It all began with Oreos.
In our last blog series, I shared how I quit the California university I was attending to enroll myself in an outpatient recovery program…
“I remember crying, I remember a phone call, I remember packing, and I remember a quiet drive home. The next morning, I woke up in my parents’ home, in my hometown, the reality of the situation was real. Before I could convince myself otherwise, I grabbed the phone and dialed the number I vowed I never would. Hi, it’s Megan Smith. I’m not sure if you remember me, but it’s gotten really bad. I quit school last night, my parents picked me up, and I need to get better, will you take me back?
Of course, Megan. Can you start tomorrow?
The eating disorder recovery program that I walked out of not eight months earlier, had graciously taken me back. This time they weren’t going to let me go, I was a college dropout in an intensive outpatient eating disorder recovery program.
I went through the program and did well. I gained around twenty pounds, which felt overweight to me. I even met my husband, Ben, through Christian Mingle during that time. I moved cross country from California to North Dakota where he was stationed, and I began the nursing program at the local university.”
In my blog post, I casually mentioned that I met my husband on Christian Mingle during my recovery program, moved cross country, and started a new life. I’m excited to share more details about this adventure with you!
I had quit school on January 23, 2013, when my parents picked me up and took me home. The next day I called and began the local eating disorder recovery treatment program. The prior summer of 2012, my mom had encouraged me to attend this program while I was home from school during the summer. I had a session with the founder, gutted through it, and vowed never to step foot in that place again. I didn’t need their help, I wasn’t that bad.
Not even eight months later, I’m calling them. How God has a sense of humor. Never say never.
I ate breakfast at home, then would drive to the treatment center and spend the entire day there. I had one-on-one sessions, group sessions, and field trips. And I slept a lot. Maintaining the eating disorder and struggling through college classes had taken everything out of me. I had no energy. Additionally, the counseling sessions were mentally and emotionally draining, the eating disorder allowed me to suppress the internal battle. But since I was being monitored at the treatment center and at home, I really couldn’t engage in the eating disorder behaviors like I had done previously. I had to face and address the root issues that the eating disorder was revealing. And it was exhausting!
I did my homework assignments, I attended all my scheduled sessions, I put all my time, effort, and energy into healing. And I was dramatically improving! I had gained healthy weight, learned the truth about nutrition and how my body functions (not just what tabloids say), and I was learning how to enjoy life. During that time, I got my motorcycle license to ride a scooter I received as a gift from a family friend, I chopped off my hair, dyed it black, and learned how to dress in clothes other than athletic shorts and T-shirts.
And it was about this time, I was ready to start dating.
To give you some context, my friends in high school called me “The Nun.” In other words, I was known for not talking to guys, having no interest in guys, and it looked like I was destined for a future as a celibate.
My thought process was, “Why talk to them if I’m not going to marry them?” I saw no point in wasting my time flirting with guys, when the reality of me dating, then marrying my high school sweetheart was very slim. Sure, it worked for my parents, but I knew it wasn’t going to work for me. I didn’t want anyone distracting me or getting in my way, I was going to do great things. I was going to be a career woman – I wasn’t going to let a guy stop me.
There I am, sitting in a session with the Registered Dietitian of the treatment program. We had a developed a good relationship. I really enjoyed my talks with her. She provided me with valuable practical nutrition advice that has carried me to this day. In a session with her, I shared that I thought I was ready to start dating.
She asked me, “Well what are you doing about that?”
“Hmm, I don’t know. I think it’s progress that dating is even on my mind.”
“You’re going to have to put yourself out there, you know. You’re a Christian right?”
“Okay then, I want you to go on Christian Mingle.”
“But that’s for people who are forty years old and desperate! I’m only twenty!”
“Just try it for a week.”
And so I did. Before convincing myself otherwise, I created an online dating profile through Christian Mingle. The first line in my introduction was, “Hi, I like to call myself an inside-out Oreo.” It was a running joke amongst my friends. Although, I am porcelain white (like “I-still-sunburn-with-SPF-50” white) on the outside I feel like I have some black soul on the inside.
I started my profile on a Tuesday evening. A few days later on Saturday, I get a little online messenger notification. Ben, being an Oreo cookie lover himself, found my introduction amusing and simply asked me, “Do you like Oreos?”
Like I said earlier, it all began with Oreos.
Unfortunately, Christian Mingle doesn’t let you use their online messenger for free, so I had to pay the monthly charge of fifteen dollars to see what he said.
Best fifteen dollars I ever spent.
And that’s how our relationship began in March 2013.
Ben and I did something atypical, we interviewed each other. Instead of spending the first week with superficial talk, we gave each other free rein to ask every and any question. After the week of interviewing, we realized our high level of compatibility and I’ll never forget what Ben said, “Megan, I would love to pursue you. You are a rare gem.”
My next question was, “When can I meet you?”
Being that Ben was in the military and wouldn’t be able to book leave for at least six months, I naturally decided that I would fly out to meet him. So I booked my ticket, walked downstairs and asked which one of my parents was willing to take me to the airport.
