As if looking for an outfit that I could not imagine, I told myself, “I’ll know him when I see him.”
I hoped I was right.
The first time I saw him, he was sitting down. I was standing up, and I was not impressed.
It was a homecoming float decorating meeting, and I’d had some responsibilities in that barn where that flatbed was stored, and when I turned around, all available seats were taken.
Then it happened. He offered me the upturned bucket he was using for a seat and I was impressed, after all.
And he sure was good-looking!
Thus began many days of talking, talking, talking. We ate out once a week because I had to miss dinner when I tutored. We stood in sheltered places on campus to keep warm in the winter blasts. We tried to find acceptable pass times and finally thought of playing chess together.
It delighted me that he was intelligent, that he enjoyed playing chess. I was not very good at it, although I’d taught all my siblings how to play. But I was attracted to this intelligence that would prefer doing something mentally difficult for fun.
That’s when I knew. I knew he could easily be the one, but not because of playing chess. It was because of the chess board he brought with him that night.
You see, I was raised very poor. My folks had little to go on and every cent I got, I earned myself. We had no hot water tank. One door in our car had to be tied shut for safety.
I was looking for a guy who could, first, accept me within my poverty, and second, deliver and keep me from ever going back into it. I did not know how to attract such a man, though, since I was sunk so deeply in poverty, myself.
Who would have a poor girl? The question plagued me.
When I met this, my future husband, I quickly learned he was strong, self-motivated, farm-orientated, and smart. That told me he knew how to survive. But because I perceived him as having come from wealth, he scared me, actually.
Until I saw the chess board.
On our first ever chess-playing night out, the board he brought was made of cardboard, drawn, literally on the side of a box with felt tip pen. And the pen had run out of ink, so some of the black squares were only briefly scribbled, not really blackened. Not only that, but the chess playing pieces were the dime-store kind a person could pick up for $1.50.
When I saw all that, I knew. Here was a man who I thought could have anything and chose to save money by drawing a chess board on a side of a box.
I loved that chess board. It spoke to me. It told me this man would not care if my folks were “that poor”. This man would understand the lack of hot water in our home. He would understand the poverty. In fact, I suspected there was a background of wisdom and training born of poverty in this man. I suspected we might share the same goals of lifting each other out.
From that night, on, I looked at him differently. He no longer was a “maybe”; he’d become a “must be”.
Although no one can know the future, I knew that if all went normally, I’d never be totally poverty-stricken again. I knew he’d work hard to make what he needed. I knew he’d turn down expensive frills for a sensible lifestyle. I knew he’d be smart about money.
Besides that, he grew up around home canning, home-sewn clothing, and eating whatever was set before him.
I was sure this was going to be very good.
And I was right.
We have enough; we save; we do not go without any thing of great importance. We work hard for everything but the wealth here is not measured only in dollar signs. There is a great wealth, in my heart, of knowing he’s the one. He’s always been the one. He’s taken good care of me all these years and I’ve been blessed.
He’d wanted to be rich someday, and that has never really happened, but there is a wealth that goes beyond dollars.
How I knew it would turn out this way, I do not know. A chess board? It cannot have been that. It was an attitude that went along with it and matched what I hungered for. It was a drive to do one’s best, a big drive to be the most he possibly could, for me.
I knew it when I saw that board.
Now we’re old.
He’s made us many things since then, furniture, cabinetry, and even including a chess board made of plywood that we play on occasionally.
I’m still not a very good player.
But I was right.
And let me ask you this: Who else in history won His Bride by arriving humbly, accepted her in spite of her poverty, rescued her from it, and has kept her faithfully ever since?