One of my readers asked me to share the story of how I met my wife. I love telling the story so here it is. We met at church where we both served in the high school ministry. Later I became the pastor of the group when I graduated from college and started seminary. For the first two and half years I knew her, we never spoke once. She was shy and I was a weird guy who really liked her which meant “never talk to her.”
As my feelings grew for her I asked God to take away the feelings. I was a youth pastor. Her two younger brothers were my students. Her dad was a leader at the church who oversaw my department. It felt inappropriate so I never acted on my feelings. After a long time of praying this, my feelings only grew. Stage two of my prayer life was, “God I can’t act on my feelings so if you want us to be together you are gonna have to open doors for me.”
I am not the type to over-spiritualize things. My prayers weren’t some pious thing. I just felt I was not in a position to act on my feelings. Long story short…the doors opened. We were part of a Bible Study group and one night everyone except Michele cancelled at the last second. I called Michele’s home to let her know but her mom said she already left. We ended up talking for three hours. Walking her out I wanted to tell her how I felt but I chickened out. Another time we had a teachers meeting but she was the only one who showed up. We talked for five hours outside the church at a table. Very nice.
I remember one Sunday she asked me when I head down to San Diego (we were both students). I knew what was coming…she didn’t have a ride back. I usually went down late Monday night because my school had no classes on Mondays. So I lied. I said I go down on Sunday nights. She asked for a ride and I said yes. I immediately drove 40 miles to my parents place, picked up all my clothes and drove down to pick her up. I use to drive really really fast but this time I put the car in cruise control at 55mph. I wanted to milk this time with her for all it was worth because I didn’t know if a chance like this would ever come again. We talked. After that conversation I knew for sure I was gonna ask her to marry me. When I first met her I knew I could marry her. I can’t explain why I felt that. Even though we never talked I knew right away I could marry her. After driving to San Diego I knew I was gonna marry her.
Funny thing…I asked her out a little over a year later. That’s too long a story for a blog.
I transferred to a school in Orange County but was bummed because it would rule out any possibility of giving her a ride ever again. Turns out that she decided to transfer to a school right by her home near Orange County. YES! Fast forward six months…during finals week for me, I couldn’t study. I had to get my feelings off my chest. I told my brother I was gonna do it. I was gonna tell her how I felt. He wished me luck and I called her.
Alex: Hey Michele, it’s me Alex.
Alex: I was wondering if you were free tonight to meet up. I need some papers from you for the upcoming retreat and had some stuff I wanted to talk to you about.
Alex: Ok. Meet you at Starbucks at the Cerritos Towne Center. See you soon. Bye.
Michele: Bye. I LOVE YOU! (oh wait…that was in my head not reality)
Here is the thing. I have been holding my feelings in for so long (over two years) because of my position at church and some other psycho ex stuff I had to deal with, but I picked the busiest place where all our church people hang out.
We get to Starbucks. I never drank coffee back then but I ordered a venti. She gave me the papers and this is what I said…
“I have been praying about you for a long time because I have feelings for you. It would mean a lot to me if you would consider praying about the possibility of being in a relationship with me. One thing though. I will not date you unless you know for certain that you can marry me. I know this sounds like a lot of pressure but what’s more pressure? A guy saying that he wants to date you and if he likes you he will stay with you but if he doesn’t love you he will break up with you. Or a guy saying that I know your family. I know your heart for God. I know that I could spend the rest of my life with you. If you ask me the first one is more pressure.”
She replied”………………………..” (two minutes of silence which felt like an eternity given what I just said out loud)
I said, “Aren’t you gonna say something?”
She said, “I don’t know what to say.”
I said, “You see that thing in the middle of the table? THAT’S MY HEART!!! I need you to say something.”
She said looking down at the ground, “Honestly…I have been praying about you too.”
I slowly brought my venti coffee drink to my mouth and I smiled into the cup so she couldn’t see. And said silently to myself, “Oh yeah!”
After bring the cup down while simultaneously wiping a smirk off my face, I said, “Ok. Cool. Well, let’s not rush into anything. I am gonna be out of town with some guest speaking engagements so why don’t we wait a month and if we still feel this way, let’s start dating.”
NOTE TO READER: Even as I am typing this I cannot believe what a dork I was.
She said, “Ok.”
Four days later I asked her out on a date. I couldn’t wait. I didn’t see the need to wait. She said she had been praying about me so I took her to Pasadena and we ate at The Market City Cafe (no longer there) and we hung out for hours and I was very happy.
Thinking back on it, I never asked her what she prayed about. I just assumed she loved me. Can you imagine if she did pray about me but in a different way? That could have been a disaster.
Eight months later I wanted to propose so I made a plan that got totally ruined. On my 24th birthday I ordered 24 roses for her and bought a candy ring. I was making $700 per month as a youth pastor and had no money for a real one. We were supposed to go to dinner, come back for jackets (since I conveniently was gonna forget to bring my jacket and head to the beach. The plan was that we we come up for my jacket and a blanket for the beach and she was supposed to see the roses on the table and then I would give my speech. Well we get set to leave and she says she has to pee. I said no. She asks what my problem is. I say no. She gets annoyed and says she going up to my place to use the restroom.
We get to the apartment and she asks why there are roses in an apartment of three guys. I asked her to sit down and I had to do my speech on the fly.
I said, “As you know today is my birthday. The roses are for you. Each one represents every year I believe God has prepared me to be with you. On a day I am supposed to receive, I choose to give. I want this to be the pattern of our lives together.”
I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. I slipped the candy ring on her finger that I bought from 7-11 and said, “If you hold on to this ring long enough it will turn into a diamond.”
Three months later we had a formal Korean engagement ceremony. I wanted to swap the ring then but in order to find out where she kept the ring I devised a plan.
I asked her three months before, “Where do you keep that candy ring I got you? The reason I ask is that it is kind of embarrassing and I don’t want your family finding it and asking about it.”
She said, “Oh, don’t worry, it is in a box in my nightstand.”
On the day of our engagement ceremony I went into her room while she was getting her hair done and took the candy ring out and placed the diamond one in that box. I left a card on her bed which gave her instructions to open the box. I am sure there was some more cheesy crap I wrote.
On her way to the hotel where we were having our ceremony she called to say thanks.
Six months later we got married. Three months after that she got pregnant with our first kid.
BTW…That thing about giving on a day I was supposed to receive…remember how I said that would be the pattern of our lives together? I lied. She is still waiting for that promise to be fulfilled.