I met Drew for the first time sometime around my second and his third grade year. His family had just moved to the area from WAY up north, and he began attending my Sunday School class at church. He had a funny northern accent, and was the somewhat weird, buck-toothed kid that my uncle affectionately named “Beavy” due to his massive overbite (our kids are orthadontically doomed.) He was a quiet, kind, and shy kid, and honestly I never liked him much due to my abrasive, stupid, and obnoxious personality as a middle schooler.
Drew, on the other hand, somehow liked me from the very beginning. He first expressed his feelings for me during an ice skating trip with the church my sixth grade year. I distinctively remember sitting three seats back, and being asked by his friend if I “would maybe go out with him.” I turned to my best friend and asked her if I should. She shook her head no, and so I kindly declined.
The summer before my eighth grade year, I decided I really liked the attention he gave me. His overbite had been corrected, he was still kind- but less shy, and he had pretty muscular arms. I mean, why not? He was in high school, after all. So I decided on another church trip that we should be friends. I demanded that he text me on his new Razr flip phone, and he did. Over the next two years we became best friends, talking every day about absolutely everything and absolutely nothing. During the Spring of 2010, I kissed him on a dirt road between our two houses when we happened to run into each other while he was on his dirt bike and I was on my 15-year-old-kid-bike-bike. (To both of our moms- I promise we didn’t ever sneak out to see each other.) 😉
Drew and I were SO young when we started dating, and though he was much more level-headed than I was from the beginning, we both had a ton of growing up to do during high school. My mom had a strict rule about going out on any dates before my 16th birthday (thank God she did- I was a hooligan,) but shortly after I turned 16, we went out for the first time and continued our dating relationship from then on.
Between going to different (rival) high schools, Drew’s rigorous cross country program, our strict dating rules, his lack of ability to smooth-talk, and my lack of ability to not be a superficial and needy female, we broke up multiple times. We even separated for half a year during my senior year of high school with no intentions of reestablishing anything more than friendship again, if even that. When things came full circle and we started seeing each other again, I remember being so worried, as were my parents and friends. We were of the age to begin a serious relationship that would lead to marriage, but we had been so on-again, off-again. I remember reading article after article online during high school about how to know if someone is your “soul mate.” There are so many sources that will tell you that you are to find the person that makes you whole, gives you butterflies, is amazing in bed, and makes you swoon every time they enter the room. So of course, I attempted to look for certain attributes in Drew that were superficial and not coherent with who Drew actually was at that point. I wanted him to be over-the-top sweet, always charming, and never make me think that I was wrong. I sought after all the wrong advice and hoped he would change. Don’t get me wrong, my husband has an incredibly soft and kind heart- he just isn’t all about the mushy stuff.
Our Sunday school teacher during my high school years was an amazing man with an extremely sound and Christ-like view of marriage. He ended up being my mentor for my year-long project during my senior year, and he breathed so much truth into our Sunday School’s open ears on a weekly basis. Josh returned home to the Creator during my senior year, leaving behind his beautiful and sweet wife and three daughters. I will forever remember one thing that he said to us during our class that Spring.
The dialogue between him and another student went something like this.
Student: “Okay, so how do you know if marrying someone you’re dating is within God’s will or His plan for your life?”
Josh: “Do they love Jesus?”
Josh: “Then you’re good.”
I remember actually laughing out loud, thinking he was joking, but he continued on, and spoke the words that I needed to hear so desperately at that point in my life.
“No seriously guys, I mean it. Ask yourself, do they love Jesus? Like… really love Jesus? And then I guess the second question is, ‘do they love you?’ If you answer yes to both of those, you’re golden. Go serve Christ together. Both of those questions encompass so many other subjects, anyway. God gives us so much freedom of choice, and wants us to seek out exactly who WE love. He wants us to form genuine and authentic relationships, and He wants our marriages to last. He gives us guidelines on how to make that happen within His plan, but picking WHO that lifelong mate is… is totally up to you. When you marry someone, you aren’t marrying them because you’ve decided they are the perfect person for you. You’re marrying them because you have decided that you love the flawed person that they are, and want to make a commitment to build your own version of a God-honoring life with them.”
