It was Thanksgiving break, 1999, somewhere in Holt, Michigan. I was using the internet in the closet-turned-office of my friend Marcus. A few of us who were close in high school were trying to hang out and pretend we were all still just as cool as a year ago. Well, they were still cool at least. I had become unmoored, and was splashing in the ocean of college life. We’d returned from a White Castle and Meijer adventure together, and were just chillin’ quietly upstairs.
But in that closet, “chaddlz” was talking to “SNicol99” on AOL Instant Messenger. I remember shushing the guys when I realized she was “online”, so I could focus. Here was my moment. I was going to ask this ridiculously pretty girl who was passionate for Jesus if she’d want to do something together. ONU had a “Christmas Banquet” each year, where we’d get all fancified to eat and pretend we weren’t bummed we couldn’t dance together.
Of course, I didn’t want to come on too strong. “I think it’d be fun to go to the Christmas banquet together.” (I should have left it there….but I was freaking out. My pulse was pounding, my hands were sweaty, and I was praying “the guys” wouldn’t come wonder what I was doing…so I kept typing.) “..You know, just as friends?”
Regretting those last 5 words, I’d spend the next several days searching for opportunity to talk about “us” in some way or another. Like a desperate gold miner, searching for any sign that he was close to a fortune, I sifted through conversation. Finally it happened. On December 6th, 1999, we talked about “what we were looking for” in someone, someday….as if neither of us were considering the person we were talking to. She practically dropped it in my lap…”..you know, the kind of person I can grow closer to God with. The kind of person I could do devotions with.”
The best/worst pick-up line ever used in 90’s teenage Christian culture was obviously my best and most genuine option: “So…would you want to start doing devotions together?”
“I would like that very much.”
I’m pretty sure the smile of my heart would’ve made Mickey Mouse seem depressed. We attended a Christmas jazz concert that weekend, where the song of my heart’s joy was too loud to hear any instruments. So here we are, over 18 years later. We have finally known each other longer than we’ve not known each other. Not sure if that’s a “thing” people have a word for, but I’m celebrating it. This woman has helped me learn more about the love of God, and challenged me to continue in pursuing Him together. I’m incredibly blessed, and thankful.