There are many kinds of kisses in this world. This is the story of my first one. It was fairly awkward, unexpected, and exceptionally beautiful.
It was hot in that 7-Eleven parking lot. The mid August sun beat down on my light blue Buick while I waited for him to finish filling up my tank. I pretended not to stare as he leaned confidently against the car in his fitted white t-shirt, thumbs hooked nonchalantly in the pockets of his worn jeans.
Oh dear goodness he was very cute indeed.
I had only met the man a few hours before and was feeling things that I had never felt before. I caught my breath as he slid back into the driver’s seat and shut the door.
His hands found the steering wheel but he made no move to turn the key.
He didn’t say anything.
He just looked at me.
Well not just at me, exactly.
He was looking at my lips.
AT MY LIPS!!
My mind raced, cheeks flushed, pulse quickened.
Is this what someone does when they want to kiss someone!?
I don’t know!
How does one know if one is about to get kissed!?!?
FLASHBACK TWO YEARS
I was laid out on my couch after a knee surgery, quite out of my mind on pain medication, and quite starved for male companionship. My sister seized the opportunity and hinted not so subtly, “Hey, there’s this cool dude name Kyle who I met at on that mission trip this summer, you should ask to be his friend.”
Very sneaky. You see, at that time I had a very strict policy about friending guys on Facebook if I had any hint of a romantic interest in them. I strongly believed, and still do, that the male should be the primary pursuer in the relationship. If they wanted to friend me and get to know me, great, but I wasn’t going to be the one to pull that trigger.
God, in His amazing sense of humor, saw that my self-imposed restrictions were going to be a hindrance in this relationship and waited until I was on a good dose of hydrocone before making His move.
I looked at his profile picture, loudly declared, “Wow, he’s CUTE!” (I don’t remember this, my sister had to tell me later) and pushed the friend request button.
Approximately 2 seconds later my inbox chimed with a message, “I have a bad memory…Have we met?”
Thus began the conversation that has continued through today as I open my Facebook app and see that I have an unopened message from him.
We talked for two hours that today, and for the following two years after that.
He was attending college in Arkansas for early childhood education, while I was on the cusp of finishing up a journalism degree in Northern Virginia.
I was wrestling with my post graduation future and the certainty that God had called me to work for His Kingdom, but the uncertainty of what that looked like.
Kyle was wrestling with a call to ministry, but felt inadequate and unqualified for the job.
We talked on and off in a platonic friendship, encouraging one another to follow Jesus, and giving general life advice.
He dated other girls, other guys were interested in me, but by the summer of 2014, our conversations escalated to an almost constant chatter. My growing emotional attachment led me to the unpleasant realization that we couldn’t go on like this forever.
It wasn’t healthy for my closest friend and confidant to be a man on the other side of the country that I would for all practical purposes, never be able to meet.
In a gutsy move (encouraged by my ever wise mother) that nearly ripped my heart out, I told him that he either needed to find a way to come and meet me in person, or we needed to stop talking.
The following two weeks were horrible.
I never thought I would see or hear from him again.
Then one afternoon as I was by myself in my office, spinning circles in my desk chair, I thought I caught a glimpse of my mother’s car pulling up to front of the building.
I stopped spinning.
My dizzied gaze honed in a tall, lean figure in a Razorback cap and work boots that was deposited by the entrance.
He rolled back his broad, muscled shoulders and took a deep breath before beginning the long ascent up the front steps.
My heart stopped.
This was him.
This was Kyle.
I panicked, pruning my hair, and checking my outfit.
For the first and only time during my employment in that office, I was all by myself manning the phones while the rest of the staff was out to lunch.
Unfortunately, I was in the back cubicle and unable to leave my desk for fear the phone would ring.
How was he going to find me?!
In my blind panic, I had a stupidly wonderful idea.
I started singing.
Here’s the crazy thing. During his all night drive, he had rewritten the lyrics to a popular love song to match our story, and he had started singing in his way into the office as well.
When I heard his voice and saw his smiling face peeking around the corner, I forgot all about the phones and sprinted to embrace him.
To this day, no other hug has even come close to topping that one.
