The Story of How I Started Dating My Husband
Warning... this is a super long post. I didn't mean for it to be, it just kinda happened that way. So proceed with caution. And a caffeinated beverage, if necessary.
It’s been 1 year, 1 month and 21 days since I first started dating my husband. That means we’ve been together 416 days, 23 hours, 26 minutes and 15 seconds as of right now. (I know, I know Gregory… if it was up to you we’d have had 9 extra days added to that. But I take a little bit of time in making big decisions… I will forever have the 9 days I made him wait after he asked me out, held over my head. I certainly don’t mind.)
***If you are interested, http://www.timeanddate.com/date/ has these super fun date/time calculators. I always enjoy seeing time broken down in different ways… I. Am. A. Nerd.
We’ve now been married 6 months and 20 days. Or 203 days, 5 hours, 42 minutes and 37 seconds.
I’m in a bit of a story telling mood. This morning I was looking over some old posts on my blog and I was just thinking about how fun it is that so many moments are documented. Like little memories stored and saved for later. Like when we got engaged. And our wedding day. And when I spent several days watching 4 kids and having crazy adventures and you know, keeping them all alive. And a couple of birthdays. And a lot of the hard times. So many feelings!
This week I was talking to a co-worker at the pie shop and somehow I stumbled upon the story of how Greg and I started dating. There are few things better than laughing about ridiculous things, while making quiche and cream puffs and breathing in the smell of baking cookies (even if it’s 6:30 in the morning). It was fun, because I hadn’t thought about it in awhile. And it reminded me that it’s important to look back at the fun and silly things of life. That it’s wonderful to remember and rejoice at how good my life is and has been. And to remember to be thankful for the faithfulness of my loving Father. And after an emotional week, it just feels good to laugh.
And it’s a pretty awesome story. And one that can be a pretty entertaining routine when we share it together. We gotten pretty good at it.
Then this morning I was thinking about how I’ve not actually shared the story here! So in honor of our 416 day anniversary (I mean the proper term wouldn’t be “anniversary” I guess since “anni-” means year. I used to think about this all the time when I would count how many months we were dating… “our one month anniversary”, “six month anniversary” and then I realized this doesn’t make any sense. Anyway, I’m getting off track. What else is new? Haha.)…
So when Greg asked me out I actually laughed at him. Like seriously laughed at him. Like he sat down, asked me, I laughed, he said more words, I kept laughing, he got up, me still laughing, he walked away, my laughter continued. And then I realized he was serious, after he was gone. What?! What the crap (excuse my language) just happened? Did I for real just get asked out?... Yep.
But in my defense, let me back up a bit. The day before was a Saturday. We had Team Vine at church in the evening. This is my largest monthly event for childcare. We usually have around a hundred kids or so and about 25 workers (when we are well staffed, which doesn’t always happen.)
So sometimes I end up hanging out with the kids. And when I get around a ton of kids, at night (and sometimes under the influence of extra sugar) I get a little silly. And a lot of sassy. Because it’s fun. And I’m basically a big kid when I get around kids. But I also know how to keep things under control. The kids know I know how to have fun like no other. But they also know to not mess with me. Bad behavior? Not on my watch, buddy. Crying baby? I’ll cuddle and soothe like nobody’s business. Sassy kid? My sass cannot be matched. I will win.
So after 4 hours of kids and workers and parents I’m usually a) tired and exhausted or b) extra hyper and sassy. Most of the time it’s b)… well and that also may be due to the sugar high, but whatever.
So while I was in that state at the end of the night, during parents picking up their kids, Greg walked up to the Kids Program desk. I had known him for years. He was always there serving doing something. Fixing something, cleaning something, doing something technological.
***Side note (I know, I know… all of the side notes… and ranting… and rabbit trails…) Greg still mentions how years ago I “fired” him from cleaning team. I was just hired on staff as the Building Cleaning Supervisor, and was learning how to coordinate around a hundred volunteers and schedules and inventory and equipment and chemicals and keep the building looking nice. And learning that cleaning team was hard. Not exactly most people’s idea of an ideal area to serve. So I never had enough people. And there was always so much to do… Anyway he says (let me note that I have no recollection of this) that I fired him from buffing the floor in the coffee house. I said he was no longer needed because I couldn’t see the difference it was making. Ouch. Pretty sure I wouldn’t have meant that. It was PROBABLY something regarding scheduling and him being at the church too much and me wanting to protect his time. And our buffer wasn’t in the best shape. And we needed it refinished. And now I sound like I’m just making random excuses. Maybe I am… Whatever, I married him in the end J
So back to my story. I had known Greg for years because we were always both at the church. And we’d just chat and talk about random things. And pieces of life. And I genuinely enjoyed our talks.
