"You know you're in love when you don't have to leave the room to fart," Sally said with a laugh.
I looked at my friend and collapsed into giggles. "What?" I shrieked, gasping for air.
"She's right," Sally's fiancé, David, assured me, wearing a twisted grin.
Sally went on to inform me that her grandmother always told everyone she had to "feed the cats" when she had gas, and that she and David didn't want to be like that. I filed this information in the "Things I Didn't Need to Know" part of my mind and went back to my Top Gun dream of love: Tom Cruise bare-chested on a motorbike.
I continued dating as I always had; primping and tailoring my personality to suit my boyfriend of the moment. I changed colors more often than a chameleon to find love, oblivious to truth. If I convinced a man to love my pretense, what good would it do? He couldn't love someone he didn't know.
After much heartbreak, God finally got through. I spent a few years alone with Him, getting to know myself. I grew more confident in His presence, ultimately learning to let people know the real me. Then, I started dating my husband.
Jim got under my skin and I held nothing back. I once spurted milk right in his face because he made me laugh during dinner. He held my hair back while I puked my guts out pregnant, and told me I was beautiful at the same time. He's seen me thin, blonde and young and fat, brunette and middle-aged. He's seen me dolled up, and he's seen me filthy. Recently he had a good laugh when I lost my balance trying to weed a flowerbed and rolled right onto my bum, heels-over-head. If he'd had a camera, we might have had a winning video--what a shame.
My idea of romance has deepened. By accepting me as I am, with my many flaws, Jim makes me feel loved. When I was eight months pregnant with my daughter, I broke my ribs vomiting. The baby was active right beneath them every time I lay down, and I became hysterical with pain and exhaustion. This culminated in a screaming rant about getting the baby out. Jim calmed me and held me upright all night long so that I could sleep--that is love.
I find a man who works twelve-hour night shifts at a job he hates to support his family romantic. The man who changes diapers, takes me out to dinner and calls me every time he is away to tell me he loves me is a hero. My husband knows all my hopes, dreams, fears and failures--and he stays. He makes me weak in the knees.
I can spend my life excusing myself to "feed cats," or I can know love. Hollywood romance is a caricature. My husband and I have the Garden ideal: we are naked and we feel no shame.*
*Paraphrase Genesis 2:25 NIV
Debbie O'Connor lives just north of New Orleans with her husband, Jim, and their two children. Jesus has been her savior for 18 years. Contact Debbie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2008 Debbie O'Connor
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