There he was, this tall ginger with watery blue eyes. He was with a friend of a friend and so we invited him to sit. I got butterflies in my stomach and felt a little nervous. Who was this guy and why was he making my palms sweat? I covered up my anxiety with banter and sarcasm. I’ve since been told that sarcasm is just a mask covering up true feelings, as it applies to that evening I agree.
The day was done and it was time to get on with things, so without exchanging numbers or promises to meet again I left. That was it, I may never see him again, our paths may never again cross.
But then they did.
There he was in the cafeteria line at his university. My sister was a student there, and I had stopped by to visit her. We again invited him to join us, and again I left without his number or hope of a third encounter. A few weeks later my sister called me with an awkward request.
“Hey, remember that ginger from Starbucks?”
“Can you go out with him for me?”
His school had this fun mixer for it’s students in the Fall called G.Y.R.A.D. or Get Your Roommate a Date, both my sister and this tall drink of water were currently living on campus, so our mutual friend decided to set them up for the party but fortunately for me, my sister was unavailable and asked me to stand in for her. I had already graduated from college and was working in my field but she figured what’s one Douglass sister for another.
I coolly agreed, heart racing, palms sweating. I think about it, time and again, how if she had of been available how she could be married to my husband!
He picked me up in his navy blue Toyota camry. It had leather seats and wood trim, I was positive this “backpack boy” (my derogatory term for students who I refused to date although I’d only had my diploma for three months) was driving his mom’s car. I snickered secretly, “man he’s trying to impress me.”
I remember teasing him about it, only to discover that it was in fact his car. The night went…strangely. It wasn’t an uber romantic setting for a first date, in fact it was pretty awkward. Here I was at a college party, for on-campus students with a guy I barely knew at a school I didn’t even attend.
After the party he invited me to hang out with some friends of his at a restaurant he worked at. He introduced me to his best friend—making things even stranger—because I recognized him from another party where he had hit on a friend of mine, something he denies to this day.
Things were not going well.
And yet I felt this strange affinity for this man/guy/student (I didn’t really know how to classify him). He dropped me off at home, we said our good-nights and I was pretty sure it was good-bye forever. But then he called and invited me out again and again. Suddenly we were dating.
The whole thing was so strange and surreal to me. This guy was like no one I’d ever dated. He was a “good Christian guy” but not in the cliché ways that I’d experienced. Spoiler alert, although I was raised in a Christian home by Christian parent’s circumstances in my life caused me to rebel from my faith. I spent a lot time in my early twenties at the bottom of a shot glass in the company of men I can hardly recall looking for the affirmations I thought I needed.
It was all a big lie. I came to the end of myself my senior year of college. I saw myself for what and who I was, I saw myself broken but redeemable. I spent a lot of time alone, praying, writing, and healing.
Then I met this “Christian guy” he was super cute and charming. He asked me out, twice. And stood me up, twice. He gave me some sort of excuse like “I can’t date you because God told me.”
Oh that line burned so deep. I hadn’t even told him about how dirty I was. How broken I was. And how I’d never measure up. How did he know?
I almost started believing the lie again. “You’ll never be good enough. Clean enough. Pure enough.”
So, as I continued seeing this “good Christian guy” I slowly began unraveling, I knew that at some point he’d want to get to know me deeper. And at some point I’d have to tell me about my life, the thought of that was beyond terrifying. I nearly talked myself out of dating him. “Once he finds out,” I told myself “he’ll run for the hills and there I’ll be, alone again.”
But then it happened. Slowly, over months, we’d had thirty-some-odd dates and he hadn’t so much as tried to kiss me, and I was really starting to think this guy was a complete loon. I was so jaded and raw that I couldn’t see it for what it was. He was actually taking the time to get to know me, and not just the surface me, the deep raw and real me. I don’t think anyone I had ever dated had done that for me before. It was a gift, that I almost didn’t know what to do with.
Now before you all go comparing other men to my husband or putting him up on a pedestal let’s talk about his story: Kile grew up in a non-religious household, his parents divorced when he was young and he took his fathers stance on God: There isn’t one. In High School he began playing water polo with a pretty incredible group of Christian guys, who over time they began influencing him. This began a journey of searching and seeking which eventually led him to Christ. When I met him, he hadn’t been a Christian for long, he had just dropped all of his classes at another university and on faith enrolled at Hope International University with a declared major of Biblical studies. He didn’t really know what being a “good Christian guy” really looked like, but he modeled what he had seen from his friends. Although we rarely get to see this group of guys now, I will always be thankful for them and the role they played in his life.
Before I knew it I was meeting his mother. I could write a whole book about this woman, but for now will just say that I love her dearly and will leave it at that. Not long after that meeting my world fell apart. It was 2008 I was working as a copy editor for a magazine publishing company, as the economy fell apart so did my industry. I returned from lunch one afternoon with my colleagues only to discover that we were all locked out of our computers. Within minutes our senior editor called us into her office and one-by-one laid my whole off. It was devastating and defeating.
Even then my beau wasn’t rocked. His attraction to me had nothing to do with my job or professional identity. He wanted me. What a relief. Six months later he put a ring on my finger and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. Without hesitation I agreed, and that my dear friends is where the fairy-tale ended and my real life began.
You see, it’s not that we were doomed from the start or that I’m disillusioned into thinking that we won’t face tremendous battles together in the future, it’s more that we continue to experience, endure and outlast things of this earth and other worldly. It’s not because we’re so special and unique that I write this, no actually it’s because we’re pretty normal, but I can’t help but give word to our experience and give praise to God and all of the people that have nurtured, loved on, and prayed over us. For without God’s perfect love, deep forgiveness and true compassion we probably wouldn’t have made it past the honeymoon.
So, this is the beginning of our story. Tune back in to read more. May you laugh at our silliness, find encouragement, and know that God loves you and your marriage, and if you’re willing to let Him take the reigns He can heal all of those hurts, all of that heartbreak, and make you and your spouse a shining example of His love.