Our Love Story | 5th Anniversary

Today marks our 5th anniversary so I thought I would share our story.

It's one of hanging in, learning, and lots of grace.


In high school, I really liked one of the guys in our friend group. We became close...I remember sitting on the phone with him for hours talking about everything from what we both wanted to do with our lives to what had happened at school that day. For whatever reason, I would always sit in my garage when I chatted with him (probably because it was often late at night when the rest of the house was asleep). 

I never knew exactly what was going on between us. It was confusing at best-there would be times when I would think we were just good friends but for whatever reason I always came back to that relationship. Our friends would hang out at his house so I got to know his family well and developed a deep respect for not only who he was but where he had come from.

The summer after my freshmen year of college, we finally had an open discussion about us dating. We shared that we had always liked each other and decided we would try it. I left for a weekend in Chicago (ironically to surprise Doug for his birthday with some of our friends from college) on cloud nine. Over the course of the weekend, I didn't hear from him; no response to my calls or messages. By the time I headed home on Sunday afternoon I was hurt and confused. I remember Doug calling me on my drive back to Michigan and saying that I deserved better than someone who wouldn't pick up the phone when I called.

That night, he finally decided to call me. I found myself in the familiar spot in my garage. He started to spin this winding tale of why he hadn't called over the weekend. He shared that he had told his parents that we were going to date, that he had asked his sister about me...I am not always the most patient person so I interrupted him to ask what this had to do with not speaking to me over the last four days.

He proceeded to tell me that some of his family had concerns about us having "cultural differences." He almost couldn't get the words out which left me puzzled as to what this meant. When I pushed him on it, he said, "My family and I don't think I should date you because of your...race."

I remember feeling like garage had shrunk and I was sitting in a very small box. My mind raced to different places and back again. Here was this person that I trusted, who belonged to a family who had always welcomed me into their home. I felt betrayed. Like I had been the punchline of a joke that I didn't know I was participating in. He then let me know that some of our friends also didn't want us to date. He said it was partly cultural but also some of them didn't approve of adoption. They had had cautioned him about getting into a relationship with someone who had been the product of adoption. 

In that moment, my world felt small and my heart broke. It broke over a lot of things. Here was this relationship I had believed in for so long taking the ugliest turn. But, it wasn't even that...most people will go through some kind of break up or strange relationship situation at some point. It was the loss of a person that I counted as one of my best friends saying things that cut through my soul. It was the fact that his family that I had grown so fond of apparently thought I was lesser because of where I was born. It was the shock of people I had known since grade school who all this time thought my parents did something wrong by bringing me into their family. Those same parents that had welcomed said friends into our home to hang out countless times.

Looking back now, this was a profoundly formational chapter in my life. It 100% changed my view of relationships, love, and trust. It woke me up to the realities of how some individuals are treated just because of who they are or what the color of their skin is. It cultivated a view of people that maybe wasn't so rosy. But, this story has a happy conclusion...a painful beginning but a divine ending. 

Doug called me the next day to check in. The poor guy-I spilled my heart to him. We talked through the hurt I was feeling, betrayal, and my weird identify crisis. Through tears, I lamented that I felt they had taken such a pure concept of adoption and tarnished it...actually used it as fuel for someone not to date me.

Doug didn't run. He didn't rush the conversation along. He didn't dismiss my disorganized rantings on culture and community. Instead, he called. Everyday. He called just to say hello, to share a funny story from his summer internship, or just ask how I was doing. Most importantly, he consistently encouraged me to ask God to heal my heart and release my anger. 

I didn't fully see it then, but he was healing my heart. This gentle, charming intellect was restoring my picture of relationships and men. He was showing me Christ by gathering the pieces of my heart and quietly putting them back together. Through all of this (even as a friend) he felt like home to me. That is what I would eventually fall in love with. His kind nature, empathetic spirit, and fierce loyalty to his family and friends. We cultivated a true and deep friendship which has remained the basis of our marriage for the past five years.

Doug isn't the only person who helped re-form my ideas about people and love. We are surrounded by some of the most amazing human beings who are all a part of our story. My parents shared the pride they had in adopting me; how they knew that God always meant me for their family...they assured me of how adoption continues to change lives around the world in the most beautiful way. My friends provided the most timely support and reminded me of how essential to the journey those bonds are. Doug's family (as a friend and when we started dating) welcomed me with open arms and made me feel valued and loved just for being who I am.

Friends, not all love stories look like perfectly boxed up fairytales. They can be messy and confusing...or in my case worldview altering. But, what endures is love. So, if there's anything I can share from our love story or marriage, it's to show that love any chance you get. Respect everyone even if they are different than you. Adore the people in your life...they're souls that God has entrusted to you, so take that responsibility in earnest. And, it can be tough, but release the pain and open your eyes to charming potentials the future might hold. Grace on grace on grace.


In honor of five years of marriage, enjoy some oldies but goodies from the archives :) 

 

Happy Anniversary to my favorite soul in the world. Home is wherever I'm with you.  

Sincerely,
Ashley