I understood Tim’s trepidation - receiving a Facebook message from a complete stranger with a very suspicious looking, blank profile. I quickly composed a second letter to Tim in Word, beginning with,“Hi Tim, Can I start over?...” My very forward, intense and creepy first message was dwarfed by its successor – in size and material, whilst trying to be less awkward and more normal, without crossing over the creepy border.
There is no other explanation except by God’s grace, I was successful. Tim gave me a chance.
Even though I didn’t see it until two days later, Tim responded to my second message half an hour after I hit ‘enter.’ The wonders of cell phones and notifications right away – I think that is how it works anyway [I still don’t own one, nor do I fully understand how to use them; more on this slightly embarrassing fact later in the story].
Tim said he wasn’t sure why I was interested, but he was honoured I had taken the time to write to him and he would love to get to know me better. Needless to say, I was exhilarated and enthusiastic to start a friendship with Tim – this man who is the whole package [as though God wrapped him up nicely with a tag, “just for you,” and placed him on my heart] – and get to know him more. It was like having a pen pal, one I had picked out and cyber-stalked beforehand!
I sent Tim a reply, saying how I was so pleased. Five days later, having no response from Tim, I sent one more message. Eight more days passed and I still hadn’t heard back from Tim. So, embarrassingly……. yes, I sent him another message!
Through each stage of correspondence, I kept my mom abreast of the situation. She started asking me every day if I had heard from Tim, "Have you heard back yet?" "No, I haven't actually checked." Mom gave me this ‘why-not?!’ look and I answered, "I don't want to be that girl, always checking...." Mom replied,"BE that girl, Maria! Go check!!"" Mom was the only one who knew of my trying out online dating and then finding Tim at this point; sometimes she would ask when other family members were around by just mouthing to me, “Heard from Tim?”
A little prayer was said with each message I sent. I didn’t want to get my hopes up if this turned out to be nothing, but that gentle push God gave me from the beginning created a startling persistence in me which I have never seen. Those three messages I sent were spread out over two weeks without any word from Tim. Who does that? My part, I mean, being so intensely tenacious- highly out of the ordinary for me.
Well, that third message solicited a response fifteen minutes later, which I found the following evening. Again, Tim wasn’t sure why I was interested.
Two days passed, it was now July 18th, after my two-word message to Tim was sent, with no reply. OK, that must have not come across right. So I wrote a new message to him; I included a post script which finally answered Tim’s “why me,” question with shocking openness. I said a prayer and figured I had nothing to lose:
“ps..... even more honestly, this will probably make you turn and run, which I really don't want you to do, but you keep asking 'why me?' So here it goes.... What I read in your Christian Mingle profile made my jaw drop, literally. You are EXACTLY want I want and pray for in a husband and all I could think was 'why does he have to live so far away?' You were the only one on there that had it all - the complete package. I know God knows the desires of my heart and when your profile showed up [in that secret admirer area - I don't understand how it works], it was a moment of 'Wow. OK Lord, I'll try and see if this is who you've chosen for me.' There. I did it. Brutally honest, huh? Maybe this is a good thing, because if you're not at all feeling even the faintest similar thing about me [no worries, I get it], please say so and then I'll know I took God's gentle nudge entirely the wrong way. In which case, please forgive my utter intrusion into your life.”
I hit ‘enter’ that Friday afternoon and said aloud to myself, “I am probably NEVER going to hear from this guy again.” And with that, I rose from the computer chair, trusting in and praying for God’s will to be done.
The next morning, a Saturday, my first day off after five opening shifts [starting at 6:30 AM], I was lying in my bed simply enjoying not having to rush up and off to work. I savoured the cozy warmth of bed for a bit before sitting up, reaching for my Bible and turning to the third chapter of Ephesians. Reading through it and in light of what I had sent to Tim the day before, verse twenty really stood out for me, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."
