In Part 2, I recalled my former opposition to any attempt to change someone's homosexual orientation, and then my own emerging heterosexual desires, leading up to the pub night with Theresa, the only woman I've ever dated.
Seeking advice and support once she and I had had The Conversation, I turned to several male friends of mine from the Zacchaeus Fellowship who had left a gay lifestyle and gotten married.
You are familiar with some of the ground on which I'm treading, haltingly, sometimes anxiously and sometimes with that sense of being truly at ease in the company of a special someone. I feel a lot like an awkward teenager.
Throughout the month of November I was giddy with delight yet frightened and confused. And exhausted--it's been such a huge adjustment. Much as my high school friend had predicted, I indeed felt swept off my feet.
I'd refrained from saying anything to my mother when I'd had crushes on women in the past, not wanting to raise her hopes prematurely, but once it became clear that this friendship with Theresa was turning into something more, I wasted little time in letting Mom know my late father's and her prayers for my deliverance from homosexuality were now being answered in a new way. She was thrilled, of course, and began to recount stories I'd never heard before about the courtship between her and my father.
Mom told me her mother's engagement ring and wedding band were to be passed on to whoever among my brothers and me became the first to marry. I told her not to wait too long, and early in December the rings arrived along with my father's wedding band.
From the time of the pub night, Theresa and I talked almost daily about marriage. I let her know that the next marriage prep class at Holy Family was to begin in January. Would that be okay? Oh yeah! Would the wedding be large or small? We talked about ring sizers. So, although I did waver, the question was not so much whether I would propose as when.
We both had season tickets to the Tallis Choir, and by this time we fondly recognized its performances in March, May, and October as special milestones in the development of our relationship, so I considered popping the question at the concert on Saturday, December 6.
That day, while Theresa attended a seminar, I went to Holy Family for a Day of Recollection, a mini-retreat to mark the start of Advent. I took the rings with the intention of showing them to a jeweller who belongs to the parish, though he and I ended up not connecting.
I could think of little else besides getting married, so I decided I would go ahead with the proposal that night. I revealed my plan to the Oratorian priest closest to Theresa, and he blessed the rings. We both knew that she would say yes.
Theresa and I had Vern over for dinner at her apartment before the concert. It was the end of a gruelling week for her, so she was a little taken aback that, without having given her advance notice, I asked her to change into something dressier when we went out. When she resisted, I could hardly reveal why it was important to me, so I just said, "Because it's the Tallis Choir."
She wondered if something might be up, as I'd been uncharacteristically late for dinner, and even more affectionate than usual, and more than a bit twitchy.
Vern and I tromped over to St Patrick's through the snow while Theresa freshened up and put on a blazer I particularly liked. I had Vern hold onto the ring for me, so that I wouldn't have to fumble around for it in my pocket when the concert finished. Several minutes into the program of music for Vespers by Vivaldi and Handel, I got up from my seat at the far left end of the pew to let a freshly groomed Theresa in beside me.
During the intermission, we mingled as usual with many people we knew in the audience. Before Theresa excused herself to go to the washroom, she asked me, "Are there any further instructions?"
A friend of hers bubbled over with excitement upon hearing about the imminent proposal, only to be abruptly shushed when, half a minute later, back came Theresa. I feared her friend's effusive "How are you?" would give away the game.
Theresa was almost sure by then that this was the night. She took aside an old professor of hers, a dignified Parisian lady, now semi-retired, and listed the clues, asking, "Is there anything I should know?"
"Well, you say yes," the professor replied. "And not just yes," she continued, pumping her elbow, "but YES!"
At the end of the concert, I sat basking in the glow of the glorious music. So that the crowd would have a chance to disperse before I made my move, I told Theresa I was blissed out, and she believed me. Vern got up into the aisle as arranged and handed the ring over when I gave the signal by tapping the armrest of the pew. Theresa sat beside me, wondering whether I understood what my behaviour had implied, and thinking, "Tonight's not the night." Perhaps this was a ruse--crafty Alan!--and there would be six more weeks of ruses before marriage prep began.
By now she thought I wasn't in any hurry, so at some length she explained to a mutual friend of ours, who was not in the know, the finer points of purchasing organic oatmeal. And as other friends who did know the plan watched eagerly, I waited for a suitable lull in the conversation. And waited.
When our friend began a fresh line of enquiry, I stood up, firmly declared we could talk about that topic some other time. Then, dropping to one knee, I addressed Theresa by her full name and offered her my grandmother's ring. Which she ecstatically accepted. She calls this my championship proposal.
Here we are at the wedding reception for friends of ours a week later.
Theresa and I have our own wedding date booked in July this year. We ask for your prayers.
It sometimes boggles my mind how radically my life has changed. I used to be so vehement in my insistence that I was gay by nature. I had a long-term lover, and a series of relationships and encounters. I looked for integration and wholeness through acting upon my desires for other men, but what I experienced instead was chaos.
Gay ideology provided a kind of security and an explanation of my frustrations. I wasn't willing to let go of it until God's steadfast love revealed itself to be infinitely more satisfying.
With new intimacy have come challenges that have stretched me as never before. Though I have other close female friends besides Theresa, this relationship really is different. I'm getting an inkling of how marriage is going to be both a great joy and a refiner's fire. It's been said that husband and wife are like stones that grind down each other's sharp edges until both are brought to a high polish.
and women really are complementary. Sometimes that's a lot of fun, and
sometimes that's ... PMS! In a few short months I've learned more about
a woman's cycle than I ever thought I'd need to know. But at the same
time we take good care of each other and grow as we learn to do this
I'm glad enough to have been delivered years ago from practices that left me empty. The illicit pleasures weren't worth it. I was prepared to follow God's will even if that might mean going without sex for the rest of my life. After all this, though, to find my sexuality positively oriented towards the goods of marriage including, Lord willing, fatherhood, well, this is a blessing almost beyond imagination.
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations for ever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)