On Tuesday, May 28th, it’s the 8th anniversary of marrying my wife Lauren. On these milestone holidays (i.e. birthdays), I get really contemplative. I think about the story that God is telling through our lives. In this case, it’s the story that he’s telling through the life of Lauren and me together. I look back today feeling blessed beyond measure that Lauren is my wife, the family we’ve built, and by his grace become vessels of his love to our community and world.
But the background… God was building our story together even before we knew each other.
It all started when I graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology in August 2006. Later that year, I accepted a job in Washington, DC at the Library of Congress doing web strategy.
DC is a funny place. It’ll always have a special place in my heart. Every person you meet wants to change the world. They work in Congress or a non-profit. They all wore the same suits and got the same haircut. Or at least that’s what it felt like to me. In that way, I felt like a misfit. I wore corduroy suit coats, not Brooks Brothers. I opted for the beard vs going for the standard DC clean cut. I also had a passion for how entrepreneurialism and technology could change the world and not Congressional policy.
While I went out and had the occasional girlfriend, looking back, nothing had that forever feeling. At in hindsight, I wanted to be with someone more than wanting to be with the right person. I wasn’t ready.
While I wasn’t investing myself in a significant other, I dove into the technology and entrepreneurial community of Washington DC. I’d go to a couple of meetups a week. I’d co-host my own gatherings and un-conferences to bring like-minded individuals together. And while during that season I’d probably preferred to find miss right, the connections I made and skills learned are still paying off more than a decade later.
It all changed May of 2010. I was at a church party at a friends house. I went to a Rwandan Anglican Church, which was mostly 20 somethings. I was in the backyard and headed to the bathroom where there was beer in the bathtub. And there she was. Lauren.
We both had been going to the same church for a while and it wasn’t a big church. I swear I had never seen here before. But she was there. I really think that prior to that party I wasn’t ready to see her. God showed her to me at that right moment. And what I was about to find out was that our story was intertwined in ways I couldn’t have imagined. But we’ll get to that.
So I met Lauren on the way to get a beer out of a bathtub. It was 5 or 6 at night. So the light was peering through the trees as it was starting to decline in the night sky. The light surrounded her as if she glowed. From the first moment, it was as if God was saying, “She’s special. Pay attention.”
In addition to finding Lauren very attractive, she talked about traveling the world on a year-long mission trip. She was into new technology companies. I remember talking about Airbnb. She had just used it on a recent trip to Boston. The company was no more than a year or two old. No one had heard of it and most thought it was nuts to stay inside someone else’s house. Similar to me, she had an early iPhone when most people thought it was crazy to spend so hundreds of dollars on a phone. Suffice it to say, she was different like me. My interest was piqued.
Later that night, we became friends on Facebook because that’s what ya did then. Ha!
Fast forwarding a few steps…
Well, I invited her to my birthday party which was a few weeks later. It was at a beer bar in DC, in the basement. I invited Lauren along with a bunch of other friends. Most of the night, I bounced around. At the end of the night, I sat down at the table Lauren was at. A mutual friend of ours Laura was there too.
The new iPhone 4 was about to come out. Laura parlayed the convo to the app Bump, where you could bump phones together and exchange numbers. She slyly suggested that Lauren and I show her how the app worked by bumping our phones. I didn’t have the app, quickly realized that I was about to get Lauren’s number, downloaded the app, connected to go out on a date. We’ve been talking every day since.
At some point, she started checking out my family on Facebook (and vice versa). She noticed that my sister and she had many mutual friends. Prior to DC, Lauren lived in Indianapolis. She went to Butler University. My sister worked as a nurse at a hospital in Indy.
Well, my sister lived not that far from the Butler campus. Lauren lived 4 or 5 blocks down the street from my sister. They went to the same church. Lauren’s closest church friends lived across the street from my sister. One of Lauren’s closest church friends was renting a room in my sister’s house. Coincidentally, my sister tried to set me up with that housemate.
Like a good brother, I visited my sister as often as I could. I went to my sister’s church. Chances are Lauren must have been there at least one of the times. Or… Lauren was across the street visiting friends when I was at my sister’s house.
Lauren was under my nose. God had her picked for me and our paths crossed, even before I was even ready to see or be aware that she was there.
As those of you that are married know, it’s a change to go from me to us. It takes a grace-filled covenant partnership with that other person. When you let someone else into that circle, it exposes all of your weaknesses and shortcomings that you’ve been hiding but in a way that makes you really want to work and grow together.
I thank the Lord for weaving Lauren and me together even before we met. I can’t imagine a better partner for life. Every moment has been a blessing that I don’t deserve.
Before I met Lauren, there were certainly those moments where I wondered if I’d ever meet her. Would I have to change who I am in order for it to happen? (There was that time I really got into running and the time I got really into trying to learn to play guitar.)
If you’re struggling, I hope that Lauren’s and my origin story together will demonstrate how we have a big God. He’s bigger than your circumstances. He loves you and has a plan for your life. By his grace, he can take any sadness or imperfections and turn it into something beautiful.