And Greg liked to always say ridiculous things. The things that sometimes you think, but don’t say it out loud. Well, he did. And it was always hilarious to me. I like people like that. I wish I was more like that.
But never had I ever thought of him as a potential boyfriend. I just didn’t. No reason in particular, it just hadn’t ever crossed my mind.
So that night he was standing at the desk and asked me what service I was going to be at tomorrow for church. Me in sassy mode still replied in my sassy voice, “Why do you need to know?” And he said, “Because I’m going to ask you out tomorrow and I need to know what service to come to.” And again cue the laughter. Oh that Greg. He is so silly. He says the darnedest things. I told him the 5:30pm service.
And he walked away. And I quickly mentioned to my friend who was behind the desk with me that Greg was just joking. “He always just says most random things. He’s like that. Always being ridiculous and saying ridiculous things.”
And we moved on. I didn’t think much of it.
The next day at church I ended up randomly thinking about what Greg had said. I still wasn’t thinking he was serious, but something in me started thinking about it again. And I was wondering if there was something that needed to be “fixed” in me. I told another friend about what he had said. “I just can’t let it go. I know he was joking, but I keep thinking about it now. Maybe there’s something in me that needs some healing. I shouldn’t be thinking that way.” I saw this look on her face. And I know her super well. Something was going on. But I felt another nudge to just let it go. Service was about to start for the evening anyway.
And again I forgot all about it. (Okay, okay, please bear with the ridiculous, oblivious Emily Clerk. After all hindsight is 20/20. Geez…)
I went to service and sat with a friend. We left the auditorium a bit early and sat outside on the patio.
Cue Greg. At the end of service, he waited outside the auditorium. He couldn’t find me and after waiting, thought I’d bailed. So he decided to leave. And then he saw me sitting outside at a table.
My friend had left me briefly to talk to someone else. And I was sitting there waiting. Then Greg sat down. “So I’m asking you out and I don’t expect an answer right now.” And that’s where I started laughing. And you know, kept laughing. Poor guy.
So when it hit me minutes later that this was happening I pretty much lost it. Completely freaked out. FOR DAYS.
My friend did a wonderful job of keeping it cool when I told her what had just happened. Greg was still within earshot and she just kept going on like nothing had happened. She’s the best.
I was in the spot of my life where I had pretty much given up on ever dating. I was content being single. I lived in a cute little house, by myself with my doggie. I was happy. Yes, I struggled. But I was content with the life I lived. I loved children and I had more than I could count. I loved them like my own. We had sleepovers and cooked together and planned adventures and talked about hard things and lived life together. I could do this the rest of my life.
I had seasons years ago where I wanted to be married. Then realized I was a mess and would never be a good wife. Then thought I knew who my husband would be. Three different times. Three different guys (none of which were Greg, might I add… Oh crazy girl crushes.)
Then I realized I had some stuff in my life I needed to work on. And I prayed that God would work on a lot of my mess and issues before I’d ever be in a relationship. Because for me, I wanted to be in a healthier place before I got anyone else involved in my mess.
I worked hard in the hopes that I could be a good wife one day. And be a good mother. And I fought for my future family. I was passionate about this. I had seen so many examples of what happens when people aren’t serious about having a family. When their issues consume their lives. And ultimately the children are the ones who suffer. Over and over again.
So I worked on those things. And I let Jesus heal bits of my heart. And everything got messier. And everything got better. And I was in counseling for over a year. I had times where I had hope for a family of my own. But I also had times where I couldn’t see it ever being my reality. And I was scared of getting it wrong. But I still wanted it. And so I hoped. And I waited. And at times gave up.
Eventually, I just settled on enjoying this life where I was. I didn’t need my life to “start” when I got married. I had too much to enjoy now. And so I did. I enjoyed the kids. I enjoyed the wonderful guy friends that I had. Men who became like brothers and fathers.
And dating became the farthest things from my mind. I wasn’t interested in any of the men around me anyway.
Life moved on. Counseling continued. I felt pieces of me changing and maturing and healing. And I became more and more aware of how much further I still had to go.
And then this guy asked me out. And it messed me up.
I didn’t think I was ready. So immediately I was going to discount it. I was still in counseling. Obviously I was “too messed up”. There was still so much in me that needed healing still.
I asked my close, close friend who knows pretty well every detail of my life and is always there for me. “I’m not ready to date, right?” Her response SHOCKED ME. “I think you are.” Hold the phone. Shut up. What the crap?!
So I asked Jesus, because these people are crazy… I prayed and asked. Immediately I felt the response. “You are ready.”
That all took some time to adjust to. Totally wasn’t expecting that.
So I went on this rollercoaster for the next nine days. Again poor Greg. He waited so patiently. For nine days. And it was agonizing for him. He told me those nine days were just awful.
