This is the continuation of Jeremy and my love story. 🙂 I have through part 3 written, so there’s one more that I can easily transplant from my old blog to this one, and then after that, I have to start writing from scratch again so I can tell you the rest of the story! Here it is for your reading pleasure…
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Chad and his friends took me back to my car and told me that they’d had fun.
“We should hang out!” they said.
“How about you come to this bible study we go to?” Sure, I said. I wanted to make friends with some women, I told them—I didn’t want male friends.
“I’ll call you on Wednesday about it,” Chad said. “It’s at 7.”
“Okay,” I said, overjoyed that I had a social engagement on the calendar. I could wait five days to make more friends…but I’d be counting down the hours!
On Wednesday around 4PM, Chad called.
“Yeah, Liz, I don’t think I’m going to go today. But you should call this girl (insert phone number here) to get directions if you still want to go.” I hung up the phone and my eyes widened. This was a test—could I do it? Could I go even though I didn’t know anyone who’d be there?
I dialed the number he’d given me and left a message—“Yeah, hi Kristina, you don’t know me, but I’m a friend of Chad’s… kind of. Well, we met last Friday. Anyway, he invited me to this Bible study tonight. Do you know where it is? I’d like to go, but I don’t know how to get there. I just moved here and I don’t know anybody. I’d like to make some friends. Um, anyway, call me back.”
I took a shower before I left for the Bible study, and when I got out, I saw that Kristina had called me back with directions. I still hadn’t even spoken to anyone who was going to be there. “What am I doing?” I thought. I wrote down the directions on scrap paper and got in my car. My makeup was immaculate. I was wearing a cute dress I’d bought a month before. I felt naked. I started the engine and drove to the bible study. I was 10 minutes early. It was at somebody’s house, and I parked out front and sat in my car for 10 minutes, talking to myself and praying. “God, I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t know anybody in there! What am I doing? This is crazy! Help!”
Somebody drove up, parked, got out of their car and walked into the house. Then another person. Then another person. Finally, I decided—“I’m just going to do it,” I told myself. “What do I have to lose?” I got out of my car. Someone was walking toward the house. She turned around.
“Hi!” I said. “I’m Liz!” She didn’t say anything but kept looking at me.
“What?” she finally said.
“I’m Liz. My name’s Liz,” I said. It was dark and I couldn’t see her face. She walked toward me.
“What’d you say?” she asked. “I’m new. My name’s Liz. Is this where the Bible study is meeting?”
The girl laughed—“Oooh. I thought you were teasing me, because my name’s Lis too.” She started walking toward the house again.“Yeah, I’m going to the Bible study too. Come with me.”
We walked toward the house and rung the doorbell.
Then some other people pulled up and said, “Hey, what are you guys doing? It’s next door.”
“Oh,” Lis said. We walked across the driveway and went inside with a whole group of people, a bunch of guys who I decided were mildly cute (“They have potential,” I thought). I walked into the entry way of the house and Jeremy passed by to say hi to everybody, and when he came to me he paused. He gave me a look that meant, “Do I know you?”
I said, “Hi! I don’t know if you remember, but we met at the Mill last Friday. Chad invited me to Bible study,” I said, hoping that he’d at least remember who Chad was even if he didn’t remember me.
“Okay,” Jeremy said, obviously not remembering me. “Well, we’re glad you’re here.” I slipped off my shoes and walked into the living room and sat down on one of the dining room chairs—you know, the nice kind that people only use on nice occasions or to accommodate extra guests—next to a nice looking girl with long blonde hair.
“Hi, I’m Liz,” I said to her.
“I’m Rebecca,” she said. We made small talk and I decided that I liked her. She looked honest.
After a few minutes of introducing myself to everyone within the vicinity, Jeremy called the group to order. “Hi, everybody! Thanks for coming. We’re going to get started now.” Everybody quieted down and finished their conversations. “We just got back from a prayer and fasting retreat, as you all know, and we felt like God was telling us to do something different. We’re going to transition out of studying Acts and move into a study of the book of Mark. Every week, we’re going to read the whole book through and fast together on Wednesdays, and then we’re going to discuss what we learned—sharing observations, research we’ve done in commentaries, and that sort of thing. And we’re doing this because we want to experience Jesus—not just talk about him. We want to get to know him better.”
My eyes grew wide. The night before, I had been asking God why he’d brought me out to this place—I had no friends, no job, no reason to be out here. In fact, I only knew three people: my grandmother, my aunt, and my uncle, and they had to be friends with me because we were related! I was lonely and frustrated—why did I have to start over? “Why did you bring me out here, God?” I asked him. And then, remarkably, I felt like God answered me—“I want to show you who I am.”
At this point, I think it’s necessary to explain what I mean and so diverge from the story a little bit. Let’s talk about this “God answering me” phenomenon. Now, God doesn’t always talk back to me when I pray to Him, and when I say that God “answered” me, it doesn’t mean I heard a voice or that a lightning bolt wrote out words on the sky or that a finger wrote an answer on the wall. I usually mean that I have an impression that I’ve learned to trust as something outside of me— Orthodox Christians call this informant the Holy Spirit. And, believe it or not, the Holy Spirit—or even the fact that I believe in something called the Holy Spirit—is vitally important to my love story with Jeremy.
