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***This week’s blog post is an EXCLUSIVE sneak peek from my newest ebook “Dating to The Altar.” ******
People talk about falling in love. I laugh when I hear that because to say I fell in love would be a lie. I went in kicking and screaming. At God.
Let me explain.
I was raised a good Christian girl in a very conservative church, by conservative parents. But growing up I fed myself a steady diet of romance novels. So in my mind, the man I would marry would have rippling muscles that made my heart race. He would be tall, light skinned, play a musical instrument, and know how to sing. Basically, he would be a sexy young pastor that shared my love for God. Together we would lead young people to Christ and be role models for our community.
With a list like that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when I first met my husband, I dismissed him. He was unremarkable, and to be honest, I found him a bit strange.
So here’s how we met the first time.
At the time, we went to two different churches that had the same pastor assigned to them. One evening we had a joint youth service. Afterward he approached me and sat down. I don’t remember what we talked about. Being a good Christian girl, I tried to be nice and make conversation. At the end of it he hit me with,
“Can I have your number?”
I cocked my eyebrow at him. “How old are you?” I asked warily. He couldn’t be a day over 18, I guessed. I was 20, a junior in college, and I wasn’t into younger guys at all.
Confused, he answered, “I’m the same age as you!”
When he noticed that I was still skeptical, he turned to a friend from his church who happened to be nearby.
“Hey, how old am I?” She looked taken aback at first, then scrunched her forehead as she tried to remember.
“I’m 20, right? She doesn’t believe me.” She nodded her head in confirmation.
“I was born in 1985,” he continued.
I didn’t want to be overbearing, so I finally agreed to believe he was my age. I couldn’t think of an excuse not to give him my number without being rude, so I gave it to him. I figured I could always ignore his call if I really didn’t want to speak to him.
By the time he called a few days later, I’d already forgotten meeting him and my mom handed me the phone while I was in the midst of cleaning the house.
“Hello,” I answered.
“Hey, it’s Jono.” My stomach dropped. Dangit! I forgot to ask my mom who it was! Now I’d have to make small talk again. How annoying.
We spoke for a few minutes, during which I asked what he planned to do with his life.
“Oh, I’m going to work for myself. I’m never going to work for someone else.” He sounded so confident when he said it. To me it sounded like something an arrogant lazy person would say. I was very unimpressed with his ambiguous plan.
“I bet you would if you had bills to pay,” I replied just as confidently as he had.
“No I wouldn’t,” he insisted.
Okay, now I was completely convinced he was a bum and we had nothing in common. After that, the conversation stalled and it was clear to the both of us that we had no chemistry.
He proved to be persistent though. A couple of weeks later, he came to my church and sat down beside me, smiling at me with that cocky smile while I tried not to think of the fact that my mom was sitting right behind us and would probably have questions about him later. A few days after that, he had a Valentine’s day basket of candy, a teddy bear, and CD mix of love songs delivered to my house.
I was impressed with his efforts, but still very uninterested. So nothing happened, and a year went by where we didn’t speak.
Until we did.
God brought us back into each other’s lives in a very casual way. Remember how our churches shared a pastor?
So his church started renovations, and their youth committee asked ours if we could have joint youth services until their church was done with reconstruction. I was now a senior in college, with plans to go to medical school. It also happened that my heart had just been broken by a young man at his church who fit (most of) my list of preferences. We had been talking for a while, getting to know each other, but in the end he decided to get back with his ex.
I was devastated. I swore that I was done with love, and got really involved at my church. In fact, I was now the assistant Youth Director. So was Jono. We both started this youth training program, so we saw each other every weekend now. Of course, I wasn’t interested in him since I was consumed with my mission as a youth leader. But he seemed different to me now. He seemed less arrogant, and more earnest about helping the youth at his church develop their relationship with Christ. I admired that.