I read it again, this time pausing after that part of the verse to pray. I thanked God for His power to do immeasurable more than all I could ask or imagine, for His great love, His perfect plans and timing and for whomever He had chosen for me, whether it was Tim or not. I prayed for His guidance and that His will would reign in my life and I thanked my Saviour for however it turned out with Tim, this man I was insanely frank and upfront with. Even so, I was thankful in that moment for how safe and secure I felt in my heavenly Father’s arms, knowing God was at work in my life, in His way and in His perfect timing.
I told Mom about what I had written to Tim and how I figured I had probably blown it. Later that morning, I logged onto Facebook. Surprise overtook me as I found three new messages waiting to be read – all from Tim!
He didn’t run.
Ephesians 3:20 came to mind. I was overwhelmed by what God was doing. I copied and pasted Tim’s replies into Word, printed and folded it, then slipped the paper into my back pocket before running upstairs to join Mom in taking our dog, Rani, for a walk. Not long into our little trek, I told Mom how I DID hear back from Tim, even after what I said! She couldn’t wait to hear what he wrote and I couldn’t stop smiling as I read Tim’s reply to Mom. It was probably the third or fourth time I had read it that morning. Each time I was so amazed by his response and that he HAD responded!
That afternoon, I sent Tim a reply, sharing with him about reading Ephesians 3 and how his response was so much more than I could have asked for or imagined. That night, when I walked past the computer towards my room to hop into bed, something urged me to just quickly sign onto Facebook. It was already after 10:00 PM and I was tired, ready for sleep, but I did it anyway.
There was a message from Tim. He asked if I’d rather text than do Facebook messages. I replied saying how I don’t own a cell. From there I thought I’d look at Tim’s pictures a bit, since I was online now anyhow. A few minutes later, to my utter shock, a message tab popped up. It was Tim! He was online, right now!!! I could feel a thrill welling up inside as it fully sank in this was happening.
Tim asked why I didn’t have a cell and our conversation flowed on from there. We talked about God and our faith, some of our interests, the beauty of creation, each of our churches, our families. It was my first experience of instant messaging on Facebook. It felt good talking to Tim; it was easy, natural and comfortable. I told Tim how it was exciting getting to talk to him in ‘real time.’ And he replied, “I was thinking the same thing Maria.”
One hour into our conversation, I asked if he wanted to go to bed seeing as it was already midnight for him, being an hour ahead of B.C.’s time. To my sheer delight, Tim said, “Maybe a bit longer.” Well, we talked for another hour before saying goodnight and how much we both had enjoyed that time together. Eager anticipation was growing in my heart; I could feel God at work in my life. Sleep was a challenge to achieve that night from the excitement of connecting with Tim for the first time.
Wanting to have a synopsis of Tim, beyond what I knew from his Christian Mingle profile, I suggested we share twenty words about ourselves. I gave Tim my twenty words the afternoon before our first real time conversation and he sent his the next day. One of Tim’s words was ‘ex addict.’ I knew from his Christian Mingle introduction that he had had this struggle in his past. He spoke about how the Lord had saved him from a lot of sin and addiction. I knew Tim’s testimony must be amazing and I couldn’t wait to hear it.
Over the next two and a half months, we connected almost every day. By July 27th, our second real time conversation [Tim left on a week-long canoe trip with some of the boys from Rock Solid Refuge, the Christian drug rehab center he works at, a couple days after our first talk] we were already talking about Tim coming to visit so we could meet. We both felt this was out of the ordinary for us, but we wanted it to continue.
On the 28th, Tim sent me a friend request on Facebook. I warned him before I accepted how that would open the doors to my family cyber-stalking him, but he said he had nothing to hide. So I accepted. Tim was my first “Facebook friend.” Being new to the ways of Facebook, I was pleasantly surprised when so many more photos of Tim appeared after accepting his request! I told him I liked the benefits of this friend thing. With my profile being still exempt of photos, Tim said how adding me didn’t have the same look-at-how-many-more-pictures-there-are effect.
