When I was thirteen, I remember sitting at a CIY (Christ in Youth) conference in Springfield, MO. It was about the time in my life that my teenage hormones started revving up. I was showing an interest in girls, even though they made me totally uncomfortable. And I had this clear question in my mind: Who am I going to marry? I asked God. I wanted the answer now. I would be much more comfortable going through the next 5 years if I had the answer to that question.
But , believe it or not, I had no revelation. And the next 5 years were as awkward for me as they were for any typical un-suave, goofy teenager. Silly love letters, dances, and other feeble attempts to impress the opposite gender peppered my junior high and high school years. There was even a horrible voice-cracking incident while I was asking a girl out in 9th grade. (I was rejected, by the way).
Then I met Bonnie.
Between the summers of my junior and senior years of high school, I met her at another CIY conference. Bonnie came as a friend of Kate Netzler, another girl in my youth group. From the bottom of my heart, Kate, thank you for bringing her.
That conference was, in the short term, pretty unsubstantial in regards to our relationship. Bonnie Dunn, the cute, short blonde girl on the newspaper staff who seemed to be friends with everyone was now a friend of mine. We had psych class together that next year, and we would frequently exchange high fives in class. But she also did that with Dave Miller, so I didn’t think too much of it.
The year passed, and another CIY conference was coming down the pipe. We were at a car wash fundraiser raising money for the trip. For a second year, Kate invited Bonnie, and she was at this fundraiser. It was at this exact moment that I started thinking about Bonnie differently. I wanted her to only share high fives with me.
True story: At that car wash, I leaned over to Jakob Lewis, one of my best friends, and said, “one day, I’m going to marry Bonnie Dunn.” I was (am) kind of known for making rash, outlandish statements, so I don’t know if Jakob put any stock in this one. I don’t even know if I did. But my interest was peaked and I could see what a catch see was. During our week at CIY, in a poetic twist of fate, everything clicked together for me and my future bride, Bonnie.
On the last night of that fateful CIY week, this picture was taken. Bonnie hates it to this day, but I keep it up in my office because it was from this moment I knew that we were going to be together. This picture turned into a long talk on the bus ride home. And that turned into a flashlight tag date, movie date, bowling alley date, first kiss, meeting her parents and a long term relationship through college. And I never once doubted that this was the girl that I was committed to.
And then, we got married, 5 years ago today. My commitment hasn’t waivered one bit. Every word of our vows rings is my head and I am still totally sold out to them.
Marriage takes a lot of hits nowadays. Real commitment is watered down in our culture by bad movies, false expectations, and selfish behavior.
But not mine.
When Bonnie and I were long distance dating, it was in a pre-cellphone era. Most of our correspondence was through letters and emails. And we always signed off with a “I like you.”
Bonnie, when I said “I like you,” I really meant I love you.
And now, with our future ahead of us, when I tell you “I love you,” it means I always will.
And I look forward to many years of high fives with you. Happy anniversary.