Monday, March 26, 2012

Veritas: Bryant and Amanda

{real life love}

The first time he saw her, he knew.  The first time she saw him, well...she didn't know just yet.  The day Bryant and Amanda met in class during college, they talked for seven hours.  Seven.  According to Amanda, that day "he fell in love and I found my new best friend." Bryant told her months later that when they met, he knew he was going to marry her.  The two of them spent tons of time together until Amanda left campus for a semester abroad.  I know what you're thinking, but it wasn't that simple.  Having scars from earlier relationships and fearing the vulnerability of being loved, Amanda says she "felt that avoiding dating would keep me away from getting hurt.  I rejected him a lot when he tried to love me.  I basically kept a safe distance from him," but her friendship with Bryant flourished in spite of her reservations.

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From the significant distance of Austria, Amanda continued to wall up her heart.  She went several months without contacting Bryant, thinking their friendship was unhealthy and resisting the idea of dating him, though Bryant was head over heels by then.  But slowly, patiently, she was being transfigured.  Here's what Amanda has to say about those months apart:

While I was in Austria, the Lord healed my heart from a lot of the hurt I had experienced in past relationships.  He showed me the gift of being a woman in many ways.  I began learning how to receive love and affirmation.  And I learned that love is a choice, it is a sacrifice, and it will hurt, but the pain of this cross was what was going to lead me to holiness.  I began feeling my heart open up more and more to the idea of being with someone and allowing him to love me.  I began speaking with Bryant again and at that point I realized I really did love him.

You guys.  How beautiful is this?  It's amazing how gentle the Father is, and what a gentleman it makes him.  He's always knocking at the doors of our heart for something, but he never just charges in.  He asks us and He waits.  So, so good.  Bryant and Amanda started dating as soon as she came home.  Happy ending, right?  Actually, Amanda knew in her heart they belonged together, but discerned that she still wasn't ready, so they broke things off after a few months.  Amanda even gave up dating for Lent, and again, her willingness to surrender brought about a huge change.  She says, "the Lord healed my heart of everything that was blocking me from being able to fully give myself to Bryant.  I realized again that I loved him and wanted to be with him."  She made her intentions clear and expected everything to fall into place at Easter, but by the time the vigil rolled around, Bryant still hadn't asked her out again.  Amanda was "confused and upset.  I felt that he wanted to be in a relationship and we had spent so much time together and I knew he loved me but he didn't make the move, so I doubted all of that.  I felt so much fear, like I had finally been ready and he had given up on me."  They talked in the car, in an hour-long conversation with its share of tears, and Bryant asked Amanda over and over if she trusted him, until she finally told him yes.  Still hesitant, since "had just poured [her] heart out to him and he left [her] emotions hanging,"  Amanda walked through the door of their friend's house and followed a trail of rose petals and Hershey kisses upstairs to the bathroom.  After more of her tears subsided (joyful ones this time), Amanda read the note hanging in the shower that said, "Now that I have kissed the floor you walk on and showered you with roses, will you finally let me love you as a daughter of God is meant to be loved?"  Are you tearing up yet?!

Incidentally, Amanda's birthday and the feast of Blessed John Paul II are four days apart.  His Theology of the Body means a lot to both her and Bryant, and after a series of birthday surprises, the two of them knelt before Our Lady finishing the last day of a novena.  When the prayer was done, Bryant asked permission from the Lord and all of Heaven to ask Amanda to be his bride (I know!).  Then, of course, he asked her.  Having said yes to so many things leading to that moment, sometimes only after a huge battle, Amanda said yes again.

They're getting married August 17.  Amanda says their friendship as a brother and sister in Christ is as strong as ever, but "since our engagement began, we started encountering trials like we never have before.  Engagement has been a very trying time, but it really has brought us to a level of spiritual, emotional, and mental intimacy that we could not have reached without this time."  They go to Mass together as often as possible, and she says one of the most important things they've learned is that "everyone is at a different point in their faith and we recognize that in each other.  When we feel called to pray with each other, share things we have learned, sit in Adoration, at prayer meetings, or simply worship with our guitars, we do.  But it's not always, and that's okay because in the end, we've chosen to live our lives for Christ, and our relationship finds its foundation in Him."

I feel like I can take away so many lessons about love from these two.  Love is patient, for one.  I can hardly think of a better example of fortitude and trust on Bryant's part.  What's more, perfect love casts out fear.  Of course, we can only gain so much perfection on earth, but look how powerfully love can reassure you when you let it.

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