Here’s the introduction in case you missed it: Snapshots Of The Rollercoaster: Introduction
Joel and I shared yet another eye rolling moment this week when someone asked us how we met. After two months of marriage, I still have to giggle at how God worked it all out. Definitely not conventional. Definitely creative. And definitely a rollercoaster!
So how did we meet? Well…
We live across the country from each other (like, draw a line from one coast to the opposite), we haven’t been best friends for years and I think God has a crazy sense of humour!!
For a girl who is so anti online-dating, how did we really meet? Well, Facebook, sort of. As in, we were at the same house-party three years ago which, somehow, meant we were friends on fb (have a feeling I may have added him along with a bunch of other people). Friends on Facebook meaning: we knew the name, we knew the updates, we totally didn’t know the person. [Edit: to be fair, our families had vaguely known each other since I was a young teen but Joel and I never really met properly.]
My mum always warned me I didn’t know who could be reading my updates but I rather naively assumed all people I’d friended were friends and it never even crossed my mind that ‘boys’ could be looking at it! So a year ago, I put up a completely normal “cooking tex-mex for tea” post, not thinking anything about it. He commented on it, I answered, and we had a teasing conversation but I’d trained my mind so well, it never even crossed it that he might be interested. Seriously!!! And this bantering conversation continued for a few weeks. So a few weeks of a guy (who I had previously talked to maybe once a year) commenting on just about everything I put up.
And I didn’t twig!
So eventually my best friend goes, “who is this guy?” and I explained who he was. “No, I mean, why is he commenting on everything you put up? Is there something going on between you?” Well, of course there wasn’t! But I was beginning to think it a little unusual so when she suggested I mention it to my parents, I did. And Mum and Dad took one look at it all and inwardly freaked out, I think!!
I like Mexican food. Get that fact in your head, for it is key to everything.
How does a man go about finding the woman he’s going to marry? That is a question which has troubled nigh on every male of our species since about the third generation of life on earth.
It’s obvious, surely! You find a girl you’re friendly with that you have a bit of a crush on, and ask her if she’s also interested and would like to start a relationship or something. Easy, innit.
Yeah, tried that, didn’t work.
You’ll now of course be saying what a numpty I was – everybody knows that you approach the girl’s father, get his approval, then speak to the girl, see if she says yes, go through a proper courtship, get engaged, and bob’s your uncle.
Yeah, tried that, didn’t work.
Anybody got any suggestions? Nope? Me neither. So I gave up and went on Facebook. After a year or so, I spotted a fellow appreciator of Mexican food posting about what she was cooking. Intrigued, I paid a little more attention to her page. Ok, when I say I paid a little more attention, I do actually mean that I commented and posted slightly rabidly on her page for about 2 weeks until concerned friends and parents recommended that she should perhaps take a break from Facebook until this strange boy left her alone again.
Hello, I’m Joel’s thought process. I’m going to be over here providing commentary on what was going on inside Joel’s head during this whole episode. Now, it’s an unfortunate and possibly unhealthy state of affairs that many young men, when they get to a certain age, start to evaluate all girls as potential marriage partners. Obviously, the vast majority are rapidly dismissed from what I shall call “the list” as ineligible for reasons of being too old or young, being already spoken for, being not of the same faith, or any of a legion of other reasons, most a lot shallower than those just listed. There are the particular few, however, who remain on the list and are therefore worthy of further and deeper inspection. Often this reveals things which put a fellow off or make him reconsider the lady in question, moving her further down the list or even completely off it. The two week period of crazy posting, however overdone and unnecessary that was, was also a period where I couldn’t find any reason that this Mexican food cooker shouldn’t be on my list. It is a fact well worth noting, ladies and gentlemen, that you can often tell an awful lot about a person from their Facebook page. And when I say awful, I use that word deliberately. As a wise man once said, or possibly as I recently saw on some web comic, “I used to think that if I ever got a superpower, I’d want the ability to read minds. Then Facebook came along and I got my wish”. Anyway, I’ll let me get on with the story again.
Where was I? Yes, so suddenly this girl who I was starting to get pally with disappeared, and my budding attempt at building a working friendship was nipped in, well, itself.
