Once again, it has been a long time since I have posted anything. The truth is that while there is a lot I want to say, I have held back because most of it is about my personal life.
In late November of this past year, I received a message from an Orthodox woman named Lisa through a social networking site called Orthodox Circle. She wrote to tell me that she really likes my icons, and that we have some common tastes in music, movies, and books. She went on to tell me a little bit about herself, and asked a couple questions. Now normally I read messages from people and barely respond if at all. I might just send a little note thanking them, but rarely anything more elaborate than that. But she had taken the time to write quite a bit, and so I responded point by point to what she wrote, more out of a sense of obligation than anything else. She then responded again with more detail, more questions, and so I responded again. This continued for a while, and she would usually say something like "I am really enjoying our correspondence, and I hope it can continue." At first this was slightly frustrating. You see, I don't really like email. And our correspondence seemed more like a laundry list of information rather than a real personal exchange. And the other thing that made it difficult was that I had decided that I was not going to pursue a relationship. At 31 years old, I had concluded that God did not have a relationship in store for me, and I had decided that I would just accept that and stop letting it frustrate me. I decided this the day before the first email I received from Lisa.
As time went on, instant messaging was added to the emails, which was a little more natural, and helped me to see Lisa's personality just a little better. At one point we were talking on the catbox (or chatbox to the uninitiated) at desertcalling.com and she sent me a message telling me that I was a "kick in the pants" and that I should give her a call when she got off of work. Being shy and nervous about sounding like an idiot (I hate talking on the phone) I declined and decided that my time would be better spent working on a project I had to get done. But I continued with the emails and IMs.
In late December, Lisa put her feelings on the chopping block, and told me how much she liked me, and said that if I was interested, she would really like to expand our friendship. For me, this was a difficult decision. While I knew that I liked her, and enjoyed talking to her, I didn't really feel like I knew her well, and I was also wary of long-distance relationships (she only lives about 2000 miles away from me). Ultimately, I told Lisa that I was interested, but that I didn't know enough about her and that I had to proceed with caution. So the next time we were talking on IM, she asked me what I would like to know about her. So I started asking questions. this didn't go on very long before she asked me if I would want to talk about it on the phone rather than typing everything. So I bit the bullet and called.
I was a little worried that I would call and show myself to be an idiot. I was a little worried that she would have an annoying voice. I was worried that we would have nothing to talk about. What I found was that she has a lovely voice, and that she is so easy for me to talk to, and that she has an intoxicating laugh. And so 2 days after Christmas, I found myself starting to fall for this woman who lives almost on the other side of the continent. We spoke again on the phone on New Year's Eve, then a few days later, and we gradually started to talk for longer periods of time, and more often. It got to the point that we now talk on the phone for a couple hours a day.
Lisa had a trip to Pennsylvania planned for sometime after Christmas, and was hoping she could meet me in person during that trip. I was a little worried about meeting her, for much the same reasons that I was worried about talking to her on the phone. I agreed to meet her, but was anxious about it. As it turns out, the trip had to be rescheduled for mid-February. By about mid-January, February started to seem like a really long time to have to wait to see her.
By the end of January, I got tired of mouthing the words "I love you" at the phone after hanging up, and decided to tell Lisa how I felt about her. After a really wonderful phone call with neither of us wanting to hang up, I wrote a long email telling her how much she has meant to my life, and I told her that I didn't want another day to pass without telling her that I love her. The next day she told me how much that meant to her even though she didn't think she would be able to say those words until she met me in person. I felt a little saddened by that, but when she told me the next day that she printed out the email and carries it with her, it made me so happy to know that whether she said the words or not, I knew she loved me. It only took a few more days before she was able to say it anyway...
So the weeks leading up to February 13th were some of the longest weeks I have ever had. She only had 3 full days in Pennsylvania, but we tried to make the most of them. We were both so happy to meet in person, and were pleasantly surprised that the connection we had on the phone transferred just fine to our connection in person. On February 14th, being Valentine's Day, I had a present for Lisa. I painted her an icon of her patron saint, St. Elizabeth the New Martyr, and wrote a very long inscription on the back. She cried when I gave it to her, and then held it in her arms for most of that day. She gave me one of her favorite prayer ropes which I now take with me whereever I go. We had so much fun together that she almost missed her flight back home because we just didn't want to say good bye.
So then we waited. We continued talking on the phone daily (thank you Verizon for free calls between Verizon phones), and we continued emailing. On March 18th, I flew out to visit her for her Birthday which was on the 20th. I spent the first two days of my visit cooking food for her Birthday party to which she had invited her friends and family. It was a wonderful night for her, and for me as well. I was able to meet her dad, her aunt and uncle, her best friends, and most of the people at her church.
On Monday evening, I took Lisa to one of the nicest restaurants in town, where we had a delicious dinner. We then took a walk along the river next to the restaurant. I told her how much her love has meant to my life, how she was able to reach past all of the obstacles and barriers I had built up around my heart, and to help me to find love when I thought I never could. I then asked her to be my wife, and gave her the ring that I had bought that morning. Before I could finish asking she said yes.
I have never been happier in my life than I have been the past few months. She is sweeter to me than anyone I have ever known, and I feel so blessed to have her in my life. I know that God worked wonders to bring her into my life, and I am thankful for every moment with her. There are still many things to be worked out, not the least of which is the fact that we live in different states, but we are working toward a future life together, and we are both grateful to have found each other. Please pray for us as we work out the details necessary to make this possible.
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