This is the true story of a chance meeting that has stayed with me ever since. Call it chance, coincidence, Divine Providence…whichever label you choose, I’m a much better person today because of this.
* * * * *
For the first time in my life, at the age of forty, I realized that my faith was my own. It was not what I was raised with, not entirely. And because of this faith I knew that I wanted to find a group of people to connect with, a place to practice what I believed.
For several weeks I found my way to a certain place where men and women shared the leadership roles, where grace was offered freely, where acceptance and love poured out to everyone, even to me…and I felt the least deserving of all. How could I not be a part of this group of loving people?
There was always the necessary handshake with the pastor after service. Most of the time I met the senior pastor and shared pleasantries with him, but did not see the associate very often. I thought perhaps he was with his own family and attended a different service than the one I usually attended.
Finally that fall I shook his hand and we shared introductions. Nothing more, just hi, nice to see you, kind of stuff. Eventually we would find each other in the hall after worship, usually by coincidence, and we began to talk. These mini conversations became a regular thing…and when he had to ask me again what my name was, I told him. He really looked me in the eye that time. And he never forgot my name after that.
I remember when he mentioned one Sunday in a sermon that he was single, and I was surprised. How could such a nice guy not be “taken”? I did not entertain any ideas of taking him for myself because I was not worthy…that is exactly how I felt about me at that point in life. Divorced, raising two teenage kids, working two jobs, feeling like a failure in the relationship department..who would want anything to do with me? That was my mindset.
A gal I had met asked me in the winter if I was thinking of joining the choir. Her mom encouraged me and said her daughter who had just moved back to town was going to go to choir practice that week, and maybe we could meet there together. I tought I’d give it a try since I love to sing.
Choir night arrived. I walked down that hall toward the rehearsal area, and he was doing the same thing, going to choir practice. He looked surprised to see me, and said “What are you doing here?”
“I’ve been invited to join the choir so I thought I’d give it a try.”
Then there was the conversation about music and gifts and sharing them with others, and I don’t know what all. By now we had become friends. I valued his frienship more than anything those days.
The next day I had questions about the expectations of choir members, so I tried to call the church office. No pastor was available. I saw his home number on a church bulletin, took a deep breath, told myself if he didn’t answer that was okay, and I dialed.
He answered the phone, and then answered all my questions and then we talked for 45 minutes. I apologized a lot for bothering him at home. But it was okay.
A few days later, at the next choir practice, he asked me to go out for a coke before going home. Another long conversation about choir, about worship, and then about our cats, the books we liked to read, and so much more. Soon there was a time to meet for dinner when we each had meetings to go to, and I shared something I had written. He said it was like standing in a sacred space to read my words.
Then in March he called and asked if I would go to dinner and a movie with him. I said yes. My daughter made fun of me as I tried to get ready that evening. Later I found that I wore two different colored socks….
In his Jeep, after he picked me up for that date, he asked if he could pay for the evening, to which I said yes. He said he knew it was the 90’s and all that, but he wanted to buy the dinner and movie. I was so relieved because I had not brought a dime with me!
Then as he heard me tell how nervous I was, how I had not been on a date in years, he began to understand that I thought it was a date, but he thought it was just two friends going out to dinner and a movie.
That is a conversation I will not let him forget. We now have an understanding about what a date really is.
* * * * *
On April 20th we will celebrate our seventeenth anniversary.
If you had told me that winter eighteen years ago that this man who I called a friend would one day be my husband, I would have been scared to death…might have even run the other way.
But love unfolds as it will in it’s own time. Love takes away the fear, and gives us space to breath again.