In January of 1979 I walked into the lobby of the girls dorm at Brewton Parker College. It was cold that night. My glasses fogged up, but I found my way to one of the sofas and sat down. We had just returned from our Christmas break, and I was looking forward to catching up with my friends. As the fog on my glasses faded, I was stunned! The most beautiful woman I had ever seen was sitting just across from me. “Who is this new girl,” I wondered.

Her name was Rhonda. I could not stop thinking about her. I meet her a few days later at the Baptist Student Union meeting. We talked for a few minutes. That talk led to more talks, and more talks, and more talks. Before long, we were taking walks around campus, eating meals together, and planning student retreats. We spent a lot of time together.

I had been praying for several months that God would give me a godly wife. I wanted to marry the woman he had prepared for me. I began to sense that God was telling me that he had brought her to me. The time had come to step up and ask her to marry me. We had known each other just over three months. I was scared she would think I was some weird crazy religious psycho. I mustered the courage and asked her to marry me. She didn’t say no nor did she say yes. For the next three weeks she asked God for direction. God told her to accept my proposal!

Over the next three months we began talking about getting married in a couple of years. But, by July, just four months after getting engaged, we decided to go ahead and get married in December. Almost everyone we knew thought we were crazy. They told us we would not make it. They told us we needed more than a year to get to know each other. They told us we didn’t have any money. We refused to listen to them. Both of were convinced that we were following God’s will. On December 15, 1979 Rhonda and I exchanged vows and rings to become husband and wife.

Today marks our 31st anniversary! Through the years we have had some great days and moments. We have laughed together; we have cried together. God has blessed us with three wonderful daughters, two son-in-laws, and a grandson-on-the-way. We have had some tough moments … there have been those time when we didn’t really like each other. Through it all, I know I married the right woman. I am grateful to God for his gift to me.

Some have asked me and Rhonda what the success of a long marriage is. I always say for us, it is pretty simple: Love is a choice. I made a commitment to God, Rhonda, our families, and our future children that I would love her in sickness and in health, in good times and in the bad, … until death does us part. In those moments when I have not felt loved or wanted to give love, God reminded me of my wedding day and the commitment I made. In those moments when love was a little harder, I had to make a choice to love the woman God gave me. She is my gift from him. And, I love her.

I showed our wedding picture to some co-workers today. There was laughter and some “really” comments. I changed a little bit … I’m older, fuller, and grayer; I’m a little wiser, more mature, and more in love than ever before. I wonder what the next 31 years will bring.