Things moved quickly between Tim and I. After two online talks we already felt drawn to one another and after three online conversations, we said how we felt strangely close, even though we had just started our relationship. I could hardly believe how fast things were moving, but I loved every moment of it; I could feel God at work and it made me eager to see where He would lead us.
During our third online conversation, I was sitting at the kitchen’s bar with my laptop open when my younger brother, Johnny, came up the stairs. He asked me what I was doing. I answered, “Talking to Tim.”
“The guy I’m talking to.”
“Sooooooo, …..who’s Tim?”
I proceeded to tell Johnny how Tim was a great Christian guy living in Saskatchewan and then I told him to shoo so I could get back to focusing my attention on Tim!
In our second conversation online, Tim said, “Maybe we could talk on the phone one day?” I was nervous; he was too and said we could do it when I was comfortable. One week later, he brought the idea up again. This time I was ready. We exchanged phone numbers and the next day, Monday, when I asked Tim more about his work, he said we could talk about it when he called me on Wednesday. A tiny, almost silent shriek came out of my mouth when I read that! And I told Tim so! He asked if that was a good thing. I assured him it was – I was excited and nervous. Tim wrote, “Oh, I’m incredibly nervous… but it will be great!” So the plans were made for our first phone call on August 6th at 9:30 PM, my time. Tim said, “It’s a date!”
The scheduled time came and slowly went without a call from Tim.
Two minutes past. No call.
Five minutes past 9:30 PM. Still no ring.
Ten more minutes with nothing.
Recalling from his Christian Mingle profile that Tim described himself as “usually a little late” in the punctuality section, I used this to reassure myself that was the reason he hadn’t called yet. When it came to be just after 10:00 PM, I started to think something must have come up because from what I knew of Tim thus far, he definitely didn’t seem like the kind of guy who would stand me up. I logged into Facebook to see if there was anything from Tim. He had left a message at 9:39 PM. He was sorry he was late, but was still in a staff meeting. Phew! Relief flooded over me when I read that. He did want to call and he cared enough to let me know why he was late.
As I was about to type a reply, the phone rang.
My body tensed at the sound – this is it! I hurried into the back room and reached for the receiver. I was about to talk to the man God had placed on my heart back in June. Whoa. Big moment. Inhaling, I answered the phone.
Tim apologized for being late and explained how an incident occurred which made him have to stay longer with the staff. Tim said he got to the point where he told the other staff there was a phone call he had to make and they could come get him if he was needed. Well, they did come get him part way through our call, but only to say all was well now. The weight and reality of Tim’s job sunk in for me that night.
It was SO FAR BEYOND good getting to actually talk to Tim and hear his voice. I was smiling the entire time and we talked for two and a half hours! I was elated. The message Tim left me the following morning on Facebook said the same thing. Tim also said he was really excited about all this. I knew exactly how he felt.
The more I got to know Tim, the more Ephesians 3:20 rang true and the more I knew I had to meet this man; to my utter joy, he wanted the same thing and was willing to fly out here to make that happen.
As things moved forward with Tim, I couldn’t help sharing this exciting event in my life with more friends. Just as Kelly was leaving church from picking up her boys at youth group, she asked how I had been doing lately. I said I had some exciting news. Her eyes brightened and she said, “Give me a hint!!” I smiled and said, “His name is Tim!” I also started to email some far away friends. One such friend received the news with a couple photos of Tim and her reply email was short and made me laugh: “Maria!!!!! He’s a baaabbbeee!!!” My reply email was the first thing that came to mind. Two words:“I know!!!!!!”
My usual 9:30 PM bedtime quickly became a 10:30 PM, 11:30 PM, or 12:00 AM bedtime once Tim came into the picture. Those first couple months were brutal! Full of not enough sleep and early rises for 6:30 AM starts at work. But it was alllllll worth it. My boss would laugh at me when he came in those mornings, seeing me stirring my tea, gently coaxing the bag and water to become more steeped and strong. I am NOT a coffee drinker. My boss joked that Tim would make me one. My big sister, Rebecca, who I open at work with three mornings a week, also said if I started drinking coffee, she'd blame Tim.
