Tricia Goyer, well known author of Mom’s Night Out , the novelization of the motion picture, and more than fifty other titles, has inspired me with her new First Chapter Fridays. Tricia has been sharing the first chapter of one of her books and offering a giveaway each Friday. Check out Tricia’s site and her latest release. You may find you love what she has to offer. Not only is she an prolific author, but she encourages teen moms, adoptive parents, and homeschooling families.
In the meantime, enjoy the first chapter of my book, The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater, and enter a drawing for a free copy by commenting below. Thanks for the idea, Tricia!
Is this really happening?
I surveyed the scene around me as an observer, despite my role as the primary participant. The delicate gown of ivory lace hanging from a cupboard door whispered reality. My bridesmaids sharing a mirror to apply makeup nodded at me in confirmation. A few close friends conversing over croissant sandwiches and grapes solidified the certainty of this remarkable day. My youngest granddaughter attempted first steps on wobbling legs.
At forty-seven, starting over after two failed marriages seemed frivolous and impossible even for an optimist like me. I believed God could do incredible things, but marriage a third time? After my previous heartbreak, marriage seemed like an attempt to grasp a school girl’s dream.
Only now it wasn’t merely a dream. It was becoming a reality.
God was offering me another chance at life with my soul mate. Yet the process of getting here hadn’t been an easy one. It took faith, prayer and patience.
Even with my adventurous and hopeful spirit, I still couldn’t have conceived of the enterprise embarked on years previous to this moment. And I never imagined God would use the internet to introduce me to Brendan, my amazing man from Australia.
Yet here I stood with the sun’s descent casting fragile streams of light through the upstairs window of the church. My attendants circled me, arms outstretched to adorn me with bridal blessings before I joined my life with Brendan for the remaining years we had.
My three daughters squeezed in close. The eldest, Vici, already a wife of two years and Ashley, my youngest, the twenty-one year old “baby” flanked my soon-to-be stepdaughter, eight year old Bella. They brushed elbows with my dearest friends, all participating in the momentous evening. Tears threatened my mascara, and I breathed deeply, both to keep them from spilling over and to calm my eager heart.
All eyes closed, but I peeked again at my homemade spider orchid bouquet. Can you love flowers? Every time I visually caressed the creamy burgundy tinged petals, I thought I love my bouquet! And I thrilled at my dress and my bridesmaids’ dresses and the wonderful people taking such great care of me. This aged school girl released a contented sigh.
Closing my eyes, I forced my mind to concentrate on the words being spoken. I wanted so badly to remember as much as I could about this beautiful night of redemption and hope, the culmination of miracle upon miracle. My soul soared, my heart spilled over with love, and songs of worship played in my mind. Songs that I knew provided the background to our slideshow which entertained friends and family as they gathered downstairs in the sanctuary, preparing to celebrate with us.
In a few minutes, I would walk down the aisle on the arms of my two grown sons, Josh, the eldest and Chris, my towering younger boy, toward the man of my dreams.
Only You could have pulled this off, God.
I had been single for only a year and a half when a friend asked if I would ever consider marrying again. A longing stirred in my heart, but I wasn’t so sure. Twenty-one accumulated years of two devastating marriages made me hesitate to answer her. Something in me wanted to hope that marriage held possibility, but my wounded heart felt like it had sustained a bad sunburn still too tender to touch. Marriage was a risk I wasn’t sure I was ready to take. Again.
However, when this new friend shared her romantic, divorced-mom-of-three story, it kindled a small, warming flame of hope. Like many others, from the time I was a young girl, I dreamed of romance and a life shared with my “soul mate.” I watched hundreds of movies depicting boy-meets-girl adventures and wished they could be my life. I confess I wanted a story that would defy everyone who ever told me I was unrealistic, idealistic or a dreamer. Deep down I believed God meant us to have that kind of romance—that He created it in the first place. Wasn’t it His good plan for man not to be alone?
The flame flickered in my heart, and I wondered if maybe that could still happen for me. Some day? But it certainly would take a miracle. Being alone at that point trumped the marital distress I had previously experienced.
A few years passed after that conversation. Within the safe acceptance of my loving church family, my broken heart was learning that relationships consisted of more than me attempting to be good enough to please someone else. I settled into single life with contentment as I pursued a deeper intimacy with Jesus. Over time, watching other happily married couples renewed my hope, and I felt the desire to try relationships again. While I felt satisfied and fairly confident about my life as it was, I did long for the proverbial “soul mate,” partner, friend, lover that I had somehow missed out on in two previous tries.
But how does a forty-something woman with grown children meet men? The single women at my church seemed to outnumber the single men by about four to one.
In the past, my “guy meeting” experiences were limited to youth groups, school, and church. As a teen, life was one social scene. But now? I hadn’t dated since I met my first husband at a college church group.
Not one of the few men at church showed any interest, and I couldn’t bring myself to bar hop looking for a match. A local Christian singles group appeared to be the only avenue available, but it didn’t thrill me either. Some of my acquaintances practically obsessed over each outing as they desperately sought Mr. Right. But that felt a little too intense for me. I cringed at the idea of attending events hunting for a man. Besides, I wanted a relationship to come from God’s timing, not my arrangements. If God did have someone for me, I prayed I could simply bump into him randomly, like at the grocery store or post office.
Or, be set up like one of my best friends, who met her husband from a friend-of-a-friend. I liked the idea, but that wasn’t happening for me either. Most of my friends were married with married friends. You get the picture.
Then one night, I sat in my parents’ living room after sharing a delicious meal during one of my rare visits. Naturally, as it usually did, the conversation turned to my struggling, single-parent-of-teenagers life. My parents felt the time had come for me to have a husband—preferably one who cared deeply for me and could support me in the fashion in which I had been raised as opposed to the one in which I had survived for the previous twenty-five years.
They had an idea of how to launch me back into dating society.
“You need a man. A nice Christian one with a good job. We have this friend…”
It’s not what you think. The friend was not someone they thought I should date. He was an acquaintance who met his match on the well-known, vastly popular internet dating site eHarmony, an establishment that has been harmoniously matching soul mates for more than a decade.
E- what? Internet dating? Never heard of it.
What did my parents, who barely used computers, know about dating online?
I chuckled at their ludicrous suggestion and wondered how I could steer us out of the conversation.
However, they seemed pretty convinced. My dad proceeded to relate some stories of people they knew who had actually met and married as a result of meeting on eHarmony. I confess it intrigued me. I went home that night with the idea rolling around in my mind. A few days later I decided to look up the site “just to see what it was like.”
I still remained skeptical, but waded around in the shallow end looking at a few free matches. Then I ended up filling out a questionnaire that took days, but taught me a great deal about myself. Worthwhile, but after a few months, I let it go. The stress of waiting for matches built up until I wondered if I were obsessed. Nonetheless, the concept lingered.
It resurfaced a couple of years later. The usual ways of meeting guys still weren’t working for me or my never-married-yet friend, “adopted” sister, housemate, and business partner, Carol. I told her about my previous experience, and after talking and praying about it for a few months, we decided to plunge into the deep end of online dating. What once seemed crazy to me now became a viable option.
Social networking wasn’t what I thought to look for, but I’m grateful to my parents for making the suggestion.
Carol and I held a conviction that finding marriage between two people absolutely created for one another held possibility. Granted, internet dating hadn’t been in our list of options, but why not? We figured if God could do anything, did it matter what vehicle he used?
Comment below for the chance to win a free copy of the book.