While Dona and I were at college, we knew some guys who felt it ‘unspiritual’ to date. I wondered if they expected a lady dressed in white to show up at the door and say, “I’m God’s will for your life.” But I do understand their trepidation. It’s a scary thing to be young and to decide to spend your life – a life that stretches so far in front of you – with one person. And then who should that be? Divine insight would be appreciated. Should love be left to such a fickle and nearsighted thing as the human heart? How can anyone see well enough to tell if such a decision is good or ill?
Absence Resolves Emotions
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and “Out of sight, out of mind,” seem like competing viewpoints on the surface. Actually, they’re corollaries of the same principle.
If you think you’re falling in love but not sure, take some time away from each other. That will tell you, man.
If while you’re apart you seldom think of the other, then it wasn’t love.
If the opposite…
Dona left for six weeks during the summer of 1982 for a mission trip to Spain during the World Cup Soccer Match. What did that have to do with me? We had been dating, but that was all. No commitment. My next thought was who to date while she was gone.
Only thing, I couldn’t get her off my mind.
I wanted to write (this was long before cell phones), but I didn’t have her address. I knew one person who would have it, and I was uneasy about the asking. Charlie Ann didn’t suffer fools, and that was me – a fool.
I was miserable. I had to have Dona’s address in Spain. Looking back on it, I was miserably in love.
“Didn’t get her address, did you?” said Charlie Ann with an unrelenting stare.
“No.” I was attempting to avoid eye contact.
“Didn’t you say ‘Goodbye’?”
“Hmm, I thought as much,” Charlie Ann’s brows went up. “Dona’s probably found some handsome Spaniard.”
“Can I still get her address?”
Charlie Ann looked over me for a moment and gave a sinister smile. She had me, and she knew it, and she wanted me to know it. O, I knew it. As long as we both knew who had the upper hand and who had messed up, nobody would get hurt.
“Okay,” she laughed, “I’ll give it to you. Boy, you gotta do better.”
Love Makes a Bad Day Fine
Address in hand, I wrote.
“International mail is slow,” was my comfort. But Dona might not write back at all. Why should she? I hadn’t said goodbye or seen her off or nuthin’, just as Charlie Ann had freely pointed out. What was Dona thinking of me while she was in sunny Spain? Was she thinking of me at all? I resigned myself that she wouldn’t respond.
But she did.
It was on a beautiful summer day in Oklahoma. Mike had invited me to sail with him and Brian. They had rented a sailboat at LakeThunderbird.
(We called it Lake Dirty-bird because the lake is brown with sediment. After a day at LakeThunderbird, the dirt would swirl down the drain when you took a shower.)
Christopher Cross’s “Sailing” was on the radio as we headed out. Ah… the music, the blue sky, the wind (you always have wind in Oklahoma), the sun.
Yep, I was in love.
Mike and Brian took the boat out first. It only had room for two. They came to dock, and Mike and I went out.
Let me interject, I am not a sailor. I do well to walk across a flat floor.
We weren’t too far from shore when, for what reason I’ll never know, I capsized the boat.
Maybe Mike capsized it and blamed it on me. But we know that’s not true. Let the little guy take the blame; it’s his anyway.
The boat became a mini Poseidon. The mast came off and Mike grabbed the base of it. He gave it to me saying, “Don’t lose this.”
I circled my arms around the mast in a bear hug while Mike dove under to upright the boat.
It’s a fact that a wet mast is slippery. You know what that mast did? It slipped right out of my arms down into the depths of Thunderbird.
Did I mention Thunderbird was dirty? You can’t see your hand if you put it in the water much less your feet.
Much less a sunken mast.
Mike came up. “Where’s the mast?”
I pointed down. “It went that-a-way.”
He dove again… and again… and again. The mast was lost.
I can’t remember anyone getting mad or much of anything else. I just remember Christopher Cross singing “Sailing.” Though, come to think of it, Mike and I didn’t do much together after that.
O, well. Why wasn’t I bothered?
Because when they dropped me home, I had a letter from Spain.
Love is a Choice of Wisdom
Some say love is a feeling. And it is. Some say love is a choice. And it is.
But lasting love is wisdom.
I made sure to be at the airport to meet Dona when she came in. Charlie Ann was there, too. Those were the days you could meet someone coming right out of the jet way.
There was Dona. No Spaniard disembarked with her. Bullet dodged.
I asked her if she wanted to go to dinner and movie after jet lag was gone. She agreed. I told her we’d see E.T. This was back in the day films had an American release and the international release was months later. She hadn’t heard of E.T. I was aghast. What kind of place was Spain? E.T. was the hottest property that summer.
This doesn’t get to my point though. We went to E.T. We spent more time together after she returned than we had before she left. I began to wonder if she was ‘the one.’ How was I to know?
Max had told us that to know the will of God you first stay in His Word, then stay in prayer, look to your desires and motives and ask whether they’re leading you correctly or if you need to lead them, and lastly seek godly counsel.
I went to the counsel. Max, Charlie Ann, Wade, my parents, my grandparents. What would they say? Each one encouraged the go ahead. Each save one. My grandmother liked Dona and thought we would make a good couple. But my grandmother was not one to like change. She warned that hearts can be broken in time because life is tough.
Didn’t we find that out?
But not to have the years we had simply to spare myself pain? No, I’d do it all again even at half the time.
Counsel in mind, I was the one who remained to make the choice. One night I went on a long walk, praying, mulling things over, and wondering if I was in love or not, and if I was what that had to do with it.
Beyond romantic love, was this the lady Jesus wanted me to ask or not?
Emotions were ready, but that was not the question. Dona was beautiful, but looks only get you so far down the road. She was intelligent and witty. She had humor and grace. She was definitely virtuous and godly. Our values and dreams coincided, and our personalities complimented each other. I came to the decision that not to ask Dona was unwise and that to ask her was wise. After that, whether the emotions fluctuated or not, divine will was certain.
And I was certain, too.