“How did you fall in love with him?” It is a question I’ve heard or clearly seen in their faces as people become aware of how I met and married my husband.
The bewilderment is understandable. My husband had a stroke nearly 12 years ago. That was long before I’d met him. When we did meet I classified him as the meanest, angriest man I had ever met. (1)
I spent the ensuing years avoiding him whenever possible. (2)
Hence arises the question: “How did you fall in love with him?”
I did not “fall” in love with him. Yet, I do love him.
I chose to love him. And every day I choose to love him more.
I choose how I feel. It is my God-given right to choose for myself. This includes choosing for myself how I will feel about anything, everything, all things.
Just as I am free to choose how I treat them or how I react to them, I am most assuredly free to choose whether or not I love someone.
Love is a choice
Attraction is mostly reaction
And lust is a willful forfeiture of free agency.
If this is beginning to sound entirely too clerical, clinical or lacking in romance, allow me to digress. I will share a story I seldom share because even for me it is almost too magnificent to believe.
In the months preceding that fateful day when Bruce gave me his name and number on the yellow piece of paper, a strange physiological sensation had been repeating itself day after day.
I could describe the sensation only as the mirror opposite of dread.
I had often felt dread about the unknown or unseen. In my childhood I had often felt a physically overwhelming evil, angry, sullen and frightening dread without possessing a clue for the origin. It is that dread which I could recall for comparison. The intensity and encompassing nature of that dread was physically debilitating and would send me to my bed to curl up in a fetal position of fear and foreboding.
However, in the fall and winter of 2004, a new and permeating sensation arrived as the mirror opposite. I could only describe it as anticipation of joy without recognition for the cause. It arrived with the same intensity, as had my earliest experiences with dread. It was all encompassing and physically debilitating as I could ever remember anything in my lifetime.
I could be walking to work, through the park at the State Capitol, sitting poolside with a good book, grocery shopping, praying in church or cooking dinner. The sensation would rise from a source more deep within me than my own heart and wash over me like a warm, welcome tide.
The sensation was full of good, happy pleasure; a complete and comforting fulfillment of joy. I knew only that it must be divine because all good things only come from God.
Regardless of its undeniable Source, I will admit that the feeling often frightened me. The intensity was as if to consume and to extinguish me.
In an accelerated pursuit of spiritual strength, I had immersed myself in scriptural study, growth, meditation and contemplation. In spite of these and other preparations, the sensation of joy was so exquisite that my body was incapable of containing it. I felt to collapse each time that this sensation occurred.
As the end of the year 2004 approached, I prayed fervently for composure and for the sensations to end. I shared in prayer that I was frightened. I pleaded with God to understand that I was not worthy or ready for such an overwhelming manifestation of His will or His Love. Regardless, I also shared in prayer with my Father in Heaven that I would continue to prepare to accept whatever He was willing for me.
Accepting His will was something I had never considered in all my years of belief, worship and faith. In childhood, I had been stripped of my will by earthly parents and having finally regained it to myself, could not consider forfeiting it freely to anyone. That included the unseen God in whom I had been learning to believe but not yet to trust.
So here I was, shortly after the New Year of 2005 adjusting to life after my third divorce and looking forward with joy to my new walk with Christ. With all the failures in my dealings with men of the world I had chosen Jesus to be my dearest friend. I had promised myself that it would be Him to whom I gave attention, allegiance and adoration.
I was content for the first time in my life.
Then arrived that fateful day! Bruce gave me “that” yellow piece of paper and I stepped aboard the bus.
As I made the two or three steps beyond the fare box in the approach to my seat, that familiar overwhelming feeling overtook and I felt to collapse right there on a public bus.
I clutched the support rails on either side just as my knees began to buckle and my heart swelled beyond the bounds of my body. I bowed my head and prayed silently, quickly for strength and sustenance from the angels or God Himself. I received strength and crumbled into the nearest seat, placing my arm on the seat back in front of me where I could lay my head.
As I caught my breath it was undeniable. That sensation I was feeling was a clear and undeniable magnification of what I had felt day after day until I had “prayed it away”.
As I sat there with my head upon my arms – the intensity increased, understanding was revealed and a sure knowledge of all that I could have was made clear in my mind and my heart in One Full Breath.
It was so real. I had no doubt in mind or heart. This was more than a promise of joy. This was more than His acceptance of my offering of my will and my heart.
In an instant, I knew with every fiber of my body and being that if I would accept this, His new gift, this unexpected gift and choose to keep (3) it; I would feel that joy magnified infinitely for eternity.
Human words cannot explain the feeling of learning anything with more than the mind.
But I know that the cells of my body have learned and retained the knowledge. The energy that surges and courses as living breath and blood that sustains my life on earth has retained the knowledge. It is knowledge of His promise.
He has promised that if I will follow His will for me, He will lead me to life eternal and everlasting joy.
So, what has all this to do with “falling in love” with my husband?
As I tried to say before, I did not “fall” into love. I chose.
What I learned in those brief moments on the bus was God’s desire for my life. His desire that I would serve as helpmeet to this man. The very biblical sense of the marriage relationship was revealed and imprinted in my heart in that instant. I knew what joy could come because He let me feel it. He let me see it. He let me embrace it.
My duty now was to forfeit my rational thinking or logical thought. I knew that I would have to ignore the judgment of others, the bewilderment of those who loved me and the fears of my own mind. I was being called upon to lean not on my own understanding.
I was being asked to consider heavenly guidance over that of the earth and society. I was being asked to choose.
So now and every day, I choose once more. Each day in meditation or prayer, I can recall the moments of joy and choose again.
When my husband makes his faltering way towards home at the end of a day, I can ponder the gift and the trust I’ve been given and once again –
I can choose to look upon him with disdain or disgust. I can choose to weigh, in the balance that measures joy, the difficulties his impairments have caused me; or not.
I can choose to resent his faltering step (4) and how painfully slow I must walk to stay beside him; or not.
I can choose to number the disappointments, discarded dreams and lost relationships since marrying him; or not.
I can choose to begrudge the moments spent in washing and anointing the wounded feet (5), bandaging the battered fingers or waiting through the emergency room nights; or not.
I can choose to berate the loss of language (6), to bemoan being asked to repeat myself or to wallow in the hurts of miscommunication; or not.
In all his many imperfections, shortcomings and faults my husband is a perfect choice.
Loving him is a perfect choice. I have the God given assurance that I have made the perfect choice.
I have that assurance because I have asked to refresh it each day in prayer. And each day, God has shown me that His is always the perfect choice.
My joy, in love and in life, is but to choose for my own self His perfect choice.
I’ve always had an overwhelming fear of falling into anything. I never want to “fall in love again”!
What? You’ve never seen Footnotes in a Memoir?
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