You see, I believe in a God who is in perfect, united, loving relationship in Himself, that he’s three separate persons joined as one. I do not believe in three gods; I believe in one God, a three in one, and many people have tried to explain it well before and failed. I think if I tried to explain what I don’t fully understand, I would fail too, and so I won’t bore you with unhelpful metaphors.
However, I believe that the failure to explain the Trinity comes from an inability to live in the depth of that united relationship as human beings. We can’t possibly know each other as if we were the other person. It’s impossible. Yet the desire still exists to become one—distinct and united—with the one person that you love most. Sometimes, I wonder if there would be a way for Jeremy to crawl inside my skin so he could know how it feels for me to blink or burp or cry. But as it is, we cannot love or even know another person in this way. It is not possible for us. But we can still hope, and that’s where love for God and for another person is born. All this to say, I will refer to this inexplicable phenomenon often (the Holy Spirit) as one who speaks back to me. You don’t have to believe me. That’s okay. But He is a vital player in the rest of the story, so I just thought I should warn you to be skeptical ahead of time. 🙂
Now, back to the drama. Jeremy had said, “We want to experience Jesus by studying Mark—we don’t just want to talk about Him, we want to get to know Him better.” My eyes grew wide because I believed that God had talked with me the night before and had told me that He wanted me to know who He was, and that’s why He had brought me out here. At the time, I’d understood that to mean that I’d get to know a thunder and lightning Job kind of God, you know, the type who’s smiting livestock and pouring down wrath in fire from heaven. Yikes! Who wants to get to know somebody who does that? No thank you, I’d thought. Spare me the trouble.
But when Jeremy said that, about knowing Jesus, I knew that I needed to go to this Bible study—even though I didn’t know one person there, even though I didn’t have any concrete reasons for staying, I knew I needed to commit to being there every single Wednesday for the next three months (remember, that’s how long I was planning to stay in Colorado Springs). I prayed a silent prayer—“Okay, God. Show me who you are.”
Aside from feeling convinced that God was telling me to go to this odd Bible study every week, there was one other thing that caught my attention—and it was the man who was delivering this message to me. Jeremy was wearing a thrift store wool Christmas sweater, with zig zags and stripes in every direction. It was ugly and I loved it! I couldn’t take my eyes off of this man, in fact! He was praying deeply for his friends. He was leading the Bible study group—he happened to give a mini-sermon that week from the book of Mark, to show us what Mark had meant to him that week and how it might impact us. He shared from the passage of Jesus calming the storm.
Thirty minutes into the Bible study, I found myself pondering two questions: the first was, “God, who are you?” and then, “Who is this man?” Moreover, he was cracking jokes right and left, and they were funny. I wish I could remember more specifics about all this, but what I do remember is the impression that sealed the deal for me. Somewhere near the time I finally left the bible study (after having met and talked to anybody who would talk to me!), Jeremy made fun of himself— he hunched his back and wiggled his fingers and pretended to push up an imaginary pair of glasses at the bridge. Then he talked in this funny mad-scientist nerd voice, and we all cracked up.
Now, I feel I must be completely honest in this narrative, and so that means I need to include times I believe that I heard from God or had impressions from the Holy Spirit, even when I myself can feel incredulous about it (which I do, at times! “Do I really believe I heard that?” I find myself asking, and I always come back to a belief that God does speak to ordinary people like me, and that I believe that God spoke these things to me.). I should say that I do not believe in love at first sight. I believe in infatuation certainly, but what happened on this first night of Bible study does not fit into any of those easy categories.
When I left the Bible study that night, I left knowing that I had met my husband. I wrote it in my journal that night—I felt amazed, at peace, and scared all at the same time. “I just met my husband,” I wrote in a letter to a friend, “and I’m afraid to admit it, but I’ve never been more certain about anything in my whole life!”
When I told Jeremy this (much, much later—after we were engaged), he said, “Women always say that. Everybody likes to say they knew beforehand.” But in his mind, they couldn’t have known. I believe him. I think that happens a lot. But I also believe that this was different. Truly, I believe that the Holy Spirit showed me that so that I could be prepared by Him to marry Jeremy. There were a lot of things that were keeping me from being ready to marry Jeremy, or from being ready to date him, and God used that knowledge to give me faith. But more than anything else, I believe God gave me that understanding as a gift, plain and simple.
Don’t get me wrong—I didn’t do anything about it. I just waited. I decided at the time that I’d forget about it, and if it never happened, oh well. No harm would have been done. But if something happened, then it would have been true and a gift from God. In the end, it was real and true and that is what is more important than anything else. Believe me or not on this—I won’t be offended if you take issue with it. Frankly, it is difficult for me to believe. But God calls us to have faith in Him that is beyond our capacity of belief all the time. That’s His way. And to the best that I can, I will walk in it.
However, as this is a painfully honest narrative, you should know that there is a whole year and a half that comes before the peace that I found in this. In fact, as I’m sure you can imagine, all of this opened a new can of slimy, wiggly worms. “What do I mean thinking ‘I just meant my husband?’ How can I be certain about that? Where did that come from? Was that you, God?” I thought. I was launched into a whole new set of fears. And immediately, I decided not to spend time alone with any men at all because of it—“Not until May,” I thought. So that way I had at least five months to process everything and to try to forget about Jeremy because, I thought, never in a thousand years would a man like that love me.