A Long, Strange Trip, Part Six: My Relationship with Christina and the Ann Arbor Vineyard (2012-2013)

I first met Christina (pronounced Criss-sty-nah) in August of 2012. We had been chatting on an online dating site, and found that we had a lot in common.

We were both very spiritual people (she was Roman Catholic, a part of the Franciscan order); both of us were interested in social justice; both of us believed in a consistent pro-life ethic (opposed not just to abortion, but also to capital punishment, torture, environmental destruction, and all war); we had very similar tastes in music; and we were both involved, to some degree, with activism on behalf of LGBT people.

When we first started talking, Christina considered herself a lesbian – but she also said that she was open to dating a man if the right one came along. She must have seen something in my profile that interested her, because she quickly suggested that we meet in person.

When we met, the chemistry was undeniable. We quickly bonded over theology, music, and more; and toward the end of our first date she said something like “If you want to kiss me, now would be a good time.” I really appreciated her bluntness; there was never any question about what she was thinking!

As I got to know Christina, I learned many interesting things about her. One thing that stood out was her unique spiritual perspective. While she considered herself Catholic, she also believed in things like healing crystals and communicating with the dead.

She seemed to be a Christian and a pagan at the same time, which didn’t make much sense to me (it would make more sense in the years to come); but I trusted her. Our relationship developed very quickly, and by October I knew I was in love.

What I appreciated most about Christina was how unconditionally loving she was. At that time in my life I didn’t feel very attractive; I was basically unemployed, living with my parents, with a dislocated jaw, pain in my pelvic floor, and ingrown fingernails that were infected so bad I had to wear bandages to keep the blood and pus from leaking out.

I felt like I had very little to offer a woman; but Christina saw something in me, and made me feel loved and appreciated. She was a very giving, nurturing woman, and also playful and childlike at times. She was very affectionate, and had a naughty sense of humor which I really liked. We connected in all the ways that mattered – physically, spiritually,emotionally, and intellectually.

One particularly fond memory I have of Christina is the time that my band played at a “zombie walk” (a parade for people dressed as zombies); and she came all the way up from Ohio to hear us play – dressed in full zombie gear!

On the way back she called me and told me that she missed me already – just a couple hours after seeing me. It seemed like she was just as crazy about me as I was about her.

By December, however, our relationship was beginning to unravel. She was very busy at this time, trying to keep her family business (a jewelry store) afloat – and this was no small feat considering that she had muscular dystrophy and was bound to a wheelchair!

At the same time, she was regularly visiting her mom, who was sick in a nursing home; and continuing her involvement with church and various social justice causes. Every time I tried to make plans with her, she said she was too busy and would get back to me later.

After more than a month of this, I was getting weary of the whole thing. She called or texted me every day saying she loved me, but never seemed to have time to see me.  Hurt, angry, and confused, I broke off the relationship. Over the next year I tried several times to talk her into dating me again, and she always declined.

This was not, however, the end of my connection to Christina. While we never dated again after that (at least not in a way that most people would understand), she would continue to be a part of my life for years to come – in ways that I never would have dreamed of at the time.

December 2012 turned out to be one of the worst months of my life. I was so depressed from the breakup that I did nothing but eat and sleep for an entire week. Later the same month, my best friend Ronnie moved out of town.

This was the most depressing Christmas ever; but not all hope was lost. Over the next few months, I searched for a new church home. I needed a faith community that was somewhat liberal, but with a charismatic worship style and openness to the gifts of the Spirit.

My friend Thelma suggested I try a Vineyard church; and in April of 2013 I started attending the Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor. I was immediately impressed by the combination of biblical preaching, social justice work, and charismatic prayer that were at the heart of this church.

My second week at the Vineyard church, I received healing prayer for my depression; and by the time I left the church I seemed to be totally healed. For more than a month, I felt no depression at all – and I was convinced that I never would again. Feeling rejuvenated, I began looking for employment again and making plans for the coming year.

Unfortunately, the healing didn’t last. After a month of relief, I was hit with another bout of depression – this time worse than before. It would be more than two years before I recovered from this one.

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