“Knowing that I get to spend the rest of my life with you makes the last twenty four years of frustration, confusion and loneliness all worth it,” John declared, as he toasted his beautiful new bride. January 21st, 2012 marked the beginning of Kelly and John’s journey as husband and wife, but their story started long before this sparkling, winter day.
The two met online via a date site. Something drew John to Kelly from their first emails. His first message to her was “Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches” – a title that captures John’s wit and borderline nerdy sense of humor. “I don’t think I have ever enjoyed writing more than I did on those first emails. We would go back and forth with novel-length emails covering everything from our baseball allegiances to family life. Everything seemed to click and we were having the greatest time getting to know each other.”
John and Kelly’s first date was to the zoo on a sweltering summer day in 2010. John’s affection for Kelly deepened while Kelly envisioned strictly friendship. “We put a stop on dating because I was feeling more of a friend vibe, so we spent a lot of time together as friends. As we got to know each other, I was dating other people,” Kelly explained.
Upon first hearing Kelly’s decision to remain strictly friends, John was devastated. “When she called and told me her feelings hadn’t developed to be more than friends, I was instantly destroyed. I was ready to give up on the positive changes I was making in my life to revert back to my old habits – [ready to go back to] the easy way, calling girls I had used as a distraction even though I knew they were wrong for me.
One night, I was really convicted by the Lord. I heard Him ask me, ‘One thing doesn’t go as you planned and you’re ready to give up and go back to the way you were previously living your life? You’d revert back to those old things that left you so lonely?’ I felt horrible because I basically was telling God that when things got hard or were different than I imagined then I would just walk away and concede my defeat.
From that day forward I recommitted to giving my relationships completely to God. This is something I struggled with for the next six months. [During this time], my friendship with Kelly grew but never progressed to a point where there was hope of being together. I had a hard time trusting God and knowing what I was supposed to do with her. One day my mom asked why I was so hung up on her. She asked if when I closed my eyes I could see [Kelly] in my future. I did. She was still there. My mom told me to be diligent and deliberate in my actions and to give the situations to God. She felt there was a reason I met her and that there was a purpose. I knew Kelly was in my life for a reason, and I began to accept whatever capacity God wanted that to be.”
In this season, God’s hand was especially evident in Kelly and John’s lives. At the start of their friendship, Kelly had little interest in pursuing a relationship with God. It was feelings of loneliness that led her back to church: “After a fight with a good friend one night, I was so upset that I didn’t want to be alone. I joined a friend for the day and she was volunteering at two church services one Saturday night. I went to both, was so convicted and asked John if I could join him at his church that Sunday morning. That was in October 2010, and I have not missed many services since then. I did a lot of soul searching and asked for God’s help. He showed up in so many ways. What a blessing.” God began to do a work in her.
Meanwhile, John continued to surrender his desires for a deeper relationship with Kelly to God. In a church-wide fast a few months later, John received clarity and peace from the Lord, despite experiencing many trials. He lost his beloved grandfather, experienced a house flood and was witness to other family members’ losses. Despite feeling hopelessness and despair John, God’s faithfulness remained. “Looking back, it all makes sense, all four years of being alone…and especially the last year of hurt. The changes that Kelly and I both went through in that year are what prepared us for being together. God had His plan and I just had to submit to it and His divine timing. SO much was frustrating and seemed senseless at the time, but it was all SO WORTH IT.”
It seemed that God had prepared John’s and Kelly’s heart. Then He opened up the door for a sweet and meaningful relationship to form. Kelly explains her growing affection for John as “one of those light bulb moments where something just clicked.” She wasted no time in filling John in. That Sunday at church, she pulled him aside and explained what had happened: “I struggled to find the words to speak, which is rare for me, and it was probably a full five minutes before I was able to say anything. I didn’t know how to start. But I basically told him that something had happened, clicked in my head and my heart, and I knew I loved him. I gave him all the reasons why I cared and told him that I wanted it to be “us.” I said that I didn’t want to date him, because we had already done that. We had had about a year of getting to know each other and solidifying that base friendship, and I didn’t want to backtrack. I said that I wanted to be together, [him] and me, and that’s it. I think he was speechless.”
John’s concurred. “At first [when Kelly told me how she felt] it was just shock…to think that it went from nothing to everything just left me dazed. I don’t even think I was able to process it initially.”
After months of getting to know each other and waiting for their hearts to align, there was now nothing holding them back. After three months of officially dating, John proposed in late July – “This was the biggest day I had ever planned to that point.” After 20 hours of meticulous planning, John invited Kelly into a wooded area behind his parents’ house, where he had strung wire, strings and shiny objects from tree branches with hundreds of photos of the two of them, written reasons why he loved her, and empty pictures frames to represent “[their] memories yet to be had”.
Kelly explained that the scene “was such a breath-taking sight. The sun was streaming through the branches and John had changed into nice pants, a vest and a tie. He looked so cute and handsome! It was such a wonderful thing.”
John’s proposal and Kelly’s ecstatic “yes!” are even sweeter when considering the lonely journey that brought them to the committal of the rest of their lives to each other. God’s faithfulness is evident in their relationship. In His timing, He drew Kelly and John deeper into relationship with Himself, granted time for their friendship to solidify and opened Kelly’s heart to the possibility of a more meaningful relationship with John. January 21, 2012 marked the day when John and Kelly became husband and wife. It was a brilliant day that resounded with not only their deepened love for one another – but with God’s love and faithfulness too.