One year ago, I married my sweet wife, Laura. Surrounded by the love of our family and friends, we vowed to love, hold, and cherish each other for the rest of our lives. And we would do it all again (especially the honeymoon!). However, our love story was not Hollywood-scripted and did not start with "love at first sight." What began as a tentative attraction grew into a flower garden of devotion. Here's how.
You may have been expecting a more "romantic" story decorated with starry nights and long walks on the beach. It may even surprise you that less than a year before we were engaged, Laura and I both were interested in other people. Imagine that! So how did we go from barely knowing each other to proclaiming wedding vows in only 11 months? Well, it all comes down to choosing true love.
I cannot tell you how many people told Laura and I separately what a good match we would be. I disagreed. I "knew" the kind of woman I wanted to date, and though Laura was beautiful and kind, I mistakenly assumed she didn't fit the prototype I'd imagined.
I decided against just one date based on trivial presumptions, thinking I would one day automatically fall in love with someone else who fit my list of requirements perfectly.
Then one Sunday, I was rehearsing with the music team at church and could see Laura cleaning the men's bathroom outside the sanctuary. I thought, Wow! It takes a special kind of woman to volunteer for that job, probably a woman who can't smell. For the first time, something about this woman sparked my curiosity.
Not long after, I asked her to join me on our first date to dinner in East Nashville followed by a Mike Hick's concert (thanks Mike!). We enjoyed our time together, and over the next couple of months, I realized Laura was absolutely incredible. She loved listening to records, enjoyed adventure, was always patient, humble, a great listener, artistic . . . and so much more.
How did I miss seeing this about her before?
The answer is simple: I had been expecting the perfect "someone" to appear out of nowhere, land in my life, and make me happy. No matter how amazing the person in front of me was, the fear of missing out on someone better "out there" crippled me. In short, I was trading the joy of finding true love for a limited, selfish expectation: riveting conversation to stimulate my own mind, companionship to ward off loneliness, and fun adventures to keep up with my other friends. While the desire for mutual satisfaction in a relationship comes naturally, such selfish prerequisites ironically create a dangerous recipe for dissatisfaction.
True love is not finding the best match to fulfill my needs. It's giving my best to fulfill hers.
Let's be honest. We live in a self-centered, self-indulgent, self-loving society. We steep most of our desires in egocentricity. Even romantic relationships, which are supposed to be founded on devotion and sacrifice, end in bitter separation because of selfish statements like: "He/she doesn't meet my needs" or "I just don't love him/her anymore."
I slowly embraced the truth: to love a woman is to willingly give your life to her, demanding nothing in return. Yes, commitment made me nervous. Exclusivity seemed limiting. Yet, while I understood little about how to love Laura like a real man, I knew genuine intention was the minimum requirement. I needed to devote myself to knowing her, giving to her, and treasuring her. Only then could I honestly discover how much I truly loved her.
I slowly embraced the truth: to love a woman is to willingly give your life to her, demanding nothing in return.
Well, you know how it turned out. I do love Laura. Not because of fleeting feelings, Disney-like fantasies, or uncontrollable infatuation, but because I am willing to give up my life to see hers flourish. Some days I feel those butterflies when I see her (especially when she wears that afro!), and then other days are more challenging. But the daily choice is love, looking for new ways to make her life the best it can be. And to have someone love you in the same way is what marriage is all about. I love being married!
Tomorrow in "What Is True Love, PT2" I'll tell you more about how a few intentional steps toward Laura opened the floodgates for an amazing love story . . .
Suggested Reading: The Sacred Search, by Gary Thomas