When I thought about writing my side of the story, I always went back to the same memory… sitting at a table with my sister Chrystal and my little nephew, complaining about how there was absolutely NO ONE on the horizon who was a serious candidate for me to date. I said, “I’m 32 years old, and there’s not a single person anywhere around that I would seriously consider dating and marrying. It’s very frustrating! How do you go about finding someone? Am I supposed to be doing more – joining Match.com or something? Or am I supposed to be trusting God and waiting for Him to drop someone in my lap? Or is it something between those two? I’ve been asking God how to cooperate WITH Him, feeling like this should be a partnership, not either/ or. I’m not sure what that means or looks like, but I’m asking Him the question.” I think that conversation was sometime in May of 09.
That same month, I ran into Christy Christensen at a conference at MorningStar. She told me that there was this guy she knew from back home in Texas named Sam, and he and I were always posting the same things on our status updates within hours or days of each other. She said, “I keep going back and forth between your posts going, ‘This is unbelievable! They aren’t talking to each other, yet they’re posting the same stuff – sometimes word-for-word!’ I keep thinking you two have to meet! Would it be okay if I sent you a friend suggestion on Facebook?” My response was, “Sure, the more the merrier – I’ve got hundreds of friends on Facebook, and friends of friends.” Christy said she wanted to make sure it was okay first, because some people are funny about that sort of thing. I assured her I wasn’t one of those people. We went our separate ways and I didn’t think much of it.
May was a very eventful month for me. The saying, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” comes to mind. At the time, all I saw was the “worst of times” part; what I know in hindsight is that even as I was seeing just how much I needed to change and grow to be marriage material, God was already bringing my future husband into my life.
Sam and I became Facebook friends in May, but I didn’t pay much attention to him at first or think much of it. I just thought of him as “Christy’s friend from Texas.” However, as we commented back and forth from time to time on each other’s status updates, I did start to notice how great his spelling and grammar were – something a bit unusual in a guy, according to my experience, and a BIG plus. Then he got a couple of obscure movie references I made, and I really started to take notice. Several things were clear to me: This man passionately loves God and is pursuing Him, and he has a great sense of humor. Those were the top 2 things on my list of qualities I wanted in a man.
As time went on, I realized that I was mostly checking Facebook to see if I got any responses from Sam. His were the ones that made me grin and my heart skip a beat or two. I would post things and wait to see what kind of smarty-pants response he’d give, or whether he would get a movie quote, etc. He frequently surprised me with his quick-witted and sarcastic responses, which delighted me to no end!
Then Sam mentioned something in a status update about coming to the East Coast on vacation. I posted a reply to the effect that if he came to Charlotte, we should definitely get together and talk about/ debate Heroes and 24 and other such shows. I figured it was a light-hearted way of trying to feel out how likely it was that we’d meet in real life. I don’t remember his exact response, but it was promising. As October approached, it became more and more clear that Sam really DID want to meet me and planned to make sure it happened. One day I wondered, “Is he really into me, or is he just addicted to Facebook in general?” I went to his profile and noticed that 90% of his Facebook activity was connected with me in some way. I got a big grin on my face and thought, “Uh-huh! Well now, THAT’S interesting! Looks like he’s into me!”
The week before he came, I said to my housemate Cristi, “There definitely seem to be a lot of things that line up; I guess I just wanna meet him in person and see if there’s any chemistry there. If there’s not, that’s okay – we’ll be friends.” I wasn’t assuming anything; I didn’t want to get my hopes up and have them dashed, so I adopted a wait-and-see attitude and tried to keep my expectations low and not let my imagination run away with me. After we met, I thought, “Yeah, I can see there being chemistry here.” By the time we went to see the movie Sunday night, I’d concluded there was definitely chemistry there. Sam loaned me his coat to wear into the theater and we both laughed at how ridiculously big it was on me – the sleeves were so long, they could’ve doubled as potholders if I needed to get something out of an oven! We saw Zombieland and laughed our heads off.
The next day we went up to Moravian Falls to visit Christy and Joe. We were in seperate cars because Sam would be spending the next 4 days in Moravian Falls by himself. On the way, there was a little text exchange, with one message I’ll never forget. We were joking about me being or not being a woman of mystery, and Sam texted me a simple response at 11:04 on Nov. 2: “It is the glory of kings…” He was referencing the verse that says something about the Lord hiding a matter and it being the glory of kings to search it out. My whole face lit up and I said out loud to the Lord and the car, “Oh, THIS is gonna be interesting!!!”
