Monday, March 03, 2003

March 3rd Memoir- While other people are doing a peace prayer at 3:33 PM on 3/3, I’m thinking back to a Saturday night two years ago when my life got changed forever. I had moved back to my hometown of Midland, MI in July 1996 after finishing up my Ph.D. When academic job-hunting was looking bleak, my father got the idea of starting a computer store; I came home to run it. Two and a half later, we had run out of sanity and working capital, having maxed out my credit cards trying to keep the thing afloat; had I had more courage and wisdom, I would have pulled the plug on it sooner. The winter of 1999 was one of the bleakest points in my life, as I recovered from putting my all into a failure. I had developed people skills and a higher level of tolerance of stress. I was teaching a finance course at Saginaw Valley State University and doing odd accounting temp jobs and was feeling like a failure, living with my parents at age 37 and too depressed and self-centered to feel worthy of a decent job or a decent woman. Things started to slowly turn around. As my SVSU adjunct job ended in April 1999, I picked up an accounting job at Hurley Medical Center in Flint. It was supposed to be a two-month assignment; once they saw my computer skills, it wound up lasting three years. Slowly, I was picking up confidence in my ability to contribute as an adult. I was struggling to find fellowship in my hometown as well; my friends from the 80s had gone different paths, and I couldn’t quite fit in the various single groups at the churches in town. The singles group at Calvary Baptist was a bit too young (and the church a but too capital-F fundamentalist stuffy) while the singles group at Christian Celebration Center was mostly divorced, blue-collar people (not wanting to be a snob, but I wasn’t a great fit there). Finally, in the spring of 2000, I found a good singles Bible study that Midland Evangelical Free Church sponsored. It was a bit older (mid 20s to late 30s) mostly made up of college-grads. I found a good outlet on Friday nights and found quite a few intelligent evangelical folks from various churches (only about have of the group’s member went to E-Free) that were similar odd-ducks. At 38, I felt like the possibility of marriage had largely passed me by, but the other people in the group gave me hope that I’d might find someone. That fall, we got a newcomer named Ed, who like me, had moved back to Midland after working elsewhere. He was a fellowship junkie, going to the singles Sunday school class at Calvary Baptist, bopped across town to take in the late service at New Life Vineyard and their Tuesday night young-adult “Friends Group” and the E-Free Friday Night bunch. Ed had been putting in a plug for his Vineyard group for a while. On a Saturday afternoon, Ed and I were shooting pool in the basement of another E-Freer’s house and got invited out that evening to a bonfire outing. When we got to the house that hosted the bonfire, I found myself chatting with a cute Presbyterian seminary grad named Eileen. We spend the evening talking comparative theology and our spiritual paths (How’d a nice Presbyterian girl get hooked up with a Pentecostal bunch like this?), becoming fast friends, finding an intellectual, spiritual and emotional soul mate. She gave the quirkiest come-on line as we parted company that evening-“call me up and talk theology sometime.” I, having a bad crush on her from hour one, did just that the following Tuesday, inviting her to the E-Free Friday night study. I wound up going to the Vineyard Tuesday night group a week later, seeing a largely college-aged bunch that was desperately seeking God. Their Spirit-filled but non-Pentecostal theology fit my Bapticostal theology to a T. I came back the next night for their Wednesday night service, and the adults were just as nice and God-seeking. The next Sunday, I went to the Sunday school class at Sunrise Baptist where I was attending and then snuck out for the late service at New Life Vineyard, going out to lunch with Eileen and a high-school friend of hers. By the end of March, I was a Vineyard regular and had fallen for Eileen to a point where I asked to court her, seeing wife material in her. She agreed to continue our friendship with an eye towards marriage. Having someone love me who didn’t have to is the greatest confidence builder I’ve ever had. God loves me, and Jesus died for me, but that offer’s open to all. My parents and sister love me, but they’re family. Having someone who doesn’t have to love you do so was the greatest gift I’ve ever received, short of Jesus’ death for me on the cross. That love has given me the confidence to start blogging, putting my thoughts up for the world to see. It’s given me the confidence to be a college professor. It’s given me the confidence to be a husband; we’re coming up on eight months of marriage. I’m a far better man than I was two years ago, thanks to the transforming power God channeled through Eileen.

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