i realized in church on sunday that chris & i met 13 years ago as of saturday. it made me feel all smiley & young to grin at him & remember when we first met back all those years ago. i was working at a pager & cell phone store in charlotte & he came into my store to see a friend of his from high school who also worked there. the store was in a strip mall, so i could see the parking lot from my desk & i saw him park & amble slowly in my direction & i wondered if he was coming into my store or the comic book store beside me. i was pleased to see this cute guy w/ the shiney red pontiac headed my way! when it turned out that he wasn't a geek heading into the comic shop, i was glad to greet him at the front door. there was some flirting & smiling & somehow in the course of conversation, he was invited to come back later that night for "billing night." the store i worked in was a very small company, just 3 employees & we printed & stuffed all the bills to our customers each month ourselves, so we would try to bribe our friends into helping us by giving them pizza, beer & loud rock music for the few hours that it would take the get the job done.
so chris took the bait & he came back that night to help us with our billing, or as i prefer to think of it, he came back so he could look at me some more (although i'm not sure why since my hair was just barely starting to grow back after shaving it). at some point in the evening, chris & i went for a walk down the sidewalk to another store & while we were walking, he asked me some things about myself. i told him that i'd been living a pretty wild lifestyle at the time & then he asked me a question that i'll never forget. he said, "is that who you are, or is it what you've done?" that stopped me in my tracks because i'd never thought you could seperate the two. i thought that since i'd done a bunch of foolish stuff, then by default i was a foolish person. but somehow, deep down, i knew that i wasn't going to keep going on the track i was on. i was already at a place in my head where i was sick of the partying & random dating & ready to reconsider God again. so i was able to answer chris that it was what i'd done, not who i was & i think it profoundly changed me to realize that.
he called me at work the next day & asked me to go out for dinner & we've been together pretty much ever since. we were both coming back to God after time spent away & living life as if it was ours to throw out. we both had moved back into our parents houses & were looking for something new & by finding each other when we did, we helped each other through that process. chris is much more thoughtful about life than i generally am & by listening to him, i've learned to think more rather than just act. he helped me install a filter between my thoughts & my mouth so that i don't just yell out every stupid thing i think anymore. he helped me learn that it's not okay to scream at someone who you love just because you're mad, even if you have a reason to be mad. he restored my faith in the male gender of my generation because he was neither a dirty perv nor a judgemental hypocrite. most of the guys in my age range seemed to me to fall into one of those 2 categories & i was very put off by it.
chris & i have been through a lot of different life things, both good & bad & we've never lost our faith in each other. he's still the first one i want to call when something good or bad happens. i never feel like he's ignoring me if i call him while he's working and he doesn't answer. i know that myself & brooke are his first priorities & i never doubt his committment to us. even if we don't have a lot of time together, just knowing that he's my partner is very comforting.
i've been extremely blessed to have a father who's a godly man & raised me well & was involved in my daily life & now i have a fantastic husband who supports me & loves me & treats me better than i could have ever dreamed. chris is an involved dad to brooke & i know that someday she'll grow up to say that she learned what she wanted in a man by watching her daddy & the way he treats us. i'm so thankful to God for giving me the gift of chris riley. if i had to go back & do it over, i'd pick him again, every time.