I hope you’ve been enjoying reading snippets of Anthony’s and my story so far! If you’ve missed earlier installments, feel free to check them out here.
I stood in the darkened church that Good Friday, my heart a mingle of emotions.
Beside me stood Anthony—the first time we had worshipped together. He held securely in front of him a bright-smiled, hair-ribboned four-year-old girl, balancing happily on the row of chairs before us. She had run to meet us when we entered the church and already sat on Anthony’s lap through much of the service.
This little girl was the daughter of the couple who led the college group Anthony had assisted with for years, and he had taken care of her often since she was a baby. It showed—clearly she adored him, and the feeling was mutual.
And as I stood with the two of them and sang and remembered Christ’s sacrifice, my heart stirred in new and deeper ways…toward the Lord, and toward this man standing beside me.
There had been shifting in the past few weeks, between Anthony and me.
Ever since we shared a picnic on his birthday at a local park, something was different. It had taken me three tries of asking Anthony’s friends before I could even find out when his birthday was, though he had that day off (just hadn’t told me why) and asked if I’d like to do something. We decided on a picnic, and I brought cupcakes, a gift, and a little centerpiece, as a surprise for him. (Anyone who knows Anthony knows he never would have told me it was his birthday on his own.)
But he was touched by my little gestures, and we had a sweet time that day enjoying cupcakes, quiche, and Greek salad made by Anthony. We looked through a special photo album that Anthony’s mom, who passed away some years ago, had made of his 18th birthday, a delightful medieval-themed celebration with many of his friends present and the “Queen” presiding over their jousting tournaments. I got a deeper peek into Anthony, his past and story, and was struck by the love and strength in his family, and the resemblance between our family birthday parties—I think our moms would have been good friends.
Since that day, Anthony’s letters had deepened. Still very polite and refined, always a gentleman, and never pushing for our relationship to move too fast, but something was different. The dear things he said about how much I meant to him set my cheeks to warming and my heart to pounding. Yet we still weren’t officially dating—at our “DTR” conversation a couple of months before, we’d agreed to get to know each other as friends, with the possibility of something more should things develop.
Well, were they developing? Maybe they were—but I didn’t know exactly how Anthony felt, I was just reading between the lines. And I still wasn’t quite sure how I felt either.
And then Anthony invited me to the Good Friday service at his church.
In my message the day before, I shared how I appreciated so much the sweet things he had been saying, but wasn’t sure how to interpret them. So when Anthony picked me up on Friday, he immediately brought the subject up. In southern California, driving late afternoon on a Friday means one thing—terrible traffic. But in this case, traffic was good…it gave us time to talk.
And with the frankness that was beginning to characterize our conversations, Anthony shared that his feelings had indeed progressed beyond friendship, but that he didn’t want to push for our relationship to be more until I was ready.
I wasn’t, quite—not yet. But the conversation settled my heart, and I sensed an import to it. My feelings were deepening too, and I told him so. I just didn’t want to lead him on, unless and until I was sure.
But I marveled at how this quiet man and I could be open and honest with each other, at the gentle strength I was beginning to sense in him, and between us.
Lord…is this something You are doing?
I was very aware of Christ’s presence that night…in the songs we sang, in an activity during the service where we wrote sins we struggled with on slips of paper and put them in a large glass container filled with red liquid, symbolizing the covering of His blood. In what I could see in Anthony as he worshipped beside me, his humble, surrendered heart to the Lord. In the tenderness between him and the little girl on his lap, as he held her close and showed her pictures in the Beginner’s Bible.
And then a song came up on the screen that filled my eyes with tears.
During my college years, I had often been struggling in my heart, either over a young man I had come to care for but who didn’t return my feelings, or over just being single. Some of you, I know, can relate to that heartache. But the Lord kept reminding me in that season that only He was enough and could meet all my needs (a lesson, I’ve learned, just as true in marriage as in singleness!), and He’d often done it through a certain song, whether in chapel at my university or through one of the various churches I attended during those years.
And here it was on the screen again—“Enough,” by Chris Tomlin.
As I sang, standing beside Anthony, I couldn’t hold back tears, though I don’t know if anyone noticed. I sensed the Lord’s touch on my heart, His tender hand upon us, though I still didn’t know what the future would hold.
He had been enough—more than enough, through all we’d both been through so far in our lives. He would continue to be enough for us, whatever the future might hold.
And I sensed that this Good Friday was one I wouldn’t quickly forget.
To be continued…
Has our story so far sparked anything in your heart? When has the Lord reached out and touched you in a way you needed right at that moment? I’d love to hear your thoughts!