So I had to decide. Did I want to date him? I couldn’t see myself marrying him. And I wouldn’t date anyone unless I thought there was the potential for marriage. But then again I couldn’t see myself marrying anyone. Ever.
And we had a pretty significant age different. I was 25 years old. He was 40. That’s 15 years. It didn’t feel like that big of a difference when we were together, but the number was still there. What would that mean for our kids? I wanted a large family. I wanted lots of kids. That makes things tricky.
I didn’t know much about him. Yeah we knew quite a bit from just talking, but still not that much as a whole. And we had never actually spent time alone together. And I didn’t even know if I wanted to be alone with a boy. Ever. And I didn’t even know if we would enjoy time together outside the church.
And my brain went about a bazillion miles an hour in a gazillion different ways. So I had a bright idea. Meet up with Greg so we could talk about these things. So we did. I emailed him (that’s the only form on contact I had) and asked him to come up to the church on Wednesday evening. And secretly I also wanted to just give him a piece of my mind. Who was he to ask me out? (I was feeling a lot of feelings, guys.)
So he came up on a Wednesday evening and we sat on the couches. He remembers giving me the seat where I could see the rest of the lobby. He had his back turned to everything including the door, which apparently is the position that is stressful for guys. My seat was the one “in charge” that can see everything that was going on.
And I’m sorry to say, that I behaved pretty poorly. I basically questioned him on why he would be a good boyfriend. I pretty well told him I was concerned he didn’t meet my standards. Again ouch. I asked about his relationship with God. I asked about his willingness to spend time with all my “kids” since they were a big part of my life. And so I sat there and just grilled him.
Looking back I see that as so prideful and selfish. I didn’t see him as a person. I didn’t take his feelings into account. I wasn’t respectful or nice. I was actually pretty mean. But I was scared. I was scared of making a wrong decision. And that night wasn’t so much about Greg. It was about me. And my insecurity. And my fears.
So we left. He endured it. And offered grace. But it was miserable. I didn’t like the answers he gave. He pretty much shut down. That night made both of us pretty miserable. And we went our separate ways.
And again I thought about everything.
I had been walking through this with a friend. She listened to every detail. And I was shocked at how calm she was. This was a big deal! Like my whole life had the potential to change. And I found out she knew about this ahead of time. And she can also be pretty protective over me. So she did her homework. And got details. And at first wanted to shut it down. She didn’t want anything to hurt me and in the past this is something that could have messed me up big time. But she couldn’t do it. She couldn’t stop it. She didn’t feel like she was supposed to. And that’s huge.
I had told my counselor about it that week. And she immediately expressed some concerns. She didn’t know this guy. And we had worked so hard. And I was in such a good place. And she didn’t want that messed up. And she wasn’t sure this relationship could work out. The age difference. A couple of other hesitancies. I remember leaving concerned because she was concerned.
The next week when she came in she was completely different. At the beginning she told me she had something to say. And she had this look on her face. Last week she had expressed her concerns. And that was her job. She had to do her job. But as she was praying for me throughout the week, she felt the God speak to her plainly. “Who are you to try and get in the way of my plans? I know what I am doing.” And I could feel the conviction in what she said. And the weight. And so she told me she trusted our God and she trusted me. And regardless of what happened it would be okay. Wow.
So after both of these moments with both of these amazing women I trusted completely, I had to really consider dating Greg with new openness. It allowed me to slow down a bit and just consider things.
From Greg’s side I found out later he also had some pretty profound moments. Over the last several months before he asked me out he realized that he was interested in me. He enjoyed our conversations. And he wanted to know more. But he also recognized that he wanted it to go beyond just friendship. But since we were just friends it couldn’t go there. And that was hard. And he had to figure out what to do about it.
He wasn’t sure if asking me out was an option. Again the age difference. And there were several other factors that made it seem impossible. And so he eventually just gave up hope.
And one day he officially decided that he wouldn’t ask me out. And that meant for him that our friendship would have to end. Talking to me would be too painful. He would have to pull away. And he was soaking in those feelings of sadness on a Sunday at church with a friend. His was too sad even to go light the candles at the front of the auditorium and so his friend did that for him, even though this guy wasn’t much of a fan of being up front by the stage.
Later during the service Greg was in the hallway right by the sound booth outside the auditorium. Our lead pastor just happened to be there and walked up to him. He started talking to Greg and giving him compliments, which Greg quickly brushed off and tuned out. Then he told Greg (basically out of nowhere) that if he wanted to ask me out that he would be okay with that. (Ahh! Moments after Greg’s decision. Can you say God’s perfect timing and faithfulness!!! Sorry! I just get really excited about this part of the story.) And Greg was like, “No, no you don’t understand. I’ve literally just decided it can’t happen for multiple reasons.” And our pastor offered to meet with him the next week so they could talk it over. He wasn’t pushing him to do anything, but would love to talk it over with him.
