Sunday, October 31, 2004

Happily Ever After: A Love Story

The scene: Lazy W church camp, circa summer 1987

From the moment they met, Angela knew there was something special about John. Although she was but a young girl, she had feelings for him that she would not experience again until much later in her adult life. Yes, this was more than a crush - it must have been love. But John didn't return her sentiments with the enthusiasm she had hoped. And so, at the young age of 12, Angela felt the first pangs of heartbreak that would become all too familiar over the next 16 years.

Fast forward to early 2003...

Angela and John's paths cross again, thanks to the ingenious intervention of two mutual friends. Except this time, the tables were turned. With less than a year of healing from her most recent heartbreak, a 4-year relationship that she was sure would turn out to be everything she had dreamed of, Angela was not ready to open herself up to love. But John would not give up - something told him that he should persist, that this second chance meeting was not just coincidence.

After months of inner struggle between her heart and her head, Angela realized that the feelings she had could no longer be denied. Her jaded heart had given up long ago on finding her ideal, her soulmate; and yet, here was this man who seemed to be everything she wanted, everything she needed. This relationship was different than anything she had experienced thus far. And so she decided to give love another try.

Long story short...

In November of 2003, John (who, incidentally, I went to high school with) proposed to my cousin Angela at the very spot where they first met. In August of 2004, they were married in one of the most beautiful weddings I have had the pleasure to attend.

I have never seen two people more in love, or better suited for each other. And even though their experience in married life is limited to these last few months, I know they will never be apart. They are perfect for each other in every way, sharing many important interests and personality traits, and complementing each other in all other areas. Most importantly, their love is deeply rooted in their faith - the very faith, in fact, that initially brought them together, and they grow closer to each other as they grow in their individual relationships with God.

Their story is proof to me that there really is someone for everyone who will make us happier than we could ever imagine; someone who we will love, and who will return that love, stronger than we may ever think possible. Everything I want, everything I need, everything I dream of having when I finally find that person who is my ideal, I see in them. They give me the faith and strength I need to continue in the cosmic dating process that will eventually lead to my own happy ending.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

'Tis the Season

Two weeks ago was the fateful American Idol-Season 4 audition. I stood, powerless before the panel of merciless judges, internally debating whether I actually wanted to go through with this whole thing. Always the cautious optimist, I was preparing myself mentally for the pangs of rejection, but still hoping for success and the promise of stardom. It’s funny how when you finally hear the judgment you have so long agonized over, you realize what you wanted all along.

You see, this dream ended almost as quickly as it had begun. But when I was eliminated after the second round, I was pleasantly surprised to find that, rather than feeling stripped of my lifelong dreams, I felt a calm sense of relief. I’m not going to lie – rejection is never fun. But I realized from the peace I felt that I was truly okay with the outcome. What struck me, though, wasn’t my reaction, but the reactions of the other 5,000 hopefuls. Most of them were crushed by the opinion of the three people who saw them at this one audition.

Watching them leave, dreams shattered and spirits broken, I felt incredibly fortunate that, although I may not have made it onto American Idol, I have a singing career waiting for me on my less-than-victorious return. And I realized that, cliché as it may sound, happiness is more about our perspective than our situation - you know, the whole "glass is half full" thing. Life doesn’t always turn out the way we want or expect, but if we focus too much on the little things that sometimes don’t go our way, we miss out on the million other things that do.

And so, as autumn afternoons make way for winter nights, and visions of Thanksgiving turkeys and pumpkin pies dance in my head, I begin to think of the countless blessings in my life, most specifically those little things that we all too often take for granted.