We had a great time that day, and went on a really long hike. It was a lot of fun, and when we had to say goodbye that night, Sam got choked up. I was like, “Hmmm, now that’s interesting!” I knew there was interest there, but I didn’t know how deep it went or how actively he’d pursue me.
That week we spent a lot of time in the evenings on Facebook instant messaging. He made it clear that he wanted to pursue me and see where God would take us, which I was tickled pink to hear. Sam took me out to lunch Friday of that week on his way back to Texas, and it was so good to see him again. I wanted so badly to hold his hand that day, but told myself very strictly, “No. You’re not dating yet. It’s premature.” I’m thankful I made the wise choice; it set a precedent of obedience. In the end, a big, warm hug had to do.
That week I kept looking at my Facebook status of “single” and being bothered by it. We weren’t officially a couple yet, but my heart and interests were definitely toward Sam and not open to anyone else. I started praying for God to show Sam what the next step should be. That week Sam called me and said, “So what do you think – should we make this official?” My response was, “YES PLEASE!” (haha) He’d received two almost identical prophetic words from 2 different friends basically giving him the green light to pursue a relationship with me, and he realized that being halfway across the country from each other didn’t mean we couldn’t be a couple – it would just take some creativity. Sam bought me a webcam so we could see each other when we talked.
Sam started praying about moving to Charlotte. There was no consideration in my mind of me moving to Texas – my job, life, friends, MorningStar and “second family” were all in Charlotte, and Sam had been wanting to move for several years. He started making preparations to sell his house and leave his job.
Then the 21 day fast came. I remember Sam telling me what he felt God was asking of him, and the phrase that caught my ear was when he said, “I can’t NOT do this.” That told me pretty much everything I needed to know. Of course, I wasn’t excited about it, but I had peace about it, and told him so. We were both pretty sad that night during our webcam conversation. The fast was harder on Sam than it was on me, I think – he was fighting battles I still can’t wrap my mind around. Fortunately for me, it was our busy season at work, so that helped the days go by a bit faster. I was SO excited when Dec. 21 came, though – and even more excited when Dec. 26 came and we could actually see each other IN PERSON!!!
That visit had some very remarkable moments. Almost every day brought at least one deep experience. One day it was inner healing, another day a strong encounter with God’s presence that brought intercession, praise and more, resulting in us arriving at our destination with brains fried! It was greatness. I got to meet Sam’s family and we all got along great. I really bonded with my future sister-in-law, Sarah. I finally met the much-heard-about niece and nephew, Ruthie and Daniel, who were every bit as adorable as they were reputed to be!
I’ll skip ahead a bit, because Sam’s covered a lot really well already. The weekend Sam came up to visit me and we ended up getting engaged was one we knew would be pivotal. We were both asking God which one of us was supposed to move where, and hoping for clear direction by the time Sam left to go back to Texas. I wasn’t sure if God’s “No” to Sam about moving to Charlotte was a temporary no or a “permanent” one. Nevertheless, after my initial fury, I’d started to accept that I might need to move to Texas and processing what that would mean. It was a difficult prospect for me; I’d been looking forward to introducing Sam to friends here, and instead I was looking at moving away from everything that had come to mean so much to me over the last few years.
That Sunday morning when Gina prayed over us, one of the things she said was that God was going to make everything crystal clear for us – the path would unfold in front of us and we’d have no doubt about the steps we were supposed to take. We received it in faith, and I was thinking to myself, “Don’t know what it would take for that to happen!” I took it as a promise and wondered how God would bring it to pass.
That night we were praying together and Sam quoted the verse, “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” When he spoke those words, they hit me like a ton of bricks. I said, “I don’t know how, but I feel like that verse is going to be hugely important to us in the future – that it’s like a stake driven into the ground, that’s going to be a signpost for us.” How right I was!
The next day as we were looking at rings, Sam asked me if I was hearing anything from the Lord. Remember, we hadn’t planned on getting engaged that day, just picking out the ring together. I replied, “No, I haven’t heard anything yet,” and as soon as I replied I heard God say three times, “Now is the time. Now is the time. Now is the time.” I started laughing so hard, partly because of the timing and partly because joy came with it. Sam asked what was so funny and I said, “I’m gonna get drunk in the Spirit here in the jewelry store!” I told him what God said, and he grinned, unsurprised.
