While sitting on stage with her fiance at Forest Hill Church on Sunday, former “Bachelorette” Emily Maynard told the audience that this engagement is different from her first three because she has a new concept of what love is.
The former star of “The Bachelorette” told the Rev. David Chadwick and his congregation that before, and especially during filming of the show, she bought into the concept that love is all about emotions and romantic gestures. Now, she says, a relationship with God should come first.
Maynard, 28, has had a public love life. Before her appearances on television, she was engaged to NASCAR driver Ricky Hendrick, who died in a 2004 plane crash. She learned days after his death that she was pregnant.
In 2011, she appeared on “The Bachelor,” a reality show in which one man meets and gets to know a group of young women over the course of the series, and proposes to one of them at the end of the season. In her season, Maynard received the marriage proposal from the bachelor, but that engagement ended a few months later, and Maynard was offered the chance to star in a spinoff, “The Bachelorette,” which has the same premise. That season aired in 2012.
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At the end of that season, Maynard chose Utah entrepreneur Jef Holm, and they became engaged. But that engagement also ended months later.
On Sunday, Maynard and her new fiance, Tyler Johnson, talked with Chadwick as part of his sermon on sexual purity and the differences between Hollywood and biblical views of romance.
During Sunday’s sermon, Maynard said she was overwhelmed with humiliation after her experience on “The Bachelorette” and her engagement to Holm ended.
She said despite past tragedies in her life, she “never felt lonelier” than when she returned home from the show.
“No one knows that Emily was in the fetal position for three weeks because she was so humiliated at what her life had become,” said Chadwick after the service.
It was through that pain that Maynard said she drew closer to God and the church. “I had made that my idol: Being chosen by another person, not Jesus,” Maynard told churchgoers.
Through the process of serving the church, she met Johnson. Maynard noted the irony of appearing on “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” only to “meet the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with at the church down the street.”
The two had met years ago through an outreach program at Quail Hollow Middle School and had remained friends. “Establishing that great foundation served us really well when we started dating,” said Johnson.
Months after she returned from filming, Johnson asked Maynard if she would mind tweeting information on an event he was helping to organize. In part because of her reality TV celebrity status, Maynard has more than 409,000 followers.
Maynard said she would on the condition that Johnson take her on a date, said Johnson. That date turned into a courtship that resulted in a marriage proposal in January.
After the service, those who attended said they were moved by the couple’s love story.
“It just proves that you can’t base love on a feeling or on the surface,” said south Charlotte resident Bethany Ely. “It does need to go a lot deeper than that.”