"This isn't going to happen."
Rachel Baker. Circa 2000. On a grassy knoll in between my freshman dorm and his. Breaking his heart. Without a candlestick.
"We'll see about that."
Greg Hamann. Circa bleach-blonde-hair-sticking-out-of-a-visor-era. Calling my bluff.
I can pretty much boil down our entire pre-dating relationship to this single conversation. We hashed out this talk many ways, in many settings, with various hairdos for well over a year. Greg, with a resolve only God knew, pursued me in a way that was unparalleled. I couldn't figure out why. I was a hot mess of contradictions, pimples, and holy determination.
The first time Greg and I took the obligatory walk around Judson's loop he tackled me to the ground somewhere around the sand volleyball courts. I didn't know whether to scream, laugh, or pee my pants. I think I did a little of each. I was thrown off by how forward he was. I kind of liked it. We sat in the cold sand, looked up at the stars, and talked about things I didn't usually talk about. He wanted to know about my family. It was refreshing. Greg was very honest about where He was at. With God, with himself, and with me.
Somewhere between the sand volleyball courts, the late night walks, the rocks he threw at my dorm window just for me to open up so he could tell me he was thinking of me, the notes I'd find in my campus mailbox, and the way he unabashedly declared his intentions of winning my heart...I realized....he already had it. I was slowly giving myself over to the notion of a future with one Mr. Greg Hamann.
Just one thing. There was The List.
Somewhere, in my infinite youth group teenage wisdom, I had created The List. The List was a detailed account of character qualities and physical qualities that I wanted in a future husband. You guys. Don't judge. It was the thing back in 1998. Also, my best friend came to college with a plastic Cinderella slipper on a necklace. Waiting for her prince charming. So there.
The List. My future husband must have brown hair. Blue eyes. Working towards full time ministry. Guitar skills and vocal talent preferable. Willingness to move across the country, across the world for the Kingdom. Must outfit himself entirely from American Eagle (stop it. I know.). He must be able to sit down with my dad and have heavy theological conversations. He probably shouldn't be too attached to family. He must not weigh less than me. Ha. He needs to lead me spiritually. He needs to be intense. Fit in with my ministry minded friends.
Greg. Blonde hair. Bleached blonde, in fact. Blue eyes. Marketing major. Was still figuring out the Jesus thing. Athlete extraordinaire. Had never held a guitar in his life. Wore a thrift store bowling jacket with Otis on the nametag. Told me on our first date that he would never move away from his family. Skinny as a rail. Had never prayed with a girl before me. Greg was not complex. Sure of himself, yet humble in a way I had not yet known. We also ran in, er, different social circles at Judson.
So why, for the love, was I falling in love with him? On paper, literally, we didn't make sense. Many of my ministry minded friends didn't understand our connection. I know many of his teammates didn't really grasp how we made sense. I went back and forth. Greg remained steady in his feelings for me. To this day, neither of us really know how or why he did. But God.
But God. I remember, methodically and painfully, God undid some of the benchmarks I had set for the future Mr. Rachel Baker. He replaced them with His truths, His standards, and His ideal for me. I am a little slow on the uptake, but I began to realize how Greg Hamann was my new List. Best. Decision. Ever.
Fast forward twelve years later.
Greg and I served dinner with our small group at a local PADS shelter. It was my first time serving, but Greg has regularly helped out with the homeless in our community. I was absolutely floored by how many of the homeless knew my husband, shook hands with him, asked him to pray, and asked him about his family. I stood in a stupor as my husband rallied forty plus of the marginalized population to pray over our meal, and how he quietly and calmly diffused tense situations, broke up fights, and gave to whomever had need.
My husband had never looked so hot to me.
Um, and I was an awkward fool. I stammered around the homeless, nervous about saying the wrong things or making too much eye contact. I was super uncomfortable when a teenage mom-to-be was crying on my shoulder about her place in life. I was like...do you want a kleenex? I'm sorry that you are homeless, pregnant, and that your husband doesn't want to be with you anymore. Want a brownie?
Here I am. I am most comfortable within the four walls of a church. I speak fluent Christianese. I know how to lead worship, prayer meetings, small groups and I can change a nursery diaper like no other. Doing life with other believers is my first language. I am so confident of myself, and of God when I am inside a church building. I know, like three people, who aren't Christians. Take me outside those four walls, and my confidence is shaken. I'm so humbled. And ever-learning.
And my husband. Who didn't meet The List. Who shakes hands and shares prayers with the least of these. Who serves and doesn't need a soul to know about it. Who quietly shares his faith with those in his workplace. Who just does. Outside the four walls of the church. He doesn't know Christianese. Or if he does, he doesn't use it. Greg has a simple, active faith. While I am talking about what God is teaching me in a coffee shop, he is handing a coffee to the homeless man outside my window.
I came home that night earlier than Greg. I sunk to my knees, crying and thanking God for my husband. And feeling a fool.
I have so much to learn from this man.
I am so thankful that God doesn't keep lists for us. I am so glad he shook my silly nineteen year old self into realizing His Word is actually true. He has plans to prosper us. If only I could learn to let go more, of my check-lists, and my ideals, and my hopes.
I know, that offered up to God, in fear and trembling, He will take my check-lists and transform them into something so so so so beyond what I could try to imagine.
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity