Bonnie, over at the Faith Barista, has invited us this week to share the story of how we met our spouse. Well, it's been quite a long time now, but I'll give it a shot...
It was a fall evening and I was a brand-new first-year student at UCLA, newly graduated from high school, very wet behind the ears and commuting from my home in Glendale that first semester.
My dad had been a part of a Christian fraternity when he attended the same school and I had been invited to attend an evening gathering for potential Little Sisters of that group. I was nervous, but determined to put my best foot (and smile) forward and try out this social networking thing at my new school. Maybe it would be helpful to know that I was one of the 'brainy' kids in high school, taking honors classes and not learning a whole lot about social niceties, and with not much dating experience.
So...I was making small talk with a number of very nice young men and more than a few kind and interesting young women. Then, in the conversational group just to my right, I heard a warm laugh and turned to see where it was coming from. And that's when I saw them.
Those big, dark brown eyes - focused with kindness on the others in his group, nicely complementing a smiling face. "Who is that?" I wondered, in between skipped heartbeats. And I made it my business to find out before I left that evening: his name was Richard and he was a junior.
Now I am almost embarrassed to admit this to you, but this is what I did. Once I had his name and a little of his story up my sleeve, I did two things: a.) I asked if I could borrow his bicycle - and I made sure to wear my most flattering bermuda shorts when I came over to take it out for a spin, and b.) I promptly looked up his class schedule - and over the course of the next few weeks, I made sure to re-arrange my own walking-from-class-to-class schedule in such a way that I walked by him, in the opposite direction once or twice every single day. Equipped with a warm smile, a warm and breezy, "How are you today?" I made sure I was somewhere in his vicinity several times every week. I also successfully pledged that Little Sister group and our social contacts became more frequent, allowing for deeper conversation.
And I'm just remembering another rather tricky thing I did - I am, from this end of the story, rather amazed at my youthful and naive ability to scheme. I asked one of his fraternity brothers - a guy whose dad knew my dad - to 'help me' open my first ever checking account. When Dick got wind that I had asked Don to do this, he very quickly asked if he could help me with any of those pesky details. Well...yes, of course he could! And I spent one lovely afternoon, very early on, learning how to balance a checkbook and how to avoid overdraws. (I found out a couple of years later that there was more than a little bit of competitive undercurrent between those two - would you call that providential?)
Our first actual date was not with each other, but was a double date, each of us with someone else. And so was our second date. Then we went on a weekend retreat with the InterVarsity chapter on campus, one that his uncle was leading. And the rest, as they say, is history.
I was seventeen when we met in October, seventeen on our first double-date-with-different-people, and eighteen when we went on that retreat in February. By April of my first year, we were an item - discovering that our parents had known each other in college, that we shared many long term goals, and that we liked each other - a lot. And probably most important for the long-term success of our relationship and our marriage, we discovered a shared comic sensibility and we laughed together often, loudly and gladly. We married midway through my senior year, when I was twenty years old.
As our relationship unfolded, I quickly discovered that those lovely eyes reflected a quick intelligence, an intelligence very different from my own. He was a business major, really good at ferreting out complicated investment issues. He was also an athlete and I spent many warm spring afternoons watching him play tennis like a pro. I was a good thinker, writer, public speaker and singer. NOT an athlete, without a business gene in my body. But we found that those differences made for an interesting balance in our relationship, one that we enjoy to this day - 48 years after meeting, 45+ years after marrying.
Doesn't sound terribly deep spiritually, does it? No lengthy prayer session about who my life partner should be; no agonizing discussions with friends/family/pastors; no prayer times together, either. (I do remember that a very popular Christian book at the time warned dating couples AGAINST praying together as it could easily lead to heated passionate exchanges as well...maybe that explains it.)
But here's something important I've learned over this long, interesting life we've lived together, with its many chapters, twists and turns: if each of you is seeking God, if both of you are open to possibilities, then you can rest with calm assurance in the truth that God moves with you in the choices you make.
Are we perfect? Are you kidding me?? Just ask our kids - or our grandkids.
We bicker at times, we get fed-up with each other's weak spots and we sometimes speak in tones that are far from dulcet.
But you know what?
We are each other's very best friends;
we share a history that is totally unique to us;
we have allowed God's Spirit to help us evolve in our understanding of what marriage is all about;
we have remained open to surprise;
we have sought, with our whole hearts, to love each other even when we don't like each other very much;
we have learned to love our kids with a passion that surprises us at times;
we have managed to love our grandkids and to enjoy them in ways we were not equipped to do when we were their parents' parents;
we have always found ways to serve others, both inside and outside the church, and taught/modeled the same for our kids;
and we have leaned into God every step of the way, thankful in ways words cannot capture for the gift of faith, aware that we would not survive in this world without grace, and amazed by that truth every single day.
Every single one.
And all because of those eyes, those amazing, beautiful eyes.
Thank you, Jesus.
Also linking with Ann for her Walk with Him Wednesday meme: