On May 7, 2012, I got a Facebook comment that would change my life forever.
When I walked into the cafe that day, there were dozens of expats and Colombian entrepreneurs chatting about their latest business ventures and waiting for the meeting to start.
“Hey, Jasmine? Thanks for inviting me.”
I managed a half smile. “No worries. I’m glad you found it OK.”
I didn’t stop to chat. The anxiety from being late on the day I was presenting didn’t lend itself to small talk.
We moved to the back room where we were meeting. There were a couple dozen expats and local entrepreneurs there. I clicked through the slides of my presentation, making eye contact with everyone, making sure they weren’t bored to death.
There was one person that stood out. Dwayne was leaning forward, smiling at my jokes, fully engaged in the talk. I felt anchored by his presence.
I invited him to hang out with me and my friends later that night. We danced a little and had fun, but I didn’t think anything of it besides friendship.
A few weeks later we both showed up early for a mutual friend’s barbecue. It was there that we really got to know each other. As the day turned into night and the local rum flowed, I started to feel like this could be something more.
* * *
For my birthday that year, I had a chiva party and invited a couple dozen of my closest friends. We had been dating less than two months. It was there, amidst the blaring reggaeton and strobe lights, that he first told me he loved me.
Two months later, everything fell apart.
* * *
We were sitting in my large studio apartment. Tension hung in the air like a humid Miami night. I looked over my shoulder at him. He avoided eye contact and squirmed in his seat.
I asked him what was wrong. He brushed me off, still avoiding eye contact. I asked him again. And again.
The silence echoed between us. I didn’t fill it. I knew he could only hold out so long. Silence is intolerable for an extrovert like him.
At last, he said, “I don’t think we should be doing this.”
He sighed. He told me that he doesn’t think we’re going to work out. He is a Christian, he said, and he didn’t have a future with someone who wasn’t. He could never raise a family with a woman who doesn’t believe in God.
I fought back. I argued. I convinced. I persuaded. I rebutted.
He didn’t budge. There was no room for discussion.
He asked if I would ever consider at least giving it a chance. I told him I’d have to think about it.
I needed time.
I’ve spent my whole life denying the existence of God, at least in a Christian context. Being a non-Christian was practically at the core of my identity.
But we were also in love.
I didn’t want to lose him.
How could I walk away from this?
The days that followed were torturous. I resented him deeply. Deeper still was the ocean of loss from his absence. I mourned him, our relationship, what could be.
I finally called him and we met up in a neutral location. I told him how upset I was but that I was willing to be open-minded because the thought of losing him was unbearable.
We started watching church online. He didn’t find a church he likes in Medellín. Plus words seem to mean less when they’re not spoken in your native tongue. So instead, every Sunday we sat in my living room, huddled around a laptop, watching the livestream sermon from a church in South Florida.
As the Sundays passed, our relationship changed. I hadn’t wholly forgiven him for springing this on me. He kept his emotional distance too. Waiting.
I considered pretending to believe. I wondered how long the facade could last, how exhausting it might be. If faith could be grown by the “fake it til you make it” principle.
During this period of relationship limbo, my heart started to soften, bit by bit. Instead of dread, I started looking forward to Sunday services. Privately, I prayed the prayer of salvation a couple of times, but I wasn’t sure that it “worked”.
And I wasn’t sure that I really believed it, either.
One Sunday, there was a guest speaker. He’s an author who sought to prove that God wasn’t real. He poured himself into research, searching endlessly for proof that God isn’t who he says he is.
What he discovered was the complete opposite. His research revealed that God is real. A resolute, obstinate atheist had a heart change based on facts.
That I could get down with.
When Dwayne left that day, I prayed for real.
I prayed from my heart, not from obligation.
This time, it worked.
My husband and I celebrated our four-year wedding anniversary earlier this month. Our son just turned three.
All because of a simple Facebook comment.