As with anyone who is now happily together or married, our story started well before the day we met. The years Nathan and I spent in school, college, and all the growing up in between shaped and formed us into the people we are today. There are so many different things I could talk about, but the biggest aspect of our lives that has made us who we are is our relationship with God. I know that this is not everyone's story, but I hope you continue to read anyways as this is who we are and the biggest reason he and I ever became a 'we' in the first place.
Strangely enough, our stories of deciding to become a Christian are somewhat similar. Nathan was riding home from his church's Vacation Bible School week when he was in 3rd grade, and he realized that he wanted to pray and invite God into his life. It was there that his mom helped him find the right words to do just that.
The differences in our story lie after that moment. Though Nathan is far from perfect, from that moment forward he took his faith very seriously. Even when it made him somewhat of an outcast, he lived his life as much as he could according to the Bible. The biggest learning curve for him was how to relate to people who do not hold the same beliefs as him, but he's come a long way since the little 8-year-old boy he was. I know I'm biased, but I'm proud to say that he is the first to want to love and serve anyone around him, no matter what their background or current stage in life.
My story begins when I was 4 years old. I remember very clearly that I was watching a movie with my parents when I got up, turned it off, and asked them to help me pray and tell Jesus I wanted to obey Him and learn how to love Him. I prayed right then and there with them. I grew up in a family that taught me and my siblings to love God - not just to obey Him 'because the Bible says so' - and I consider myself very blessed to have known what being a Christian looks like from the beginning.
However, I was a bit more rebellious later on in life. Though I (thankfully) never strayed far from what I learned as I read the Bible and began to know God more, I didn't always prioritize my relationship with Him. It was during high school when I joined the youth group at our church that I began to take my faith seriously. Throughout college and the years beyond, this has been the single most important thing in my life.
I could talk for a long time about what my relationship with God means to me and how it changes me, but I want to bring it back to our story. Without our faith in God, Nathan and I would never have gotten together. For both of us, that was our first priority when choosing a spouse. Beyond that, having a foundation of love for God first - and for each other second only to that - has been what sustains us during hard times in our lives and even in our marriage. We would both be completely different people if not for the transformation in each of our hearts because of Jesus.
So that's who we were before we met - two people who were blessed to be raised in homes where we learned what a real relationship with God truly looks like. And as we strive to love each other and serve each other daily in our marriage, we know that at the heart of everything we do is our friendship with and love for Jesus.