging on the dreams anymore; it’s in Jesus. That’s the abundant life.

That night I realized — I haven’t known these girls very long. I’m a new leader, but I was so comfortable with opening up and being vulnerable.

*******

Looking back, I know I wasn’t fully trusting God with this area of my life. Until last year.

Two years ago I remember panicking on the inside when someone nearby said the word “dating.” I remember shutting down when extended family discussed marriage for others without mentioning me. I felt invisible to this topic.

After I wrote about love and the disability factor, I was a little calmer and open to talking, to a degree. Deep down I still didn’t believe the dream was truly possible for me. I needed to walk through a whole set of scenarios to become confident in myself and comfortable with my normal dream.

Faith was my word for 2018. God stretched and grew my faith to deeper levels. I can say —

I ended the year with complete confidence.
God knows my marriage dream.
One of these days He will make it happen.