In a downtown Gothic-style church, I sat in a long black dress and watched clips from 80s commercials and movies. In the pew ahead of me, a guy was on his iPhone, paying little attention to Donald Miller and David Dark who were up front speaking about Blood Water Mission. Apparently, Arnold Schwarzenegger movies and 1980s shampoo ads were relevant. As I shifted my bony butt uncomfortably on the wooden bench and tried in vain to make sense of the fundraiser going on around me, the gears turned happily in my mind. I’m sitting next to the man I’m going to marry.
That was the night I met Patrick Gibson. Of course, I had already scanned his facebook page and found that like me, he was a Young Life leader, a lover of John Steinbeck, and a fan of the Avett Brothers. But common interests and gorgeous lumberjack looks weren’t enough to solidify my love-at-first-sight assurance.
How did I know so clearly that this was the man I wanted to marry?
He asked me on a date–then kept asking questions. Without hesitating, Patrick asked me on a date. No games, no enticing flirtatious texting. Just a simple, direct question: “Could I take you to breakfast sometime?” Of course, my answer was yes. Over breakfast Patrick asked me deep questions, and followed up with more. Even today, he still tells me he’s not done getting to know me.
He loved the Lord. Patrick clearly loved God in a genuine, honest way. He was already a member of a church, and serving regularly in different ministries around Nashville. He didn’t pretend to have it all together, but I instantly saw the steadiness of his faith in God’s forgiveness and mercy. That’s the kind of man I’d always wanted.
He spoke frankly about his feelings. Once we had been on a few dates, Patrick looked me in the eyes and said he really liked me, and wanted to keep dating. We’d only known each other about a week, but his sincerity was overwhelming. All of my “I just moved to town, I’m about to start a really hard job, I am enjoying being single” excuses went out the window.
My sister knocked some sense into me. When I told my sister that I had met a great guy, but was concerned that I had fallen for him too quickly– she asked me three simple questions. “Does he care for you well?” Yes, I said. “Does he love Jesus?” Yes, I said. “Does he like to run?” Yes, I said. “Well,” she said, “what else are you looking for?”
She was right. If I’ve learned anything at all– I know that everyone’s love story is entirely different. But for me? There was nothing else I was looking for. I knew he was the one.
Five months later, we were engaged. Six months after that, we were married. How could we be so spontaneous, in a world where more than half of marriages end in divorce? How were we so sure?
That is a question we had to answer often during our short engagement.
The world would like you to believe that love is a accidental event that happens to you. Patrick and I have built our marriage on the exact opposite belief. Yes, we believe that God brilliantly orchestrated our lives until they intersected. Yes, Patrick romanced me, and there is chemistry between us like I’d never experienced. But from day one, we’ve believed that love is a choice.
And that choice is what gives us the freedom to be so spontaneous. We based our decision to love each other on our faith. Faith, not in each other–but in Christ.