Today marks 20 years of marriage. I have never been more fulfilled in my life and I am thankful beyond words. This past weekend, Timm surprised me with a gathering of friends and family, a renewing of our vows, and the perfect gift of a slideshow reflecting our life together - ending in the announcement of his plan to take me on a trip to Austin Texas for the Austin City Limits music festival! WEEEEEEEEE!
In the heat of the moment (literally – it was over 90 degrees and humid) I was a bit overwhelmed and unsure of what to share with dear family and friends. I don’t even know what I said. Now that I have had time to soak in the moment, reflect, and let words scurry through my head, I want to say more.
I love words. I love to speak them out, write them down, read them, rearrange them, listen to them, share them. Yet, I can also find myself overwhelmed and unable to verbally express the depth of emotion. There are some things that words simply can not touch; things that transcend.
My state of mind about Timm and our marriage and this weekend are falling into that category. I can’t seem to articulate what I want to express. Yet, I can’t seem to stop myself from trying. There is a saying that hindsight is 20/20. For me, it is fun to look back with clearer vision.
What I may have shared if I had time to think ahead. A little bit of our love story….
I’m not a person who believes in “soul mates” or in waiting for the perfect person to complete you. But, I do believe that God brought Timm into my life and that he is exactly the person God knew would be good for me. None of us can really imagine how our life would have gone if not for certain circumstances. But, I find it impossible to imagine a life without Timm in it. Even if I try, I can’t even consider that there would have been another person I would have wanted to spend my life with.
Timm invited my BFF Dana to come up for the weekend, all the way from North Carolina, to celebrate our 20th. Apparently he told her that it was important for her to be there because, if it weren’t for her, we probably would not have ended up making it as a couple. Let me explain.
On the beautiful slide show Timm created of our life, he highlighted our “first date”. That’s in quotations for a reason. We became close friends at CMU, and while I was moving along to do my internship, he was staying back at CMU to goof off and figure out his path. OK, he eventually figured that path out, and I wouldn’t change a thing. But, anyways…the Fall semester had ended, it was now January, and I was moving into an apartment with Dana. Timm came to see my new place and to say goodbye before making the two and a half hour trip back up to Mt. Pleasant the next day. We went out for the evening, and somehow, we crossed the line of friendship and did some kissing!
Naturally, I panicked. Knowing what time he was planning to leave for CMU the next day, I waited until I thought he would arrive and I called him. Ugh, that was a long 3 hours of waiting to call –this was long before cell phones and texting and voicemails! And I didn’t want to leave a message on his answering machine for his roommates to hear! Whew, I was relieved when he answered. I immediately breathed a sigh of relief and blurted out my very rational thoughts about the situation.
“Please don’t tell anyone what happened between us last night, our friends will make a big deal about it and it will be awkward for everyone! It’s already going to be awkward for us. Please let’s just pretend it didn’t happen.”
Timm’s response was something like
“What are you crazy? I ALREADY TOLD EVERYONE. We’re not gonna pretend that didn’t happen. We’re going to start going out, this is AWESOME!”
What the what?
I asked who he told, and he had in fact already told EVERYONE! Oh my gosh, all of our friends think we are dating, now what am I going to do? I went on to explain to Timm that we are not dating and it was a mistake and he shouldn’t have told anyone and we CAN’T BE DATING because it would ruin our friendship.
I can still remember being on that old phone receiver, which was connected to the boxy table top telephone by a swirling cord that only allowed me to pace about 4 feet in either direction in my state of confusion.
This conversation went round and round. I tried to explain to Timm that he can’t tell me I’m dating him if I tell him I don’t want to. He would then question me about why I didn’t want to and I would repeat that I didn’t want to ruin our friendship. He would then tell me that was a ridiculous reason and that he needed a better one if he was going to even consider taking me seriously. I finally gave up, and our conversation ended with me saying “We are not a couple. We are not dating.” And him replying “Hmmm. OK. I’ll see you this weekend.”
What is that supposed to mean?
So, then I turned to my roommate Dana to express my outrage about how Timm could think he could tell me what was going to happen! Sure, I wanted him to come visit the next weekend, but he can’t come! He can’t be around me and think that he can force me to be in a romantic relationship with him. I believe Dana’s response went something like this…”So, you like this guy so much that you don’t want to jeopardize your friendship or lose him. You get along great. You love being together. You laugh together. He treats you with respect. You both can’t wait to see each other. (insert the most sarcastic tone you can conjur up) Yah, I can see your problem!!! You poor thing! What are you going to do?”
