it was early spring 2003. people were still using aol - you've got mail - and dial-up. if you owned a cell phone it was a nokia. gasoline cost less than $1.00 per gallon. the radio played linkin park and norah jones and evanescence. cameras still used film. the only place to rent videos was blockbuster. friends was still the best show on tv. no one owned an ipod, unless they worked in the actual music industry. the itunes music store hadn't launched yet. the digital life as we know it today simply didn't exist.
it was only one decade ago. but it was a different time.
i was 26 years old, living in and driving my honda crx around
bartlesville, oklahoma, a town of 35,000 people. i worked at a
non-denominational church as the assistant youth director. basically,
my job was to pour into the lives of teen and preteen girls. i would go
to their schools to eat lunch with them. i would take them out for
ice cream and dinner and sonic vanilla cokes. i would hang out with
them. i would lead girl's bible studies. i would plan activities for
them. i would go on trips with them. i would pray with them. i would
talk with them about life and school and boys and god and clothes and
girl stuff. my job was fun.
the people i worked with were fun too. there were lots of very cool people on staff but the ones i was closest to were danny, the
youth ministry director and chris, the worship leader and kylie, the children's ministry director. danny and chris were
roommates. kylie and i were roommates. we were all in our twenties.
we hung out together all the time. it was the christian, small town
oklahoma version of friends.
until danny got married...and kylie got married...and chris left
to take a different job...and slowly i became the one left behind.
things were changing.
it was at that time the lead pastor, rod macilvaine - hot bod rod,
or hbr, as we affectionately called him (not to his face) - suggested
that i look into eharmony.com. you see, bartlesville, oklahoma wasn't
exactly a thriving metropolis of bachelors. pickins were slim. i have
no idea why he told me about online dating. he was "in the
business" as kylie liked to say; he had a direct line to god. so
perhaps his suggestion was divinely inspired? or maybe he saw a
loneliness (probably more like a lost-ness) in me? or maybe he just
thought it would be a fun distraction? whatever the case, his intentions were good but i thought he had lost his mind!
i had never heard of eharmony! no way was i going to get online
and troll for a husband!
but then danny and i went to atlanta,
georgia for a conference and as we were driving north on i-85 i noticed a billboard. from a graphic design standpoint it was the simplest
billboard i have ever seen. a white background with giant green letters
printed across it: eharmony.com. it was a sign. literally and
figuratively. i thought to myself maybe hot bod rod isn't crazy. i
guess if they have billboards it must be a legit thing. i suppose i
could check it out.
when we returned from our conference i opened up the eharmony web
page and started to read about how this whole online dating thing
works. you have to PAY MONEY to do this?! and you have to answer a
500 QUESTION survey?! you have got to be kidding me!!
off to hbr's office i went...
um, pastor rod, did you know you have to pay money to do
eharmony? and did you know you have to answer 500 questions? that
will take hours!
his reply, i'll never forget...
rachel, i can't tell you what to do but i can tell you this:
there is a level of commitment in any man who is willing to answer an
extensive survey and pay money to meet you. and that level of
commitment is a good thing.
those words convinced me enough to fill out the bloody survey and pay the dang money.
but it wasn't until i was "matched" with a cute doctor from nearby tulsa that i started getting excited about where this crazy adventure might take me.
and who i might meet along the way!