The first time I saw him was in a Spanish Club meeting my first semester of college. I, who had always rolled my eyes at “love at first sight” stories, was knocked for a loop. When I realized that I was staring, I forced myself to transcribe a rather boring meeting nearly word for word, hoping that taking notes would distract me. It didn’t work. I still had an argumentative internal dialog between my rational self and my intuitive self.
Intuitive Self–swoons (OK, perhaps I’ve read too many historical romance novels)
Rational Self–Get a grip. He’s probably married.
Intuitive Self–He’s not wearing a ring.
Rational Self–You don’t even know if he’s a Christian.
Intuitive Self–Yes, he is. I can tell.
Rational Self–Based on what? The only words he’s said so far are his name and “nice to meet you”–hardly conclusive.
Intuitive Self–No, there is something about him…
Rational Self–snorts and rolls eyes
We met a few days later at our city’s Hispanic Festival. He was wearing a Christian T-shirt (Intuitive Self: sticks out tongue). He and my mom had a nice conversation while I tried to keep Intuitive Self on a leash. As soon as we left, she turned to me and said, “You need to marry him. And you would have gorgeous children”. (Intuitive Self: applauds and cheers Mom).
His office was located inside the International Language Lab, and I happened to spend a lot of time there (I won’t lie, that time increased after we met). One day the subject of music came up and I lamented the dearth of Spanish language music at our Christian book store (this was, of course, back in antiquity before simply ordering something online was done). The next time that I bumped into him, he smiled and handed me a tape that he had made of his favorite Spanish praise and worship music. I listened to it constantly.
We talked about our favorite songs from the tape, and he suggested that we go to the piano rooms. It became a regular thing that on days where we both had time in between classes we would meet and play our favorite songs. For the more prurient minded, the closest physical contact was sitting next to each other on the piano bench
We had many things in common–ties to both Hispanic and US culture, our love for God, similar interests. On the other hand, I had grown up in the Gothardite courtship movement, which meant that I had never dated, never had a boyfriend, and that I was never supposed to. Theoretically, God would issue a divine decree to my dad about “the one” and they would eventually inform me. My job was to “not give away any pieces of my heart” (let alone my body), and to joyfully submit. But in the meantime, there was the gray area of being “just friends”. The awkwardness that resulted from all this would fill a book.
One of the songs on the tape he gave me was Marcos Witt’s Tu amor por mí:
Tu amor por mí (Your love for me)
Es más dulce que la miel (Is sweeter than honey)
Y tu misericordia es nueva cada día (And your mercy is new every day)
Es por eso que te alabo (That is why I praise You)
Es por eso que te sirvo (That is why I serve You)
Es por eso que te doy todo mi amor (That is why I give you all my love)
That was one of Carlos’ favorite songs. I blushed every time he played it, conscious of the word play and secretly hoping that the love for him would be Dulce. But there was that whole courtship thing. I agonized over the tiniest step in our relationship. The very first Valentine’s Day after we met, Carlos showered me with extravagant gifts. And because it didn’t fit in the courtship paradigm, I gave them all back. (I wasn’t kidding about the awkwardness.) Being courageous and patient, as well as persistent, Carlos didn’t give up. I received that new mercy each day from him and God both.
We began to exchange letters since our time on campus wasn’t enough for the conversations we wanted to have. I still have them. Each of them, though most were not romantic in the traditional sense, were love notes. They revealed our hearts to each other, the things that mattered, the inconsequential jokes, all the details that add up to love.
It took about four years before we became engaged, and there was plenty of drama when the courtship approach didn’t follow the script (Rational Self became very helpful during this period). But fourteen years of marriage and four kids later, we still pull out the CD with that song on road trips (the kids groan every time). We glance at each other out of the corners of our eyes just like we did in the piano room nearly twenty years ago and smile. With all the ups and downs, love for each other and God’s love for us has been sweet. There has been new mercy each day, and that has caused us both to give all of our love.
Image credit: Marcus Yeagley