Hinge & Hannah

If you’re reading this, that means you have survived 2021. While many times we find ourselves joking about survival from year to year; over the past two years it has held more value. In some relation we associate such notion to a pandemic, to others mental health, and to many…if not all…just waking up and getting out of bed.

You, are a survivor.

I, am a survivor.

We, are survivors.

To survive does not mean to live without cost. In fact, in many instances through history, those who survive are those who frequently sacrifice. I imagine the scene earlier in Superior, Colorado. With 100mph wind gusts and downed power lines; survival became critical as masses of hellish flames swept across the cityscape.

“Do I stay?”

“Do I leave?”

“What is each going to cost? To survive is to lose, but to stay is to die.”

I cannot comprehend the decision making that so many have had to make in such a short amount of time.

Both yesterday and over throughout the past.

I am not one to say, nor illustrate through wordcraft, that my life has been one of those in which I have had to make daily decisions that dictate my own outcomes. I am privileged; something I can openly own as my own. There are many aspects to my life that just are because of just who I am; biologically, genetically, even through the roots of religious dogma.

With that said, even those chips that by default belong to myself, I to have found ways in recent years to fall short on each hand and lay myself prostrate to the overwhelming house of humility.

Even through privilege I find ways to ‘just survive’, and even in those cases…sometimes life itself can even be in jeopardy.

I would like to share with you a glimpse, a story, a unique perspective into a world that revolves around heartache, heartbreak, a person named Hannah, and yes…a random application called Hinge.

I am a person who has always been infatuated with the concept of infatuation.

First crush? 4th grade. Name? Jamie.

First rejection? 5th grade. Name? Sarah.

Some things you never forget. Listening to Brian McKnight and N’Sync through middle school wondering if I was ever going to have the chance to find ‘the one’ (as I frequently labeled it in my journals). Throughout the years, to add fuel to the fire, I’d spend my summer on mission trips around the United States, and church camps with the local churches in the area I grew up. Meaning, I was always around people washed in their feelings, praising Jesus, and me…being the good church-boy…was extremely intrigued with these humans. They’re nice to others. They’re always thinking about Jesus (…middle school mindset here). They’re always where I dreamed I would want to be.

Yet, even attending a private Christian university failed to the yield that pipe dream. Instead I came about this resolute that it had all been a facade, the Church is a failing body, and people just wanted to have the spotlight in front of the coffers while their white face sat smug amongst children from around the world.

Needless to say my worldview grew extremely tainted, and with it, so did the heartache. A failed relationship in college, my first, broke my heart. A failed marriage coming out of college, doing everything ‘right’ and still falling…set the tone of self-fulfilling thoughts, “I am too much. I am a failure. I cannot get this right.” Instead I found ways to pour myself into work, into new projects, into running…whatever I could to mentally escape the belief that I was destined, that I was doomed, to forever be alone.

While so many within my own family started their own; I sat idly not understanding what was so wrong with me, but also lacking the patience to actually listen to what God wanted from me. Yes, I’m a mixed bag of mess.

In my head I had learned to not set myself up for things or people outside of my own world; meaning, when someone or something is out of your league…it is out of league. That also meant that, that belief culled my options throughout time on spouses, a future, and hope.

In 2013, throughout my own reckless ambition, I began, what I had believed to be, my final journey through the awkwardness of dating, the excitement of engagement, and the joy of marriage.

In May of 2021 all of that came to a crashing halt, and I…I failed…

I was in the middle of teaching in my 4th period social studies class. A notification came over my phone from my spouse; informing me that they could not take it anymore, they were miserable, and they wanted out.

I’m typing this before an honest crowd to claim that I did not handle that news well.

I left my classroom…

I left my hallway…

I wound up in an office in the building and through shock, fears, and expression began to talk about self-harm. My supervisors had to report that, as is their job, to our primary district office.

