And he’s a younger man!! He looks like he’s 20 (and a little sleepy) in this photo, but he’s actually 35. That is 5 years younger than I am! Never in my life did I think I’d marry someone younger. I hadn’t ever even dated anyone younger. But God!! He had such a plan and He used it to pave the way for a friendship that would become the foundation of a lifetime commitment. Isn’t that the best place for a marriage to start afterall?
Since JJ was younger, I saw him as a friend – not as a potential catch. He was still in college and I was well into my carreer. It was safe turf. I’d been through two broken engagements to the same guy (another story) and hadn’t dated in almost two years. I was afraid my heart would be broken again. Convinced that I needed to be perfect for someone to love me, I tried to act perfect and look perfect. But since JJ was only a friend, I was totally myself with him – very imperfect! I didn’t care if he saw me without make-up, in sweats, grubby or glam.
One night, JJ stopped by to hang out with my roomates and me. He’d made homemade chilli for us. We were quite impressed! Then as he was leaving, he took out the trash for us. Later that evening my girlfriends and I commented about what a great husband he’d be for someone and how we wished he were older. Soon after that I set him up with one of the college girls that was in a Bible study I was leading. If I couldn’t have him I should share the wealth with someone else, right? Well, I knew something was wrong when I got mad at him the first time he showed interest in her. He walked past me to sit with that cute thing at a church event and it hurt my feelings! I was falling for him, but of course I didn’t let it show. I simply stuffed my feelings down and didn’t say a word.
Our friendship continued to grow. We’d hang out in groups a lot, but occassionally it would end up being just us. What I liked about JJ was that he brought out the kid in me. One time he dared me to climb a tree, and I did! Another night, we were up in this lookout tower and he taught me how to spit long distance. Well he tried. I didn’t do so well.
Another weekend a group of us were going hiking in my hometown. Everyone backed out except JJ. We had planned to stay at my mom’s house and I wanted to go home for a visit, so we stuck with our plans. After hiking all day, we stayed up talking and laughing past midnight. Many months later, when I talked to my mom about us getting engaged, she told me that she could hear us that night and she knew he was the one for me by how much he made me laugh!