Worth the Wait

March 25th is a notable day for Mike and me, because it its the anniversary of our first date. We never celebrate in a big way, but we usually wink at each other across the table and later on, when we have some privacy, we like to talk about that wonderful day and all the amazing details. I have told this story to many people over the years and since everyone seems to enjoy it, I thought I would tell you How It All Began.

Mike and I became acquainted when we were both 13, in Mrs. Mower’s 7th grade English class. Mike was assigned to sit in front of my desk for the entire year, as we were all placed in alphabetical order and never allowed to rearrange ourselves. I loathed that class. For a year, Mrs. Mower droned on and on about diagraming sentences. To break up the monotony, I watched Mike snooze on his desk or make paper airplanes. 

The next year, I found the answers to all my questions when I heard the gospel for the first time and accepted Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for my sins. This event changed the direction of my entire life. That is another chapter, so to stay on track, I’ll just say I had a hard time getting my hands on a Bible, as my parents did not have one in the house. I finally managed to get my own copy and was just eating it up. I could not get enough. I had never heard any of this before and had so much catching up to do. My father, who calls himself an atheist, freaked out whenever he caught me reading the Bible, so I was forced to take it to public school and read in my spare time. No one ever said a thing about that, except Mike.

 By this time we were 16 and he sat in front of me in World History. There we were, sitting, waiting for the teacher to get inspired and tell us to read the chapter then answer the questions in the back of the book, when Mike turned around, saw my Bible on my stack of text books, and said the words that started it all. He nodded towards it and said, “Oh, that’s a good book! I’m reading it all the way through!” Then he turned around to read the chapter and answer the questions in the back of the World History text. Meanwhile my heart went flutter-flutter-pitter-patter-pit!!! A Godly Man! Right here in public school! I could hardly believe it. Not that Mike appeared to be an ungodly man, but I had been under the impression that ALL the young men in high school were doofuses. They put on a convincing act- rough housing, playing pranks, passing gas, making off color jokes. Good grief. But here we had a young man who was reading God’s Word. So, my thoughts turned toward Mike. I went home and wrote in my journal that I had prayed God would let me marry a godly man like Mike B__. Now, I’ll be honest. I was hoping, expecting, it would be Mike. But... nothing happened. It was hard. I decided that I was not going to do anything which might be classified as chasing him, because God was going to handle that. Plus it is the man’s role to be the pursuer. I felt discouraged. He dated a nice girl for a long time. Then he abruptly broke up with her and within a week he took up with a brazen hussy. Well, she would have been if she had the chance. I learned this from a mutual and gossipy friend. 

That did it! I told myself God must have someone better for me than Mike, and better was OK with me. I turned my thoughts away from him with great difficulty. And we finished high school, went on to college, and he kept dating that hussy. Mike went to the Air Force Academy and I went to a small University in Texas. 

I never got much attention from the guys in high school, so I was very surprised to have several guys waiting to walk with me every time I left my dorm. It was quite flattering. But they were all doofuses or worse. A girl friend I have known since 7th grade, and who was always extremely popular to the point of not knowing which boyfriend to choose each day, shared some advice her mother gave her. Her mother suggested she make a list of the character qualities she wanted in a mate and then to evaluate each suitor according to her real desires. I took this to heart and made my list. I also weighted each quality with so many points, so I could give each young man a grade. If you are laughing or shocked, I just want to say, it was a really good idea! When the romance hits, why stumble about blind? I knew for sure that no one I knew in college was who I was looking for. Out of a hundred points possible, they got 40‘s, 60’s and one even got a 20! When I realized that, I asked myself why was I bothering with him!? Not that I was looking for perfection, but I really did want a godly man, in his early 20’s. So, there you go. 

By my junior year, I was thinking about graduation and then... what? I tried to resign myself to the dreadful fate of grad school, for lack of a better offer. The truth is, I never had any career ambitions at all. None. I always made good grades and I am sure I could have found a job, but my heart was just not there. What I really wanted was to get married and live in a cottage and have a houseful of beautiful children, who always laughed and played outside. Can you just imagine that? I told this to my father one day and he erupted like a volcano. He was probably afraid that I would end up living in a cardboard box, but he said, “You will never find anyone who would want a wife like that. Even if you did, he would not be able to afford to have you stay home.” And he said a lot of other horrible things, but they flew around like an undeserved curse, unable to alight. I imagined myself back at school, with a loan this time, because all my savings would have been used up, studying the useless theories of psychology, which I had been forced to major in, an old maid, living in a tiny house filled with plants and cats, in lieu of a husband and children. Can you see me there? Big glasses, hair in a bun, unwanted, unaffordable, unhappy. 

