The Christ Church Scoot. At least that is what my maid of honor called it during the reception at my wedding. As all maids’ of honor do, she had the duty of giving a toast in our honor and she found it especially appropriate during this time to tell the story of how my husband and I came to know and fall in love with each other. She explained to the audience that we met on the back row of the church pews, sitting at opposite ends. Gradually, she said, we moved closer and closer until we had no other choice but to talk to one another and as soon as we started talking, it happened.
She was right. Indeed that is how it happened. It seems so simple, almost too simple and yet, I came to know my husband by sharing the back row pew-who says that good things cannot come from the back of the church? Actually, before I had even met him face to face, another friend of mine told me about him. She described this tall, dark, and handsome African man who was God-fearing and who also knew how to dress and inquired whether or not I had ever met him. I told her that I had not, and really was not that interested in meeting him since my heart was occupied by the affections of someone else.
As soon as I saw him, I knew who he was. He was everything that my friend described and yet more. Though I did not know him, I was intrigued by him. Yet, because I was in a relationship with someone else, I minded my manners and said absolutely nothing. I told myself that he was mean and unapproachable, just so that I would not approach him. Did my technique work? Absolutely not! God put an end to the relationship that I was in so that I could receive what it really was that he had in store for me.
However, at the time I did not know it, and so I gave God a really hard time. And yet, he was patient with me and gave me time to get my act together, and once I was ready, God did it. And his timing was perfect, it could not have been better. Although I was eying him across the pew, I knew that it would not be wise for me to engage in another relationship so soon after I ended another. I wanted to take some time to heal, clear my head, and get my mind around what God was trying to do through me and in me in that situation. I took another dating sabbatical, I felt like I needed it but this time I cut it in half and fasted only three months from dating. It was hard but during that time God really pruned me and pulled out some things that were still in me that proved that I was insecure and did not wholeheartedly trust him.
It was also during this time, during the month of January to be exact, that I went out with a couple of friends of mine to a concert at Club 3 Degrees, a Christian club in the Twin Cities to see a friend of ours perform (I know, it sounds a really corny). I remember that we were in the basement of the club, getting tea because it was cold as all get out outside and the concert had not started yet. While we were there they started talking about him, knowing that I was interested and attracted to him, but they also knew that I had left it at that and was not doing anything about it. They encouraged me to talk to him, to just start up a conversation. And since they persisted so heavily, I decided to do so at church the next day.
I woke up late that Sunday morning, which was unusual for me because I was pretty good about getting up early enough to be at church no later than 10.10 or so. Because of my lateness, I hurried, dressed and got out the door at 10.00, guaranteeing that I probably would not arrive to church until 10.30. As I drove, I thought about what I would say, and how I would say it, and how I would even approach him to unleash my rehearsed speech. I hoped that he would be in the parking lot as I arrived so that I would not have to go out of my way to connect with him. Sure enough as I got out of the car, and walked to the church, here he comes! I was nervous and excited all at the same time. I remember that I had on a gray skirt with a black turtle neck and heels, which were a little dangerous in the middle of winter, and as I tried to navigate those heels through the snow, he stopped and helped me. It proved to be a perfect in for a conversation.
After that, the conversations got a little easier though they were still awkward feeling, well at least they were to me. At first it was just small talk about school and work, but gradually we moved on to other topics like the weather. It was after we started talking to each other more that we started to move closer to one another in the pew, employing the Christ Church Scoot in all its beauty. Once service ended, we would stand and linger in the pew for a little while conversing, closed off to whatever it was that was going on around us. I am sure we looked quite silly but at this point I did not care. Although our little conversations were not much, I was connecting with this man and thoroughly enjoying it.
