My first kiss came in 9th grade.  It was a peck on the lips from a 7th grader in the movie theater as his dad sat 4 rows back chaperoning.  Crazy to think that my oldest son is older than that boy was, but that is beside the point.  Most of the boys that I took a liking to in school were younger than me… sometimes because it was my only option (the Christian schools that I attended were small) and at other times because I was fairly safe from rejection with the younger “men”.  My huge insecurities kept my standards low…as in, if I heard tell that he was interested, I was his.  I was not any kind of a catch.  I was a nerd and a goody goody.

Enter David Roberts… He started attending my church when I was at the end of my sophomore year in high school.  Beats me what he saw in the gangly praise team singer who was never taught proper hygiene or how to properly apply makeup, but for some reason he picked me out.  He asked the pastor’s son to introduce us.  My friends told me that he was rich and that he drove a BMW.  Not only that, but he was in college.  In reminiscing about this first encounter, I can only attribute his attraction to me as a complete act of God…I mean, God blinded a couple people in the Bible to accomplish His purposes… I suppose He could have just as easily blinded David Roberts.

It is quite funny to me that David had been THE man in high school…captain of every team, popular with the students and teachers, Christian Man of the Year… I mean, this guy had his pick of the litter in high school.  The girls were chasing him down.  He ended up in 2 fairly long term relationships before we met with girls completely out of my league…and his age.

Our first date was to Applebees on a Wednesday night after church.  I don’t remember much about it except I felt like I might throw up the entire time.  I hadn’t dated much (like I’d had maybe 2 dates before David; I was only 16), so I was almost out of my mind with nervousness.  I wonder why he even wanted a second date, but he asked again.  We went to Japanese this time (I didn’t eat a thing) and then to play mini golf.  As I said goodnight to him, after what I considered an epic fail, I also told him that I was not having sex until I got married…Well, goodnight then.  I really think this is what hooked him in.  I mean, how many girls will put it all out there on the second date.  I still laugh at myself, but I was honest…and scared.

After our third date, we were sitting in the driveway looking at the stars and the girl who wanted to take things slow finds herself saying “So aren’t you going to kiss me goodnight?”  He obliged and we were committed.  I had a boyfriend…a much older one.

I was ecstatic for a month.  He wanted to see me every chance he got.  He would drive by my work and leave notes on my car.  He paid for everything, took me places I had never been, hung on to my every word.  But he was also in a different place in life…college.  He might have mentioned the “m” word a couple times…and this girl, who was 16 and had barely dated had a panic attack.  I really did.  I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep.  What if he wasn’t the man God had for me?  What if I didn’t really like him as much as I thought I did?  What if I had to spend the rest of my life with him?  I had to get rid of him…easier said than done, since we had exchanged “I love yous” quite often and had dived into some serious topics of conversation.

So I pulled out the “how to break up with a great guy” card and told him that it wasn’t him, it was me (it really was me anyway) and could we just be friends?  I told him that things were moving too fast and that I wanted to concentrate on my studies (now that part was a lie… I wanted to concentrate on playing the “field”).  We remained friends, but he continued to pursue me as I dated guy after guy. 

Then people at church started to try to set him up with other girls.  Most of them had been happy enough when our short relationship ended because the age difference was quite a scandal around the place.  I remember hearing wind of him having dinner at a girl’s house and being overcome with jealousy.  I had no idea why I was jealous, but I was.  Even during the six months we were not dating, we would still sit out in the church parking lot until all hours of the night talking.  I cringe with embarrassment when I think of the conversations that most often included the latest guy I was crushing on.

And yet, he continued to love me.  I don’t know how in the world I had made such an impression on this guy in such a short amount of time, but he didn’t give up on me.  He could have had any other girl he wanted, but he wanted me.  And as he began to be pursued by a new girl at church, I realized that I wanted him too…all to myself… but I was still terrified of commitment…of screwing up my life…of being outside of God’s will.  So things went on like this for several months before the day that I will never forget.

I had called David and left him a message about something rather.  I can’t remember the details, but it was in some ways mushy and crossed the friendship line.  Next thing I know, David Roberts shows up at my door.  After forcing me to listen to the message, he laid out an ultimatum.  I needed to make a choice.  Either we were going to be in a committed relationship or we were not going to be friends at all.  He was done. He was quitting.  As completely scared out of my wits as I was, I didn’t want to live without him.  In the less than a year that we had known each other, he had become my best friend…truly the best friend that I had…and I had always longed for a friendship like we had.  I told him that I was willing to try again.

We received the gamut of advice about our relationship as I think many people were still concerned about a junior in high school dating a senior in college, but I think from the first week that we dated that second time we knew it was forever.  Throughout my junior year we planned our wedding and named our kids.  I was so in love that I couldn’t even see straight.  I know I was young. It could have been a complete disaster.  Looking back, however, God knew what He was doing.  My parents divorced about 3 months after we made a commitment to each other.  David walked me (and my family) through some of the hardest days of my life and he hasn’t stopped walking since.  He asked me to marry him two weeks after I graduated from high school and we were married 6 months later (it’s better to marry than to burn…short engagements are the safest).  The next time I had a panic attack over David Roberts was 60 seconds before I was to enter the sanctuary and become his wife.  I almost pulled a Julia Roberts (I don’t think that would have disappointed my man one bit since he’s in love with her too) instead of becoming Candace Roberts, but those doors swung open and as I met the eyes of the man I would spend the rest of my life with, a peace descended on me and I knew I was walking steps prepared for me long before time began.

We struggle to find the romance these days.  Fifteen years and five kids later, we stay exhausted and forgetful about our early days together.  But there are moments when he looks at me with tenderness, when he texts me that I am the best thing that has ever happened to him, when he does something just because he knows I need it, that I am reminded how it feels to be so pursued by love.  The miracle is not that David and I are still married or that we somewhat successfully navigate the stress of the life that we live…the miracle is that he ever chose me to begin with.  I took for granted so much when I was younger… I have lived a great romance.