Today, Doug and I celebrate five years since we had our first date. It is so awesome to see how wonderful our marriage is and yet I look back and realize that this first date almost didn’t happen. Right now, we are in the process of writing a book about our dating relationship and marriage, and have enjoyed going back to these times and reliving our experiences. With Valentine’s Day approaching this week, I wanted to share a little bit of how we met and what led up to our first date.
For those of you who don’t know, Doug and I met online, ChristianMingle to be exact. I had already been on this website for a couple of months; Doug was online browsing one evening and came across my profile. He immediately responded to my profile. The date was December 20, 2011. But to his dismay I waited 12 days to respond. In my defense, the reason I waited so long was because I thought my profile had expired on December 19. In addition, I had already had a bad overall experience in the couple of months that I was on the site.
On January 1, 2012, I logged into my account to find out why I was still receiving messages and realized that my account was still active. It was here that I found Doug’s message. I responded and within two hours he had written me back. We spent the next three and a half weeks writing back and forth, followed by another week of phone conversations and planning our first date. Finally, we decided on that date: February 11, 2012.
We planned to meet in Menomonie at Caribou Coffee at 3 PM. Words cannot express how nervous and scared I was to meet him! I had so enjoyed getting to know him through writing and talking to him on the phone but was so scared that when he saw me he would run out the door. Now keep in mind that my profile said I was in a wheelchair and I had lots of pictures showing that. However, after experiencing rejection in relationships over the years I was afraid he did not fully understand the extent of my disability. As time approached for me to leave my home to meet him, I decided I was going to cancel. Yet, as I tried picking up my phone to call him I just knew deep down that I wasn’t supposed to do that. As I argued with myself, and God, time had really gotten away from me. I was now going to be late! I flew out into my van and drove 80 miles an hour to get to Menomonie. I was 15 minutes late, but as soon as I pulled into the parking spot I saw Doug come out of Caribou to greet me.
We spent the next three and half hours talking and enjoying hot chocolate, then proceeded to have dinner and talk for another three hours. I felt so comfortable with this man who was so genuine, real, and did not even see my disabilities. He saw a woman who had passion for life, who wanted to change the world for the better, and it was something that he had never seen in other girls he had dated. This began a year and a half dating relationship which eventually led to three and a half years of marriage. I love Doug more today than I ever thought I could love another human being, and I can’t imagine my life without him. As I was writing this blog, I realized that there were two reasons I wanted to share this story today:
Number 1: I look at this life and see many people who allow fear to hold them back from accomplishing their dreams. Fear almost stole the possibility of meeting my soulmate and bringing so much happiness into my life. I frequently look back and wonder how different my life would be today had I canceled that date. It scares me how close I came to allowing fear of rejection and failure to win, the result of which would have been me losing out on so much. I want to encourage everyone who is reading this to make sure that fear does not do the same in their life. Fear comes off as a friend trying to protect us, but it instead only steals possibilities, kills our dreams, and leaves us with regret. Today I challenge you: step out of your comfort zone and do what you have been dreaming to do. Stop allowing fear to win.
Number 2: I realize this week is Valentine’s Day, which can be a beautiful day for some and a bitter day for others. I’ve known both of those feelings. For many years’ I hated Valentine’s Day because it reminded me that I was alone and did not have love in my life. I, of course, was okay with that sentiment and felt Valentine’s Day was just the American way to truly capitalize on something that should be done more than just one day of the year. But for those of you who are reading this today, and are single, I want you to know that there is hope in the future of getting married - to experience a happy, fulfilling, amazing marriage. There were many days when I questioned this in my journey and now am very passionate about being open and honest about this because I know that I’m not alone in this struggle. Prior to meeting Doug, I had been in a relationship that was very destructive to my self-worth, self-esteem, and my overall thought life. This relationship convinced me that I had less to offer, and that no man would choose me over other women. Sadly, I believed this person. Recently I learned that someone I know was badly beaten up by her boyfriend. It saddens me when I see people believing that they do not deserve someone who can love them wholeheartedly. And because of this belief, they settle with people who treat them so much less than they deserve. I’ve heard every excuse in the book of why they settle:
I’m a single mom of two children.
I’m so tall.
I’m so ugly.
I’m too old.
I could list 20 other things that people use as excuses for why to settle and compromise in unhealthy relationships. Today, I challenge you: love yourself and know that you are worthy to be loved. Doug has taught me over these years what a prized possession I am and how much worth I have. He thinks I’m sexy in my wheelchair and loves everything about me. I’m so glad that I did not settle, or allow the pressures of the society we live in to conform me to some timeclock or holiday that was coming in February. If you are feeling this pressure, don’t give into it. Stand strong, believe that you are worthy to be loved, and determine to wait until you find that person who sees you as the masterpiece that you truly are.
Thank you for taking the time to read this today. Please keep your eyes open for the release of our second book towards the end of 2017 (title still to be determined). In it, you will find this story and many others in much greater detail, and will learn more about our dating and marriage experience!