January and February came and went quickly as they always do, and just as it always was, it was cold and snowy. I have lived in the Midwest all of my life and yet I still have not gotten used to the “winter” period. Every time it comes around I vow to migrate somewhere south, like Argentina, but I never quite make it beyond the initial idea. Although we were in March and spring was on the horizon, winter that year seemed to want to linger longer than it should as we kept having snow storm after snow storm. It was sickening! Even so, though there were not any signs of springtime in that there was not a flower or tree leaf in sight, I took great pleasure in what was blooming between Mr. Man and I. The fruit, though just buds, was more than visible and growing by leaps and bounds with each and every moment.
During this month, our pastor took a break from his regular preaching cycle and introduced a new series that warranted the presence of different speakers both in and outside of our church walls. This particular series, The Table Series, shed light on the need for racial reconciliation in the body of Christ something of which I am a huge proponent of. Within our own conversation, it was interesting to see something of this manner being presented as our denomination, the Assemblies of God, has a long history of division and segregation because of the color line. Though it is slowly changing, and by slowly I mean slow, the denomination has traditionally consisted of persons of European-Anglo descent. Our particular church, however, consists of people from all over the world, literally! With that there has been some tension and differences of opinion when it comes to style, leadership and even the leading of the Holy Spirit. This series was addressing all of those issues and more, compelling us to find unity in Christ and in the communion table that he laid out for all persons regardless of skin color, class, or sex.
Even though it was not one of the most comfortable sermon series to endure, it was great to see these issues being raised. One of the objectives during that series that the Pastor placed on the congregation was for people to invite someone who was not like them and of a different culture to their “table” in order to provide a medium in which genuine discussion and conversation could take place. I hoped that my now husband would take advantage of that opportunity to invite me to his table, and on the last Sunday in March that is just what he did.
I remember that day as if it happened yesterday. Seriously speaking, all of the events that surrounded it including what I was wearing are so clearly etched in my mind that I could paint you a picture, but since I am not that good at painting I will spare you the mess! On that particular day, I had arrived at church quite early to speak in Sunday School as one of the Sunday School teachers invited me to come and expound a little bit more on this topic of reconciliation. After Sunday School, I went to the bathroom to make sure that I was looking good (I did!) and quickly moved to my seat on the back row. Before long, the church service commenced and I was wrapped up in praise and worship. Somewhere between the start of worship and the start of the preaching, he strolled in and took his seat right beside me and my heart sank. We greeted each other as we always did and turned our attention back on the service, though in all honesty, I was no longer paying attention to what was going up in front. As the Pastor was preaching, however, he placed his arm around me and I just about melted on the floor. Believe me when I tell you that I felt like I was in heaven! Though it was a little awkward, I did not want him to ever move. Eventually he did, when it came time to open up his Bible he just had to. But I had finally had it. I told God on that particular day, as if I could ever tell God anything, that I did not want to leave that place of worship without him asking me out. For me, it was time to begin to move this relationship on to the next level but so as to avoid making the same mistakes that I always did, I refused to initiate what that next level would mean.
Before long, the church service came to an end. As we were accustomed to, we both stood up and engaged in banter back and forth. We talked about school and how our studies were going. He told me about the car accident he had a little over a week ago, which was odd to me, as I was also in a car accident. Nothing serious, just a little impact on my back and he experienced the same! All the while, I had not forgotten about what I had just spoken to God about and had it at the forefront of my mind, though I kept my mouth shut!
We continued to float through pleasant conversation, nervously laughing at each other’s jokes. And then it happened! The sky parted above us, the birds began to sing a harmonic melody and he uttered those words that made a city girl want to break out in dance. I cannot remember what those words exactly were, all I knew is that he asked me out for lunch and of course, I said yes! I was ecstatic, absolutely overjoyed but after saying yes, I did not know what else to say. “Ah, so, do hens lay eggs,” I asked. Okay, I really did not ask that question. I am sure that if I did he would have walked away scratching his beautifully constructed go tee. Actually, I just told him that he had a beautiful smile and looked forward to having lunch together soon and then left because I had a stupid meeting to get to. Boo! But I left that day floating on clouds and as soon as I got home, I was on the phone blabbing the news to my two friends who you remember were behind this whole ordeal to begin with.