Angela & Jon share their journey through the marriage preparation process and spiritual discovery
When did you guys meet?
Jon: Just about five years ago. October 5th, it’ll be five years.
Angela: And you had your long blonde hair, you flipped it and you said, Hi. I’m Jon. Nice to meet you. Alright, catch you all later. For me it stood out and it was just like a pause in time.
Jon: And then, through friends, we communicated with each other and got together like that — started dating.
What led to marriage?
Angela: I had just graduated from college and that was a big turning point in our relationship. It was no longer just this fun, spontaneous-like relationship — it was serious — we’d been together four years, time for a reality check.
Jon: I was trying to make the marriage proposal a big surprise. A couple days before Christmas we went out to dinner and I had them make a cake that said, “Will you marry me?” on it. At the end of dinner, they brought it out and put it in front of her and she looked down and by the time she was looking up I was on my knee next to her.
And she said “yes” …
Angela: [laughs] Yes, I did.
Jon: Definitely. Everything worked out great; perfect timing.
How did you end up attending church together?
Jon: We’d been searching six months for a church, between the suburbs and the city. We’d checkout different churches every Sunday, and we couldn’t find one that really fit us. Then Angela’s cousin mentioned a church. At that point we were about to give up. So, we came for the first time and we absolutely fell in love with everything about it.
Angela: It was almost overwhelming. It was by far the biggest church we’d ever been in. We just looked at each other — I won’t forget how big your eyes were — and then we heard the music and we smiled and we just knew that this was our church. I said to him during the service, This is it. He said, I know.
Jon: Then we said, Well, we’ve gotta see the chapel too. [both laugh]
What motivated you guys to start looking for a church in the first place?
Angela: It was our engagement. For me it validated marriage. I needed to be married in a church.
Jon: Yeah, and we were searching. We wanted to grow up, live our lives according to God — the right way — and we wanted to raise our children in a Christian family and we knew that had to happen within a church.
Angela: Jon was non-practicing and I was never exposed full-time to one specific church. We didn’t know where to start. We were both lost.
What’s your spiritual background?
Angela: I came from a divorced family that was broken spiritually. I decided at a young age that I believed in God and I prayed to him, but I don’t think I knew him on a personal level. It was after college that it finally hit me: I need to have a relationship with God.
I started exposing myself to Christians. I started talking with my cousin who was going to her own Christian church and had just recently found Jesus. I wanted to find my way. So after being engaged we started this quest — It was not just a search; it was a quest. It was every Sunday, multiple churches a day, and being exhausted and saying, None of this is for me. I don’t like it. If I liked it, Jon didn’t like it.
It was a Mother’s Day service and they had this big diagram about a spiritual journey, and asked, where do you lie on this path? As I looked at that path, it almost made we weep because I felt I was this seeker — I was the explorer — and I didn’t want to be the explorer. I didn’t want to be the seeker. I wanted to know Christ. It hit me for the first time that I didn’t know Christ in the ways that I needed to.
Later we attended a marriage seminar …
And there were spiritual moments at the seminar…
Angela: Yes. We had broken up into sessions for men and for women, and the questions were asked, What is God’s purpose for a wife? What is God’s purpose for a mother? That was an “aha moment” for me — I wanted to live my life as a Christian mom. I wanted to be the helper for my husband. I wanted to encourage him. Right there I made the commitment to follow Christ. It reassured me that I can be a Christian. I think I was kind of scared. I think I was scared that God was going to turn me away and say, Hey, you haven’t known me for 23 years! Who do you think you are? I had a feeling he was going to be angry.
I’d been thinking about baptism; I’d been talking about it, but I had fears. Then, at a service this summer my church offered a group walk-in baptism — perfect timing — I had been questioning my commitment to God and I knew that this is what our Father had asked of me. If I wanted to be committed, then, I would have to do this. That was a significant experience.
Jon, what’s your story?
Jon: I made my decision at the marriage seminar. I realized how God is involved in our lives and how he holds everything in his hands and that you need to sacrifice yourself to him. I stood up as we prayed and sang Amazing Grace together. That was just the end all, be all. I broke down and asked God to take me and I accepted Jesus as my Savior. And that was very, very life-changing for me.
