Bryan Lilly


Six Years On, and We've Only Just Begun

June 28, 2015

Pay no attention to me
dancing with my girl,
with every intention to be
failures in this world.
— mewithoutYou, "Son of a Widow"

…because Seven Ate Nine

Today, June 28th, 2015, marks mine and my wife's sixth anniversary. It's been eight years since we've started dating (May 6th, 2007).[^1] We met just under a year before that, so let's call it an even nine, which is odd since nine is an odd number.

Nine years. Six years married.


Audrey, this is How I Met Your Mother

Just under nine rotations around the sun ago, I met the woman who would later become my wife. It was an incredibly romantic, almost fairy–tale event. We were playing a pick–up basketball game.

The setting: WVU, Morgantown, West Virginia. I was a member of a CMA church at the time, and heavily involved with their college church ministry. We would play basketball, or ultimate frisbee, every week—open to whomever would like to join in. A bunch of us were already on the court warming–up. She walked in. I had to remind my heart to continue beating.

Because I'm suave, and never nervous around girls,[^2] I started a conversation with her. Or, maybe she started it with me. I'm honestly not at all sure, but either way a conversation happened. And God said it was good.

As the fates would have it, we ended up on opposite teams by virtue of the Old Testament practice of casting lots, where the lots in this case were shooting free–throws. And, fate knowing entirely what it was doing, paired us up defending one another man–to–woman. It was a fun game, that is, until she got the ball on a partial fast–break and threw pump fake nasty enough to cause me to jump out of my socks.

Clearly, I couldn't allow her to make me look like some extra out of a Left Behind movie; I realized that I would have to step up my game.

Immediately after she shot, someone passed me the ball. I took off down the court for an easy layup. The other team quickly regained their composure. All of the sudden, the ball was in her hands and she squared up at the foul line for an easy jumper. Her knees bent. The energy pushed her off the court, traveled from her feet to her hands and out through the ball; it had a perfect rotation as it came off of her finger tips and began to arc towards the rim.

And I blocked the ever–loving crap out of her shot. It slammed off a wall and ricocheted like a bullet. I didn't even feel bad.

Sometime that night, I thought to myself, I could marry this woman. It was the weirdest feeling, and was utterly without foundation. I didn't see her again for another six or seven months.

Love at Second Sight?

Well, I say 'see' and 'sight', but really it was more like 'read.' Way back in 2006/2007, we used to 'text' by using 'computer programs' like 'AOL Instant Messenger' and 'Facebook.' Now, it may seem like the world was a scary place back then, but that's all that we had and all that we knew. I don't remember the catalyst, but somehow we added each other on Facebook. One thing led to another, and before you knew it, we were instant messaging.

We had a pretty long conversation that night. She was talking through a pretty big problem she was dealing with, and I was listening (read: reading), and making jokes. Because, again, I'm suave.

Eventually, the conversation got to a point where I responded, jokingly, that Love isn't really that hard … I could teach you. Again, suave. But it lightened the mood and we laughed.

Only, I wasn't kidding. Well, I mean I was—love can be difficult, of course, and I didn't exactly have a learning plan written up for it. But, there was more than just a joke behind it. In that moment, I thought to myself, I'm going to marry this woman. Now, I'm neither a prophet nor a son of a prophet, but it was clear as day to me then.[^3]

She once asked me after we were dating, When did you know that you loved me? I replied, The day that I met you. She didn't believe me. That's ok, though, because she was right in the technical sense (the best kind of sense). I thought that perhaps I might when I first met her. I knew for sure that night we spent chatting away. The night that I promised I would show her how to love.

Even though I was joking. Sort of.

We started dating on 05/06/07. I asked her out. She said no. After a pause of disagreeable length,[^4] she politely informed me that she was just kidding. I politely informed her to never do that again.

My Wife was SO Angry on the Day that I proposed.

December 6th, 2008. The day I asked her to marry me. She was angry.

Let's back up a bit. We were leading a small group for our church at the time, and everyone was in on the proposal. Well, except the proposee. We had come up with a wonderful plan. I wanted to propose in our church building's sanctuary, because 1) symbolism, meaning, and stuff, and 2) the room was freaking gorgeous. But, small problem. I wanted it to just be the two of us, no friends, no photographers, and certainly no church services. The access to the building was easy—I was the lead pastor's research assistant at the time—but how was I going to get Sam there without any suspicion?

We spent the few weeks before that day planning a special holiday party for our small group. We passed around sheets to list who was going to bring what. We had gotten access to the church building so that we could use its kitchen and one of the rooms to host it in. We were all psyched to party before everyone left for Christmas break. And it was all a lie.

I had spent the majority of that day being stupidly nervous. I got dressed, went out and bought some flowers, and got to the church about an hour or so before our 'party' was supposed to start. I lined the path from the door of the church building to the doors of the sanctuary with flowers, meticulously laying each one down to make sure they were arranged perfectly. I spent what was either five or fifty minutes making sure the lighting in the sanctuary was perfect—a dimmed ambience that brought out the blue and silver tones of the recently painted–for–Advent walls, and a brighter–but–still–soft spotlight hitting center stage.

