Everyone has a story! Part of my sanguine personality is that I find great joy in hearing the journeys of other people and I love sharing my own experiences. In particular, I adore real-life love stories. Welcome to Story Swap, a series on this blog where I share a specific part of our story and hope to hear all about yours.
In this edition: How We Met.
Our church used to put on an annual production called The Easter Pageant. I vividly remember sitting in the audience during their 2001 performance and being mesmerized by the entire show – it truly rivaled a Broadway play. I particularly enjoyed watching the men who portrayed the disciples. Little did I know, that I was actually watching my future husband running around on stage.
A few months after that production ended, I saw an ad in the church bulletin for a stage manager of the upcoming 2002 performance. I applied as a 19-year-old freshman in college and while I didn’t get that position, I did get slotted to be on the production team as one of the assistant directors. Auditions were in November and rehearsals began after the start of the new year. On January 22nd, I parked my car and walked into church for that evening’s practice. I noticed a tall, handsome man who was also walking in. We each entered the church at about the same time, but through different doors. Upon entering, I was greeted by the smell of Papa Johns Pizza. The man noticed it as well and said, “Smells like dinner.” I replied with a smile, “I was thinking the same thing.”
We continued to walk through the church. He entered a door and then noticed I was headed in that same direction so he kept it open for me. He grabbed the next door, pulled it open, and allowed me to walk through first (with that act of chivalry, he scored a lot of points – I love a gentleman who opens doors and allows ladies to go first!). We both continued a few steps down the same hallway and then he finally asked,“Are you headed to Pageant Practice?” “Yes.” “What role are you playing?” “I’m just helping out backstage.” “Oh. Is this your first year?” “Yep.” “I didn’t think I had seen you before. Well you are in for a real treat. This is my favorite time of the year.” “I can see why. I’m loving it so far. What year is this for you?” “My third” “What role are you playing?” “The disciple Philip – Philipo” “Who else have you played?” “First year John and last year Thomas. A different disciple every year – I figure 12 disciples in 12 years.” “Sounds like a plan to me. My name is Darby.” I stick out my hand. He shakes it as he says, “I’m Jason.”
We entered practice together and I couldn’t stop thinking about this Jason fellow I had just met. He was tall, handsome, and wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. That evening we were blocking “The Last Supper” scene and I stood in for an absent disciple. Ironically enough, that disciple was to be seated next to Jason. For three hours, I was able to be close to him and observe his interactions with others. I liked what I saw.
When practice was over, I skipped my directors meeting so that we could walk out together. On our way back to our cars, we made small talk. When I told him I was a Political Science major, he replied, “ugh, it takes a special person to go into politics and I am not that kind of person.” He told me he was currently a research assistant, but that he was going to start medical school in the fall. In order to capture his interest, I name dropped my dad (who is a doctor). Finally, we parted ways, but I left wearing a huge smile on my face.
I didn’t even know his last name, but I knew I was going to marry him. During the course of our limited interaction, the Lord had whispered to me that Jason was the one He created just for me!
Over the next few weeks, I saw Jason regularly at rehearsal and other church activities. We were always conversational and I enjoyed getting to know this handsome man. One Friday night, a group of us were sitting around talking about different mission trips we had taken and Jason shared that he was leading an upcoming trip to Cuba. He made a comment about how this might be his last trip for a while because he wasn’t sure what he could commit to once he began school. A woman, Sandy, asked, “What does medical school do to the wedding?”
At that moment, my heart sunk.
I thought to myself, “Of course he is engaged. Why would such an amazing man still be single!” His response was an awkward, “Uh, Sandy, we aren’t engaged.” She said, “I know, but you know what I mean.” He sputtered out, “Well, uh, we actually don’t know what is going to happen with that. We are praying about that right now.” It was awkward for all of us and not long after Jason excused himself. I remained for a while, but then finally made my way to the car where I broke down in tears.
Had I misunderstood what the Lord was telling me? I didn’t know much about Jason, but I felt firmly that God had placed him into my path for a very important reason (aka marriage). I sat in the car and began to pray. I prayed that if I was mistaken, if Jason wasn’t the man for me, that the Lord would make it very clear to me. I went so far as to pray that I would be excited for Jason and his impending engagement. Turning the situation around, I prayed that if I wasn’t wrong in my discernment, that the relationship Jason mentioned would end soon (I didn’t really want my future husband dating anyone else- ha) and that this girl would get over Jason quickly.
