This is for sure a story I never imagined writing.
(Warning: If you don't like details, you should probably just scroll down and read Drew's version. I haven't even wrote mine or read his yet, but I know it will be more concise than whatever is about to follow.)
Sometime around the year 2015, I was a journalist writing full-time for a Christian magazine, running a personal blog, and doing some freelance writing on the side. Like practically every other person on the planet, I used social media to share aforementioned articles, encouragement, and my hilarious puns. After writing a couple articles for The Gospel Coalition, the "followers" increased by a few but I didn't pay much attention to any of them. I don't know for certain, but I think this is when @drewm25 started interacting with some of my tweets.
The first time I remember anything about Drew, he sent me a link on a book about Vincent van Gogh in response to a tweet asking for recommendations for my current research obsession. I politely thanked him and ordered the book. Confession: I have still not read this book.
Things get a little fuzzy for me after this. I really have no idea how we began talking beyond a tweet here and there, but I guess one day he sent me a friend request on Facebook and, after a complete and thorough stalking, I thought he was safe enough to accept (note: he seemed to fervently and obviously love Jesus and appeared to not only be committed to Him but to His people). This didn't increase communication at all.
Then one day he sent a message asking what my favorite Austin Stone Worship album was. My prideful self thought this was a pickup line. He still claims it was not. Regardless, I answered because--hello--I love Austin Stone Worship. The conversation was as brief as tighty whiteys.
Eventually, I suppose through social media posts, we discovered we each discipled students. He was discipling some high school and college guys at his church and I was discipling some high school and college girls from mine. He would check in with me every so often and ask how ministry was going, how he could pray for me and my girls, and share what God was doing in his time with his guys. It was an extremely (!) platonic, encouragement-driven interaction based on Drew's desire to encourage anyone in their labors for the kingdom.
He ended up going to Louisville, Ky., for a seminary visit with one of the students he was discipling. Since Louisville was only a few hours from where I lived, he asked if I had any recommendations for food, coffee, and bookstores. I gladly sent him a list. He asked if I wanted to drive to Louisville to hang out. My prideful self also thought this was a pickup line. I gave a firm no. He sent me updates on their adventures. It looked like they had a ton of fun and I had fun hearing about it.
A few weeks later, he asked if he bought me a ticket to T4G, a conference to be held in Louisville in the following months, if I would meet him and some of his friends there. My prideful self also thought this was a pickup line and I was firmly against it as I was prayerfully pursuing a potential relationship with someone from my home church. So I quickly turned Drew down and told him as much, not at all wanting to give any indications I was interested beyond mutual encouragement in ministry. He still claims he was only trying to encourage a fellow worker in the kingdom.
That pretty much ended any correspondence. He would still faithfully check in with me sporadically, every few months or so, and offer gentle encouragement or ask how he could pray for me and my girls. Sometimes he would just say he was praying for me and encourage me to keep persevering though ministry is hard and wrought with opposition.
In 2017, the bucket of my life was dumped upside down. It was undoubtedly the hardest year of my life, one in which everything I was so sure of was removed from the equation, teaching my weak heart that Jesus is better than the best dreams, the best jobs, and the best earthly relationships. God providentially used every one of Drew's "sporadic" encouragements to land in my heart at exactly the time I needed it most. I had been writing vaguely on my blog about the tough year, but Drew could never have known the severity of the darkness or how God used his kindness to scatter beams of light into it.
On Christmas Day 2017, Drew sent me a message on Facebook that was no doubt providentially orchestrated. It was probably one sentence in length but it was packed with grace for that moment and beyond. I thanked him. That was it.
On January 1, 2018, he sent another message with specific ways he was praying for me for the new year. I cried. It was so kind and, again, providentially orchestrated and full of grace. I thanked him. That was it.
A few weeks later, he sent another message that was so timely and encouraging I literally shook my head in wonder of God's providence in using this "random" guy in Alabama to remind me of the Lord's promise to never leave or forsake us, even in the darkest of times.
From there we started talking more consistently and my highly scared and non-trusting self was rude, cynical, and waiting for him to be revealed as a fraud and then run away (sometimes pushing him to do so). But there he remained. Faithful, steadfast, and encouraging, never pushing but ready to listen and give wisdom while claiming to genuinely care for my soul.
Over the next several months we talked and talked (and talked), and his consistency, candor, and spiritual wisdom started cracking my walls. I was drawn to his heart for Christ and others, the depth of his biblical insight, his humor, and his appreciation for deep conversations about life, theology, and church history. His faithfulness to the Lord and to me was staggering for my heart so prepared for someone else to leave. I even told him as much. He said he desired to see me flourish and would continue pursuing my fullest joy in Christ. I let myself start to believe him.
And then the music changed. One day there was no text. And then the next day turned into the next until it became apparent he wasn't going to talk to me again. I was angry and hurt and angry that I was hurt. Frustrated more at myself than him and mad that I was dumb enough to let him or anyone else through my walls.
A month passed.
I was still livid that he, after knowing so much of my story and after claiming he would be different, would drop me without so much of a word. Confession: a few days into the silence, I began checking his social media to make sure he was still alive. Though enormously hurt by him, I continued checking every day. It disgusted me how much I cared.
During this time, God again exposed the insufficiency of any and all things besides Himself. He alone is the stability of our times (Isaiah 33:5), not jobs, health, finances, or relationships. He is the only one that can give rest to our restless hearts and He is the only One who will stay though all else may leave.
Despite confidence in the Lord's faithfulness, I was still angry at Drew so I used this silence to not only lean into Christ but to productively (ha) formulate my response and arguments just in case Drew Miller ever decided to grace me with his communication again. Let me tell you, my side of our fight was READY. I knew exactly what I would say to rip into him for deserting me and not being true to his word. PUT ME IN COACH, I AM READY TO FIGHT.
