I had known her for a few years by this point. She worked at a children’s home north of the suburbs, and our College and Career singles class at church had gone out there a few times to cook burgers and play with the kids. She was my contact person for those ministry outings, and occasionally I would see her in Sunday School. She always seemed nice.
I got pneumonia right around my birthday, the kind that lingers for a few weeks. A week or so after that, on Sunday morning before the church service started, she came by to say hi, saw that I was still sick, and asked what I was taking for it and if she could make me some soup. In that moment, the scales fell off my eyes and I saw that she wasn’t just nice–she was beautiful. Kind. Warm. Compassionate.
I told two of my close friends, and they both said, “You gotta ask her out, Dave.” My record with romance was abysmal, and I was understandably gun-shy, but they insisted. “We’re putting you on the clock. If you don’t ask her out in 4 weeks, we’ll ask her out for you.” I couldn’t let that happen so I got up the nerve to make the call.
We were both online students, she and I, working on our respective graduate degrees. I took a Monday off of work and invited her to lunch at Panera Bread and then a co-studying session at a local library (a private theological library built like a castle by a local philanthropist, all stonework and leather furniture and echoing steps). She agreed.
At lunch, she talked about our church group, the issues that were going on, the problems she had with certain members. I listened, nodded, tried to pay attention and reply appropriately, but I was sinking into the velvet brown of her eyes. Once lunch was over, we went to the library and studied for a few hours before the Monday night Bible study. I looked up from my notebook at her every few minutes, but she never met my eye. She was all business. Focused. I liked that.
Later that night, I told one of my buddies I thought things went really well and I’d try to ask her out again. A good first step.
At least, *I* thought it was a first step. Despite the fact that I paid for lunch and drove her around, she didn’t see this as a date. In her mind, it was just a study session with a church friend. It was only after I asked her out again for coffee–“no books, just good conversation”–that she realized I was actually interested in her.
Thus began three months of back and forth, an attempted friend-zoning, weeks of consistent texting followed by radio silence, some good advice from a mentor, a lot of playing it cool, and a good deal of prayer before she and I were finally on the same page. Just before Valentines, we had a real heart-to-heart and figured out that we both were looking for something substantial, something long term, and we wanted to figure out if we had a future together.
Ten years later, this brown-eyed beauty is my beloved wife and the mother of my three wonderful girls. A decade of joy sparked by a bout of pneumonia, a playful bro-challenge, a “non-date” study date, and the grace of God Most High.
I am thankful, so very thankful, for all of these silly, seemingly-insignificant events that led to what will be many more decades of blessed companionship, for as long as the Lord gives us. I’m thankful that our story has led us here: to a rainy midnight writing session on the evening of Thankful Day 4, as my daughters sleep in their beds and my wife just stopped by my office to say goodnight.
Happy first-date-a-versary, my love. I praise God for the winding road that brought us here, and I’m excited to see what lies beyond the next bend.