Within the first few hours of meeting Stan, I noticed something was different. For one thing, I couldn't help feeling drawn to him. At first, I just blamed it on for the witty, fast-paced sarcasm that he does so well. As the hours passed, however, and conversation slowed, the feeling didn't go away. What was that all about? Being drawn to Stan started to have unusual side effects. To begin with, there was something about his laugh, something about his stance, about his endearing affinity for cheesecake—too many "somethings" about him that unconsciously started to register in my head. And then, I found myself hoping strange things like that the evening would never end . . . or that I'd see him again soon. That was different.
From that day till now, our love story has basically followed (what was then) an indiscernible pattern consisting of these highly unusual, larger than life moments—split up by long periods of time where nothing significant appeared to be happening.
Each time I look back at our story, different details surface to my memory and make it nearly impossible to pick out the moments that hold greater significance than others. I've tried to figure out the what, when, and who of that exact moment when I knew. Was it when we first met in Chicago or when he visited my family a year and half later? What about that summer in India or that street fair we walked through in New York City? Or those tumultuous years in college when I'd bombard him with questions about eternal security or the meaning of life? Maybe it was his sense of humor that drew me in or his passion for God that fixed my heart.
In retrospect, I can see how each detail was significant—how God was weaving everything—people, events, life—together in a manner only He can. There was never just that one moment or that one thing Stan or I did right that helped us know. It was always just God leading us to each other and letting us discover His plan—and in doing so, giving us a small glimpse of just how good His heart is towards us.
Growing up, I always had an impression that getting married would only weigh me down—that I would lose the freedom and independence that only bachelorhood could provide. What my lonely, narrow-minded thinking didn't take into account was February 15th, 2003 when I first noticed Annette in Chicago. Maybe I forgot to read "How Not to Be a Creepy Stalker" in high school, but I couldn't stop looking at her. It wasn't just the fact that she was the prettiest girl I had ever seen — it was everything about her.
I figured someone like her would never be with a guy like me — and it has nothing to do with how charming, smart and great I really am. But everything changed during a trip to Atlanta when I happened to visit a church that was recommended to me by a friend. Who would have known that was the same church Annette and her family attended?
(For all the guys that seek to know the sweet moves I pulled after that Sunday church service in Atlanta, I will give you an insider's look: it started with lunch, an invitation by her family to stop by her home, me cracking a few knock-knock jokes at the dinner table, and finally offering to do her calculus homework. The rest is history.)
For the past two and a half years, I have been so blessed to know someone as beautiful in body and spirit as Annette. Since 2003, it's been a six-year journey—with my advances being constantly rejected each time. (I blame it on racial profiling!) Still, if given a chance to re-write our story, I wouldn't change one iota of detail. These few years have been the best years of my life.
As a minister, I have the joy of speaking to people with regards to trusting in a God who can take care of them. I believe that has been the heart of our story --- a God who has led us together to pursue Him passionately and has never steered us wrong.