Have you ever been asked on a date to church? I have. Twice actually, except the second time I don’t think it was a date but perhaps in my mind I had convinced myself it was. You’ll hear that story later. Let’s just start with the first time I ended up in this situation…
Jason was my kind of man. He was funny yet shy, sarcasm being his love language. I felt at ease with him. He was a performer with an exceptional gift to draw an audience, and he would go out of his way to make me laugh. In my eyes, his best quality was his interest in the details of everyone around him. He would watch people, watch me, trying to figure me out. It was his way of impressing me I think, his goal always to get a smile on my face. He was full of stories, so many stories. He would ask me questions about myself, wanting to find out about me and my inability to answer them was the first indication of how abnormally scared I was. “Why did he want to know so much about me? What was his motive? Why was he asking me so many questions?” These and countless other self-deprecating thoughts would barrage my mind during our later interactions. When I met him I was in one of the worst places in my own life, but I was able to hide that for a while. Relationships have a way of making you deal with the wounds in your heart whether or not you want to. I think most of the time we are frightened of those areas in our life and so we play a role or fill the gap with some kind of act until we realize that act is just a mask we are too afraid to take off. Fear is a means to an end. The end, actually. I truly believed this yet I strategically chose to embrace fear as a mask of self-protection. Well, my relationship with Jason was one where the mask wouldn’t survive long, where my near twenty-nine years of acting would be challenged. There are people in life who get past your walls and reach that soft place that has been so neglected that the very thought of being known is unnerving. I had always considered myself emotionally strong, able to weather life’s’ storms and come out on top while comforting those around me who were going through difficult times. My problem was I didn’t actually know what emotional strength was because I had never allowed people to see me weak, to comfort me. I didn’t even know how to receive comfort. The thought of being hugged or held while I cried was enough to make me run away. Jason was the person who managed to get past my initial layer, which made me feel more vulnerable than I had in a long time.
I liked him, like really liked him. We had an undeniable connection, and perhaps that was what was most daunting. He himself had been going through his own journey of self-discovery so the two of us were both subconsciously very aware of how vulnerable we were to each other. We would talk all day on virtually every form of technology available at the time – snap chatting headshots, instagram stalking, texting while driving, etc. One day during our intellectual conversation about how amazing the show Lip Sync Battle was, Jason invited me to church. We had a shared faith and so that was not the issue; rather, I had only been to church once since my mom had died. Prior to her death I was a very active church socialite, if you will. I had traveled to countries on mission trips, went to bible college for a year, read theology books for fun and happily organized church events; but, something had shifted in me after her death, and the thought of going to church was like peeling off that one layer where I just didn’t want to allow Jason to see my weakness. What if I cried? What if he SAW me cry? I wanted to suggest we go bowling or some activity unable of reaching a level of deep emotion, but I knew this church date was going to happen. I guess out of all the people to go to church with, Jason was the safest. He would make sure I was having a good time, he always did.
I met Jason at his house and we headed over to one of the more ‘trendier’ churches in LA. During the drive, he would look over at me and smile and I could feel the butterflies in my stomach.
Oh Lord, I was in trouble.
“Okay so you go inside and I’ll find a parking spot,” he said. “Wait, what? You want me to go in ALONE?” I replied, slightly shocked at my own overly dramatic reaction. Jason laughed, and he had every right to. Why was I so scared to go alone? I own a business, I am usually the first to speak up in groups, it’s not like I’m some insecure person, or so I thought. It was bizarre to me that I was all of a sudden intimidated to go in alone. As I closed the door to his car and started to walk inside, I felt this weird feeling of familiarity that was just out of reach. What was once so comfortable for me felt foreign. I had this distressing thought that he would leave me there alone or not be able to find me. My fear of abandonment was in full force and I was ready to hand it whatever it asked me for. This was one of those things where I mentioned before that we have a choice in relationships to deal with the wounds of our past, or continue to ignore them. I found a seat in the back next to two girls who looked at me and we both smiled. Say something, why are you being so weird Kristina? I thought to myself. The mask wasn’t working. I was petrified and I couldn’t hide it. I wanted to chat with this girl, make small talk, but all I could feel inside was nervousness and discomfort. My mind kept running back to memories of my mom and I couldn’t control what I was feeling. I just wanted to cry. I wanted to cry because one of the last times I was with my mom alive was in church. There it was, the wound that wanted to heal and I was currently on a date, of all things. I started to panic and was about to get up and walk out when I heard his voice.
“Hey! I valeted, paid $7 for church parking.” Jason said with a smile on his lips. I turned and as I watched him sit down it was like a wave of peace rushed over me.
I would be okay. This would be okay.
“Welcome, please take a seat. Lets pray for the service,” the pastor announced. Jason looked at me and put his hand on my knee. Scandalous, I know. He smiled and hunched over, closed his eyes and began to pray.