This Valentine’s Day the Conscious Team wants to celebrate the beauty of triumph and true love. So we asked our friends at I Believe in Love to share with our readers and the world a story  of true love to move our hearts and encourage us to wait for our own love stories. And also to remember that love conquers all!

There wasn’t a dry eye in the church when my friend Annie walked down the aisle at her wedding. Weddings are almost always emotional, but this one tugged at the heart strings of Annie’s friends and family in a unique way.  Annie, looked stunning, of course, and her father was beaming at her side. Annie’s soon-to-be-husband, Ryan, stood at the altar and watched Annie with a look of excitement and joy. In his arms was Annie’s 2 year-old daughter, who ran over to her soon-to-be-dad so that she wouldn’t miss out on the moment. It was a gorgeous scene, and one that told the congregation of second chances, maturity, and true love.

Rewind a few years back. Annie was in a relationship that wasn’t the healthiest, and making decisions that weren’t always responsible. When she found out she was pregnant, her choices in the relationship became more serious. The guy she was pregnant by was not ready to be a father. And Annie was only newly out of college, still trying to decide what type of work she wanted to put her talents too, and what direction she wanted her life to take. They weren’t married, which Annie knew wasn’t the best environment to raise a child; they weren’t even headed toward marriage. There was no question about it, this was a curveball and Annie had some tough decisions to make.

In typical Annie fashion—with style, grace, and a sense of humor that aimed to break the ice—she made those tough decisions. She chose to keep her baby, and with the help of family and friends, she allowed motherhood to transform her life. She got a job that was more stable, in order to provide for her and her daughter. She made her daughter the center of her world, changing her social and sleep schedules to accommodate her baby, and even tailoring her eating habits to accommodate her daughter’s food allergies. Greatest of all, she fell in love with her little girl, who possesses just the right amounts of sweet and spunk.

The transformation didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of work and self-reflection on the part of Annie and a lot of support from family and friends. Something else remarkable happened as Annie was taking charge of her life; she fell in love again. This time, her boyfriend was an old childhood friend.

Ryan had been a part of Annie’s life for some time, but always as a friend. People often say ,“love happens when you least expect it,” and for Annie and Ryan, this romance was a surprise—in the best possible way. For Ryan’s part, he understood that loving Annie meant loving her daughter, too, and they both recognized that more than just his and Annie’s hearts were on the line, Annie’s daughter’s heart was too.

Annie longed for support and encouragement as she continued to grow as a mother and a working adult, and her daughter, like all children, needed a father figure. So, they proceeded with some caution and blind faith, with Annie still living at her parent’s house and working, and Ryan juggling work, visits to Annie’s, and relationship building with both Annie and her daughter. As Annie and Ryan got to know each other in a romantic way, they also learned how to juggle their care for the little one at the center of their lives.

Once again, patience, perseverance, and courage paid off. When Ryan and Annie wed, those who knew them couldn’t have been prouder of them. They had taken their lives by the reins and made beautiful choices for themselves, the other person, and the little girl in their lives. Their commitment and respect for each other and their families gave them and everyone around them the confidence that they had what it takes to say, “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.” They really had found true love.

Of course, every love story is unique. We all won’t have a story as dramatic as Annie and Ryan’s. But their story highlights some basic truths about love that shouldn’t be forgotten. True love—the love that sustains marriages—involves maturity and taking responsibility for yourself and other people. It requires patience and perseverance—sometimes more than we think we can handle. And it always involves risk—the risk of getting hurt and the risk of getting it right. But true love brings security, a sense of purpose, and lasting fulfillment—making it all oh so worth it!

Photo Credit: Katy Hall

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From the Editor
At Conscious, we are inspired by remarkable people, and so we set out to tell stories that highlight real human interactions and human dignity, and we’re calling it stories that matter. You can read more stories like this when you pick up your copy of Conscious Magazine. Subscribe today via our Conscious Shop.