My stomach churned with a mixture of nervousness and excitement. My brother Derek and I were driving to visit a new church again. I was thankful for his company, and the fact that I wasn’t going alone.
Despite the fact that it had been a year since we left the “cult church,” we had been unable to find a new church family that we fit in with. Churches always seemed one extreme or the other: A church full of older or elderly people, with dry sermons and hymns only, or touchy feely “young people’s” churches, geared to entertain and lacking in depth.
Derek and I sought something in the middle. We wanted to find a church that had depth and meaning, with a wide variety of age groups and people we could connect with. Apparently, it was harder to find said church than one would think.
Derek and I made our way into the sanctuary and found seats, as the worship team began to play. I closed my eyes, absorbing the beautiful music with pleasure. This worship team knows what they are doing! It sounds amazing! I let myself go, focusing my heart and mind on praising and worshipping God.
The music went on for over half an hour, and though I enjoyed it, I found myself wondering if they were ever going to get to the actual message portion of the service. Finally, the music concluded, and the pastor began to teach.
The message was on tithing. Derek caught my eye and we shared a mutual glance of annoyance. In all of our church visiting, it seemed like a third to half of the sermons we heard were about the importance of tithing. After about the 100th time of hearing the same agenda, the theme grew wearisome.
Twenty minutes later, the service concluded. Derek and I shared surprised glances. We were accustomed to sermons lasting easily 45 minutes to an hour. This one was so short by comparison, it felt like the equivalent of licking the frosting off a cupcake instead of actually eating it.
We got back into our car and began the drive home. “So…what did you think of this church?” I asked Derek.
Derek grinned and shrugged. “Not the worst we’ve been to, not the best. They spent a ridiculous amount of time entertaining people with the music, and hardly any time conveying a real message. It felt kinda…shallow?”
I sighed. “Yeah, that’s pretty much what I thought. Still, it’s better than anything we’ve tried so far.”
“Yeah, I’m down to try and get plugged in here.” Derek said.
“Sounds good to me, it’s worth a shot.”
I looked into the Bible study options and individual groups, and picked a Bible study with young people my age. It was every Wednesday evening. Welp, this should be interesting! Maybe I’ll finally be able to make some friends! I thought, ever hopeful.
Before I knew it, Wednesday rolled around. I parked my car, and walked up the concrete path to the front door of the Bible study group leader’s house. My heart fluttered wildly as I knocked. This is good for you, you need to get out of your little shell! I told myself.
“Hi!” A pretty brunette woman smiled at me. “I’m Christy, the group leader, come on in!”
Her friendly manner put me at ease. The group had about 10 people, all around my age, and they all smiled and introduced themselves to me. My eyes came to rest on a cute guy sitting across from me and I froze. I recognized him. But from where? I couldn’t seem to place his face.
It nagged at me all evening. Where do I know that guy from? The evening came to a conclusion, and I walked outside to get in my car.
The mystery man walked out behind me, and I decided to be bold.
“Hey, Justin is your name, right?” I smiled at him.
“Hey, yeah! That’s me! You might think this is weird, but seriously, do I know you? You look SO familiar for some reason.” Justin grinned.
So I wasn’t crazy! I smiled back. “I’ve been trying to place your face all night, I recognize you too! What’s your last name again?”
“Reed, Justin Reed.”
And just like that, his face clicked into place. “Ohhh! I remember you off that dating site a couple months back, Christian Mingle! We chatted a couple times on there.”
Recognition flashed across Justin’s face. “Right! I remember now. You’re even cuter in person!” He smiled.
I blushed. “Thanks! So…did you have any luck with the dating site? I didn’t.” I giggled.
Justin shrugged. “Naw, same here. No real luck. But hey, would you want to chat sometime? I felt like I never really got to know you before.”
My heart skipped a beat with excitement. “Sure, that would be fun!”
“Awesome, what is your phone number?”
We exchanged digits and pleasant goodbyes before I headed home.
Well hey, that wasn’t bad for the first night! I laughed to myself. Justin seemed friendly, and he was dark haired and quite handsome. Maybe something would come of this one.
To my surprise, Justin called me the very next night.
“Hi Justin!” I smiled. “How’s it going?”
“Hey Lotte, pretty good, you?”
“I—” before I could answer, Justin cut me off.
“Work was pretty boring today. I’m in seminary school and we are studying the book of Numbers.”
“That sounds—” Again, Justin cut me off.
“Yeah, it’s a little dry to study in depth for sure, although there are a few interesting stories in there.”
I frowned, annoyed with him talking over the top of me. I decided to let him just talk, and see when he would allow me to actually respond.
Justin rambled on, talking about work, and church, and miscellaneous subjects. Every single time I tried to respond, he would just continue right on talking, so that I was unable to interject a single thought into his musings.
