A lot of people are intrigued about my relationship with Zach. We met, formed a friendship, fell in love, grew in our relationship all the while, on opposite sides of the continent. Technically, we have spent 66 days together in person.
I never wanted to date long distance. I adamantly protested against it. I stated that authentic relationships were not made over the phone. But, here I am. I spent the last (almost) three years, committed to Zach, over long-distance. This journey with him has had no shortage of trials, emotions and challenges. But, God moved. God used this distance in a way I never imagined. He filled the longing for Zach with His over-flowing love. He filled the loneliness, jealousy, and sadness with comfort, joy and peace. He faithfully led me to trust, obedience and love. I owe this all to Him.
Before I get too ahead of myself, let me start with how it all began. Cue time travel music.
My best friend asked me to be her maid of honour – a title that I took seriously and joyously! I flew back to Calgary one cold day in March 2014, to stand beside Kaitlyn. She and Tim (her now husband) teased me that they found the perfect guy for me – Zach, a groomsman. From Alaska. Did they not know where Alaska was? Or where I was living? I laughed at them and brushed it off.
When I met Zach, it wasn’t love at first sight – at least for me. I found him cute but I didn’t want to date him. He lived in Alaska, and I was in Halifax. But, I couldn’t avoid talking to him – and secretly I wanted to too. We spent the days leading up to the wedding talking. He kept an eye on me and he wandered over to stay in my conversations.
The morning of the wedding, I led the bridesmaids down the stairs. When the doors opened the groomsmen turned towards us. We made eye contact and Zach grinned. He told me I looked beautiful and turned to hide his slightly pink cheeks.
During the ceremony, I felt someone’s gaze on me as I focused on Kaitlyn and Tim. I glanced to my right. Zach had his eyes glued on me. They stayed on me the entire ceremony – most of the wedding photos have Zach watching me, not Kaitlyn and Tim. Some call it creepy, I say it’s endearing. When we went to take photos, it didn’t help that I purposefully placed myself beside him. I shouldn’t have flirted, but I did.
At the reception “I can’t help, falling in love with you” came on. I left the dance floor with the other singles. A hand slowly reached toward me, beside my right elbow.
“Would you like to dance?” Zach’s shy smile and wide brown eyes were too hard to resist. I took his hand. And we danced. Kaitlyn and Tim excitedly waved, ridiculously smiled and shot us thumbs up. I ignored it all. Through the heat, sticky hands and awkward slow dancing, I felt completely safe. I felt at home.
The night ended and I had an early flight back to Halifax. I hugged Zach good-bye – we both thought we’d never see each other again. When I got home, Facebook signaled a new friend. When I boarded my plane, Facebook signaled a generous message.
My heart felt different when I landed in Halifax. I didn’t need a man, I didn’t want one in Alaska. My stubbornness pushed on as I refused to date long-distance. But, God kept pushing me to open up. Over the next six months, I fought with an internal battle of falling for a guy that I only met for three days. I prayed for clarity, direction and focus. God convicted me to open my heart for His plans, not mine. So I obeyed. Not knowing what He wanted, but knew Zach was a part of it.
By August, Zach and I texted every day. We got to know each other more and more. I stayed up late to squeeze more out of who he was. He woke up early to make me blush. I resisted long-distance, but God kept placing him on my heart.
Zach asked to Skype and I nervously agreed. Butterflies playfully floated in my stomach. I opened my phone to the blue Skype screen. I propped it against the wall in front of me and finally spoke to the man who asked me to dance. Before we knew it, three hours had passed. These calls became regular. We shared. We laughed. We grew.
Shortly after – on September 3rd, 2014 to be exact – Zach professed his love to me after I professed my love for steak. In the usual way that it was, I wouldn’t change it. A few days later, a beautiful bouquet of flowers arrived on my doorstep. I picked them up and dug out the card. It read:
I only get 210 characters to tell you how incredible you are. But it only takes a few to make me blush. I love you Maggie. You are the most godly, beautiful woman I have ever met. I can’t wait to see you.
He meant it. He wouldn’t have joked about love. Neither of us would.
Let me explain some things before I go on. 1. I have never had a boyfriend before 2. I hadn’t even told Zach that I liked him, much less love him 3. I am a SUCKER for romance! 4. I had never been in love before. Remaining honest, I told Zach that I wasn’t there yet. I expected to lose him completely, but I didn’t want to say something I didn’t feel yet. He responded with such compassion. Zach agreed that he didn’t me to say it until I meant it. I spent many nights praying and pondering what love was. Was I in love? Do I love him? How do I know? People always say, you “just know” when you’re in love. So I waited until I knew. Zach was so patient with me as I trusted God to take my heart where it needed to go.
Over the next three months, Zach told me he loved me every day. He said it because when you are in love, you can’t contain it. You want to shout it, let them know how much you care for them. Then, one night, while I was on Skype with Zach, my heart opened up. I just knew I had fallen in love with this amazing, sweet, Godly, Alaskan man.
I had planned to tell Zach my feelings when we flew to Calgary for Christmas. But, like he said, “when you’re in love, you want to shout it out. Share it. Express it.” I tried to wait, but on December 8th, I couldn’t keep my secret any longer. I paced around my bedroom. I couldn’t think. My heart raced and my stomach knotted. I knew what I had to do. I asked Zach to get back on Skype, and the familiar blue screen loaded. I took a deep breath and looked into his wide brown eyes.
“I love you,” burst out of my mouth. “I wanted to wait until Christmas, but I couldn’t wait any longer to tell you. I love… I’m fully, completely in love with you Zachary Timothy.”
Three weeks later, I paced outside Customs at the Calgary Airport. After nine months since the wedding, I would finally see him. The man I loved, the man who asked me to dance. I spotted him and those familiar butterflies returned. They whirled around inside. I’m felt sick with excitement. I weaved in between other travellers to reach him. I wanted to jump into his arms, but I stood before him and he smiled. My heart pounded. I looked at the man I loved. He’s here.
Zach dropped his luggage and wrapped his arms around me. I inhaled deeply. I am home. We stepped back and looked at each other. He leaned in and kissed me. My first kiss.
We had three wonderful days together. We left Christmas more in love and more sure of God’s plan for us. We excitedly waited to see it unfold.
God forged a relationship in a way I never expected. He strengthened me in ways I didn’t think I needed. He showered me with His unfailing love. He poured into me through a man on the opposite side of the continent. I prayed for the things that I needed, not what I wanted, but that my needs became my wants. God heard my cry and faithfully provided.
I’ve learned that patience, obedience, long-distance and spontaneity are what I needed to fall in love.
I never expected to be here, nor to fall in love like this, but,
“many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it’s the Lord’s purpose that prevails” – Proverbs 19:21 NIV
I hope that this encourages you to keep trusting God. Continue to draw closer to Him. He’s got you. He will lead you where you need to go. I had to trust Him over a 5 hour time difference for two years and through 7,920km. He’s got bigger plans than we can see.
He loves you.