Wednesday, July 27, 2011

For 17 years...installment one

This August, my dear husband and I will have been married for 17 years. We don't feel old (most days) but somehow seeing how much life we've lived together makes us think: "Man, we're getting old!"

My friend Liz has been chronicling her story with her husband, and suddenly I was inspired to do what I intended to do when I first started blogging: share our story.

I first saw Lee at a college ministry meeting, not long after I returned from my second stint in Spain. I had told the Lord that I did not want to date when I returned to the States unless it would be the man I was to marry. Little did I know...

That night, Lee played his trombone to an accompaniment track which I thought was strange. I must admit my immediate impression of him was quite shallow as I thought to myself: "Who plays a trombone at a college ministry meeting? That's kind of dorky."

*sheepish grin*

A couple of weeks later, I had the opportunity to hear Lee talk at a leadership retreat. He spoke on prayer, and as he shared, my perspective totally shifted. No longer dorky, this gentle spoken, passionate-about-prayer young man had just gotten my attention. "Wow," I remember thinking, "I want to marry someone like that."

Later that day we spent hours floating on the lake, talking about all sorts of things, and I realized how quickly I had initially let outward appearances deceive me. I was smitten.

A dating experience in Spain had taught me that I needed a mate who was spiritually strong and a leader, one who shared my passion for prayer and worship. And as Lee and I talked and shared and spent time together on that retreat, I knew he was the one.

He loved God. He had a deep and consistent prayer life. He was a worshiper. And he was nice looking (mullet notwithstanding).

So, we began to hang out. He lived in a house near campus that housed 7 other guys who were involved in the campus ministry with us. It was the hang out for all of us. Lots of ping pong played, movies watched, and meals shared there amongst friends. If I wasn't working or in class, I was at the house. All of the guys living there were my close friends, but there was this one that I had my eye on.

But he seemed oblivious. He treated me like a good friend, a sister, perhaps, but I never could tell if he really liked me...I mean, you know, for more than a friend.

I went to every event I thought he would be at. I even became a pseudo Trekkie, heaven forbid, going to the weekly Sunday evening viewing of the Next Generation.

[Funny story: You know how I thought he was oblivious? Well, he says that once while giving me a ride home after a Star Trek viewing when I was talking about my bum knee, he thought to himself: "Oh great. She's got a bum knee. What happens if we get married and we have to pay for medical expenses because of her knee..." Go figure!]

Then there was the Sunday he invited me to the symphony. I quickly remembered my prayer to the Lord...that I only date the man I would marry. But was this a date? I couldn't tell. The invitation came in the form of everything else we did together - a casual "by-the-way" I'm doing you want to come?

I took it as a sign anyway.

Then there was the Sunday that I invited him to lunch at my parents' house after church. Months later he would tell me this story: while wrestling with my little sister (who would've been around 8 at the time), he accidentally hurt her. He immediately apologized, to which she responded: "That's ok. Just as long as you marry my sister."

He almost bolted.

See, we were still just friends, neither one of us making a move towards a more committed relationship. I had no idea if he was interested, and he wasn't sure he was, having sworn off romantic relationships a couple of years prior. My sister, speaking out of a fear that I would marry a Spaniard and live far away, just wanted a guarantee that I would be marrying an American and staying close to home.

Our hearts, however, were already being knit together through friendship, prayer and Bible study, food, ping pong and racquetball matches...but that next step was a little intimidating.

I don't remember who made "the first move," but one night on our way back to Arlington from some event we had ridden to together, we held hands. And that broke the ice and made it official.

We were no longer just hanging out. A lot. We were dating.

Stay tuned for the next installment: "the break up"

[installment one] [installment two] [installment three]

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