For the first time in as far back as I can remember- perhaps ever- I am having an experience that is difficult to even put into words. It seems that for the majority of my life, when it comes to personal relationships with the opposite sex, my heart was always in the right place; but my decision-making skills were lingering somewhere around Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland. Never heard of it? Exactly.
Something amazing has recently happened. Here. Now. Just weeks shy of turning 47 years old, God has allowed the sweetest and most unexpected blessing to quietly drift back into my life. My heart is so full of joy and thanksgiving that I scarcely know how to contain it. I’m not even sure where to begin. Let’s just start here…
About six years ago, I wrote a blog entitled, “The Boy in the Book.” https://mandaclair.wordpress.com/2010/07/04/the-boy-in-the-book/
This story describes an encounter I had with a young man back in 1991 when my sister and I were just starting our college experience at East Tennessee State University. I won’t retell the story, as I know you are capable of clicking the link and reading it for yourself. The boy, Jeff, was an important part of my college time. He and I shared a few years of love, and eventually parted ways. Without even realizing at the time, he would leave a lasting impression that even the grandest attempts of others to match would fall painfully short in comparison.
My memories of Jeff were always good ones. He was the guy my girlfriends loved. When our crew of 5-7 girls would go out in the evenings for dinner and dancing, he was the one who went along as our bodyguard. He was the friend and the protector of our group. Jeff was the guy who brought Georgia peaches to my mother when he would visit- a fact that now, to this day, she still mentions every time his name comes up. He was the guy who was thoughtful, and caring, and paid attention to the little details. He was the guy who loves his mother and sisters with a love so big that it makes your heart smile. Jeff was smart, funny, witty, kind, sincere, and had a beautiful face and smile that would send your heart swooning.
I thought about him after graduation. We spoke on the phone a few times, but eventually that faded away into no contact, and life just moved on. I thought about him every now and then, and hoped life was being kind to him. I tried searching for him online a few years later, but it was as if he had fallen off the planet. The years following lead to marriage and children. Things became very busy. Life happens.
Fast forward about 24 years. Over Christmas break of this year (2017) my sister and I had a wonderful visit from our college girlfriends. We fell into fits of laughter with storytelling of “remember the time when…” stories. It was such fun! Throughout our stories, Jeff’s name kept popping up. He was a part of many of our fun adventures. One of the girls says to me, “You really need to try to find him.” I sort of blew it off. He was most likely married with children of his own, and even more likely would be impossible to find still. I brushed the idea aside for a few days, but it stayed hidden quietly in the back of my mind.
One day, a few weeks later, it occurred to me to look for him. I pull up Facebook, which I had recently taken a 4-year hiatus from, typed in his name, and BAM! He was right there. 😊 I went into private investigator mode, and searched through pictures, and comments, and everything I could get my “non-friended” eyes on! I decided to bite the bullet, and just send him a message. I did. It was light and easy. Something like, “The girls came for a visit, and your name kept coming up. Just wanted to say hello. Nice to see you’re still out there somewhere…” Anyway, a few days pass, and I hear nothing. I start wondering if I should have reached out at all. Then, I see it. I see by reading his latest Fb post that his father had just died. That very day. My heart broke for him. I know firsthand what a devastating time that is. It occurred to me that it was interesting that of any day, out of any week, out of the past 24 years that I could have reached out to him, it just “happened” to fall on the moment in time that his father passed. Maybe God needed me to be here for him. Could it be that? Although I’d not heard back from the first message yet, I knew I needed to send him another. I told him that I had no idea his father had been ill, and was so sorry for what he and his family were going through. I told him I’d definitely be praying for them all. I said that we’d gone through this with my own dad in 2011, and it’s horrible and surreal; but that he would get through this, and I’d be here to talk if he needed. I ended by telling him that I wouldn’t message again, as I knew he had much he needed to be taking care of during this time.” So, after that, I just prayed for him for days. Anytime his name crossed my mind, I prayed.
It was five days from that last message that I heard from him. I was so excited to talk to him, and incredibly nervous, although I really couldn’t pinpoint why. He was sweet and I could hear in his voice that he was happy to be talking to me. I could also pick up on the sadness from the week’s events. I wanted to make him smile. His voice sounded exactly the same. It was the neatest experience. On the other end of this phone line was the exact same voice I’d loved 24 years ago. Just sweetness. He asked me if I was on FaceTime. I said, “Right now?” He replied, “No, I mean do you have it, and do you use it?” I told him I wasn’t really a fan of FaceTime. Something about the video phone (like from the old school Jetson’s cartoons) made me nervous. Anyway, that voice that I instantly recognized said he needed to see my face, and in that moment I became the biggest fan of FaceTime on the planet! We Facetimed one another. Often. This began an instant connection that neither of us could really explain.
We basically started at, “So, what have you done from the moment you left school until now?…” The conversations were easy. Some were happy stories, and some were sad. Both of us had been married for 10 years. Both of us had experienced the sadness of divorce. Both of us had two children- a girl first and then a boy. Both of us have children whose ages are close. Both of us lost our fathers to a brain disease. The more we spoke, it was uncanny how many overlaps and similarities our life experiences had.
To condense what has taken place in the following weeks is almost impossible, but something sat up in me and took notice one night when Jeff and I were texting and he sent me a picture of a bible. It had his name engraved on the front, and handwritten inscriptions inside. It was a bible I had given to him as a gift in 1992. He told me he had kept it close for all these years. In what felt like an instant both of us knew that God had completely ordained this, and we just loved each other again. We didn’t say it out loud at the time, but we knew. Both of us agree that it’s like we left our heart with the other 25 years ago and it has only been lent out to other people for all these years. We agree this all makes so much sense now- why nothing else worked. We believe we’ve just sort of come full circle, and Jeff says he’s back to reclaim this love with me. I can hardly believe this amazing answer to my years of prayer has finally arrived. I’m not going to share every detail of US, because I want to leave some of the beauty of our story just for us. I can tell you, I had completely given up on ever getting to experience this pure, spiritual connection and love with any man. I’ve just not been “lucky” in most of my relationships. My mother says I like to do what she calls “missionary dating.” I find someone who needs help or fixing, and it becomes my personal challenge to try to help fix them. I can assure you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this “fixing” never occurs, and you find yourself in an empty relationship, where you are spending the majority of your time trying to meet the other person’s needs. Eventually, your needs are completely forgotten, and the focus is on the other person 24-7. It’s exhausting and can cause you to completely lose sight of who YOU are. This is the beauty of Jeff. I don’t want to fix him. I just want to love him. He’s a Christian. He’s an amazing man. He’s breathtakingly handsome. He loves his family- mother, father, stepdad, sisters. He’s become a father since I knew him and he worships his kids. He’s a hard worker with goals and ambition. He’s everything I’ve ever needed in a partner, but have never found.
The whole thing has happened so fast, but with such amazing PEACE that we both instantly recognized this is Jesus, not us. God has allowed me to have a very full life. I have a wonderful family. I adore my children. I’m blessed with a career I love. This has just been the icing on top. I feel complete, solid. I feel grounded. We’ve already talked to both families. All are praying and excited. Now we just wait for what God tells us is the next move. We are thankful, we are prayerful, and we are hopeful for the future. ❤