I was a bit stunned. Did that just happen? I was losing my bearings! They were ganging up on me! No one was listening to me!
This went on all week. After Timm and I would talk on the phone, Dana would casually ask who that was. I would answer and she would say “mmmmmm. Ohhhhh. OK. But…..he’s NOT your boyfriend.” Then she would walk by while I was scribbling out pages of writing on looseleaf paper and she would ask who I was writing to. I would hesitantly admit that it was a letter to Timm and then brace myself for the response of “ohhhhhh. Hmmmmm. Your FRIEND Timm, who you already talked to today? How many pages is that letter to your FRIEND?” She was relentless.
Timm never wavered. I allowed myself to give in and to start a dating relationship with him. But, then I panicked again about a month later and I was tortured about how to tell him. I worked up my courage all week, and then on a weekend in February, I told him we needed to talk. Through pain and tears, I choked out the truth to him. I can’t do this! I can’t date you. I’m so sorry. I never should have let this happen! I tried to stop it. On and on I lamented. And he just sat there nodding and asked “Why?” So again I had to explain that I didn’t want to lose him as a friend and I hope I didn’t already screw it all up. He assured me that I didn’t screw anything up. I was starting to calm down and feel better and then he went on to tell me that he would be happy to break up if and when I had a good reason to do so. But, if my reason was because I like him too much and don’t want to risk losing him, then that is ridiculous and doesn’t make any sense. He gave me another opportunity to come up with a reason that he felt was legit. He even gave me some good reasons to consider breaking up with a person. But, my reason continued to be that I didn’t want to ruin what we had. So, he just sat there and said “Nope. That’s not a good reason. We aren’t breaking up for that. What do you wanna do tonight?”
I’ll be honest. This happened one more time in those early months, and I finally gave up on trying to weasel out of it and started to just enjoy our relationship as "boyfriend and girlfriend".
After almost 3 years of this fun, long-distance relationship, I was in my comfy place. Then Timm threw me another pitch that I tried to dodge. He started a conversation about us getting married. GULP! I felt that panic creep back in and the voice in my head screaming “Not safe! Run away! Just keep things the way they are! Don’t risk!” So, as I saw that pitch whizzing straight for my head, I ducked. Whew. That was close. We had the conversation, and I remained calm. Through a casual smile, I explained to Timm that I just wasn’t ready to talk about this and that I would appreciate it if we just kept things the way they were.
The next day, he showed up with flowers, a poem, and a ring….
Come on! Who does that? I just can’t imagine another person having the unique characteristics of confidence and compassion to call me out like that. Without any actual psychoanalytical techniques, he was showing me something about myself that I couldn’t see. He was loving me enough to not let me avoid getting close because I couldn’t risk the loss. I didn’t even know I was actively avoiding that risk. It’s incredible to me to think back and see so clearly how God was using Timm to help me see parts of myself that I was blind to. And I am so eternally grateful. Because this has continued for the past 23 years. He has continually and consistently held up a mirror that reflects the attributes I would not otherwise see. The absolute trust I have in his love for me has allowed me to see some of my insecurities, habits, behaviors, and tendencies in a new light. Instead of keeping those things in the dark where they are safe and unseen, Timm has been able to gently pull things out of that hidden place and into the undeniable light so that I am able to face them . Having a person that close to me is at once scary, painful, embarrassing, transforming, redeeming, and beautiful. He has never given me a reason to doubt that he is safe, trustworthy, and always for me-not against me. I’m not saying that I have never doubted! Trusting is tough stuff for me. But, I am saying that he has never given me reason to doubt. That has changed me.
Timm has helped me to see that life is an adventure and there is no other way I would want to approach each day than to anticipate the unexpected and enjoy the ride. He has taught me how to speak the truth in love, using my words to encourage and grow, not to tear down and destroy. He has helped me learn to enjoy the present, not just prepare for the future. He continues to support me as I learn how to embrace vulnerability and invite closeness with others in my life. Beyond that, he speaks genuine words of affirmation to me and serves our family with his works daily.
So, yah, I don’t really believe in soul mates and love at first sight and all that romantic crap (just ask my poor girls how I feel about their exposure to romantic stuff potentially misleading them into false expectations of what real love is! Let’s just say they didn’t grow up with the “Disney Princess- Happily Ever After “stuff). But, I still can’t imagine my life without the gift that Timm has been to me. And I thank God every day that I have been given this opportunity to join our two lives together as one. And I pray that we would be given another 20 or 40 or 50 healthy years together this side of eternity to grow and learn and give and love.
Happy Anniversary Timm.