(I love telling stories. It might be my favorite “style” of writing. It is, without a doubt, the stuff that most of my readers best respond to. This year, I want to tell you some stories about my past– about people who’ve made me who I am today. Some will be happy, some will be sad. Some you will find encouraging, some you will find maddening. But they all have one thing in common. They are all: People Who’ve Made Me Who I Am Today.)
It was the summer of 2008. C. was two years old and A. was three. I was not yet pregnant with G.
It was July and my two children were both involved in “Farm Camp” at the local preschool. It was only 90 minutes each day, but it was just about the first time I had been totally on my own since, hmmm, January of 2005, I suppose.
I almost didn’t know what to do with myself! Almost.
I drove to Starbucks, journal and meal-planning sheets in hand. I ordered a Peppermint White Mocha latte, because it sounded delicious to me. Of course, nothing changes the fact that I’m really just a black coffee loving gal and, thus, it ended up being far too sweet and infinitely too creamy for my tastes but, still, it was a nice experience.
As I sat, relaxing in my chair, a conversation was being carried on at the table just diagonal from me. I wouldn’t say I was deliberately eavesdropping, but I must also confess that I didn’t try overly hard not to hear what was being said, either.
There were two men at the table– one, very young, college-age. The other was probably in his mid- to late-forties. It quickly became obvious to me that he serving as a mentor to the younger man. And they were having some serious religious talks.
I smiled and went back to my menu planning.
Their conversation turned toward the young man’s economics class and, more specifically, the girls in said class.
“Have you noticed any particular girls in there? Any one caught your attention?” the older man queried, a knowing half-smile on his face.
I glanced sideways and saw the young man’s cheeks pinken slightly as he looked down and murmured, “Well, there is one girl… she’s really smart. She has brown hair and….”
“Satan’s work!” I heard the other man bellow, “It is Satan working in your heart that causes her to tempt you so! You must understand this is a battle to be waged…”
… and he went on to quote various Bible verses. I don’t believe he misquoted anything– he was likely far better at citing scripture than I will ever be– but I must also point out that he was pulling bits and pieces out of context, too.
I watched the college student’s face grow pale and his eyes cloud with shame.
My heart was pounding. I could barely contain my emotions. I felt simply awful for this young man. I deliberately tuned out the rest of the conversation, but I did catch the older man’s hissed “scandalous” with a chin tipped in my direction. I imagined it had something to do with the sundress I had worn against the 95 degree heat of the day. Something along these lines:
Anyway, I told my husband about the exchange later that night. I asked if he’d ever heard of something so ridiculous. He nodded. “Really???” I pressed on. Even having been raised in the rather conservative Catholic faith, I had never heard of shaming someone for such, well, NORMAL behavior.
I vowed then and there that I would never, ever make my children feel sinful for merely noticing the opposite sex. I fully expect that my son and daughters will find certain people attractive and fun and interesting. I sure hope they do!
I have to believe that God, in the infinite wisdom of his design, created us to be drawn to one another. How we choose to act on that is an entirely different topic. But do I believe that Satan is the one who made my heart skip a beat when I watched my then-boyfriend walk across Slater’s Woods at our campus?
Not for a minute.
So, thank you, Guy in Starbucks, for helping give me that conviction. Thank you for opening my eyes to an entirely different perspective on male-female relationships.
I will guard my children’s hearts in a very special way– though not your way, at all– thanks to you.
Other people who’ve made me who I am: