pray before lunch

One of my online dates was with a tall, attractive Asian man. We met for a cup of coffee and hit it off. He was adopted from Korea into a caucasian American family. His parents did work with orphanages all over the world, and were coincidentally starting to work in Mozambique. We talked for more than an hour about the east African country, where I had an on-going health project and a vested interest in an orphanage. I loved Mozambique and few people in my life knew where the country was, much less understood my passion.

He told me he was a conservative Christian and I nodded. Being an “all-loving liberal Christian,” I figured we’d be fine. Fast forward to the next date when he invited me to his house for dinner. It was in a beautiful custom neighborhood in a suburb of Phoenix — the kind where there are fake waterfalls so nice at the entry, you wonder foolishly if there is any chance they could be the real deal. I was nervous to go to his house, but there were several friends who knew where I was.

Upon arriving, he gave me the tour. The house was huge and he’d just moved in. There was floral wallpaper from the previous owner on many walls and a seriously ugly pattern happening in the kitchen. We sat down for a basic meal and as I was lifting the fork to my mouth, he bowed his head. My fork clattered to my plate, making us both jump, and I squeezed my eyes shut.

The next five minutes were to be spent in deep, thoughtful, mind-blowingly uncomfortable prayer. Of course I remained silent. Inside I was screaming, “GET OUT OF HERE!”

This is an appropriate place to bring up timing. I’m a firm believer successful relationships are 30% physical, 25% intellectual, and I can’t do the math on the rest. Just kidding. You’ve got to have spark and timing too. Timing is a critical component to a good relationship. And this man walked into my life when I was not ready for anything serious. I was young, traveling the world for work, and looking for someone to maybe play on my ultimate frisbee team. I was not looking for the suburbs and quiet, meditative prayer before every plate of tacos.

When I emailed a girlfriend the next day, the response was as to be expected.

Her:  “So, you don’t like him because he prays? What am I missing? YOU PRAY.”

Me:  “Yes, but. It was weird.”

Her: “Oh, don’t get me wrong. I think that is weird. But you are the only one I know who still goes to church. If you think that’s weird, we are all doomed.”

Me: “Well…”

Her: “Isn’t this the guy whose parents are starting an orphanage in Mozambique?

Me: “Yes.”

Her: “Still nothing?”

Me:  “And there was the wallpaper.”

Her: “Really. Wallpaper? Kell. I don’t know how to say this to you nicely. Maybe you shouldn’t date for a bit. Maybe you aren’t ready?”


Her: “No, you are right. You are obviously in a healthy place. Carry on.”

And so it went for a few years. There were a lot of dates where I was justing waiting for the shoe to drop — the blatant flaw in the guy’s life. (I have patient friends, and also, I’m an idiot. If only I had invested all that online dating money instead…)

I would run into the tall Asian Christian at a happy hour a few months later and it would be as uncomfortable as you’d imagine. That is, if you imagined me running back to the table and whisper screaming at a friend to “Hold my hand and hold my hand now! Just BE MY FAKE BOYFRIEND FOR FIVE MINUTES.”

Yep. Totally a healthy place.