At first I thought maybe she’d gone on holiday or something, but as time went past and she never reappeared, I began to suspect the true state of affairs – she, or someone close to her, had figured me out as a conniving potential suitor and recommended the silent treatment to scare me off. I was quite impressed, actually. Such a state of affairs indicated that either she was a sensible girl who didn’t want attention from any old bloke, or that she had parents who were concerned and wise for her well-being, both of which possibilities actually improved my opinion of her, thus having a completely opposite effect to that actually intended.
However, I was never going to get anywhere if I couldn’t talk to this girl, was I? But as my attempt at a subtle (!) approach had been busted, I decided to also back off, and take time out to pray over the situation and talk it through with my parents. After this, there wasn’t much left for me to do but try the straightforward frontal assault technique. So I nailed my colours to the mast, and fired off a message which, summarised, said “I know this is totally out of the blue, but how’s about me and you, then?”
Ooooh, what a nasty place to stop the story, eh? But as I’m posting here, you can probably figure out what happened? Answers on a postcard to “I Can Figure Out How to Courtship”, BBC Television Centre, London. Did I just reveal my age there?
Pretty needless to say, that email took me COMPLETELY by surprise (as in, literally nearly fainted when I got it!). I still didn’t think he was interested and whilst I’d taken the weeks off Facebook as those older and wiser (or just wiser, with my best friend 😉 ) suggested, I thought they were making a mountain out of a molehill!!
A relationship just wasn’t in my plans for the next few years. I’d gone through the ‘I want to get married young’ part to the ‘I am full and complete in Christ – let’s get on with life’ philosophy. I had enough to keep me busy for quite a few years (or lifetimes, as my sweet boyfriend pointed out recently). Boys did not feature heavily in those plans unless they were under 12 and had special needs! Plus I knew enough about him (so I thought – a whole new blog post on that another time!) to assume he wouldn’t be interested in a girl like me.
I was mildly interested when my best friend asked me where things stood between us but quickly stamped that out. So when I crept back onto Facebook again after my break, it was cautiously but not with any real expectations. And sure enough, he pretty much didn’t comment on anything. We were back to normal. Time to get on with life again.
Heaven was laughing, I’m sure.
I laugh when I read my diary again.
I seriously had absolutely no. idea. at. all.
I’m getting on with life, I’m happy, I’m mega busy and I get that email.
If we’re being honest here, my initial thought was “Oh no! How do I say no nicely?”
I wasn’t desperate for a husband and I was convinced I was not the girl he thought I was. I knew he had a broken relationship in the past and the idea of hurting him again – no, I didn’t even want to attempt that road.
I got that email about 11 at night and my parents had already gone to bed and I couldn’t quite figure out how to tell my best friend…! So I prayed through that night and (somehow) God instilled in me the knowledge that (somehow, crazily) this was a part of a plan and I wasn’t to say no before I’d thought it through and brought my parents on board. I still didn’t think it would work and had absolutely no expectations of anything.
Yeah. Romantic, ain’t it? Not. But sometimes, I’ve discovered, romance isn’t Hollywood style. Sometimes it takes time, work and a surrendered will. And looking back, seeing God’s fingerprints, you realise how much bigger a picture of romance He has over ours. (And sometimes, it’s a card with words that melt you, and meeting someone’s gaze across the room, and walking hand-in-hand, and all the rest.)
I’m going to close part one of our story with this: don’t confine God’s romance to Hollywood standards. I remember reading an article where they asked married women what the most romantic thing their husband had done for them was. The answers were beautiful but totally not Hollywood: he held my hair and the bowl as I threw up for five months of pregnancy; he gives me a hug when I’m just about to give up; he still kisses me good morning, twenty years on…
I wasn’t ‘in love’ with him when I got that email. I hadn’t been secretly pining away for him for years. It wasn’t even what I had planned. But looking back, seeing God’s fingerprints, His love shines through. And shines through the life of the man who sent me a Valentine.
And THAT is totally romantic!
Continued in: Snapshots Of The Rollercoaster: The Next Stage Of ‘Us’