Dating, Red Flags, and Eventful Past | Anya Bergland

dating, red flags and an eventful past

I have been feeling like sharing something on this platform for a while, but I just couldn’t come up with a correct angle to approach it. Noah asked me to write about dating him. 

It’s my birthday today, and I am in the mood to reflect on all that God has done in my life. Our past 11 months have been indeed incredible!

My name is Anya, and I am new to the R2R party. Everything I am now learning about addiction and incarceration has been foreign and unfamiliar to me.

I always thought of drugs as something terrible, something from a Jonny Depp movie Blow, it impacts people, but those are not the people in your circle or neighborhood; it is never a problem that occurs next door. At least, that’s what I was thinking at the time, and I admit, it was very naive of me.

I was born and raised in Ukraine and went to a state university there. I came to know the Lord at the beginning of college. After I graduated, I got an excellent scholarship and ended up moving to the twin cities to do my Master’s at Bethel. 

Dating, Red Flags, and Eventful Past

Meeting and Dating Noah 

Noah and I met randomly on Facebook dating in June of 2021. Exactly, not even a year ago yet. I felt like the chapter of my refugee work at World Relief was over, and I was waiting for my green card and interviewing for some tech sales jobs in San Jose. 

Let’s just say dating in Minnesota wasn’t my goal, so I was excited to finally move to sunny California but felt somewhat uncertain. God hasn’t said yes to this yet.

Noah was a good texter but never asked too many questions; he remained polite and came off interested but not eager. He finally asked me out, and we went to a nice Thai restaurant in Minneapolis.

He later told me he couldn’t ask me too many questions because it would have led to the same amount of them in return, and he didn’t want to lie, but it was too early to share his real past with me.

He has a Past 

Right after our fourth date, he dropped me off at my house, and we kept texting later that night, it was July 3rd, 2021, and I just said, “You sound so normal; I can’t figure out why you are not married?” He called me right after that message, which perplexed me. I wasn’t sure what he was going to say. Shall I be preparing for the worst? Why couldn’t he text me back instead?

When I answered, he said, “So there is no better way to say this, but I just got out of prison last year. So that’s why I am not married and haven’t been dating much. I was away…”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I thought it was a bad dream.

I am a person who knows exactly what she is thinking at any given moment. I am a direct European, and I rarely need time to walk away and gather my thoughts to make a decision.

This time was different, and I felt like I was hit by a bus. I was confused and blind-sided, but the fact that I was finding all these details about his past out now was only because I finally asked a good question.

Why have I not asked it earlier? My thoughts were rushing through my head, and I couldn’t stop them. At the end of this phone call, I said I needed to process what I had just heard… I wasn’t sure if I would ever see him again.

Dating, Red Flags, and Eventful Past

Here is someone who loves the Lord, sounds very good, is not self-centered, is a manly man, decisive, educated, a gentleman, goes out of his way for other people, tips well and is kind to servers, and has a great sense of humor. He is perfect for dating and building a relationship with. So why would someone like that go to federal prison? For what?

I am not the type to go after a bad-boy kind. So why am I finding myself in this situation? I remember praying that night and saying, God, I can’t believe it. Please, have him meet someone else.

I don’t want to be the one to walk away first, but I also don’t know if I could continue these dates. I have never met anyone who went to prison, and I don’t know what this may entail. I won’t know how to explain something like this to my parents. I am an only child, after all. 

When Noah shared with me the details of his past lifestyle in college and the decisions he made that led to the federal indictment and later prison, I was speechless at first and eventually said, “Oh, you had an eventful life. ”
Meeting Noah and building a relationship with him made me realize how little I knew about certain struggles.

I didn’t want to think that I was biased or prejudiced. I have been to many third-world countries, my life was centered around refugee work for almost a decade, and I was always able to relate to different people, but there was some barrier in my head that night after our date that I couldn’t seem to overcome.

Dating, Red Flags, and Eventful Past

The following day he continued talking to me like nothing had happened, telling me about taking his daughter to watch the 4th of July fireworks and spending time with his siblings. I couldn’t settle this in my heart, I like him, and I haven’t seen any red flags. I want to continue seeing him, but how do I reconcile this big difference between us.

When God Speaks 

As a believer, I know that God’s voice is tender and kind. It doesn’t come in thunder, earthquake, or fire, it comes in a gentle whisper.

It may sound odd to some of you, but God’s voice wasn’t very gentle that day. It was very rebuking and firm. First, God asked me if I thought I was better than others somehow, or maybe my sins were slightly better and lighter than Noah’s? I felt so guilty and asked for forgiveness. His second question was, “Are you so stubborn that I can’t bless you the way I decided to?”

After that July morning, I never looked back. At first, I felt like I was surrendering to the Lord, but I also knew I liked Noah. A lot.

My curiosity and interest towards him quickly grew. We spent a lot of time together, met each other’s families, and went to some friends’ weddings. In September, he asked me if I would marry him that fall or if I wanted to keep dating.

Dating, Red Flags, and Eventful Past

We were engaged for 33 days, and that’s exactly how much time we had to plan a wedding! We got married on October 30th. It was a beautiful sunny day. He is the best decision I’ve ever made, and I am grateful that God’s voice was firm. He truly blessed us in the most wonderful and unexpected ways!

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