When I was 19 years old, I stopped dating. I had had plenty of boyfriends (I know, 19 is young to have had a lot of boyfriends) - and I had experienced plenty of heartache. So I promised myself my next boyfriend would be my husband.
When I was 24 years old, my sister made me join catholicmatch.com. She came to me and asked if I would make a profile so we could just see who was on the website. We laughed and laughed as we filled out questions from "Do you believe in papal infallibility?" to "What is your favorite title of Mary?" and "Who is your favorite saint?" We basically filled out my profile as a joke, not really writing anything in my "About Me" or uploading any pictures. We honestly just used my profile to see what kind of guys were online. By the end of the night, after laughing until we cried, my sister turned to me and said, "I really think you should sign up. I have a good feeling about this." I fought her on it, but finally agreed - almost as a joke. For a week, I would text or call her every day to regale her with hilariously awkward stories of very odd attempts at communication from random guys all over the country. My biggest qualm with the way they were trying to pursue me was that most of them would skip emailing me first and jump straight into "chatting" with me (a la facebook chat). It would overwhelm me to get a chat request from a guy I had never seen, never had the chance to see if I was interested in them at all, and would just jump straight into an online conversation.
A week into it, I got a very sweet email from a man named Michael. He was a red-head from Denver, and although I stated explicitly on my profile that I was not interested in long distance, he acknowledged this in his first email and said he was interested in getting to know me anyway. I chatted with him that night, became facebook friends with him right away, and three weeks later he was on a plane to California to take me on our first date.
On our first date, I was interested in him, but didn't know if there was enough of a connection to truly start pursuing a long distance relationship. I found myself praying the majority of the day: "God, if you want me to continue getting to know this man, please show me something - please get my attention." We had spent all day together - going to Balboa Island, praying at a cute little chapel together, going ice skating and getting dinner, and I still was unsure if this was worth the incredible difficulty of long distance.
After dinner, we went back to my car, and it was dead. He loves this story, so he could take hours telling every single detail. But suffice it to say, we had to pull an all-nighter at Denny's, waiting for AAA to come and replace my car battery. This man took such good care of everything while we were both exhausted and frustrated. He was so patient and kind through the whole thing, and allowed me to sleep in my backseat while he took care of the logistics with AAA. I was in awe of his selflessness and ability to take such good care of me, even when I wasn't his girlfriend or even a good friend for that matter. It was only a first date.
(At a certain point at Denny's, I told him I couldn't stay in cute date clothes anymore so I put on some sweat pants and slippers I happened to have in my car. I made him take this selfie for posterity - even if there was only the tiniest chance that he would be my future husband - I would want a photo!)
Well, God answered my prayer loud and clear. I saw something in Michael I had never seen before so clearly: a man of God who is incredibly patient, kind, selfless, thoughtful, and someone who is stable and strong. It was so apparent to me that these were all the qualities I needed and was looking for - so I allowed him to pursue me.
On December 31, 2011, I finally had my first boyfriend in five years. Nothing like I expected, nothing I thought I wanted - but everything I needed and that God desired for me.
And I started falling in love with this amazing, holy, selfless, thoughtful, generous, kind, good man. He makes me laugh, he dances with me, he sings to me, he kisses me on the forehead, he gives when he has nothing left for himself. He takes care of everyone around him with no thought for himself. He is strong and stable when everyone around him needs him to be. He is the best man I have ever known.
I've moved to Denver twice in our relationship. Once for the summer of 2012 and then again in January 2013, which was supposed to be permanent.
(We have taken so many road trip selfies it would be overkill to post them all.)
The first time I lived in Denver, I had the most amazing time. I had a full-time job working at a children's theatre company, I was living with my best friend from high school, and Michael and I were just having the best time living in the same city. So I decided to teach for one more semester in California, and then quit my beloved job and move to Denver permanently.
But then I got sick. My hormonal disorders and depression hit us both like a ton of bricks. In California, I had set myself up with a job I loved, near my family, with a schedule that ensured I got enough sleep and had enough time to relax. My issues with mental health were held at bay for years and didn't show themselves until all of those band-aids were ripped away and all I had was Michael. A new city, no roommate, no family, no close friends, new job, and not enough money to live comfortably. I think anyone would have some sort of freak out. But I lost it. He finally made the selfless decision to move me home as quickly as possible, knowing it would be the best place for me to recover and stay healthy. He also knew this meant he would have to leave his life in Denver and move to California one day as well.
This man has taken care of me every step of the way in this relationship and in my struggles with my health. He was with me my darkest night, when he found me on the ground and lifted me up into bed and soothed me to sleep. He made sure to fly out and hold my hand as I went in for surgery and prayed over me up until the last moment. He is the one who taught me how to fight for my life.
The day he asked me to be his girlfriend, I shared with him that I have PCOS and may never be able to have children. He looked at me and said, "That doesn't change anything." Later in our relationship, I shared with him that my last relationship fell apart when my boyfriend at the time found me sobbing uncontrollably on the bathroom floor in the middle of the night. My last boyfriend got so scared that everything changed after that, until we eventually broke up. I told him my fear of this being my story for the rest of my life: no one would be able to put up with me. No one would be able to handle my issues. No one would want to carry this burden. He said, "If I ever find you on the bathroom floor, there'd better be enough room on that floor for me." He is the one who has pushed me to be my best self. To find the right medications. To go to as many doctors as I need to until I find the right ones. He is the one who has gone to countless therapy sessions with me to support me and work through our own struggles. He is the one who has held me during panic attacks, wiped my tears away, helped me breathe during anxiety attacks and made me smile when I'm feeling hopelessly depressed. He is the one who prays with me when I am so mad at God that I can barely breathe. He is the one who makes me better. In every way possible.
He is the one.
The engagement story and my stunningly beautiful ring (which he had my little sister help design) and proposal are incredibly exciting, but what matters is that we are getting married. We are preparing to participate in such a beautiful sacrament, and I am so humbled by God's grace through all of this. We are currently praying a novena together for trust and for our ability to keep our eyes focused on Christ. I can't wait to plan my wedding, but more than anything - I can't wait to experience being married to the best man I have ever known.