I'm not sure when I wrote my first love letter to my husband. I know that I was already in high school and feeling like a failure at love. I had one boyfriend when I was in junior high. That "relationship" lasted for 7 days. And then I had a boyfriend for 6 days during my senior year. Woot.
While I had standards (which were pretty much limited to no sex), I definitely was open to the idea of dating. There was one major problem, though: my dad happened to be a pastor. Well, that and I was a good girl who never dreamed of what went on at parties. I wasn't exactly girlfriend material, at least not to red-blooded American teenage boys.
Sometime between my junior year of high school and my freshman year of college, something began to change. I started seeing just how ridiculous high school relationships were (at least most of the ones I saw first-hand). I also began realizing that I didn't just want any guy. I wanted the right guy. And so my love letters began.
Many times, they were written when my heart had been crushed. As the only one in a trio of girls without a boyfriend, lonely was an accurate description of my life then. Lonely and, well, forgotten. My friends didn't mean any harm by it, but it was so much easier for them and their boyfriends to double date or hang out...without me. I was the third wheel, and I knew it. So my letters are stained with tears in some places, tears because I knew that someone was missing in my life, and I mourned that he wasn't with me yet.
I also looked at what the Bible says about the characteristics of a godly man and a godly woman. I knew that I had a lot to learn about being a godly woman, and I began praying for my husband to be a godly man. Then one day, I made the list. Just a few things that I wanted to see in my husband: who love God first and me second, who is in a growing relationship with Christ, who makes me feel safe, who is a deep thinker and thinks for himself, who is committed to following God, who is attracted to my inner beauty, who can make my day better by being there, who can cook (!), who makes me laugh, who is somewhat of a romantic, who loves music, who appreciates my quirks, who is kind and not a liar, who can control his anger...
Can I just say that after re-reading these, I realize that I'm describing my husband to a T? (Yes, he even cooks!) These are the things that I wanted, and God blessed exceedingly abundantly beyond all that I could ask or think!
Soon, it was my last summer before college. That summer, I read a book that changed my perspective on dating and marriage completely: When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric and Leslie Ludy. While I don't agree completely with all that they said, one thing stuck out: they didn't kiss until their wedding day. The more that I thought about it, the more that I wanted that for myself and my future husband. What better way to celebrate our love, to show our commitment to each other, than to save that first kiss? Thankfully, I had not kissed anyone before that, and I truly believe that while I felt alone and unloved, God was protecting me from myself.
Why do I say that? Is kissing so wrong? No! Of course it isn't! And yet it is. It was for my husband and me because neither of us trusted ourselves with just a kiss. And my husband had, years before, made a vow that he wouldn't kiss a woman unless she were his bride. Technically, it didn't matter if I had kissed someone previously, but I'm glad that I hadn't simply because we were on an even playing field when it came to kissing and other physical contact.
Now, all of this happened before I met the man who would be my husband. To a young girl who graduated from a public high school in May 2006. To a young woman who met her future husband in August 2006. (It really is quite a story. Perhaps I should share sometime? There's even a last-minute breaking of the engagement and a reunion!)
And, for the record, my husband still takes those letters out at times and reads them.
Gifts from the heart:
Letters to my future husband
Letters to my baby girl (begun in high school)
Hopes and dreams and wishes written down
List of who he is marking Song of Solomon
Prayers upon prayers written down, marking days and times and seasons of life
Markings in my Bible: notes on when, where, how it applies
Underlinings, circles, and highlighters noting important Words of Life
Bulletins and random papers scattered throughout
Notebooks and pens, writing style that changes with years
Random lists written in between pages
Notes from classes, written and preserved
Notes and underlines in textbooks
Poems and stories, handwritten and typed up
Professors and teachers who made me write
Doodles and pen marks on days that bored me
Gel pens and colored Sharpie markers and coloring pencils and crayons
The simple joy of coloring a page
The permanence of a pen, ink that tattoos our lives...