I met my boyfriend online.

When people ask me how my boyfriend and I met, my palms start to sweat and I stumble on my words. I shouldn’t be ashamed of this fact. I love this guy and the whole meeting online stigma shouldn’t affect me.

But, it does. I’m so worried about what people will think of me and our relationship, especially when I’m asked at church.

Jacob and Sarina

Sarina Gurangaya picks up her boyfriend, Jacob Law, from the airport.

I dread when people ask me, “Oh, how did you guys meet?” With smiles that are expecting some really cute story of how we locked eyes from across a coffee shop. Or how we met in a park because his dog ran up to me. But, when I look them in the eye and tell them, “We met online,” the conversation stops. They look away and avoid eye contact with me like I had just committed a huge sin in front of them. They usually smile awkwardly and politely say something like, “Ohh, interesting.” Then they walk away.

Why are online relationships sometimes considered less valid than others? Yeah, our first interaction was through an instant messenger, but I got to know this guy really well before our first date.

I want to break this stigma we have, especially as Christians, of the online world. Listen, I did not meet up with this guy in a back alley. He did not try to swindle me out of money. But, I’m not here to tell you to throw caution to the wind, make an online profile and go out with the first good-looking guy or girl that matches with you.

No, I’m here to open up this conversation.

My boyfriend is in the Navy and he had just gotten back from a deployment when we met on an app. Honestly, I can tell you I wasn’t in the right place when I first started using the app, but I can tell you to never limit God, because He can and will use anything to bring the right people into your life.

We talked for a month before we went on our first real date. He picked me up at my house and my dad was home to scare him. My dad told him to bring me home by 5:30 p.m. because we had church that night and to my surprise, my date asked him to come to church with us. Since that day, he and I have met both sides of our families, traveled to three states and have been to countless church services together.

He knows what I struggle with and I know the struggles he faces. He has taught me so much about God and this world. He has challenged me to be a better person. He has shown me compassion and patience in ways I did not think possible.

Sometimes, our relationship is the butt of a lot of jokes. “Ha, it isn’t like we met online or anything,” is a phrase I hear often and I have to tell you, that hurts me.

I am not standing in front of you asking for pity. I’m here to tell you that I am no longer ashamed of my decision to go on that date to The Cheesecake Factory with the nerdy guy I met online. I’m here to ask you to not judge my relationship, because not only does this man make me happy, but he also has opened me to God’s love in ways I’ve never thought possible. I’m here to encourage you to not limit God.