I had just come back from England where I had spent 6 months on a spiritual journey that changed my life completely. If you want to know more, please read “God’s Part of the Deal.”
Anyway, I had worked through many issues I had with God, my past and my salvation. Maybe that’s why I hadn’t met Mr. Right yet. God had work to do in me! So, now I was ready, really ready! I knew what was important and was willing to change my list to what God wanted for me. So, let’s go! I’m not getting any younger!
After my 6 months in England, I came home to no home church and no real social life. So, I did what everyone else was doing and took out a personal ad. You know, true love is only a click or personal ad away! Well, in those days, before the internet, we took out personal ads. I had to say in 3 lines what I was looking for – Christian WNMW seeking Christian WNMM (white never married male), 30-40, employed, NS, ND for long-term relationship. Phone: 555-555-5555. Woo hoo! That should narrow it way down!!
Well, it actually worked! I got a call from Dan and we talked for awhile. Then, agreed to meet in a public place, like Olive Garden, for dinner and face to face conversation. We shared our faith stories, our employment history and found that we were both entrepreneurs, his dream to teach ESL classes to kids in NY and mine to teach drama classes to kids. Great! We had a kindred spirit! So started our relationship. We dated with me spending many weekends at his parents’ house, getting to know him and his family. He had been engaged to his best friend from grad school but she wasn’t ready to make the commitment so he had moved on with his life. There were times he would tell me I was so much like Molly – we were both ENFP’s (If you know the Meyers Briggs test) and that someday he wanted us to meet. There was this little voice in the back of my mind that said, “Maybe he should wait for Molly. They were best friends first and then engaged. Maybe he should wait for her!” But, I didn’t listen and kept moving forward in our relationship. Soon, we were talking about marriage. I knew he had shopped for a ring. He had made plans for us to have a date in downtown Chicago. As we walked down the Christmas lit streets, he carried a huge shopping bag with a huge grin on his face. I knew this must be the night. It had to be!
He hailed a horse drawn carriage for us and during the ride he unveiled what was in the bag – a huge, white bear with a big bow around his neck! How cute!! I thanked him for the fun gift and then he said, “Look closer at the bow.” And there, around the bear’s neck was a gorgeous diamond ring! Stunning! I was stunned! Wow! He made it all so romantic! Then he asked and I said yes!
We went to dinner to celebrate and told the waitress we had just gotten engaged! She asked if we wanted her to take our picture, but since this was in the days before phone cameras, we realized we didn’t have a camera! So, while I waited for our food, Dan ran to the corner store and got a throw away camera. The waitress took our picture and then we went and found a carriage driver that would let us take a picture in front of his carriage, trying to recapture the moment.
We went home and told family and friends who were all happy for us. But, when we got the pictures back, Dan made the comment that we didn’t really look all that happy – like a couple that had just gotten engaged. Hmmm, why was that?
We set our wedding date out 6 months in June. We reserved the photographer, church, flowers, and all the other fixings! I picked my bridesmaids and we picked their dresses. Mom and I went to find the perfect dress and we did! Foofey, lacy, girly, lavish and what I had always dreamed of.
My car broke down so Dan and I bought a car together. Then, we looked at houses to buy so we could start our life and a family. We found a townhouse, made the bid, and closed the deal 2 months before the wedding date. I moved in, got things settled. We bought furniture so we were ready to begin our life together. It all came together so easily and quickly. But, I had so many moments of a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.
A good friend of mine was engaged to get married in August of that summer. We talked one night about our upcoming nuptials and shared that we weren’t feeling like we thought we would feel about getting married. We were sure this was the right one. So, why the turmoil in our guts? Why the lack of excitement? Why did it feel so wrong?
Dan and I had bought a computer for our new home and opened it together. I thought it would be so much fun but it wasn’t. We just weren’t connecting. There was no spark. There was no excitement. Something was missing! And then I realized that we weren’t friends. We had the romance, the shared goals, the common heart. But, we weren’t friends! I wanted to marry my best friend! And he wasn’t that for me and I wasn’t that for him!
It was six weeks away from our wedding date and I knew I couldn’t go through with it. I felt just sick in my deepest gut. I became depressed and sad. How could I break his heart when another woman had broken it already? Couldn’t I make it work so he wouldn’t be wounded again? Maybe we could make it work.
I had picked up our invitations. It was time to send them out, but, I knew God was working in me, helping me to see this wasn’t right. I couldn’t go through with it and put both of us in a marriage that would be painful for years to come. So, I sat Dan down on our new couch in our new home and told him I couldn’t go through with it. I just didn’t believe it was right. He told me he was disgusted with me and walked out.
There I was with no car of my own, no place to live and a lot of debt for the things we had bought together. I really had no idea how I was going to make it but knew that God was leading me away from this relationship. I knew He would provide what I needed.
It’s so embarrassing to have to tell others that you are not getting married. But, God worked again as I heard more responses of people who wished they had called it off before the wedding and didn’t. They did end up divorced, wishing they had done the same thing I did. Somehow, God affirmed my decision through them.
I did find a cheap car and a cheap place to live. Dan was gracious and kept the house but my credit score was dinged as I had so much debt against my income, thus the cheap car and cheap place to live. But, God promises to provide what we need and allow us to live with the consequences of our choices. If I had to do it again, I would not have bought a house before the wedding day or bought anything else. I have learned that until the moment we say “I do” we both should have the freedom to call it off, for whatever reason. Buying a house together does not a marriage make.
I had heard from someone that Dan was dating someone else and was talking about marrying her. I was in shock as it had only been 4 months since our scheduled wedding day! So, maybe he just wanted to be married, to anyone, but just married! I felt hurt. How could he so quickly move on, as if our relationship was really nothing??
About 11 months after our break-up, Dan called to tell me he was financially ready to re-finance the house and take my name off the mortgage which would free me to buy a car and move on with my life. As I said, he graciously accepted much of the debt we had and kept the things we bought. During our conversation he told me that he and Molly had gotten back together and when she was ready, they would be married. It was then that I told him that there were so many times I would think he should wait for Molly! That was his best friend. He needed to marry his best friend! He thanked me at that point for doing what I did. He told me that I had done the hard but courageous thing. He said he respected me for making that decision as he knew it wasn’t easy. I told him I was glad for him and Molly and hoped they would be happy together.
God, once again, affirmed my decision and the step I took. It was still painful. The night before what was supposed to be my wedding day, I was curled up on my bed, crying. I knew I couldn’t marry Dan, but that didn’t mean I didn’t want to be married! I still hurt!
My aunt and uncle with my cousins decided to still come that weekend and visit. I’m so glad they did as it helped to take my mind off of it all. We had a great time. And that night my cousin, who is about 12 years younger, told me that I was an example to her as I had taken a difficult step but done what I believed was right.
The dress? I gave it to a local costume shop. The pictures? I took my nieces and nephews to the studio for pictures with them instead. The invitation? I kept the thank you cards and have used them for years! The ring? I gave it back of course!
The memories? I keep them as a reminder of what God did in my life during that time. I hold onto what I learned and take that into the next steps in my life. For God works all things for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose! (Romans 8:28)
That was fiance #1. That was just the first time I ran away.