She was one of those girls on campus who naturally caught a young man’s eye, however, I was absolutely positive she was out of my league. There was no way a girl as smart and beautiful as she would have anything to do with such an immature freshman like me. When her roommate started dating a friend in my dorm, I took the opportunity to tempt fate and put all my dignity on the line.
“David,” I said, “you have got to set me up with your girlfriend’s roommate. If she would just go out with me one time, I would consider that a gift.” I knew I would be extremely fortunate just to get the one date. After she experienced that, I figured the odds of her wanting to go out with me again would be slim to none.
David went back to her and literally said, “Hey, there’s this guy in my dorm that wants to date you, but he just wants to date you one time!” I was sure upon hearing it put like that, she wouldn’t dare go out with me. Luckily he clarified himself and on Friday March 14, 1980 I had my very first date with Jeannie Smith from Rock Hill, South Carolina. It must have gone pretty well because we went out again the next week, and before we knew it, we were “going steady.”
A year and a half after we started dating, I asked her to marry me. The next year we were married. On May 29 of this year, we celebrated 31 years of marriage together, and I still marvel at how blessed I was that she said, “yes” to that first date.
When I think back as to how all those events happened in such a short amount of time, I have absolutely no regrets that we married as soon as we did and as young as we were. Not only do I have no regrets, I wouldn’t have done it any other way. We actually got married between my junior and senior years of college, with my best grades coming in that final year. We started our lives together in very humble ways, with very little money and very few material possessions. We grew our marriage sharing everything – our time, our money, our hopes and our dreams – together.
The only reservations I may have had regarding the whole idea of marriage were made up of my own personal insecurities, as well as the absence of a father-husband in my own family. Not having a father meant that my mother had no husband, so I had no direct point of reference upon which to base my approach to marriage. Would I be able to make her happy for the rest of our lives? Would I prove myself worthy of her?
I was, however, absolutely sure that Jeannie was perfect for me. With Jeannie, God gave me the right balance of someone who could help smooth out my rough edges (and He knew that I had a lot of them), but also give me total freedom to be the person He truly made me to be. She has extraordinary faith, tremendous patience, and is the greatest example of grace that I have ever known. She is a wonderful wife and mother, and an exceptionally gifted director of a local church preschool. Our love has only grown stronger over the 31 years of our marriage and today we are each other’s best friend.
Way back in the Garden of Eden, God saw the man he created and thought, “what a shame that he should live life alone.” So the scripture says that He created a “help meet,” a wife, for Adam. The funny thing about many of those old Hebrew and Greek words is that sometimes there is just not a good English equivalent that captures the full meaning and flavor of the original word. In this case, other translations have used “helper” or “companion,” which get close but still fall a little bit short. One commentary that I read said that the true essence of that old Hebrew word could be best captured with the word, “completer.” “Completer” is my personal preference, and, in my “Tom Cruise/Jerry McGuire” way, I can say with all honesty and sincerity that Jeannie truly has completed me.
Even though it is an exercise in futility, I sometimes play the “what if” game, but not in the way one normally plays it. I think about my senior year of high school and think, “What if I had not gone to Montreat?” I would have missed out on two of the most monumental and pivotal years of my life, and most of all, would have not met this most wonderful woman who has, indeed, completed me. As God used these years to answer the complex questions I had of life, He had now granted me the most important piece of the puzzle – my companion and soul mate. We were now ready to continue this wonderful journey together.