My incredibly generous boss was kind enough to allow me to have the rest of the day off and we nervously piled into my car for the journey home.
I had no idea where to take him or what to do, so as the consummate pastor’s daughter I decided it would be a good idea to take him on a tour of my church.
That seemed to go well and an hour later we found ourselves in that fateful 7-Eleven parking lot surrounded by the oh so romantic scents of gasoline and baking asphalt.
NOW BACK TO THE GOOD PART
The hot car got about ten degrees hotter.
He kept staring at my lips and I kept staring back at him in half awe and half horror.
WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO!?
If he was going to kiss me wouldn’t he like purse his lips or something?
Make some sort of kissing noise?!
2 Seconds stretched into 5.
I can’t kiss him! I just met him!
What if I’m wrong and he doesn’t want to kiss me and we just bump noses or something horrible!?
5 seconds stretched into 10.
Am I supposed to purse MY lips!?
Do I like wink or something!?
10 seconds turned into a moment of decisiveness.
I swallowed and said with a quavering voice and all the twitterpated courage within me, “I would kiss you right now, but I don’t know how.”
Immediately he let out a breath of intense relief and nearly shouted, “It’s not that hard!”
He dropped his hand from the steering wheel, cupped my cheek in his palm, and pulled my face to his for a brief second before sensing my intense nervousness. “Don’t worry,” he smiled,” There’s really no way you can mess it up.”
There’s also really no need to narrate the rest.
It must not have been that terrible since he decided to marry me a little less than a year later, on only the 10th occasion that we met in person.
I have learned alot about kisses and alot about love since then.
There are many kinds of kisses in this world…
Love is first kisses in 7-Eleven parking lots.
Love is invisible, I miss you, kisses blown over a thousand miles.
Love is shouting, “Yes!” kisses while he grins up at you from bended knee.
Love is wild joy kisses on an altar with a brand new ring and a brand new name.
Love is first kisses in the dark.
Love is kissing him right in the middle of Walmart just because you can.
Love is bent over kisses in hospital beds after 3 days of labor and a brand new little person breathing into your chest.
Love is, “Have a great day” kisses with morning breath and crazy, curly bed head.
Love is welcome home kisses when you realize you had all day to brush your hair and your teeth and you forgot because of the baby.
Love is kisses of sweet relief because the baby’s FINALLY asleep.
Love is salty teared kisses when you think your heart might break.
Love is laughing kisses when you think your heart might pop.
Love is quiet kisses after prayer.
Love is jumping up and down kisses when Heaven answers.
Love is wishing you could kiss him just this instant when you see him doing something so brave and looking just like Jesus.
Love is kissing him anyway when his dirty laundry covers your clean floors and he doesn’t like what you made for dinner.
Love is kisses of encouragement.
Kisses to be strong.
Kisses when he looks so darn cute and doesn’t even realize it.
Love is kisses in little parsonages, in tiny, crowded apartments surrounded by boxes, in a fixer upper falling apart all around you, at the start of a brand new adventure and you have absolutely no idea where you’re going to live.
But it’s ok, because he’ll still be with you to kiss you goodnight, wherever it is that you lay down your head.
Love is together.
There are many kinds of kisses in this world.
Love for me is kissing Kyle.
He was my first kiss and he will be my last.
I love you Kyle! Thank you for choosing me and going on this great adventure for Jesus with me!
I share this story for anyone discouraged on Valentine’s Day or any other day when you feel like love may never come your way. Don’t be discouraged because you haven’t met the “one” yet, or be disappointed or disillusioned if it doesn’t come looking like the story you’d always had in mind. As I said in my previous series on a God centered romance, “Just because love doesn’t come to you in the precise package that you had always envisioned, doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Your Prince Charming might not arrive in a horse-drawn carriage, holding a law degree and carrying the keys to a house with a white, picket fence. He might come in a beat up, red pick-up truck, wearing torn blue jeans, and holding the keys to a tiny parsonage in rural Arkansas with an unknown future in ministry. Mine did. And he is SO MUCH better than the dream I had for myself. When our husband is sent from God, he will always come better than we imagined.”