(This is Sean writing. Caroline doesn’t know it, but I’m posting this in honor of her birthday today. Surprise honey!!)
Today is my wife’s 33rd birthday. She’s amazing. So amazing that she deserves (at the very least) the blog post that follows. Really she needs her own book. Maybe someday . . .
I met Caroline when she looked decidedly different than she does today. She, along with her dear mother and sister, wore a lot of calico jumpers back then and as the saying goes, she stuck out like a sore thumb. That’s no insult, it’s just that when I first saw her at a college scripture study I began attending in the early 2000’s, my first thoughts of her could be summed up with the word ‘weird’.
And that was just about the only thoughts I had of her. For an entire semester I don’t believe we ever spoke to each other. The only time I saw her was in the midst of a class when a quick scan of the room would find her sitting well composed beside her sister, the two of them the very model of meekness and, uh, weirdness (or so I thought at the time). “Who are they and why do they dress that way? Why are they so quiet, so “shamefaced” all of the time? They seem so up tight. I’m not sure I’ll have enough time tonight to finish my history paper…” and my mind was quickly off to other things. I had no interest in pursuing such questions further.
That is, until the following semester when I had an experience that would change my life forever. I arrived at a study in a bit of a rush to direct a guest I had invited to the group they were assigned to. As I entered the room, I noticed Caroline out of the corner of my eye (though I don’t believe I even knew her name at the time) sitting quietly to herself. I briefly turned my head to look at her as I continued crossing the room and I had this thought impressed upon me so clearly – “That is the sort of woman you should marry.” It was so strong that the words might as well have been spoken aloud.
It’s difficult to describe the feelings I had at this point. Our scripture study took place in a humble little repurposed store front that I believe was the only building on the street that wasn’t a bar. The front room was large and open and along all the walls were a myriad of mismatched couches and chairs that belonged in (or probably came from, many of them) a thrift store; but the chair that Caroline sat in on this occasion might as well had been a throne and the room her palace.
As I look back on this, I would not be surprised if the thought that was intended for my mind was, “She is the woman you should marry.” What I heard, however, was, “(That) is the (sort of) woman you should marry.” Why? Because in that moment I felt terribly unworthy of her. She was an unreachable goal and an unattainable prize. In that moment I somehow knew that she was far and away better than my best hopes and desires of what my wife should be. Frankly, I didn’t really know what I should be looking for in a companion. In a fleeting moment – in a twinkling – God showed me that everything I should be looking for was wrapped up in her.
If I am completely honest here, and I mean this with all my heart, I still feel very unworthy of her. After this experience I set myself to the long, sometimes humorous, task of winning her heart. It was a clumsy effort, but I was quite determined and I consider it one of the greatest honors of my life that she eventually came to accept mine as the hand that she would clasp in marriage. There was not another, to my heart, so pure, so faithful, and so lovely as she and nearly 14 years later, absolutely nothing has changed. She still sits, beautifully arrayed, as the queen in the throne room of my heart.
Happy birthday my love.