I first met Molly when we were both in college. I've spoken before about the Christian community I joined when I was in school; I think it was during my junior year that Molly started showing up at campus functions of the community, and in due course, joined the community herself. I’d like to say that, the first time I laid eyes on her, I was instantly star-struck and knew that one day she’d be my wife. But it didn’t happen that way. In fact, I’m pretty sure I barely noticed her at first.
That summer, between my junior and senior years, I lived in an apartment near campus with a couple buddies, and took a couple summer classes. Molly, as it turned out, lived with some women in the same complex, about a block away. The girls she was living with were good friends of the guys in my apartment, so she and I spent a fair amount of time that summer hanging out together, and we became good friends. I enjoyed her outgoing, sanguine personality; she was just generally pleasant to be around.
Over the next couple years, we became good friends. In the context of the life of our community, we spent quite a bit of time together, praying, studying the Bible, serving together in various and sundry ways. For a while, I was the leader of a music group, and she was sort of loosely my ‘secretary’, so we’d meet every week to plan music for a worship service; I have to say, we worked very well together.
All during this time, I came to admire what a solid, godly woman she was. I wasn’t remotely ‘in the market’ for a wife yet, and, while I certainly enjoyed her company, I wasn’t looking at Molly in any kind of ‘romantic’ way. In my mind, we were really good friends, and brother/sister in Christ, and that was great. Also during this time, I sort of cycled through a series of ‘crushes’ on other women in the community, all of which crashed and burned in various comical ways. So, I sort of ‘swore off’ romance for a while, and concentrated more on my studies.
When I graduated, I took a job in the same town where the college was (Molly continued in school for another year or two). I bought a car and a house, and started to think about settling down and getting married. I actually thought about asking Molly out – I certainly admired her, and we always enjoyed each other’s company. But, when I was ready to ‘make my move’, I discovered that she was dating another guy. Down in flames again! So I retreated, and pondered my next move.
One Sunday morning not long after that, I was sitting on my porch, reading the newspaper, when Molly came hopping up the stairs. She had moved into a house with some other women, just up the street from the house I’d just bought. She was carrying a dingy little rubber ball in her hand. “I know you play paddleball,” she said. “I found this ball, and I wondered if it was the kind you could use.” Well, it wasn’t, but I thanked her for thinking of me, and we chatted for a while before she continued on her way.
I was sort of chuckling at the whole thing, at how silly it was for her to bring me this grubby little ball, when it suddenly dawned on me – this wasn’t about the ball. She was letting me know that she was available and interested. Sure enough, I discovered that she wasn’t seeing the other guy any more, and when I asked her out, she eagerly accepted.
And the rest, as they say, is history. We were married the following summer; and we recently celebrated our 26th anniversary.
I want to say that all those years of friendship have paid dividends in our marriage – long before either of us thought of the other as a potential mate (well, long before I thought of her that way, at any rate), we just liked each other and enjoyed each other’s company. More importantly, we admired and respected each other on a purely human, interpersonal level, without the starry-eyed romantic overtones. And, when it came time for us both to think about choosing a life-partner, we had pretty objective, clear-headed assessments of each other. And, even today, I still have that fundamental admiration of Molly as a woman, quite separately from the fact that she’s my wife. And that’s like money in the bank for us.