Rehearsals continued and so did our friendship. He had never mentioned being in a relationship before Sandy had brought it up and he never mentioned it again. I continued getting to know him, but was so sure that one day he would tell me he was engaged. I prepared my heart for it not to work out. It was only later that I learned that he broke up with that girl about two weeks after I prayed for their relationship to end (the power of prayer – hehe).
After our Easter production was over, I didn’t know how often I would still see Jason. Yet, the Lord kept working it out and we were often at the same church events and services. He invited me to visit the Spanish service at our church where he helped to lead worship.
On Sunday, May 19th, I arrived to church with a visibly broken nose from a car accident that happened the previous Friday. I saw Jason after the Spanish service and he wanted to know what happened. I vividly remember the emotional storm (due to the wreck) that had been raging inside of me ceased immediately when he put his arm around me and said, “Tell me what happened.” As I recounted the accident, a three year old girl interrupted because she wanted him to color a picture with her. He began coloring with her, but then turned and said, “I’m still listening to you.” I so appreciated that he would take the time to acknowledge my story while playing with the little girl.
After church that day, I had planned a lunch with a few of Jason’s friends. They invited him to come along and at first he declined stating that he had lunch plans with someone else. After a few minutes, he told us he would reschedule with his other friend and join us. The four of us went to Penn Station and that was the first time Jason and I hung out outside of church.
About a month later, the two of us were part of a small weekend retreat. It was wonderful to worship along with him and enjoy fun activities by the lake. Once we returned home, he began to call me and we continued to get to know each other outside of church. There were a few summer nights where we stayed up until three in the morning talking and star gazing. I continued to pray for the Lord’s will over our blossoming friendship.
One day, Jason suggested that I go on the mission trip to Cuba that he was leading. I politely declined. (I made up some excuse to tell him, but in my heart, I knew I did not want to go on a mission trip with a man I found attractive – talk about a distraction!!) However, the Lord had different plans for my summer. While I had applied to go on a mission trip to Poland, the missions department at our church slotted me for the Cuba trip that Jason was leading. I figured the Lord knew what He was doing and I agreed to go.
Our mission trip to Cuba took place in late July (of 2002). On the airplane ride down there, I asked the Lord to confirm with me that Jason was my future husband. I specifically asked for three confirmations – one coming from a third party person. I didn’t know what they were going to look like, but simply trusted.
The Lord was faithful through that entire trip! Through His strength, I wasn’t distracted by Jason and was able to focus on the ministry. He was also generous in giving me the three confirmations I asked for. The first one was simply during a moment when I saw Jason playing drums at the church – I felt in my spirit the Lord say, “This is a confirmation.” The second was a vision of the future, I saw Jason and I sitting in a room with green walls praying for the people who would one day buy our house (that vision came to be in early 2009. We had just put our house on the market and were sitting in my daughter’s green nursery). The third came through a third party. One night, Jason said he was going to walk down to get some pizza. I said I was also hungry and I invited my roommate to come with us. She pulled me aside and said, “I wouldn’t be interfering if I came too, right?” I asked her what she was talking about and she said, “well, clearly you and Jason like each other. I don’t want to be a third wheel.” Confirmation! (I did not share these with Jason at the time, but simply gathered them all up in my heart and trusted the Lord with my future. I was still waiting for him to take the lead in the relationship.)
While in Cuba, Jason and I would meet early in the morning to watch the sunrise on the beach (one of the days we were supposed to meet I slept in and stood him up! I now joke that I was playing hard to get). And we prayed together… a lot. (After we returned home, Jason wrote me a note thanking me for all the prayerful moments we had together). On one of the last days down there, Jason and I were paired up to go door-to-door to evangelize. We spent the entire day sharing Christ with others.
That night, he held my hand for the first time.
We didn’t enter a formal dating relationship that night (it actually wasn’t until October 19th of that year that we became boyfriend and girlfriend), but the moment he held my hand is when our friendship began to move forward. I’m so thankful it did.
What’s your story? How did you meet your husband?! Send me an e-mail, leave a comment, or share on facebook!