Twenty minutes later, I was incredibly annoyed. A mischievous impulse seized me. I put Justin on speakerphone, and walked into the living room, where my Mom was folding laundry.
I muted my end of the phone call. “Mom, this guy has been talking a blue streak for literally 20 minutes. He never lets me get a word in. I want to see just how long it takes for him to realize I’m not responding at all.”
Mom laughed. “Oh bother, that sounds boring! Poor guy, sounds like he needs some social skills.”
I rolled my eyes. “Nooo kidding. I’m going to use the restroom and leave the phone with you and see if he even notices I’m gone.”
I used the bathroom, washed my hands, and came back to Mom silently laughing and shaking her head.
“No change then, eh?” I raised an eyebrow.
“I am beginning to wonder how long he will go on before he lets up?” Mom shook her head.
I eyed the clock on the wall. “I’m going to give him 15 minutes of uninterrupted talk time. If he is still talking at the end of that, I am DONE.”
Mom rolled her eyes and couldn’t help but laugh. “That is kinda ridiculous on his part, geez!”
I was as good as my word. I left Justin on speakerphone and proceeded to wait 15 minutes, while he continued to prattle on. Not ONCE did he come up for air or even acknowledge my presence. His behavior astonished and baffled me.
Finally, after 45 minutes of constant jabbering, I’d had a belly full.
“Justin?” I said loudly.
He completely ignored me.
“Justin!” I repeated, louder this time. No response, he continued to talk.
“JUSTIN?!” I nearly shouted, and finally, he shut up.
“What?” He asked.
“Okay, Justin, I don’t know how to say this, but—”
“Well, can you let me finish my thought first? I was saying–”
“Ugh, NO, Justin, stop!” I was seriously irritated now. “You have literally been talking a blue streak for the last 45 minutes solid. You have not let me respond, or even express one single thought in that entire time! Do you know how rude that is?”
“Well geez, I just like to talk.” Justin mumbled in a surly tone.
Omigosh, and he has the nerve to cop an attitude! I was astounded. “Yes, I can clearly see that! The problem is, when I talk to someone, I like to actually have a conversation. A conversation entails TWO people interacting. One will talk, the other will talk, it’s a tradeoff. Not one person doing ALL of the talking!”
“Oh. Well, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude. I get a little carried away sometimes.” Now, he seemed a little more contrite.
I sighed. “Evidently.”
“I’m really sorry, Lotte. Can you give me another chance?”
I gave in. “Okay, but next time we talk, can you please try to actually converse with me? Let me say something once in a while?”
“Yes, I promise.” Justin said seriously, sounding properly chastised.
“Okay cool. I’ve got to go now. Call me again sometime.”
“Sounds good, bye.”
I hung up and blew out a long breath. “Aye yi yi! I’ve never heard anything like that in my life!” I laughed. Maybe next time, he will learn a few manners! Let’s hope.
Another week passed, and I enjoyed another Bible study on Wednesday night. Justin wasn’t there, and I was mildly relieved to avoid any awkwardness.
After returning home, I climbed into bed and fell into a peaceful sleep.
I was jarred awake by the sound of my phone ringing. I blinked and blearily peered at the time on my clock. 11:00 pm. Who the heck would call me this late? I wondered sleepily.
The caller ID on my phone said Justin Reed. Oh bother. Why would he be calling me this late?
“Hullo?” I murmured, unable to keep the sleepiness out of my voice.
“Yeahhh?” I slurred, clearing my throat and trying to shake myself awake.
“Geez, what guy do you have in bed with you right now?” Justin sneered.
I nearly choked, suddenly wide awake. “Excuse me?! What the heck are you talking about?”
“You sound like you have a guy in bed with you.” Justin stated matter of factly.
I could nearly feel the steam coming out of my ears. “You have got some nerve, Justin! That is a super offensive thing to say! You don’t know a thing about me, how dare you accuse me of being in bed with someone! For the record, I’m a freaking virgin, I live at home with my parents currently, and it’s 11:00 at night! You WOKE ME UP and that’s why I sound sleepy!”
“It was just a joke, geez. Don’t get all mad.” Justin backtracked.
“If that was a joke, it was a lousy one.” I was miffed.
“Well sor-ry.” Justin didn’t sound sorry at all.
I’d had enough. “All right, that’s it. Justin, I am clearly not your type. You’ve been really rude with me both times we’ve talked now, and I am going back to bed. Please don’t call me anymore.”
“All right, fine.” Justin hung up and I angrily hung up.
How dare he insinuate I’m some kind of hussy sleeping around with guys? I dress modest, I am not overly flirtatious, I’ve never said or done anything to warrant that kind of assumption. What a jerk! I huffed, straightening my pajamas and rolling over in bed.
Justin Reed can take his chatterbox rude self far away from me! And that’s that!
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