For a while now I've been wanting to get the entire shebang on here, but wasn't truly motivated until reading this friend's definition of love. It brought back so many emotions for me. I suddenly felt the urge to write down our own love story.
To really explain the story of us, I have to start from pretty far back. So let's rewind to the year 2007- the year I graduated high school.
I was in an emotionally draining relationship with a guy. We'll call him T. We were together for two years (junior and senior year), completely in lust and sure that we would be married. I applied to the college he was going to, was accepted and received a scholarship that paid a large portion of my tuition. I toured the campus, bought the sweatshirt. I was all set for my future with T.
If you have ever known anyone that was in an abusive relationship, you may assume that they are dumb for not getting out of it. You might think they have low expectations of themselves and their partner. It would be wrong to think that. I tried many times to get out of it, and every time got sucked right back in with promises of a changed man. It never happened. However desperate I was for him to meet my standards, it wasn't in him to make the effort.
He was even baptized into the religion I belonged to, but only for the purpose of appeasing my friends and family- but most importantly, appeasing me. He knew I loved the gospel and would never give it up. I didn't realize his charming "sincerity" was fake until a few weeks after the baptism. He did an A+ job of fooling everyone, me included.
The weekend before I was supposed to register for college, I had a personal revelation that I needed to get far, far away from T. I knew he would ruin me and my heart. My dad was the bishop at the time, and I still remember walking into his office with tear-filled eyes and trembling lips, pouring my emotions out on him and asking his permission to leave home.
My parents weren't the biggest fans of my dating T...it didn't take much persuasion for them to send me off. They would miss me and I would miss them something awful... and my friends, and my home, and my ex. I did love him, but love wasn't enough. I remember a few nights before my "revelation" I went on a date with him and we made out in his truck like usual...and then a few nights later, I called him to say I was going away. No explanation, just a goodbye. I wasn't brave enough to tell him why. I was scared out of my mind. Two and a half years together and I couldn't even tell him why I truly needed to leave...I knew it would mean nothing to him- he would deny every accusation.
I knew I wanted to be far from T, and for some reason Utah seemed like a safe and happy place for me to heal. It was, after all, Mormon central. And I am Mormon. So I moved to Salt Lake City for a period of time that now seems much longer than it actually was. I worked two jobs, full-time and part-time. I had a few boyfriends, all of which broke my heart in an individually painful way. The city was cold, unfamiliar, and a little creepy. I had a handful of friends among airport co-workers and single's ward people, but for the most part...I felt totally alone. No one knew my story, and I kept it hidden- too embarrassed to admit that I had run away to escape an ex-boyfriend.
I lingered in Salt Lake until my college application to BYU-Idaho was accepted. Another new start in another town. I needed this badly.
When I came to Idaho for college the next year, there were some personal issues in terms of relationships that I needed to work out. With help from my bishop, I began to feel the healing power of the Atonement in my life. I began to date again, and had a number of boyfriends those first four semesters. It's not that I was "easy" or even very flirtacious. Somehow I kept running into guys that speedily pushed their way into my heart and left just as fast. Almost like I was living in a romantic comedy turned tragedy- the girl that could not stop falling for guys and getting hurt in the end.
The guys I dated were all so different- ALL kinds of different- yet none really melded with my personality. And though none were as bad as T, none were as completely in love with me as he was. None begged me to stay with them as he did. I began to miss T's attention and promises. It was very hard emotionally and spiritually.
In Rexburg, I had this close friend named Megan that I visited every now and then. She and I had grown up in the same stake in the south. She even dated my brother and they were really serious at one time, but they broke it off. For some reason, Megan and I stayed friends. I still think of it as destiny, or really... God's will. It was meant to be that I stayed in touch with Megan and that we connected on such a deep level.
Megan was now married to a guy she met at BYU-Idaho, and he was in one word...strapping. I would look at him and think, "Where did she find him? He is so perfect!" He treated her royally, was a gentleman, loved her through her faults, could be silly and playful with her, and was a great dad to their baby girl. We went out to lunch one day, and I finally just had to ask her- "How on earth did you find a guy like Daniel?" Daniel, who was eating with us, perked up and said kind of jokingly "I have a brother!" We all laughed and he continued to tell me little tidbits about his younger bro. I learned that he was currently serving a mission in Florida, that he loved any and all kinds of music, and that his passion was fly fishing.
Megan suggested that I write to him to get to know him better. I was flat out against that idea. Then she said casually, "If anything, you two have a lot in common and you could make a good friend." I stewed over that for a while. I wanted- and needed- a good friend. While sitting in my math 108 class, something urged me to finally start a letter to this mystery missionary...
My letter was mostly small talk, and when I finished I thought that it was plain stupid. But I sent it to him anyways and hoped he wouldn't think I was totally ridiculous. He wrote back much quicker than I anticipated, eager to get to know me better and sincerely touched that I would take time to write to a total stranger.
During the time of our avid letter-writing back and forth, I was in a relationship with a guy at college. We were getting more serious until one night, after a lovely date, he dropped me off at my door and told me he didn't want to see me anymore. No explanation. I was heartbroken, again, and that night was very dark for me. I felt the lowest of lows...what could be so wrong with me?
But it got even harder when T found a way to contact me with a fake Facebook identity. (Yes, he stalked me.) He had done this before, in various ways...tracking down my friends and asking for my number (which I changed), getting his mom to chat with my mom to get answers...this was new, though. He sent me message after message begging me to come home. Said he would do ANYTHING. Go on a mission if I wanted...leave the Air force... buy me a ticket home...buy me a house with his savings... marry me in the temple. Yes, he proposed marriage to me via Facebook personal message. He was desperate, and though I winced and trembled at every new message... I couldn't help but like the feeling of being wanted. It was messed up. He was doing what he did best- twisting my emotions until I broke down.
Except this time, I held my ground and didn't break. I couldn't go backward after all of this! The bad news was that I was going home soon in between semesters. T didn't know this, and I didn't tell him. While I was at home, I gave in and texted him to meet at a remote location. I needed closure- and I needed to make it clear that we were done. He was beyond surprised that I was in town and even more that I wanted to see him. He thought I wanted to get back together...once our eyes met again, I fell weak and let him hold me as I sobbed. I cried because I hated myself for loving him and I hated him for making me. I cried as he kissed my face and my lips and squeezed my waist. I kissed him back and held his hand as I told him to never speak to me again. He was confused, I was confused. It was the worse closure ever.
I prayed long and hard those next few remaining days at home. He kept texting me- more begging and promises. I ignored his texts, phone calls. voice mails...and got on my knees time and time again to get answers. The only peace I felt was when I thought about returning to Idaho. But wait- this didn't make sense! Would I be happier returning to a small town full of college exes that broke my heart and possibly never find a soul mate, or staying in my comfortable hometown with the one man that devoted himself completely to me and promised a future as my husband? Wouldn't it be easier to stay? Easier...YES. Better for in the long run...NO.
Back to Idaho I went, with a heart full of hope. It was so hard to go back, but it felt right. I promised myself to stay away from dating and focus solely on my education.
Meanwhile, my letters to Jonathan became a refuge from the rest of my life. I never mentioned boys/boyfriends to him or anything discouraging or sad. We only talked of good things- uplifting things. I tried to be a support to his frustrations on his mission, and he told me about the beauty of the West that someday we could explore together. I knew that when he got home we would make great, even best friends. I could just see the four of us- Jonathan, Daniel, Megan , and I having lunch dates and hanging out together.
I continued to write to Elder D for the duration of his mission- about four months. I looked forward to the day he would come to BYU-I and be my friend. I needed a friend more than ever.
Towards the time of his homecoming, emotions began to swell inside me and I suddenly felt very nervous to meet "my missionary". I had no idea what he looked like, talked like, or acted like in person. What if he was totally weird and ugly? But soon I'd dismiss those thoughts with- so what if he is? We can still be buds! (by the way, he had sent a few pictures but it was hard to tell what he looked like.)
Megan invited me to his homecoming at the Boise airport and to stay with the Dennett family for a few days. I told her: "No way, that would be way too awkward." But she insisted, saying she needed help with Ryleigh (her daughter) on the 8 hour car ride. So I went, absolutely sure that Jonathan would think I was stalking him the minute he stepped onto Idaho soil. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a teeny bit excited to meet Jonathan at last...but still, I wasn't invited by his parents so I was basically crashing his homecoming.