I made one more trip around to make sure everything was perfect, and took my place center stage. The ring felt weighty and omnipresent in my pocket. I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I began to get anxious. She was late. Oh God. What if she figured out our clever ruse? What if our perfect plan had the security of the Titantic? She figured it out; she realized that I was going to propose tonight and she freaked out and she's not coming. I'm so stupid. I can't believe I'm being dumped on the day I was going to propose. I can't…

I heard a door open. Oh thank God.

I watch as she comes into the building, 20 minutes late or so, and I watch as she steps right over the flower path I had made as if it wasn't even there. She looked ticked–off, as she completely bypassed the sanctuary door.

Oh God, I was right. She figured it out and she's going to leave me because she doesn't want to get married to me and how could I be so stupid…wait.

Wait. Why did she walk past the sanctuary?

Uh, Sam? I asked from the sanctuary.

Hey, where are you? Why aren't you in the room where we're getting together? Wait, where is everyone?

She entered the sanctury. Where is everyone? What are you doing? Why…oh. OH!

She finally figured it out, about half–way between the door to the sanctuary and the stage.

We then left from there to go eat dinner with a couple from our small group. They've been married a few years and wanted to hang out with us and talk after the proposal. You know, share some wisdom.

Well, that's what I told her anyways. Lie #2. There really was a party with everyone in our small group. It was just at this couple's house, and it was to celebrate our engagement. And the holidays, too, of course. But mostly us.

Oh, yeah. I almost forgot. The being angry thing? She had been exhausted, and had a really bad day at work. In fact, she almost called me to say she wouldn't be there at the party because of how bad she felt. Haha. Good thing I wasn't nervous or anything.

Six Months Later

We got married six months later. Honestly, most of the day was a blur. The wedding was outside in a garden. I teared up as I saw my soon–to–be wife appear. The pastor said some things. Some Scripture was read. I created our wedding liturgy around a biblical theology of marriage, because that's what I do. We vowed to be husband and wife in good times and bad, sickness and health, to infinity and beyond[^5], all the normal stuff.

We kissed, we prayed, we recessioned to The Beatles 'All my Loving.' We then went into our reception to the song 'Knights of Cydonia' by Muse. It starts out with the sounds of horses shooting laser beams from their heads. It also has a really epic part in the middle where Matt Bellamy croons, No one's gonna take me alive! The time has come to make things right! You and I must fight for our rights! You and I must fight to survive! before ending with a killer instrumental part. Sam let me choose the song.

Six Years Later

Six full rotations of the earth around the sun. It feels all at once like no time at all has passed, but at the same time like this relationship, this partnership, this covenant and promise to love each other 'till death do us part, is all I've ever known. And I mean that in the most incredible way possible.

I couldn't imagine six years ago, let alone nine, what an amazing journey we would have as husband and wife. For some strange reason, I knew that it would be, but I never had a clue how it would be—and even now, the English language fails me.

Our wedding day was the most important day of our lives. That is, it was the most important day of our lives on our wedding day. Then the day after the wedding was the most important day of our lives. Today, six years later, is now the most important day of our lives. Because, unlike the movies, the story doesn't end with a wedding; it begins. And, truly, this is the greatest day of my life.

That is, until tomorrow. Because I get to spend it with my wife.

And now we get to spend it with our daughter.

Dear Sam and Audrey,

Sam—I couldn't have imagined a better story for my life. It's a good thing I'm not the author. But, it is God who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20). I thank God for you every day. Without you, as per God's plan, I would not be the man I am today. I love you more than words can say, and I am so incredibly proud to be your husband.

Audrey—you have the most incredible, beautiful mother in the world, and I know that you will grow up to be just like her. This anniversary is even more special, because you are a part of it. I thank God for you every day, and I know that I will also be able to say of you that without you I would not be the man that I will become—because it is already happening. I pray that you, should God will it to be so, would find a husband and get to experience the same amazing journey that your mom and I have been on.

And, that we will be on, because tomorrow is a new day, and it will be the greatest day of our lives. And so will the next, and the next, until the day that there are no more days and we will take part in that final wedding party when God comes down to be with his people forever. And everything sad will become untrue.


  • [1.] It's not that crazy that I can remember the day. 05/06/07 is pretty easy to remember. I probably did that on purpose so I wouldn't forget while we were dating.
  • [2.] I am lying through my e–teeth.
  • [3.] I really, REALLY don't recommend this method of finding a spouse. I think it worked in my case because God pitied me.
  • [4.] I say forever; She would probably say a few seconds.
  • [5.] Audrey, if you're reading this one day, I should note two things: 1) I've been able to afford webhosting for a really long time, and 2) That's from the movie Toy Story. We should watch it one day if we haven't already. Why is it in our vows? Well, you'd have to know our pastor, Andy Smith. Then it would all make sense. I hope you get to meet him one day.

[WVU]: West Virginia University
[CMA]: Christian and Missionary Alliance