How would you say those decisions will affect your future together?
Jon: We’re on the same trek. Coming to church together every weekend puts us in a right place. We pray together every night. I think that we’re putting our marriage and our lives — and our future children’s lives — into his hands.
Angela: I think that it has helped us complete the triangle. I think that now we know that God is number one and, then, each other. If we both put God in our lives first, then, everything will filter down from there. I think that we, as a couple, become closer because of our faith.
So you’ve engaged in this process to be married. What’s that been like for you?
Jon: It’s been great. Our mentors are great. We know it’s a long road but, we have help. We’ve prepared tremendously for this commitment to each other.
Angela: I’m able to conceptualize what God’s design is for marriage. I realize my role as a wife and Jon’s role as a husband. I think that we’re always in motion and that if we’re not working towards oneness, then we are working towards isolation. Without faith and without God in our lives, we wouldn’t be where we’re at.
What would the highlight moment be?
Angela: There have been many moments, but the one that really sticks out in my mind was when our (pre-marriage) mentors assured me that I am a Christian. They confirmed that and built my confidence. I am a Christian now. I have no doubt. That meant a lot to me, another Christian seeing that in me.
Jon: I agree with Angela. I think that was huge for both of us. We talked about it afterwards that we didn’t really know who we were in God’s eyes until it was confirmed in mentoring.
Angela: Another important concept was the idea of (not) sleeping together. I thought being pure was about physical touch only. I thought practicing purity on the physical level would suffice. Our mentors showed us that it’s so much deeper. We are examples to our community and we’re examples to our neighbors, and even though we aren’t having sex, we know now that God cares about perception too. God wants us to set an example. That was a big moment for us.
Has anyone in your circle commented on all of this activity?
Angela: We’ve had the positive and the negative. Quite honestly, we’ve had a lot more reaction than I thought would come with this. I think our culture has made people more weary of talking about spiritual things and publicizing their faith. So for us to come right out and say, We’re going through a six-month premarital process, I think people were nervous. Now, we have impacted more people’s lives than we could have imagined. I know people that are friends of friends that come up to me and say, Hey, I go to your church, too, and I’m so glad you’re getting married there. Wow, I’ve seen a dramatic change in your life!
As we’ve gone through this premarital process we’ve grown as individuals. We’re practicing God’s design for marriage and following his blueprint.
Jon: I think we made a huge impact on my friends — and we don’t even talk about it. They just see it in us. They can just tell that our life has changed. What’s funny is I get people that are asking me for advice that have never asked me for advice before. They’re talking to me, opening up, and I like it. I like giving advice. I like telling people, You’ve got to come. You’ve got to check it out. It’s great for the soul. It’s great to have a personal relationship with Christ. It means a lot to me to see people that want to know. They’re asking questions. They have an interest in it; they just don’t know where to start, which was where we were. But we took the step and now other people want to take the step and follow us.
Imagine your wedding day, what do you think will be going through your minds at that point?
Jon: I’m probably going to cry. [both laugh] It’s going to be very emotional for both of us, I’m sure. I can’t wait to see my bride walk through those doors. I cannot wait.
Angela: For me, I think it’s going to fulfill this idea in my head. I keep saying, I can’t wait one more day to be his wife. And I won’t have to wait anymore. [laughs] I know that this is right. I know that I’m sure. I know that I want to spend the rest of my life with you. And now having gone through the most wonderful engagement I could have ever imaged, I think that I am more committed just because I know that this is what God wants.
Where are you guys going for your honeymoon?
Jon: To Puerto Vallarta for a week. Can’t wait for that. Yeah, we have it all planned out. Actually, our plan is to play everything by ear. We haven’t set anything up. We haven’t set any excursions or anything. We’re going to go and we’re going to do what we like to do:
relax and lay by the beach, get a couples massage on the beach. We actually have a Jacuzzi on our balconies; that will be nice.
Angela: I kind of want to go on a jeep tour. [laughs]
Jon: We’ll do some fun stuff but we’re going to play it all by ear. We’re not going to set anything up, have no schedules. We’ll just do what we do.
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