If you’re picturing some sappy novels following a “they meet, they fall in love, conflict arises, they surmount the conflict, happily ever after” plot, I apologize for that. Truly, if we could find a better way to express our natural inclination toward the romance, we may be in a better place today.
You have probably heard this in a million sermons and cheesy quotes, but “romance” used to be a story term used for adventure tales. I like this. It makes the idea of wooing a lady, or a fella, sound much more exciting than flowers, chocolates, some long conversations, moonlit walks, and a sappy proposal which ends not in wedded bliss, but a profound contentment. (Not that there’s nothing wrong with that.)
So, here’s my romance story:
I was stalked by my wife. Not in a “hunted in the jungle wearing camo and war paint” way, but in an “ooo, that one’s cute, I’m going to watch him,” kind of way. My first memory of seeing my wife is her confused, and slightly panicked face at having botched a red hair dye attempt and ending up with bubblegum pink hair. She and a friend were driving rapidly off campus to find a way to solve the problem. It wasn’t until later that I found out that there had been some looking through incoming freshmen pictures in her dorm for any newcomers that struck their fancy. Apparently my goofy, awkward face won my wife over and she began to look for me on campus.
Our first meeting involved her getting shoved right into my face by my friend, December, who might’ve been cupid but for the wings. (She was small, personable, and a bit on the goth side, so maybe cupid in a Victorian dress? I don’t know.) Anyway, we awkwardly greeted one another, my wife insisting that I played it cool the entire time. (Good for me!) And between December and the contrivance of our shared voice instructor, we began to spend a good amount of time together. She tried to scare me off. I’m not a fan of violent media, and without knowing she managed to be watching things along the lines of “Silence of the Lambs” whenever I came to visit. Somewhere in there was a four-hour long Dairy Queen visit where we lost track of time, obviously.
Later, her father and brother conspired to test my mettle by inviting me to join in a small patriotic concert. So I learned the choral music on my own and, with very little rehearsal, I showed up on the day of the first performance to the greeting of, “By the way, you’ll be swing dancing with Kristie.” (Remember, no rehearsal, no preparation, just, “Go!”) So we danced, I sang… Oh, it wasn’t a particularly small concert either in a 5,000 seat auditorium with a 200 person choir. (Ok, neither were quite that large, but to me, I might as well have been singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and ballroom dancing at the Superbowl.) Her father and I discussed my dating her over corn shucking before church that Sunday morning, and I was able to hold her hand for the first time on the way to church that morning.
Time passed and we became engaged, a long story for another day. We were married and have been living a dream since. And, in a way, I mean that. It has been a dream, a short, fleeting dream punctuated by moments of great joy, and deep sadness. We’ve had trouble, some arguments, but we’ve also laughed until breathless and sat in silence listening to our breaths.
Romance is an adventure. The adventure isn’t getting the girl or guy, it’s what you do after “I do.” The romance continues because the story doesn’t end. Each person is writing their portion of a shared story, which is in turn having a large part written by God.
It’s Valentine’s Day. Go make a story. Try something new. Succeed. Fail. Laugh. Cry. No matter what it is, cherish the moments made together. Don’t get to the end of life and say the words, “I wish we had…”
May God bless your Romance, whatever it looks like. May your story go on, and may it have more ups than downs.