I wasn't sure I wanted to date again. Well...that's not true. I had hated dating in high school. I knew I didn't want to date again. But I was still a little unsure about the marrying part. The daddy in me was torn because I wanted my kids to have a mom but I also didn't want to "expose" them to just anybody. Sarah had been such a wonderful mom, I was worried about undoing all that she had invested in them.
The man in me knew that being single and alone was hard, would be even harder once the kids were gone. But I also knew that I had two bigger priorities in my life--my kids and my new church.
So, when I finally got to the place where I was "comfortable" with dating, I embraced the opportunity with all the excitement of a root canal. One friend, early on, warned me about what was to come. He said, "Beware of women bearing casserole dishes." I should have listened. To this day, I believe that many of the dates had nothing to do with me or my personality or my character. They had everything to do with my job title.
You wouldn't believe the number of ladies I met where it became very apparent that they thought "Pastor Ridley" could fix their lives. Some were from broken marriages that had very ugly pasts. Others just had bad pasts that had left them broken. And as much as my personality wanted to fix every one of their problems for them, I had to be reminded that I was still in need of healing myself. So were the children.
I think that's why finding Lisa was so refreshing. Yes, Lisa had a broken past with some really ugly parts to it. Yes, there were parts of her background that weren't "just right." But unlike many of the other ladies (please notice I said "many" not "all"), she didn't come to me to see if I could fix her. She came to me because Someone else had already begun that healing for her. She dated Jesus first before she ever stepped out of the house to look for a new partner. Somewhere along the way, she rightly determined that she could never date another man until she was completely consumed with Jesus. It's a lesson she is still teaching our daughters to this day.
I thank God for that. Her relationship with God was what drew me to her and convinced me that she was the kind of person I could spend my life with, trust my kids with and partner in ministry with. Dating was a nightmare. But it ended in a dream come true because she needed Him more than she will ever need me. I pray it stays that way.