Finally – finally – after all of my heartbreaks, my heart was in a healthy place. True Love had found me, and it opened all kinds of possibilities.
After my magical summer with Jesus (2006), God began to move some pieces on the chessboard, although I didn’t know it at the time. To provide a little context, let me go back a little. When things ended with S. the previous fall (2005) and God brought me to the end of myself and began healing me, I brought before the Lord the question of moving overseas. I had toyed for a long time with the idea of moving overseas to teach and do missions, but I was never quite sure. The idea excited me and terrified me at the same time.
As my heart began coming back to life, I decided I was really going to explore this and see where it went. So, I started researching countries and schools, and by December, I was offered a job in Peru for the next school year.
The day before I had to give an answer, we received a phone call from my sister in Florida. She and her husband were splitting up, and the bottom line was that my 15-year-old nephew Mike had no place to go. In an instant, I knew what I was supposed to do; I didn’t even think or pray about it. I told her to send him up to NY, and I would take him.
So, that December, my plans for missions were put on hold, and I became a surrogate mom for my nephew. My plan was that when Mike graduated (in ’08), I would pray again and see if missions was still on the table.
The following year, in 2006 and right after my magical summer, while Mike was at youth group, I went to Borders Bookstore to kill some time before he needed to be picked up. I was looking at the C.S. Lewis books for a class I was teaching when a handsome man started to look at Christian books also. We acknowledged and smiled at each other, both continuing to browse. I lingered a little longer than necessary because – seriously, when do you ever see a handsome stranger looking Christian books??? For me, those two worlds just never seemed to collide (By that, I mean ‘Christian’ and ‘handsome’).
I tried my hardest to think of something clever to say, but – darn it – nothing. I mean, zero. My mind was a complete and total blank, like my brain had been erased. I stalled, hoping that he might talk to me, but – nothing.
Finally, as this was all just getting ridiculous, I sat down with my books and Ryan, one of my best friends, who was meeting me there. As I explained the scenario to Ry, the handsome stranger also sat down in a chair not far from us.
“That’s him!!! What do I do now??? It looks like you are my boyfriend!!!”
“Let me get up and walk around. Maybe he’ll come over to you.”
“But it already looks like we are together!”
Ry got up anyway, and…no luck. The cute ‘Borders Guy’ did not approach.
Well, next Wednesday rolled around. I thought, “Maybe if I go back again, he’ll be back at the same time, the same place…” [For the record, this was a totally out-of-character move for me.] However, I went to Borders again – same time, same place.
Nope, no sign of him. Chalk it up to fate, God’s will – whatever. It just wasn’t happening with me and ‘The Borders Guy’ (as he affectionately became known as in my mind).
I didn’t really think much about The Borders Guy after that…all I really remembered was that he was good-looking (tall, dark hair, light eyes), a Christian (from what I guessed), and for some reason, I remembered his outfit (a sweater [which I wasn’t a fan of] – and black dress pants).
Fast forward almost a year later – Labor Day Weekend: Sunday, September 2nd, 2007. I was in church as usual, sitting in my usual seat. My mom was with me because we had a baby shower to go to. A few minutes into the service, a group of 3 came and sat in my row. Rob, I recognized. He came every week and sat in his usual seat. Well, his usual seat was occupied, so Rob and his entourage sat near me. There was a girl and guy with him, so in my mind, I figured – Rob’s brother, Rob’s brother’s girlfriend.
In the middle of the service, the pastor had us greet the people around us. I shook hands with Rob’s friend and introduced myself as I normally would. He said, “Hi, I’m J. I’m here with my friend Rob and his girlfriend.” Oh, OK, I thought to myself. Not Rob’s brother; not Rob’s brother’s girlfriend.
After the service, J and I chit-chatted for a few minutes, and J said he was looking for a new church. I told him our church was great and that he should try it.
After we said goodbye, my mother elbowed me, “Katie – who was that guy??? He seemed like he was interested in talking to you…Maybe he’s ‘The One.'”
Ahh, geez. Here we go. “No, Mom. I have no idea who he is. Please, let’s not go there.”
I wasn’t touching this. How many times had I randomly bumped into guys and thought, ‘”Maybe this is ‘The One'”? Nope. Not this time. I was done with all that.
“Leave it alone, Mom.”
Next Sunday came around, and J. was back. After the service, I saw him across the lobby with Rob, and I had made up in my mind that I was not going to pursue this. If something was meant to happen, he would have to initiate. Well, a few minutes later, J. marched across the lobby to talk to me.
Hmmmm. Assertive. I was impressed. We chatted again, and that was that.
Well, next Sunday came around, and he found me again. And we chatted. And then we talked about taking the same Sunday School class next week. And then, after that, we ended up talking to each other during the break between class and the service. And after that, J. asked if he could sit with me. And after that, he asked for my phone number. And after that, he asked to take me out…
OK, now this is where the story gets fun. About six weeks after we had met (by this time, we were talking on the phone and had been out once or twice), J. walked into Sunday School a little late, and I thought to myself, “That sweater looks really familiar…It kind of looks like the sweater The Borders Guy was wearing.”
I tried to remember what The Borders Guy looked like…I couldn’t picture a face. I remembered he had dark hair and light eyes – and so did J. I contemplated the possibility for a moment but just wrote it off as coincidence. A sweater is a sweater.
Later that week, J. emailed me and said he was going to Borders to read before work (He worked the night shift at the time).
The sweater. Borders. “No way,” I thought to myself… “What are the odds???”
This drove me crazy all week. And finally, I just had to ask:
“Um – do you go to Borders much?”
“Yeah, I go sometimes just to read.”
“Ummm, were you going about this time last year???”
“I know this might sound crazy but….”
I proceeded to tell him in full detail of my encounter with The Borders Guy.
He was quiet for a minute, and I began to feel stupid. Then, finally, he said, “Were you wearing a denim jacket???”
That’s my signature look. I always wore a denim jacket. “Yes…”
“I remember you! You were with that dude! I knew you looked familiar when I met you! I was just finishing the last page of Mere Christianity and was about to get up to talk to you. Then that dude came in! [I knew it!] And I even prayed, ‘Now God, why can’t you send me a pretty Christian girl like her???’ ”
Here I was, with The Borders Guy.
One night a little later, we actually did stop into Borders, and – just to prove he wasn’t lying – J. pointed out where he had been sitting and where I had been sitting… and yup, he definitely was the One – The Borders Guy.
And that’s how I met the Borders Guy. Now, there were some complications to follow this serendipitous meeting, but that is a story for another time.
However, for the moment, I couldn’t deny that, just maybe, God might be up to something. And I liked where this was going.
[Photo Credit: BrokenSphere via Wikimedia Commons]