I write this in the hopes of asking Susan Hall to be my wife. Everyone has a story and this is the greatest one I have ever been a part of. We have always referred to it as “our story” but for me I have seen it as “the story of her.”
Of course one of the first days I ran into her and the first thing I noticed about her was her blue eyes. I was helpless in that moment and still have yet to recover. There was this immediate attraction that I had not felt in a long time and it was quite confusing. Here I was about to go overseas for two years, was happy to be committed to singleness for that time and this girl comes along and changed everything.
The training was for two months and of those two months I struggled daily for a couple of weeks on what to do. I prayed and read and fasted to find out if it was right to pursue it. The main problem of this season was that she was going to one place meaning she hung out with a certain group and I was going to another place which my group was totally different. I was in the uncool region, the South American region, and there were only four of us. Hardly enough for a sufficient clique. I could never get a chance to get to know her sufficiently to see if there was something there.
I kept trying to talk with her, get to know her, be around her but she was oblivious to all my subtle advances. Ironically enough it wasn’t subtle to any of her friends who then asked if I had a crush. It was 7th grade all over again. I denied it of course and then went through this excruciating phase where I tried to avoid her because I didn’t want a “distraction to my call.” I would feel good about it, even empowered, and she would come up and talk to me, or I would have some small look from her that would encourage me to go on putting me in a miserable plight. Susan, of course, was oblivious to all of this.
My poor friends had to hear all the tales of woe as we shot nerf basketball on a plastic hoop in my room. The very thing I feared had come true. She had become a distraction. I finally started to avoid her fervently and focus on my commitment. I am sure I was even rude and awkward in my avoidance. There was even a week or so that I had fully convinced myself that I didn’t care anymore.
Somehow it all came flooding back with about two weeks left to go. I was burdened with this feeling for a girl I knew very little about. Up to this point I was afraid of being rejected, but my biggest fear became going to South America and always wondering “what if?” With ten days left I decided to lay it on the line and go for it. I had nothing to lose at this point and at the very least I would know.
I asked her if we could talk after dinner. I can say, honestly, that I didn’t expect much to come of it but went into this last valiant charge with a readiness for being utterly shot down. My verse for the occasion was:
“The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.”
We went for a walk to the swings, of which mine was too small for me as I sat there awkwardly and uncomfortable throughout the conversation. I basically apologize for avoiding her or being awkward. I said it was because I liked her a lot and did not know what to do with the feelings. I had even prayed that God would take the feelings away, but he didn’t. All I was left with was this wonderful burden and I had to see if there was something there. I told her that she was beautiful and wonderful and if she had nothing for me that was alright I just wanted her to know that. She said that was the sweetest thing anyone had ever told her and asked me, “now what?” The most I had ever hoped up to that point was to just get to know her. She was very honest with me that she didn’t share the same feelings but she would like to get to know me as well to see if it would lead somewhere.
For those next ten days we hung out intentionally and talked and told stories. It was wonderful. To begin with I thought we were very different or that she wouldn’t be attracted to a guy like me. I play sports (which I have learned music seems to be a more profitable means to attracting women) and the music I did listen to was of a harder nature than hers. Those are just external examples, but as time went it still seemed crazy as ever especially starting something before a two year overseas commitment. But the Lord leads us down paths that make no sense so that at the end of the day we can truly recognize His hand guiding and leading the whole way.
Her honesty was such a wonderful thing to begin with. We both were very honest. I told her how my feelings grew daily and she told me that she was just not there yet. At that point I was not even fazed because I was being considered at the very least. Honesty in the tough things made me sure of all the good things she told me, so I always appreciated that and appreciate it still. The night before we were to leave she told me she felt the same way for me and we held hands for the first time and I kissed her cheek. The next day I hugged her one last time and did not see her again for one year, ten months, and fifteen days.
During that time I was in the jungles and mountains of South America and Susan was in a very dangerous place in Africa. We communicated through Skype and email whenever we could. There were many times we didn’t get to speak at all. I had training for three and a half months of which we talked twice. She was so gracious with me and she humbled me by her patience and steadfastness. Writing this now I can only explain that it worked because of God’s grace. We recognize it at the time as crazy but we were also confident if this was from the Lord He would bring us to the other side.
The one great thing about long distance is that you have to get to know the person with little or no distraction. I had had this preconceived idea of this “perfect girl,” the unicorn, or mythical creature of some kind. “The One” even. And as I said before there seemed to be all these external differences that ended up being just preferences and in reality we had more in common than we thought. The most beautiful thing though was the more I got to know Susan the more I realized she was everything I was looking for from the beginning. The one who would complement me and I her. I didn’t even know it but the LORD did and He directed my heart to her.
Susan was the first to put the “relationship status” on facebook. We told each other “I love you” for the first time on July 26. We have celebrated the 26th of every month as our anniversary. I cannot think of how many letters Susan wrote me. That was the most precious thing for me. When I was out on a trip the most exciting moments were waiting on Gmail to upload my messages and I would see all the ones from her with the golden star next to them. They were eloquent, thoughtful, descriptive, and lovely. They embodied her in every way and I got to know her in such a way I thought not possible. Though I wouldn’t trade anything for our dating season now, seeing her face, taking her to restaurants, going on walks, I would not trade anything for that season of writing letters.
We had many a tough season as well and it was good to see how we looked in that. We got through them and that made me all the more confident for the days to come. More than anything, however, she gave me so much joy. Always light in the midst of darkness, hope in the midst of despair. The LORD blessed me beyond anything I could ever have imagined. I could not truly define grace before Susan. I regret not one day from the day I met her and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
On Febrary 20, 2009, we saw each for the first time since April 4, 2007. We had tried to anticipate how awkward our first encounter would be or even the first couple of weeks of seeing each other in the new dynamic of actually “dating.” She had become my best friend through our conversations on the phone and through letters but it was going to be interesting how that would translate to face-to-face interaction. When I first stepped out of my car that cold night in Yorktown, we hugged for an eternity, an embrace I had only dreamed about in South America, and the path had led me up to this moment had been confirmed. The weirdest thing was that it wasn’t weird at all. We were so comfortable with each as if we had been doing that all along. The LORD had brought us together in every way possible.
We are now in Wake Forest, NC. I am going to seminary and we hope to pursue the ministry in some shape, form, or fashion wherever the LORD leads. If this is posted then it must mean that she said yes. Another testimony to grace. She is far above me in every way; the most beautiful, most gentle, sweetest, loveliest person I know. She is my best friend who knows me better than anyone else and I’d have it no other way. I love her. I love her more than I thought possible on this side of heaven and there is no one else I’d rather spend the rest of my life with. I praise God for her.
There is much more to this story and this is basically the cliff notes version. For the sake of brevity and Trent Jones I have tried my best to be concise and not long-winded. I have always tried to write about the Greatness of God, His mercy, His Grace, His miracles and workings in my life, and I can think of no other story that clearly depicts all of that than this one. The story of her.