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Monday, February 14, 2011

First Steps (Kam's Love Story)

Homecoming 1996
The year was 1995. I 'm pretty sure of it. I was an extremely shy 15-year-old girl. Jen had invited me to her youth group, repeatedly, and I had finally given in. I didn't grow up going to church, and my dad, with his witty, crass sense of humor, had often made remarks about the local Baptist population. We were from L.A., California after all. He had grown up Catholic. My mom never even went to church that I know of. At least not regularly. She did attend a Jewish school, though. But only because it offered her the best education.

Frankly, I was very nervous about stepping into this alien environment. My family was spiritual; we loved God and all of his people. We talked about God and religion fairly often. Our conversations, however, were likely very different than the majority of our neighbors'. Much like the lyrics to one of my favorite songs, we simply did not need the church to prove our faith. We definitely didn't need it to cleanse our souls.

Well, I know a preacher, he's a real good man
He speaks from The Good Book in his hand
And helps all people when he can
But me and God don't need a middle man

Well, I found God in a soft woman's hair
A long day's work and a good sittin' chair
The ups and downs of the treble clef lines
And five miles ago on an interstate sign
My God, my God and I don't need a middle man
My God, my God and I don't need a middle man

Now I don't doubt that The Good Book is true
What's right for me may not be right for you
To church on Sunday I'll stand beside
All the hurtin' people with the fear in their eyes
And I thank the Lord for the country land
Just like pa, I thank him for my hands
And I don't know if my soul is safe
Sometimes I use curse words when I pray

My God, my God and I don't need a middle man (repeat)

-The Avett Brothers, “Me and God”

Anyway, back to that Wednesday evening when I took my first step into the church. I was on my way to my very first youth group meeting and was terrified, to say the least. I did look cute, though. A friend who was going with me and I had taken a ridiculous amount of time primping for the evening. I remember exactly what I was wearing. A short, flowing yellow dress that had flowers printed on it. And brown sandals. My hair was fairly long at the time, and I wore it down. I went with a sweet look. And I honestly was very sweet and innocent. I don't remember everything about that evening, but what I do remember would become a pivotal moment in my life. The very moment I would meet my first love.

We were directed into small groups and handed a small, thin Bible. Next, we were told to locate a particular verse, a task that is quite difficult for one that has barely ever held the Good Book. But I tried. I flipped and flipped and did my best to find this verse. I must have been a sad sight. I was obviously lost. I felt like everyone could see how uncomfortable and clueless I was. But maybe it wasn't apparent to everyone. Who did notice was the boy sitting across from me. The boy wearing long board shorts and a plaid button down. Oh, and Converse. He didn't look like he had sat in front of the mirror for too long, but knowing him now, he definitely had.

“You're not going to find it in there.”

“Hmmm?” I think I whispered back.

I remember looking into his eyes. It's a moment that is frozen in time for me. It wasn't a love at first sight moment like in a Hollywood movie. It was...a knowing. Like an I'm definitely supposed to be here right now to meet you kind of knowing.

“It's not in the New Testament. It's in the Old Testament. You don't have it.”

I was mortified. In a teenage girl kind of way. “Why was I here? I don't belong here,” I thought to myself. This was so not me. And now this tall, skinny boy with long hair and a cute baby face was aware that I was an outsider. What could he possibly be thinking of me? Why would they pass out half of a Bible and then ask me to find a verse in the part I didn't have? Why?

The evening went on just fine, and someone eventually found me the missing part of that Bible. I doubt anyone else even noticed. But when you're 15, it seems as if all eyes are on you all of the time.

The top one is his very 1st note to me :)
I returned to that youth group and continued to go for the next three years. I never fully fit in, but that ended up being okay. That boy and I soon became friends. He wasn't much like everyone else either. After a year, we started “going out.” We had our first kiss on a September evening in 1996. We were at the ballfields at a park. We climbed up into score box #9. He asked me, “Can I kiss you?” My heart was beating like mad.

Three months later, we had confessed our love for one another. It happened in the driveway of my mom's house, under a blanket of stars. Next to his white Ford Festiva. A year later, on New Year's Eve, he would be sitting on his knee, for hours, building up the courage to propose. He finally did, in my bedroom at my dad's house. He gave me a ring bought with his Christmas money. Money that he had asked for rather than gifts.

That boy has grown up into a beautiful man. A man that I adore with every part of my being. I thank God for him every day. I was meant to be in that very church, that very evening. That indescribable moment that I looked into his eyes had been destined.

We've been married for twelve years now, and I can't imagine what my life would be like had I never taken that first, terrifying step...

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