Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Beauty & the Beast: The Rejection (Chapter 8)

KIM UPDATE: We are home! Kim had a great Round 5 and she is showing the "heart of a champion"! One more round to go. Thank you all for your prayers. Literally, as soon as we walked in the door I got a text from Joe Park that Andrew was finally being released to go home as well (after a long and difficult chemo round). Please keep him and Connor in your prayers as well. God is so good and works in mysterious ways!
Okay, this is where I quit writing the last time around. I couldn't go past Chapter 8 - it was just too painful. But seeing Kim beat cancer has given me newfound strength! I've added a little more from the last time I wrote this, which is why it's so long and besides my former 2nd grade teacher has already expressed how upset she was because the suspense was killing her so I'm trying to move it along. By the way, this story is kind of like the Titanic. You all know the ending. I win and Kim loses! So please no more death threats - especially if you are a 2nd grade teacher at a Christian school. =)  (If you're joining in late read previous chapters HERE.)

Although, I got the exact answer I was looking for it seemed Kim was as excited about praying about a relationship as a bald man gets buying conditioner. I couldn’t understand why it was so hard for her to make a decision. It’s not like it was brain science…..or rocket surgery. Some of you may be wondering why Kim was crying when I popped the big question? How the heck would I know? Why does any girl cry? While you’re at it, why don’t you ask me to solve life’s other greatest mysteries like:

Who killed JFK?

How do bumblebees fly?

Where do black socks go?

Why does the Incredible Hulk turn green when angry?

Fact is even girls don’t know why they cry. Sure they’ll come up with some reason like “I was feeling sad.” or “You hurt my feelings.” or “It needed stitches.” but trust me – they’re as clueless as the men. I think it has to do with some dynamic combination of the lunar calendar, wind direction, chocolate consumption, who is on Oprah, interplanetary alignment, Brad Pitt’s marital status and how many games the Cubs are behind the Cardinals. But that’s just my personal theory – which is based on 10+ years of marriage and growing up with 3 sisters, so I think it’s a pretty good theory.

So anyways, it’s May 1997. I’m graduating. My parents are coming to verify. I’m not sure whether I should invite Kim to eat lunch with my family since nothing is official yet but upon talking to my sister Lydia – she figures it wouldn’t hurt. So I ask her and she seems hesitant but agrees. I’m thinking she felt a little awkward about the situation but that’s just a hunch. Here’s a picture I dug up from my graduation.

Ken, Lydia, Mom, Me, Dad, Esther, Grace, Brian, My Future Wife
That’s Kim way over there on the right. She barely made it in the picture. Does she look uncomfortable? Like she wants to move away from the group and run for the nearest hills? Oh yeah. That skinny guy in the cap and gown is me. As you can see I’ve put on about 40 pounds of muscle since then. I forgive you.

Anyways we make it through lunch and Kim meets my parents – which is awkward but without any major surprises. Before I leave to go back home we decide to just try and continue in prayer but I could sense that she was nowhere near making any type of commitment. Since I was going to be starting my job in St. Louis in July and she would be finishing up school in Champaign – I really didn’t see how we were going to make things work unless we both made a commitment to try and make things work. Then it happens….in June she sends me a letter and sadly it’s a long diatribe on how she wasn’t ready for a relationship, how she felt this wasn’t the right time in her life, how she needed time to figure things out. But like most guys I tried to grasp on to anything that might give me a glimmer of hope – a “raison d’etre”. [for the unsophisticated - that’s French for “yogurt-covered raisins”]. As I read the letter I kept telling myself – it could still work out….if we just gave it time – but then came the kicker – she didn’t feel it was wise to talk anymore. Not for a week, not for a month, but indefinitely. She felt like it might confuse intentions and mislead me otherwise…


That’s all I could say… “Wow.”

It hurt so deep that I even said it backwards…“.woW”.

It became apparent now why she cried when I asked her to “pray” about it. She didn’t want to pray about it. She wanted us to remain friends. She knew things between us would never be the same from that day forward. A part of me died that day. I had never felt so crushed in all my life. I was at an all-time low. Rock-bottom. The depths of despair. Nadir of all nadirs.

Since I didn’t start my full-time job until later in July – I basically had all this time to wallow in sorrow and analyze, ad nauseum, why I wasn’t good enough for her. My sisters said I looked depressed just because I would:
  1. Sleep until 2:00 in the afternoon.
  2. Sit all day in a dark room listening to the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” on repeat
  3. Burst into tearful convulsions when anyone mentioned any word that rhymed with “Kim”…. or strangely “Shim” as well.
But what normal 22 year old doesn’t do these things? Ok – don’t answer that.

The following month, in a last ditch effort to salvage our relationship I drove up to campus to see her under the pretense that I was visiting my sister Lydia. (Kim was there for summer school and was actually rooming with Lydia along with a couple other girls.) I wasn’t going to press the issue with Kim again but I did want to see if we would still be able to be friends. I ran into her twice that weekend – once in their apartment and again at a church picnic. I guess “ran into” would be saying it nicelyt, because she actually walked right past me both times without saying "hi" or even turning to look at me. I hit a new low. Not only was it clear that we could not be friends, but I no longer even existed in her eyes.

I know this may come as a shock for many of you who know Kim as this sweet and gentle soul, but this is all true. To be fair, years later she said the reason why she did that was because she didn’t know what to do and she didn’t want to lead me on in any way. She was probably right. I’m sure if she looked at me and said, “Hi.” I would have asked her to marry me on the spot. So I guess God knew what He was doing when He had Kim treat me as if I were a leper with bad breath and lot of gas. God is good.

After that picnic, I met with Lydia for lunch before driving back. I remember our conversation from 15 years ago like it was yesterday. She was hoping things would work out and to encourage me she said:
“Don’t lose hope. Just keep praying, you never know if she might…” 
I lifted my hand while she was in mid-sentence, and she stopped talking. She saw the tears welling up in my eyes and tears began to well up in hers. It was one of those rare sibling moments where no more words needed to be said. I didn’t want to hope anymore because I didn’t want to hurt any more. And so that’s how things with Kim ended. I went from sharing deeply with her all my greatest hopes and fears to realizing in our break-up that I had lost all hope in her and realized my greatest fear of rejection.

That summer I tried to find a “new normal” in my life. But nothing seemed normal. Suddenly, all of Celine Dion’s songs took on newfound meaning. What made it more painful was that I was so sure - so certain of God’s will - so confident that she was “the one”.

How did this happen?

Where did I go wrong?

Why does that cursed “My Heart Will Go On” keep playing on the radio?

That was probably the scariest part of it all – to feel so sure of God’s will only to realize that you may have been dead wrong all along. Your whole world comes crashing down and collapses like a house of cards. And you’re left with nothing…except Celine Dion…blast that cursed song!


  1. It's funny how I obviously know the ending to this story, but it's still fun for me to read! =) ...wasn't so funny back then, though. :) God is good!

  2. So thankful to God you are at the last round-one round to go stage. You are almost there--you can reach victory. We praise the Lord that "The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed I have a beautiful inheritance." (as it says in Ps. 16:6).What a relief to know you will be able to be with your family when you were away for so long. Praise God that "He brought [you] out into a broad place; He rescued [you], because He delighted in [you.]"