All throughout my 20’s I focused on my identity in Christ and representing Him well. I was part of a worship community in South Texas and made the best of friends with several of the team. Those nights of worshiping together marked my life and I grew hungry for God’s presence. I remained single and never dated. I didn’t feel like I needed to. I was so blessed to be surrounded by amazing, strong, girl friends, and godly guy friends who I consider my brothers. I always believed that as long as I was walking with the Lord, He would bring my spouse at the right time.
I had a hard time finding a career in college. It took me about 7 years to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. I changed majors three times and felt so out of place. All I wanted to do was worship ministry. I graduated college with my bachelors in Studio Art at the age of 26, and I began working as a high school art teacher. (How I got that job is a whole other story!)
Sometimes I felt guilty that I wasn’t serving God full time. As time passed, God would open my eyes and teach me what ministry actually is. When I felt I was wasting years of my life, I would later see how He would use it all for good.
After I turned 30, I ended up getting sick and being told by my doctor that I had anxiety & depression. This is a whole other blog but to sum it up, he said my job was my life, I was not living like a normal woman who should be married with kids. He also said I needed to, “...have a drink and meet some guys. You need intimacy. It’s just casual sex.”
I got angry.
Yes, I needed to make changes in my life, but I was not going to sleep around with anyone and pray that it would bring healing to my anxiety and depression. I was a virgin and that was sacred for me. Giving pieces of myself away was not going to make me whole.
After that gross experience, I focused my 30’s on being intentional and whole. Anxiety and depression did not align with who God says I am. I confessed what I was struggling with to be free.
The best advice I received in my 30’s was that what you do in your single season is an investment in your marriage. Did I want to bring insecurities, lack of character, or debt into my marriage, or did I want to be someone who knew her identity in Christ, bearing fruits, and practiced self control? God has given us the responsibility to steward our lives. Because I wanted to be a blessing to my future spouse, I decided to invest in myself.
I worked on my mental health - did online counseling and broke mindsets.
Worked on my physical health and lost 40 pounds.
Got out of debt. Took me four and a half years, but I did it!
Became intentional with my relationships.
Worked on my character and relationship with Christ.
Part of my “new me” was not only about being the best Ahni, but also being intentional about my spouse. So I prayed for my spouse, read books on dating and marriage, listened to podcasts, had intentional conversations with single and married women, and so on.
I also got rid of my pride and opened up to…online dating.
“I do not NEED a man. I WANT a man.”
At 34 years old, I was an independent woman - had a full time job, owned a home, and paid my bills. I was alone but did not feel lonely. I was ok with never marrying. I knew I could live my life as a single woman as long as I had Jesus. But I also knew that it was ok that I wanted a husband.
A family friend who’s had 30+ years of marriage sat me down in her living room and told me she wanted to have a serious conversation with me. She asked me why I haven’t tried online dating. Honestly, I felt like online dating seemed a little…desperate. I also felt like if I did that I was taking things in my own hands.
My friend explained that as we grow older our “pool of singles '' becomes smaller and smaller. When you’re in college you are surrounded by a ton of young singles your age. When you begin your job/career, the only people surrounding you are your coworkers. (And there were no good contenders in my workplace.) She also explained how as our world changes we need to accommodate with the new ways it offers to meet singles.
It took me some time to say yes to online dating, but I did it. I opened up an account on a dating app in October of 2020. I met some cool guys, but not anyone I was excited about. After a month, I took a break. Messaging, swipes, and notifications can be a little too overwhelming. In January of 2021 I opened a dating app account again. I talked with someone who I thought could be serious, but after our first Facetime, I learned that it was a huge mistake. Lol! He did not look like his photos, he was drunk in a bar, and it was obvious he was not mature in his walk with the Lord. I definitely needed a break and detox from dating apps for a while.
Towards the end of April, I opened up a dating account again on a christian app. After a couple days on the account, I got a message from Matt.