Hey Stranger

In 2002, I was a freshman at college and I started dating a boy named Jonathan. We dated for about a year, but then broke up when he went into the Marines. (He has since told me that he was rattled by the death of a fellow Marine and stressed about a possible deployment when he made this decision).

I can freely admit now that I thought about him often over the years. I had always wondered what would have happened if we didn’t break up. When I found out that he was getting married, I was admittedly disappointed, but I genuinely wanted him to be happy and hoped the best for him. A few years later, I got married as well.

Because our circles still overlapped, I heard about Jon from time to time. He worked at my school for a little bit after his divorce, and we had a few very awkward interactions. Then he moved on to a different job, and I lost track of what happened with him.

Again, I can now freely admit that when my divorce became final and I started thinking about dating, he came to mind quickly. I had no idea what he was doing, and more importantly, I had no idea what he thought about me. I remembered our break-up being amicable and I only had good memories from when we dated, but I wasn’t sure if that was mutual. Even though our circles still overlapped a lot, I was never going to ask about him. That would be way too embarrassing. (I can say all this now because he was feeling the same way about me. He heard about my divorce and wanted to talk, but was not going to reach out.)

I started online dating. I ended up meeting a couple of guys, but none of them really made a lasting impression. (Well, not a good lasting impression. The guy who sent me a picture of the weed he grows definitely made a lasting impression.) Then one day a familiar face popped up. After texting a couple of girl friends for advice, I sent Jonathan the most ambiguous message possible. It said something along the lines of “Hey stranger. It’s been a long time. How have you been?” I remember thinking, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”

Jon will tell you that he knew from that first message that we would get married. In fact, he made me this meme:

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On December 7, he proposed. Well, his daughter proposed. It was perfect.

We didn’t get to this point by happenstance or by our own intention or design. As Jon and I talk about our pasts and our future, our conversation always comes back to how God worked His perfect timing to bring us to this point. If Jon had starting dating earlier, I wouldn’t have been free to date yet. If my ex hadn’t so quickly and completely blown up the bridge of reconciliation, I would not have been ready to move forward without remorse or fear. By the time that we get married, our story will span 18 years – or almost half our lifetimes. We both still have some injuries from the past that we are working through. Even the hardest parts of our experiences have helped us get to this place, though. God is good and redeems failures, disappointments, and injury.

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