Michael and Hannah Clark have one of the most romantic, unique, one-of-a-kind love stories I’ve ever seen or heard. I have had the pleasure of knowing Michael in the midst of his pursuit, his steadfast love for Hannah while she was halfway around the world. Because so much of their relationship had its foundation built apart, today, both Michael and Hannah will share their side of the same story. It’s a beautiful story of love, a love that is patient, never gives up, never looses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
HER: We met at 15. We can’t agree on the moment we first met, but one of my first memories of Michael Clark was at a football game fall of sophomore year. We were casually chatting about HS things and I was sipping some McAlister’s sweet tea. I had just taken a big gulp when he said something that made me laugh. I spewed my tea all over him and it was enough to prompt him to message me on FB. Thus it began. I would get home from school, fight for my rights to the family desktop, and we would message back and forth. I could tell a million stories from HS, like how he asked me out in Barnes and Noble, the Moulin Rouge soundtrack playing in my ears, or the first time we held hands in a movie theater and he hogged the arm rest. But in truth, we broke up and “moved on”.
For four years people moved in and out of our lives, some we thought we loved, and some who just hurt us in the end. But it was all part of the story, and it shaped us, prepared us somehow. I was a student at the University of Alabama when the mile-wide tornado ravaged our city. It was in the midst of chaos and sophomore year coming to an abrupt and early end that I got a text message from an unknown number. I had to ask who it was, and to my surprise, Michael Clark was asking if I was ok and safe in light of the tornado. And so a name I hadn’t heard in years resurfaced and I was curious about this long lost boy. That curiosity led to a Starbucks “catch up” which led to the sweetest summer of late nights laying on my grandparents dock and talking about stars. We thrifted, roller bladed, watched Jesus heal our hearts from hurts and broken relationships, and we found ourselves trusting each other. We probably had at least a dozen honest conversations about how we were attracted to each other but we knew it wasn’t the “right time”.
Junior year started and we left some carefree summer days in the dust and became 9-hour long distance besties. We finally decided to “call it like it is”, and we spent the next year and half living two separate lives that slowly integrated into a sweet friendship and reason for many road trips. As we approached graduation, I began to feel this unsettling in my spirit. I couldn’t always put words to it, but something wasn’t right. I was restless. I questioned if I would ever “know” or have peace in Mike being “the one”. One of the hardest days of my life came during Christmas break in a parking lot where I ended things between us and walked away convinced it was never going to happen. Jesus told me to let it go. I had confidence that there were things He wanted to do in both of our hearts and we needed to learn a deeper, richer capacity of love.
That journey of listening to Jesus and discovering the depths of His love led me across the world to Delhi, India for a year. He spent the summer after graduation in Cambodia, and I was raising funds for my adventure. The few weeks before I moved across the ocean, I spent several hours doing “drive bys” of various coffee shops, just hoping to run into Michael. It was there. Somewhere in my heart, I knew he still held it. My attention, my thoughts, my prayers. The night before I boarded a plane for the east, he called me and asked if he could come kidnap me. I asked him, “are you about to complicate my life” and he told me that wasn’t his intention. After some waffle house and catching up, he gave me a book with the first of many letters. He essentially told me he was going to pursue my heart and he didn’t care if I responded or not. I cried. I told him he was the clearest picture of Jesus pursuing me that I’d ever had. I told him I was scared. And then I left.
India is a whole other story, but it was Michael’s faithful prayers, encouragement, and commitment to knowing my life that was an anchor in some of my hardest moments. He was steady, like he always has been, amidst my swirling heart. We continued to grow together, learning to navigate time differences and major transitions. And I began to fall into a peace and deep understanding that truly washed away fears and broke me of my independence. I didn’t fall in love. I fell into a security in Jesus and how He desired to use Michael to make me more like Him. That’s why I said yes on a remote island in Thailand when Michael, who had flown across the world and succeeded in surprising me on the beach with a question and a ring. Now we’re married and we are learning and loving a lot. And it’s the most precious gift I’ve ever known. I still cling to peace on days when it’s hard to love. I still cling to Jesus when I feel like my heart can’t contain how much joy comes from union with Michael Clark. He is always worthy of worship, and Michael brings me to that place daily. I’m thankful.
HIM: Hannah and I’s story began our freshman year of High School. There’s some debate between the two of us on who saw the other first, but there’s no debate that that’s when it all started. We lasted 8 months. Chalk it up to immaturity, impatience, naivety, whatever. She dumped me. She dumped me and it was the worst. But also the best.
Fast-forward about four years to my Sophomore year of college. My then-girlfriend of nearly three years had broken up with me and I entered into a season of discovering the depths of Jesus love. It was then that Hannah re-entered the picture. In a summer of radical return to Jesus, her friendship was integral in a heart that needed desperate healing.
Round 2 of dating began as we parted ways to our respective “institutions of higher learning,” the University of Alabama for her and the University of Arkansas for myself. We dated for about a year and a half. And then she dumped me, and it was the worst. But also the best.
That break-up lead me into a season of immense growth. I was willing to fight with everything I had for her, but The Lord kept leading me to a place of dependence upon Him in everything. In order for a seed to grow, it must first die. The death of a seed does not destine it for life. And with that I gave it all over to Him. I was called to bring every dream that I had built my life around to Him; a willingness to lose them all, specifically Hannah. And in a moment of outward expression, I buried one of my “seeds.” I buried the box that I had been using to store memories and trinkets from Hannah and I’s relationship. I let the seed die.
Three months (and a TON of growth) later, I returned to the spot that I had buried the box on a whim. For three months I had learned what it meant to truly give someone over to The Lord in prayer. To depend upon Him to lead and to love in my absence. I learned to intercede in love. And three months later, at the exact spot where I buried the box, I stood over the most beautifully concentrated group of wildflowers that I had ever seen. The flimsy shoebox that I had been using to store the memories and trinkets had collapsed in the ground, causing a seedball from one of our first dates to be fertilized and to blossom. The Lord let the seed grow.
It was then that the pursuit really began. In spite of our positions on opposite sides of the globe, The Lord brought us back together. There’s no other way to explain it. He challenged us. He beckoned us to something more than ourselves. He grew us. And standing on a beach in Thailand, I asked Hannah to marry me. Now, four months into marriage I see that it was about Jesus bringing us into now. It was about our story becoming much, much more than just our own. And our part in this story has only just begun.
Q: What does love mean to you?
HER: A choice.
HIM: The perfect combination of sacrifice, joy, and passion.
Q: Whats your favorite thing about the other person?
HER: My favorite thing about Michael is his unique ability to be creative, intellectual, and deeply compelled to love and care for people. He’s the most balanced and steady person I know.
HIM: Hannah has this incredibly ability to bring everyone into the love of Jesus. Anyone. She has more compassion than anyone I have ever met.
Q: Advice to other couples? Above all things love jesus. Pursue vulnerability with each other; vulnerability breeds unity. Respond to each in empathy, always. And pray, pray, pray for and with each other.
Hannah and Michael, thank you for opening up your arms, your hearts, your story, to those around you. Every day. Always. There is so much to learn from your love for one another, for Jesus, and for others.