This article appeared at Servants of Grace on November 24, 2010.
Twenty-five years ago, after a two–month, long–distance courtship and a three–month, long–distance engagement, two rather ordinary people said, “I do.”
There were doubters in the room. How could two people who hardly knew one another, who had spent very little time together over just a few months, possibly have any form of a foundation in place to sustain the trials and tribulation of marriage?
Do you know everything about his past?
How do you know he’s not a serial killer?
Maybe he squeezes the toothpaste tube in the middle!
Real concerns. Not real concerns to us. Mega bytes of data had been shared between us. Ours was among the first of the digital romances. What was scandalous was that neither of us seemed to fit the mold of progressive risk-takers looking for love in the corridors of the internet. Conservative, button-down, traditional, conventional. That’s us.
Thankfully, however, “traditional” could not describe the romance the Lord had written for us. Ours has been an unconventional love story.
I had never shared so much with another human as I did with this faceless person at the other end of the AOL linkage. The venue of email provided quick turnarounds, so our discussions could remain at deep levels of engagement without growing stagnant due to mail delivery slowdowns. Transparency defined our exchanges before the word became overused in the new millenium. We “talked” about worship, family, hospitality, aspirations, complementarianism, presumption of faith upon baptism, repentance, carnal Christianity, holiness, and forgiveness.
But we’d never met face to face. When the time came to plan a meeting, as the days ticked down and as the mode of our communication shifted from email to the telephone, it became harder and harder to avoid going where a conversation should only go when in one another’s presence. How many ways could we come up with saying how we felt without saying the L word?
“What does he look like? You don’t know?! How do you know you’ll be attracted to him? What if he’s 5 feet tall and bald and has warts?” I lived in a town where there were plenty of men with Christian ministry pedigrees. As a woman, you knew where you ranked by how attractive the men were who asked you out. The competition was based solely on appearances since the theological and spiritual differences were negligible. But neither of us, living 25 hours apart, talked much about looks.
I have to admit, sometimes I thought my mind had been taken over by aliens. My heart never questioned, but fears and doubts from the past wondered why they’d been evicted from the brain on such slim evidence. Shouldn’t we maybe get a peek? they demanded. And after all, as you know and as your father was quick to mention those many years ago, you have some work to do on your weight and your appearance. How do you know you’re acceptable?
The blessing of going into love blind was like a concrete foundation of faithfulness and devotion that no passage of time could erode. The long-term consequences have been the greatest gift of all: I never have to worry about not being enough. Despite what my father had hinted, the most important decision in my life could be made without regard to the acceptability of my appearance. Looks fade; shared interests in fads and fancies wane. Love built on companionship, sealed by Christian integrity, and sprinkled with like-mindedness withstands the battering of discontentment, selfishness, and distrust.