When I graduated from college I was still in limbo about going to medical school. I wasn’t sure if it was the right path for me, so I decided to take some time to work and figure things out. I felt like I was at a crossroad in my life, and I needed to really seek God and solidify what exactly my calling was.
Around that time, Jono invited me to go to a Bible study he attended. I figured that was the perfect way to get more in tune with God, so I went with him one day. He picked me up at my house and we drove a few blocks away to the house where the Bible study was being held.
I was blown away. I know that sounds weird to say about a Bible study, but it’s the truth. The man leading out the Bible study was this super-ripped guy that everyone called Brother Mack. He was a Trinidadian guy in his forties, and let me tell you, he was anointed with the Holy Spirit!
The way he broke down the Word of God, you could tell everyone there was amazed too. He made everything so practical and applied every verse to stuff we were actually going through and struggling with. There were a bunch of people jam-packed into the house, and there was no air-conditioning, so sweat beaded up on everyone’s forehead as we searched through our Bibles. But it was life-changing!
Afterward Jono and I sat in his car for an hour talking about the stuff we had learned and how it related to our lives at the moment. I was shocked when I realized so much time had gone by while we were talking about Jesus. It felt exhilarating, and liberating.
I felt like I had rediscovered God in my life that night. And I was even more amazed that I was able to share my experience with Jono, of all people. Someone that I had low-key looked down on and been annoyed by in the past, I now had a connection with.
We kept going to that bible study every Tuesday night after that. All the seats were taken and about 20 of us young adults crammed in that house every week because we were that serious about God. Every week we were able to come together and learn about God, and it felt like such a personal connection.
And the more we went to Bible study, the closer Jono and I got. Of course, at that point, I saw him as a friend, nothing more. I was glad that I was able to have a male friend who had no ulterior motive, no agenda. It was refreshing. We would talk on the phone for hours about life and our goals.
Then one day he ruined everything and told me he was attracted to me as more than a friend. I remember feeling dread because I was sure our friendship was going to be ruined when I told him I didn’t feel the same way about him.
But when I told him, he was super cool about it-unbothered, in fact. “Now don’t go getting awkward on me okay?” he teased. “We can still be friends,” he assured me. Of course, I didn’t believe him. Guys had said stuff like that to me before, only to avoid me when they saw me after that.
But Jono surprised me again by genuinely being unaffected by my lack of attraction to him. Our conversation kept going and after a while I forgot about the awkwardness I felt and relaxed again. When we hung up I thought to myself that he was a one-of-a-kind guy that I could truly call my friend.
One day he went out of town on a trip with his church, and we didn’t speak the whole day. I thought to myself, “Huh, that’s weird, we’ve usually had a conversation by now.” I scrolled through my call list to see if I had somehow missed his call. Nope.
I dialed his number….and felt a rush of warmth when he answered the phone.
Later on, when we started dating, he said he had a feeling I was going to call him that day.
But in that moment all I knew was that this guy had become important to me, and I wanted him to be in my life as my friend from now on. I stressed the word “friend” in my head because I was reminding myself that he wasn’t my type.
But that entire month, as we got closer and closer, I could tell that I had started to care about him as more than a friend. And in those moments I reminded myself sternly that he didn’t have any rippling muscles that I could see. In fact, he had a gut y’all! He wasn’t light-skinned, wasn’t an older pastor that swept me off my feet and made my heart race at first sight.
It didn’t help. The more I tried to deny it, the more I realized I couldn’t. We started talking, but still I fought my attraction to him all because I wasn’t physically attracted to him the first time we met.
I remember one day I told him to meet me at the park. My plan was to tell him I didn’t want to talk to him anymore. But when I started telling him, I broke down and started crying because suddenly I realized I didn’t want him to not be in my life. He had become a part of me and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t be without him.
I had tears flowing down my face and I was sobbing so hard I’m pretty sure he couldn’t make out what I was saying. He put his arm around me and comforted me while I cried some more. The next day we agreed to take things very slowly.
