***This week’s blog post is an EXCLUSIVE sneak peek from my newest ebook “Dating to The Altar.” ******
People talk about falling in love. I laugh when I hear that because to say I fell in love would be a lie. I went in kicking and screaming. At God.
Let me explain.
I was raised a good Christian girl in a very conservative church, by conservative parents. But growing up I fed myself a steady diet of romance novels. So in my mind, the man I would marry would have rippling muscles that made my heart race. He would be tall, light skinned, play a musical instrument, and know how to sing. Basically, he would be a sexy young pastor that shared my love for God. Together we would lead young people to Christ and be role models for our community.
With a list like that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when I first met my husband, I dismissed him. He was unremarkable, and to be honest, I found him a bit strange.
So here’s how we met the first time.
At the time, we went to two different churches that had the same pastor assigned to them. One evening we had a joint youth service. Afterward he approached me and sat down. I don’t remember what we talked about. Being a good Christian girl, I tried to be nice and make conversation. At the end of it he hit me with,
“Can I have your number?”
I cocked my eyebrow at him. “How old are you?” I asked warily. He couldn’t be a day over 18, I guessed. I was 20, a junior in college, and I wasn’t into younger guys at all.
Confused, he answered, “I’m the same age as you!”
When he noticed that I was still skeptical, he turned to a friend from his church who happened to be nearby.
“Hey, how old am I?” She looked taken aback at first, then scrunched her forehead as she tried to remember.
“I’m 20, right? She doesn’t believe me.” She nodded her head in confirmation.
“I was born in 1985,” he continued.
I didn’t want to be overbearing, so I finally agreed to believe he was my age. I couldn’t think of an excuse not to give him my number without being rude, so I gave it to him. I figured I could always ignore his call if I really didn’t want to speak to him.
By the time he called a few days later, I’d already forgotten meeting him and my mom handed me the phone while I was in the midst of cleaning the house.
“Hello,” I answered.
“Hey, it’s Jono.” My stomach dropped. Dangit! I forgot to ask my mom who it was! Now I’d have to make small talk again. How annoying.
We spoke for a few minutes, during which I asked what he planned to do with his life.
“Oh, I’m going to work for myself. I’m never going to work for someone else.” He sounded so confident when he said it. To me it sounded like something an arrogant lazy person would say. I was very unimpressed with his ambiguous plan.
“I bet you would if you had bills to pay,” I replied just as confidently as he had.
“No I wouldn’t,” he insisted.
Okay, now I was completely convinced he was a bum and we had nothing in common. After that, the conversation stalled and it was clear to the both of us that we had no chemistry.
He proved to be persistent though. A couple of weeks later, he came to my church and sat down beside me, smiling at me with that cocky smile while I tried not to think of the fact that my mom was sitting right behind us and would probably have questions about him later. A few days after that, he had a Valentine’s day basket of candy, a teddy bear, and CD mix of love songs delivered to my house.
I was impressed with his efforts, but still very uninterested. So nothing happened, and a year went by where we didn’t speak.
Until we did.
God brought us back into each other’s lives in a very casual way. Remember how our churches shared a pastor?
So his church started renovations, and their youth committee asked ours if we could have joint youth services until their church was done with reconstruction. I was now a senior in college, with plans to go to medical school. It also happened that my heart had just been broken by a young man at his church who fit (most of) my list of preferences. We had been talking for a while, getting to know each other, but in the end he decided to get back with his ex.
I was devastated. I swore that I was done with love, and got really involved at my church. In fact, I was now the assistant Youth Director. So was Jono. We both started this youth training program, so we saw each other every weekend now. Of course, I wasn’t interested in him since I was consumed with my mission as a youth leader. But he seemed different to me now. He seemed less arrogant, and more earnest about helping the youth at his church develop their relationship with Christ. I admired that.
When I graduated from college I was still in limbo about going to medical school. I wasn’t sure if it was the right path for me, so I decided to take some time to work and figure things out. I felt like I was at a crossroad in my life, and I needed to really seek God and solidify what exactly my calling was.
Around that time, Jono invited me to go to a Bible study he attended. I figured that was the perfect way to get more in tune with God, so I went with him one day. He picked me up at my house and we drove a few blocks away to the house where the Bible study was being held.
