When I met Bekah, I got it. That younger version of myself instinctively knew how to make that girl's heart glissade and pirouette. Our first date was the stuff that from which fairy tales are made.
My roommate at the time was the worship leader at our church and I was the sound man. One of our other roommates played bass in the worship band. The three of us conspired to put on a magical Valentines date that (for two of us) would be the last first date that either of us ever attempted.
It started with dinner - a table for six at the Olive Garden. We talked and laughed and enjoyed each other's company. From there, we drove to our church. As the members of the worship team, my roommates had keys to the building, and the three of us guys had transformed the big room into a private movie theater. Instead of our weekly worship service, we watched The Princess Bride. As the movie credits rolled, the three of us guys escorted our dates to separate tables and disappeared into the church kitchen. We emerged with dessert and sparkling cider - which we served to the girls. Now at our own tables as individual couples, we could hold more private conversations. Once dessert was consumed, we each presented the girls a gift bag that held two disposable cameras - a his and hers camera. We then stormed out into the cold February night and wandered downtown Boise armed with six cheap cameras posing as couples and as friends on street corners, with public art, on escalators, and one with the three of us guys nearly falling into the fountain at Capitol Blvd and Idaho Street.
It was our first date, but not our last. Over the next year, there were several occasions that clicked - those moments where Bekah and I knew that we were going to be together forever. It was the two of us cruising down Fairview, singing along to a song on the radio like we were the only two people in the world. It was both us us having the identical reaction to a goofy looking statue in the courtyard between the IMAX theater and the Edwards cinema on our way to see a movie. It was how we were equally critical of the skanky way girls dressed at Boise Towne Square. We thought alike. We seemed to have similar taste in movies and several shared interests. We weren't identical people, but similar enough.
Fast forward a year and a couple months, I still got it. We had spent a couple hours posing for photos with our family and closest friends. She was beautiful in her wedding gown. We had over estimated the time it would take for pictures. With guests arriving for the ceremony, our families distracted, and nothing better to do, we made a run for it. We jumped in her Ford Festiva and escaped the wedding before it even happened. We didn't go far, we only drove around the block and stopped at Jamba Juice. She was in her gown and I was dressed in my tux. The Jamba Juice staff was polite and congratulatory. They looked a little confused when we told them that we weren't married yet. "Isn't it bad luck to ... " they said as we ran out the door with our drinks in hand. A week later, we had that Festiva packed as full as we could get it so that we could move half way across the country to start a new life together in Sioux Falls. We were full of wild dreams and youthful hopes.
We were of one mind. When Paul was writing his letters to the early churches, he had this kid of unity in mind. He advised that we (be it friends, lovers, or a family of believers) should have that strength in a unified life. In Philippians, he said "if you have ... any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind."
For those of you that are married, you know that kind of oneness is hard to maintain. Not just difficult, but strenuous.
Fast forward some more. It's been nearly eleven years since that fist date and almost ten since we ran away to get some Jamba Juice. I don't get it quite as easy as I did back then. These days, I make more missteps than anything else. I'm more likely to cause Bekah's eyes to roll than I am to make her heart dance. To be honest, I'm not sure how we got here. Over the past decade, Bekah was diagnosed with a chronic illness, we moved back to Idaho, we've added three small people to our family (and all three of our kids are special needs), we made some stupid financial decisions and had to pay the consequences, and we've suffered heartbreak and loss. We've had richer and poorer. We've had sickness and health. We've had better and worse. And somewhere, in the middle of that we've (like that old Righteous Brother's song) lost that lovin' feeling.
But that's just a feeling. The choice we made a decade ago still stands. We still choose to love each other deeply. We have a shared faith in God. And we both believe that our marriage is worth fighting for. That unified mind is there somewhere. Sometimes hiding. Once in a while it comes out to play. With three kids, two dogs, a mortgage, and five different schedules to juggle, being like-minded doesn't come as naturally as it did when we were young and care free.
We are determined to not become a statistic. We vowed to love each other until our bodies are claimed by death. It is here were living second takes on an additional dimension. I can say that God is first in my life (and Bekah would tell you that God is first in her life as well). But to be of one unified mind, there's more in that second chapter of Philippians, and it's a part that I often forget. It's not enough to just be of one spirit and one mind. We also need to be looking to the interests of others. I need to be second to God, but I also need to be second to my wife. And I need to be second to my kids. I wish I could tell you that I've figured out the easy way to do that, but I can't. Partially because I'm not perfect. But mostly because it's not easy.
It takes work. It takes a lot of effort. But it's worth it.
Note: This post was written in support of the Live Second book release. Live Second is a year long study from Doug Bender and the I Am Second team. Relationships is the seventh week and covers topics like forgiveness, love, and unity.
For more info on the book, go HERE or HERE.
For more on I Am Second, check out their site.