When Gretchen and I first met I was immediately attracted to her. She was part of a missions team that had come up from her college to help out with the ministry where I was working. She was beautiful and funny and I spent all week trying to make an impression on her.

Looking back now I think it was probably her confidence that was so attractive to me. She didn’t seem to be cliquey or overly concerned with what other people thought of her, but she was friendly with everyone and comfortable in her own skin. She was studying cross-cultural sociology and she was planning a trip to China. I had been to China myself, and the fact that she was planning to go was exciting. She seemed sure of herself, and I found that very attractive.

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Later, when she moved to Roanoke I started making attempts at romance that backfired almost immediately. I knew that she was a confident and independent person, and I had heard that she had never dated anyone before, which was pretty intimidating. I thought that the best way approach her was to slowly and discreetly start cultivating a romantic relationship without ever really communicating my intentions clearly. Of course that was the absolute worst possible plan and, as I said, it backfired almost immediately. She was confused and put off by my vague advances and actually sat me down and broke up with me even though we weren’t actually dating.

So, deterred but not defeated, I returned to the drawing board. This time I decided to just come right out with it and ask her to go out to dinner with me. She said yes and soon we were off with a bona fide relationship.

It wasn’t too long before I decided that I wanted to marry her. She was warm and thoughtful and it made me happy just to be around her. Every hour I could spend with her I did, and when I wasn’t with her I wanted to be. We lived next door to each other so I would go over and eat breakfast with her first thing in the morning when I could and then stay up late at night talking and watching movies. I was working in a bakery in the mornings and mowing lawns in the afternoons and I pretty much spent every moment we were apart planning our next date. I still remember the nervous giddiness I felt standing on her front porch waiting for her to answer the door whenever we would go out.

In retrospect, I have no idea what it was that she found attractive about me. I had no formal education or career plan and I was impulsive almost to the point of being considered mentally unstable. I mean, I was saving up to move to Indianapolis and be a professional rap artist. What on earth was she thinking?

Whatever it was, I’m very glad that she gave me a chance. The last three and a half years of marriage have been a whirlwind and I can’t imagine surviving it with anyone else but her. She is quick to overlook my flaws and forgive me, and she is always ready to serve me and the boys however she can. The thing that initially attracted me to her, her confidence, is probably the thing I still like most about her though. I trust her completely and never have the urge to second guess her decisions. It’s cliche, but she’s my best friend and we really do have a great partnership. I’m already looking forward to the day when our boys are old enough to move out on their own and we can spend the rest of our lives falling in love all over again.

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Thanks for putting up with me Gretchen, I love you!

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