I was 18 and I finally had friends and a social life. I met a fellow nerd at my new job, and he invited me to join the Dungeons & Dragons game he played in. He was a charismatic extrovert that brought people together and was always involved in multiple nerdy activities for which he wanted company, and his friends embraced me as part of the group. I played various table-top RPGs, took my computer to hook up to other friends’ computers so we could play Diablo 2 until 5am, watched B movies, attended SCA events and local cons. It was at a local con that I was introduced to LARP games, which my friend added to his nerdy repertoire, pulling several of us in his wake.
This was a brand new world to me. Most of the people I met weren’t conservative Christians and many weren’t any kind of Christian. They were oddballs though – people with interests that were off the beaten path and that didn’t fit into society’s molds. My weirdness did not stand out, here, and they were very accepting of weird, socially awkward people in general. Most of us knew what it was like to be an outsider for one reason or another. I felt like I’d found my home and I loved it.
I met my future husband through a LARP we both attended. He was Christian as well, which was very important to me, but also smart and funny, with principles and the necessary spine to stand firm when those principles were challenged. When he asked me out shortly before my 20th birthday, I accepted, because I believed we were compatible enough that this relationship could become permanent. I had decided not to bother with casual dating. It seemed like a waste of time when I could usually tell right away that someone wasn’t a person I’d want to spend my life with. Dating for fun was incompatible with my still ultimately conservative Christian beliefs.
I moved to his city and got a new job so we could get an apartment together. A perk of the relationship was that I really liked most of his friends, so I inherited a new group of people to spend time with now that distance made it difficult to spend as much time with my friends from my previous city. I even made a couple of friends of my own, mutual acquaintances that knew my boyfriend but hadn’t been especially close with him. They were integrated into the group as well. I loved my life. This was the happiest I had been.
I didn’t talk a lot about my religious beliefs. I didn’t want to drive people away by making them think I was trying to evangelize them. Sometimes I felt a little guilty about this, but not guilty enough to risk losing what I had. Doubt about the nature of reality as I knew it was seeping in, too – I met lots of nice people that were often better, nicer people than the Christians I had known. This was not what I’d been told to expect. Ultimately I justified my failure to evangelize with the knowledge that all of them knew about Christianity and Jesus. They just didn’t believe. Me telling them the Gospel was unlikely to have a positive affect so God would have to figure out some other way to reach them. In the meantime, we could just be friends.