Sociologists and psychologists agree that selecting a mate is a complex process. But from biblical times, we've heard stories of mates who were preordained, truly made for each other. Does God still play matchmaker today? Read the following true stories and tell us what you think.
MY ONE AND ONLY
I wasn't much in the mood for going out after breaking up with my boyfriend, but maybe a folk concert would be more fun than moping around my apartment alone. Driving there in my car, I heard very distinctly, "Steve is going to help you."
After mentally running through all the Steves I knew, I decided I was being ridiculous. By the time I arrived at the concert I had almost convinced myself I'd imagined the whole thing. Then a familiar face greeted me near the entrance. "Steve Hess?" I gasped, astonished. "Is that you?"
"Sure is," he said with a warm smile. Years earlier, I had worked as a teacher's aide in his special-ed classroom. Since the death of his wife, he'd been raising his two sons on his own. When Steve talked about his boys, I heard the love and enthusiasm I had admired while we worked with "our" kids so long ago. We were married the following year, and this past June I adopted Daniel and Jacob. Today, for me, there's only one Steve.
--Ann Hess, Frederick, Maryland
All my friends were married and having children, and I wasn't even meeting anyone interesting. I had to admit I'd become so discouraged I expected every man to let me down. "Please, God," I prayed, "when you send the right man for me, would you let me know loud and clear? Otherwise I know I won't give him a chance."
Weeks later I looked carefully behind me in both directions before pulling out of my parking space after church. I was just about to step on the gas when I heard a voice inside me, loud and clear: "Look again before you run over your future husband!" I snapped my head around and saw a man walking past my car. Danny and I had been introduced months earlier, but I hadn't given him a thought since. Now I rolled down my window, took a deep breath and said hello. We've been married six years.
--Debra Keller, Ronkonkoma, New York HIS AND HERS
"There isn't a man on earth who isn't scared off at the prospect of becoming an instant father of five," I told my friend who ran a dating service. She insisted I let her use her matchmaking magic and set me up on a date.
On the big night, my four girls helped me get ready. "I think you should pull the hair off your face, Mom," 14-year-old Ashley suggested. "It looks pretty down around your shoulders, too," Courtney, her twin, said.
"You look beautiful," eight-year-old Danielle pronounced. Fifteen-year-old Brittni called everyone to the window to watch for a car. I lay down on my bed, careful not to wrinkle my pantsuit, closed my eyes and breathed deep. "Lord, please help me to relax."
Why aren't you excited? You're about to meet the man you're going to marry!"
What? Where did that come from? Just then the girls called from the window: "He's coming!" "He's tall!" "He's cute!"
"I'm Greg," he said when I opened the door, the girls crowded around me. His manner with the girls immediately put me at ease. Greg (father of three) and I were married that year -- making an instant family of 10.
--Mikki Kiefer, Ballwin, Missouri
My best friend, Buddy Friloux, knew everything about me--but I never told him I'd seen my future wife in a dream. It's not the kind of thing 12-year-old boys usually have on their minds.
Sophomore year of high school, I rounded a corner with my arms full of books and there she was -- the girl from my dream. Evelyn Fleming was new to Dickinson, Texas, and far too pretty to go out with me, I thought. When I asked her though, she said yes. We dated all through high school, but I never told her about the dream, or that I loved her with all my heart. I'll be drafted soon, I thought. I can't ask her to wait for me. Secretly I planned to marry Evelyn after the war.
When I was released from the service in 1946, Evelyn was already engaged--to Buddy Friloux! I had missed my chance.
I hadn't spoken to Evelyn in more than 40 years, but I called to offer my condolences after Buddy's death in 1985. "I've always loved you," I finally told her. But I didn't explain exactly how true those words were.
Our story might have ended there, if not for yet another dream three years later. This time I saw Evelyn, hands on her hips, laughing hard. She wore a white sweater with the sleeves pushed up, a pleated skirt and saddle shoes, her style in 1944. The next day I called her. "Gerald?" she asked, "Where are you?"
"In my apartment in New York City."
"Are you a Yankee now?" Evelyn teased. I could almost see her laughing, hands on her hips. I assured her I was the same Texas boy as always, and made plans to have dinner with her when I came back for Christmas. As we walked into the restaurant, Evelyn slipped her arm through mine, just like she used to do in high school. She was the same girl I'd loved since I was 12. Finally she became my wife.
--Gerald Cottingham, Houston, Texas GEORGE'S BOY
Growing up on my grandparents' farm in upstate New York, I loved hearing all the local gossip from the neighbor lady. "I talked to Minnie Pitts this morning," she announced one day, setting a plate of sugar cookies before me. (Minnie Pitts was her main source of information.) "George's boy fell down and broke his arm." I felt a strange prickling sensation all over my body.
A few weeks later, the broken arm came up again. "I talked to Minnie Pitts today," the neighbor lady reported, "and George's boy broke his arm all over again!" Once more my whole body prickled from head to toe.
"Who is George's boy?" I asked.
"Minnie's great-nephew, Carlton Galloway," said the neighbor lady. "They call him Sy."
I'd never met anyone named Sy, but when I started high school in town, I heard some girls talking about a new student called Sy Galloway. "When you see this fellow, let me know," I said. My classmates didn't have to point him out. When I spotted the boy with thick, dark hair I felt a familiar prickly feeling. Who else could it be but George's boy? And sure enough, several years later, he became my husband--and Minnie Pitts my great-aunt.
--Marguerite Galloway, Zephyrhills, Florida