Hi friends! I want to share with you a series of posts I wrote last year on my old blog since I have so many new friends reading my posts. I especially want new brides and prospective brides to see my story since they're allowing me to play such an important role in capturing their story and photographing their wedding day! Here is the fourth and final part to this series.
After my conversation with Alex was over, I had one day left in the conference. I didn't see him that day and I drove back to South Carolina. Back to reality. But suddenly, my reality had changed into something very different. Just as I was arriving home, I felt my phone buzz and looked down to see Alex calling me. I immediately felt butterflies in my stomach and was tempted not to answer just like I had the first time he ever called me, but I picked up the phone and click "accept." Alex talked cheerfully on the other side of the phone and the butterflies quickly dissipated as I answered his questions. At the time, I had no idea that phone conversation would be the first of a daily habit for the rest of my life. Since that day (October 17th, 2013 to be exact), Alex and I have either seen each other in person or talked on the phone every day.
Alex told me that he decided to come to Clemson the weekend following the conference to watch the Florida State/Clemson game with family (well at least that's the reason he gave me...). Since he was in town, Friday night we went on our third "official" date at the Starving Artist Cafe in Easley, SC. We had wonderful conversation and for the first time, I made myself more vulnerable to Alex. I told him my testimony and shared with him some areas about my story and background that are difficult to tell. I felt very comfortable and at ease with him. To my surprise, after being very vulnerable, he abrubtly said he had to go back home to see his family and quickly said goodbye. I was so upset the whole drive home and it was then that it hit me how much I liked Alex. Why was I so upset and worried? It was because I had just made myself vulnerable to a man I was growing a deep affection for and I cared strongly about what he thought of me. As C.S. Lewis so eloquently writes,
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
I was afraid. I was afraid of being vulnerable with Alex and him rejecting me. But that's what love is isn't it? It's costly and it's scary. And it's worth the risk.
It's funny to reflect on that evening now because Alex had a totally different perspective. He thought the night when great and my vulnerability and openness only made him grow fonder of me. He only had to go quickly because he knew his family was waiting on him and expecting him to get back at a certain time.
The next day Alex invited me to watch the FSU/Clemson game with him and his family. And by family I mean his ENTIRE family. All six of his siblings, his parents, and even his grandparents were there! I felt like the pressure was on and I was so nervous to meet the family of the guy I was "dating" but had only know 2 weeks and wasn't even officially his "girlfriend" yet. I mean, how would he introduce me..."Hey family, this is my friend who's a girl who's name is Jenna that I've only known 14 days. She's great!" Like any mature woman would do, I forced my friend Krystal to come with me as my wing woman. There's no way I was going to take on all of that by myself! Krystal joked in her toast at our wedding that she knew things were going well with Alex because I never asked her to be my wing woman again after that night!
To my surprise and delight, Alex's family was absolutely wonderful and they made me feel welcome and comfortable right away. There was so many people there, I didn't feel like I was the center of attention or like I was being judged at all. That night, I realized what a unique gift Alex has in his family and since that day they have never ceased to be a very rich blessing from the Lord to me.
The next day, on Sunday October 19th, 2013, Alex came to Crosspoint with me in the morning. Right after the service was over Alex leaned over to our mutual friend Alecia and asked her if she'd take a picture of us. I freaked out a little inside and wondered, "What do I do for our first picture ever together? Do I put my arm around him? Do I look ok??" We simply stayed where we were sitting and I followed as Alex put his arm around me. Pictured below is the semi-akward, somewhat stiff, first picture we ever took together.
Alex and I went to Starbucks briefly just after the service before he had to go back to North Carolina. I still felt a little unclear about what we "were" or where our relationship was headed. He told me earlier that week he didn't think labels were important and that he just wanted to continue getting to know me. Over coffee at Starbucks I nervously told him that I had enjoyed spending time with him over the weekend. I said, "I know you said you don't think labels are important when we talked earlier and that's fine with me. I don't want to put any pressure on you or take the lead, I just want to be clear on what we're doing. If someone asks, should I say that we're boyfriend and girlfriend or just that we're not there yet?" He quickly said, "Oh sure, definitely! I just said that because I didn't want you to feel any pressure. I would love to be your boyfriend!" A felt a wave a relief and sad goodbye to Alex with a mixture of excitement and sadness in my heart.
That evening I prayed, "Lord, thank you so much for bringing Alex into my life! I surrender my relationship with him to You and pray for Your will. Please help us to date well and in a way that glorifies you to all who are watching. Please give us wisdom and discernment as you lead and guide us."
I believe that God very faithfully answered those initial prayers I prayed for our relationship. He gave us wisdom, discernment, and peace about our relationship and we quickly knew it was His will for us to be married. After five months of dating, Alex asked me to be his wife on March 2nd, 2014 and we were married on August 29th, 2014.
Thank you for following along with me as I have shared our story! Whatever season you are in your life, I hope it has been an encouragement and blessing to you of God's faithfulness and provision.