It was a few months into marriage, after some awkward moments of us fumbling and struggling to let each other know if our plans were together or apart on weeknights.
He said he had something he wanted to talk through with me.
"Until we have kids, I have a vision of our evenings [other than date night] being spent in community,
with our friends, you building strong relationships with women you love,
and me spending time with men I respect."
I have to admit, I was bummed.
The heart behind what he said was so right- so us- but somewhere in the back of my head, I thought marriage meant that we had date night every night.
Even so, I gave it a try.
We started to talk about our people- about all the things we admire and respect, people we wanted to be more like, people we should be praying for.
We started to make plans and cultivate rhythms, and live out intentionality.
Thursdays remained our nights (as they had been through our dating relationship), but now, they were considered sacred- untouchable. Thus began the journey of being intentional in our marriage, and building into the tribe around us.
There was no way of really knowing what this decision would mean for our family- lets be honest, it could have been a disaster. Our people have spoken life into us and made us better in every direction.
We've been so humbled by the depth of relationships that were made possible because we put healthy boundaries on the way we were going to steward our time. The decision to invest our time in people has brought us closer, and has offered us a completely different lens to see the world through. In addition, date nights feel so exciting- I still have butterflies when I wake up on Thursday mornings.
The more we celebrated this part of our marriage, the more we felt we were doing "right," we started to feel a tug on our hearts about the "why". So we asked ourselves- why do date nights work?
When you set aside time for something, when you prioritize it, you are telling yourself and the people around you that that's what you value.
So we valued intentionality, friendships, discipleship, our marriage....
Where were we living out the value of our faith?
This could be pages long (and probably will eventually) - but for now I will just say that when we applied the lessons we learned through date nights to our prayer life-
it. was. revolutionary.
Date nights are not overly planned, but there are 2 elements every date night must have:
1. Begin with worship- it's the first thing that happens on date night. A time of quiet, singing, journaling, and praying together.
2. Reflection Confessions- At some point during dinner, we initiate reflection confessions. This is when we confess and apologize for times during the week where our intentions towards the other were not pure, or kind. It's difficult to hear sometimes, and difficult to confess, but it's so humbling to recognize the grossest parts of yourself. This time always ends with more respect for one another, a deeper understanding of one another, and a reminder of who we are.
We are learning to live out the culture of the family we want to be. It's certainly not perfect, but it's us. I have learned so much about celebrating other families and why it's important to cheer them on to be who they are. Who knew a date night could change your life?
We took a 36 hour trip to San Antonio and had the chance to be famous for a day.
From beginning to end, the trip was wonderful. It was meant to be a time to get away before the holidays and to make each other feel special - and it was all of that - but there was an encounter we had on the trip that we keep going back to.
On our only full day there, we stumbled upon the outside seating of a restaurant called Cured. We were immediately impressed with the food (outstanding!), but the way we were treated by the staff- was uncomfortable.
Only 15 minutes into the meal, we knew we had to say something. We kept looking at each other- guilty. Brian voiced it first.
"We have to tell them they have it all wrong. They think we are famous."
The eye contact, the attention to detail, the extra consideration ... the surprise additions to our charcuterie board. We felt like the only people there. The problem was we didn't know how to ask who they thought we were- we kept accepting their gifts and intentionality.
Brian and I have a tradition when we go on trips. We like to feel like locals everywhere we go so we find our "place" in the cities we visit. (We went to the same restaurant in Fredericksburg 4 times in 30 hours- we. do. not. play.)
Anyway, before telling them who we weren't, we sat eating our lunch and had them put us on the list for dinner that night.
Okay, so we didn't tell them. We thought maybe the service was just THAT incredible. So we showed up for our reservation that night. The double doors at the front were opened for us as we walked into a place where we were known somehow. We were lead to a corner table where we could see the entire restaurant, the gorgeous Christmas tree outside our window, and quickly we were brought two glasses of Champagne with a welcoming- old- friend-kind-of hug from the man who had made our afternoon so special.
People were stopping at our table saying how glad they were that we were back- people we most definitely did not meet earlier that day. At this point, we are almost in tears. We felt so incredibly special... But it was the surprise of a dish we did not order- a dish we contemplated getting at lunch - placed on our table with a smile that brought on the undeniable conviction.
We had to tell them.
So Brian took a breath, knowing they may be upset we didn't tell them sooner.
He called the waitress over and said it : "I'm so sorry, we have really enjoyed our time here but I have to ask... do you think we are ... someone... important..? "
So there we sat- in awe with full hearts. Both stunned because we felt so undeserving. So undeserving in fact, that we thought it was a mistake.
Isn't that our story with God? He treats us like royalty- showering us with people, talents, gifts, provision, moments ... but we will give the credit to coincidence or "mistake" or even turn our cheek and pretend the gift wasn't for us.
In that moment, though, it was undeniable. This was for US. Intended for us. Not a have to, but a want to.
And you know what the waitress responded ?
"We just want you to enjoy yourselves."
I will never forget that night. We sat there for three hours. We ate slow and talked about everything. There was one thing we knew without a doubt at the end of this night- We want to make people feel this special.
So here's the challenge: Do something a little over the top for someone this week.
Make someone know what it feels like to be famous in your eyes.
I'll always go first to make space for your story.