Before Dennis and I got together, I had fancied myself in love. It was always in my head, though, and never with people who returned that infatuation. In fact, I had a lot of imaginary things going on in my head. It would be hilarious if it weren't so pitifully piteous. Aside from the imaginary relationships, I also had in my head a timeline and plan for when things were going to happen, how they would happen and what the person would be like who allowed them to happen. I especially had in my head this list of requirements that my future husband would fulfill. On that list were character issues and then there were things like, "Taller than me" and "Is a fan of NPR". I don't recall prioritizing. I wasn't very smart.
Dennis was a member of my congregation and the prospect of dating him would have been frowned on by... everyone, had I actually given anyone, including him, any advance notice. I'm not sure I have ever admitted here that when Dennis and I got together, I realized within four days that I was going to marry him. I can't explain what that felt like. I initially thought Dennis was going to be a nice diversion, but not anything serious. At least, that's what I thought for the first 48 hours. It was sometime on day 3 that I knew... I. just. knew... that we were going to be together forever.
What is embarrassing to remember is that I knew, but I wasn't thrilled by the knowledge. I was sort of excited in a "Wow! This is happening!" sort of way. Dazed, I think, but I really, honestly thought I was going to be settling for this guy who didn't have better offers elsewhere. I should explain, it wasn't a terrifying thought at all. I really believed, and still believe, that, to some extent, we choose to love. And I was prepared to love Dennis. I wasn't prepared to fall in love with him.
We started dating on a Wednesday. By Friday, I knew I was going to marry him. It was on Sunday of that week, that I realized in this sort of startling flash of blinding clarity that Dennis was exactly the person I wanted. I also realized that there was no settling whatsoever going on from my end of the deal. And I fell.
I realized on that day what I have realized a million times since then. It turns out that Dennis was/is honorable and forthright and honest and hardworking and charitable and sensitive and loving and kind and patient and humble and on and on and on... Even though he didn't have the education level I had, he was/is far, far more intelligent than I and so very much less arrogant. I have major character flaws. Dennis doesn't. Really. He is slow to anger, quick to forgive, clever and inquisitive. He is determined and ambitious, but not demeaning or manipulative or opportunistic. He is, in short, absolutely amazing. And if there's anyone who has settled, it is certainly not me.
And as for the non-character things on that list of mine, it turns out that, though he isn't taller than me, he has fulfilled a lot of those things, too, but not in the way I had planned. And some of the things I no longer care about, he still fulfills (i.e. he's the one who does most of the listening to NPR nowadays.) And it occurs to me on this Valentine's Day that, left to my own scheming and planning, and thoughts on what love is and how love worked, I'd be a very lonely person right now. This greatests of gifts in my life could have only come from a God who knows more about love than I will ever understand and who cherishes me very, very much, in spite of what was in my head. The reality He created is so much more wonderful than the imaginary things I had formed. And I'm infinitely thankful that the man God chose for me is mine.