In my college ministry, we had a Valentine’s event every year. We would get dressed up, sometimes be matched up in groups of guys and girls, making it a special event where guys and girls can interact in a safe, social setting. They would even use it as an opportunity for guys to practice holding doors open, asking girls to dance, and have a genuine good time that looks different from other college social events.
Usually my favorite part of the event was when they invited a couple to share their story. I love people’s stories, especially the romantic ones. One story always stuck out in my mind, perhaps because when I think about it now, 10 years later, it sounds ridiculous and was probably a once-in-a-lifetime event.
The couple was a newlywed couple, staff from another campus. Their story sounded so different than any other I had heard. They had worked together for a year, and they hung out with each other in groups. He didn’t express interest at her at all until he approached her and said, “Can we date with the intention of getting married?”
He was interested, hadn’t said anything at all, but then proposed even before going on their first date?!?
There are two perspectives to this:
First, he knew. He knew he wanted to marry her without even knowing how she would respond. He watched her from afar, assessed her character and decided he would just risk it all.
In so many ways, I thought this was the “perfect story.” For a man to be the confident, to know for sure, and seemingly out of the blue say, “Hey, I think you are great and I think we should get married.”
Second perspective: It sounds perfectly crazy. And you know what? It was.
But this little romantic heart believed it. I thought perhaps there was someone around me that was doing the same. I constantly had this in the back of my mind, that one of the amazing guys I interacted with was examining my marriage-ability. I thought that one day I would turn around and someone would finally see all the wonderful things about me and suddenly come at me with an offer of marriage: “Surprise! I have been secretly in love with you!”
But when that didn’t actually ever happen, I was left really disappointed and disillusioned about when and how it was supposed to happen. I thought if it didn’t happen in college then it never would.
The funny part of being on the other side of college and watching all your friends get married is that you get to witness so many different ways that God brings people together. All of them are beautiful. Whether people meet their freshman year and get married after graduation, they were childhood sweethearts, they meet in the coffee shop and start a discussion over a tattoo, or even if they meet at a random party hosted by friends—God is creative and unique and all of our stories are important to him.
Now as a 29-year-old adult, I think about this couple’s story and how ridiculous it sounds. Sure it worked for that couple, but it most likely isn’t going to be my story. Honestly dating and relationships aren’t that easy and most often don’t work like that. We don’t get to necessarily skip the awkward first dates, the waiting period between text messages, or—in my recent case—the 2 weeks in between dates because of our busy lives. However, isn’t that a unique part of it? Getting to know people isn’t always easy and can be messy because people are messy.
Honestly, I am okay with enjoying the messy parts, which is what makes a story unique and creative. This is reality and I would rather live life in God’s reality for me, than someone else’s story.
If you know someone who is discouraged by their own story, will you email this post to them and encourage them?