Many, if not most, of you know that Ben and I met on eHarmony back in 2010. By that time, it was a fairly popular and accepted way to meet someone if you hadn’t met them in the traditional ways – friends, work, accidentally running your grocery cart into theirs at the store, etc. But what I don’t know that I’ve ever shared is exactly how I got to the point of signing up for eHarmony.
I love hearing the paths of how stories are created. Because while I did meet my husband on eHarmony, there was a LOT that led to me even signing up in the first place.
See, I wrestled with signing up for a loooong time. On one hand, one of my best friends had tried it a couple of times and let’s just say she came out alive, but with more stories that any of us care to tell! On the other hand, I was just having a hard time with it because it felt like I was taking the control out of God’s hands. If He wanted me to be married, surely He would just bring that guy to my doorstep, right?? Actually, let’s hope not, because that would be extremely creepy. But I digress.
Back in 2008, as I was exploring the idea of delving into the photography world, a friend of mine introduced me to a photographer out in California named Jasmine Star. She’s super talented, keeps it real on her blog, and has an identical twin sister named Bianca who is a Christian blogger, speaker, and is hugely involved in demolishing human trafficking this century. I was on Jasmine’s blog every day. Some times multiple times a day depending on what she’d posted or how far back I still had to read in order to catch up on all that’d I’d missed since she started photography in 2006. Well, when Bianca got engaged in 2010, Jasmine posted her engagement photos and shared part of her story of how she and Matt actually met. And believe it or not, they met on eHarmony. And in response to that, Bianca posted a blog about dating and online dating that began to help me see it was ok to actually sign up.
But I want to reiterate a few of her points, the biggest one being, that dating isn’t something anyone should do alone. Community is SUCH a big part of a Christian’s life and being able and willing to listen to others around you who know you, who know the Lord, and only want the best for you is vital. And no matter who I ended up dating, I not only wanted, but NEEDED my friends and family to be that objective observer and let me know if something about this guy or that guy wasn’t right for me. Here are a few points from Bianca’s blog and video that she posted and that had such an impact on me signing up for eHarmony in the first place.
- Fully commit your dating life into the hands of God. He cares about it.
- Invite other people to walk this journey with you.
- Set high standards.
- Don’t compromise.
- Be honest with yourself and about yourself.
- Listen to the insight of others.
Going into signing up for eHarmony wasn’t easy. But, it actually helped that I was on staff at church at the time because some of my friends I saw every day and even a couple of the pastors walked through this with me. They were encouraging, they helped me to get past my hang up of feeling like I was taking the control away from God, and they helped me date as best as I could… in a way that honored and glorified God. (Side note, our dating life was NOT perfect, by any means. We messed up plenty of times, but we were both following God and worked with Him and other believers through the entire process. Some of those people are still vital to the health of our marriage!)
At the beginning of 2011, I emailed Bianca because Ben and I were at different churches and I knew that she and her husband were at different churches at that time too. I was struggling with even the idea of leaving my church, but I didn’t know anyone other than her who had walked through that. So, I sent a very wordy and sometimes rambling email asking what she and Matt did and how they handled it. And she emailed me back the very next morning! I was blown away by her kindness, but even more so by the way she ultimately pointed us to God. And it still took me a month or so, but I realized that if I wanted to marry this man, then I would need to follow him. Because as long as he was following God, Ben would not lead me astray or to a church that wasn’t a good fit for us.
And my pastors concurred with that 100%. We eventually ended up at my church (which is now OUR church!), but Ben mostly needed to hear me say and understand that I was willing to follow him. And for a stubborn girl who has been independent most of her life, that was a really hard step for me. And if we HAD ended up at his church, we still would have been fine! Because it is a GOOD church that teaches God’s word and strives to serve and love Him and the community around it.
This past week at the Pursuit 31 Conference, Bianca was the closing speaker for the week. I was beyond excited when I found out last year that she would be there and have been anticipating getting to hear her and meet her for months! So, just before she got up on stage, I slid over and sat beside her to introduce myself. She asked if we’d met before because I looked familiar and when I told her my story and said I’d emailed her back in early 2011, she actually remembered that email! She’d even said in that email that she had looked at my website so huge props to her for remembering my face after such a long time!
The bottom line was that I just wanted to say thank you to her – for all that she’s doing now, for how she unashamedly loves the Lord, for keeping it real (like Jasmine does) on her blog, and for being the encouragement I needed at the time to take the steps that would ultimately lead to me meeting Ben. She was so excited for me that we’d been married for almost 3 years and when I told her we’d be having a baby in February, she insisted that we name it Bianca. Even if we find out it’s a boy ;-)
I’m beyond amazed at how this journey into photography has shaped so much of my life and blessed me BEYOND anything I could have asked for. But above all, I’m thankful for who God is and how He never fails us… even when it’s difficult, we have to say yes to Him because it’s just not worth it to go against what He wants for us. I almost lost the love of my life because I was too stubborn to even think about switching churches. But, I’ve also let go of guys I dated because I knew they weren’t who God wanted for me. Following God is NOT always easy. But it’s ALWAYS 100% worth it.