Ryan and Amanda Leak received international media attention because of their YouTube documentary “Surprise Wedding.” On May 5, their book, The One: An Amazing Love Story Starts with You, was released. This couple has a beautiful passion to share with others wisdom and helpful insights on singleness and relationships. They spent valuable time gleaning from those around them — from mentors to counselors — and they want to pass on what they’ve learned. It’s a knowledge that hasn’t gone untested, but that they put into practice in their own lives. And they’ve reaped the benefits. Since marriage, they’ve added a little boy to their family, Jaxson Carter Leak.
In talking with this couple, there is one undeniable factor that stands out — it is their recognition that we are all at different seasons in our journey, and the importance of extending grace to each other. I count it a blessing to have experienced that grace from them in our conversation and believe you will be able to sense it as well.
Holly Hrywnak: In friendship, in dating or in marriage we run into misconceptions about relationships. What is one thing we need to keep in mind when relating to others/significant others?
Ryan & Amanda Leak: People are not our source of happiness. Many people have gone looking for happiness and fulfillment in being with someone, and they discovered that the desires God put inside their heart can only be completed by a higher Being — God Himself. Regardless of your relationship status, you have to know WHO and WHERE your source is. People go on dates, and they hope and pray that “he’s the one” or “she’s it.” Instead, they should relax on that date and enjoy it. They should let God decide who they’re going to be with instead of trying to force something to happen out of fear that nothing will ever happen.
HH: Many singles find themselves “waiting” for a spouse longer than they had anticipated. What advice can you give those wanting to “wait well”?
R&A: If you want to wait well, you need to get busy. You need to get busy because the single life is one season in life when you have time to be busy. We had a single young lady in our home the other day, and we asked her, “What are your career goals?”
She said, “I have my career goals, and then I have some unrealistic career goals.”
We said, “Tell us about the unrealistic ones.”
“Well, I’d love to act in a movie or TV show,” she said. We spent the next 30 minutes talking about how to find an agent and set up some auditions. She has a great job currently. But when you talk about waiting well, you’re talking about somebody who’s so engaged in life that by the time Mr. or Miss Right shows up, the person waiting has a great story to tell.
We have another single friend who decided to leave the states and give one year of her life to kids in India. She’s teaching them music and how to play basketball. And when she gets back, she’ll have a story, a fantastic one. While you’re waiting — get busy. Try something unrealistic and you just might find your dreams turning into reality.
HH: Singles are often told to be content in their singleness. What wisdom can you share with us about being content in whatever season we find ourselves in in life?
R&A: Contentment is one of those things that sounds and feels too good to be true. Contentment is really a nice idea. But the Bible is clear when it talks about contentment, that it is not something that is turned off or on. It is not something that comes naturally. It’s not a gift or fruit of the spirit.
Paul simply said that he learned to be content. A person who’s learning contentment is a person who is honest about how they feel when they don’t have something they would like but are consistently looking for ways to find themselves with enough. Contentment is an attitude filter that allows you to posture yourself before life happens. Contentment is making up your mind and even saying out loud, “I have enough ______.” Saying out loud that you have enough of whatever it is — money, friends, followers, fame — will allow you to put your guard down because you’ll run out of people to impress.
If God hasn’t given you something yet, then there must be a mission He wants you to complete before He gives it to you. Or maybe there are things in your heart that you haven’t dealt with that God wants to heal before He can bring to you what He has for you.
HH: What do you think is a lesson or point you learned from your leaders or mentors concerning dating that you used in your own relationship? How did it help you?
R&A: Fighting is not a sign of things going wrong. Fighting can actually be one of the most healthy attributes of any relationship if it is done properly. We learned from our mentors that you have to fight for the person and not always fight with the person. Your mate has to know that you’re trying to win them, and not win the argument.
HH: Why do you think community is key in the process of dating?
R&A: The dating process is hilarious. When you’re single, you have all your single friends and you do all single activities. Well then you start dating. And couples are notorious for going off on their island and forgetting about their friends. We all have that friend who disappeared for six months while dating that one guy … and then they magically resurfaced and started hanging out with everybody again.
When we encourage people to date in community, here’s what we mean: You need to have other eyes on your relationship besides and beyond your own. We are flawed human beings with blinders on. If you go off to your own little island with him or her and seclude yourselves from your friends, you’re likely to miss things you can work on to make your relationship better. Hang out in groups. Go on double dates. Stay connected in community. You’re also less likely to have sex before marriage if you hang out in groups more, because a good community of friends should be keeping you accountable.
As Ryan & Amanda traveled around the country telling their story, they encountered many people who had a lot of questions on relationships that remained unanswered. Ryan & Amanda partnered with Waterbook Multnomah to produce their first book, The One: An Amazing Love Story Starts with You. Their book not only captures untold details of how the Surprise Wedding happened, but also the common struggles that all couples have when it comes to walking down the path toward marriage. Ryan & Amanda dated for five years before they said “I do.” And The One is jam packed with practical encouragement on how to prepare for Mr. or Miss Right.
Ryan & Amanda Leak are the Young Adults Directors at Covenant Church in Dallas, TX. They made headlines when their documentary, “The Surprise Wedding,” went viral. After Ryan overheard Amanda say she wanted to get engaged and married on the same day, he spent two years secretly planning their wedding. Since then they’ve appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, People Magazine, The Queen Latifah Show, and other various media outlets. Since marriage, they’ve added a little boy to their family, Jaxson Carter Leak.