I’m not sure how many times I’ve mentioned on this blog site how difficult I have found “the wait” – waiting for love, wishing for love, hoping, dreaming, and trying to keep my mind off my perpetual state of singleness. I could probably do a count of some kind and let you know the statistics, but that seems like a lot of work. The point is, I’ve been waiting a long time for love. When I say “love” – I mean the REAL kind… The kind where one person is so comfortable with another person that they don’t hold back, they can laugh and point out a new pimple on their face to the other because they know it doesn’t matter, the kind where they can say those words “I LOVE YOU!” and nothing in their hearts cautions them – be careful.
There have been times in my life where that kind of love seemed so distant, so impossible, that I couldn’t imagine it ever actually happening. I looked around at this wonderful life God gave me – such a great life – and saw absolutely no one who might be my match. But even in those dark moments, I had an inkling that one day it would just… happen. I would turn around and see a man standing there, smiling at me, and we would know that we’d finally found what we’d been looking for. I had a feeling that when that day came, it would be easy to stop walking alone and take his hand and begin walking together. I had a feeling that I was standing at the bottom of a great mountain I could never climb, but one day that mountain might just flatten out and be gone.
Back in July of this year, that very thing happened to me. I received a message on Facebook from a man I was acquainted with in childhood. He’s older than me, so we weren’t exactly friends, but our families knew one another and I was familiar with his family. He said, “Hi. Remember me?” And my mountain went flat.
It took a little while to believe he was for real. I’ve dealt with so much dysfunction and seen the blackness in the heart of man so clearly that I didn’t really think someone like him existed. Although he’s aware of the world around him and all the sin and darkness that exists in it, he has somehow kept himself unspotted from it. He isn’t a man who talks much about his faith in God or feels the need for deep, theological discussions. He simply lives his faith in the way the Bible describes – pure and undefiled religion… I actually had to meet with my pastor, a professional counselor, to get his take on the situation before I could accept that it was possible there wasn’t some deep, lurking darkness he was hiding. Speaking with my mom about him at one point, we decided it was sad that when we meet someone who is a genuine Christian, our first instinct is to try to figure out what’s wrong with him because we can’t believe anyone actually follows the commands of God and lives according His Word.
This man is not what I had in mind for myself, but the more I get to know him, the more I see that he is exactly what I need. In the middle of my big-city, mega-church, Starbucks-drinking life, I fell in love with a farmer from the rural mid-west. He’s deeply involved in his small, Mennonite congregation. He’s been all over the world on mission trips. He is aware of the impact he makes on the environment, treating the world God created with respect and helping to preserve it for future generations. He serves as a leader with the local Youth for Christ chapter. He’s a little shy, has a sense of humor that many don’t know because you have to stand close and listen to hear his witty remarks, and he cares deeply for those the Lord has placed in his life. He’s a man’s man, with a shop full of tools and tractors. He’s currently out hunting deer and always carries a pocket-knife. And yet this calloused, quiet man has opened his heart to me, trusts me with his thoughts and feelings, and patiently handles my moods and, yes, even my blog.
I’ve moved at least ten times in my life (not counting moves across town), and for the last five months, I’ve been falling in love with a man who’ll never move from the farm he has worked so hard to build. We’ve spent time in each other’s homes, putting some serious miles on our cars and racking up frequent flyer points. We’ve used all the great technology available to us today to stay in touch and be a part of each other’s lives. This city-girl has been incredibly surprised by the freedom and security and joy I feel when I visit him. In his area, there’s no need to lock doors, check under the car and in the back seat for predators, or worry about children getting kidnapped from the front yard. He’s related to half the people there. It’s the community I lived in until I was twelve. My grandfather and his wife and some of my cousins live there. It’s a familiar place, in spite of the vast difference from the life I’ve been living in Nashville.
And because I’m not working at the church full-time, I have time to spend with him when he visits. I have time to go visit him. Because I’m not working at the church, I feel the freedom to explore other options for my future outside of Music City. Because I’m not working full-time at the church, I have time to enjoy being a girlfriend and nurturing this relationship. I’ve been helping out a friend who has five children and a large house to manage – caring for her wonderful children, helping her organize and manage her home, and getting an intimate look at the life of a stay-at-home mother with a large family. It’s a world away from my career as a minister, but I find great satisfaction and joy in ministering to her and her family. I see God’s hand at work in my life, changing me, growing me, leading me down a beautiful path I could not have imagined for myself. I see how God has ordered my steps, has prepared my heart, and has gently opened my eyes to see something new and wonderful. I feel so blessed.
Dear readers, allow me to introduce you to Rick, one of the most wonderful men I’ve ever known…