I remember being in tears that week, because it was the truth that my heart so desperately needed. I breathed a sigh of relief, because this idea of dating took SO much pressure off the dating process itself, and allowed the freedom that Christ truly does offer to take root.
Over the next two years, Drew and I grew in Christ and grew as individuals. We attended the same bible college, and sought to honor Christ with our relationship. I realized over those two years that he was definitely not my soul mate. In fact, from everything that I had read online in the years prior, he was SO far from it. Our personalities are drastically different, and our love language isn’t anything like you see in the movies. We only speak sarcasm. We make fun of each other daily and rather harshly, and MAN do we laugh at each other. He isn’t wonderful with the compliments, and he doesn’t shower me with gifts weekly, but man, he loves me so well. As our college classes spoke truth after truth into my heart about what marriage is meant to be, I realized that he was absolutely the man that I wanted to build a life with.
In April of 2015, I walked down the aisle to a 20-year-old young man who was overcome with emotion as I walked toward him. I promised that for the rest of my life, I would honor him, cherish him, and build the God-honoring life with him that Josh had taught us about. We will have been married 4 years this Spring. We have a sweet little boy and a beautiful little lady, and I will forever be thankful that I didn’t search for my “soul mate” those years ago.
Here’s the thing. The boy that I started dating in high school was a scrawny, quiet cross country runner. He loved books, listened to heavy metal and alternative rock, had a shaggy but well-combed haircut, and at one point he joined a quilting club.
The man I dated through college was a body-building, Razor scooter riding, heavy metal and worship music listening Target employee who spent his summers playing guitar in the National Parks.
And the man I am married to today is a patient father and a sarcastic and outspoken jokster. He is a disciplined service member with tattoos and a high-and-tight haircut, and he can bench 4x the weight that he could when we started dating.
I say all of this to tell you that he has changed, as we all do, and I expect him to change again with every year that passes.
I didn’t marry a man simply because he had a body I thought was perfect, because bodies can and will change.
I didn’t marry a man who was always there for me, because sometimes your husband just physically can’t be. (And because good Lord, my husband cannot answer his phone to save his life.)
I didn’t marry a man because he gave me butterflies, because I knew that there would be times when the butterflies just weren’t there.
I didn’t marry a man whose personality perfectly meshed with mine, because God knows I am the most irrational person in the world at times, and nobody should mesh perfectly with that, to be honest.
I didn’t marry a man who I knew beforehand was “compatible in bed,” because I made a commitment long before we started dating to wait for my wedding night. (As did Drew, and it was the best thing we ever did.)
I didn’t marry a man who completed me, because I knew that I would be so sorely disappointed if I ever expected him to do that.
I didn’t marry my soul mate, because searching for a soul mate alone will leave you absolutely empty in the end.
I married my best friend in the world, because he looked me in the eye and told me that He would always love Christ before me, and that He would stay by my side, loving me well until the day that one of us returns home to be with our Creator.
I chose Drew for so many reasons. I chose him because I loved his laugh. I chose him because he picked on me and is sarcastic like my dad. I chose him because he was always amazing with his younger siblings. I chose him because he challenged me to look past my comfort zone. I chose him because he was always firm in what he believed. I chose him because he called me out on my crap. I chose him because he has an amazing family that I love to be around. I chose him because he was always real with me and never put on a show to impress me, like at all. But ultimately, I chose him because he loves Jesus with his life, and I knew I could build a life with him.
I make a choice every single day, to wake up and keep choosing him. Through his flaws and imperfections, through my mistakes and shortcomings. Through our fights and hard days, through the days he makes me angry to just be around. I will choose every day to honor the commitment we made, and to love him to the very best of my ability. Drew is my biggest supporter and the best leader, and I have built the most beautiful little life with him.
Day after day after day, I will willingly and so happily choose to love the man that isn’t my soul mate.