KatharosNOW readers: I invite you to read this letter to my daughters, the story of how I met my husband. I hope that it will encourage you to hold out for your hero, a man of strong faith and a pure heart, like the young men who wrote articles for this issue.
They do exist and there’s one waiting for you.
Dear Claire, Anna, and not-yet-born Baby Girl,
I’ve tried to tell Claire this story a couple times, but at age four, she’s still too young to be interested. Today, the story of how I met your daddy is already nine years past, and I don’t want to wait until the details have gone all vague and wispy to tell you this story of how God brought your parents together.
That summer, I had hoped to work at a Christian summer camp. I’d never been turned down a job I’d applied for. My dad’s company, U.S. Rep. Wes Watkins, the Western History library at the University of Oklahoma, and The Oklahoma Daily, my college newspaper: they’d all been happy to have me work for them. But not this summer camp. Dejected, I’d returned home to take a job at a restaurant near my hometown. I was a terrible waitress. In my first week, I spilled a bowl of salsa on some customers’ table, got orders wrong, and forgot about customer requests for refills and napkins.
Then there was my three-month relationship with the boy back at OU. Wait a minute, you might say. Our daddy didn’t go to OU! Be patient, daughters. I’m still learning, too. This boy and I had met two years before, and he’d harbored secret feelings for me ever since. Over time, we’d become very close: I was drawn to his creative talents in film and oddball, self-deprecating sense of humor. We studied, made root beer runs, and watched movies together. But that summer, he was in Norman; I was back home, and things were different.
Did we get through this separation, girls? Was my proposal of marriage some zany short film that he screened for all our friends? It could have been. But this man is not your daddy. When I got home that summer, I looked around at the men in my family and at church, and that boy just didn’t measure up. I liked him; he adored me, but with him, I was someone entirely different than I was at home. I didn’t like that girl as much. I didn’t want to be her for the rest of my life—I wanted to be your mother.
So I asked that boy to meet for lunch at our halfway point in Ada and broke up with him over Mexican food. He had tears in his eyes when he told me, “That’s three strikes, Kim. I’m out.” That was our best-friend language for “I’m done with love.” I was his third serious relationship, and he couldn’t take any more getting his hopes up, only to crash in heartbreak. He had thought I was the girl he would marry. But God had a different plan to bless the world with you girls.
So I drove back home alone: not only was I not good enough to be a camp counselor, I was a terrible waitress and I had just ended a sweet young man’s attempts to find happiness with love.
The next day, our church’s Gospel meeting started. My church family still treated me like the golden girl home from the big-city college, and the lesson I heard helped me refocus my priorities. It was the right decision for me to end that relationship, and a summer at home would do me some good to get back to my roots. Like a deep cleansing breath after a good cry, I began to feel strong and ready for the future.
The second night of our meeting, my cousin James brought a friend, a guy with floppy blond hair. I stared at the back of that blond head through the whole service, wondering who that young man was, if I knew him. After church, I found out I did know him. He was Jay Mauck, the legendary basketball player from my middle school years. Four years older than me, he didn’t remember meeting a scrawny eighth-grade girl six years before at the state basketball tournament. At that time, he was a senior too busy talking to the two girls—best friends—he would come between later that year at a scandalous high school prom. My 14-year-old self had just basked in his glow, enamored with his green eyes, short sandy hair, and compact muscular build. And then I’d had to wait six more years to see him again.
But I remembered that glow. Now he was two years out of college and coaching men’s basketball at our local college, with my cousin as a student assistant. He smiled at me, and this time, I didn’t just receive his fleeting attention. He noticed me. He gave me that impish, chipped-tooth grin I remembered from basketball games so many years before. It was the second time we’d met, but sometimes, my darling girls, you have to try again to get it right.
And that was how I met your daddy.