Have you ever wanted a kid's meal when you weren't a kid anymore?
That's almost precisely the feeling I had when I was an agnostic girl unexpectedly falling head-over-heels for a Christian boy.
Now, stop for a second.
Let me back up.
By using the analogy, "have you ever wanted a kid's meal when you weren't a kid anymore," I seem to claim that Christianity (and maybe even religion in general) is something childish like diapers and car seats or Barbies -- just a phase that little ol' me had to eventually grow out of. Nothing of the sort -- I honestly just thought the image was compelling and that it represented the desperate-yet-innocent hunger I found myself fast experiencing.
Put much more accurately, I found myself craving the crisp taste of chicken nuggets and french fries when I had never once actually driven through those golden arches.
OK, so maybe a weird analogy. But bear with me.
As a young girl, I went to church -- two, in fact, the first of which for several years. The preacher preached about family and fellowship, but my whole family was almost never present and the congregation left me sitting alone in the pew every week.
I read the book but didn't quite understand the story. I heard the songs but never heard the music.
Until I met the boy.
I don't think two people have ever cried so many tears of joy in such a short time of knowing each other. Maybe it sounds a little corny, but I don't think I could love someone as quickly and as easily and as deeply as I loved him. I won't go into the sob story, because I'd prefer not to sob.
I'm done crying about the past. As of now, I'm looking toward the future with bright eyes and a full heart and all the expectations in this world for a man who is...not of this world.
When I was in middle school or high school, I remember the horror and even sense of loss I felt when my mom told me that if I wanted a man who had "waited" for me, I would have to marry a Christian. Did that few of males really "hold out" the way I was planning to? Did they really all identify as religious (because at this point I had already decided I didn't)?
What on earth was an agnostic, strait-laced, naive good girl to do when it came to entering the dating world?
The answer came when I met my first boyfriend and things started to shift in my life. First off, I found a way to throw back the iron door to my heart that I had erected when one of my very favorite teachers, someone I thought truly and thoroughly understood me, encouraged me to seek Jesus.
I was better able to bond with my new roommate at college, a devout Catholic girl with a heart of pure gold, as well as with her sister when we all moved in together a year later. I also began to heal the pain dammed up for at least half of my 20 years of life, a tsunami powered by the waves of perfectionism, depression, anxiety and incessant overthinking.
I began to pay more attention to my relationships, my life, my soul. I began to care for myself, as well as care more about others; the better I treated myself, the better able I found myself to treat others, and vice versa. I had begun to undergo the heart change that my old boyfriend had so many times described to me.
If you've read my article about spirituality, you'll remember how, as one of my best friends says, I'm strongly opinionated about not having an opinion when it comes to beliefs. And maybe aptly so, having had experiences dealing with it that are so strewn out from the good to the not-so-good to the great to the in-between.
My friend also says that my article also seems to reflect my attitude that is more of an anti-attitude, or the apparent absence of a set-in-stone attitude; and maybe that's an appropriate description as well.
Growing up in a generation that offers over 90 flavors of snocone at one shack (true story, bro), it makes sense that I -- and likely many others my age -- have a hard time deciding things, or even remembering what to decide next based on the plethora of variously-flavored snocones I've already experienced.
In my case, noting that when I say snocones I'm really talking about personal spiritual beliefs, until my surprise-really-good flavor I was perfectly content to not have anything and just tough out the heat all by myself.
Nowadays, however, going into the dating game I have my favorite flavor. I might not be so sure of my own, or even what to call myself sometimes, but I do know that I like me some Christian boys.
They're not just sweet -- they're sincere, warm, gentle, honest, intentional. Trusting and trustworthy; patient, kind. Faithful. How refreshing in a world that is so often quite the opposite of all these things.
Going back to that first analogy, I'll just go ahead and say that of course, you guessed it, I was physically hungry for that boy. Starving. But what I didn't expect was the mental, emotional, spiritual hunger I felt for the beautiful person who he was.
I not only wanted to be around him, but I wanted to be like him, to learn from him, to grow with him. A fairly outspoken feminist, I actually wanted him to teach and lead me, to submit to him as the Bible instructs wives to submit to their husbands.
Before meeting him, I never would have dreamed of using these words in this way, but afterwards, I can hardly imagine not.
So here's the thing. I've liked some atheist and agnostic boys. I have really liked some spiritual boys. I love those college boys with their head in the clouds, thinking up big ideas and one-hundred-and-one-ways to answer the question "What is the meaning of life?"; I am just like them.
But I love, no, yearn, for a Christian boy.
To be my rock in my swirling sea of ideals and ideas. To be my rod and my staff. For I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, and I'm going to need my light on a hill, some salt of the earth. So, please, God, don't give me a worldly boy, but if You must, please let his heart be rooted in You, so that through him, I can finally be too. Because that's my exact taste in men.