You made my whole being. You formed me in my mother’s body. I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way – Psalm 139:13, 14
I’m currently in a relationship with an older man. His name is Marek Dabrowski and he’s my Sociology professor. It was in my first year at Cambridge when I met him. He was standing at the door, greeting the students. He smiled at me and said, “Good morning” with a distinct accent.
From the moment he began the class, I knew that I was going to like it. At the end of it after everyone else had left, he came over to me as I was putting on my jacket. “Makenna, I was wondering if you would join me for dinner at a French restaurant twenty minutes from here.”
After I recovered from my shock, I heard myself say, “Yes, Professor Dabrowski.”
“When we’re alone, I’d like you to call me Marek.”
“Yes, Marek,” I replied feeling very shy and overwhelmed. I couldn’t understand why he would want to have dinner with me. There were far prettier and more interesting female students in the class. Why didn’t he ask one of them? Why me?
We went to the restaurant and over a rich and tasty dinner, we talked. He told me that he was Polish and that when he was a child, his parents left Poland and came to England. He mentioned that during the Second World War, his grandparents had hidden a Jewish family in a secret room. When his mother begged them not to get involved because it could get them in trouble with the authorities, they told her that helping that family was the Christian and humane thing to do.
“I think God watched over them and the family they were hiding because no one suspected that they were there. Once the Nazis searched the house but couldn’t find anything to arouse their suspicions. When Poland was liberated, that Jewish family, unlike so many others were alive and well. When my grandparents died, the family attended their funerals and when my mother met them, she was glad that her parents didn’t listen to her.”
I sat there as he told me stories about his family, thinking what an intriguing life he had and yet, here he was with me, an orphan from Uganda living with a foster family. My life seemed so dull in comparison to his. He was staring at me now and making me nervous. He had the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. “I’m–I’m happy that nothing happened to your grandparents or the Jewish family. Many Jews were saved by people who helped them.”
“Yes and at the risk of their own lives.”
“Are your parents still alive?”
“No. My father died twenty years ago and my mother five years ago.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. Do you have any siblings?”
“I have a younger sister. She lives in Frankfurt with her family.”
“Have–have you been back to Poland since you left?”
“Yes. A few times. I was there a couple of years ago.” There was a slight pause then, his eyes meeting mine in a steady gaze, he said, “Enough about me. I want to hear about you.”
I sighed inwardly before I told him about myself. “The family I’m staying with are very nice people.”
“Makenna, you have such a sadness about you even when you smile. It makes me want to take care of you.”
His words felt like someone had thrown a bucket of ice cold water on me. I felt like the character in the novel, Rebecca. I was here because of charity not interest. “Is that why you invited me to have dinner with you, Professor Dabrowski,” I asked in a trembling voice. The distress I was feeling must have been evident on my face. “You feel sorry for me?”
He reached out and covered my hand with his. “No, Makenna,” he said. “I didn’t invite you to have dinner with me because I feel sorry for you. I invited you because I want to get to know you better. I know that there is a significant age difference between us and I’m your professor but I’m attracted to you. I want to see you outside of class but if that’s not what you want, let me know and I will back off.”
His hand on mine was doing strange things to me. I could hardly think. And the fact that he was attracted to me and wanted to be in a relationship with me was mind boggling. I couldn’t understand why he would be interested in me. “I–I want us to see each other outside of class too,” I told him.
He smiled and gently squeezed my hand. “I’m relieved to hear that,” he said. “After dinner, I would like to take you for a long walk along the Thames River. I heard that visiting that area at night can be a rich experience.”
Walking along the Thames at night and seeing Big Ben, Tower Bridge, The London Eye and the Millennium Bridge along its banks was quite the experience. I took photos with my cell. I wanted to remember this night and cherish my time with Marek even if my relationship with him didn’t last. As we walked back to his car, he held my hand, entwining his fingers with mine so that our palms touched. It felt surreal.
He took me home, walked with me to the front door. “Dinner again tomorrow evening?” he asked. Tomorrow was Saturday.
I nodded. “Yes.”
“I’ll pick you up at six-thirty. Good night, Makenna.”
“Good night, Marek.” My heart leaped in my chest when he reached over and kissed me on my cheek. His lips felt warm and my skin tingled. I stood there and watched as he walked to his car, my legs trembling. I waved and after he drove off, I turned and opened the door.
We had dinner the following evening and saw each other regularly after that. On campus we were professor and student but off, we were a couple. One night when we were in his living-room, sitting on the rug, having takeout, he asked me to move in with him. I almost choked on my fries. “You want us to live together?”
He nodded. “Yes. I want us to be together. I want to go to sleep every night with you lying next to me and wake up every morning with you lying next to me.”
“You mean it, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do.”
That’s when I lost it. I just broke down and cried and cried. He put his burger down and held me close. My crying fit lasted for while and then when it subsided, I told him that I suffered from low self-esteem. It was especially bad when I was in high-school and being around people who didn’t value my thoughts and feelings. I couldn’t seem to fit in which made me think that something was wrong with me. There were times when I felt that the only way for me to be liked was to do what others wanted instead of listening to what my heart was telling me.”
“So, that’s why you thought that I was acting out of pity and not interest when I asked you out on our first date.”
I nodded, sniffing. “Yes. I couldn’t believe that a man like you would be interested in me, especially when there were more attractive girls in the class.”
He drew back to look into my face. With his thumbs, he wiped away my tears. “Makenna, you are unique, one of a kind. There’s no one else like you in the universe. You’re special to God and to me. Jesus gave His life for you. He wouldn’t have done that for a nobody. You are very precious and valuable to Him. God created you in His image. You were fearfully and wonderfully made. You don’t have to be popular or one of the in-crowd to be accepted by Him. He loved you from the moment you were born. And I thank Him for that because you’re here with me bringing such joy into my life.”
I began to cry again. His words touched my heart and penetrated my soul.
“I love you, Makenna.”
“I love you too,” I sobbed and clung to him.
We sat like that for a while and then, he dried my tears and we finished our burgers and fries.
That was a couple of weeks ago. With God’s help and Marek’s love and patience, I’m overcoming my struggle with low self-esteem. I believe that God has a plan for my life and that He will help me to fulfill my true potential. In the meantime, I’m studying hard so that I can keep my grades up and I’m looking forward to spending the rest of my life with Marek who proposed last night over dinner which he prepared. He’s an amazing cook.
Always try to see yourself the way God sees you–deeply loved, cherished and valued by Him.