Life moments: Those times in your journey that totally take you by surprise and alter every thought of what the future should look like. And most of the time, these moments are not recognizable.
It could take years to figure out.
As I walked with S&G to our cars, I could not help but think how this night had totally shocked me. All of my anxieties about attending this event had faded as I focused on recent happenings. WJ & I had maintained a continual conversation between his tasks of assisting the father of the bride. Turns out, B’s dad was his mentor! Who knew? Her parents are amazing, God-fearing, Golden Eagle supporters. But I had no idea that Mr. B was so involved with the SAE Fraternity at USM; which is where he met WJ. I also had no idea WJ was a fraternity brother! Fraternity…really? I will admit my stereotype of ‘frat boys’ was blown out of the water as WJ just didn’t seem to fit the mold. At all. He agreed (about the mold) and explained quickly that he saw it as a way to help other young men outside of ‘church’. A missionary of sorts (my conclusion). Cool. Ok. Seeing as how he was currently serving as a youth pastor, I could go for this scenario.
A faint giggle from S snapped me back to reality. Here it comes. As they both stood in front of me with smug looks on their faces, I felt pressed to justify the exchange of phone numbers they had just witnessed. My explanation was simple. It went something like this:
“WJ would be a perfect fit as an employee at Waukaway! He’s rugged, strong as an ox and he loves the Lord more than any single guy I know! (Did I just say single?) I mean, come on, he did haul firewood to make a living while we were in juco!”
Convinced? Neither were S&G. They both stared at me in that ‘Right. You keep thinking that’ sort of look. As we said our goodbyes, I couldn’t help but ponder my hesitancy of coming tonight in the first place! Wow. And although my friends could see right through me, I was busy convincing my heart that this was purely platonic. I had managed to suppress half of my attraction and was convincing the other half of my heart rather quickly as I drove back to camp. WJ just had to come to Waukaway. He would fit right in! And Mac & Sunshine were going to love him!
Who are Mac & Sunshine? Only the greatest couple in the world! (Seinfeld voice again) They are my mentors & best friends…and on a normal day, my employers. Meeting this couple was a major life moment. And I had a feeling that tonight, randomly meeting WJ at this party, I had just experienced another.
Of course I could not wait to tell Sunshine about my evening. So the next morning after our prayer time, I gave her a play by play. She could not stop smiling; thus, commencing another prayer time for my heart. Sunshine also keeps me grounded. Good friends are willing to do this you know! I am so grateful for her kindred spirit. Five years my elder, she was, and still remains, one of my dearest friends. And Mac was indeed interested in seeking WJ for employment.
Mac, with his acute awareness for details and timing, suggested that I do a ‘preliminary interview’ with WJ before having him out to camp. He thought it would be best if I 'set up' a time to meet WJ and have coffee, explaining more about Waukaway and what we were looking for in our summer employees. I was totally surprised; although I’m not sure why because for every other potential staffer this is the way we did it. Why was I so hesitant about scoping out WJ’s future?
Yes, I just made that statement and I totally understand how it sounded.
Two days later, I was to meet WJ for lunch around 1 p.m. at WCW’s, a quaint café in Hattiesburg. He was on time and we found a table in the back. I did notice as he sat down that there was a rather large notebook in his hands. After we ate and were having coffee, I inquired about the gigantic binder. “Oh this is my calendar and five year plan,” WJ stated casually. That binder sparked a four hour conversation (yes, I said four) on life, God, jobs, future and relationships that to this day is a vivid memory. I was so amazed that someone, anyone, had put so much thought into their future. He walked me through his plan, his outlook on singleness and his expectations of what the Church was supposed to look like (more on all of this later). We enjoyed hours, literally, of pleasant conversation. My favorite part of the whole afternoon was the look on his face, as we were discussing the dating scene, when I told him that if I finally met ‘the one’, I wanted our first kiss to be on our wedding day.
Total silence. I think he almost choked on his Caramel Macchiato.
He just stared at me, which left me totally awkward and feeling vulnerably stupid. So I quickly recovered with my reasoning/rambling:
“My past is jaded. And I’ve worked really hard to accept God’s forgiveness where relationships are concerned. Which is why I love being single. It hasn't always been this way, it's hard finding a balance between lonely and alone. But now I have one focus. God. However, if and when I end up with ‘the one’, I want the whole relationship to be pure. I mean, there is a reason the minister always says, ‘NOW you may kiss your bride’.”
He smiles. I continue.
“I also think there are three components to a great relationship: commitment, intimacy & passion. In that order. Too many of our peers, myself included get these mixed up and usually begin a faulty relationship based on passion. With commitment coming first, intimacy is more of the two getting to know each other within their own environments… around the people they are most comfortable with. When two people date in solitude, passion usually surfaces because they are only focused on each other. There is too much margin for ‘error’. Plus, most couples at this stage put things in a ‘need to know’ category; this leaves too much to be learned of the other after marriage, if they make it that far. So, yes, there is a place for passion, I just happen to think it should come after the wedding vows. Everything that happens before is to build trust through transparent encounters.”
I would not know the impact these words had on WJ for many years.