**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events that I have experienced firsthand; used with permission.
After my divorce, I went through a strange period where I developed a crush on the kind of man I may not have ordinarily been attracted to — or at least I thought so.
Most of the men I had previously been with up until this particular point in my life were what most women would describe as bad boys. You know, the villainous daredevil types with lots of charisma and no bank account.
In reality, these bad boys often turned out to be wild, insecure maniacs with absolutely no plan for the future — and no plan for me either. Alas, I got totally wrapped up in their whirlwind of chaos.
After my experiences, I think I was incredibly lost. I was searching for…something.
That’s when I found myself starting to crush on a man at work. But he wasn’t just any man. He was really into going to church and this was all he ever spoke about.
He was good-looking and intensely charismatic. I worked in the office and he worked in the warehouse — so every day I would see him when he arrived to clock in. He had a fresh, genuine swagger about him and a bold, energetic aura that captivated me.
Over time, I would come to anticipate his arrival at work in the mornings and look forward to our brief exchange of pleasantries. He was at least 5 years younger than me — I was in my 30s at the time — and we certainly didn’t move in the same circles at work.
I really wanted to somehow get closer to him. I felt drawn to him.
Eventually, I made sure I placed myself in areas where I knew he would be and started up small conversations with him, attempting to insert myself into his world. It was a little bit stalker-ish, I know. What can I say?
After having some further conversations with the object of my crush, I found out that on the weekends he was completely devoted to the church he attended — organizing outings with the people from his church on Saturdays and then being at the church all day on Sundays.
He invited me to come and check out his church many times — but I was hesitant.
I grew up going to church until I was about 9 years old and then my family stopped going completely. It was a decision that we discussed as a family and agreed upon.
Even though I had left the church behind me I accepted and respected that many people are devoted to the routine of attending church on Sundays.
That said, I knew that I didn’t want to go to church just to hang out with this guy that I was crushing on.
Or did I?
A few weeks later, I found myself at church on a Sunday.
Everyone was very welcoming. There was a person preaching for a good length of time. There were plenty of musical interludes where music was played with enthusiastic clapping and dancing.
This particular Sunday gathering was an all-day affair. I was not prepared for this kind of commitment but I kept going for several weeks. I really liked this guy.
However, I soon realized that I was not the only female there vying for his attention. He seemed to have quite a following. A female following.
I mostly felt desperate for going to this church every Sunday to see this guy— but I had convinced myself that it wasn’t just about him — it was about the journey of ‘finding myself’.
It turned out that this guy was also very much into exercise like I was and after I mentioned that we should go running together a few times he actually took me up on it and agreed to come over to my apartment one Saturday evening. I was pretty excited. I almost thought that this might be my moment.
He arrived with his running gear and off we went. It was dark outside, so that was kind of weird — but there we were. We ran and chatted. I found out much more about him. This was the first time I had seen him outside of the workplace or the church.
He was a friendly, kind guy. I didn’t know what he thought of me. I wasn’t even sure if he thought I was attractive or not. I didn’t know if he came over because we were just ‘friends’ or if he could sense that I wanted more. I’m not really a flirter. I’m an introvert. It was a miracle that I even got him to come over at all.
I learned about his jaded past and the reasons why he was so involved with the church and its activities.
He had much more of a dark past than I had anticipated — and then, suddenly, it all made sense. He had been one of those bad boys all along. Well, a reformed bad guy, I suppose. Now I knew why I had been so attracted to him.
As we got further into our run, he told me about his very close friend who was a girl from the church whom he had known for a very long time. He mentioned how he wanted to settle down with her and have kids — but that they had to keep the relationship quiet for now out of respect for the church’s rules about physical intimacy before marriage.
It was crushing. He was already in love with someone.
I was incredibly disappointed. I really felt like an idiot now.
Ah, well. Live and learn, right?
But what did I learn?
Actually, the whole thing was a worthwhile experience.
I realized that if my new friend didn’t stay active within the church or stay connected with his circle of friends from the church, he may very well be in danger of going back to that life he so badly wanted to escape. The life that was most familiar to him.
I guess we’re all trying to escape what’s familiar yet perhaps not so good for us. Including me. However, what I saw in this man was hope. I saw a glimpse of redemption which is what I had ultimately been looking for myself.
But I wouldn’t find it in a church and I wouldn’t find it in a man. I would eventually find it within myself
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