The first time I saw her, I knew that I was in very serious trouble. We met at my sister’s wedding. She’s my brother-in-law Jack’s secretary. She went with a male co-worker and I went with Rachel, a woman I have been dating for a while. Both our families have this expectation that we are next in line to get married. I’m not sure why they think that. Granted, Rachel is a terrific person, very beautiful and I enjoy her company but there was something missing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
It wasn’t until I met Leila that I realized what was missing for me in my relationship with Rachel–sexual desire. I never felt it for her but the moment I laid eyes on Leila, I wanted her. After we met, I could hardly take my eyes off her and the first opportunity I got, I asked her to have dinner with me even though I was still dating Rachel. Leila accepted. I took her to a restaurant which had gotten rave reviews and we had a great time. I asked her out after that and we started dating. Things were going well. I made sure that I never went to her place or she came to mine because I was afraid of what would happen. It was hard being with her and not want to touch her. When I was with Rachel I thought about her and wondered if she was thinking about me. For a long while, I was dating both women unbeknown to them. Not the sort of thing you would expect from a preacher’s son, is it?
At nights when I was alone, I thought about Leila and what it would be like to make love to her. Then, I recalled the scriptures in the Bible which spoke against pre-marital sex. What was I going to do? I wanted Leila but I couldn’t have her because of my religious convictions. Should I break up with her and marry Rachel? How could I marry Rachel when I didn’t love her? I ended up breaking up with her much to our families’ chagrin. It didn’t matter when I tried to explain to them that she would be better off with a man who would love her in return. They made me feel like I had committed the unpardonable sin. I knew that I had done the right and honorable thing. If only I knew what to do about Leila.
Leila knew that I was a Christian but she didn’t know that my father was a preacher. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to tell her that. Would she treat me differently? I thought of talking to my father about my relationship with her but I knew that he wouldn’t approve. I can just hear him say, “You need to end your relationship with this woman because you aren’t like her. She doesn’t believe in the things you do. The two of you don’t belong together. It’s like light and darkness which cannot be together.”
Last night when Leila and I were together, she said to me, “I’ve dated Christian men in the past but I never once thought that I would be attracted to one who’s younger and white until I met you. You’re different. I think about you constantly and I can’t help wondering what it would be like to sleep with you.”
I stiffened although my body was reacting to the idea of sleeping with her. “Leila, I don’t think we should be talking about this…”
“I know that you’re a Christian and you don’t want to have sex before you get married, but there isn’t any harm in us kissing, is there?” Before I could answer, she was kissing me. Her hands were pressing down on my thighs as she leaned over. We were in my car, parked outside of her building. We had been to a Mozart concert. The windows were rolled up and it was dark where we were so no one could see us. I lost my head and kissed her back.
For several minutes, we exchanged passionate kisses and I was tempted–really, really tempted to go up to her flat with her but I had to be strong even if it killed me. I groaned against her lips before I pulled away. “I’m sorry, I can’t do this.”
She sat back in the seat. “I’m the one who should be sorry,” she said. “I shouldn’t have kissed you.”
“Leila, maybe we should stop seeing each other for a while,” I said.
“If that’s what you really want.”
“Goodbye, Leif.” She got out of the car before I could say anything else and ran up the steps leading to the front entrance of her building. I watched her go, my heart breaking.
The next several weeks were torture for me. I thought about her every minute and missed her so very much. I wanted to call her and tell her that I had made a mistake. I wanted to drive over to her place and take her in my arms. I was a wreck. I couldn’t eat or sleep or think straight. I went to church but I found no joy in it. I went through the motions and I felt guilty. I asked God to forgive me for allowing my feelings for Leila to replace my adoration for Him.
I decided to go away on a mission trip to Peru just to get my mind off my own problems and to focus on helping others and sharing the Gospel with them. Unfortunately, being miles away in a foreign country and on another continent didn’t dampen my feelings for Leila. I still wanted her. I still ached for her.
It was harder at nights when I was alone. During those times, I wished that she was lying next to me. One night, I opened my Bible to 1 Corinthians 7 and the words, “But if they cannot control their bodies, then they should marry. It is better to marry than to burn with lust” jumped out at me and I asked myself, Why don’t I marry Leila? It made perfect sense to me. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life without her. But then, at the more I thought about it the more I realized that it would be wrong to marry her just to satisfy my lust. How could I be so selfish? No, the best thing for me to do was to move on.
That was easier said than done. I tried to move on with my life–forget about Leila by busying myself at work and church but nothing worked. And now, several weeks since my return from Peru, I’m standing in her flat, hands in pockets, facing her.
“So, how was your trip to Peru?” she asked.
“It was rewarding.”
“I miss you. I think about you all the time.”
“I miss you too.”
“Leila, during these past several weeks, I have realized something really important.”
“I can’t live without you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”
“What are you saying, Leif?”
“I’m saying that I want to marry you, Leila.”
“You’re a preacher’s son, Leif. I wouldn’t be a suitable wife for you.”
I stared at her. “You know that my father’s a preacher?”
“How long have you known?”
“Since we met. Jack told me.”
“And it didn’t bother you?”
“No. Why should it?”
“I was worried that it might, especially after you told me that church wasn’t for you.”
“I used to go to church you know but after a while I hated going because the single and married women didn’t like me. The married women thought that I was after their husbands and the single women resented me because most of the single men were interested in me. The guy I ended up dating dumped me after he became a deacon. He said that I wouldn’t be suitable as his wife because I wasn’t a virgin. I was good enough to sleep with but not to marry. I left the church right after that. I wasn’t right for him and I wouldn’t be right for you for the same reason. How would it look a preacher’s son getting hitched to a sinner like me–a wanton woman–a woman of ill repute–a pariah?”
“You’re none of those things. You’re a very beautiful and desirable woman. It isn’t your fault that men want you. And being a preacher’s son didn’t prevent me from going to wild parties and hanging out with the wrong crowd. I’m not a virgin. I had several girlfriends but what got me back on the right track was a pregnancy scare. It turned out that my girlfriend’s period was late. We were both relieved that she wasn’t pregnant. I cleaned up my act them. I stopped partying, hanging out with the wrong people and decided that I would wait until I’m married to have sex again. I became a born again Christian and you can do the same. Nothing is impossible with God.”
“I still believe in Him even though I don’t go to church anymore.”
“I want you to know that He loves you, Leila. He never stopped. All He wants is to have a relationship with you if you will give your heart and your life to Him. It isn’t too late to do so.”
“You sound like a preacher’s son,” she said, smiling. Her eyes were moist as they met mine. “Maybe that’s your calling–to follow in your father’s footsteps.”
“No, my calling is to remind people that God loves them like I’m doing right now. And I believe that it was He who brought us together.”
“Do you really believe that?”
“Yes! And I’m so thankful to Him because I love you, Leila.” It was true. I realized it last night. I was in love with her. I wasn’t marrying her to satisfy my lust.
“I love you too. I didn’t want to fall in love with you because of our differences but I couldn’t help myself.”
“Sometimes the differences between two people can enrich their relationship because each person brings something to the other.”
“I’m not like you when it comes to spiritual things but I have a lot to offer you.”
“I know you do and that’s why I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” I reached for her and pulled her into my arms. “So, how do you feel about marrying a preacher’s son?” I asked.
She put her arms around my neck. “I feel blessed and humbled,” she said simply.
I smiled and kissed her. I too felt blessed and thankful because she was the woman I was meant to be with.