This Is How We Met: Renee Johnson Fisher's Story
This Is How We Met: Caleb Wilde's Story

This Is How We Met: Kristin Tennant's Story

I knew my Twitter friend Kristin was my kind of people pretty quickly. The reason? Kristin loves Living Room Dance Parties. Then there's her wit, intellect, and spiritual depth. I cannot wait to meet her face to face and talk the night away. When I dreamed up this series, Kristin came to mind right away. I'm so glad she's sharing her story with us today.

The year was 2005, and I was positive I wasn’t going to meet the “right” person for me. That’s when it almost always happens, right? When you’re least expecting it.

My list of reasons for least expecting it, though, was particularly long and complex. Topping the list were these three biggies: I was in my mid-30s, was divorced, and had two young children. That’s exactly what every great catch is looking for, right?

Then there was my atypical mix of faith, fun, and politics. I was a Christian, and my faith was becoming more important to me than ever, but I also thrived on being a bit of a bad girl (in other words, I wasn’t looking for a full-fledged “good boy”). I wanted to go out and drink a martini. I wanted to hear my favorite band play too loudly, and wanted to go dancing with friends after midnight. Not every Good Christian Man wants that. Not every Christian wants to talk politics with me, either. I’m one of those rare Christian Democrats, which rules out a large percentage of potential partners.

The final blow to my relationship potential was that I was pretty much rooted in my small Midwestern town, where my daughters can be near their dad who has a tenured position at the university. I had to meet someone who was OK with being stuck here, too, which is no small feat in a town where a significant percentage of people are just passing through to get a PhD or do a fellowship.

If you mix all those factors together and give them a good shake (squeezing in a few extra hopes along the way), you get a singles ad that reads something like this: "Thirty-something woman with two young children seeks tall, dark, handsome, thirty-something man who loves kids, dreams of having an instant family, goes to church, is serious about his faith, never voted for George Bush, knows how to have fun on a Saturday night, and is generally a social, successful, hip, big-city type who is perfectly happy to remain in a small Midwestern town for the next 10+ years."

Now you begin to grasp my hopelessness. I began to systematically think through which dream-man requirements I could do without. Maybe a Christian guy who’s not a whole-heck-of-a-lot-of-fun? Someone who’s smart and fun, but agnostic? Or smart and successful, but scared to death of kids? Handsome and great with kids, but not too bright? I didn't want to sacrifice anything, but I just knew I'd be forced to, in light of my limiting circumstances.

I actually tried to ditch the whole church/faith part of me a few months before, which would have simplified my hypothetical singles ad. I had left a church after a long, difficult stretch of struggles, and had decided church just wasn’t for me—at least not for now. God had other ideas, though, and a series of encounters led me to a new church one spring Sunday, where I sat, blinking back tears. It wasn’t The Voices of Angels, or The Warmth of God’s Love, or anything directly religious like that filling me with emotion. It was the people. The very ordinary people. A group of hippy-looking teenagers sitting together in the front row. Families of every size, shape and color. Couples that looked like they belonged together, and couples that looked like they didn’t. A grandmother with her grandchildren. Middle aged single people sitting all together, not alone. And lots of children, everywhere, roaming so much from lap to lap that I couldn’t tell which kids belonged to which adults. It was a room full of humanity. They were people who weren’t perfect, and they knew it.

And right there, in the crazy mix of people at my new church, was Jason: a man who answered perfectly to my hypothetical singles ad (it’s true!). We each had our eyes on the other for a couple of months before we met. Then we got to know each other during regular after-church lunches with a group of friends, at a nearby burger and beer place. Our daughters became friends. Soon we started hanging out together on our own, on days other than Sundays, going to hear bands we liked and then talking late into the night at a 24-hour diner.

About two years after we met, Jason and I got married—in the very sanctuary where we first laid eyes on each other, surrounded by the people we worship and work with, eat and dance with, and attempt to sort out the world’s problems with. Out in the world, we often get asked “How did you meet?” We say “church,” and they laugh and say, “No, really?” And then we have an amazing redemption story to tell—one that never gets old.


Kristin Tennant has been a freelance writer for ten years. In 2007 she began blogging about family, faith, struggle and redemption at Halfway to Normal, and she now also blogs for The Huffington Post. Her essays have been included in two anthologies: Not Alone: Stories of Living With Depression, and Ask Me About My Divorce: Women Open Up About Moving On. Kristin, her husband Jason, and their three daughters live in Urbana, Illinois, where they love cooking and sharing meals and conversation with friends.