And we’ve been together ever since.
The point I want to make by telling you our love story is this: sometimes, our “standards” are really superficial. I wanted to fall in love with a man who loved God, BUT who also looked a particular way. Once I made up my mind to stop fighting my feelings I realized, “Dang, this man was always handsome! I was just so focused on the man I had created in my imagination so when my husband came along, I almost missed out on my blessing! Thank God for giving me a patient, persistent man!
What about you? Have you ever become attracted to someone over time even though you didn’t think they were your “type” at first? Tell me about it in the comments!
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I grew up a “good girl” and by the time I got to college I guess you could say that I was considered the kind of “virtuous” woman that guys in the church tried to date. My answer almost invariably no. Yes, most of the guys who approached me were nice, and maybe they had serious intentions, but there was something I could see in all of them that made it easy for me to dismiss their advances.
They were too adoring.
I hate to sound full of myself, but I think it’s important for guys to understand why that may be a turn-off for some women.
See, people in my family, at church, and even at school already saw me in a certain light. I was a God-girl, seemingly perfect, a youth leader, and always studying. I really did come off as a cliched good girl.
Only a few people knew how messed up I was inside. I was trying so hard to be good because I thought if I studied hard enough and became a doctor, my accomplishments would make my parents happy enough to stay together. I thought if I was obedient, and did as much work around the house as possible, that my mom wouldn’t be so bothered by the problems in her marriage. I thought if I helped my younger sister with her homework and stayed on her back about getting her college applications done, she would snap out of the depression caused by everything happening in our family and become a successful person.
I remember lying awake some nights, my heart pounding and my hands clammy with sweat, worrying about my life, the future, and all the stuff I couldn’t control. I remember worrying that something terrible would happen and I would have no power to stop it from happening. It wasn’t until years later that I realized those were anxiety attacks. Sometimes I would be awake all night, and it wasn’t until I would start seeing the sun start to rise that I would feel calm enough to doze off for a little while.
So when guys would approach me, telling me how highly they thought of me, I would scoff and think to myself, “This dude has no idea who I am.” How do you know you want to date me when you don’t know a thing about me? You’re seeing me from afar, and assuming that the persona you see is the person I actually am. Why would I want to mess that up?
So my walls would stay up. I would smile politely and decline, saying that I thought sticking to being friends was a better idea.
When I met my husband, he gave me the adoring eyes treatment too, except he was a lot more sure of himself than most of the guys I’d ever spoken to. But he still got the “let’s just be friends” treatment. It wasn’t until we crossed paths again a year later that we became friends. We were both through with finding love, and trying to figure out our lives.
We would talk about everything, anything. For the first time in my life, I felt free to say exactly what I felt and what I was thinking. I told him stuff I had never told anyone before. And no matter what I told him, he still treated me the same. Eventually, he told me that he was into me. I told him I didn’t feel the same. I expected the conversation to get awkward and for us to hang up and never speak again, but he insisted that he was okay with it and that I better not act funny with him over it. I laughed and we kept talking. When I hung up I was amazed, and intrigued.
A couple of months later we were dating.
See, he had managed to avoid my adoring eyes radar by starting in the friend zone. It wasn’t until my walls had come down, and I was completely comfortable with him, that he announced his feelings for me. And even when I rejected him, he didn’t let it stop our friendship. He still wanted to talk with me and spend time with me. And that made me love him. He knew the best and worst about me, and he still wanted to be my friend.
So when he said that he was into me, it meant that he was into the person I actually was, not an ideal image he’d made up in his mind from a superficial association with me.
Apparently, I found that irresistible, and here we are today, married with two kids.
My advice to guys who think they’ve found their wife: take it easy on the whole “God told me you’re my wife” bit and try being her friend first without announcing your feelings. That’s a whole lot less threatening and gives her time to develop affection for you; that way, when you do announce your attraction, it’s a decision she actually has to think about instead of dismissing outright. It’s very easy to dismiss someone you don’t really know, as opposed to someone who’s company you enjoy and that you’ve begun to consider a friend.