A few hours later I wound up in the basement of my house, laying on a couch, sobbing uncontrollably while petting my two cats. Knowing that they would be taken from me. The fear of losing the house, being homeless, having to start over, the debt, the vehicles, the credit cards, the career…the plan…all of it being blown throughout the late spring breeze.

I was losing everything.

Literally. Everything.

Upon waking from the crying-induced sleep, I walked upstairs into the kitchen. I looked at my right arm, the tattoo of my spouses heartbeat across my wrist.

“How convenient. I need to remove this.” I thought to myself as I withdrew a kitchen knife from the block along the laminate countertop.

Get out. Get out. Shawn. Get out!

This voice echoed in my head as I stood there; cool metal pressed to a point against the outlines of ink along my skin. My therapist was in the hospital, giving birth to a child, so I could not contact her. Because of that, because of our plan, because of this rapid spiral of chaos; I got into my rental vehicle and began driving…and crying…to the local hospital.

Upon entry to the emergency room, when asked what I was there for, I looked the kind, worn woman in the eyes and said, “I have a plan to kill myself today.”

Statements, like that above, are one of the fastest ways to be admitted into a hospital. Upon entry I was placed inside their psychiatric hospital, across the street, for six days. My parents, a friend, and a staff member were the only ones who knew where I was at that time.

I spent the days walking the halls, watching the lone television, eating so much ice, and interacting with the other patience. There was no electronics, no visiting, and no strings…definitely no strings. While taking this time, involuntarily, I was able to listen to people and their stories. The alcohol, the drugs, the voices…there were so many people, so many situations, and so many that just wanted someone to hear their story. I wasn’t sharing mine with anyone, so instead I spent the time listening to theirs.

No strings attached. Literally.

In the process of this, unknowing to me, the calluses of years of hatred towards the Church, towards the system, towards the hypocrisy were slowly falling off my own heart. A warm reminder of what I loved in high school came rushing back; I just enjoyed people and their stories. By the time I left the institution, a nightly Bible study had started with six of the men within the building. I didn’t suggest it, say it, or even thinking about it…my roommate asked if I would teach him as he was trying to read a Bible his spouse had brought to him.

To this day; I will never regret the choice I made that week. Not only did it save my life, it truly did bring me back to a level of health that I had forgotten about myself.

Upon release my spouse sat down with me, said they wanted to try to make things work, and even through the difficulty of these conversations…and the hope that laid bare to me in the weeks that followed…

…by the second week of July my spouse was gone, with their possessions, and one of the two cats.

They never returned again.

During the month of July I made two trips out to Colorado. The first to spend time alone on the trails, and the second would be for a race that I volunteer at each year.

The first trip resulted in hiking, running, watching my bank account get emptied, and listening to a friend joke with me about putting myself out there on online dating applications. Myself, being so bitter with reality at this point, downloaded the applications with glee. We spent a few hours selecting the right photos, filling in the best information, and learning how to swipe.

Within a few days, through this program called Hinge, I was matched with an individual named Hannah. They looked kind, a nice smile, and they were willing to talk to me. Upon our first chats I learned that she was a teacher and I thought that was going to be the end of that. Her responses were short, so our communication floated in and out over my time in Colorado (they lived in Kansas City).

To be honest, I was so jaded, that after it went quiet with Hannah I figured that I’d likely blown another chance at love, and just pouted my way back home.

Two weeks later I found myself in possibly my favorite place in the world; tucked next to Mount Antero and just south of Buena Vista, Colorado is a one hundred mile trail race that I love to be at each year. I was talking to someone, again via Hinge, during that time. Mainly because I did not want to be alone. Even in the mountains, my absolutely soul soaking dream place, I was still grieving and absolutely hated falling asleep alone.

All the emotions in this vehicle 12,000 feet up.

While driving home from the race, talking to God, I think I finally lost it. I finally, openly, showed my anger towards God. Lashing out in my car, while rain pelted my windshield along US 24 on route to Colorado Springs; water outside matching the water rushing down my face.


