I knew she was special the first time I heard her voice.
I had just transferred mid-year to a new high school and I had yet to make any friends. I was acutely aware that I did not belong. I dressed and talked differently. I said, “yes ma’am” and “no sir” reflexively when asked a question. North Philadelphia was a foreign land for this rural Kansas boy.
I was lonely. I was, and remain, an introvert. It’s easier to be alone than rejected.
As I attempted to blend into the grey cinder block wall that framed my red metal locker, she said, “Hello Tony.”
She knew my name! How could this miracle have occurred? No one knew me. No one seemed to care to know me. I turned to face her. I knew what to expect because I had seen her, watched her, studied her from afar over the last week since my uncelebrated arrival. Christine was beautiful. She seemed to radiate warmth and, well, light. She was a direct constrast to the frigid January morning and the cold fluorescent institutional corridor.
She smiled at me.
My opening line was one for the ages. Being this close only magnified her beauty. I could smell her hair. It reminded me of spring. Her eyes were so blue. They looked right into mine. Her expression was open, welcoming. I froze. After an uncomfortable pause I stammered, “How do you name my know?” It was the beginning of a special relationship. I wish I’d known how special.
As we got to know one another, I learned that my first impression was accurate. She was kind, honest, and gentle. This would seem to have made her naïve and fragile, but it didn’t. She had suffered her own bruises and was, subsequently, wise, but without bitterness.
She was almost too good. In my immaturity, her goodness seemed to aim a spotlight at my badness, at least in my mind. I decided that she must be judging my weekend behavior that contradicted my schoolweek goals, although I don’t actually remember her condemning me.
While we still spent some time together, my focus shifted entirely when football season arrived. I was consumed with the dream of playing college football and I vowed to do something every day to improve my chances. Between this single-minded pursuit and schoolwork, I had time for little else, including Christine.
As our senior year receded into yesterday, my focus was squarely on tomorrow. Today seemed insignificant. I chose my college based only on football. Although it did not have a strong program in her major, she offered to go there with me. I encouraged her to attend a nearby university with better opportunities for her. I wounded her with this “unselfishness”, but she agreed.
As college proceeded I saw her less and less. This was before the Internet, social media, and cell phones. There was a pay phone in my dorm, but it was futile to try and call me. She wrote. She wrote beautifully. She described what it would take to continue and grow our relationship. I read. But I was busy. Surely this effort could wait just a bit longer. I needed to focus on football and studying and, well, me.
She continued to write. Eventually, I left the letters, unopened, in a neat stack at the corner of my desk. Visible, but ignored. I decided to read them all at once when I had more time. I called her occasionally, but only when I was down and needed to hear a sympathetic voice.
We haven’t spoken in a long time now. I know she’d answer if I called, but what if she doesn’t? What if she’s decided she no longer cares about me? How could I expect her to love me after all this time and neglect and mistakes?
It’s easier to be alone than rejected.
Act 1 is fiction.
Here’s the real love story. God wants a relationship with you. He will meet you where you are: lonely, different, unwanted, and unknown. He will know your name. He will know everything about you and will still love and accept you. You do not need to be alone; you will never be rejected.
God is kind and gentle. He will not condemn you for your mistakes. He will wait as you chase your idols. He is not pushy.
He has written you many letters. They are collected in the Bible. This book does you no good sitting unopened on your desk, however. The Bible app on your phone is useless if not accessed. If you’re not sure where to begin, start with the Gospel of John. It will teach you about love.
Today matters. Relationships require time, effort, and priority. Don’t squander another minute. Don’t wait for your circumstances to change. Offer your heart, offer yourself, to God. Right now. He loves you fully and unconditionally.
Here’s what Jesus said about the relationship that awaits you.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Your love story is waiting to begin. It’s time for you to write Act 3.