I will never forget the first day I saw the girl who eventually became my wife. I won’t forget because that moment is fixed in my memory and I consider it often, lest any of the details fade too much. I also remember it because none of my friends will let me live it down.
The biggest problem with the story of how Chrisie and I met is that she is five years younger than I. On the Sunday I first saw her, I was seventeen (I’ll wait while you do the math). Before you go, “Ewwww,” please bear in mind that there is a sizable difference between meeting someone and dating someone. Also, I didn’t even technically meet her that day.
We were in church and she sat a few rows in front of me. I don’t know what it was, but it was not love at first sight or any other cliché (and creepy) thing. When I saw her fresh, freckled face and brown hair, I just knew there was something about her. She didn’t captivate me. She didn’t look at me. She did, however, stand out from all around her.
“Hey,” I asked my friend George who sat beside me, “Who’s that girl down there?”
“That one,” I said as I pointed.
“I just want to know her name.”
“What’s wrong with you?”
“I don’t want to date her, I just want to know her name.”
“There’s something about her.”
I actually met her a short time later when we both helped with puppets for Vacation Bible School. I discovered her name was Chrisie and found her company sweet, friendly, refreshing. I liked her easy smile and her country twang. She didn’t like anything about me at all.
Over the years, I grew close to her family. I took her out on not a date when she was fifteen. We went to a production of Phantom of the Opera in Nashville. HEr parents let her go with me because they trusted me. I earned it and never broke it (unless you count many years later when I proposed).
She was allowed to officially date when she was sixteen. Her mom wanted me to be her first date, but that fell to someone else. I was her second date, but we didn’t start dating.
We had a tumultuous friendship for a variety of reasons. I stayed friends with her parents and family, but there were times we were not friendly with each other at all. I’m just going to skip all those bits for the sake of brevity. And sanity. Mostly sanity.
The darkest time for us came around November of 1995. For reasons I will not currently share (mainly because it will make a great story all its own), it became impossible for Chrisie or I to be in the same room without a shouting match breaking out. This happened wherever we were or whoever was around us. It was four months before we had a civil conversation. Then something amazing happened.
By February, I was at my wits end. Not just because Chrisie and I couldn’t do anything other than fight, but because I felt painfully alone (granted this was mostly my own fault because women don’t like it when you try to go out with more than one at a time – at least none of the ones I dated). Near the end of the month, on a Tuesday night, completely broken, I got down on my knees beside my bed and I prayed.
“God, I know I messed some of this up, but I really, really don’t want to be alone. I’m not very good at it. I used to think I was supposed to eventually wind up with Chrisie, but now I’m not so sure. I know there’s someone else I might have a relationship with too. You might think I just need to be alone for awhile. God? COuld you please just let me know what I should do? Just let me know who I’m supposed to wind up with, if I am supposed to wind up with someone. HIt me over the head with it, too, please. I’ll wait however long if I just know.”
The next night I was in the college class at our Wednesday night service. Chrisie walked in, gave me hug, and handed me a note.
“Read this,” she said.
I did. Her note basically said she wanted us to be friends again. Just friends.
I still have the folded piece of paper. It’s a tangible reminder of the day I realized I would wait however long it took. The day I discovered it was Chrisie or no one. They day found the love of my life. The day I knew.