Sixteen years ago today, June 13, 2001, I walked into Finish Line in Springfield, IL and set eyes on my future husband for the first time. He was 6 feet tall, skinny, with bleach blonde hair and a dark goatee. He was 22 years old, and I was 20. We were both a mess, mentally and spiritually. It was an odd time for God to show up, but His timing is always not what we expect.
I’m convinced he thought I was a psycho, but he tells me he thought I was hot and I guess that makes boys lose their better judgement. I wasn’t looking for anything serious, mostly because I’d lost faith in it. Our first few interactions were filled with odd conversations and strange statements, which I was sure would either intrigue him or scare him away, and at that point in my life, I really didn’t care which one. We kept running into each other around Springfield, however, and one night at Walmart when I had left work early because of a panic attack and I didn’t want to go home to my empty apartment and his alarm clock broke out of nowhere, we ran into each other again. He asked me out, and we agreed to meet at the mall because I didn’t want him to know where I lived.
Our first date on June 30 was just as quirky. I asked him question after question after question. I think I was probably trying to avoid talking about me, since I had been raped in the wee hours of June 14, just 2 weeks prior and the night after we met, and I wasn’t processing that well. We stayed out that night until around 3 AM, just driving around and talking after dinner, and I confessed to him what was going on with me. We talked about all sorts of things that probably weren’t typical first date material. We both confessed we had a call to ministry, but were just not in a place to pursue it. The next morning, I told my friend, Clayton, that I was sure I’d scared him off. Bryan didn’t call me again for a week, and in my mind, in the several days in between, I probably was never going to hear from him again, and I started dating someone else, because in all honesty, that’s how I dealt with rejection at the time. There were too many guys out there to get upset about one not liking you.
And for anyone who knows us, it didn’t take that long for us to work through the initial mess. In August, we became “officially” a couple, and two days later, he asked me to marry him. We quickly planned a wedding, and got married on November 17, 2001.
I look back, and neither of us had any idea about what we were doing or getting ourselves into. We were very naive, and have walked through some tough journeys together as a result. But God’s plans are so much better than our own, and He has blessed us immensely over the almost 16 years we’ve stuck it out together. There is absolutely no one who could have loved me like Bryan has, and our story still makes me shake my head on how it could have possibly come to be, but God.
So today, even though some tough memories are also attached to this time, I am so grateful for the blessing of meeting that tall, skinny, bleach blonde dude who had just moved to Springfield. I adore him so much, and I’m so happy to spend this crazy life with him! Thanks for putting up with me, Bryan.