1. They have to be a Christian; not this political Christian garbage. Someone who gets it. I’m sick of that trap.

2. Someone that is physically active and takes care of their body. I’m done with this whole fast food excuse by being too busy. D.O.N.E.

3. They have to have the energy to deal with me…every…single…day…

…and then God went quiet.

..and Hinge suddenly became more active.

I began to notice this odd notification that would randomly pop up on my phone; heading into August. Hinge kept notifying me saying Hannah had liked a message. Yet, it had been weeks since we had talked…so…in my head I thought, “Maybe Hannah is shy and she’s trying to get my attention.”

Myself, being completely reckless and still angry with God, hopped right back into that chat. Those conversations suddenly become nightly, from 9:30 to 11:30 (when I fell asleep). We started talking about God, school, students, politics, and our families.

That’s when, on a warm week in August, she completely caught me off-guard and asked if we could meet in person.

On a Sunday afternoon after church, in 94 degree, sweat soaking weather, I sat on a concrete bench, staring at a small trickling stream next to their woman with freckles across her cheeks and nose. Sunglasses on because of the blinding light; denim shorts, shoulder length, brown hair pulled back, and a loose, green shirt exposing her collarbones (and I thought that was a tattoo I caught a glimpse of too).

In the peak heat of the day; we sat and talked for three hours. I don’t think I ever looked at her on the bench because I was way too nervous. We both decided no food or coffee because we were both way too nervous and our stomachs would rebel in the worst kind of ways.

When finally leaving, I asked if I would get to see her again, and thankfully she said yes.

Inside my car, driving home, I stated out loud, “Oh no. This isn’t good.”

Then we went hiking on one of my favorite trails in the middle of the day, and sat on the back of my car and just drank ice water to cool down. Another three hours.

A coffee shop on a Sunday afternoon, sharing a couch and laughing. Upon leaving the coffee shop I looked at her and the next phrase just fell out of my mouth, “Your eyes are gorgeous.” We both knew, whether we were there together or not, we knew that emotions, feelings, and other thoughts were beginning to cross the mind.

Hannah was nice. She was kind to me, she knew my background, it just wasn’t worth hiding anything. She was so accepting of me and that was equal parts exciting and terrifying. We even went out for tacos in the city, life was moving smoothly and at a comfortable pace for myself. I was having fun and similar to my time in the psychiatric hospital, the problems, fears, and concerns were beginning to melt away.

Hannah had me figured out.

However, like all good things, there will always be hardship to question our stance and resolve. Because right after those delicious tacos, sitting outside of her house, Hannah asked…

So, are you technically divorced yet?

I will never forget the immediate sadness on her face when I informed her that I had not received any papers yet. It was September and I was growing tired of waiting, but to be honest, I also did not want to pay the legal fees for filing. I told Hannah that I would address it that week and it would be taken care of.

I drove home dejected and scared; thinking that I had messed things up…and trying to figure out how I was going to afford the legal paperwork filings.

The next day, during my 4th period with students, I received a message on my watch (yes, go ahead and play that one back). The message informed me that divorce papers were ready to be signed, if I was able to make it to the east side of the city so that I would not have to be served.

I did not give two flying flips about being served, I cared about the conversation the night prior. I had someone else cover debate practice after school that day and I drove immediately afterwork to the east side of the city and signed those papers.

Technically, as I joked with Hannah later, I was officially single for about twenty minutes.

As the relationship between Hannah and myself grew; we started going down the standard dating tropes. We met each others parents, and gladly partook in their cooking and stories, and we both started to attend the same church together (I had finally found a home church shortly before my hospitalization). Our routine began to fall into place:

  • Thursdays were our date night after debate practice; usually at a restaurant for a few hours
  • Sundays were our day together; pick her up for church with coffee, attend, and either go to a family members house, get dinner togo, or wind up at my house (as I had been granted the house in the divorce paperwork…only God’s design can answer that one) to watch football and lounge the day away

However, I also had miscalculated Hannah, because I had left out one detail of my past because I thought it would be a complete show-ender.

