The first time Charlie met Kathy, he threw up.
He was glad it hadn’t happened in front of her. It wouldn’t have been a great way to start off the pastoral counseling that Charlie was doing with Kathy and her fiancé, Mark.
Charlie Stork was a pastor in a small country church. He’d grown up as a shy kid, but when he was a teenager he’d met the Lord and suddenly God had given him voice enough to preach the Word. After that, Charlie had begun to feel that God had called him to be a preacher. After seminary and internship, he had ended up here.
Charlie hadn’t gotten to know all of the people in the church yet, so it wasn’t odd that he hadn’t met Kathy before. When she’d walked in the room for the pre-marital counseling session, he’d felt his breath catch and his heart stopped for just a moment.
She was just that lovely.
Her hair was blonde, and she had radiant blue eyes, but that wasn’t all of it. There was just something about her that he could sense, even at first glance. There was pure joy emanating from her; her eyes sang out their pleasure in life and her every step into the office was full of that joy.
He inhaled deeply and thought to himself: “This is the kind of woman I’ve always dreamed of.” His stomach was in turmoil; he didn’t know why, but he’d begun feeling it the moment that Kathy had walked in.
But since Kathy’s entrance was soon followed by that of her fiancé, Charlie had known it was no good. He’d squelched the sudden feeling of nausea, and prayed that the pounding of his heart wasn’t as audible to the couple as it was to him.
If only Mark had been a jerk, or somehow an unsuitable potential husband for Kathy. No such luck. Mark was a friendly, warm believer who obviously loved Kathy. Charlie couldn’t help but see that they would be a wonderful couple.
He got through the first session somehow, quickly ran for the restroom outside his office – and promptly threw up.
He wanted to pray that God would change her mind. He wanted a miracle to suddenly make Kathy see him for the one she really wanted. He didn’t think it was proper to pray for it, but he wished for it anyway.
Over the next few weeks, Charlie had endured the ongoing nausea. Every counseling session brought the feeling, and every session left him wishing that Kathy could somehow be his. He’d continued working with them, and had begun to coach himself to accept the reality of their impending marriage. Next week, he reminded himself. Next week she’ll be married, and the dream will be over.
On the final counseling session, he sincerely wished the couple the best. They shook his hand, and began to leave. In just a minute, Charlie knew he’d have to make the usual beeline for the restroom. But at the end of the session, Kathy had said she needed to use the facilities. Mark told her he had to run an errand, and said he’d call her later.
Charlie tried hard to quell his feelings, and grit his teeth while waiting for Kathy to finish.
He knew he’d have to get in there soon. He edged toward the restroom, wanting to be ready when she came out. As he approached, he heard the unmistakable sound of retching. He immediately forgot his own discomfort and knocked on the door.
“Are you OK?” he asked her.
Slowly, she opened the door. Her face was pale and strained. She had a wet paper towel in her hands, and she wiped her face with it. She looked at him. He thought his heart might stop; she was just so beautiful. Slowly, she shook her head.
“Charlie,” he insisted.
She smiled. “Charlie, I don’t know what it is. Every time I come here, I start feeling sick to my stomach. I’ve ended up throwing up after each counseling session.”
Charlie sighed and had to smile. “God is amazing,” he reflected. God had answered the prayer he’d been afraid to pray. He looked into her eyes, and realized that he didn’t feel like throwing up anymore. He took a breath, and took her hand.
“Kathy, I know how you feel. And we need to talk,” he began.
Author’s note: this is a true story. This is how my former pastor met his wife. They’ve been happily married for over 30 years now.
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