It's been almost a year since I told the world about the unique dating journey that I was on. My then girlfriend is now my almost married fiancé. What an experience it has been! In less than three weeks, she will be the one that I will be spending the rest of my life with. Our relationship hasn't been perfect by a long shot, but doing it God's way has really helped us grow together. We have learned so much, and we still have so much more learning to go. Here's a little background of our love story, and also the video of me proposing to her. I hope it inspires you.
Our story started on the campus of Old Dominion University in 2014. It was a Friday night and we were both at a campus ministry event. We met each other after the event was over.
Shannell: “I remember him and a friend walking towards my friends and I. I was like, ‘Lord, please don’t let him try to talk to me.’ It wasn’t that he was unattractive, I was just in a season in my life where I wanted to be alone. I wanted to get to know myself a little more and get to know God a whole lot more. Talking to any guy romantically at that point, would’ve been a distraction. When they walked over, they introduced themselves and that was it. I remember thinking, ‘Phew! Thank You Lord! That was close.’ ”
Evan: “I was in a complicated relationship, so my mind was nowhere on Shannell. I’m not even the type of guy to randomly approach a girl. I’m just super friendly. I remember my boy and I were super hungry, and we were trying to find some people to eat with. Shannell and her friends happened to be some of the people we recruited to come along. Lol. We ended up rolling pretty deep with a big group of us, going down the street to a local wing spot.”
A few months went by before we saw each other again. We were both seniors and we lived in the library. We had a lot of mutual friends together, so we gradually became friends ourselves.
Evan: “I was always in the library late at night trying to study, and she would usually be in the same area with her friends. I would often find myself procrastinating on an assignment because we would be goofing off or talking about something deep. My grades were terrible that semester, but I guess I can say it was definitely worth it now.”
Shannell: “I’ll have you all know, I had nothing to do with his terrible grades! Lol. I do remember life at the library, what us Monarchs affectionately call Club Perry. Evan would always be there around the time I was and he always had something interesting to talk about so our conversations would get pretty deep.”
We both ended up graduating that semester (shout out to ODU Class of 2015), and remained close friends. We had crazy chemistry together. We would talk about anything. A lot of people actually thought we were in a relationship. The funny thing is, neither one of us looked at each other in a romantic way.
Shannell: “So many people came up to us separately asking if we were together and I was confused. I didn’t see what they were seeing. Evan had been my friend this whole time and I didn’t get any vibes from him that he was interested. Plus, I had worked so hard to avoid any potential relationships because I only wanted it if it was what God had for me. I was done writing my own love story and failing miserably. So naturally, when I started to like him, as we were getting to know each other better, I was freaking out and praying to God to take the feelings away if Evan wasn’t for me and if it wasn’t time.”
Evan: “I always saw her as a friend. It wasn’t until 2016 when I began looking at her different. I put up so many roadblocks to even allow myself to like her. One of the main things was the fact that her last name was the same as mine. I just thought that was weird. I knew she had to be my cousin, even though Smith is like the most popular last name in the world. (We’re not cousins guys) Lol.”
As time went by, we ended up becoming each other’s best friend. God started opening our eyes. The more we thought about marriage, the more we thought, “I don’t ever want to lose this level of friendship.” We knew that the relationship would dwindle should we have married someone else. We weren’t willing to lose each other. We also knew that since this whole thing was God’s plan, we wanted to honor God in our relationship.
Evan: “I knew Shannell was the one I wanted to marry December 2016. It wasn’t until April 2017 that we began dating. Why? Because I kept punking out. Lol. I attempted to ask her out like 3 times, but I didn’t do it. I even got off work early and drove 2 hours just to take her out on a surprise movie date. I left as single as I came. I honestly had never asked a girl to be in a relationship before. I’m not trying brag or anything, but they usually would approach me. That became a turnoff to me. I finally managed to ask her out April 9th, 2017.”
Shannell: “It was funny to me watching Evan trying to ask me out. At that point I already knew that he liked me, I was just waiting on him to make a move. What’s crazy to me is that I used to be the girl that would be straight forward in telling you how I felt about you, but this was different. I guess God knew something I didn’t because I was specifically instructed not to do that with Evan. I couldn’t text him first during that time and I certainly couldn’t tell him how I felt about him. He had to make a move. I’m so glad I listened because later he told me that he had never really had to pursue a girl the way he wanted to. He was used to girls approaching him and he was turned off by that. I would’ve been no different than anyone else that he had encountered before if I would’ve been disobedient.”
Our relationship has been quite a journey. Not only did we make the choice to not have sex until marriage, but we also chose not to kiss until our wedding day. We know it sounds crazy, but it’s been nothing but a blessing to our relationship. We’ve grown so much. We don’t do it for an award or to act like we’re better than anyone, because we’re not. We do it because we truly love God and we want to do His will. We’re not perfect, but our goal is to be intentional because God is very intentional with us. We’re thankful for what He’s done in our lives, and we’re thankful for what He’s going to do as we enter into this new season of our lives.
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