My wife and I met in high school. We were both working at the same grocery store. She was behind the register as a cashier and I bagged the groceries. One day I had come in after getting a haircut. She looked at me and said, “Nice haircut.” Original, I know. She was seventeen and I was sixteen. I called her a day or two later and we met up for lunch with her friends. One night, leaning against the side of my 1984 Oldsmobile, she asked me why I hadn’t asked her out yet. I replied that I was waiting. She said, “What for?” I said I didn’t know and asked her out. Yes friends, the making of a Hollywood movie.
Love is an interesting topic. I know people who are single, attractive, and have great personalities. They also chase love as fast as they can, trading off partners for newer models and trying to find the companion that will stick. I know people who have had children out of these failed relationships and I feel for them having to grow up without a steady mother or father figure. We need a partner. We fear being alone. We strive to find that missing piece in our lives.
The underlying issue is commitment. It takes trust to give yourselves to another person. People have asked me more than once when I knew Val was the right one for me. I always tell them the same story. The summer before I graduated West Chester University with my undergrad degree, we were at the gym. She stood up from a machine, took two steps, and passed out. I went to her side and she started having a seizure. As you can imagine, a crowd gathered and an ambulance was called.
She ended up spending a week in the hospital and they never found a cause. One night I sat by her hospital bed. The lights were low as I held her hand and we made small talk. The woman sharing the room with her shifted behind the thin curtain that separated us. The announcement came over the speakers that visiting time was over. I stood, gave her a hug and kiss, and left the room.
I went to the parking lot, sat in my car, and cried my eyes out. My soul hurt. Sorrow wracked me from deep inside. I sobbed imagining her having to sleep in that bed, in that hospital by herself. As I drove home I knew that I would marry her. I knew I would do anything for her, would give my life for her and gladly trade myself to be in her position.
The video above is one of my new favorite songs by Chris Tomlin, At the Cross (Love Ran Red). There are times we can forget what perfect love looks like and how it feels. In those moments all we need is to glance at the cross and we know where we stand. We know the true depths of sacrifice, that our debts were paid and our place was taken by the only real royalty to ever walk the earth.
Val and I have been a couple for almost fifteen years. I am blessed to have a partner who loves me in spite of my faults and, in our struggles, we stand together. If you are reading this tonight and searching for your match, know that you are never alone. Know that perfect love exists and the answer you seek is not far away. Just look to the cross and you’ll find the connection, commitment, love and grace you seek.