I’ve seen a few other people share their love stories lately, so I figured I’d do the same…
Ten years ago on Valentine’s Day 2007, Whit and I started dating, “officially,” as boyfriend and girlfriend. But of course our story started well before that…
My family decided to switch churches from the “seeker” style we were attending to a Southern Baptist church we could build roots in. I attended the youth group one night to check it out, and the youth pastor was introducing some students who were acting out a skit. There were some other people on stage, but then this guy wearing a big white t-shirt walked out as Jesus as the youth pastor commented that “Whit is always God” in these skits. I took notice, figuring that the guy who was repeatedly chosen to play God was probably someone admirable.
I was in middle school, and didn’t see Whit, a ninth grader, much that year because the high school activities were separated. At some point during the summer, though, the high school youth gave the church a presentation on their Mexico mission trip. I went with my mom, and when it was over she introduced herself to Whit. After thanking him for sharing, she encouraged him that he should be a preacher one day because his talk was so impressive! My mom tells me that she respected Whit from that moment and approved him as a guy she would like for me to be with one day!
When I moved up to high school the next year, I saw more of Whit in youth group and also on the school bus – we lived a few streets apart and were on the same route! When I got on the bus in the mornings I would walk past him sitting up front (what a nerd!) looking out the window with his headphones on (so cool that he brought his CD player to school!). (One time our bus had mechanical issues and had to pull over – I remember being at the gas station, my brother and I talking to Whit, who was wearing an eBay shirt that he still owns, yikes.) Whit was in the cool, older crowd so of course I liked him. I also saw him at school occasionally – we would walk past each other in the guidance hallway, and for some reason I was mesmerized by the focused look under his mop of hair.
We went on mission trips and retreats, to Bible studies and game nights. I always wanted to be among the circle of people Whit was talking to, because he told such funny, crazy stories that were accompanied with large gestures and his signature “hyena laugh.” Whit was cool – he was confident, had a lot of friends, and was super smart (he was in the IB program, which is like a more difficult version of AP classes, if you’re unfamiliar with it). One time I saw his chest when he was taking off his shirt to play football, and I swooned hard. I liked him, but it was high school and let’s be real – I liked a lot of other guys, too (you have to keep your options open!). Whit had noticed my form-fitting, classy wool pants with a silky ribbon tied around my waist as a belt, but he dated a few other girls as the years went by.
Eventually we got to know each other better towards the end of high school, once his friends started coming to youth group less. This was fortunate for my group of friends, because several of us had crushes on him and the other guys in his grade (including my brother – gross!). Somehow I acquired his screen name, and we started chatting online (does that mean I’m old?). (If you’re wondering, his was “iamthemaniamwhit” – not conceited at all, and mine changed a LOT but I think at that time it was sydniiii.) During our first few conversations, I was SHOCKED at how easy it was to talk to this “super cool older guy.” He was amazingly down to earth. Our conversations weren’t too serious, but they were real. He was also much sillier than I expected based on his “offline” personality – something I was glad to find out, because I love being silly. More than that, I enjoyed hearing his thoughts about Christianity in “The Attic,” the in-depth Bible study for older high school students. Oh, I shouldn’t forget – he started learning to play guitar, which I also thought was cool (and thereafter every one of my friends started learning too, ha!).
I should also mentioned that my parents still liked and approved of Whit, but they would make fun of him. Often we would get stuck behind his old station wagon, with the bumper sticker “Honk if parts fall off” (license plate: WHTSWGN) on the way to church or school. We could never figure out why he ALWAYS had grocery bags in his back seat!! He bagged groceries at the local store, but it didn’t make sense. We finally (years later) learned that it was bags of newspapers and recycling he was supposed to drop off at the bin at church, but would always forget and leave in his car.
One time I was chatting to Whit and another good friend online, when he told us that he broke up with his girlfriend. My friend and I, who both had crushes on him, decided that we would NEVER be the girl that broke up with WHIT JACKSON. Why would anyone do that?? We couldn’t understand.
To be continued…
Coming soon: Parts II and III