It was a whirlwind, that last weekend of April 1979. First there was the prom.
The juniors had raised money and were tasked with transforming the gym into a magical place. Where Dreams Become Reality was our theme. Guys and girls entered through an airplane facade to visit New York, Paris, China and some other places no one ever realistically thought we would see.
That night, dressed in 100% pink polyester, I was picked up by my date who wore a white tuxedo. My teenage heart raced as I saw him walking up the sidewalk carrying my bouquet. Where Dreams Become Reality was an apt theme for me that evening. I was goo-goo over this handsome guy, and not just over his long hair and lamb-chop sideburns. He had a great personality, too. We danced to every song, headed to Pizza Inn and I was home by midnight. Best time ever!
The next day after church, I sat in the swing and waited excitedly for my date to call. And I waited for him to call. We had had an awesome time, hadn't we? And I waited for him to call. We had danced to every song! And I waited for him to call.
He eventually telephoned that night saying something about going to church and having "dinner on the ground."
At school on Monday morning, I was sitting on the stage in the lunchroom when my prom date came in. We talked for a minute and he handed me his class ring. "Hold on to this for me," he said. And I did. Without another thought, I put it directly in my pocket. It stayed there until the end of the day.
Before I left for home, one of my prom date's neighbors yelled, "How does it feel to be going steady?!"
"Who's going steady?" I yelled back.
"You are!" she called out the car window. Holy Smokes! Was that what he meant by, "Hold on to this for me?!" I went home and wrapped his ring with yarn.
I found out later that something life-changing happened to my date that Sunday. He got up that morning fully intending to go to church and be saved. (That's church talk for giving your heart and life to Jesus.) He had almost fallen out of the back of a truck with some baseball players just a few days before. It had really scared him. He realized if he would have died, he would not have gone to heaven. He was afraid of dying. So, that day after the prom, his main concern was making things right with God!
At church, he heard the message but then white-knuckled the pew during the invitation. He held on until the entire congregation cleared out to eat dinner. He was frustrated that he had missed his opportunity. "Now, I have to wait another week before I can be saved!" he told himself in anguish. And then the pastor came back in. He asked if the young man was OK. "No," he told him and explained what was going on.
I love this part! The pastor asked, "Would you like to pray and accept Jesus into your heart right now?" The guy with the cool hair and lamb-chop sideburns got down on his knees, asked for forgiveness of his sins and for Jesus to come into his heart, changing his eternity forever! Cue "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang!
It was a big weekend! On that prom night so long ago, I felt like Cinderella, minus the carriage, the fairy godmother and glass slippers. Actually, looking back, I was covered in polyester and didn't resemble her at all. Still, I was with my Prince Charming and he whisked me all over the world: New York, Paris, China and some other places we never realistically thought we would see. I can still remember him holding my hand.
The going steady part was awesome, too. I still have the ring! But the best part of that weekend, four decades ago this week, was that my prom date gave his heart to Jesus! Because of that, everything else fell into place.
Forty years ago we didn't realize our story was just getting started. We married not long after graduation! I never ever thought of growing older or old. His hair turned loose and mine turned gray. I never ever dreamed that guy would be a pastor himself one day, helping others find Jesus. I didn't picture me being a pastor's wife either! All these years later, he is my best friend and I am still so thankful to have him!
Forty years ago I had absolutely no clue what life would bring. I was 16 years old and had no idea what God had planned for me. I didn't know Jeremiah 29:11, but, oh, I do now! "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future."
Dawn Reed writes a weekly column for HD Media. She can be contacted at email@example.com.