It definitely wasn’t your typical boy meets girl they lived happily ever after story. Spencer and I met when we were 16, we were both serving at the junior high winter retreat. I thought he was cute, and felt like we had good conversation, but come to find out he had a girlfriend who he had actually turned down going to a dance with in order to serve at winter camp. After we got back, things got crazy and we didn’t reconnect until that summer on the bus to summer camp.
Throughout that week I kept noticing him on the bus, during activities, at meals, and eventually we ended up sitting next to each other at lunch one day. After spending the rest of camp together, he asked me out on a date. Our first date was to see Toy Story 3 about 3 weeks before my senior year started. We kept dating all through my senior year, but there was a weird tension as I was choosing a college.
You see at this point, my whole plan that I had been working on for the past five or six years was getting out of Oregon. I wanted to get as far as I could from Portland, which meant that I was not applying for very many colleges locally. Needless to say, a boyfriend was not a part of this equation. When I chose Baylor, Spencer was so supportive. He recognized that going to Baylor was a dream of mine that was really important, and even though it was going to make his life harder, he chose to encourage me to follow my dreams.
That was when I knew I had found someone really special. Even at 17, he was able to support me in a way that I would have never expected from a casual high school boyfriend. We dated long distance for 5 years, seeing each other on short breaks and over summer. Those 5 years were really hard, but also taught us really good lessons about communication and patience. I think I want to do a separate post eventually about our long distance journey if yall want!
After I graduated from Baylor, I had 2 weeks at home before I started graduate school. Spencer was still in school, and I was planning to go visit him, but he was acting so weird about when I could come down from Portland to Eugene. He kept delaying me, and was super difficult to reach which was SO frustrating since I had such a limited amount of time to see him! My mom and I got breakfast before we were supposed to start the trip, and while we were at the restaurant her friend called to say she locked her keys in the car. My mom said she needed our help (which looking back was really weird, but in the moment it made sense?) so we immediately left for the Rose Gardens in Portland where she was “stranded”.
Things continued to get weirder- my mom missed the exit twice, she was driving super slow through the park, and didn’t want me to just wait in the car while she went to get her friend. I was so oblivious and just wanted to get on the road! But as we walked down into the garden, I saw Spencer. He was standing there with roses, and slowly I started to realize what was happening. He said some really sweet things (that I don’t really remember), read me 1st Corinthians 13, and then got down on one knee with the most beautiful ring I had ever seen!
That set up our last year of long distance, and after dating for over 6 years, we got married on November 12, 2016! It was the most fun day because we got to spend it with the people we love, and celebrate our future together! (You can read my post about our wedding day here) Since we’ve been married, not a ton has changed. Spencer is still my best friend, we spend nights on the couch watching movies and Netflix shows snuggling with our puppy and making each other laugh. We serve at our church together, have built a community of friends in Portland, and live pretty ordinary lives. We argue over little things, and are still learning how to “fight well” as a married couple.
Our love story may have been longer than some, and had a few more twists and turns than I would have liked. But when I look back over the past 9 (!) years since Spencer and I first met, I see a beautiful story that’s unfolded through the trials and triumphs. Our relationship has spotlighted the areas where I am strong and those where I need growth. Marriage has been the sweetest and most difficult journey, but has given me a tiny glimpse of God’s grace and love. Even in the midst of frustration and difficulty, I know Spencer loves me and is on my team. I fully believe that God has used Spencer to show me what unconditional love and grace looks like.
This year, I want to focus on living out the 15 characteristics of love found in 1st Corinthians 13.
Love is patient,
love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
No matter your relationship status, I believe if we all focused on these characteristics in our interactions with others, the world would be a better place.
Happy Valentines Day