Ray Simmons

Ray and Cynthia

I noticed a tightness around Ray’s mouth. His shoulders twitched, and his smile was stiff.

“Here, this is for you.” He handed me some paper as he sat down beside me on the church pew.

A bright splash of flowers spread across the front of the handmade card.  He’d cleverly taped several photos together for the front and back. The inside was notebook paper bearing a penciled flower. A brief note proclaimed his message: As spring had arrived he had fallen in love with a beautiful girl—me!

I kept a placid expression on my face. This required thought. My heart shivered as if touched first by fire and then ice. If he said he loved me, he must be serious. I looked into the depths of my soul. Was I ready to marry? We’d been dating for a few months, and I liked him. What should I say?

“It’s very pretty. Thanks!” I closed the card and stuffed it into my Bible. Later I would take it out and reread its message, pondering what I should do. How could I possibly give him any sort of answer in church? People filled the room, and they would all notice if I did something odd. He would, of course, expect me to say I loved him too.

The service started, and I didn’t have to meet his eye.  I praised God for the opportunity to work on calmness.  Before the service ended, my heart rate had slowed, and I could pretend nothing happened. For several weeks afterward, I tried to navigate around the sensitive issue. Each time he left me after a date, he would whisper that he loved me.  My response was a whispered goodbye. What else could I do? I would only profess love if I was ready to be his wife. And that was a big decision.

I thought and prayed four months. My mind lingered over the details of our relationship. We had studied the Bible together, and I had learned a lot. As we talked about God’s word, I saw Ray’s gracious wisdom, and came to respect him. He displayed the maturity of a much older man.  Months before we met, I’d realized I was adrift in my spiritual life. I had prayed for a spiritual leader, and I finally understood the Lord answered my prayer.  I hadn’t asked for a husband, but God put a man in my life who would give me the counsel I needed.  Soon after I told Ray I loved him, we became engaged.

Ray and I married thirty-four years ago this year. Our life together has been so rich, and I believe it’s because of our shared faith. I’m thankful God answers prayer in the spring.

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