Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Real romance: Part 1

When I was 25, I did not picture myself as a married woman. My mental future consisted of me being fabulous and glamorous, highly successful in my career, floating between boyfriends and overall being independent and loving it. The words "settling down" equaled "death by drowning" and the idea that one man and I would be together for life? Absurd.

This girl? Single.For.Life.
I simply thought I would prefer life if I lived it entirely for myself.

And then... I met Jon.

Actually, the first time I saw Jon, I was scanning the room of a Bible study I had joined to accompany someone else. This person's mother asked me to accompany her, and what could I say? In all honesty, I liked the idea of attending a Bible study. I liked God, but I had no concept of living in the light or living in darkness, for that matter. I was scanning the room for cute boys, boys I had a mind to corrupt. It sounds ridiculous now, but it's true. I was attracted to the idea of stealing their innocence. My life was this way. To someone who has never been there, it must seem outrageous, but all the same, this is true.

So, I see this boy, the cutest one in the room, and I think to myself, "Well, I'll be nice and save him for the girl I'm here with." Really. That's what I thought. Writing this is making me think how silly and vain I was, but, this is the real story...

We continue to go to this Bible study, but really I'm not sure why. I never talked to the cute boy, I never talked to anyone. Immediately after Bible study (and sometimes before), she and I went to the bar. Yet, I did learn from the people there and I was very attracted to God in them. I just had no intention of changing my life in any way. I was somehow comfortable going to Bible study drunk. That sentence actually describes my teenage years and early 20s.

The cute boy, of course, was Jon. He was so intense, so brutally honest. I remember one night he asked for prayer because he was struggling with lust. I was astonished that someone would be so vulnerable and so trusting. I was shocked that the group was sincere and helpful instead of deriding him. I was so attracted to him after that one admission.

He never talked to me either, though. Once, after I bleached my brown hair blond, he said, "Did you do something to your hair?" I laughed, flirted; he said, "I liked it better before."

Shortly after our one conversation, the Bible study was over. I thought about him, though. I fantasized that my car would break down and he would somehow be near and help me change the tires or whatever. I think back now and I'm not surprised. Of course I would fantasize about the boy who insulted my hair and never talked to me!

One year later. One year of careening down further and further into drugs, alcohol, sex, and other destructive lifestyle decisions. One year later, I see him again. At the library.

Checking my email on the computer terminal; he's on the opposite side. I smile. He says, "Joanne?" Ha!

"No, Joan. How are you?"

We talk. He says he's going to school for journalism. I was a journalist. At this dark stage in my life, I see hope, I see light. I have never in my life given a boy my phone number. I give him mine and say, "If you ever want to talk about journalism, call me."

I left the library, called my mother, and told her that I met the boy that I was going to marry. This is all true.

He called me the very next day and asked me to dinner. I genuinely thought he wanted to talk about journalism. When we got to the restaurant, it was so clearly a date. He was so charming, so funny, and still so intense and honest. He told me about recovering from alcoholism and addiction. He told me about how Jesus captivated him, rescued him. He told me all these things, and he listened to what became my confessions. My reality looked so dark next to his. I truly felt like he had all the answers - honestly? like he could save me.

We were engaged three months later. Married five months after that. Then? I was certain I had made the worst mistake of my life. Part 2 to follow...

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