Valentine’s Day 2019.
I had just met Josh (my now husband) at our church 2 weeks earlier.
So this was suuuuuper new, and not being a very all-about-Valentine’s Day person to begin with, I wanted to keep Valentine’s Day fun, light, and honestly zero pressure. And, if I’m being honest, light on the “romance”.
Don’t get me wrong! I love romance and I’m a sucker for classic rom-coms. But I really liked Josh and if we were headed where I thought (and hoped) we were headed, I positively, absolutely, most definitely did NOT want our anniversary to be February 14th. I told him, “I’ll plan Valentine’s Day, you can plan the next date.” And he agreed!
So after some brainstorming I thought, “What else says fun, light, zero pressure and little-to-no romance like….hockey?!”
That’s right! We would be spending Valentine’s Day at a hockey game. A Nashville Predators game to be exact (Go Preds).
After a normal workday Josh met me at my house where we made dinner before heading to the Preds game. Turns out a hockey game on Valentine’s Day is a popular date option, and it was a blast! We had a lot of fun watching the game, laughing about crazy hockey fans, and getting to know each other more.
After the game we went back to my house to relax and enjoy the cookies Josh had brought over.
Like I said earlier, we had been dating for about two weeks, so we had reached a point in our relationship where we knew we were heading somewhere but we knew that we needed to share some important things first.
You know, that first big heart-to-heart.
Josh opened up by sharing his testimony. I deeply admired his courage, his resiliency, and his faithfulness, and in that moment I began falling in love with him. After he had finished sharing there was zero pressure for me to reciprocate but I wanted to share my story with him. I knew I needed to.
However I had some hesitations.
My past is painful. And I felt there was so much to say, so much to share, and I didn’t know where to start.
Something happened to me when I was younger that created a ripple effect in my life for years to come. Someone I trusted hurt me, and that hurt evolved into shame that influenced my choices for years to come too. In the past I had shared this experience with some chosen few boyfriends and friends. Unfortunately, more often than not, it hurt me more than helped me. My trust in others was broken repeatedly. So over time I’d pretty much learned to keep my experience and my shame to myself.
But that night, sitting next to Josh, something, rather Someone, was nudging me to share.
So I shared. I shared poetry I had written as an outlet for my thoughts and emotions. I shared the painful parts of my story and how I met Jesus but was afraid to fully accept Him and faithfully follow Him. I shared knowing the whole time that what I was sharing would either bring Josh and I closer together or be the means to an end.
I was falling in love with Josh so obviously this was really scary. But then Josh surprised me. He did something no one had done before. He listened to my story and he cried with me, not out of sympathy but empathy. And after I finished sharing, he leaned in and kissed me for the very first time. Later that night, as we stood outside saying goodnight and he kissed me again, I knew somehow that our first kiss would be my last ever first kiss.
Fast forward about 13 months later. Josh and I are in Peru and one night after dinner we have an incredible heart-to-heart conversation. I brought up Valentine’s Day 2019 and the fact that I knew somehow that our first kiss was my last first kiss. I shared with him how I’ve repeatedly asked myself, “How is it that I knew with such confidence that our first kiss was my last ever first kiss?”
Our deep discussion that followed eventually answered my question. It went a little something like this:
After I shared my story and before Josh leaned in to kiss me there was a battle happening internally. He was making a decision, either of which he knew would cost him something: to walk away, or to walk with a woman who still has a lot of healing to do.
He was honest with me that night in Peru and shared that to that day it pained him that he had thoughts of walking away. There was a voice (we’re convinced it was the voice of the enemy) telling him that this wasn’t his problem, he could find someone who didn’t have baggage like mine, and that in a sense I wasn’t worth what this would cost him.
He told me this with tears in his eyes and I knew it hurt him. I knew that it hurt him to be honest with me because of how this could hurt me too. But strangely I didn’t feel hurt. I felt compassion because I understood. I understood and I didn’t blame him because I had had those same thoughts about myself time and time again. If it was possible I loved him even more in that moment because Josh showed me that he had fought for me that Valentine’s Day night and that he was still fighting for me.
Josh (repeatedly) fought the voice of the enemy who was offering the easy way out. He (repeatedly) made the choice to tune out the enemy and instead turn to what God was saying. And God was (repeatedly) telling him to stay, to fight, to walk with me.
By leaning in to kiss me Josh communicated to me that he was choosing what God was asking him to do. In that moment he made the sacrificial choice to stay with me, to fight with me and for me, and to walk with me.
Josh demonstrated Jesus’ Love, which is far greater than any other Love we can and will ever experience. And that’s how I knew (without fully understanding how) that our first kiss was my last first kiss.
And that man, whom today is my husband, continues to walk with me every day. He continues to demonstrate Jesus’ Love and to live out God’s design for marriage.
*One week after Valentine’s Day 2019, Josh asked me to be his girlfriend. He said he had wanted to ask me the week prior but he guessed that I didn’t want our anniversary to be February 14th. Smart guy 😉
*One year after that, February 21, 2020, Josh asked me to marry him. We got married on July 27, 2020. Exactly a year and a half after we met!
Valentine’s Day 2019 and every day since Josh has taught me a lot about Jesus and a lot about love.
But Josh and I need to make something very clear.
The reason that Josh chose to walk with me that night 2 years ago and continues to walk with me 2 years later (and I with him); the reason that we continue to point each other to God and grow together in Him; the reason we have committed ourselves and established a holy covenant to faithfully follow God’s design for marriage is this:
Jesus, a man who knew no sin, took our sin and shame upon Himself. He was sentenced to die a criminal’s death. As He hung on the cross He looked at us. And while we looked at Him with accusation and contempt, He looked at us with pure Love and compassion. On our behalf, (His accusers!), He asked for our forgiveness. Not because we are lovely and blameless. But to make us lovely and blameless. After His death He was buried in a tomb for 3 days. On the 3rd day He left that tomb, fully alive and fully our Savior, our Redeemer, our Salvation.
Jesus gave two commands before He ascended into Heaven: Love God, Love others.
He invites us into a relationship with Him. He invites us to fully accept and believe the Gospel so that He may give us His Spirit to live out His commands here on earth and spend forever with Him in Heaven.
So again, the reason that Josh chose to walk with me that night 2 years ago and continues to walk with me 2 years later (and I with him); the reason that we continue to point each other to God and grow together in Him; the reason we have committed ourselves and established a holy covenant to faithfully follow God’s design for marriage is this:
because God first Loved us.