Monday, August 25, 2014

Our Love: A Story of Redemption

In honor of our 7 year anniversary I thought I'd tell my version of our love story...

Jeremy and I met at church.  I had been attending a Thursday evening young adult service for over a year at which Jeremy played guitar.  We had seen each other and probably knew who each other were for that year, but had never met until one night when a friend introduced us.

After being introduced we talked for a while and went through the general get to know you type of conversation.  The next morning Jeremy showed up at my work unexpectedly.  (I later found out that he had forgotten where I work and had to call a friend to refresh his mind with this info).  It was a bold move though, to show up unannounced at my workplace, but I didn't mind one bit.  In fact, I was extremely impressed at how nicely he cleaned up... until this point I had only ever seen him in ripped jeans and converse shoes at church, but upon seeing him in dress pants, a dress shirt, and a tie I was taken aback at how handsome he looked and how much of a sense of style he had (this was not what made me interested in him, I really enjoyed our conversation the night earlier, but it sure didn't hurt his case any!).  So he showed up at my work, sat down at my desk, and we talked for a while.  Minor details aside, we ended up going on our first date a few days later.

He picked me up, and we went out for sushi.  Many people would consider our first date a train wreck.  I have since learned from the mistakes that I made due to insecurity.

A little back story may be in order here... Jeremy was the first Christian guy I had ever dated.  And at this point in my life I was 25 years old, had had a successful career for 7 years, and owned my own condo... I was very independent.

Mistake number one.  We walked into the restaurant and I took charge, walked straight up to the hostess and requested a table for 2.  I have since learned this was a little bit of a turnoff to Jeremy by my need/ desire to be in charge.

Mistake number two.  At this point in my life I had only been a Christian for about a year.  I had a past that I thought most Christian men might not be comfortable with.  Out of insecurity, I wanted to (and did) verbally unload my entire past {baggage} on Jeremy during dinner.  I was scared... scared we would date for months, fall in love, and then when I broke all of the news to him he would run for the hills and leave me hurt.  So I decided to air all of my dirty laundry up front and see if he was up for sticking around.  I basically spent 2 hours giving him all of the reasons he shouldn't date me.  After that was done I felt free and comfortable and we actually ended up having some good conversation following my confessions.  But, I still didn't think I'd ever hear from him again after our first date.

You see, on our first date Jeremy didn't kiss me, didn't hug me, didn't even try to hold my hand.  Based on the fact that he paid for dinner though I was pretty sure that it had indeed been a date and I wasn't just mistaken.  I had never in my life been on a date where a guy didn't try to physically pursue me.  In fact, I had spent the majority of my life thinking that sex and physical affections were the only reasons guys talked to girls, took them out, or bought them dinner.  So I was quite perplexed by the lack of advance on Jeremy's part.  I was pretty sure I was in the friend trap.

But then he called me.  And we hung out again.  And again.  But still no signs of physical affection.  At this point I was sure I was in the friend trap because dating without physical affection was an oxymoron to me.  I had never seen it, experienced it, or even heard of it.  So one night, being the independent modern woman I was, I decided to take matters into my own hands... when Jeremy was at my house I pinned him down and kissed him, much to his surprise.  The next day he called me and wanted to talk about that incident.  He said something to the extent of how that had been fun and all, but that God was leading him to pursue me in a different way, without all of the physical stuff.

And I was dumbfounded.  At this point in my walk with Christ I had read the book of Ruth, and had been praying for an honorable man to pursue and honor me like Boaz had, but I had no idea what that looked like.  And here I was, someone actually doing it and I had missed it, and rather than trusting and following the lead of said man, I grasped for control trying to shape our relationship into exactly what I didn't want, but that was all that I knew.

We dated from July 2006, until we got engaged in April 2007.  The whole time we dated we never kissed.  I wouldn't prescribe this way of dating for all people, but it was God's gift to me.  It was His way of redeeming a past of feelings of being used, cheap, abused, and only pursued for physical reasons to giving me confidence in me, my value, and that someone could love me for who I am and not what I do.  Instead of spending hours making out we spent hours talking, getting to know each other, and finding out each other's passions and desires.  We got to know each other really well, and know that our visions of the future and expectations of marriage were compatible.  We built a solid foundation of friendship and companionship upon which to build the rest of our lives.

After we had been dating around 8 months I knew that I loved Jeremy and I so badly wanted to tell him but I was determined at this point to wait on him to lead our relationship and not make the same mistake that I did with kissing early on.  So I waited, and waited, and bit my tongue holding in my feelings and emotions.  Feeling secure in our relationship and Jeremy's affections for me, but always kind of wondering why he wasn't yet dropping the L word.

And then I found out why...

On Good Friday 2007 we went on a day trip to Charleston, SC to shop, walk, eat, and enjoy some relaxed time together.  While sitting on a park bench Jeremy told me that he had never told me he loved me because he didn't want me to give my heart away until he was ready for the responsibility of accepting it.  In this moment he pulled out a ring, told me he loved me, asked me to marry him and gave me my first kiss (well 2nd, but we don't count the first one).

We got married 4 months later, 13 months from our first date.

Our story is the story of God working in our lives... of bringing us both to an unlikely place at the same time, introducing us a year and a half later (after I'd had the chance of coming to know God and deepening my relationship with Him), redeeming dating and physical pursuits for me, and teaching me just how good He is... how He has a plan for each of us... how intimately involved in the details of our lives He is... how He gives us good gifts, better gifts than we could even imagine or dream up for ourselves... how valuable we are to Him and more.

Our story is the story of me learning to accept love from another person, from my Maker, and to love myself.

Jeremy, I'm so grateful for you.  For the honorable way God led you to pursue me.  Of how He brought us together and has given us a common purpose and vision for our life together.  You make me a better person.  You model Christ's love to me.  You are amazing... a man of honor, integrity, character and faith... the man I wanted, the man I prayed for.  I love you.  I love us.  I love our life together and the God that we serve side by side.


Katie Schultz said...

Gosh, I forgot how much I loved y'alls story - and God's story! So glad you wrote it down!

Prayingmedic said...

I just love this story. The more I get to know Jeremy, the more I respect him. I'm not sure if you read our story yet, Shannon, but my wife and I both spent 2 hours unloading our past on one another shortly after we met. I don't think it was a mistake. While Jeremy may not have needed to know about your past, it helped my wife and I a great deal. your story, your blog and your hubby. Hope to meet y'all in person some time.

Lynn Garland said...

I read your husband's book in a few touched my heart and is drawing me into an even more intimate relationship with my Father. ..even more exciting is that your blog on your marriage gave me a confirmation that I had asked The Lord for just a few minutes ago about a relationship and marriage. I had received a prophetic word about Ruth and how she reaped something unexpected and really by all means shouldn't have had it...and I'm still working on believing how much the Father loves me by bringing a Boaz into my life, at 62 years of age and being single for 24 years and he is an amazing Godly man. So having you mention Ruth and Boaz has really helped me know that The Lord is in this! Thanks to both of you!