Growing up, my Ma would always tell me to never settle when it came to the character traits, beliefs, and other important things I wanted in my future wife. She always stressed the importance of “holding out for God’s best.” She would then follow up her sentiment with a promise from God’s word in Psalm 37:4, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” While I appreciated her genuine concern for my future and well being, I got tired of hearing that as my mid-twenties passed and I was still single.
Now, to make sure we’re all on the same page, there’s a good reason I’m 28 and have never been married. I firmly believe in “generational curses,” a somewhat “Christianese” phrase that’s been passed around who knows how many decades (or centuries). I believe that my family has a generational curse of divorce over it, on both sides. To be clear, some of those were warranted and some were just the happenings of life–mistakes, wrong turns, whatever you’d like to call it. That being said, I’ve made it a goal in my life to never divorce–to marry one woman and stay married for the rest of my life–and break that generational curse. Not only for my sake, but also for the sake of my children and theirs.
[It should go without saying, but I’ll say it: I love that God is so gracious, forgiving, and loving. Forgiving enough to not remember our sins anymore. Gracious enough for second, third, and fourth chances and to use what has happened in the past to help others. Loving enough to walk us through the heartache that is divorce, for all parties included. I don’t condemn anyone in my family for what has happened. I rejoice in the fact that God still has our best interests at heart and longs for us to have His best.]
As the years passed, I saw countless numbers of my friends getting engaged, married, and beginning to have children–most of them in their early twenties. Yet here I was, single and not married. Even though I’ve dated girls since I was a teenager, and was even engaged in 2013, I always felt like there was something more God had for me. Through each relationship that didn’t work out, I would remember what my Ma had told me growing up, “Hold out for God’s best.” I believe with all my heart that I have done just that.
Mychal and I started following each other on Instagram around November of 2013. Over the course of the next few days, I noticed from her Instagram account she went to Gateway Church, my home church for the past seven years. So, of course I creeped the rest of her posts just to get a feel for the kind of person she was…and may have noticed she was quite the looker. She seemed like such a sweet, genuine, and God-fearing woman. I had to meet her.
But how was that going to happen? As a kid, I believe I was extremely extroverted, but growing up, I became more introverted. Being an introvert is a serious problem when you want to meet a pretty gal. And this was my predicament. Super. Awesome. Here’s a pretty gal who I have to meet…but can’t…because I’m a chicken and thought she was way out of my league (and still think she is).
In spring of 2014, I began hanging out a lot at The King’s University where several of my friends attended. Guess who also attended there? You guessed it: Mychal. Score! But wait…I was back at square one – having to actually meet her. I’ll save the novel of countless opportunities missed to introduce myself and skip forward to a February night at our young adults’ ministry, VII, at Gateway. Many times I had told myself, “Tonight’s the night I’m going to meet her.” I even had a couple of close friends who kept pushing me to just introduce myself. But I couldn’t. What would we talk about? Would she even remember me from that one photo on Instagram we commented back and forth on?
Then came my buddy, Koby. He and I were talking down by the front of the sanctuary, a good 20 feet from where Mychal was talking with some of her friends. I told him there was this pretty gal I needed to meet but didn’t know how. He asked who it was and before I could take a breath after saying her name, he walked right over to her, not a split second after saying, “Oh, her? I know her. Let’s go!” So off we went! I’m sure anyone with functioning eyes noticed my heart (almost) literally pounding out of my chest…I was nervous…judge me. I introduced myself. We shook hands. Then it hit her a few minutes later that I was @TheVinceRussell (my user name on Instagram). We laughed it off then parted ways after some conversation.
A few weeks went by before the next time we actually talked, short of “Hey! How are you?” in passing. I was playing ping pong in the student union at The King’s when Mychal walked over to my buddy and me and asked if I was on a team for the intramural volleyball tournament that was coming up at The King’s. I told her I wasn’t and she asked if I wanted to be on her team. I might have died a little inside…I couldn’t believe it. Of course, I said yes!
As the weeks passed, Mychal and I began to form a solid friendship while playing on the same volleyball team. Just before the volleyball season ended, she messaged me and another friend on Facebook about shooting a video for her best friend’s engagement a few days later. In that message she left her number so we could reach her. So I texted her the next day saying I could shoot the video. Not only was I ecstatic about having her number, I was also looking forward to spending more time with her. After the engagement, she invited me over to the Wilson’s house for the party. I died inside again. We spent most of the evening talking and I left having stronger feelings for her than before.
After my traveling in the summer and hers, the fall semester of 2014 was about to start and (save another novel) I felt called to attend The King’s University to pursue a Master of Divinity. Once classes started, we began to hang out in the café a good bit and with other friends outside of the school, all the while, deepening our friendship and getting to know each other as strictly friends, with no other expectations.
[Over the course of that year, I liked her on and off. The “off” part was because I had made up in my mind that she didn’t like me so there was no point in continuing those feelings for her.]
And then came December 28th, the day where our story “begins.” Mychal was having a gathering at her house with some friends from The King’s and had invited me to come over, but I had a wedding to shoot that day so I wasn’t sure if I’d attend. I ended up going and had a blast with her and our friends. She and I began hanging out every day for the next two weeks with a couple of our friends–some days as long as 16 hours of time spent together.
The two weeks leading up to January 10th were nothing short of amazing. We had so much fun together and really got to know each other on a deeper level. The whole year I had noticed something special about Mychal – something I couldn’t really explain, but I knew in my heart there was something about her that made her different than any other person I had known. This was a woman I could see spending the rest of my life with.
“If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.” – Neil Gaiman
On January 10th, after a day full of activities, we were sitting in my truck talking about life and other things. (The whole day I knew I needed to tell her how I felt before it was too late.) I decided to take a chance and risk being rejected. As we were sitting there, I began to tell her how I had felt about her for almost a year. I was so nervous it felt like I could barely speak. I just knew once I was done telling her, she wasn’t going to share those same feelings.
But she did. She told me she had liked me for a long time as well. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Here was this gal I’ve liked for so long telling me she felt the same way…the gal who I just knew I’d never be able to get…the most amazing person I had ever met.
In that moment, when she was telling me she liked me too, I knew I loved her and that I was going to spend the rest of my life with her.
As I would think about my future wife and what my Ma had always told me, I imagined someone so wonderful and amazing. I just knew that if I waited she would come along. What I didn’t imagine was someone like Mychal coming into my life.
I held out for God’s best. I didn’t settle. I never made a list, but Mychal is literally everything I could have ever wanted, and even more, in a future wife. She’s the sweetest, most humble, tenderhearted, caring, loving, beautiful, compassionate, sincere, trustworthy, loyal, and honest woman of God I know. And those words don’t even do her justice…
We’ve talked with both of our parents, close friends, and feel that we are taking the necessary steps towards a healthy relationship, as we are courting for marriage.
In Mychal’s words (and mine), “[We] are so excited and thankful for what He [God] is doing. We pray that He is always the center and focus of our relationship and that everyone who sees our relationship is directed to the love and goodness of Jesus Christ and that He is praised and glorified above all.”
“But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” – Romans 8:25