As previously mentioned, Jon and I have decided to write a series of posts together (to be posted here) on Our Story, Our Wedding, and Marriage in Organic Church. We’re excited to share! We have seen Christ beautifully through our journey into life together. Here is the first in a series of many posts…
“Our Story” is not a usual one, nor is it a simple one. It is, however, a good one, worth telling. So, here we go.
3 years prior to our wedding we were first “connected” through a close mutual friend (and, of course, facebook). [That’s a long story in itself. We’ll skip it for the sake of time.] Before too long, we found ourselves communicating on a daily basis. A unique friendship formed, but, he lived in Nashville; I lived in Dallas (and was preparing to move to China); and we had never met.
When I ventured to the other side of the world in July 2010, we figured things would sort of fizzle out. Somehow though, our friendship only grew closer. Email, G-chat, and skype were the tools through which we were surprisingly becoming one of each other’s best friends, but two huge challenging facts remained. 1) We’d still never met in person. 2) We lived half a world away from each other. So, Jon made the leap and asked if he could come to China for a visit. He came in February 2011 for 8 days.
When people hear that they often make comments like, “Oh how romantic…” But those 8 days were anything BUT romantic. They were ROUGH. There were a long list of extenuating/unusual circumstances that made it so: being in a town that was literally shut down for the holidays, freezing cold weather, jet lag (for Jon), having nothing new to talk about on what was basically an 8 day long first date… The list goes on… But the biggest hindrance of those 8 days were our individual EXPECTATIONS and ASSUMPTIONS, along with our lack of communicating them clearly to each other.
We were pretty well set up for failure. And failure we found. We just could not make it work or figure it out.
Jon: From the beginning of our relationship, I had a hard time figuring out my feelings for Shanda. Where there should have been a definite like her/not like her, there was instead fuzziness. This was not new for me. Over the previous five years I had experienced this in a number of other relationships. I just couldn’t figure out how I felt. I had assumed that the reason I had was still fuzzy in how I felt for Shanda was just because we had not met and that going to China to meet her would change that, but that was not the case.
Shanda: I, on the other hand, had no fuzziness about my feelings. In fact, right before Jon came to China one of my best friends asked me how I was feeling. I responded, “I know it’s crazy. I haven’t even MET him in person yet. But I feel like when I go to the airport to meet him tomorrow night, I’ll be meeting my husband.” I really thought that feeling was from the Lord. It was too crazy for me to make it up. Needless to say, when things did not go very well… I was rather confused/hurt/disappointed.
We tried to be “just friends” for a while but it didn’t work very well, so while neither of us wanted to lose the other, holding on was unfair and unhealthy. So, we went through rather painful processes of letting go. It stunk. There were a lot of tears and a lot of grief. It honestly felt like a death. For a while, we stopped communicating altogether…