“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” Song of Solomon 2:4
It is probably cliché to write about how we met the week we celebrate Valentine’s Day, but it is such a natural time to talk about such things. I remember it well. How I felt the first time I saw him. I remember how excited I was when I heard from a friend he had asked for my phone number. I rehearsed words through my head on how I thought the conversation might go if he called me, trying to be calm and cool like it was an everyday event to be asked out by someone I actually had a crush on. It is a fun memory to reflect on because now I know his side of the story. Even the part he told me later, where I was so calm on the phone, he had wondered if I even liked him at all.
It started on a Tuesday in August. Up three steps and into the Baptist Student Union on the campus of Tyler Junior College. My best friend, Karen, had invited me to meet her for lunch that day. Campus ministries tend to provide meals for students as a way of luring them in to hear the gospel. I was hungry and wanted to spend time with Karen, so I went. I was nervous about walking in because I was a member of the Wesley Foundation, a much smaller Methodist ministry down the street. I felt like I had betrayed my own kind by entering “the Baptist” building. As I opened the door and stepped into the room, I looked up to hear, “Welcome to the BSU!” from a young man about my age with sandy blond hair and blue eyes, wearing khaki pants and a button down short sleeved shirt sitting on a sofa with his arm around a very pretty blonde girl, who had gone to my high school the previous year. “Hi!” I said. “I’m looking for my friend, Karen.” To which he replied, “She’s in here somewhere. I’m Chris.” Of course, I had no clue at that point I was speaking to my future husband. I was nervous, because I found him attractive, and I was unsure of what to do with his outgoing nature. I did know he definitely was going to make college better than high school.
Honestly, “our beginning” started about four years earlier. I didn’t know him, but I began to pray for him about that time. My same friend, Karen, had invited me to a New Year’s Eve lock-in at her church. There were two ginormous Baptist churches in Tyler at that time, and Karen attended the one closest to our homes. Both churches had bowling alleys and fun entertainment gyms so kids flocked to the youth activities. That night there was a youth director who talked on dating. A bit awkward at fourteen, I was wasn’t ready for dating; however, even I had dreams of meeting the man I would one day marry. Questions about him ran through my mind. What would he look like, act like, etc.? That night the speaker spoke on a different way to date and taught on qualities that would be in important for someone you were looking to date and potentially marry. He taught on how you shouldn’t date people that you wouldn’t potentially marry. Only, having had my father tell me once (trying to break down racial barriers from an event that had happened at my school) that “he didn’t care if I married a black man or white man as long as he was a Christian”, I didn’t have a lot of knowledge on the subject of dating. Rather clueless on the topic, I began to incorporate everything the speaker said that night on dating into my life. Here are the basics of what he said:
- Make a list of the qualities you want in a future spouse. If you know the character traits and qualities well enough to write them down, hopefully, you will recognize them in the people you potentially date and marry.
- Pray over that list and make sure your wants line up with God’s word. Do your research about what God looks for in a person.
- Begin to pray for your future spouse. Pray for God to pour His love into them and protect them from the things that might snare them and keep them from becoming who God called them to be.
- Pray for yourself to become the qualities on the list. Work on those qualities placed on your heart. Then you have a more likely chance to be in line on viewpoints with your future spouse when you meet.
Those steps sounded good to me. I mean, before I was looking for a Christian black or white man. This definitely gave me more direction. I wrote my list and began to pray for a 15 year old boy in Houston, Texas, I had never met and was adjusting to a new school.
Years later, we met on a Tuesday in August. He asked me out the following December to a banquet at the BSU. The following week, at a prayer breakfast we drew each other’s names from a cup to pray for each other over Christmas break. By New Year’s Eve we were declared a “couple”. We ended up transferring to two different colleges in two different states, writing letters, saving coins to communicate by pay phones, getting engaged the day before Halloween three years later, graduating a year apart from each other and marrying on New Year’s Eve, four years later. Of course, there were trials, triumphs and temptations along the way. We celebrated twenty-one years of marriage this last December on New Year’s Eve and this Valentine’s Day will mark our twenty-fifth as sweethearts.
My husband and I have been blessed through the years by each others company. As I relook at the advice the youth director gave me at the lock-in, I feel so grateful for him sharing his thoughts on dating. I was a sponge waiting to absorb his wisdom. A freshman in high school being poured into by a man with a simple message. Choose carefully who you date and marry. Stay close to God, learn His will and grow in His ways checking your feelings against His word. The results are amazing!
And so my story goes…It all began with a list, prayer and “Welcome…”