We plan, but there’s always a better plan for us.

I remember that conversation with a friend in Southall in the early months of 2001, when he was asking me what kind of woman I one day hoped to marry. I told him I thought it best she be a convert like me. By that I meant somebody of a similar background: in my mind’s eye, an English or Irish girl.

But though we plan, what is written for us is infinitely better, its perfection unfolding as the years pass by. Just days later I would be introduced to a young woman who had embraced the deen anew at the same time as me, but she was neither English nor Irish, although my Irish grandmother could well have been descended from her people five thousand years ago.

Before we wet, I had no cognisance of her people at all. Nor was I familiar with the eastern Black Sea, or the diverse cultures of that land. To have been joined to that world: it still blows my mind daily. This shy man from Hull all of a sudden eniste to a sprawling family from a region of the world I knew nothing of.

I could never have imagined back then what a good fit our union would be, in so many ways. Although we faced significant opposition at the time — mostly because we were rushing into it — I was placing my trust in the One who brought us together. So it was that we were married four months after our first meeting.

Over the years since then, the blessings and mercy of our introduction have become ever more apparent, sometimes in truly inexplicable ways. Daily I can’t help whispering into her ear, “Thank you for marrying me.” To which she always replies, “Thank you for finding me.”

But the truth is, I didn’t find her. We were brought together by the One. I could have planned none of this at all, and that is the absolute truth.

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