It’s utterly insanely awesome and weird that our pastor would do this. How in the world did he even know?! I didn’t even know and I’m in the story. This is a man that I truly love. He’s been a lot like a father to me. He was the one who first prayed for me. He was the man who baptized me a couple of years later. He’s technically my boss, but he’s always been so much more. He worked on my old crappy Kia (that I loved) multiple times. He’s just always been there. It was only fitting that he would be the one to have such a crucial role in my dating relationship. And then to be the one to also perform our marriage.
So after talking with our pastor about the multiple issues, Greg was convinced none of them were deal breakers. Apparently our pastor also dropped some lines to prepare Greg for me being strong-willed (read stubborn) and basically a handful. But he also knew that I would make an awesome wife. So after that the decision was left with Greg.
And he made the decision a few days later. And I made him wait forever. Haha.
Eventually my heart softened even more and I allowed myself to imagine dating Greg. And I realized that I didn’t have to know that I was going to marry him before going out with him. Basically that’s the point of dating. It’s to find out.
And so I felt some of the weight lift. The only question I needed to answer was if I wanted to date Greg Kaufmann. And the rest would just have to play out without me having control of every detail. I’d just have to live in the moment and see what happened.
On a Tuesday I was talking with a friend again. I was going through everything that had been going on in my mind the last few days. And I was pretty sure that yes I wanted to date Greg. And so I decided to text him. And again ask him to come up to the church so we could talk. He wanted to wait until the next day when he’d be back in down (he lived 45 minutes away) but I asked him if we could do it that evening. I didn’t want to wait.
Being the awesome man that he is, he drove back up. I found out later that it was a miserable drive for him. He was completely sure that I was going to say no. So the whole way he was preparing himself to be composed. You know the whole, “Sure we can stay friends…” even though he knew he couldn’t talk to me again.
He walked in the door and I just basically blurted it out, “So… the answer is yes.” His face was completely shocked. I had no idea he was expecting me to say no.
And so we just sat there and talked for a couple of hours. We talked about food and life and all sorts of things. Greg counted that as our first date. I guess I can give it to him.
We planned to go to Giant City that weekend together. I planned for us to drive separately because I wasn’t ready to be alone in a car with a boy just yet. (I understand that I am crazy.)
Two months later I knew I wanted to marry this man. Four months in and we were engaged. We were married after dating 7 months. And here we are 416 days later.
It’s crazy how fast things can change.
It’s crazy how much a heart can change.
This isn’t the story I imagined. I didn’t think I would have been some much of a jerk at first. I didn’t know my future husband was around me for years.
But there were certain things I had prayed for way back in the day that I was reminded of.
I wanted to not know who my boyfriend was ahead of time. I didn’t want to like him for months or years. I wanted to be caught off guard. Because sometimes it’s good for the Emily who fights for control to have to trust someone else to have it figured out.
I have a close friend who had been in my life for years. I knew him since he was a punk kid on cleaning team. I watched him “grow up”. I heard the whispers that he would be a pastor one day. I felt like a proud mom when he came on staff. I felt the emotion when I knew he would be moving far away to plant a church. Long before it was a plan. Only when it was whispers in my own heart to pray for. And so I asked to date before he left. Years prior. We were able to get married just a couple of months before he moved to Oregon to start a church.
There were small qualities I’d prayed for in a spouse. I wanted a man who could cook. I wanted a man who worked with his hands and wasn’t afraid to get dirty. Someone who shared my love for the outdoors and living in the country. Someone who wanted a modest, but large house for a large family and to share with friends who needed a place to stay. A man who loved children, even those that weren’t his own. Greg is all that and more.
I needed a husband who could be gentle with me who struggles trusting men. I needed a husband who could be patient when I get things wrong. I needed a husband who could protect my fragile heart. I needed a husband who would encourage me to do the things I love doing. And I got it.
Sorry this post is like FOREVER long. When I get in story telling mode, it’s hard for me to leave out details. Microsoft Word is telling me I’m on page 9 and 4338 words. Which is a lot.
But it’s fun to share stories sometimes. It’s fun to soak in the memories and remember small details.
It’s also fun to think that everyone’s story is different. So often I think about my relationship with Greg and how different it is from other relationships. And how our wedding was so different. And our life is so different. And then I remember that 1) it’s wrong to compare 2) it’s supposed to be different 3) I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So I give you permission to have your own story. And if you see me around you should share part of it with me. Stories really are my favorite. Especially with coffee and something sweet.