When you're well over six feet tall, people notice you. People like your future spouse. I say absolutely none of this from experience, but these best-friends-turned-husband-and-wife can.
Kristin and Jed met in class during their freshman year of college. Though they didn't interact much at first, Kristin noticed Jed's height right away, and Jed says he always knew Kristin was special. Their initial chat in their dorm's lounge soon led to daily emails, which soon led to long conversations in which they'd find themselves "saying the same things at the same time and in the same way and tone. It was uncanny." Jed realized that Kristin "was and is just different. She was faithful and sensible and I could tell that she was wise and conservative. I didn't agree with all that when we were becoming friends, but I sort of knew she was right. She always had an answer- if not always beautifully articulate, it was always right." Isn't it amazing how the best kind of friendship seems to point you straight at the Lord, even if you didn't anticipate it?
All that talking led to some major realizations. Slowly, beautifully, the Lord was unveiling His plans for Kristin and Jed. Exhibit A: long before they started dating, Kristin says she felt called to pray for Jed, and she often did. She wasn't exactly sure why, but she decided to trust the feeling that was on her heart. Exhibit B: one night, around three a.m., Jed was out for a walk. Kristin had no idea, but she couldn't sleep and followed her inexplicable urge to go outside in the cold. They found each other and had a nice long talk. As their friendship continued to deepen, Jed came to this conclusion:
I knew that I should be with her. I reluctantly entrusted our friendship and where it might go to God. I had my own ideas of what I thought would be best for me, but half-heartedly I gave the decision to Him. It took a really long time, but I realized that Kristin was exactly what I ought to have been looking for all along. I just really loved her. She felt like family; like home. I wanted her to be my family. I realized that my idea of the perfect wife was not God's idea of the perfect wife for me. He slowly drew me a picture. He shows you a better way than you make up yourself.
Most people date for a while and then discern that they're called to marriage, but these two went in reverse. By the time Kristin and Jed went on their first date, their friendship and their prayers had already told them their love was meant for eternity (She says it was a date to the grocery store; he says it was out to dinner a year after the grocery store. You pick.). With most of their discernment behind them, they saw no reason, really, to postpone engagement. There's a stained glass window in their campus chapel that would play an important part in their relationship. It features an inscription from Sirach, saying, "a faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure" (6:14). Here's Jed's account of their proposal, which took place after a 10 p.m. Mass the night before the March for Life:
After Mass, Kristin and I lingered for a while. I was waiting for everyone to leave the chapel, but the chapel is like a Waffle House- open all night. We waited and waited, but no matter how many people left, more came in, just like the Waffle House. Finally, I decided I'd ask the question in a whisper, audience or no. We both knelt down. "A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure. You are a faithful friend. You've helped me be what I am meant to be, and I hope that I do the same for you. The point of life is to be what we are meant to be- by the grace of God to be the best possible versions of ourselves. You once said that the way to find the one God wants you to marry is to run after God and then turn to see who's running with you. Well, will you run with me?" It was corny, but it's a wonderful life and all that, and it summed up the way that we had discerned our vocation to marriage.
It was funny, they say, being engaged with two years of college left, and they sometimes felt like their relationship was too much in the spotlight on their small campus. Still, they were confident that their engagement was timed perfectly. According to Jed, "we knew we were to be married. We figured, why let the preparation for that wait? Let's declare it and move forward. We started really thinking of ourselves as a family and asking God what He wanted of us." He says that kind of "surrender to God's will just filled us with so much joy." Complete joy didn't mean an absence of struggle, though. Kristin noticed right away that "as soon as you make a step further in what God wants for you, the evil one just wants to put as much division as he can. He doesn't want you to succeed. We have learned that this is not from us. The point is to realize that you are not fighting each other. There is something bigger at work. There's a real fight between good and evil. The wonderful thing is that the good already won, on the cross, for you. You stand behind Him and set Him as your shield."
They got married November 5, 2011. NB (that's a fancy Latin way of adding an author's note): I was there, and I cried from the minute Kristin walked up the aisle, during the whole homily, for the entirety of their vows, and straight through their first dance. Which wasn't so good, since I was one of the readers. Anyway. These two radiate such complete joy and trust in the Lord. A faithful, unconditionally loving friend, a patient teacher, and a partner in every spiritual battle: I can't imagine better qualities in a spouse. Christian brotherhood and sisterhood might not initially seem like the most romantic thing, but when you consider the virtuous friendship and sacrifice that true love involves, it makes a whole lot of sense. I feel like the right kind of love reveals to you who you are in the eyes of the Lord and opens your heart more and more to His will instead of yours. Always open. You know, like Waffle House.
PS- Happy Birthday, Papa Benedict!
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Next up: Try not to drive yourself crazy.