“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.”
We had a terrific time at the beach. There was plenty of sand beneath the toes and laying out poolside and by the sea enough to catch a tan to summer sales at the outlets to boardwalk glee to an engagement where my eyes lit up brighter than the ferris wheel lights on the pier. Say what? Yes, I’m engaged. Robert asked me to be his wife during our last night on the boardwalk.
Funny enough, I’ve never imagined myself engaged to be married but that isn’t to say I didn’t want to. I moreso feared if I would be good enough but it takes a lot to make a good wife. It’s been one year and six months since the prior engagement which is long in Orthodoxy to be dating each other. However, during that timeframe, we’ve spent time getting to know each other and had our share of challenges. We also both haven’t been in a relationship for awhile and have regained a comfort with our old selves and being single that there were times where it felt weird and there were times where it felt so right. There were times where prayer seemed so hard or impossible or scheduling our dates around church – but that’s where I suggested to Robert that we start reading On Marriage and Family Life by St John Chrysostom. I had an Amazon gift card and I feel it was one of the good purchases next to some other helpful resources to help me in my career.
St John Chrysostom has preached ancient writings on how to cultivate a pure, wholesome marriage together which can be helpful in modern society today. Throughout wedding planning, I’m going to discuss a few of our favorite viewpoints in this blog from time to time. But first, I’m going to share with you the story on how we met and what led up to the night of the proposal.
The author with her fiance
I’ve been Orthodox my whole life. Needless to say, I didn’t feel grounded in my faith nor did I feel like the typical Orthodox until I met him. It seems strange to say and almost makes me feel like a fraud to my faith but I have to be honest. I just went to church with my mom and grandma on Sundays but I wasn’t so devout that I would know about attending feast days or the importance of taking fast days seriously or spiritual retreats or literature. It just wasn’t important to me even though at the same time, finding someone in my faith (or even better, was Orthodox) was important to me. I wanted to always be spiritually grounded and if I had children someday, I wanted them to be Bible-based. However, despite wanting to be spiritually grounded, I wasn’t grounded in my faith. However, being Orthodox means more than just going to church and I found that out from a *dun dun dun* convert no less named Robert.
It was November 2012. I was on the verge of signing a lease to an apartment an hour and half away in Lancaster. I loved visiting Lancaster County: the farmers markets, the arts and culture and just the overall vibe. Things were pretty dull for me back home but I loved my visits to Lancaster that hey, why might as well live there? And Robert was on the verge of joining the monastery. If it weren’t for one Sunday in November, we probably would have never crossed paths. I still wonder how things would have turned out for either of us but at the same time, I don’t like to think that way because we wouldn’t have met each other.
He travels for work daily and the particular weekend we met happened to be a busy one. He was passing through my home parish on a work morning and needed a parish to go to to church at. We first met each other after church and shared casual conversation. I spent the near entire time wondering if I sounded right because here we go, a really nice guy that happened to be single that just didn’t want to talk about church all of the time. We exchanged email addresses, began emailing each other which quickly escalated itself in a two hour long phone call (one of a few) and set up our first date in a few weeks.
I was a little nervous. Sure, we had some nice conversations but I wondered what things would be like or how much we would have in common or if we would end up talking about church all of the time. Surprisingly, Robert has been super kind and patient with me and throughout our differences, we’ve found a lot that we relate in each other. Speaking of differences, as we’ve started getting to know each other, it felt easier to focus on the differences between each other at the time. As much as I liked people, I was painfully shy and bookish and he was loud and outspoken. I was also a progressive that read the Sunday Times weekly but somehow I fell for the loud and outspoken man that proudly displayed Alex Jones bumper stickers on the back of his car. He was a little different than the typical humble Orthodox but I was taken aback by his relaxed vibe and sense of humor that got me to open up my shell. He also was falling for someone he probably swore he never would fall for, a liberal (they’re not all the same, right?) But after we grew to know each other by cultivating honesty and trust, we’ve realized our differences (no matter how petty) didn’t really matter so much.
This is because Robert helped me discover who I really am and helped me break some walls that I holding up myself. And while we do attend a lot of church, what is behind it is a man who made me gain a true comfort with who I am as an individual and yet there are instances where we are alike. We joke around often and share everything. We pray and go to church together, discussing the epistle/gospel readings after liturgy on Sundays. And the only true fight we ever had was over who will save the other in a life or death situation. He usually goes above and beyond for others even when it isn’t expected and would do anything to make me happy. And when we feel stressed or off kilter, one of us is usually calm enough to remind the other about whom is in the middle of our relationship and that’s Christ. Finding someone to love is to love them as Christ would which led to a confession during our last night on the boardwalk. So… that’s Bob, Bobby or Robert (doesn’t matter)… we have become each other’s best friends and our betrothal and crowning is on October 24, 2015!