I have always been a sucker for a good love story. In fact, I am obsessed with them. I root for love all the time. I am constantly asking my other single friends if they have met anyone, hoping they’ll dish all the glorious details of first date chivalry and awkward conversation. Also, nothing has made me happier than seeing dear friends meet the one God intended for them. I cry at every wedding and enjoy seeing how couples interact and communicate. Love fascinates me.
This brings me to one of my favorite love stories that I had the wonderful opportunity to witness. A dear college friend of mine has a love story that gives any heart-string-pulling, tear-jerking movie on the Hallmark channel a run for its money. It’s a story that really will make even the biggest cynic believe in true love. Jenny – who I met in college – was one of those girls that everyone immediately likes. She is this petit blonde with blue eyes, an infectious smile, and an adorably high pitched voice that makes everyone who hears it happy. What makes her even more fun was that she is a product of Austin – the town we as Texans fondly want to “keep weird.” It truly is a wonderfully weird town. Austin is an interesting mix of a college town—where liberal ideologues are cultivated, and a capitol city where elected officials legislate from an interestingly pink granite building. It is a city where cowboys and hippies live side by side in a landscape that is a strange combination that resembles a little bit of Beverly Hills and West Texas at the same time.
Jenny was definitely a product of her city. She was and still is very environmentally conscientious (she recycled before it was hip) but financially and socially conservative. And if anyone who knows me can believe it – my college liberal ideas found Jenny and me in some heated debates. Looking back, I honestly do not know how she stayed my friend, but she did. We lived in the same dorm and just a few doors down from one another. I couldn’t tell you exactly how we met, but we became friends pretty easily. She was my lets-go-for-a-walk, eat frozen yogurt, and go see a romantic comedy friend. Those are the best kind of friends by the way.
In the early course of our friendship, I learned about Charles – her junior high and high school sweetheart — and although they were broken up, she still carried a flame for him. Charles was a high school football star, and a cadet at West Point. The fact that we were at Texas Tech, in Lubbock, Texas – miles from nowhere – I secretly thought that their relationship had snowball’s chance in you-know-where of surviving. Thank God I never told Jenny that.
Charles wrote Jenny often, and many times while visiting Jenny in her dorm room, the phone would ring and it would be Charles. That was back in the days before data plans — when long distance phone calls were a big deal. You either had to keep your conversation to less than 10 minutes before racking up an enormous phone bill, or you had to play dumb with your parents. You know the “I had no idea talking for two hours to someone in New York would be so expensive,” game. Man, kids these days are lucky. Anyway, I digress.
After several months of long distance phone calls and letter writing, Charles invited Jenny up to his spring formal and, as they say, the rest is history. Their courtship was one for a romance novel – over many miles and many years – and it was precious to watch. In the Spring of our last semester of college, Jenny called to let me know the happy news that she and Charles were engaged and asked me to be a bridesmaid. Of course I jumped for joy and said, “Yes!” To this day, their wedding has been the wedding I have compared all other weddings to (no offense to other weddings—they truly have all been exquisite!). However, I think I had romanticized their relationship so much in my head that I relished being a small part of their sweet love story.
She was the first of my friends to get married, and her love story still continues. She has three of the most beautiful children and her husband has made a career of being in the military. He has sacrificially loved both his family and his country while serving several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. I consider both Jenny and Charles fearless warriors, and I am beyond blessed to have them as friends.
While Jenny and Charles’ love story is one of my favorites, God has blessed some of my dearest friends with really good guys. Actually, that is an understatement. They are not just good guys, but good, respectful men. I love that my friends are in healthy God-filled marriages. These marriages go beyond red roses and candlelight dinners, but a blessed sacrament where two people wake up every day to choose to love each other by doing what is right for each other and their family.
I hate to brag, but I have a pretty amazing love story too. I really never thought it would or could happen to me, but as the saying goes, it was right in front of my face the whole time. The One whom my soul loves has loved me with a pure, deep, agape kind of love my entire life. I spent the better part of my life ignoring Him, but He patiently waited. He comforted me with life-giving words when I was broken hearted. He was there for me when friends were long gone. When I didn’t feel worthy of His love, He told me over and over how deep His love is for me until it finally penetrated my heart.
I never thought I could find someone who could love me unconditionally, because honestly I don’t deserve it. He makes me want to be a better person, and yet is merciful when I mess up. I respect Him, I cherish Him, and I live on His every word.
He cares so deeply for me that He willingly paid the ultimate sacrifice for my soul. He took all of my sin upon His shoulders and died a painful death so that I could live, so that I could know joy, and so that through Him I too would learn how to love. Because without Him – and even though I enjoyed a good heart-string pulling, tear-jerking love story — I didn’t have the faintest clue what love was. Oh, and He has the sweetest name – Jesus.
The day His love hit me — like really, really hit me, I finally stopped looking for something or someone else that would satisfy me. He was – no He IS – the only One that can satisfy my soul. So as much as I still may hope and pray for the man God intends for me to live life with on earth, He has given me the most amazing love story that I never thought I would have.
So no offense to Jenny and Charles, but this love story is my favorite one of all. Not because it is mine – although that is pretty cool – but it is a love story that anyone can have. It is for each and every one of us.