Today is a very serious yet romantic and awe-inspiring anniversary for Anthony and me.
Last year, on this day, Anthony said to me (inspired by the Holy Spirit), “Happy anniversary, baby," without knowing why. I replied sweetly (but with no idea what he meant), “Aww, happy anniversary!” (Pause.) “What day is it?”
He replied, “I don’t know.”
We checked and it was April 7.
The anniversary of April 7, 2019. Wow. Apparently God wanted us to take note of what transpired in our relationship that day, through His leading and our surrender.
Here is what happened April 7.
Anthony had been pursuing me hardcore, making it clear he wanted to marry me, since the beginning of February 2019. He was so sweet and checked all the boxes God had promised me about my future husband. However, I was back and forth — sometimes flirting with him, dancing with him and cuddling with him, but frequently reverting to saying, “Let’s just be friends” and telling everyone we were “just friends,” which hurt Anthony’s feelings.
Initially, I was scared. And that is what God told Anthony: “She likes you; she’s just scared.”
However, after God gave me confirmation after confirmation that Anthony was my husband, I transitioned from fear to foolishness. I was prideful, selfish and immature. And it made me confused and miserable.
I was obedient to God in other areas and wanted to live in His will in so many ways, but in the area of marriage, I was downright stubborn.
After a couple of months of this, on April 7, 2019, which was a Sunday, I was praying at Radiance International - Hollywood House of Prayer about Anthony and my future husband — which I had signs were the same person, but I was not letting myself fully believe it.
I had been telling God and people that I wanted to just be “just friends” with him but also that I didn’t want him to date anyone else. People told me that was silly and impossible, but at that time, I was unable to want anything different. I was scared to date him, but the thought of him dating anyone else scared me too. Finally, on that Sunday, I surrendered and told God that Anthony was free to date anyone he wanted. I released him to God.
As you may know, when we surrender, God moves.
(Also that day, during worship time at Radiance, I opened a Facebook message from Cindy Ellison, who later caught the bouquet at my wedding(!), saying that she believed my husband was coming super-soon, like ASAP.)
At the same time, at Anthony’s church, Mount Baldy Village Church — the beautiful mountain church where we eventually got married — God was speaking to Anthony.
Anthony asked God, “What do I do about Tiffany?” He sensed God telling him (paraphrase), “I want you to pursue her and only her. Do not date anyone else. And give her your whole heart, holding nothing back.”
Anthony told God that that sounded very difficult. I was his dream girl, but my rejections were painful and he had no assurance in the natural that I would ever reciprocate with intentionality and commitment.
God had told him I was going to be his wife, but I was not acting like it.
When Anthony shared his hesitations in prayer, God told him something like, “I want you to love Tiffany like this because this is how I love you. I came to earth and gave all of myself, holding nothing back, without any assurance that people would reciprocate. I want you to do this because this is what I did for you and for everyone. This is the way of Jesus. This is love.”
Anthony surrendered to God. He called me after church and told me what God told him.
As I sat on the balcony of Radiance in West Hollywood, I listened to Anthony tell me over the phone, “I want you to know that from now on, for as long as God wants me to, I am pursuing you and only you, no matter what you do. Even if you date someone else, I will still pursue you and only you. For as long as God has me in this thing, I am just going to serve you and love you no matter what.”
I was stunned.
In the following months, though I kept wavering back and forth about whether I wanted Anthony to just be my friend and coworker or my husband, Anthony stuck with his commitment. He kept treating me as his future wife, serving me and pursuing me, while turning down offers from other women who otherwise could have appeared to be likely options.
This is crazy love, right? It’s love like Jesus.
As we all know, I finally reciprocated and we got married, but it wasn’t an easy road for Anthony (which is why you may see that many of his posts about our marriage mention the value of patience and waiting on God).
On April 7 and in the season that it instigated, I was not yet at the maturity or humility level to love and serve Anthony in return, and I was honestly quite disobedient, but it meant the world to me that Anthony would do that for me — and even moreso that God would do that for me.
I remember being scared to commit to Anthony but also scared of the idea that this one-way commitment of agape love would someday end. “This thing God has me in,” as Anthony referred to it, made me feel so safe and loved. It was such a deep blessing and weighty gift to know that Anthony was there for me no matter what, and that even without my reciprocation to keep it going, no one else could steal his heart.
This experience made it clear to me that God is the one who brought us together, and God is the one who keeps us together, no matter what challenges we face.
By the end of the summer, I found myself in love, and on August 11, my birthday, we were essentially engaged. We started planning our wedding the following day. Though I broke up with him less than two weeks later and delayed our wedding an entire year, we finally tied the knot.
I am so thankful to now be married to the love of my life, and to forever celebrate our anniversary of April 7.
A photo by Mercy Hasselblad from our wedding day in December.
If you do not know the love of God, I hope that this post helps you understand His love for you. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. No matter how you treat God or feel about Him, He will continue to give to you and shower love upon you and answer your cries for help.
His love is sacrificial, unstoppable and endless.
However, there is an expiration date on your window to reciprocate. And none of us knows when our expiration date will hit.
So I would encourage you to respond to His love today. Commit to love Him back. Give yourself to Him.
A covenant relationship with God is not shackles; it’s freedom.
If you are open to it, the God of the universe will become the love of your life.
For more true stories of God pursuing disobedient, selfish people with relentless and oft-unrequited love, see Hosea, Jeremiah and pretty much the entire Bible.
Let’s respond to Him now with tender hearts.
Also, on the romantic side:
Ladies: If someone is pursuing you who is consistent, loving and everything God promised to you, don’t dig in your heels or run the other way. Just listen to and obey the Father; He will never lead you wrong.
Men: If you think romantic love and marriage are just easy and fun and about getting what you want; think again. The Bible says it's about laying down your life for your wife (Ephesians 5:25). If you're not willing to sacrifice, you're not ready for marriage. But if you stay the course, as Anthony says, "A little patience, and you won't regret it. Hold onto the promises from God. Sometimes, life can be hard and confusing, and we want to give up. But there is a treasure waiting for those who endure.
"Never settle for anything less than what God has for you."