Jonathan & I graduated from high school together, Jonathan having enrolled at ELCA his senior year, but we’d only been acquaintances that year. The following seven years we’d only seen each other a number of times in passing, and somewhere I got word that Jonathan had eventually bought a house in my parents’ neighborhood.
When our youth group at church began a new way of doing Wednesday night gatherings in the fall of 2016, I was put in charge of finding people my age to help out. There are very few people my age who’ve stuck around, and those of us that are still in town have pretty consistent travel schedules. I had a few girlfriends to ask, but what I really knew we needed were guys for the high school boys to look up to. I had no idea where Jonathan was in his relationship with the Lord, but I knew I had to at least ask.
Thinking he’d probably either completely ignore my text or at most gently deny the offer, I explained to him our new direction and what we hoped for the time. He surprised me by replying he’d be happy to help when he could, and he surprised me even more by showing up the next Wednesday night. He told me that God was working in a way in his life toward surrender, and that he knew when God gave him an opening his response was to be, “Yes, Lord.”
Meanwhile I was working to get things started as best I could before hopping on a plane with my Mama to hike across Spain for a month. Jonathan & I only saw each other a handful of times on Wednesday nights with our schedules keeping us in & out of town until that next summer in 2017.
It was a natural thing for me to join the youth group on their summer camp week that June. I’d never attended church camp as a student, but despite some apprehension (I don’t know why I was nervous) I saw that being there was right for me to do. The Sunday before we left, I strolled into church to make myself a coffee and Neal Dose, a friend and the high school youth pastor, casually brought up that Jonathan had cancelled a fishing trip to accompany us for the camp.
When we arrived, we discovered we’d been placed as co-leaders, and we had an incredible week focused on the kids. A small group of us would get up each morning to run, and Jonathan mentioned toward the end of the week that since we’re in the same neighborhood we should continue running once we returned home. (He also asked me the first personal question of the week, on a water slide platform, surrounded by middle school boys and an associate pastor, with me in my one-piece bathing suit and nasty lake lifejacket on… “So are you dating anyone these days?” BLESS.)
Jonathan wasted little time, and we saw each other our first morning home for a run and some time at the pool. That summer we ran together and went out a few times, forming a unique friendship. In September I was off to New Zealand, but I came home a month early, and our relationship really bloomed from there. We went to a friend’s wedding that December, and we both say that’s when we really set our hearts toward growing together in relationship.
And earlier this year on May 11, we went for a hike at Providence Canyon where he proposed with his great grandmother’s ring. We’ve been so blessed by each other and this gift of relationship and marriage that God has given us. Jonathan & I both prayed that God would give us someone for a reason, someone he had purpose for in our lives together to accomplish his will better than if we’d just remained single. The ways that we’ve seen him work has bolstered our faith & set a foundation for our life together, and it’s more than we could have asked or imagined.