“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
– C. S. Lewis
On a warm summer’s afternoon thirty-six years ago today, I married a good friend.
We’d met in October, had our first date in February, married in August.
He did not sweep me off my feet.
It was not love at first sight.
He was in every way, the unexpected.
He had this vocabulary – words I’d never heard anybody use – not even professors at OSU.
And he was obsessed with basketball. Our first date? A basketball game at his old junior college – Judson – a Portland-based Bible college.
I grew up halfway between Athens and Auburn. Football was the sport I knew, kinda, sort of.
His parents were former missionaries.
My mother kept Valley of Dolls on her nightstand.
He was not my type. I was not his.
We are still polar opposites in many ways, although, my vocabulary has improved somewhat.
He was toying with the idea of seminary. Maybe preaching one day.
I was going to teach. Maybe travel the world telling stories of Jesus, Ann Kimmel-style.
I never once imagined I’d write.
He probably never thought he’d spent 30-plus years teaching.
Here’s the things we didn’t talk about before marriage:
-Where we’d settle down
You’d think those would be important things to consider, when you’re marrying and all.
Here’s the things we did talk about
Following that first date, I called the girl in the blue dress – Karen Mendenhall Clark – and told her I’d met the man I was going to marry. It was midnight in Oregon, 3 a.m. in Georgia. Yes, she took the call.
“What makes you so sure?” she asked.
“I just know,” I said.
Brother John is the one who told me that when the right one comes along, you just know it.
I don’t know if that’s the case anymore, what with Social Media and Online websites being the go-to-place for dating.
I would hate that, I think.
I’m pretty sure if it had been that way back in our day, neither Tim nor I would have picked each other from an online match-up. He wasn’t what I had in mind. I wasn’t what he envisioned. What drew us together went far beyond what either of us thought we would end up with.
What drew me in was the way he thought. His ethics. His integrity. His love of all things God.
I fell into respect first. Love followed.
Not to say it’s been easy.
Marriage is hard work.
There were years when we both came close to quitting, walking away.
It was the prayers and counsel of a Redheaded friend, and maybe some others, who kept us together during those times.
Sometimes marriage is like a Lindy Hop, a lot of fevered side-stepping.
Sometimes marriage is like a waltz, beautiful synchronicity.
Thirty-six years into it, we are still working out the dance.
It has been the most unexpected delight of my entire life, this marriage of ours.