I can hardly believe it's been that long. Ten years ago today the direction of my life changed and I haven't looked back. You see, this man at church called me out of the blue and asked me on a date.
But I should back up a little. I was done with dating and relationships. I was happy with my life and didn't really think I needed the complications that would entail. I had a job I was happy with. My daughter was a teenager (14), which keeps a mom busy. We were living with my sister and so we had family. The three of us took trips together and lived very companionably. I was very involved with church activities and my spiritual life was healthy. I truly enjoyed the gym and spent free time there kickboxing and weightlifting. Life was full and good. I was in the best all-around place in my life that I'd been in a very long time. I'd been asked out and accepted various "dates" but I had decided that I was quite content in my singleness.
Still, I talked to God about it. You see, I'd never been in a truly healthy relationship, so I knew my opinion of such things was not necessarily objective. I knew that my resolve, if it wasn't the attitude of my heart that God desired, would be thrown into confusion if the right kind of man showed an interest in getting to know me. In fact, I said to God, "Well, if someone like (pull up an unlikely name of someone I didn't actually know)... Kent Smith... asked me out, I be stuck questioning my decision not to "date" anymore. So help me understand, Lord, if I should even entertain such concerns or not?" Why did Kent Smith come to my mind? Perhaps it was the Spirit. Or perhaps it was because he was a man I respected though I didn't really know him. I'd observed him in church for a few years and believed him to love the Lord and think deeply on spiritual things. He rarely spoke but when he did it was always worth listening. So I ended up spending weeks immersing myself in the Word, talking and listening to God, and pouring out my heart to the true lover of my soul.
You see, if you dug under the surface of my content and put-together life, you found someone bruised and beaten and all the more wary because of it. I was not just independent, I was suspicious and proud. "I could do it all on my own. I don't need anyone else, they'd just mess my life up." As I prayed and meditated through this in January of 2001, I never felt like I heard God's heart for me until I peeled off my mask and spoke my true heart to Him. Not that He didn't already see and know it, I think I needed to acknowledge and confess it. I remember tearfully admitting to God that the fondest desire of my heart was a loving, forever relationship with a Godly man. I cannot tell you how hard it was for me to say those words out loud. Because by burying and not admitting this, I was able to pretend to myself most of the time that it was not so.
By the end of January I felt a deep sense of peace. Revealing my secret heart to God had brought release. I knew my heart was safe with Him and whatever the future brought, I was loved and known. I was truly content.
Forward to February 18th (safely after Valentine's Day he now tells me) and my sister brings me the phone, "It's Kent Smith". Did you just get goosebumps, too? How surreal was that? He wants to know if I'd like to go to dinner and see a movie. Uh, sure. I'm stunned, I don't think to ask any questions. We hang up the phone and I'm so baffled. What just happened?
February 24th, I'm getting ready to go out. Let's see, he said dinner and a movie... he probably means something at Evergreen Grill and go to the local cinema. Yeah, good guess. I mean, he seems quiet, introverted, shy and very low key whenever I see him. We're not going to get too crazy here, I'm sure. So, what should I wear? Well, I've only ever seen him in jeans, hiking boots, and a plaid shirt (cotton in summer, flannel in winter). Ok, jeans, boots, sweater. I can do this. My daughter says to me, "Mom, I don't care if this doesn't go well, we are NOT changing churches." Oh, sage advice from my teenager. Of course we aren't. But now I realize that I actually care about this. I want it to go well. A new feeling for me.
Now, Kent's side of the story includes the fact that he came to what he was sure was my door but no one answered. (My sister's house is very large, it's easy to miss the door if you are in the wrong part of the house.) This was pre-cell phone. He went to the local grocery store to call and confirm he'd been at the right house and let me know he was coming back. Oh my!
So we answer the door and there he is, dressed up, in a suit coat. I ask if I can have a moment to go change and he insists that I look "great" and there's no need. I'm not sure how I feel about this but I let myself be led to the car. But we don't head to the grill. No, shy mystery man heads down the hill to Denver. To a romantic French restaurant. Where people coming out recognize him from his art in the galleries and shake his hand and talk to him.
How can I convey my amazement that the guy I would have said was shy, maybe even a little backwards, is Mr. Suave on the Town? Now I'm feeling like I just crawled out from under the proverbial rock. What's going on here? Well, what went on was a conversation that lasted until the restaurant was closing. We never did get that movie in. And a friendship sprung up that neither of us expected and soon grew into a love that we are still marveling at and celebrating 10 years later. By April 1 Kent asked me to marry him. (My daughter had already given her seal of approval and suggested that she wouldn't be opposed back in March when I still thought she was crazy.) By August 4th we were married. This has been and continues to be the most amazing, transformative, educational time of my life. I have learned so much about God and His love to me, what it really means when someone acts like Jesus to us. How much healing and growth can come when God plants the seed.
So, Ten Years Ago Today, I was getting to know my best friend and husband.
(This isn't an actual picture from our date, it's just the oldest I could find this morning.)