Hope this helps! And may the odds be ever in your favor.
I had pretty much resigned myself to stay single when I met my husband. My parents had just recently finalized their divorce after 30 years of a rocky marriage, the guy I really liked and thought was going to become my boyfriend got back with his ex, and I was just too done with love. I honestly didn’t care if I stayed single for the rest of my life if it meant avoiding heartbreak and the drama that comes with it. When I looked at my parents’ relationship I dreaded making the same mistakes they did. And I certainly didn’t want to end up marrying someone for the wrong reasons, only to find myself feeling miserable and disgusted with myself when I woke up every morning.
Then I met him. It wasn’t like the romantic comedies where there’s lots of passion and fireworks when the two characters meet. My heart didn’t start pounding whenever he came into the room.
It was more like him slowly growing on me until I realized I couldn’t imagine my life without him. You can read all about it in this post that went viral.
But when I thought about spending the rest of my life with him, and all the baggage we both had, I was still scared and worried that I was making a mistake. I loved him, but I really didn’t want to deal with all the difficulties I imagined would come up eventually if we got married. I was scared of the commitment.
But here I am, 7 years and 2 kids later, writing blogs about relationships and marriage.
I don’t regret getting married, and I now dedicate a lot of my spare time to advising single people on relationships and marriage.
So how did I get over my fears of making the commitment that we call marriage?
I did some serious soul-searching and had long, honest talks with God about these:
1. Character: I did a thorough mental evaluation of every aspect of my husband’s character. I was honest with myself about his flaws. I asked myself: If I have to live with this flaw for the next 10 years, will we still have a happy marriage?
That’s one of the MOST important questions to ask yourself. The thing that most people don’t understand about marriage is that the flaws you see in the person while you’re dating are only magnified when you get married. You’re living with each other, sleeping in the same bed, and waking up to each other every morning. Whatever it is about them that gets on your nerves, will only become even more frustrating. Constant frustration can lead to bitterness and resentment, which slowly chokes the affection in your marriage.
If you find that there’s an aspect of your partner’s character that you would not want to put up with in your marriage, don’t get married. Give them time to work on it and establish more positive habits so that you know the change is real, not something manufactured for the sake of getting you to say yes.
2. Chemistry: Did we have that spark, that attraction that draws two people to each other? Was I attracted to him physically and intellectually?
I’ll admit, I struggled with the physical attraction part in the beginning. He just wasn’t the type I usually went for. But the more I got to know him, the more endearing his looks became, and I found that my heart did speed up for a second whenever I saw him. As for the intellectual part, that was what got him out of the friend zone! We could talk for hours on the phone, and he understood me in a way that no one else ever had.
3. Commitment: We both took marriage seriously. We understood that we would both do whatever it took to make sure we were building our marriage on the right foundation. We were both willing to do whatever it took to work out whatever difficulties we would face. We were both committed to making sure our love stayed bright and strong.
4. Core Values: Part of the reason why we were able to have those long talks was because we were on the same page when it came to things that were important to us. Our moral standards were the same. We both valued family and friendship. We both wanted to be forces for change in our communities. We were both youth leaders at our churches and would encourage each other as we swapped stories. When it came to the types of lives we wanted to live, we were completely in sync.
Let me keep it real. Even with all of that, there were still times where I wondered if I had done the right thing. Marriage is still a leap of faith even when you and your spouse make awesome partners. It doesn’t mean that your marriage will be easy. Difficulties will always be a reality of life. Love will always entail taking a risk. But it’s a calculated risk. You have to approach it with your eyes wide open to everything you are risking.
After that, you entrust your marriage into God’s hands and know that He will keep your love going even when you both want to quit.
Seven years, 2 kids, and counting.
Till next time!
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