By the end of August, we knew for sure Tim would be coming for a visit before Christmas and we were already discussing possible times for when I could come visit him in Saskatchewan. Through the encouragement of my friends and mentors, Chris and Laurie, I suggested to Tim we don’t Skype until after we’ve met. For one thing, it would make seeing him in person for the first time all that much more special and for another, the video from those little built-in webcams is soooooooo unflattering; not that first impressions really matter, but let’s face it, they kind of do. Tim didn’t mind and so we stuck to Facebook messaging, sending photos and phone calls leading up to his arrival which we booked in the wee hours of September 18th for October 3rd!
After we hung up that night from talking for two hours and booking his flight, I actually jumped around in excitement – I simply couldn’t contain it! My thoughts at that moment: “It is happening! Tim is coming!!! Two weeks from tomorrow!! I am going to finally meet this man who God has placed on my heart, blessed me through and entirely overwhelmed me by changing my life so much in just the last two months – since Tim.”
Fifteen days. Our countdown began.
My incredible bosses allowed me to get off work early that Friday, October 3rd as well as have the entire week off that Tim was here. I wanted to meet Tim at the airport, but with the two ferries, the #257 Horseshoe Bay Express bus, and the sky train modes of transportation that would be required that day, I wouldn’t be able to make it to the airport before Tim’s flight came in. So we planned on meeting down at the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal. I knew I’d arrive first and have probably about an hour to kill before Tim would arrive, depending on which departure time of the express bus he’d be able to make.
The night before Tim was due to fly [his first ever commercial flight! His VERY first flight was in a little plane that he jumped out of – skydiving!!], I drove down to Chris and Laurie’s house to pick up Laurie’s cell she had offered me to take along tomorrow, “Just in case you can’t find each other or something,” was her rationale. Laurie had to give me a lesson in cellphone usage as I am clueless! She showed me how to turn it on and off, how to receive a call and make one. “Do you want to know how to text?” I said no because Tim and I had planned on him calling me once he was on the bus. So we left it at that and THAT was enough for me to try and keep straight with that little cellular device.
Walking off the ferry the next day onto the mainland, I could scarcely take it in. This was actually happening! Tim and I had said things we were so excited to do and see together and especially just to meet for the first time and share our first embrace! One day. Two words that frequently popped up in our conversations. We both are big huggers and I told Tim I would be running into his arms when we first meet. It was the strangest thing, but I felt like I wasn't going to be meeting Tim for the first time, because I already knew him so well, but that I would just be seeing him after not seeing him for a very long time. Now it was here; I could hardly grasp that our one day had become today.
I had a print out of the express bus schedule so I could roughly tell when Tim might arrive. I went to pull out the schedule from my bag when I saw Laurie’s phone and thought I might as well check the time. When it woke up, there were two text messages from Tim!! I touched the message on the screen thinking it would let me read them, but it demanded I swipe to unlock the screen first. So I did. Tim’s texts disappeared! What?!! Where did they go?! Wishing I had taken Laurie up on her text message lesson offer, I scanned the desktop of the phone to see where they could have ended up. It couldn’t be that hard to figure out, right? Wrong. I tapped on the envelope symbol in the upper left corner, but nothing happened. That was the only place I thought there could possibly be a hidden storage of text messages in this device, but alas, it did not release Tim’s texts. It felt like the phone was Gollum and Tim’s texts were his ‘Precious!'
In the end, I gave up and just called Tim – that I knew how to do. Tim answered after two rings. He was already on the bus! He was tired from his early rise, but we were both excited. Before I could ask Tim how long he’d been on the bus for, we got cut off. I guessed his cell had lost reception.
Within less than a minute of our call being disconnected, an express bus rounded the corner. I could feel the anticipation building in my chest. I had to remind myself to breathe. The bus pulled up to the red-painted curb and eased to a stop. My eyes skimmed through the windows, but I couldn’t make anyone out. My heart was beating so loudly I could hear it. This could be it! The double doors of the bus folded open.