Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Believer and The Atheist

How do I sum up the past eleven years of our relationship history?  I've been trying to decide the best direction to take in telling our story. Sharing it in such a way you will truly understand the very unique and special dynamic of our Atheist/Christian marriage. I suppose a good start would be to share how and why we chose to be an Atheist and a Christ follower.

The Believer:

I am a realist. I am analytic, sometimes to a fault. I am very spiritual.  I knew even as a child of 5 years old there was a God who loved me. Not because the bible told me so....because I didn't even know what the bible said at that age. I knew out of  the pure existence of this absolute that was hidden deep in my little spirit.  Those who know me well (regardless of religious or non-religious association)  would say this is because I am so in touch with the spiritual realm. Perhaps, but it was deeper than that. I could feel His love and security, even when very bad things happened to me. I know how the Atheist or Agnostic might rationalize this....they might say it was the workings of the human mind to cope with difficulties or loneliness. I actually do believe our minds are capable of disassociation and such when trauma, fear, and/or pain is inflicted. This is a medical and scientific fact; however, there is no science that can convince me love is simply a chemical or biological induced emotion. Love, not to be confused with infatuation or even fascination, but love, as in a person who would willingly lay his or her own life down for a friend. A decision to do so for whatever circumstance is not made on pure emotion, but from the depths of the heart. It surpasses all understanding. It is selfless. It is tangible.

This love was confirmed to me when I was 10 years old. It was late Spring of 1980. Mom began taking me to church. I was extremely shy and I didn't want to go to the children's Sunday school. I sat in the cold aluminum fold out chair trying to hide my legs beneath it because I was the only ten year old with dark hair growing on her legs. Why wouldn't mom just teach me to shave?! My heart's attention was quickly shifted away from my hairy logs when the Sunday school teacher began telling us about the love Jesus had for us. How He came to earth not to condemn us, but to save us. Save us from our sin for which we were born into. Sin that separated us from God. How there was nothing I or anyone could physically do to earn salvation from sin. How God gave his only Son as a sacrifice to take the punishment for my current and future sins. The kicker for me was when the teacher explained that Jesus wasn't forced to be a sacrifice, but that He made the choice to be. I believed  and I gave my heart to Him....I accepted His gift of life. Thank you mom for taking me to church (even with hairy legs), and allowing the message of hope to be shared with me. It is because of you I know my precious Lord.

The Atheist:

He is logical. He is a problem solver. He is meticulous in his work. He is a software engineer/administrator. He taught himself computer programming on a Unix platform when he was in Junior High. He's a nerd for Heaven's sake! He's a cool nerd, but don't tell him because I don't want it to go to his head ;) He is patient and, very rarely makes a decision on a whim. He is completely loyal and has an amazing integrity. I often wonder how his big heart can fit in his small frame.

He and his little sister were raised Catholic by two AMAZING parents. They are two of the most giving and loving people I know. (I'll share more about these two precious people in a future blog)
In his Catholic school he enjoyed rolling candies down the floor between the rows of desks to annoy the teacher. He didn't pay attention to the bible lessons and to this day he has no real knowledge of what is written in the bible. One day, his sister's classmate who sat behind her tried to light her hair on fire. When  Sister realized she was being turned into a burning candlestick she stood up and began cussing out that little snot nosed Pyro! (Ok, I don't know if he had snots, but it sure sounded good) Well, Sister ended up getting in big trouble with the school for cussing out the fire-starter. I suppose the clergy person felt she sinned in her anger, and that was reason enough to punish her. This really angered her big brother. He had already seen the major faults and hypocrisy in the Catholic church for which he tried to tolerate, but when his little sister was not shown the grace and protection they preached he turned away from God, the Church, and all organized religion. From that point on, he decided to hold fast to his commitment.

 "Free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having."   ~ C.S. Lewis

Monday, May 27, 2013

"See Food"

After two months, it was apparent Armando and I were serious about our new relationship. I didn't know he was an Atheist at this point and time, and to be perfectly honest, I really didn't care. You see, I had hardened my heart towards God and the church during the time my ex-husband cheated on me and left the kids and I. So, as far as I was concerned it didn't matter who I became unequally yoked with.

My children Andrew(16), Jennifer(11), Ashley(8), and Shelbi(6) knew I was seeing a new man. All, except for Jennifer were against my having a boyfriend.  I didn't want to force them into a friendship with Armando, but I didn't want them to think I was sneaking around with him either. It was best that they met him and judged the man for themselves, so I decided to have Armando join us for dinner. I wasn't a very good cook, but I sure could fry up some tasty chicken. Of course, that particular evening the chicken came out bland and over-cooked.  To make matters worse Andrew refused to be in the same room with us. I apologized to Armando and he was so gracious and understanding. The girls, Armando, and I sat around the dining table. I sat at the head of the table, Armando to my right, Jennifer to my left, Ashley across from me, and little Shelbi sat next to Armando. Shelbi wouldn't sit still. It was as if her already hyper-active mind and body were high on sugar. She kept playing with her food. Ashley decided to join in with the food play and went as far as flicking it at her sister Shelbi. I tried to gently scold them from across the table in an attempt to settled them down. I lowered my gaze back to my plate and before I could blink I saw a dinner roll spiral across the table and hit my plate. I flashed my gaze back to the source and there I saw Ashley with a big ole' proud cheeser grin. I scolded her once again. She didn't stop the giggling, but at least she kept her food grounded.  I was so embarrassed and afraid to look at what kind of expression Armando had on his face, but I forced myself to look anyway. He had a look of mild shock coupled with a suppressed smile. His attention shifted to Shelbi and her "Close Encounters" food mold she was constructing on her plate. She and Armando locked eyes and to my horror, Shelbi opened her mouth slow and wide, stuck her tongue out and  revealed a collage of her chewed up food! Like a nightmare everything moved in slow motion. Jennifer faced palmed, eyes downcast, and shaking her head. Ashley letting out a huge belting laugh. All I could think was, I'm never going to see this man again.

