When we met in Fuerteventura, it took us all week to establish that we were definitely going to meet up again, so it wasn't until the flight home that we had a real, deep conversation about... well, deep things. He asked me if I knew how old he was, and I honestly didn't - and was honestly surprised to find him 12 years my senior, which I'd never have guessed! Also, divorced. None of it thwarted the sense of peace I had, though, as I sat there in the airport cafe with him holding hands.
On the flight back, we had four more hours to talk. Cutting to the chase, at one point I asked: "What do you think of God?" - a pause, a breath, a gulp later, the answer boiled down to agnostic; he thought there was more than just the physical, that there was a spiritual dimension, but not a personal God with thoughts and feelings. My next question was, "So what do you live for?" - another pause, breath and gulp, I think he found that one harder to answer...
Once we'd met up back in the UK, where he came to a carols by candlelight service where I was part of the choir, I think he was intrigued by my faith. I hadn't kissed him, and had told him I didn't really want to kiss anyone other than my husband. [I still laugh at remembering this - when I said that, his taken-aback response was, "Where is he??" - so had to explain!] So my faith certainly had an impact on the way our relationship was progressing, which is perhaps why he wanted to learn more about it. When I asked if he'd like to do an Alpha Course and explained that it was an opportunity to learn about and ask questions about the Christian faith, he immediately said yes.
Having found a church near him that ran the course, for the next three months I would travel to Bristol every Wednesday after work to attend it with him. I was amazed and humbled to see him grapple with, question, and seriously examine the claims put before him with an open and curious mind, never just dismissing or ignoring an issue. I remember how I learned about Christianity and fought every. step. of. the. way. to find arguments against everything that I found!
I had a very hard time reconciling my growing love for him with the fact that, until a good three months into being together, we didn't share something as basic and deep as our faith: the defining factor in my outlook, world view, and identity. I couldn't stop feeling more and more deeply for him, yet I had no idea what he'd be thinking at the end of the course! It was a scary, emotionally risky time but I could not hold back.
|Taken on our wedding day,|
just before I came down
the aisle. One of my favourite
photos of him, ever.
By the end of the course, Mr. had not had all his questions answered - I think no one ever has every single question answered - but he found it made sense and decided to follow Jesus. In his words: "I knew I needed help and direction in how to do life well. Glad I found it." Too easy, I wondered? Is he doing this because of me?
I made a point never to ask him if he was going to connect with that church, if he was going there on Sunday, if he was going to small group... I had to see what he'd do. And what he did was run with it. He became part of a small group (which I visited maybe twice before we were married; it was his group, his church, his walk and growth) and dove into this new life as if he'd been waiting for this all his life. I guess he had - I guess we all have - just some of us are perhaps more aware of that.
He knows he's found a good thing, and he's grabbed it with both hands. I feel privileged to have shown him to the signpost, but he's walked that road himself.