Laura hung up the phone and sighed deeply. She’d called Clara several times in the last few days and each time her calls went to voice mail. “Why won’t you answer?” She muttered to herself but it was really more of a cry toward heaven. She and Clara had been fast friends; they’d shared a lot of laughs and a few tears in their five years working together. Her desk still sat empty across from Laura, reminding her how much she missed her friend. She dropped her phone into her bag and sat still for a moment. Then, as though a light bulb went off in her head, she had an idea. She squealed softly then whispered, “I hear you, Lord.” She logged out of her computer, grabbed her coat and headed for the door.
Clara sat in front of the computer, eyes glazed over, reading yet another document on how to start your own business. “People think they have the answers,” she said feeling hopeless, then got up to refill her water bottle. “Problem is, their answers don’t help me.” She was so discouraged. The days were passing and she was no closer to a job than she’d been the day she walked out of Smith and Smith Architectural Design. Walking back to the table she noticed her Bible sitting by the “power hour” chair but all it did was make her stomach tighten. She wasn’t quite as angry as she’d been but, God still felt very far away and He hadn’t answered her questions in a way that satisfied her heart. Hadn’t her life been hard enough already? She checked her email for distraction from the unfairness of it all. And just as she suspected, there was nothing new. No job offer or encouragement, just an ad for a discount furniture shop.
Three days came and went and again Clara had barely been out of her apartment. This morning she stood before the brown door and took a deep breath. She needed a few things from the store. She’d been rationing but couldn’t drink another cup of coffee without milk. At the last minute she decided to take Ringo to the dog park, they both needed some fresh air. Around the block and two streets over and there she stood at the same rusty gate looking at the empty bench. Clara made a point to sit exactly in the middle of it so no one could sit beside her, at least not comfortably. She released Ringo to play and opened the magazine she’d brought. She wanted it to be very clear to any and every one, she was not interested in conversation.
David spotted her as she was walking down the sidewalk toward the park. She was holding her little black dog, her pony tail swinging to the rhythm of her feet. As she reached the gate, he could feel the heat rush to his cheeks remembering their last encounter. He stopped from a distance and watched her enter the park. She headed straight for the same bench and took a seat. Inwardly he struggled, should he still go to the park or turn around and go home? He found this canine loving girl to be completely attractive but also completely unapproachable. He’d been praying for courage to speak. Not just to her, although that’d be nice. He’d been shy his whole life. His way of dealing with the world had been to put his head down and let it pass him by. It was easier not to engage. But, about a year ago he’d given his life to Jesus and something deep in his heart shifted. He wanted to talk more, he wanted to tell others of the love and peace he’d received when he prayed the Sinner’s Prayer. He had no idea if this brown haired girl knew the love of her Creator, but he intended to find out.
He stood in his tracks for a moment and then made a decision. He would continue to the dog park. David moved quickly before he thought about it too much and changed his mind. His breathing became more rapid and he was sure his legs may give way, but, he had to face his fear. He opened the gate and it creaked, Clara never looked up. She seemed engaged in whatever she was holding. As he walked closer, he could see it was a magazine about dogs. Even closer he could tell she wasn’t really reading. The dead giveaway? It was upside down.
Clara could see someone approaching out of the corner of her eye. She pretended to be deeply involved in the magazine she was holding. As the figure of a person drew nearer, she realized her way to “escape conversation” was upside down. Ugh! She inwardly groaned and quickly turned the magazine right side up. Maybe he wouldn’t notice. She turned the page and tried to seem engaged in the story while watching him. She was quite good at looking busy while spying, a trait she’d learned as a child. David walked over to the bench, her bench, and sat down. His elbow brushed against hers and she knew immediately that, like Laura, this guy wasn’t going away. She scooted down leaving room without looking his way. A quick side eye told her he was setting his small caramel colored dog down to play and making himself comfortable. The little pup was adorable and Clara wanted to tell him so but dared not, she didn’t want to send the wrong message.
Her name is Lulu he said though she hadn’t asked. “Oh,” Clara said, trying to sound uninterested even though she melted inside. What an adorable name, she thought. “She’s a rescue pup.” David continued even though Clara never looked his way. “She comes from an abusive home, so she’s a little skittish. I’m surprised she likes this park, she usually shies away from other dogs.” Clara turned her head slightly and David took that as a sign to continue. “She’s three and a real sweetheart. Her favorite thing is to be held.” Clara couldn’t help herself, she smiled openly, “My dog is Ringo. He’s spoiled rotten and can never get enough attention. He’s my family.” Her voice held the conviction of her words and David knew she was a true dog lover. Help me out here, Lord, he silently prayed.
No one was more surprised than Clara when thirty minutes passed in pleasant conversation. He was not originally from the city but moved here a few years ago for work. He loved dogs and made a point to tell her he loved Jesus. Clara was intrigued and would’ve talked longer, but Ringo bounded up ready to go. She excused herself but not before he asked her if she came to the park often. He didn’t mention he’d been there every day since their last meeting looking for her. She paused, “yes.” Clara thought she understood what he was really asking. More time together. That’s why she took her time to answer. She’d been praying for Mr. Right for so long. As of late, she’d all but lost hope. But, right here in front of her was a decent looking Christian man asking if she “came here” often. Why not? She thought, why not come to the park often? David knew her answer wasn’t entirely true, but he took it as a good sign. “Ummm…would you like to meet tomorrow? About the same time?” He stumbled over the words then stood holding his breath. Lulu had joined the conversation by now and she stood eyeing Clara as if waiting for a response. Clara looked him straight in the eye and paused. “Sure.” David visibly let out a sigh of relief. “See you tomorrow, then, same time.” Clara opened the gate heading to the grocery store. David nodded and for a moment he thought he might faint. As soon as she turned her back he fist pumped the air then bent over to scoop up Lulu. “We’ve got a dog park date tomorrow, girl!” Lulu licked his face in response.
“What just happened?” Clara whispered to Ringo as she walked away. When her heart skipped a beat, she knew. No matter what else came her way, she knew.
She had a crush.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent. Psalm 91:9-10