We had two wedding dates available if we wanted to marry before the next summer, one three months away and one five months away. We discussed the pros and cons of each.
“What would it really change if we waited five months?” he asked me.
I looked at him and laughed. “That’s easy,” I said. “If it’s going to be as long as five months, you’re going to have to stop kissing me the way you’ve been.”
He looked at me for a long minute before nodding. “So, it’ll be three months from now then.”
Well, at least I didn’t have to twist his arm.
I had accidentally fallen for a guy who had more friends than anyone I had ever met. We started making a wedding list and I realized my dreams of a very small wedding were a moot point. The man I was marrying was thirty-three years old and had been in thirteen weddings already. Thirteen. That’s a lot of really good friends.
And it turns out that when a confirmed bachelor gets married, everyone wants to come to the wedding. The people at the wedding site told us to expect 80% of the people we invited to come. I think somewhere around 95% made it.
My dress ended up being too big, which was a pain and a little embarrassing. My hair turned out perfect, which was rather miraculous.
We had a wedding banquet, where the bride was present and the groom showed up, like the picture of the wedding supper of the Lamb in Scripture.
The only place big enough in our town was the Elks Lodge, so I got to be congratulated first by all the half-drunk old guys in the private bar area, on my way to the banquet room. I couldn’t help but laugh. Half-drunk old guys are really, really sweet. They wished me well and told me my husband was the luckiest man in the world—and if I wanted to change my mind and marry one of them, I was welcome to.
There were a dozen things that went wrong. The music didn’t start when I went to walk down the aisle. I forgot to make sure the photographer got a picture of me and my ten adorable flower girls. I felt like I was in a daze for most the wedding and was so overstimulated from not having any time alone, I just wanted to go sit by myself in a dark room somewhere. I met so many people that day, my head was swimming.
But I was marrying my safe place and I was blissfully happy.
At one point, someone asked me to tell them about when my husband and I fell in love. I remember trying to come up with an answer. When had I fallen in love? When had he fallen in love? Had we? I mean, obviously, we were getting married! But I couldn’t come up with a good answer.
I suppose it may have been when he asked if he could sit by me in the car that day, which certainly showed me a glimpse of who he truly was, and left my stomach in flutters. Or perhaps it was when I was standing on his farm, realizing that this man fulfilled everything I felt God had told me to look for—everything I was hoping to someday find. Or maybe it was the night I tried to talk him out of marrying me and he just kept holding me and whispering prayers over me and wiping my tears.
The truth is, I don’t know if there was a time I fell in love. I know that he proved himself trustworthy, and I showed him my heart and my fears and my sorrows and my joys, and he treasured me. He did not treat the gift of who I was lightly, but claimed that I honored him by trusting him, and made his heart pound by being near. Me. The girl that no one ever saw.
I chose to love him and he chose to love me, and it was good.
We left on our honeymoon and laughed as I snuggled next to him in his diesel truck that rumbled down the highway.
We had no idea how hard the next decade would be. We had no idea that it wouldn’t be long before my hormones would crash and I would struggle through depression, and infertility would wring the life out of me. We had no idea that our choice to love would hold us fast when any feelings I had would barely register over my struggles to just face the next day without wanting to crawl in a hole and cry myself to sleep.
I’m glad we didn’t know—because that week was beautiful and fun.
And after we came home and things spiraled out of my control, and every time I looked in the mirror I hated what I saw and hated that my body didn’t work right and wouldn’t give my husband and I the family we wanted, I still couldn’t deny the fact that this man loved me. Even then—even there—with all the hard stuff and broken dreams filling up my life.
His choice to love never wavered, even when any heart-pounding feelings most definitely did, because I wasn’t easy to love when I was consumed with agony.
I often think of the story of Hannah, in I Samuel. It says that her husband loved her, but when she cried over her infertility, his statement was, “Am I not more to you than ten sons?” And to be honest, that doesn’t sound much like love to me. The love I know is so much greater. It’s the love of a husband who has held me and quieted me and said, “You, my beautiful wife, are more to me than ten sons.”
So even when infertility was this fierce battle that wore us out, we still learned to love doing life together. Serving God beside this man was the most amazing gift I had ever been given. And when I didn’t have the energy to face life, he held me and prayed over me and spoke truth and agape love into my sorrow. He pulled me forward in my walk with the Lord and we kept traveling and kept serving and kept doing our best to honor God with our lives.
I’m so thankful he’s constant and solid and strong, because the emptiness didn’t last forever, thank God, it didn’t. Eventually the dark lifted and I could see again.
All those years, there was never a guy who even asked me out on a coffee date. In fact, even when I was dating my husband, he never took me out for coffee. Not once. But now? This man of mine, he buys me a coffee almost every week. We laugh about it because it’s this silly frivolous thing. You can make coffee for pennies, why buy it for dollars? But it’s our thing. We get coffee together.
So even though I was the girl who couldn’t get a coffee date, I now get phone calls and texts and whispered invitations, “Come get coffee with me?” and the guy who buys me coffee is also the guy who slides his hand into mine and tugs me toward the God-Who-Loves. The God who always saw me, even when I was invisible. The God who always knew me, even when I barely knew myself. The God who saw the sorrows that would lace my life, and carefully led me into a relationship that would hold solid when the storms hit.
This man of mine? He was willing to walk through failed adoptions with me, even when it tore his heart to pieces. And he was willing to try again so we could adopt our son and daughter. And he held me when I miscarried babies and when our almost-adopted daughter died. He never ever left my side. He was there physically, but also mentally and emotionally. He stayed right here and never left.
And I know he won’t.
Because even more than he loves me, he loves the Father-of-lights. The One who tells husbands to give themselves to their wives, as Christ did for the church.
So he does, day after day after day.
And that, dear ones, is better than any three-point swish you ever saw.
That, y’all, is real love.
So to answer the question, when did we fall in love? Well, we do, every day.