Mr. M (my husband) and I are often asked for a summary of our love story – from our loud, rambunctious friendship to our beautiful winter wedding to where we are today. This is an open letter to my husband, the co-author of this blog and support for the ministry portion of my writing. If you are not familiar with the blog’s series on relationships and sexuality, visit this link for a complete list.
Every married couple has a special story. It’s the differences that make those stories so fascinating. No matter how simple, how run-of-the-mill, it’s the individuality of the people in the story that makes us ask, “How did you meet?” “When did you know?” and “How did he ask you?”
I love our story not just because of how God wrote it or the role you played. I love it because it gave me hope. Our story proves that there are, in fact, men in the world who believe in something higher and holier than the bare minimum when it comes to relationships.
Our story gives hope to many girls like me; girls who stand where I stood three years ago. I remember who I was then. I remember telling God my hopes and dreams, with eyes wide to see His promises come true. But I was a proud thing, with expectations and assertions and a keen sense of black and white. .
Three years ago I arrived in Virginia with short hair, a shorter temper, and big plans. When I shook your hand in that bookstore parking lot, decked to the nines in my heels and overcoat, you were the last thing on my romance radar (those awful green plaid shorts!), and I was the last thing on yours.
When you sat by me during Sherlock Holmes (much to my irritation) and proceeded to be more impertinent than I should have ever allowed, I was appalled at your audacity. But I was intrigued by your confidence. “You’re not afraid of me, are you?” I whispered coolly as the movie played in front of us. “I just know how you think.” You shot back. Well, I never.
When you cancelled our coffee date because I said you were texting me too much (admit it, you were) I was peeved. And you were peeved I was ‘reading into’ our friendship. Somehow you still persuaded me to meet you for a baseball game – probably because deep down, I knew our little spats weren’t the destroying kind. They were the building kind.
When my heart was broken, yours was the voice on the other end of the phone until past midnight, listening to my tears, comforting as best you could, trying to make me laugh, and always – ALWAYS – pointing me back to Grace. The facade I had so carefully created – a mask of strength and self-confidence – began to crumble under the consistency of your devotion. You gained nothing from our relationship except my friendship. But you gave everything you had, and that’s what made me love you.
They say love comes softly, and I believe it does. I was standing in the doorway of the Charlottesville CVS, the one in the downtown mall. It was the Fourth of July and we had just come from Monticello, where you had a arranged a day for me and my best friend. The rain was pouring so hard it was bouncing off the pavement and raining upward.
“I’ll get the car.” You said.
“But it’s a mile and a half away!”
“It’s not a bad walk – I’ll come back and pick you up. Wait here.”
You ran that whole mile and a half. In the rain. Twenty minutes later you came up, panting, rain dripping off your nose and hair and shirt, umbrella in hand… just as the sun broke through the clouds. We laughed that day, thinking it was God’s joke that the sun would come out just as you came to get us. But in that moment the sun broke through in my heart, and I knew that I loved you. I loved you because you had loved me – so truly, so purely, and so consistently, asking nothing in return.
In that covered bridge in Covington – after we once again had to escape the rain – we sat on a blanket looking out at the storm and you asked me to be your girlfriend.
“I’d like to answer…” I hesitated. “But I’d like you to talk to my dad first, just to let him know your intentions.”
You smiled. “What if I told you I called him three weeks ago, and he gave me his blessing?”
No one had ever cared that much. No one had considered me of such high value to respect my father this way. No one had loved me enough to go that distance of his own accord.
Our dating relationship had its ups and downs. We fought hard, sometimes often, but we learned to love deeply. We failed each other, and we failed God. But our own weakness drove us to our knees, and when I felt like a failure in every way, you pointed us back to Grace.
You made every effort to help us be holy – which included saving our first kiss for our wedding day. I learned with you not to ask ‘how far is too far?’ but ‘how holy can we be?’ It was so terribly hard, but so very worth it. And as I watched you sacrifice your desires on the altar of holiness, I loved you even more for putting my purity above our impulse.
“Walk with me, darling, into the light of His glory, and stand by me as we pursue His ultimate and perfect plan for us.”
That September weekend, when I was in D.C., I got scared. We seemed to have nothing in common. We shared none of the same interests, hobbies, or pursuits. You were afraid you couldn’t satisfy me; I was afraid I would disappoint you. But as I considered life without you, I realized just how empty that choice would leave me. To think of a life without your laugh, or without you turning off the lights just as I turned them on, without your voice in my ear – “I love you, baby girl”, without your patience toward my temper, without your drive to make a life for us – just thinking of it made the tears well in my eyes. How close I came to losing it all.
We realized we were brought together not by our hobbies or interests, but by a common goal. And to give up on the goal was to give up on us.
So we decided, you and I. We decided to love in spite of our flaws and because of our failings. It’s hard, isn’t it, darling? We are learning it every day, in the long weeks we spend apart and the short days we have together. We are learning to press on toward the goal – together.
And the goal is the glory of Christ Jesus.
Three weeks after that September weekend you asked me to be your wife. When I said yes, I didn’t say yes to a wedding – though ours was everything I’d dreamed – I said yes to a commitment. I said yes to unity. I said yes to a hard love, love that is a daily choice. I said yes to unconditional respect, just as you said yes to unconditional love.
They say the first year is the hardest, and we both know it has had its difficult moments. I didn’t go into marriage thinking it would be a walk in the park or some kind of fairy tale. I believe the fairy tale is knowing that in the end, the goal will be accomplished. That all we are and all we do, the story God has written, is meant to show what Grace can accomplish in two imperfect lives.
You aren’t the only good man out there. Every man who loves God truly is exposed to the kind of sacrificial love you have shown me. And every woman who seeks God truly learns the same grace I’m learning to show you. Our choice is one every man and woman has to make: a choice to be brave and wait for a person who loves the way God loves, or to settle for the immediate and the easy. I pray they don’t settle. I pray they don’t short themselves the peace and joy that only comes from a relationship built on the love of God.
There is hope for all those desiring God’s design for relationships. We are proof of that. There are men and women in the world seeking that which is higher and holier, that which is harder to do and harder yet to find. That’s how precious things are… they are rare. Sometimes you have to wait for them. You have to work for them. But they are worth it in the end.
Dear darling, God has used our story give hope to many girls. I don’t know how God saw fit to do such a thing, but I suppose that’s what redemption is… using imperfect people to showcase the love of our Father God. By loving me, you’ve shown me what grace looks like. Some of our readers have yet to experience that freedom.
Some of them have ceased believing there are good men in the world.
Some have ceased trusting God for their futures, no matter what that includes.
Your love has taught me that God can do great things for the small, the shamed, the selfish… all because you love like Christ.
The love of God brings hope. Our story is a story of hope, and it’s not the only one. It’s one every woman and man can have, in God’s timing and will. God blesses the repentant heart, the heart that loves Him, and the heart that loves others. You’ve shown that to me.
So thank you, Mr. M, for loving me like Jesus does.
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