.....the biggest dream of my life began to unfold.
It was July 19th, 1995 - and on that night, in the shop where John owned his stereo installation business, he and I finally determined that we were meant to be together.
You'd think that something that happened 15 years ago wouldn't still have the power to bring tears to my eyes, but it does. Because I held on to hope for 8 months prior to that day that maybe, just maybe, John would see our relationship as something more than friendship. But, with every new girlfriend that he invited into his life (there were two during that time, and with each one he asked my advice as to how to proceed with that relationship), and with each and every "DTR" discussion in which he explained over and over again that we were "just friends" - my hopes dwindled.
They were never completely drowned out, though, because John was my "standard". One day, probably in June - he approached me with "Tiffany" - the second girl he dated during our time of being friends. With his arm around her, and a giant smile on his face - he admonished me to "never settle because you really can find that person that completes you, and it's worth the wait". My heart was crushed at that moment, because anyone else would have been "settling" if it weren't John in my life to complete me. I think that was the day that my hope most faltered - and yet again, I sought the Lord to be the only ONE who could really complete me - as I did so often when I was single. God was faithful, and though my heart still longed for that man, that even to this day, occupies my dreams as the "only one" I'll ever be happy with - I found strength in the Lord, and joy despite my heartache.
As July began to unfold, though, things started changing. Tiffany asked to meet with me for dinner (we were casual friends) and this time, she was asking my advice as to how to break up with John. Hmmm, what a moral dilemma! I listened, did not suggest anything rash - but a piece of my heart started living again that night. A couple of days later, John revealed Tiffany had broken up with him, but he had a surprising peace about it all. Over the next couple of weeks, John and I hung out more and more. We were two among four leaders who ran the college ministry that summer, so we were constantly doing and planning things together. But, they began to be more "just us" times - he asked if he could go running with me at 7 in the morning, and if I would pull what turned out to be an all-nighter helping him put together a promotional video for the college group. Still, I guarded myself mightily, what might seem "obvious" to everyone else, had never been obvious to John - and to think he would ever see it differently was hard to fathom. And, surely, I'd never be the one to admit I felt anything more than friends either.
Then, it happened. Thanks to one of the other leaders of our "four", Matt. You see, Matt actually liked me. We dated a bit, but I had already deduced that there was nothing there between the two of us - he just didn't measure up to the one I really wanted. While I tried to make my feelings clear to Matt, it still hurt him that John and I spent as much time with each other as we did - and on Thursday, July 19th - during a weekly college meeting, he pulled John aside to let him know as much.
Following the meeting, John took me back to his shop and we discussed Matt's concerns. The decision seemed to be: honor Matt and forgo our friendship, or stay friends knowing that will make Matt sad. Once again, it felt like I was being forced to lose my friendship with John for the sake of another person and I even acknowledged that. Surprisingly, he agreed. He didn't want to lose me. And with just a few more comments like that, it gave me the boldness to ask, "If I got a boyfriend tomorrow, how would you feel about it?" And, he answered, "bummed, REALLY bummed". And with just enough twinkle in his eye as he said it, it gave me the courage to unfold my real feelings about him for the last eight months. Not only was he NOT bothered by my feelings for him, but with each word expressed it was as if a fire inside him grew bigger and bigger in desire for me. So much so, that by the end of the evening, a new DTR speech was expressed to me. This time, it was more to the tune of "I believe God has brought us together, and not just to date, but perhaps for the rest of our lives. Stephanie, I'm in this with you and won't bow out unless God makes it clear that would be His will."
I didn't get home until 2:00 that night - and was awake at 5:30 the next morning, but the fatigue I felt from lack of sleep was far outweighed by the giddy-ness of realizing that the person I most wanted to spend the rest of my life with wanted the same thing too. It was a dream come true and I was living it.
On December 31st of that year, John asked me to be his wife, and 4 months later, on April 27th, we were married. I'm still livin' the dream.......... Happy 15 years of "going out", my love!!!!