Thursday, August 23, 2012

For Mrs. Shores: Our Story...or at least a portion of it.

This post will truly be a first for me… and a long one at that.  But I promised the story…OUR STORY. 
To preface:  Life before marriage was not typical.  My early years saw much pain in the way of plain 'ole sin.  After repentance and grace, I found myself longing to know ME.  I had always had a boyfriend, someone in my life to keep the mask on so I didn't have to face myself.  I had no idea who I was.  It was easier being what others wanted or saw.  So after hitting rock bottom, I took the mask off...I gave up dating.  Literally.  And focused all my energy on who God had planned for me to become.  At first, I felt like it would take God, um, about 6 months or so to straighten me out and then "he" would come along.  You know... THE ONE.   ha. 
"Four.Years.Later!" (in my best Seinfield voice) after the mask and a few layers had been excruciatingly removed, it happened.   IT!!  The moment, and person, God had designed just for me!  Now MANY suitors, as my Dad would call them, had come and gone trying to fit the mold of what I believed God had prepared for me.  Some came out of geniune interest, some for the Les Paul!  My Dad had promised my one prized (inherited) possession, his guitar, to the beau I chose to marry!However, this was it.  The moment.  And the most hilarious part was I didn't even recognize it.   What started out as a mere acquaintence, growing into a friendship, became everything I could have ever dreamed of and so much more. 
Why the preface?  Because for years, many young women I have mentored in singleness have asked for a book, a story, something...that told OUR story.  I have begun such a work.  But I am choosing to post as I go.  Why?  Because this 'story' was promised as a wedding gift to one of my beloved girls who has now been betrothed for many months!  I apologize for the delay but here it is.  A portion, a beginning...

(I also apologize for the many abbreviations; I have not yet decided on actuality or fiction)

Hattiesburg, MS ~ January 2003 
My life as a twenty-something had fallen into a safe routine of family, work & religion.  And that’s been ok, until now.  Wedding receptions, like the one I am attending tonight, are events I dread most.  I can see it now, even before I arrive…Typical smiles of sharing personal history as I dig in my heels (which are usually borrowed) and force myself to give explanation of why I am still unattached.  At least that is how the past four years of uniting friends and acquaintances have gone with me as the lonely bridesmaid. 

Take the most recent wedding of S&G last summer.  As I helped plan my best friends’ union with her one and only, I was unaware that the father of the groom (F.O.G.) had it in his mind to fix me up with a guy whom he had deemed the future ‘Mr. White’.  A week before the wedding I receive said phone call from this potential beau at 2a.m.! The explanation from this crazed caller you ask? Oh, it was that he apparently took F.O.G. literally when instructed to call in the middle of the night due to my summer work schedule!  It was at that point I coined the phrase dedicated to all future cupids:  YOU ARE NOT GOD AND HE DOES NOT NEED YOUR HELP.   

Of course the wedding of S&G was a beautiful occasion, even more so in that it evolved from pure courtship.  However, as I watched in admiration their anticipated and long awaited first kiss, my mind began to formulate what I’ve come to term ‘the singleness speech’…“I have learned the difference between being alone and being lonely...  I’m content with being single…  God writes my story and with a past like mine I’m thankful He’s spared me at all!  I should be content that He didn’t turn me into a pillar of salt!”  Surely that would draw a laugh and end the conversation all together.  Surely.     


So, here I am standing on the porch of the Alumni House at USM, freezing and about to do what I hate most.  Enter the room.  At this point I should be contemplating profound thoughts of what I would say to encourage the couple (my dauntless friend B and her groom, Mr. Unknown).  Instead my thoughts drift to why I had come at all.  It’s not like I’ve talked to E in over two years. 

In usual fashion, I declined to R.S.V.P. until just last week.  Yes, I know last minute guests are annoying! Main reason, you ask? Easy…I selfishly have to coax myself into entering these events alone.  Once I’m in, find a familiar face or grab a drink and stand in the corner… no big deal.  But entering gets me every time.   I hate the moment after the door opens when I feel as if everyone is watching me instead of the gorgeous bride that I’m sure to find floating somewhere on the other side of this door.  Come on Jay, get it together.  This is not about you. It’s about B.

After all, B is one of those friends that I could see every other decade and still feel like we were kindred spirits.  There.  Justified.  I simply had to do this.  So, pull up your boot straps and walk in.  Just like every time before…   Single. White. Female.
Before I had to endure the inevitable, the door opened from the inside and I am greeted by the handsome smile of WJ.  We had met while attending Jones County Junior College.  I could not for the life of me figure out why he was greeting me at this reception.  But no matter the reason, at this moment he was, unknowingly, my knight in shining armor!   Control yourself Jay.  This is only a lonely moment.  You’re in the door.  Do your thing.  Mingle.  And breathe for Pete’s sake!  Who exactly is Pete?  WJ still possessed that ruggedly set jaw line and masculine build that had all the girls dreaming back in the day.  But if I remember, someone held WJ’s heart during those years which made everyone else simple acquaintances.   In a haze of random thoughts and an attractive first impression, someone interrupted my moment.
 “Hi!  Are you ok?”  It was WJ.  
“I’m doing great. Just trying to open a door,” I said. Lame
What I must look like, frigid little creature of five foot waiting for someone to open the door for me.  Fail. 
“Well, tonight that’s my job,” he replied with a cheeky grin, “Come on in.” 
As he took my coat I tried to form a comment to salvage the moment, but I was too busy trying to be cool, calm and collected.  In actuality I was freezing.  How long had I been on that porch?

I quickly enter the main room and do the usual…glance at the food table but opt for coffee.  I soon find S&G, who are mutual friends of the bride, and join them in the receiving line.  Chatting as we wait to greet the happy couple, S quickly comments on the exchange between me & WJ that she ‘just happened’ to witness at the door.  I try to blow it off. “Oh, it was nothing.  We knew each other at Jones,” I casually mention.  But no one knew me better than S.  She could see into my soul. “Uh huh,” was her only reply.  I knew what that meant.    

S is my Jiminy Cricket, always there to help whenever I waver.  She has stood by me through it all.  The first person I met when I moved to Jones County years ago.  And just because she was now married did not mean I was any less important.  She & G had been my sounding board when my heart was unsteady.  And tonight God knew I needed her by my side for this one very unexpected moment.  I was soon to find out, however, that S figured she had a new task at hand:  to convince me that it was perfectly alright to be attracted to a handsome 'fella like WJ.  Who, at the moment, was walking straight toward me....
IF you've made it this far, thanks for enduring.... and IF you are interested, stay tuned. More to come.

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