There’s a part of Noah and mine’s story that most people don’t know.
Our friends and family here in North Carolina know.
But if you’ve been keeping up with my life through social media, there is an aspect I’ve intentionally chosen to leave out.
In fact – if some of my students are reading this – I have lied to them about this part.
Consider this my apology. Sorry, guys.
Here’s the real story.
In January of 2014, I joined Christian Mingle, feeling lonely and pretty hopeless about the dating scene in Raleigh.
In case you’re wondering, that’s not a good reason to join a dating site.
I never paid for the site but it was flattering having guys “wink” at me or try to message me. I vaguely alluded to how to get in touch with me in hopes that if I guy actually took time to do the research, he would figure it out. And at times this worked – I went on a couple of dates with a few guys.
Eventually, however, Christian Mingle became a place where I was getting my attention needs filled. I was on it way too often and consuming too much of my time seeing how many people had viewed my profile. I had started using it to fill the void in me of not feeling lovely or worth pursuing.
So I deactivated my account.
As last summer came, I began prophetically proclaiming over all of my single friends that they would begin dating. I felt like there was shift in the seasons and that I was to speak it out over friends who had been believing for relationships. And it started happening!
Many close friends began dating relationships and I was thrilled beyond belief for them.
Yet a part of me ached. It was like I’d missed the blessing.
The weekend before Memorial Day, on a Saturday morning, I sat in my girls’ group crying that I had missed it. And before I went to a Heidi Baker conference that night, I felt grace to re-activate my Christian Mingle account.
I don’t know why. Maybe out of desperation. But for whatever reason, I re-activated it.
I went to the conference needing Jesus; completely desperate for fresh revelation and a touch from Him.
After worship, Heidi stepped on stage.
And if you’ve ever heard her preach, you’ll know that she’s kind of all over the place but in the best way. She lives a life of consistently and constantly listening to the voice and urging of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, she probably always diverts from whatever plan she originally had intended on speaking about.
She looked out and said: “God wants to restore hope tonight for things you’ve been longing for. Especially with marriages. So if you’ve been wanting to get married, stand up.”
I stood up. So did half of the room.
And she begins to pray. That spouses would come. That hope would be re-ignited. And most fascinating to me, she prayed that marriages would come out of that conference.
“Keep your eyes open! Look around the room! ” She prayed. “Lord, would marriages come out of this conference!”
It was hilarious. But my spirit began to break and shift as hope pressed its way in with every word she prayed over us.
Noah was supposed to be at that conference.
Friends of his were there.
But that day, he was helping a friend with their car and wasn’t able to make it.
So four days later, the hottest guy on Christian Mingle tried to send me a message.
He was really the only one I cared about trying to find, so I did extensive Google and Facebook research (yes – I’m that girl) and found him.
I sent him a message explaining who I was. We kept talking. He was really cute. And loved Jesus a lot.
A week and half later, we met in person for the first time at Caribou Coffee.
That’s the real story of how we met.
Through Christian Mingle.
We hate that.
Seriously, we would not recommend Christian Mingle.
But God used it.
But one of the hardest parts about our relationship is that we had to create a friendship from the ground up.
We didn’t have a history of common experiences. We were complete strangers who were interested in dating each other but had no idea about the other person’s past.
So the first time we dated – it was a mess.
We tried really hard. Our hearts were in the right place.
But I was a bit of a control freak who had unreasonable expectations for what dating relationships should look like.
And he was a commitment-phobic guy who didn’t know he had emotions or how to be vulnerable with me… or community.
And ultimately we broke up because we were on two completely different pages. In short, I said to him “Hey. Either have a goal of marrying me or don’t pursue me.”
So he broke up with me.
In the two months that we were broken up, God addressed every inch of control in my heart… examining it in and out. As I tried to maintain bitterness at love, God cracked my heart open and began showing me that real love has no control.
He started showing me how I had even tried to control my relationship with Him – I wouldn’t completely surrender to my love with Him because I knew the power of love. I knew that it could control me in ways that probably weren’t logical. And I wasn’t sure if I was okay with that.
But He kept planting seeds of hope.
He also kept teaching me how real love is a choice. That regardless of feeling it, or not feeling it, God’s love for me is the most powerful because He chose me and picked me as His own. He didn’t feel love for me and THEN decide to die for my sins. He chose to love me and rescue me from the pit of Hell. I was picked. He wasn’t obligated.
After my spring break trip, thinking I was over Noah, I came to church hope-filled that the best really was to come.
I walked to my usual seat. The band came on stage. And then I saw him after not seeing him in three weeks.
And I lost it.
My spirit broke inside of me again, moved by my feelings for him that I thought were dead.
That was who I wanted.
I looked at God and said “If I get to pick, I want him. I will wait however long it takes. And I don’t care how it looks or if this is illogical. But I want to choose him.”
Two weeks later, he asked me to talk.
He told me he was still crazy about me.
We began an intentional friendship.
And the next week he told me I was what he wanted. He chose me. And he would do whatever it took to win me over.
This shattered every. single. one. of my rules.
Rules about saying things so intensely.
Rules about pursuit.
Rules about guarding my heart.
It broke them all.
But Jesus consistently has said, “I’ve always promised you extravagance. And that had to break all of your rules.”
We spent a month and a half becoming friends again; hanging out in groups, running random errands together, not hanging out one on one.
Then we spent a month going on dates. And me being overwhelmingly and extravagantly pursued by a man who realized exactly what he wanted. Who had become vulnerable and was willing to share everything with me. Who left me feeling like the most loved woman in the whole world every night as I went to bed.
(If you’re wondering… this was never the case the first time around).
And now. We have been in a relationship for a month.
I can confidently say I am not dating the same man I was dating before.
I can also confidently say that I am being pursued by a man who is day after day, all in.
It’s still messy. Nothing about it is what I would have written. And nothing about it is what I would’ve expected. There are still many things we’ve had to face as a couple that I wouldn’t have chosen to put in the story. There are also many things that have been put in the story that have overwhelmed me with unexpected joy.
But that’s the point.
I couldn’t have written my own love story if I tried.
I love that it’s mine. I love that it isn’t finished yet. I am being broken and refined in more ways than I knew I could be, but it is making me look so much more like Jesus.
I realize I am breaking so many “dating” rules by writing this; by writing this love story as if I know this is it.
I don’t. Nothing is guaranteed.
I would like this to be it. So would he.
But we are submitted to Jesus, to the process, to community, and taking each day as it comes, listening to God’s voice every step along the way.
Whether or not this is it, this is the story we’re wrapped up in right now. And it’s not perfect. But right now… today… it’s ours. We’re in it.
Don’t let your “rules” for how it should be block out God from writing your story.
Submit yourself to His voice and to the wisdom of close friends who are also walking with Him and you.
Be vulnerable in the midst of your story with other people and listen to His leading.
Pay attention to when your spirit feels unrest.
And pay attention to when it doesn’t.
This is our story for now.
There is no part of it that you can’t ask about.
Let there be freedom in having your own story be written in a way you wouldn’t have written yourself.