38

I love Thanksgiving.  Aging has its perks and one is a blossoming realization I’m blessed with blessings I have no “right” to.  Traveling abroad has also helped destroy any sense of being entitled to this or that.  Clean air, clean water, safe neighborhood, shoes–comfortable ones at that, lots of food, safe transportation, and living in a representative democracy all sing for me.
And then there’s Betty.  It’s a special Thanksgiving when our wedding anniversary falls on it like it did this year.  38 years under the love, mercy and forbearance of a woman my friends like to remind me I don’t deserve.  They’re right.
We met in high school when we were fifteen.  In my junior year she was one of two new girls in our class, ones I casually told my mother “were prospects”.  I don’t remember who the other one was.  The only class we had together was a lecture where she sat in the back by herself.  Which was necessary because there wasn’t room to her left and right when she smiled.  

l zeroed in on her at a social event our Christian high school held early in the school year to help new students get acquainted.  We played a musical chairs style hand-holding game called “Walk-a-Mile”.  Guys cheated so they could hold hands with the girl of their choice.  Once or twice I ended up next to Betty but holding her hand left me speechless.

Several weeks later when some of us went to Virginia to help residents who were victims of Hurricane Camille, I asked her to sit with me on the van ride.  I wish I could say it was all good from there.  A month later I got my driver’s license and we began dating.  I thought we were having a good time but about 4 months later she broke up with me.  She had been trying to for some time but every night she planned to dump me I’d give her a gift.  Even the night she showed me the door I’d given her an early Valentine’s Day gift. 

Within days she was dating the school jock.  What did he have that I didn’t?  He was tall, good looking, and a talented athlete.  Hey, I had…, I had…, well, I was a pretty good ping pong player.  Plus, I had a job!

Over the next few months I had several dates but no one made much of an impression on me.  My sister asked me if I thought Betty and I would get back together.  I shrugged, “But I know that the way I feel around her, I’ve never felt with any other girl.” 

6 months later I found out Betty and Mr. ESPN were history and within a month we were back together.  Unfortunately the remaining dating years were rocky: I broke up 3 times–the last time 3 months before our wedding day.  Part of it was that we were so young, and I wasn’t sure I knew what I was doing.

In hindsight, I didn’t.  The note that accompanied the flowers I gave Betty last week said, “For being what I never knew I needed.”  We were only out of high school a year and a half when we married; she was 18, I was 19.  And I didn’t know what kind of woman I wanted or needed.  Who can at that age?  But over the years I have discovered that God could not have found a more perfect woman.  I mean for me; someone who complements/completes me and I complete her.

Like every married couple, we have room to grow.  Last weekend we celebrated our anniversary by attending FamilyLife’s “Weekend to Remember” in King of Prussia.  (I can’t recommend that weekend enough; good biblical counsel that will gently but firmly call you to pay attention to your marriage; here’s the link http://www.familylife.com/site/c.dnJHKLNnFoG/b.5846045/k.8C0A/Weekend_to_Remember__Marriage_Getaway.htm?fromeventhp=WTRimage.)  We had some great talks–some were painful, but all valuable in making this wonderful thing called marriage, even richer.  Surely–apart from Jesus, this is God’s finest gift!

2 thoughts on “38”

  1. As a fellow man who doesn’t deserve his wife (as is the case with most married men, I contend), I can relate to your story. God knows what he’s up to, and we can thank God for that. 38 years together is really awesome. I hope He gives you 38 more. Congrats!

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