On Christmas Eve, I got engaged to the love of my life. When people hear that you’ve gotten engaged, one of the questions that is asked (after “Did you set a date for your wedding?”) is, “So how did you meet?” Every time the question is posed, my fiancé and I give each other a little smirk. If our minds spoke their thoughts, they’d probably say, Do we have to admit to it? We wish it was a different way. Hopefully they don’t ask which site. This is so embarrassing. But, rather than coming up with a fantastical story, we admit through mumbled breaths, “Online.” Yes, we met through an internet dating website.
While I know that this isn’t the most romantic set up for meeting your future spouse, I’d like to tell you a little back story about how this beautiful relationship came into being.
In 2012, my marriage of 15 years was headed toward divorce. For the first year following our split, I had a difficult time. I was stressed beyond the max. I was returning to full-time work after being a stay-at-home mom for 13 years. I turned 40. I was losing hair at an alarming rate, gaining weight, and feeling just awful. All the while, I was putting on the smiley face to let everybody see my optimism for the future, while behind the scenes I was a mess. I immersed myself in my spirituality. I spent a lot of time praying, reading and studying the Bible, and building on my relationship with God.
In the years that followed, I wondered if I’d ever fall in love again. Despite my deepest hopes, I seriously doubted it. I wrote a Bible Study for people who were going through divorce. One of the chapters was about starting new relationships. At that point in my life, I was talking a good game, but I wasn’t practicing what I preached in the book. I wasn’t praying for a mate. By the beginning of 2014, I decided I was ready to meet someone. But this time, I didn’t want just anyone; I wanted God’s pick for me. I prayed for him every single day. I prayed that God would allow us to meet soon. I was getting lonely. Even my children were asking me when I was going to find myself a boyfriend! As much as I wanted to find a companion, I didn’t want to do anything that was outside of what God wanted for me. So I just prayed and waited.
In April of 2015, I read a book called The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. In the book, the author talks about praying circles around our hopes and dreams. This book had me write down exactly what I was praying for—the love of my life. As embarrassing as it is to share this with you, I need you to see all that I was hoping for…
Love of my life *Soulmate*: God filled, Spirit driven, optimistic, honorable, loving, trustworthy, intelligent, attractive/tall, respectful, funny, devoted, faithful, kind, generous, friendly, caring, motivated, loves me and I love him, “smitten with each other,” “two peas in a pod,” “friends and lovers,” “partners in crime,” “made for each other”
While this was not the only thing I prayed for, this was at the forefront of my daily prayers. The strange thing is, no matter how much I prayed and hoped and thought about it, I kept feeling like it wasn’t time yet. A few friends asked if I’d like to get set up, I said, “Sure!” I hoped this was God’s way of putting His choice in my path, but for one reason or another, the set-ups never worked out. I was never introduced to any of them. By the Fall of 2015, my kids decided that I had a make-believe boyfriend named Bill. After a weekend at their dad’s they’d ask, “So, did you hang out with ‘Bill’ this weekend?” I repeatedly told them that I wished I had, but “Bill” just never showed up.
I even backed off on my prayer list… My prayers changed, “Lord, it’s okay if he’s not funny. I can love someone who isn’t funny…Dear God, I don’t need him to be motivated. I can love a couch potato…Father, who needs an attractive man anyway? I’ll take one that’s a little goofy looking. That’s fine.” In the end, I pretty much crossed everything off the list. I decided I would stop asking for so much and just pray for him to have two things: I wanted him to be tall and I wanted him to believe in God and that was it. Surely God’s pick for me would have at least that?
By December of 2015, I was so tired of being single. I was desperately lonely. It had been three years since I had been kissed, had my hand held, or even received a hug from someone other than a friend or family member. I longed for a companion. I wanted someone to go to the movies with, someone to share my dreams with, someone to have an adventure with, someone to love and I yearned to be loved in return. My mother called me out on it—it was two days before New Year’s Eve. We were having a heated discussion about my wanting my parents to move near me. (That’s a story for another blog post!) But at one point in our conversation she looked at me with sad eyes and said, “ToniAnn, I can see that you are miserable.” I sobbed and sobbed. I was inconsolable. It hit me like a ton of bricks. She was right. The loneliness had taken over my heart, robbed me of my joy, and I was just so very sad. I got to the point of crying out to God, “Please, Lord! Where is he?!” I would look at the stars and wonder if he was looking at the stars too—maybe he was even pleading for me.
After New Year’s I continued my prayers, but out of nowhere, there seemed to be a change in God’s response. During my prayers instead of feeling like my love was nowhere to be found, I got the distinct notion that it was time! The next day, I prayed again and again I felt like God was nudging me, “It’s time!” So, I acted on it. That day I set up my first profile on a dating website. Two weeks later, I met Kim. On January 29th of 2016, I had my last “first kiss.”
So, if you are like I was at this time last year—painfully alone and waiting for your “one”—pray, have hope, and be patient. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalms 30:5b, KJV)
I look back at the list that I wrote so long ago. Kim fulfills every single thing that I prayed for—every one of my heart’s desires. He truly is my match made in heaven. Of course, however, by the time I met him, he only needed to check off two boxes: 1) His faith—Yes, he believes in God. 2) His height—I think God got so tired of my prayers on this that he responded in a big way with this one! “So how’s 6’6”, ToniAnn? Is that tall enough for you?” Why yes, Lord. Yes, it is. Thank you very much! 🙂