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A lonely woman relies on the power of prayer when she meets a man who may be "the one."
It's just lunch, I told myself. Not a real date. I slid the hangers across the bar of my closet as I rated each outfit. Too stuffy. Out-of-style. A date? I hadn't had one of those for two years. I'd sworn off dating after my last marriage fell apart—my second marriage to fail. I just didn't trust myself. Things had gone so terribly wrong I didn't think I could even make a choice anymore. One afternoon two years later I confided my disillusionment to a friend.
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"Write down on a sheet of paper all of the qualities you want in a husband. Pray over it and put it in a special box. Then trust God to choose someone for you," she suggested. So I did. I made my list, folded it up, put it in my cedar jewelry box and prayed without much hope. I'd always seen myself happily married, chasing kids around a backyard. Here I was, 39, alone and about to meet a guy I barely knew, for lunch.
Friends said I was a "young-looking" 39, but your age is your age. I stepped back from my closet with a dark-olive top and silk pants, brushed my hair, freshened my lipstick and wondered, What am I doing?
As I drove to the restaurant, I thought about the guy I was meeting. We'd been introduced a few weeks before at a friend's place. We only chatted briefly, but he seemed nice, with dark eyes and an easygoing manner. I didn't think much of it until a week later when the phone rang. "It's Michael," he said. I was a little surprised to hear from him, but his friendly manner quickly put me at ease.
A few calls later, he suggested we get together. "I don't date," I said. I took a breath and laughed nervously. "I've had some bad experiences. I want to build a friendship first."
"Then let's be friends," he replied.
We talked every other day. He seemed too good to be true: He had a promising career in counseling. He sang in the choir at his country church. He didn't drink. All the qualities I'd put on the list. But I tried not to get my hopes up. There was an unknown: I'd only seen Michael that one time, but I remembered he looked younger than I was.
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I pulled into the parking lot and glimpsed him standing in front of the restaurant, with a boyish grin. Yep, I thought as I walked toward the breezeway, definitely younger. "Good to see you," he said. He held the door for me. "I'm glad you suggested Bellini's. It's my favorite."
"Mine too," I agreed. "Let's go dutch."
"Out of the question," he said. "Since I invited you, it's on me."
His manners impressed me, but I still wasn't sure what I was doing there. I picked at my shrimp piccata. We talked about a lot of things—music, books we loved, even spiritual stuff. I'd never met a man who was so comfortable talking about his faith. I felt relaxed around him. When we finished, he paid the tab and left a generous tip.
"Let's do this again," he said, walking me to my car. "My 10-year reunion's coming up this weekend, but maybe we could do something next weekend?"
I did the math. Ten-year COLLEGE reunion? That would make him 32. Maybe 35, if he got a graduate degree. Or 10-year HIGH SCHOOL reunion? He'd only be 28. I ran the numbers over and over in my head. Best case scenario, he's only a few years younger. Worst case, 12. I could've been his babysitter!
"Call me," I said. "Thanks for a great lunch."
I sighed deeply as I slid behind the wheel of my car. How could he be the one? He would want a younger woman he could start a family with. Not me.
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That evening I slipped on my pajamas, curled up on the couch and flipped channels aimlessly. After the news, I padded into my bedroom and dug into my closet for my cedar jewelry box.