Circa April, 2005
"What was I thinking?" My own voice scolds myself as the braver part of my heart tries to talk me into believing that it's no big deal.
Everything is all ready. My easel and canvas are set up on the worship stage for the 10:30 service, I chose my cutest and most colorful pair of artist's pants 'designed' by years of using myself as a brush cleaner in the creative moment, and I'm prayed up and ready to go. What's the deal today? Well, the nerves are nothing new. I'm always a little shaky while waiting on the Holy Spirit to show up and paint through me in worship. But today, (again, WHAT WAS I THINKING???) I invited someone I met on Christian Mingle to come and try out my church. A MAN. (Gasp!) But I am getting ahead of myself. Let's back up a bit, first of all, here is Part I of my incredible, God written LOVE story if you missed it. You can go read it now if you like, I'll wait...
All caught up? Good... Let's continue.
A few days after saying goodbye to Tennessee Boy, I ventured back onto Christian Mingle, I wondered if the Lord had something else in mind altogether, but I wasn't ready to jump ship with online dating till I was sure! To my delight, I had gotten a message or a 'wink' or something from someone local. We messaged back and forth a bit and he asked if I would like to chat on Saturday. Well, I didn't ever sign in to chat because I didn't want to be used for online entertainment for lonely men just looking for 'fun'. I much preferred the time it took to message back and forth via email, but he seemed genuine enough and since he was asking about a day or two in the future, I thought it sounded kinda fun and agreed.
Fast forward to Saturday night to the big chat date. Just as I figured out how to sign in and we started talking, I got a pop up chat from another guy! That is exactly what I didn't want to happen-I hate that! I feel almost violat- wait. Hmmm? He's a Paramedic? (Read 'Superhero') "Well, what can it hurt right? I think maybe I can chat with them both at the same time, is that wrong? Nah, we don't even know each other and if they ask, I'll be honest soooo.... "
Man #1, who was respectful of my time enough to ask me to chat days in advance, ended up being ridiculously funny, mostly at my expense, which for some reason I found endearing in a grade school playground kind of way!
Man #2, was also local and not as funny by any stretch, but did I mention that he was A PARAMEDIC, oh yeah-I already said that. Clearly I like a man in uniform. He was a bit charming and complementary and lived in the city which made him seem very hip, fun & exciting in my book.
Man #1 told me of how he had been looking for a new home church, and we realized we had been to some of the same churches and local places over the years but had never crossed paths in the same place at the same time, kinda funny. We talked about our kids and such but barely made it through a sentence or two without dying laughing. By the end of the night my face hurt from smiling so much. I liked him and was glad I said yes to our chat.
Man #2 talked about his heroic job as I prompted him with my questions. Swoon. I then asked him if he had met or dated anyone from Christian Mingle. He said he had. So I asked him how it went. As he answered very briefly I felt the Lord prompt me to dig a bit deeper, so I asked more, where they went, what they did, how it ended. Something was NOT right. I pushed him a bit more. He then went on to tell me that in order to 'test' this girl's faith and heart for Jesus, he talked her into coming up to his place, where he put the moves on her. When she reciprocated-he then shamed her by calling her a few undesirable names, telling her she wasn't a real Christian and kicking her out. I got the impression this didn't happen until after he had had some 'fun' with her willingness. Insert SHOCK & HORROR. I reminded this man how the Lord called him to be a protector of his sisters, and told him that he was a wolf in sheep's clothing and that I would be praying that he never had the opportunity to get close to another woman until he got some help. He further showed his true colors by sharing some profanity with me before I exited the chat and blocked him for good. As I did some digging into Christian Mingle to see what I could find out about this man and their policies, I found that he had had at least 12 profiles under different aliases! I was able to report him through the proper site channels, but have no idea if they really follow through on those things.
(Internet Dating Tip #1- Do not even think about going on a date with someone without being able to discern the voice of God in prayer. It's even scarier now as the threat of being sold into sex trafficking has now entered the dating arena. But even if they are not a creeper, do you really want to take a chance on falling for and maybe marrying the wrong guy? This is your the rest of your life we are talking about! Make sure you have a team of people that are praying with and for you and know who you are talking to and where you are going at all times. Don't think that just because the site is Christian, that they have done their due diligence in protecting you from wolves, satan is sneaky and roaming about seeking whom he may devour. He is hungriest for those who call themselves Christ followers.)
I cannot thank God enough for protecting me that night, and as I would soon find out, Man#1 was special enough that I haven't a doubt that the wolf was sent by the enemy in hopes to thwart the coming blessings. But I am getting ahead of myself again....
As the chat went on with Man #1, I thought it might be a good idea to invite him to church the next day. He thought I was crazy, and said something about me maybe being an axe murderer. Um. All the more reason to come to CHURCH where there would be witnesses! Duh! (More laughing.) After some coaxing I got him to agree. My thought process was that since we barely knew each other there was no pressure at all. He was looking for a church and I could be a friendly face that could introduce him around, and since we hadn't talked a ton yet, it was totally okay if we didn't like each other in person, there would be no weirdness if he loved the church and wanted to keep coming.
(Internet Dating Tip #2, do not spend months building a relationship online before you meet. It's not real and can accelerate emotionally way too fast in a bubble that could pop at the first meeting. It sets you up with false expectations and hides the reality of the other person's humanity behind a screen. Instead opt to meet in public after the first few conversations, and get it out of the way before emotions run too deep! You may make a great friend that you wouldn't have otherwise if one or both of you were let down or hurt at a later meeting!)
By the time he arrived all the single girls at church knew I had a MAN coming and were all awaiting his arrival. I was a nervous wreck about painting and was busy trying not to pass out when he showed. Okay, it wasn't that bad. But I was kicking myself for inviting a guy on a day that I would be up on stage, it was always a humbling experience and I just didn't need any distractions!
He was wearing a polo and was a bit more muscular than my usual type. He was handsome, but I thought maybe a bit too preppy for me which was fine because I had already learned that two of my friends were swooning a bit at his appearance and thought if he liked the church and wanted to come back, there were plenty of dating options waiting for him! I was glad I invited him, and after deciding that he might be perfect for one of my friends, I was able to calm down enough to take the stage to paint.
I don't have a picture of what I painted that day, I think it was some sort of tree if I remember right, and Man#1 said he liked it. (Some people think it's weird when I paint during worship so half of me thought he might bail while I was up on stage! Lol)
After service some friends and I invited him to lunch, but since he had his three year old with him, he opted for a raincheck and said goodbye.
My thoughts that day went something like..."He seems like a great guy, if I ever talk to him again, I'll put in a good word for girlfriend #1 & girfriend #2, and maybe all of this was just so God could help him find a great church...."
(Internet Dating Tip #3-You are not just looking for you! God's purposes even infiltrate the world of internet dating! You may just find your bff's perfect mate, or help someone to find a great church! I once met a man that stayed a very close friend until we both met and married God's choice for us, and another who God used to teach me about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and changed my life for the way better forever! Think bigger than you and seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, you are single for such a time as this!)
John 10:3-5 "To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. "When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. "A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers."
Come back soon for Part III where I make a pact, get a supernatural vision and I have to face that whole 'obedience to the Lord' thing from Part I of this story! EEK!!
One of my favorite paintings from Life Church worship. This one was painted by continuing to flip the canvas over and over to let the drips create the beauty as the music played.