Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Romans 12:16
I spent most of my formative school years trying to be "wise in my own opinion."
Still remember some of the stories I made up for "Show and Tell" in elementary school. Think one of my teachers actually called home once to say something kind - like "Eric has such a vivid imagination..."
Junior high school I was flailing in the insecurities and self doubt of feeling like I didn't know where to fit in and I often ran around with kids I hadn't known - trying to figure out getting older. High School was fun. Did my best to debate through every class and act smarter than - or possibly louder than - whatever instructor was doing their best to help me along. I should send them all notes of thanksgiving and apologies for having to tolerate me. wedding apparels specially for women over 40
College put me in my place. Brilliant professors lectured and I began to realize that I was going to have to work and study to survive. I learned how to be a student. I began to keep my mouth shut. Loved attending a great university. So blessed to sit at the feet of so many incredible people and learn. They poured themselves into us.
My personal life was in a shambles. In the first three years of college I had two broken relationships and was pretty certain I was never going to give my heart completely again.
And then I met Debi.
In the first months of dating my life consisted of exactly three activities; surfing, school and work. My buddy and I were planning a trip to Europe to study a great Greek author, that somehow morphed into a surf trip, pretty much all of my life somehow morphed into surfing back then... and I was dating Debi with a heart that had been crushed - ahhhhh - and not wanting to commit to anything long term again.
We've been together for more than 40 years.
Yesterday we were listening to a podcast on great Romantic Comedy movies (rom/com's for short - think Sleepless in Seattle, etc...) at the close of it I looked at Debi and asked "If they made a rom/com out of our relationship, what story would you want to make sure they included?"
Hot tip for your Valentine card - simply write - "If they made a romantic comedy of our lives together I'd want them to include ..." put your story in, share your love, and I promise you'll have a winning moment.
Debi replied "I guess I'd want them to include how you located me while I was traveling in Wales, asked me to marry you and flew me home." It's a romantic story. Still can't believe in the days before Google, texting, social media, etc... I found her... some things are meant to be.
"What about you?" She asked. "What story would you want them to include?"
Laughing aloud I told the story we both knew so well and have laughed about across the years. I was such a jerk. Insecure - but oozing with far too much of myself - 22 and trying to find my way through life.
My buddy and I had decided to sneak on the missile base in Oxnard and surf the "guarded" breaks of Point Mugu. Debi , new to California and sensing adventure, had to be part of it all. Brad and I surfed that morning, went to our separate classes, met up at the apartment in Belmont Shore to throw our boards and wetsuits in the back of his old primer gray pick up truck, got into our work clothes and headed to good old Joselyn Manufacturing, where we were union steel workers on the swing shift.
After putting in our eight hours, a little after midnight we headed toward Hermosa Beach, where Debi lived in a big house right on the strand. Pulling quietly into her neighborhood, long silent, with the only sound the surf against the beach, I climbed as silently as I could out of Brads old truck and went to knock on the door. She was supposed to be waiting to join our wild adventure.
No one answered.
I knocked harder and rang the bell. No reply.
Temper short. End of a very long day and the prospect of sneaking onto a military base to surf out ahead of us, I had no time for this. I walked around the ground floor of the house until I found what I was certain was her bedroom window and began to knock on it - like in the movies - nothing.
I'd had it. You're not late for surfing or fishing. This was definitely not going to work out. I walked over to Brads truck and leaned across where he sat and began to honk the horn - it shattered the night in the little neighborhood - telling me to stop he looked at me like I was a crazy man.
He wasn't far off. 22 years old. Uncertain of my own destiny. No way I was going to let this destroy our surf trip. Who did she think she was?
Dressed in steel toe work boots, torn Levis and a blue work shirt, the uniform of a steelworker, I honked one final time then stood in the middle of the road and began to yell her name.
"DEBI! DEBI! IF YOU'RE GOING SURFING WITH US YOU BETTER HURRY UP! WE'RE LEAVING!"
Only time in my life I remember yelling in the street at a sleeping house. A window, not the one I'd been knocking on, slid open, Debi stuck her head out and said "Eric? What in the world are you doing?"
I continued on my tirade, how long we'd been waiting, how we needed to get to Point Mugu in the dark to get through the hole in the fence we'd been told about, how if she was with us, she'd better hurry up.
In short, I was horrible - to her and as a human - I wanted my way and I wanted it now! Who was she to make me wait?
Paul writes "Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Romans 12:16"
I fell short then. I still fall short far too often.
I meet church people who seem to know how people should live their lives today and how God's going to wrap things up in the future. This "special knowledge" they think they possess doesn't seem to make them more humble or accepting but all too often they stand at the door like a crazy man in the night - shouting in desperation - waking up the entire neighborhood.
Then they blame it on love.
Call it insecurity, fear, pride, desperation... call it anything... but not love.
I can write about that night in the darkness today and laugh but it wasn't funny 42 years ago. Don't think Debi spoke much all the way to the "secret spot." She slept on the beach and I broke the board I was riding in two feet of shore break.
I brought it all on myself. I thought I was too good, the trip too important, the timing more essential then the simple niceties of life - so I stood in the street and made an idiot of myself.
I'd definitely want that part in the movie, because somehow, we overcame the obstacle of my pride, my issues and learned to grow forward together. Not instantly, and I'm still working on me, but enough that Debi's willing to go sailing with me and I don't stand in the street and yell any more.
Don't know what your plans are for Valentine's Day, but why not try being of the same mind as the one you love? Don't act "too good" for the simple things but be ready to humble yourself. And above all else don't stand out in the street yelling to get your way - "don't be wise in your own opinion." Let him or her have their way.
Great romantic comedies end with the obstacles overcome and love finding a way. It can for all of us today. If only we'd learn to be of "the same mind toward one another..." Cherish the treasure of life and love. It's God's Gift.
Do something wonderful - tell your story - and if you're still out there in the street, honking the horn in the darkness - please... let it go... you're just not that big a deal and your plans probably not all that world changing... lift one another up.
We belong together... and Debi ... thanks for not bailing on me.