He Loved Me First

“Matt Wright? No. Definitely not. Not ever.”

That was my immediate response whenever friends asked me if there could ever be anything between us. And they asked often.

Matt was first introduced to me by a mutual friend that sent him my blog. He stalked saw me there first, and we met in person in the Spring of 2010 while logging miles upon sweaty miles training for the Country Music Marathon with the East Nasty Running Group.

Soon, seeing Matt at the group runs turned into runs with just the two of us, and soon that turned into coffee, casual lunches and summer concerts together. The more we hung out, the more I liked him and the more sure I was that we would never date.

“He’s too nice for me. I would run all over him and neither of us needs that.”

However, despite the fact that I was certain my intense personality was too much to be a good match for Matt’s quiet, kind spirit, I could recognize that he was quite a catch—so much so that I tried to set him up with not one, but two of my best friends. Those attempts proved to be unsuccessful (lucky for me).

All the while through the summer, Matt and I continued to spend more and more time together. We spent more and more time together, mind you, while I was technically dating someone else that summer.*

*I say technically because I am pretty sure the guy I was dating would’ve never even noticed if I disappeared altogether. No exaggeration.

My friends warned me that Matt was in love with me and that by spending so much time with him, I was leading him on. I didn’t feel like I was leading him on though, because I repeatedly told him that nothing was going to happen, ever. (Cue Taylor Swift: “We are never, ever, ever, ever, ever, getting together.”) Even when he would directly share his intentions to pursue and date me, I was always very clear in my response that it wasn’t going to happen.

“In fact, I am going to marry someone else. God told me.”

That’s what I told Matt to his face over coffee one afternoon when he wanted to “talk.” I believed that 100% and thought that this direct announcement, weird as though it may sound to say out loud, would surely get my point across. I knew that expressing this to Matt would make it clear, once and for all, that we were never going to date and we could go on about our friendship as usual.

To this day, if you were to ask Matt how he felt leaving the coffee shop that day, he would say,

“Oh, I felt great. I knew it was going to happen.”

Call it extreme confidence or plain delusion, but Matt was onto something. After seven months of hanging out nonstop, becoming best friends and me repeatedly turning him down, something in me clicked.

It was as if God opened my eyes to the most amazing man I had never seen right in front of me.

Having prayed from a place of childhood wounds, I have asked God my entire life for two things:

  • That the man I would marry would see me first.
  • That the man I would marry would pursue me.

After Matt “saw” me first through my blog, I truly believe that God “shut my eyes” to him for the first seven months of knowing each other so that he could pursue me. Had that not happened, we would have never had this beautiful foundation of him choosing me and pursuing me during a time when I was dating someone else, looking sweaty from running the majority of the time, and repeatedly rejecting him. He loved me when I did nothing to earn or deserve his love. Like Christ loves all of us, he loved me first.

And tomorrow I get to celebrate five incredible years of marriage with him.

Matt, I honor you and everything you are to me and our sweet little family.

While I pretend to be mad and annoyed for all of the times you put my car in neutral when I am at a stop light and not looking, hide my pillow from me right before I lay my head down, and gang up on me with the boys, I wouldn’t trade the fact that you play with me for anything in the world.

After 7 months of turning you down, 2 months of dating you before I knew I loved you, over a year of dating and waiting extremely impatiently for you to propose, 6 months of crazy wedding planning, and now 5 years of marriage, I can tell you with 100% certainty that you are the best thing that has ever happened to me.

You are more patient, kind, loving, forgiving, grace-filled, Christ-like, thoughtful, brave, attentive, strong, supportive, wise, humble and talented than I will ever be. You make me the best version of myself and love me even when I am the worst version. You make me feel safer and more loved that I ever have in my entire life, and you have redefined what I thought a man could be. You are an incredible husband, father, leader and friend.

You’re more than I could have ever dreamed up or even known to ask for. Thank you for choosing me, pursuing me, and loving me so well. And as I said at our rehearsal dinner with our family and friends, I know just how much God loves me because He gave me you.

Happy Anniversary, Matt. I love you.