On June 10th, 2012, I married my best friend. It sounds so typical, but really, he is. Nobody else knows me on a level like that. He has seen me at my best and seen my ugliness right up in his face. He has made me cry more tears of joy than tears of pain. I am most vulnerable to him, but I trust him to care for my unpredictable heart. Sharing this video about our wedding is not just about the big day itself, but the 1,503 that came before it to get there, and the uncountable things that God has done to get us ready. Ready to not be husband and wife, but to begin to learn how to be a husband and a wife.
Anyone who has experienced being in love knows that it’s just beautiful. Time slows down, minutes swell with meaning, yet you blink an eye and a year has passed. Romantic love is an intoxicating place to be. But if you’ve experienced it, you also know that it can be messy, difficult, and hurtful. Though tides come, if it’s worth it, it’s worth it. Big battles, small fires, one time troubles, or ongoing pathological mountains; we signed up for this. Adversity is an obstacle to climb over together. Calluses are built over time. Strength is earned.
From the beginning, Keone and I always knew we wanted to marry each other. It was after a month of being together, sitting on the floor in my Oakland apartment where we confessed to a shared dream of marriage and having a family. This was something I never even thought about until I met him. Dance had nothing to do with it, we just wanted to be together forever. Of course we knew we weren’t ready for any of it, our lives were in different places, but we knew. Even the night we officially became a couple, we cried through beaming smiles because we were so overwhelmed with this super-natural relief that we had finally found that one person we’d been looking for. No way to explain it or analyze it. We just knew. God drew us together at that sublime moment. And that’s us. Everyone’s different, but that’s us.
Now when I say we were in different places in our lives we were and weren’t. We were both beginning to get opportunities to dance for work, in that way we were traveling parallel paths, but Keone was Christian and I was pretty much borderline Atheist. Especially when it came to Jesus. No thanks. I’d had trauma in the past with people trying to convert me. When I was nine I had a girl cry over me, telling me that I would go to hell if I didn’t accept Jesus. I was terrified of a Christian God and so skeptical about, “His people.” Over time it became something I delighted in mocking. Any other religion I could accept, but not Christians.
Then Keone came along. I knew right away he was different (I also liked him A TON.) I knew I’d have to put my sarcasm about God aside and respect his faith. So I agreed to go to church. No I didn’t immediately burst into flames, nor did I collapse in the aisle as demons were eradicated from my body with a choir of people fanning me and singing, “praise Je-sus.” But I did see that people weren’t pointing fingers at me and calling me “sinner,” as I half expected. They were at church to learn and celebrate something that made them happy. It was so much more simple than all misconceptions I had built in my mind.
I went a few more times, and I remember distinctly, there was one service that caught me off guard. I hadn’t sang with everyone at the beginning of service because I didn’t know the song and I felt super uncomfortable. I was relieved to sit and just listen to the pastor. I don’t even remember what he talked about, but I can still vividly see myself, feeling like I was the only person in the room. Like there was only a spotlight on me in my cushioned chair and this booming voice filling every other inch of the place. The strangest thing though was that I had this overwhelming surge of inspiration to create. It was so uplifting, motivating, and artistic, and I NEVER expected to get that from a church, let alone one that followed Jesus. From then on I got bitten by a bug; I wanted to learn. I read books, I listened to sermons, and about 2 months later I decided to follow Jesus. I don’t remember the moment, but I found my journal at the time and on one page I’m quoting Descartes, the philosopher who famously said, “I can’t doubt that I’m doubting,” and the next page I’m talking about Jesus as the most important thing in my life. And this whole time Keone, never pressuring me, never pushing me, only talking about God when I wanted to, or when I would bring it up.
That was a huge turning point for us. From there our relationship changed and God slowly became number one. It was so gentle, so natural, and we both wanted to do right and live right on His terms. After about 4 months we knew that God was asking us to take our sex life out of the picture. We knew in our hearts that it was the right thing to do, though it seemed so rigid and old fashioned. We just knew it. For me it was strange because every other relationship had begun with the sex life and the rest came later. Sex wasn’t the only thing, but it was really important to me to feel connected and intimately involved with the other person. But Keone and I knew we had to give our intimacy up if we wanted to be walking with God. So we did. It was hard at times, but also astonishingly easy because God was helping us and we both were willing. I’m not going to lie, it took a few months to figure it out, and we made mistakes along the way, but by the time we got to our one year anniversary we were only kissing. No tongue, just Disney kisses.
From then on Keone and I had a few difficult moments, but God would quickly swoop in, strengthen at least one of us, and we would stop before falling in on a promise we had made. It’s crazy to think, you’re sharing so much time with your favorite person in the world, traveling with them, getting to know them so well, but also knowing that you can’t have that physically romantic part yet. We stayed in so many hotel rooms alone, but kissed each other good night without going any further, and could sleep knowing that we were saving something beautiful for the right time. Keone and I waited about 3 and a half years with holding hands and pecks, but while still building ourselves to get ready to be married.
I think where it starts is respecting what marriage is. Just at a base level, it’s sharing your life with someone. Every day, every moment; a promise to sacrifice whatever is needed for the commitment you made to them. Not when you feel like it. Always. And you keep your word, not just for your sake, but for everyone else who wants to believe in marriage. Who wants to believe that people can love each other on that level for a lifetime. Love starts in a blur of bright colors and huge paint stokes, but as it deepens, it layers into details. As you keep going you can see more and more of this masterpiece you’ve made together; one with your family, your friends, and countless moments spent side by side. And you enjoy that. I see that from my parents who are still going strong for almost 30 years. From my grandparents who are still going strong for over 55 years.
Looking at that huge arc of change still floors me. It’s something very personal, but something that we both knew God was responsible for. He did it so we could articulate how those divine hands have grown us through love. He brought us together to build in this life, side by side. We’re just starting. We can’t wait to have this adventure together and share it with the people around us. So as you watch this video from this one day, remember it’s one day. It took so many others to get here. It took so many people supporting us, raising us, and teaching us individually to get to THAT day. And for Keone and I, God has been preparing us for our marriage; for what we’re living now. He’s going to continue to do that as we learn marriage. As we continue to learn life together. It’s not going to be perfect, we don’t expect it to be, but we know it’ll be so much better than our dreams because it’s real.