We had to come back to pick up the ring at 3:00 that day because the mounting had to be changed and the stone set. As we were driving back to pick it up, I told Sam, “This is just really weird and hard for me, to be taking this huge step without my family’s involvement. I mean, my family’s so close… and here we are getting engaged without them meeting you or anything.” He asked me, “Do you want me to wait to propose? If you do, I will.” That didn’t feel right either, so we sat in the parking lot and prayed for a while. As I was thinking about sacrificing my desire to get engaged that day, I remembered the verse we’d been given the night before, “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” I told the Lord what I wanted, and then gave Him those desires and expectations, opinions and beliefs about how things “should” be done. I told Him I wanted to be obedient to whatever He was asking, knowing that His plans and purposes are to prosper and not to harm me. Since He knows the beginning from the end, and is a GOOD father, He knows FAR better than me what’s best for me!
As I considered how to discern what He was asking of me, I was reminded of a truth I’ve held to for years: In moments lacking clarity, go back to the last thing God spoke to you clearly and proceed with that till He speaks something else to you clearly. That made the decision easy: God had already said “Now is the time.” Sam told me what God had said to him, and we went inside and picked up the ring. We found a park bench at a nearby trail and I nearly hugged Sam’s neck out of joint when he proposed! So much joy!!! I kept saying, “Is this REALLY FINALLY happening to ME?!?!?!?!”
As we were sitting there admiring the ring and talking and whatnot, I was asking the Lord when we should get married. I kept hearing over and over, “April.” I asked Sam if he was getting anything about a wedding date and he said no. I told him, “Well, I keep hearing April.” He replied, “Well, we could go with the dates I was originally given.” I was shocked – “WHAT? God gave you dates already?!” He reminded me about the April dates he’d originally thought he was supposed to move to Charlotte. My jaw was on the floor – I’d COMPLETELY forgotten about them! God’s so funny! 🙂 The closest we could get to those dates was April 24, so that’s how we arrived at our wedding date. We both immediately agreed that I’d stay in Charlotte to plan the wedding and take care of some things at work, and then move me and all my stuff to Texas after the wedding. The prophetic word Gina had spoken came true – everything became crystal clear!
The time since we got engaged has certainly had its challenges, mostly related to the huge geographical distance between us. Our most over-used phrase is definitely, “Is it April 24 yet?!!!” We know that God is taking us through a process individually that is building a more solid, sure foundation for our marriage. We treasure every moment we get to spend together, and look forward to the “culture shock” of not having to say goodbye and put each other on planes anymore!
It still boggles my mind that in a year’s time I’ll have gone from saying, “There’s no one even on the horizon!” to being married!!! As my friends Bill and Sandra say, “Sometimes all you can do is hang onto God’s coattails and let your feet fly out behind you!”
To all my single friends out there, I wanted to share a couple of things that will hopefully encourage you. I didn’t get to some magical place of divine contentment before God brought Sam into my life; in fact, in some ways I was more messed up than I’d ever been. I was also rather cynical; I said to friends, “I know in my head it’ll eventually happen someday for me, but I have no idea what it would actually take for that to happen.” It felt like something that would never become a reality for ME. I took the attitude, “I guess I’ll just hang out with my dog and do my life; whatever.” I was struggling to really root and ground myself in the Lord in a deeper way and find my worth in Him, while still being angry with Him sometimes for not bringing a man into my life. It wasn’t all peaches and cream and spiritual bliss. Sometimes I’d tell God, “Dang it, I make a GREAT girlfriend! Why don’t I have a boyfriend?!!” I believe in being real with God – after all, He knows all about it anyway; it’s not like you’re gonna shock Him or something.
So, you don’t have to arrive at some place of perfect contentment, or get to a place of not wanting to get married, or some other such rubbish. The better you know yourself, and the more rooted and grounded you are in God, the more healthy the relationship will be and the easier the process will be, but I don’t believe you have to “achieve” something for God to bring your mate. Sam and I know that God has brought us together not just to fulfill the desires of our hearts, but also because He has a work for us to do together that we can’t do seperately, and it’s time to start that work. It’s about divine timing, not about our performance or perfection. In the fullness of time, God will bring your mate alongside you if that is a desire of your heart.
Sam and I hope that there will be relationships and weddings born out of our wedding. We know God loves romance, and so do we! “He does all things well.”