You know those people who are just different...abnormal...strange, who don't act and think and speak like everyone else, who don't meet the status quo, who defy social expectations, the awkward...the weirdos?
It hit me last weekend. I'm weird. I mean, I've never really "fit in" with the "cool crowd". [Hello - I'm still using the word "cool"...] In high school I had a few popular friends, but they were only my friends when no one else was around. I have a list of humiliating memories [some are more recent than others]. I'm kind of nerdy and awkward...I've know this about myself for awhile now. And, to be honest, I'm really pretty okay with that. I now realize that the whole "fitting in" thing really isn't all it's cracked up to be.
HOWEVER, I was abruptly reminded few days ago, just how weird other people think I am. Ha! Sigh.
It all began at a family gathering. [These sort of revelations often do, I suppose.] My brother-in-law and his girlfriend [who are in their 30's] were sitting in the hot tub. I was sitting at the table on the deck beside them and the conversation began something like this:
His girlfriend: "So...how did you two [my husband and I] meet?"
Okay, so the rest of the conversation is mostly irrelevant to the story...I'll skip the details of our love story for now and cut to the point: I married J. when I was only 19. He was my high-school sweetheart [sort-of]. Really, I adored him from the day I met him and we became best friends who knew we loved each other and planned to marry one day. We didn't "date" like most people date. By the time we were dating we had already talked about marriage. I was 15 when our friendship began. He is four years older.
Alright, you have the basic background. As I'm telling the story to her [who, by the way - I just met], my Mother-in-Law, who is also sitting at the table nearby interjects: "And they didn't have sex until they were married!"
To which my Brother-in-Law bursts out in laughter. His girlfriend glances back and forth between him and I, unsure of what the appropriate response is, and then finally settles for a look of confusion and subtle amusement. "Really?" She asked timidly...as though she were afraid to put me on the spot. Meanwhile, his laughter turns to concern. "Oh wait, is she serious? That's not a joke?" was written all over his eyes.
Mom: "Heather's first kiss was on her wedding day." Then she twirled around to face my 12-year-old niece. "You know the story, right? I tell you about it all the time. Who do your kisses belong to...???"
Embarrassed and slightly annoyed, my niece chanted back: "I know. Jesus."
My brother chuckling again, nervously. His girlfriend is still waiting in bewilderment for an answer. I nod. "It's true." Then excuse myself to check on the oven.
I shuffled into the kitchen, tying to think though the awkwardness of it all. It sounds crazy and weird. I know it does. But it wasn't. I mean, it was because I wanted to kiss him. But it was really special to wait. It was really loving for him to wait for me. I knew he wanted me because he loved ME and everything else was icing on the cake.
No one ever told me that I HAD to wait until we were married to kiss him, or that my kisses belonged to Jesus. I made a commitment in my own heart that I wanted my first kiss to be on my wedding day.
I remember several years before I knew J. very well, another guy I knew had asked me if he could kiss me. I smiled and said, "No." He was surprised. "Why not?" He asked. "You don't like me?"
"No, I do."
"Well,...I" I hesitated. I knew it was weird.
"Just tell me..."
By now my cheeks felt hot. "Okay. Um... I kind of want my first kiss to be on my wedding day."
He stared. It was the same look that my brother's girlfriend gave me in the hot tub: bewilderment. "Oh. Huh. [pause] I kind of expected you to tell me you have a boyfriend." I shook my head. There was a long and awkward pause. Then he spoke again, "So...really? You've never been kissed before?"
[Super embarrassed now...] "No."
"Wow. Uh, well, I think that's cool. I mean, I can't do that, but man it really makes me want to kiss you now! You sure you want to wait?"
I laugh and sigh, slightly relieved that he might sort-of understand. "Yeah."
"Okay, then. Sorry, that was um...well...I respect that," he shrugged. "I hope you get that first kiss."
Our friendship quickly changed. He was not at all interested in me anymore. He treated me with a new kind of respect/caution, as though I were an item displayed in a museum, roped off with a "do not touch" sign to be briefly admired and then passed by, and gave his attention to other girls.
Fast forward several years. I am crazy about J. and have not yet told him about the kiss thing. I've been playing the scenario in my head. What will I say? What will I do if he tries to kiss me? Is it even that important to me? What if that's too weird for him? I decided to tell him, but if it was a deal-breaker for him, then I would forget that whole "first kiss on my wedding day" thing - it wasn't worth losing him.
When that moment came, and I thought he might kiss me, I told him. I wanted my first kiss to be on my wedding day, but I understood it that was too weird for him. His expression was intrigue. He thought a moment...a really, really long moment. "I want that for you." He answered. From then on he was as committed to my decision as I was [at times, more committed than I was] and my lips were kissed for the first time when the pastor said, "You may kiss the bride."
Now - full disclosure here people: J. kissed me before we were married. He'd kissed my cheek and my forehead and my hand. But only my husband has ever kissed my lips.
Back to the original story.
So...my Brother-in-Law's girlfriend followed me into the kitchen a few minutes later. "Really?" She asked again. I nodded. "Wow. That is so awesome! I'm jealous. I'm really so jealous."
J. and I talked about it later.
"I don't have any regrets, Heather. Do you?" He asked.
"No." I smile.
Now, just to clarify, I'm not suggesting that others should wait until they are married to kiss, or that I think it is wrong to kiss before you are married.
But that's part of our story. For us, it was a way to love each other. It was a way for him to show me that he loved me for more than just outer beauty and the pleasure I could give him. It was a way for me to show my husband that I respected him and honored him enough to share my beauty and my body only with him. It was really intimate to not kiss. How weird is that?! And now, lucky, lucky me...I get to kiss him all the time.
Maybe I was just young and ignorant, but I never even considered whether we would enjoy having sex once we were married. That just kind of seemed obvious. "Sexual compatibility" didn't ever cross my mind. I loved that man. I knew he loved me. I was incredibly happy holding his hand, being held in his arms. I knew we would enjoy sex with each other. And for us, sex isn't just sex. Yes it is physical and fun; but it's more than that too. Sex is an expression of our commitment and love. It is comfort when we are hurting. It is celebration when we are joyful together. It is intimacy and passion.
I don't know what it is like to sleep with a man and wake up never to see him again. I don't know what it is to share my heart with someone and have them walk away because they became bored of our relationship. I can imagine. And I think it would shatter me.
So, while some might think it strange, or odd, or not believe it is even possible, I'm kind of glad that I'm a weirdo. I am thankful for my husband, who not only accepted my weirdness, but adored it. Here we are 11 years later with no regrets. Our marriage isn't a perfect "happily ever after". But I am really thankful for the love we share, and the story we have to tell - even if it is a little weird.