My dad, my mom, and the family dog all about had a heart attack.
Granted, they had absolutely no clue that I was on Christian Mingle, let alone that I was intending to go meet a complete stranger. Therefore, their concern with me, a twenty-year-old female, flying from California to North Dakota to meet a guy I met online was incredibly justifiable and reasonable. I’m pretty sure my dad convinced my mom to let me go by saying, “Let her get it out of her system.”
It also took a Skype interrogation session and acquiring any form of contact information that could get Ben in trouble.
But so I did, I flew out on April 18 and was picked up at the airport by a lady at the church who was hosting me in her home. I arrived at the two-room airport and this lady came charging at me.
“Are you Megan?”
“Get in the car, I’m double-parked.”
She was tiny, so I knew I could take her if that wasn’t supposed to be my ride.
Ben failed to mention that no one knew who I was or what I was doing there. Even the host family. I was Ben’s “friend from California” that needed a place to stay. I sat down with them at dinner and they mentioned they were going to the Youth Pastor’s birthday party in an hour and were curious if I wanted to tag along.
“Sure, sounds fun.”
We arrived and I realized just how awkward it is to not to know anybody. So naturally I just gravitated toward the children, since children will talk to you if you play with them.
Then the Youth Pastor came over to where I was sitting, “What’s your story?”
As I opened my mouth to share, the District Youth Director, exclaimed, “You speak English? I thought you were a foreign exchange student!”
With all eyes on me, I proceeded to share my story. Finally, someone chimed in, “So you haven’t met Ben yet?”
“Yep, that’s correct. He had to work the night shift, so he’s picking me up tomorrow morning.”
Without realizing it, at the time, I had met the entire church staff before meeting Ben. Let’s just say, we had an entire community involved in our relationship before its inception.
Somehow, despite having five children, the host mom, had everyone, including herself out of the house by the time Ben arrived. Ben walked into their quiet home. I remember shaky nervously, so excited to meet him in person. He walked around the corner and I saw this handsome man in uniform. He walked over, gave me this big, loving hug and the first words out of his mouth were, “Megan, you’re beautiful.”
Within twenty-four hours, I knew I was going to marry him. (Ben did as well).
It was quite the busy weekend. The District Fine Arts Showcase was taking place at the church and Ben was running it! Through that Friday night and Saturday, I met everyone at the church, made some friends, and decided to extend my stay, I just couldn’t leave yet.
I hate to admit this next part, but it’s true and in hindsight it’s a cool part of the story. Before meeting Ben in person, I had actually applied to all the Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs in the state of North Dakota. I also since January had applied to multiple nursing programs in California.
During my extended stay, I got accepted into the local university and met with the nursing advisor to line up my pre-requisites for nursing. I had not received official acceptance into the program, but I was accepted as a Pre-Nursing Major to the university. Additionally, I interviewed and got a job on the spot at the university’s wellness center, and I lined up my on-campus housing for the fall semester.
Also, during this week, I received email after email from the California nursing programs I had applied. Each email began with, “Megan, we regret to inform you…”
I flew back home, enjoyed a meal with my parents, and said, “I will be moving to North Dakota by August and I plan on marrying Ben as soon as possible.” (Ben was also on board with this plan.)
My dad, my mom, and the family dog all about had a second heart attack. So much for “getting it out of my system.”
I proceeded to pack my few belongings, said bye to family and friends, had to convince said family and friends that I wasn’t off my rocker. Then at the end of July, my mom and I drove out to North Dakota to get me settled in before my classes began.
Not even a month after arriving, Ben gets sent away for a six-week training which was a little disheartening after being so excited to finally live in the same state. But this period of time enabled me to make friends, get familiar with the town, and find my own rhythm. That semester I finished up my nursing pre-requisites and in October I gained acceptance in the nursing program which began in January. Also, in October, Ben and I flew out to California where he personally asked my dad for my hand in marriage. On November 21st, 2013, Ben proposed to me through a romantic treasure hunt and on May 31st, 2014 we married in California!
Whenever we share this story, it seems straight out of a Hallmark movie and doesn’t sound like me. It’s strange to think that this shy, introvert, had this burst of boldness just long enough to meet Ben. You know that “gut feeling” I talked about in an earlier blog post? That’s how the Holy Spirit speaks to me and guides me. It’s a feeling I’ve learned to trust even when everything external points otherwise. I had always felt uncomfortable around guys my age. I never had a peaceful gut feeling around any of my male peers. Ben was the first guy I had met that didn’t make me feel uneasy, I had a peaceful gut feeling with him. I kept waiting for the uneasiness to creep in, but it never did.
God was incredibly faithful in bringing us together. His timing was the best timing. In fact, this Thursday May 31st, we celebrate four beautiful years of marriage. I’m so blessed beyond measure to have the opportunity to enjoy this adventurous life with Ben!
Disclaimer: This is not an encouragement to go online to find your spouse. This is a special story and unique to us. Please be safe online and trust the Holy Spirit to guide you with the “gut feeling.”