From awkward dates to celebrating marriage, a lot can change in a year. Tim Bechervaise shares his story this Valentine’s Day
Being single and trying to find love can be difficult - and awkward.
I can vividly recall the week when two very well-meaning friends, who do not know each other, messaged me to express an interest in matching me with the same person (the Christian world really is a very small one!) Having considered it, I didn’t think their friend and I would be a great match, but how do you say that without appearing shallow or picky? It took me a good 30 minutes to compose my responses.
On another occasion, I was on a date and, trying to be gentlemanly, I offered to pay the bill. To which she curtly replied that she could look after herself. We didn’t meet again.
God is in the detail — not just in bringing us together, but also in taking care of what’s going on in our hearts
But perhaps the worst was the time I was gently let down over dinner. We’d been seeing each other for a while and I was keen on giving the relationship more time, but she didn’t feel the same way. She was really lovely about it, but there was an issue: we were in a very busy restaurant and the tables were literally inches apart. While having our deep conversation, the two people on the table next to us happened to stop talking to each other, meaning they heard everything. I couldn’t get out quick enough.
There are many more stories I could tell, which perhaps gives you an idea of how long my search for love has lasted. I’ve been placed on The Single Table at weddings, been on and off online dating more times than I can remember, been ghosted more than once, received and sent letdown messages (“I think you’re amazing, but…”) and been asked on multiple occasions: “So, is there a lovely lady in your life?”
Through it all, I wondered whether I’d ever get married, all while trying (but often failing) to find a semblance of contentment in being single. A friend told me that although he loves being married, he wishes he had made more of the opportunities that being single brings.
I tried to hold onto that, trusting that despite the longings, frustrations and the thought that perhaps marriage might never happen for me, God was still up to something special in my life. This was helped by my last church, where the pastors were passionate about celebrating singleness.
But even with that mindset, it’s very difficult to go to churches and Christian events and not look around at who might be available, which is exactly what I - now well into my 30s - did last year. Little did I know then what story was about to unfold.
A chance connection
I went to the four-day event alone and principally, it must be stressed, for spiritual reasons. But, as the days wore on, I became increasingly distracted by a woman. She was part of a large group and, while I didn’t know her situation, I could at least see that there was no ring. (This was a charismatic event, so with hands in the air for a good 75 per cent of the time, spotting who might be available is not difficult).
I tried to trust that despite the thought that perhaps marriage might never happen for me,God was still up to something special in my life
However, since our paths didn’t quite cross and I didn’t have the guts to make a cold approach, the event ended with no interaction. But I was given a second chance when, just a month later, we matched online. Two weeks later, I met Laura in Oxford for our first date. Five months after that, we got engaged. We married last month.
In his time
Without seeking to over-spiritualise things, Laura and I have sometimes pondered whether God had a reason for keeping us apart at the event itself. We both happened to get Covid-19 while there and for Laura (a raving extrovert) the enforced isolation period was challenging - but turned out to be quite spiritually significant. Looking back, she feels that God wanted to bring about some healing, and it needed to be done without the distraction of a potential relationship.
For us, this has been a lovely reminder that God is in the detail - not just in bringing us together, but also in taking care of what’s going on in our hearts (which certainly continues once marriage begins!) It reinforces just how deeply God loves us.
Later this month, we are going back to the event where I first saw Laura but, this time, we’ll be together. I’m emotional at the best of times, so who knows what will happen as I stand in the same room where, just a year previously, I could only dream of what would actually end up happening.
God has surprised us both in the most beautiful of ways and we’re so thankful.