I remember a time when I was younger believing that I would never get married, never have kids, never grow up. Not necessarily because I didn’t want those things, but partly because I just couldn’t picture myself as an adult, with a husband or with kids.
Truth to be told, I was a bit of a romantic (*cough* understatement! *cough*) – I spent many many hours reading historical romance and romantic fantasy. I stayed away from the harlequin romance and stuck mostly with inspirational or Christian fiction as much as possible. I denied it vehemently, though. I spouted off nonsense about men that I knew nothing about and insisted I would be single forever.
Being “older” than I am, an “old-soul” as some people say, I attracted the attention of a new Christian at youth group at the age of 13. I think that’s maybe when my perspective on marriage changed. The attention of a boy (with only two year’s difference between us, I still considered both of us just kids) has a strange effect on a girl. I was determined to be an old maid up until then.
I realized in hindsight that it wasn’t a good idea for me to be dating such a new Christian when I’d been a Christian practically my whole life. And I tried to end things after about three months of non-official dating – my mother insisted I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 16, so we just “group-dated” as there were always lots of people around from the youth group. I don’t think I was assertive enough because it wasn’t until we’d been “dating” for 6 months that he finally was struck with the idea to break up with me. (Some of his later ex-girlfriends and I would joke about the excuses he used to break up with us – mine was: “I just don’t love you anymore.” ! laugh out loud, much?)
And I learned a few things about chivalry, and how some guys play games and exaggerate sad things to earn the pity of girls because they think that’s the only real reason someone would stay with them.
After we broke up, though, I stopped going to that youth group for a while. In the summer of 1999 – a summer of adventure as I went to a camp for a leadership training program all on my own, and ended up coming home early due to a back injury – a good friend of mine invited me back to youth group.
The youth group had grown since I had last attended. Several more young people were attending regularly and the youth pastor had changed as well as the meeting place. That first night, I distinctly remember sitting in the basement of my friend’s house – a long narrow room – and the group was discussing some deep topic, deep considering many of the youth in the room were first generation Christians. I’d kept silent most of the night, but at one point, I felt the need to speak my mind – which didn’t happen very often in those days. As opinionated as I am, I didn’t often have the courage to vocalize it at that point.
I remember sort of surreally that as I spoke, one of the guys and his brother, who were sitting almost directly across the room from me, looked at me strangely. I was still one of the youngest members of the group – just about everyone else was two to three years older. And once again, it seemed I had caught the attention of an older boy.
But he was a bit wild. He received many lectures about his driving habits, drank way too many Slurpees, and for all his expression of interest in girls, never seemed to have a girlfriend. And his brother was always by his side.
Of course, I didn’t know all that the first night. I did know that he had a deeper side, an intellectual side that no one else in the room really noticed or appreciated. I knew that from the start.
It would be a year before we dated.