Some how, we made it through our meal. When it was time for Armando to leave, I told the girls to stay inside so I could talk to our dinner guest for a minute. Shelbi was screaming and crying at the door while Jennifer tried to hush her. I turned to Armando and said, "It was nice knowing you."  He crunched his eyebrows, tilted his head, and asked, "What do you mean?" I started spewing out apologies for my kid's behavior and promised I wouldn't hold it against him if he didn't want to date me anymore. He chuckled and took my hands in his. He looked me square in the eyes and said, "I'm not going anywhere, anytime soon."  That was 11 years ago and it still brings tears to my eyes when I tell the story. (Yes, I'm crying right now.)

Until tomorrow....G'night :)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

I Found Him On The Internet

I don't mean I Googled a single good-looking atheist to marry, rather I stumbled upon his chat profile on a popular social network. I had just moved back in with my parents after being divorced for nearly a year. I was an out of work emotionally wrecked single mom of four.  After spending hours trying to figure out the new world of online job applications I decided to take a break and sign into my Yahoo chat account under my screen name. As I browsed the profiles of people who were currently online in my area, my eyes fell on his pic. , There was a safe warmth about him that captured me. After discovering he was an Information Technology/Software Engineer I knew that was my ticket! I had no real computer skills and I needed to learn fast if I wanted to land a job.  I opened a chat window, but I was lost for a sincere conversation starter. I didn't want to sound like a desperate sleazy girl "looking for love" ugh.  I settled on something simple like, "Hello, I noticed your profile says you are knowledgeable with computers and I was hoping I could ask  you some questions."  I waited for quite sometime, but I eventually realized I was being ignored. I signed out for the day.

The following day, I was back to online job searching.  While on the hunt,  I kept my Yahoo Chat client open and available hoping someone would find me interesting enough to converse with. Alas, someone sent me a chat request. I thought, "who is this?" Oh yeah! the computer guy.  I quickly responded. After brief introductions, he apologized for ignoring my chat request the previous day. He explained how he thought I was a 'Chatbot'.  I asked, "What is Chatbot?" Computer Guy responded, "A computer designed artificial person used to promote porn sites or sex chats."  My screen name containing a female name sounded like a sex type "Bot" name?! So much for not wanting to sound desperate. 

Our chat that day was filled with laughs, intelligent conversation, and he showed the utmost respect towards me. The most amazing part about it was, he didn't know what I looked like. I didn't have a profile pic posted. He was simply intrigued by me, the woman behind the computer monitor.  It wasn't until about three weeks later that I decided to post my picture. (My mom had to help me because I didn't even know how to do it!) Computer guy was very very pleased with what and who he saw. As he would tell you today, his exact thoughts at the moment he saw my picture were, "She is the most amazingly beautiful women I have ever seen.....MINE."  I know that last part probably sounds like a madman stalker, but I assure you it isn't. I'll explain later :)

We set a date to have coffee on April 1, 2002. A couple of days before our meeting I got really really scared. I had been with my ex-husband since I was 16 years old and I was now a divorced 32 years old with four kids, living in my parents' garage, and still grieving the loss of my marriage.  What was I thinking?!  I had no business meeting another man at this point in my life. How should I act, what should I say, what if he falls for me?...I don't want to lead him on! So with that in mind, I tried to break off the coffee date. In an attempt to change my mind, he asked if he could call me by phone.  I was hesitant, but I agreed.  After our hellos, the conversation went something like this....

Me: I'm not ready for this. I don't think I can go through with our coffee date.
Computer Guy: (In a mysterious tone) Are you sure because I think you are going to be pleasantly surprised when you see me?

With that word, 'surprise' my heart began to rise and I felt the blood drain from the top of my head to the souls of my feet. My head raced trying to understand what he meant!

Me: What do you mean?
Computer Guy: I know you and you know me, but you'll have to wait until our coffee date to find out. 

Suddenly, the ground underneath me began to spin....oh God did my crazy jealous ex-husband set me up!? Who is this guy?! 

Me: (Hiding my panic) We know each other? How?
Computer Guy: You'll see.....
Me: I hate surprises please just tell me!

He began asking me questions which were more like hints. Just as I was about to hang up on him and never speak to him again.....he finally revealed he was Armando Ortiz an old friend of my brother and parents! I was shocked at how different he looked in his Yahoo profile pic, which would explain why I didn't recognize him, to begin with. 

About 7 or 8 years earlier, I had briefly met him through my family. I was married to my ex-husband at that time. When Armando saw me that first day he was enamored (his words).  He told my mom, "She is going to be mine someday." mom was like, Ok Romeo, she is married you better watch it!  Now you know what he meant by, "MINE" when he saw my Yahoo profile pic ;)

There was even a time shortly after that first meeting my mom and I bumped into Armando at our local Wendy's restaurant. We invited him to sit with us and the whole time he just stared at me with hearts in his eyes. It was like I was the only person in the room for him. I thought he was a cute nerdy lovesick puppy. :) 

Needless to say, I went to coffee with Computer Guy and we haven't been apart ever since. 

To be continued...... :)