Or, I could marry the doofus I was currently dating. I became desperate. I broke up with him and I cried out to God, “God! I don’t want to date anymore! Can I just get married?” This was shortly before Spring Break 1990. Now I have to back up a bit and tell you what God had already done for me. About this same time, my mother and Mike’s mother met through their jobs. Mike’s mom was looking for a suitable place for a business dinner for her boss, and my mom was the party planner at the country club. So they had their meeting and Mike’s mom realized right away that the country club was not in her boss’ budget, but since she was there she decided to have a nice visit with my mom anyway. She switched the conversation to bragging about her only child, who was a handsome genius currently studying to be an astronaut at the Air Force Academy. I believe she whipped pictures out of her wallet and told my mother the story of Mike’s life from birth to college. My mother was initially stunned, as she did not see this coming, but she gathered her mental faculties and decided to have a little fun with Dorothy, countering everything Dorothy said about Mike with something equally outrageous about me. Then the lightbulb began to flicker and she realized she was talking to Mike B___’s mother! All the details I had shared about Mike came back to her and she announced, “I think our children know each other!” 

Dorothy told her that Mike would be home soon for Spring Break, but all his friends, who had gone to different colleges, had their Spring Break either before or after the week that he would be home. Would you believe my little college was the only other college that shared the same Spring Break as the Air Force Academy that year? My mother gave Dorothy our phone number, but she never even gave me a hint of what was to come, incase Mike did not call. 

Now, Mike’s parents were afraid he would never find a nice girl to marry since he dumped his girlfriend. It turns out she wanted to be a lawyer and Mike knew that would never work. He realized he needed a wife who wanted to follow him around the world and take care of him. And yes, he could afford that. He had also rededicated his life to Christ during the crucible of the United States Air Force Academy and had been discipled by a godly man who was married to a godly homemaker. He knew what he needed and wanted, but the pickings were slim at the male dominated Academy. He recently told God that he needed a wife, but he didn’t want to get emotionally entangled with anyone who wasn’t sold out to Christ. He was used to having his parents fix him up on blind dates when he came home on vacation, but he remembered me and thought it would be great to have some company during the week he was home. He called on Saturday. My mom answered the phone and called from the kitchen, “Laura! It’s for you!”

Probably a babysitting job. I was one handedly refilling the stapler at my desk when I picked up the receiver and heard, “Hi! It’s Mike B__. Do you remember me?” I gasped that I did indeed remember him as I dropped the staples, sending them skittering over the surface of the desk. “Whatcha doing?” he asked. 

“Picking up staples.” Later on he forgave me for not having a wittier answer. 

He invited me to a sneak preview of The Teen-Aged Mutant Ninja Turtles. I accepted, though I am sure I would have begged an excuse if it had been anyone else in the world. I had not brought any date clothes home from college and had to borrow a skirt from my mother and go shopping for shoes that same day. I was nervous to the point of throwing up. All the emotions from high school came flooding back and if that isn’t enough to make a person throw up, I don’t know what is. At last, the door bell rang and I let him in and introduced him to my brother, who was the only one at home at the time. As soon as I saw Mike, I breathed deeply and relaxed, because he looked completely different. His head was shaved, he had lost more pounds than he could spare, and I knew we were starting something new, not continuing something old. 

Mike was nervous, too. He drove over the curb three different times and forgot to tell me that we were also going to Pizza Hut.  I had already eaten something, since I did not want to presume. As I watched him wolf down the entire pizza, I decided to lay it all down. I began to tell him that I was a committed Christian, and though I was delighted to renew our acquaintance, we were not going to get past friendship if we were not likeminded, but he beat me to it! When he brought me home that night, I remember looking at the garage door while I was still in the car with Mike and thinking “This is it!” I knew. We spent the whole week together except for one day when he had a prior commitment. I cancelled all the babysitting jobs my mom had lined up for me to pay my way through grad school. On Friday, I remember lying on my mom’s bed and her lamenting, “You have not been here this whole week! You have spent every minute with that boy!”

I looked her in the eye and prophesied calmly, “But I am going to marry him.” I had not allowed myself to think those words, though that is certainly what I wanted. It just came out. 

She looked back at me and said with conviction, “I know.” But we didn’t tell anyone else. 

We both went back to college and there are many more stories, but I’ll just say we talked on the phone every night, and this was before unlimited minutes. No one had cell phones then. Mike wasn’t even allowed to have a phone in his room. He would have to go into the hall in the middle of the night and call me from the phone the entire floor of his dorm shared. It was wonderful. 

At Thanksgiving I flew to Colorado and we went on a retreat with the Officer’s Christian Fellowship. By this time, Mike knew he was “in love” but over this weekend he made the commitment in his heart. In December he came home for Christmas and took me to a military ball. This was a really big deal to our mothers. They took me shopping and went halvesies on a gorgeous ball gown. I remember being surprised that my mother would do such a thing, as it was still very expensive. But they knew. Mike had already called my father and asked permission to marry me. My father replied with, “Why don’t you ask her?” 

At the ball, Mike parked and came around to get my door, only I wasn’t used to that and hopped out before I realized his gentlemanly intentions. Then he knelt down, grasped my hand and asked me to be his wife. In the parking lot. Of course, I said yes and did not even think about the apparent disregard for romance. We were at a ball, after all. When we got inside the hotel, we realized they were taking formal pictures, so he got down on one knee and popped the question again. 

Now that I have the perspective of almost twenty years of marriage, I realize that Mike really was not a godly man in high school, he was a godly man to be. He is now everything I ever wanted in a husband, and he can afford me. I am so thankful God answers prayer, at the right time, in the right way. It was worth the wait.

© Being Fruitful, 2012