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The other day, I was thinking about a rather nice fellow I met when I was about seventeen. He was a really nice guy, very sweet and down-to-earth. We’ll call him Bob. He was blond haired and blue eyed, with this quirky little smile and with manners that made me feel special. He was a country boy, and about as sweet and honorable as they come. I was working at McDonald’s at the time, and he worked there, too. We started talking, and I could tell that he liked me–as in really liked me–but I had a long distance boyfriend.

Now, the long-distance boyfriend (let’s call him Ted) was another very nice guy. But there wasn’t a huge amount of chemistry there, and while we both really respected each other, it wasn’t going anywhere fast. Plus, there was about 4 hours of driving between us, so…

Anyway, I don’t remember how it happened, but Bob ended up coming to my place for supper. I think he might have driven me home from work, or something like that, and he ended up getting along with my family really, really well. My dad had never really taken a shine to Ted, but Bob just sort of… fit in. He liked Star Trek like we did, and he loved my dad’s cooking. Bob was kind and decent, and I could tell he really wanted something with me. We just clicked.

So, the next day at work, I had to tell Bob about Ted, and that I did have a boyfriend, and Bob, being the very decent guy that he was, bowed out. Like completely–no more chit chat, no more rides. He simply went away so efficiently, that I have no idea where he went or what became of him. But I often thought that if I hadn’t been dating Ted at the time, Bob was the sort of guy who would have stuck. I could have dated him for a couple of years, and ended up marrying him.

Which would have been tragic, because then I wouldn’t have been able to marry Mr. Johns nearly ten years later, and in my mind there is a very big difference between a person you could marry and a soulmate. My husband, if you hadn’t guessed, falls into the latter category. He wasn’t a man I could marry, he was a man I’d forever regret not marrying.

So, since we’re all thinking thankful thoughts this month, today, I’m thankful for Ted–the place-holder boyfriend who kept me from getting involved with Bob. It’s funny how things turn out, but I truly believe that God’s hand was there, keeping me available for the man He’d chosen for me… for the man who was praying for me in the heart of Africa.

Ted went on to marry a beautiful woman who loves him like no other could. They  have two children together, at last count, and I’m sure he’s equally grateful not to have married me.

As for Bob, I don’t know what became of him, but he was an honest, good guy, and I like to think that he found his soulmate, too–someone worthy of him. He deserved that.

As for Mr. Johns, he immigrated to Canada and we met 9 years after the Bob/Ted situation. It took exactly two weeks for him to propose and a heartbeat for me to accept. We both just knew.