A week after Phil broke up with me he proposed.
It was, he explained later, the longest week of his life. He couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, could hardly function. Even though we’d planned this break up for a month— after praying for peace and finding only worry— the intensity of his emotions took him by surprise.
And so he did what he’d been taught to do: he sought counsel. First he talked to the other pastors he worked with. Mostly they just laughed at his concerns. The age difference? No bother. The idea of marrying a partner in piano playing? Nonsense! That covered, they offered to cancel staff meeting and go buy the ring!
He began to wonder if maybe he’d made a mistake.
Next he took my dad out to lunch. Not, he assured him, to ask his permission to marry me. But if he did decide what would my dad’s response be? What did he think?
My dad just laughed and enjoyed the free lunch.
Then Phil called his parents. His mom was all for it, more than ready for her middle son to make up his mind. Her only question was, do you love her? When Phil couldn’t stop talking about how much and all the reasons why she, too started to laugh. His dad agreed. Time to ask her, son.
Still, Phil worried. What about just knowing?
I was oblivious to the drama. The breakup, as far as I could see was final. And so I spent my days trying to reimagine my life- sad, but determined to set my wobbly feet on that Solid Rock we’d sung about.
The reality for me was that practically from the day we’d started dating I’d been holding my breath, hoping to marry Phil. He was everything I wanted and then some. I loved the vision he painted for me of a life lived completely and entirely sold out to God.
Serving along side this man would be the highest honor.
There was not the slightest doubt in my mind that I loved Phil with the kind of love that happens only rarely. I knew I wanted to spend every moment of the rest of my life loving him. Sure, I had worries about certain parts of him... there was that moodiness that caught me off guard sometimes. And the pace he set for himself made me wonder how I'd keep up. But I'd looked those things square in the face of reality and decided I could deal with those glitches. Or at least I thought I could. Because my deep respect for him as a man, as a person, as a follower after God, overshadowed the rough edges that I was pretty sure would poke from time to time.
Once when he’s asked me point blank if I had any doubts, I’d wavered between my self-protective tendency to pretend and the truth. Dare I let him know how deeply I loved him? Wouldn’t that be humiliating? Shouldn’t I just act like I wasn’t sure either in order to save face?
In what was for me a great leap of faith, I told him the truth. Even now I remember that swallowing of pride, then the great rush of trust that I had done what the Father asked of me. I could sense God’s approval even as my face flamed with the admission.
No, there was no doubt whatsoever. I wanted to marry Phil.
I still don’t know what finally changed Phil’s mind. Neither does he.
Maybe we both had more surrendering to do. Maybe he had to count the cost of trusting God for the less-than-absolutely-perfect-ideal. Maybe I had to let go of him in order to begin the journey to learning that “I dare not trust the perfect frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”
All I really know is that as soon as he asked, I said YES!
And do you remember what I hinted at in the first part of our story? Early on in our relationship Phil set a high standard for physical boundaries in order to protect both my purity and his own integrity.
Lots and lots of affection…
With purposeful restraint of passion.
For us, what that amounted to was no kissing. Okay, maybe a peck on the cheek from time to time— but none of that lip-locked, hot and heavy, body-entangling kind of kissing.
But when he asked me to spend the rest of my life with him, making a commitment to love and protect and cherish and lead and provide for me… that’s when he kissed me for the first time.
Magic. Beautiful, melting, magic.
And I know that sounds corny. I know that no one does that. I know its kind of… strange.
But for us… for the hope of our future… for the kind of all-in-forever romance we both craved— it was just the right way.
Tomorrow I’ll finally get us to the alter… and then we can begin this series…
Together we'll commence the conversation and the teaching and the learning about why ... and what to do... with the absolutely true fact that…
He’s Not Your Prince Charming.
From my heart,