And then it came.
I was riding in a van full of ladies on the way to the TGC Women's Conference when his name flashed on my phone screen. I was annoyed at how my heart rate increased. Never fear, just as quickly, all my arguments came back--I WAS PREPARED FOR THIS. And then I opened the text.
Narrator: She was not prepared.
He apologized. Sincerely and genuinely with no wasted words. Just a short, to the point, honest apology.
My resolve to fight died in the face of his humility.
"I'm sorry too."
He said he missed me and I genuinely missed him. Things progressed more seriously after that and we arranged our first face to face meeting at the halfway point between our hometowns.
We ate Cracker Barrel pancakes and talked about what we read in Scripture that morning. We went to Books-A-Million and made fun of book covers and smelled books and talked and talked. It was natural, easy, and normal.
The next week he asked me to be his girlfriend. He spoke into my fears with clarity in his intention to seek the Lord and see whether we were better suited to serve Him together or apart. Could Jesus be seen more because we were together or would we continue serving Him in our singleness as we had for our entire lives?
With a heart of peace and nervousness, I responded to his choice by choosing him as my first boyfriend.
Then we went on our first date in Birmingham. I was sick the whole time and Drew sacrificially took care of me and served me like no one else, with the exception of my parents, ever had. It was so easy to see Christ in him. Our second date was a double date in Nashville with Ryan, the guy Drew discipled and took to the seminary in Louisville a couple years before, and his fiancée Hannah. It was a joy-filled weekend. I was hungry for true community and Drew had it in spades.
Nine months later I moved to Mobile. Nine months after that, Drew proposed, in part by saying he believed the answer to the question we asked in the beginning, "Do we glorify God better together?" was a resounding yes.
I joyfully (and obviously) answered with a resounding yes as well.
Our story is one of grace and providence in ways I don't fully comprehend. All I know is that Drew is the greatest human and I am so grateful to know and love and be loved by him. He is my best friend and the biggest scattered beam I've ever known. He continues to faithfully pursue my flourishing in Christ and I look more like Jesus today because of Drew and his commitment to love Christ more than me. I am eternally grateful the Lord saw fit to cross our paths and I cannot wait to continue serving Him and others alongside Drew.
We are grateful for you as well, dear friends. Thank you for your support, encouragement, and prayers, and for pushing us to Jesus more than each other. He truly is better.
“God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of Him is our proper; and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to Heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives or children or the company of any or all earthly friends. These are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.” -Jonathan Edwards
This is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down.
No really, the story of Sophie and I meeting is one that I would have never dreamed.
In late 2011/early 2012, God, out of His good pleasure, chose to save me to Himself. In my early days as a Christian, and still to this day, Twitter has been a huge encouragement and help to me in my walk with the Lord. I stumbled upon it early, as a lot of the pastors I liked to listen to were on there. As I started following them, I found myself immersed in a Christian culture on Twitter. I made many friends this way which led to mutual encouragement. One of those friends was Sophie McDonald.
We began to converse on Twitter from time to time about ministry, sharing tips and mutually encouraging one another in our ministry positions. She was teaching young women and I was teaching young men. We didn’t talk all that often early on, but would check up on each other every now and then. We we’re both content in our singleness which prevented us from taking our relationship past being friends.
In 2017, we began to talk a little more but it was still only about ministry and what God was doing in our lives. In August of 2017, I visited some friends of mine in Louisville and asked Sophie if she wanted to meet up. She said she was praying about beginning a relationship with another guy, so that never materialized. In my mind, I honestly just wanted to meet her and introduce her to my friends. I didn’t really have any intentions of anything relationship wise. We did not talk much after but we still kept up from time to time.
At the end of 2017 I could tell that Sophie was struggling per her blogs. On New Years Day 2018, I decided to send Sophie a letter of encouragement. This letter kickstarted us talking again, but this time there was something different. We began to share stories about ourselves and began to become good friends. We talked pretty much every day for the first few months of the year.
In May of 2018, we had a little falling out in which we didn't talk at all that month. In June, I was tired of being petty and I missed our conversations so I sent a text apologizing for being a jerk. Sophie accepted my apology and we started talking and video chatting. We finally agreed on a day to meet, which was July 14th, 2018. We decided to meet halfway which was in Cullman, Alabama. We met and ate at the Cracker Barrel and after we rode around. We found a book store and, since one of our mutual loves is books, it was very appropriate. We spent a good bit of time in there, talking, laughing, and reading dumb motivational quotes to each other. At the end the day Sophie played me a song she had wrote about hoping to one day find someone who would lean in with her. We left to go our separate ways and talked on the phone all the way back.
The next week I asked her to be my girlfriend. We knew long distance was going to be tough but also knew that if God saw fit that we would glorify Him better together than alone, He would give us grace to make it work. We took turns driving to see each other and eventually Sophie moved to Mobile in May of 2019. It was a big adjustment for her but she hit the ground running. She made friends really quick and was welcomed in by my closest brothers and sisters. Two of them, Ryan and Hannah, have served us selflessly in letting Sophie live with them. Our church noticed her gifts pretty quickly and allowed her to put them to use.
The following months after Sophie moved here were wonderful yet challenging. We dated for longer than I would have liked before our engagement but on February 28th I asked Sophie to marry me. In two months time we got engaged and I also bought a house.
This year has been a tough one for many, including us, but God has showered us with His kindness in leading us this far and we can’t wait to see what He has for the future. There will be times of prosperity and times of affliction and in it all may our cry be that Jesus is better.