…and while sitting on the couch in the living room, I discovered the truth…

She knew.

Hard conversations are so easy to avoid, so hard to tackle, and also so vitally important. Sitting next to each other on the couch, we had that hard conversation. That admission from me that I had kept something back, I had hidden a talent, hidden a treasure for myself…and now it had come out and I had to talk about.

Again, crying (I cried so much in 2021) I apologized for hiding the reality that I had not been through just one divorce, but two. It’s beyond embarrassing, humiliating, and a great way to feel absolutely horrible about yourself. Yet, I’ll never forget Hannah informing me that she wasn’t upset with me about the past, she was upset that I hadn’t told her…and that she had known for almost a month.

While the initial was devastating, and something identity-wise we still work on for myself, it continued to show me time and time again that if I was upfront, open, and just threw it all out; that always triumphed trying to hide parts of my life.

The more I spent time with Hannah that more I started to think back to US 24 out in central Colorado in July.

  • Hannah loved God. That was her rock and she wouldn’t back down from it; no matter what.
  • Hannah loved to move. Loved being cooked for, loved hiking, loved imagining and talking about running in the mountains.
  • Hannah was super sharp. She can read faster than I can, remembers quite literally everything, and can keep me on my toes 24/7. She’s the definition of energy.

Suddenly, in this small, calmness, I started to see the connections.

This was bigger than myself. A lot bigger. I told Hannah that I had a set list, made out of anger…and that she nailed them.

That’s when she informed me that weeks prior I had met her.

In the calmness, the awkwardness of the vehicle; we both started thinking the same thing.

This is serious.

On the Monday after Thanksgiving, while preparing to leave from debate practice for the night, a student asked me what I was doing behind my computer screen.

I said I was shopping.

It was not a lie.

Hannah and I had very upfront, direct conversations. This included the idea of marriage because neither one of us are in the mood for casual dating. She made a comment, once, that she could see an engagement in the winter and a wedding in the summer.

I liked Hannah…

I loved Hannah. A lot.

I took that notion and ran with it.

The first day of winter was December 21st, so by default that would be the best time to ask her to marry me. The item I was shopping for near my student, arrived on December 20th. Hannah is a very light sleeper, up frequently at night, so I decided to drive to her house and surprise her at midnight of December 21st, 2021:

11:30 PM: Hannah fell asleep.

12:30 AM: Hannah is not responding nor waking up.

2:00 AM: The city water company is in the street fixing a water line; Hannah is sleeping through it.

4:00 AM: I’m on my 8th piece of gum, and this is the one time Hannah sleeps through the night.

6:00 AM: The sun has arisen.

7:15 AM: Hannah says I could stop by her car while she gets ready for work (she’s oblivious to the ring).

7:22 AM: Minutes before she headed to her classroom for the day, I proposed to Hannah and she says yes.

She said yes.

Survival is one of the most unique things about humans. We find ways to adapt, to overcome, and even when we should give up…we still press on; even if it’ll lead to our own demise.

In many ways, personally, my faith has been the same way. I’ve watch the masses, the politicians, the church leaders, use, abuse, and manipulate what I believe in for their own gains. I’ve been removed from churches, I am the tainted with failed marriages, and overall I am a mess. Yet, even through my spats of anger, I cannot say that God has turned His back on me.

It has been ugly at times. 2021 just about got me, I will not lie in saying that I almost died this year. The intent and desire was definitely there. Yet, not by my own doing, I can firmly say that I saw that calling, the desire, that dream of the high school student…come to fruition. This was not the path I intended or dreamed of. However, in the end, I win. What I so desperately wanted was provided…

…and she is beautiful.

…and I am finally at a point in my life where I can say:

I am so happy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: