Saturday, October 26, 2013
A Love Story
I would go on a date, come home, call my mom, and then give her a list of ALL of the reasons I did not want to go out with the guy again.
Other than a junior high romance, long term relationships were NOT my thing.
In college and after, I had a couple of "crushes". Big crushes. Crushes that changed the course of my life in a way as I changed colleges and for another changed where I lived.
Yeah, those didn't work out either.
And at the time, I cried out to God a lot. Now I was 24 and still single, an "old maid" among my friends.
All I longed for was a man to love me. A marriage like I had grown up with watching my parents. The "soulmate", the "one".
One day I was at a church event with the college/career "kids". You know the ones...the single group. The ever changing singles group since people would invariably pair up, marry, and leave.
It was at someone's house, a Hogs watch party.
I was introduced to a new guy to the singles group.
Oh my. Did he look young. He was fresh out of college; I had been out of college for a few years. I thought he was adorable but incredibly young.
Not too long after that, we were sitting in church. I just happened to be sitting next to him. We had one of those moments where we stood up to sing or pray and were asked to hold hands with the people next to us.
If you don't know me well, I have a sense of humor. I really do. In fact, there is a lot more to me than most people ever really get to know since I know I can come across fairly "prim and proper" on the surface.
I looked at that young whippersnapper and asked, "Does this mean we are going steady now?"
I really was being silly since honestly I hadn't given much thought to him.
He told me later that comment scared him to death.
All of that to say that it is truly a God thing we ever got together.
Not too long after that, a group of us "singles" gathered at a friend's apartment. I really don't remember why we were there or what we were doing. Just that we were both there.
And for whatever reason sparks started to fly.
Later that week, I had a message on my answering machine asking me for a date. I wish I still had that message because it was very sweet. "Even if it is just grading papers with you...I think anything would be fun with you." (Maybe at that point he realized that I really did have a sense of humor)
Our first date?
Applebees. Then we went shopping for a semi-formal dress for me for an upcoming Singles Christmas dinner.
A few days later, he came to pick me up (you know, we were "carpooling") at my second job at Dillards. My boss had so graciously allowed me to get off a little early to change for the dinner.
We went to the dinner as friends.
After the dinner, we went back to my apartment (which was like a dungeon but was all I could afford) and just talked. And talked. And talked.
I still remember other people from the Singles group calling and asking if we were coming to hang out. I don't remember our answer. I just remember that at that moment, there was only one person I wanted to hang out with.
That week he came to my school's Christmas program.
The next week or two was Christmas.
I was really sick at that point. I remember being at home (which is where my parents still live) and hearing the phone ring. My mom told me it was for me. As sick as I was, I ran to the phone (because they were still corded in those days).
My mom later told me the fact that I wanted to go on a second date was her clue...this was the one.
Fast forward to May of 1996.
I know he has a ring. In fact, I have tried it on a few times. But it is still in a box, still tucked away.
I am in my classroom, packing up for the summer.
School is out.
I turn around and see that face, the face I love.
And I wonder, "Why is he here?"
Then as he gets down on one knee, I know.
And of course, I say yes.
We stand in front of friends and family at that same church where we once "held hands" for a prayer.
And we vow.
Vow to love, to cherish, to honor.
Until death do us part.
Here we are 17 years later.
He still makes my heart pitter patter when I hear his voice on the phone or unexpectedly see him in the hallways of my school.
Please know, it hasn't always been easy. And it isn't a fairy tale.
We have both made a lot of mistakes. There were times we haven't always liked each other. Loved, yes. Liked, no. We have had arguments. We have cried. We have had losses. We have had struggles.
And a lot of that was just in the first year of marriage. :)
Our life is not an easy one some days.
We have four kids, all with their own challenges. We have one fuzzy dog...okay, she is actually one of the easier parts. We have bills to pay. Decisions to make. Crazy schedules with church, school, and sports.
There are days I miss our early life when things were simple.
Or so they seem now.
As I get older, I realize that there is so much more beyond this life. I long for the day we are released from this world and all of its pain and suffering to spend an eternity with our King.
I will admit, though. The one part that makes me a little sad is that the Bible indicates that we may not really be "husband and wife" in heaven. I am not sure if we will know each other or even remember a moment of this life we have had on earth. The one good thing is that if that is the case, the Bible also says there are no tears or sadness in heaven so I won't "miss" it there like I would here on earth.
What I do know is that there isn't anyone I would rather live this crazy life with here on earth.
He is not perfect.
I am not perfect.
But together, we just work.
(We often quote Rocky..."She's got gaps, I've got gaps, together, we got no gaps...")
He is my best friend. My love. My encouragement. My confidante. My partner. My companion. My lover. My encouragement. My soulmate.
And I am so thankful that God brought us together.
I pray and hope for many more anniversary celebrations to come.
Happy anniversary, Mark Cloud!