It occurred to me today that I never really told the story of how I met my husband; the story of how he courted me.
But before I can tell you how I become my husband’s wife, I have to go back, back to the beginning, and tell you how God courted me and made me His bride.
The short version of my faith story is this: I grew up knowing who God is and that Jesus loved me, but it wasn’t until I was about 12 that I had what I would call a singular moment of salvation. Through junior high and high school, I was involved in youth groups and church, and truly loved God. I felt Him in my life, and I lived out what I believed.
Until I went to college. This makes me the rule, you know, not the exception. A staggering statistic — about 90 percent of kids raised in the church walk away once they leave home. I even remember the moment. A fellow freshman — who happened to be the baby sister of my cousin’s wife’s college roommate — called and asked me if I wanted to go to Campus Crusade with her one night. I said “no thanks,” and as I hung up the phone, I may as well have slammed the door in God’s face.
The next 10 years of my life were pretty typical, and mostly unremarkable. Several of those years I documented on this site.
In 2002 I ran away from Ohio after I had my heart spectacularly broken — by both a man and a job, each I’d loved much.
But it wasn’t Atlanta herself that brought me back to God. In fact, in the beginning, it’s just the place I lived when I kept living my life in the usual way, stumbling around from decision to decision, some good, some bad, some very bad.
In those years, God was never far from mind, but he was far from my heart. I struggled — mightily — with intellectual obstacles. I read books on the historicity of Jesus and read debates and websites on doubting Christians, on what it meant to doubt. One book in particular — The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel was a much read tome. The Case for Christ was his first book, but I never really struggled on the matter of Christ. I had no doubt that He lived and that He was who He said He was. That may not make sense, but it made sense to me. I just couldn’t seem to figure out how to come to terms with everything else — hell, suffering, other religions. God wasn’t offended by my doubt and questions. He welcomed them. And He kept working on my heart till it came to the point where I realized — I’ll always have questions; there will always be things that I don’t understand; but my finite mind and human confusion don’t make God smaller. He is who He is regardless of my opinion on the matter.
Finally in 2005, I quit making excuses for why I didn’t have to go to church, for why I didn’t need to relinquish control over my own life. I finally stopped rationalizing to myself how I could be a Christian without actually living my life for Christ, and I walked through the doors of Buckhead Church. And from then on I was just done with my former self. I attended weekly, joined a community group, started volunteering, and I felt like I’d come back home. I was the Prodigal Son, returned and celebrated.
Except for one area of my life — a pretty big one at that. I thought that I didn’t need God to lead me in my love life. I thought that I could choose — and navigate those murky waters — just fine on my own, thankyouverymuch.
So I kept dating the way single people in Atlanta dated — men I met through my job, men I met through friends. I went to church every Sunday, to my small group during the week, never really stopping to see the disconnect.
In April 2006 I went to Las Vegas for a work function, along with about 30 colleagues, their spouses and guests. A man that I was casually dating at the time was also on the trip. He was someone with whom I always seemed to be in mild conflict. We misunderstood each other in small, but aggravating, ways. I remember once telling him that we were just oil and water.
During the trip, he just … fell off the radar. A group of us were at the Palms, and he excused himself and never returned. I didn’t hear from him for almost 24 hours, after he was a no-show at the group’s final function — a black tie dinner and awards presentation. He sent me a few inappropriate text messages and never apologized for bailing on me. The next day we were on the same flight back to Atlanta, where we completely ignored each other; I ended up seated a few rows behind him.
And as I was sitting on that plane — staring at the back of his head — I thought “Why do I keep choosing all the wrong guys?!” and another thought quickly followed, “Because you’re the one doing the choosing, Beloved.” And it just — clicked.
I wish I could tell you that was the end of it, but in all honesty, it took me a few more months to truly release the choking, tight grip that I held on my dating life.
On August 20, 2006, I was baptized, and that was the true turning point. I was going under that water, and I was going to come up clean. In my baptism video I said that I hadn’t believed my way out of a relationship with God, I’d behaved my way out. Which is a turn of phrase I’d once heard Andy Stanley use. We walk away from God behavior by behavior, moment by moment. So I surrendered, and I took an intentional dating fast. This meant no dates, no coffee, no going out, nothing. And — no exaggeration — it was the best few months of my adult life to date.
I went on Buckhead Church’s 2006 singles Labor Day Retreat without any hidden agenda. I wasn’t there to meet a husband or to flirt or to network in that way. I was there to be fed and to worship. And for four days the speaker, Pastor Francis Chan, wrecked my world. I’m still haunted by his message, particularly one moment where he he used the analogy of our day being like a piece of chicken (by using an actual piece of chicken) — work gets a bite, exercise gets a bite, our friends get a bite, Starbucks gets a bite, until there’s just the bone left. And then we toss it to God and we say, “Oh — here you go! Thanks God! This is for you!” God worked on me and pressed on my heart until he had all of me.
When I was but 18, God let me walk away from Him, but He never walked away from me. He sent me to Atlanta in order to bring me back to Him.
In hindsight, I see how His hand was on my life; how He covered me. It is only because of His grace and protection that I didn’t marry either of the men I at one time hoped that I would. They were not bad men, but they were bad for me. They knew it, God knew it, but I had no clue. To their credit, those men released me from those relationships. Relationships that I would’ve fought for tooth and nail. If they had been actual ships, I would’ve gone down with them; a martyr captain standing on the deck, prepared to drown rater than jump overboard.
So that’s where I was when I met my husband. 30 years old, single as always, but single and free. I was so out of a dating mindset, in fact, that when A. asked me to lunch, I wasn’t even thinking of it as a date. It was … just lunch.
And so began the relationship that was unlike any other I’d ever experienced, with a man unlike any I’d ever known.