This is our story and excerpts from the letter I wrote Ryan on our wedding day.
I remember lying in my room when I was in high school and writing in a journal to my future husband. I’d write all sorts of notes and questions and things I’d wonder or ask this man when I eventually met him. I would wonder where he was and what he was doing and if he was thinking about me too. It has always been such a strong desire in my heart to find a wonderful Christian man to marry – someone who would love me and cherish me and appreciate me for the person I am. I always thought I would get married right out of college, just like my parents, so when that plan didn’t work out, I started to get discouraged. How was I going to meet someone after college?
As time kept passing I started getting really frustrated with God. I had worked a year and a half in Orlando when I got the job offer to move to Atlanta. At that time, I still was battling Lyme disease, I had a broken heart, and I didn’t know a single person in Atlanta. I remember standing in my shower, the day after Christmas in 2010, and crying my eyes out. I was sobbing and asking God why I felt like my whole life was NOTHING like what I thought it would be by that point. I promised myself in that moment, a moment so filled with hurt and longing for a life I desperately wanted, that I would remember it a year from then. I would look back and see how much my life had changed.
I moved to Atlanta a few weeks later. I laid in bed at night for the first two months, crying myself to sleep and asking myself why the heck I moved in the first place. I missed my family, I felt completely alone, and I was still single. I would say, “Well, you did this to yourself…you put in for this job and now look at you. You’re miserable and sad and you have no one to blame but you.” That was such a precious time in my life. The only person that was with me in those moments was God. I would pray and pray and pray that He would help me understand why I was supposed to have moved. As the year wore on, I fell in love with Atlanta. I made friends and established a life and I grew so much as a person. By the Fall, I looked back at the year and realized that moving was one of the best decisions I had ever made – it was one of the hardest, but I was so proud of myself for doing it and God had blessed me by giving me a new life in Atlanta, which I had grown to love.
Then in September my manager called me one afternoon and told me I needed to be open to moving again. Despite it being completely unprofessional, I burst out crying and told him I just couldn’t see moving again. I had just moved 9 months prior and I liked my life. He tried to talk me into it for 2 hours, but I stayed resistant. A week or so after, he approached me again. I had been praying a lot and I knew at that moment that I had to move. Worst case scenario, if I absolutely hated it, I could move back in a year. I asked for the list of states that I could choose from…and eventually Tennessee popped up. I prayed and prayed, but finally decided that Nashville would be my best option.
My parents have always wanted to retire there and it was only 3 hours from Atlanta. Maybe God was having me move so that my future life would finally start to fall into place. I still found myself single, and by this point I was so sick of dating people and it never going anywhere. I began praying that God would not bring anyone into my life unless it was “the one”. I would rather be alone, than continuously waste my time in pointless relationships and I was tired of having my heart broken. I took a leap of faith and I started the process of moving again. Honestly, once I decided to move, doing it the second time was much easier than the first. By December I was excited to get a new life again – to have new adventures.
The weekend of my 25th birthday, I decided to go to Nashville to find a place to live. I figured since work was paying for it, that I could just turn it into a fun trip, bringing some girlfriends and also celebrating my birthday while we were there. I drove up on Thursday with J, my girlfriend from work, and we went to dinner and then out to Broadway. It was a horrible experience. (I didn’t know at the time that I was not in the best atmosphere for people my age) By midnight, I was back in the hotel room, crying and telling J I was moving to hell.
I rang in my 25th birthday in true “quarter life crisis” mode. I fell asleep saying over and over that I just wanted to find someone and settle down – I did not want to be 25 and single! My other friends showed up the next day, but we ended up just staying in the hotel that night because I didn’t even feel like going out after the night before. Saturday we decided to go explore Nashville and grab some lunch. Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel and the girls convinced me to go to dinner and go out…after all, it was our last night there. Reluctantly, I walked downstairs with them to the Embassy Suites’ free happy hour.
As I waited in line for wine, I saw a guy, our age, standing behind us and texting on his phone. We grabbed our drinks and sat down at a table. We noticed the guy from in line was sitting a few tables away, alone, so we decided to ask him to join us. His name was M and he explained to us that he had a bunch of friends coming down from Clarksville for the night. He was in the Army and so were all his friends. Well, I pretty much wrote him off after that. I figured he could be some fun entertainment for the night, but I was not interested in getting involved with anyone in the military – no thank you. His friends started showing up and we talked to them all for awhile, but eventually we went upstairs to change and go to dinner. We told the guys we would meet up with them later.
After dinner, we found out that the boys were at Tavern, so we walked the few blocks to meet them. I wasn’t really impressed with them, but again tried to be a good sport and told M I just wanted to see as many bars as possible so I knew of some good places to go once I moved. We started hopping from bar to bar. At the third bar, they had a photobooth, so I grabbed E, my roomie, and ran to take pictures. The night was turning out to be more fun than I had expected, and I was glad we had gone out after all. After the pictures, we ventured back to the group, just as everyone was deciding to head to the next bar. I looked over towards M and realized there was a boy with him that I hadn’t seen before. I sarcastically called out to M as we walked out, “Bring your friend Dimples.”
Once we got out of the bar and started walking, “Dimples” and I fell away from the group and just started talking. He told me he was from New Jersey, to which I said “You’re the whitest person from NJ I’ve ever seen!” (My prior education on the subject was from the TV show Jersey Shore) I found out he grew up in a Christian home and he also told me he was planning to get out of the Army that spring (he didn't end up doing that, obvi). I remember sitting in a booth at a bar, getting kind of excited that I was somehow paired off with this guy. He could have ended up with any of my friends, but I was the lucky girl who got to be with the only good looking boy from the group. He also seemed to have a lot of qualities that I found extremely attractive.
We all went back to the hotel to eat and hang out. He volunteered to put on some music and went to plug in his iPod…and out came Skrillex. That was the icing on the cake. Not many people like dubstep…namely, my sister and I were basically the only two people I knew who appreciated it. This sounds like such a silly thing to care about, but my biggest complaint with guys was that I could never find a good Christian man who loved God, but who also loved the same everyday things that I did. I felt like I was going to have to just settle for one or the other: A strong Christian who was boring or someone who loved doing everything I did and was cool, but not the strongest Christian.
I looked at him and said, “You know who Skrillex is?!?!” His face looked as shocked as mine. We hung out until about 4 or 5 in the morning and then all of us girls headed to bed. Before he left he looked at me, took my face in his hands and said “I’ll see you again.” He kissed my forehead and left.
The next month we talked constantly through text messages and then on the phone. He made plans to come to Atlanta to meet me for New Years Eve. The day after Christmas 2011, I was at my house, and I remembered that painful moment in the shower one year prior. I stood there, thanking God that he reminded me of it and smiled because I had come so far in the past year. I was excited to go back to Atlanta and to see this boy again. I was hopeful that maybe we would even start dating once I moved to Nashville. Did I think this was my future husband? No, not necessarily. But I did remember my prayers to God that He wouldn’t place anyone in my life until it was “the one”.
The boy did meet up with me for New Years, and a few days later, he helped me move all my stuff up to Nashville. In March he proposed and we were married in June.
God's plan was not my own - it was so, so much better (: