Back when I was about 18, many years ago, I recall seeing a woman at the mall who stopped me in my tracks. She was amazing! My impression of her both real and imagined was that she was sophisticated and genuine. Even though she was beautiful, she didn’t know how beautiful she really was. She didn’t dress provocatively, but very conservative and well put together. She seemed very intelligent, great sense of humor, elegant, humble, wonderful smile and I imagined her as one who cared greatly for others. I remember looking at her and thinking, wow; I would love to have a woman like that. Years passed by and I soon forgot what she looked like but the image of her qualities and character made a lasting impression.
As the time went on I seemed to be drawn to women who were as broken, if not more, than me. With each encounter my brokenness compounded until I believed I was incapable of loving a woman. In fact, I wouldn’t consider what I had as relationships, they were conquests.
In January of 94 I met a woman who was a friend of a friend. She was very pretty, and had a great personality. She wasn’t anything like women I was use to hanging out with; she seemed to be very together. I knew she was out of my league so I didn’t even try. As we would hang out together with this mutual friend I soon got to know her better. The more I learned about her the more I was certain she was too good to ever be with someone like me. Her laughter and smile were intoxicating and she was so incredibly friendly.
Being the typical man, there came a time when I started wondering if she was being nice to me because she liked me. Even as I thought it, I didn’t believe it could be true. I wanted to ask her out but I had to be cool, I didn’t want to blow this developing friendship if she really wasn’t into me. When I asked her out I did so in such a way to leave doubt as to whether I was asking out a friend or asking her out on a date. It wasn’t until near the end of the night that I even knew what this was. This woman kissed me and changed my life forever. I don’t think my feet hit the ground for a month. As our relationship advanced we had our ups and downs. I was very rough around the edges back then and at one point I stopped to wonder if something was wrong with her, after all, why else would she want to be with me. Maybe she’s just better than the others at hiding her brokenness.
I ended up marrying that woman and we recently celebrated our 20th year together. We joke about those days back then and she tells me she saw something special in me. Something I didn’t see in myself. Our years together have been both hard and wonderful. Together we have redefined who we are to each other and as individuals. Together we are friends, best friends, fly fishing buddies, hiking and camping partners, soul mates, lovers. We travel together on a spiritual journey and I have learned over the years, as my walk with God gets better, so does my relationship with my wife. I believe love comes from God and as much as it is a physical relationship, it is so much more spiritual.
We spend a lot of time traveling around sightseeing and just enjoying each other’s company. Very often when we are out we will stop somewhere and get ice cream sandwiches. It has become a special treat we share and goes far beyond just the ice cream. At one rocky point in our life we realized our arguments were escalating to a scary place. So that we never crossed a line of no return, we decided to have a code word either of us could say which would bring the argument to an end. That word for us still today is ice cream sandwich. No matter how heated the argument, when either of us says that word we are saying, I love you and our relationship means more than this argument and I want to stop. We joke from time to time about the end of our lives and when either of us is on our death bed the other will bring ice cream sandwiches and say, we sure have had a lot of ice cream sandwiches together.
Not long ago I was sharing the story of my wife with some men struggling in their relationships. It was at that moment I remembered the women from so many years ago that made such an impression on me. I began to cry as I realized God had not only blessed me with this amazing woman but he had given me the desire of my heart. All that I had seen both imagined and real in that woman so many years before are the same qualities that make up my wife.
As I think back over my life and consider all that has happen both good and bad I know my wife is the best part of who I have become. She has healed my brokenness and she has made me a better, stronger person.
I love you Barbara.