I met his family briefly, and they were very friendly and welcoming. We all waited a long 20 minutes or so in the airport, watching passengers come off their flights and walk down the hallway.
Now this is the part that I love to talk about. I have never felt so overwhelmingly carried away by my emotions than the moment I saw Elder Dennett, grinning from ear to ear, walk through those glass doors. As soon as I saw him I loved him. Not in a oh-my-gosh-hes-so-cute-and-were-gonna-be-married kind of way, but in a now-I-get-him-and-everything-he-wrote-to-me kind of way. Suddenly all the pieces came together and I knew I could never let him out in my life, that somehow I had to have him in it always.When he saw me, he looked a little perplexed and I thought "Oh no, here it comes..." but instead he shook my hand firmly and said "So, you must be Lindsey. It is really good to finally meet you."
When Megan and I piled into her car, she asked me "SO... what do you think?" I paused, then replied, "I am going to marry that boy." It wasn't giddy-ness- it was certainty. I had never felt this way before.
When we gathered together at Goodwood to eat some bbq with his family, he sat by me and I blushed. Everyone watched us closely...I began to feel nervous again. But conversation was easy, mostly. He was quiet, subdued... but a very happy guy who obviously loved his family. And very polite- but that could just be the missionary mode showing through.
I spent the weekend at his house where he grew up, and things were a little bit...stand-offish. He didn't talk to me much and I thought for sure he was either 1. anti-social and the "nice missionary impressions" had worn off, or 2. he thought it was strange that I was even there. We all watched a movie downstairs (Transformers) in the pitch black darkness. I sat on one end of a couch and he on a different couch. He was watching the movie and I was watching him...I couldn't take my eyes off of him- probably because it felt surreal that he was here, in the same room with me, after four months of letters back and forth. He had gorgeous blue eyes that sparkled in the dark. I don't care if that's cheesy sounding- its true :) I fell asleep in the sitting position watching him, and next thing I knew I was alone and it was morning. Many hours earlier, Jonathan had placed a warm blanket on me before exiting the room to go to bed.
A few weeks later Jonathan made his way to BYU-I as a return college student. Our first "hanging out" was a double lunch date with Daniel & Megan. He was still very quiet, but nice. A few days later we went to Walmart and as we walked in I told him that if he didn't like me as a person he could just tell me instead of being so quiet all the time. He felt really guilty...and apologized right away. He said he wasn't sure how to talk to me or what to say because everything was still weird (coming off of his mission). Of course it was- how could I not see that? After that he opened up more and I tried to judge his actions less.
After just a few encounters, romantic feelings crept into our friendship. One night we sat on the sand dunes in total darkness, looking up at the full moon, and he grasped my hand. It was a little chilly and I must have looked cold because he did the whole "arm around the shoulder to keep me warm" manouver. Smooth :) It occurred to me that he didn't have much experience with dating, and he openly admitted that he'd not had a serious girlfriend before. And then I told him about my dating past...and we talked ALL night on those dunes about pretty much everything two people could talk about.
The next morning I realized that I had broken my promise to myself, and that there was no more room in my heart for love. I ignored his phone calls and cried...a lot. I was so afraid that, like every relationship I'd ever had with a guy, that this one would end in heartbreak. Finally he got through to me, told me it was all okay and we could take it slow. He just wanted to be around me, regardless of what that status was.
And I knew I needed him in my life, so I let him in.
After that we saw each other every day. I lived with my grandpa in Idaho Falls and he in Rexburg, but that distance seemed non-existent. We talked about everything we wanted in life, the mistakes we'd made, our testimonies of the gospel. We shared some very intimate conversations that seemed completely natural and comfortable. In that short amount of time I saw this guy in so many situation- around his family at home, with babies and younger children, taking care of me when I was too ill to even get out of bed, among peers and room mates, around a bunch of strangers, in a church setting, administering a priesthood blessing. Every moment around him made me admire him even more.
He even "spent" a few nights with me, at my grandpa's house. We'd stay up together till the wee hours of the morning and he would sleep on the couch downstairs while I slept in my bedroom upstairs (aka the attic). Sometimes we'd fall asleep talking, and when I'd wake up to see his perfect face next to mine, I felt whole. I'm sure the amount of time we spent together seemed ridiculous, especially because we basically took naps together without intending to..in the middle of the night. haha. To this day I do not condone that behavior at all, but it was innocent to us. We really were just falling completely in love and didn't want to spend one minute apart.