I was blown away. I know that sounds weird to say about a Bible study, but it’s the truth. The man leading out the Bible study was this super-ripped guy that everyone called Brother Mack. He was a Trinidadian guy in his forties, and let me tell you, he was anointed with the Holy Spirit!
The way he broke down the Word of God, you could tell everyone there was amazed too. He made everything so practical and applied every verse to stuff we were actually going through and struggling with. There were a bunch of people jam-packed into the house, and there was no air-conditioning, so sweat beaded up on everyone’s forehead as we searched through our Bibles. But it was life-changing!
Afterward Jono and I sat in his car for an hour talking about the stuff we had learned and how it related to our lives at the moment. I was shocked when I realized so much time had gone by while we were talking about Jesus. It felt exhilarating, and liberating.
I felt like I had rediscovered God in my life that night. And I was even more amazed that I was able to share my experience with Jono, of all people. Someone that I had low-key looked down on and been annoyed by in the past, I now had a connection with.
We kept going to that bible study every Tuesday night after that. All the seats were taken and about 20 of us young adults crammed in that house every week because we were that serious about God. Every week we were able to come together and learn about God, and it felt like such a personal connection.
And the more we went to Bible study, the closer Jono and I got. Of course, at that point, I saw him as a friend, nothing more. I was glad that I was able to have a male friend who had no ulterior motive, no agenda. It was refreshing. We would talk on the phone for hours about life and our goals.
Then one day he ruined everything and told me he was attracted to me as more than a friend. I remember feeling dread because I was sure our friendship was going to be ruined when I told him I didn’t feel the same way about him.
But when I told him, he was super cool about it-unbothered, in fact. “Now don’t go getting awkward on me okay?” he teased. “We can still be friends,” he assured me. Of course, I didn’t believe him. Guys had said stuff like that to me before, only to avoid me when they saw me after that.
But Jono surprised me again by genuinely being unaffected by my lack of attraction to him. Our conversation kept going and after a while I forgot about the awkwardness I felt and relaxed again. When we hung up I thought to myself that he was a one-of-a-kind guy that I could truly call my friend.
One day he went out of town on a trip with his church, and we didn’t speak the whole day. I thought to myself, “Huh, that’s weird, we’ve usually had a conversation by now.” I scrolled through my call list to see if I had somehow missed his call. Nope.
I dialed his number….and felt a rush of warmth when he answered the phone.
Later on, when we started dating, he said he had a feeling I was going to call him that day.
But in that moment all I knew was that this guy had become important to me, and I wanted him to be in my life as my friend from now on. I stressed the word “friend” in my head because I was reminding myself that he wasn’t my type.
But that entire month, as we got closer and closer, I could tell that I had started to care about him as more than a friend. And in those moments I reminded myself sternly that he didn’t have any rippling muscles that I could see. In fact, he had a gut y’all! He wasn’t light-skinned, wasn’t an older pastor that swept me off my feet and made my heart race at first sight.
It didn’t help. The more I tried to deny it, the more I realized I couldn’t. We started talking, but still I fought my attraction to him all because I wasn’t physically attracted to him the first time we met.
I remember one day I told him to meet me at the park. My plan was to tell him I didn’t want to talk to him anymore. But when I started telling him, I broke down and started crying because suddenly I realized I didn’t want him to not be in my life. He had become a part of me and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t be without him.
I had tears flowing down my face and I was sobbing so hard I’m pretty sure he couldn’t make out what I was saying. He put his arm around me and comforted me while I cried some more. The next day we agreed to take things very slowly.
And we’ve been together ever since.
The point I want to make by telling you our love story is this: sometimes, our “standards” are really superficial. I wanted to fall in love with a man who loved God, BUT who also looked a particular way. Once I made up my mind to stop fighting my feelings I realized, “Dang, this man was always handsome! I was just so focused on the man I had created in my imagination so when my husband came along, I almost missed out on my blessing! Thank God for giving me a patient, persistent man!
What about you? Have you ever become attracted to someone over time even though you didn’t think they were your “type” at first? Tell me about it in the comments!
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