Our first kiss was at Henry's Lake, as we sat having a lovely picnic. Little did I know at the time that I was his first kiss. And it showed. He was a terrible kisser. haha.
After just two weeks, I finally told him on a park bench along the falls that I was in love with him. He didn't reply, just stared at me and forced out a smile and nod. It tore me up inside. That night, after he dropped me off in Idaho Falls, he drove back to Rexburg feeling like the lousiest guy on earth. He wanted to tell me that he loved me too, but didn't want to jump into that statement unless he knew he truly meant it. What was love anyways?, he thought. He'd never had a girlfriend, never really did the whole dating scene. He knew he cared for me, but was it true love? The next day he went to the temple to give it more thought, but his recommend was expired and he was not allowed in. On the drive to see me that night, he turned on his favorite band to get his mind off of it, and the song 23 by Jimmy Eat World started to play. While listening to the words of that song he realized that he did in fact love me...a whole lot.
On our next outing together, he told me his true feelings and it all seemed too good to be true. I loved him, and he loved me! gah. It was great :D Guys had told me they loved me before, but it felt so different this time. It felt ACTUAL. Tangible. Natural. I could go on...it felt right. We spent that night pond fishing :)
Then, for some weird reason, I couldn't stop thinking about what life might me like as Mrs. Dennett. The thought consumed me, and I couldn't help but mention it- oh, a few dozen times or so- to Jonathan. He played along, and we both got giddy when we talked about it.
Remember, I had dated a plethora of young men- all types in fact- and I knew exactly what I didn't want and did want in a spouse. Jonathan was IT. He was everything I had ever dreamed of and more. I tried explaining this to him many times, but it didn't seem to get through. I think he felt very flattered but wasn't sure how to respond to my crazy antics.
So one night, as we laid under the stars (our all-time favorite thing to do. Romantic AND free! yesssss.) and talked of our futures, I casually slipped in, "So, can you see me as your wife or not?" He was quiet for a long time, then said, "Well, you are my best friend...and I love you...so, I mean...if I was to marry someone...I'd want it to be you, and only you." We sat there, silently taking it all in, and then I exploded with excitement. "ARE YOU PROPOSING TO ME?!" He was like, "Uhhh. I can't really do that yet, I need your dad's permission." So I handed him my cell phone and said "Ok, there you go." It was 11 pm in Louisiana, and although he was terrified to call my dad so late and especially to ask for his daughter's hand in marriage, he called. My dad picked up after one ring and said, "Hi, Jonathan. I know why you are calling. I have had the revelation that this would happen very, very soon, and if you think you can put up with her she's all yours." *add in some chuckles and that was basically the gist of it* Can you believe that?!
By the way, right afterwards I felt super embarrassed about the way I practically forced this poor guy into proposing to me. So some days later he did it the proper way- as a surprise, on one knee, in front of the moonlit Rexburg temple. It was sweet and sentimental, and it made everything seem very REAL. He also whipped out a diamond ring that just about took my breath away...aside from this man before me, it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.
Fun fact: earlier that same day, Megan and I went wedding dress shopping. Better believe it folks, I were ready to be wed! ha.
Anyway, the deal was sealed....and so were we, two months later- December 2008 in the beautiful Bountiful Temple in Utah.
Yes folks...it was an incredibly short dating duration (about 2 weeks) and engagement (2ish months). Do I wish we would have dated longer? Yes. Do I think we rushed into it? No, we did what was worked good for us. Did we have a lot of getting to know each other after we were married? Heck yes. Have we been any less happy because of it? Nope. I think that every couple who lives together for the first time after marriage has a whole new world opened to them, and suddenly realizes that the god/goddess they were so attracted to has unattractive habits/quirks/traits. It happens. I've also learned some very personal things about Jonathan's life before me, and vice versa. It hasn't changed the way we feel about each other. He is my soul mate, and I knew it from that moment I saw him walking towards me in that airport.
And now, four years and two kids later, we are still madly in love. And it will only get better :)
(Might I add, he is a MUCH better kisser now!)
I challenge all of you that read this to write down your own love story- in your blog, journal, whatever. It's definitely something worth remembering.