Today marks the two-year anniversary of my first date with the man I married, so it seems fitting to reflect on the person who has been one of the most tangible expressions of God’s grace in my life.
When I met Daniel, I was taken with him from the very beginning—“smitten,” as my sister frequently reminded me. So I wanted to do everything I could to make a good impression on this man. It quickly became apparent that wasn’t meant to be. Within the span of just a few dates, I managed to make an egregious fool of myself on three separate occasions.
Occasion #1: The two-smoke alarm dinner
I’m not exactly a cook, but I do have about three standby meals I feel fairly confident about whipping together. Daniel was coming over for dinner and we were still in the “under three” category, so while I was a bit nervous, I wasn’t panicking. The star of the meal was my sister’s famous focaccia bread recipe, something I’d made plenty of times before.
However, it wasn’t long before my visions of golden-brown crusty deliciousness went up in smoke—literally. Daniel and I were chatting in my kitchen when suddenly I heard the piercing beep of not one but two smoke detectors. I opened the oven to discover, to my horror, that the bread wasn’t just overcooked. It was actually on fire. So much for Betty Crocker.
Occasion #2: The face plant
Something you should know about me is that my footwear of choice tends to be slippers or flip-flops, depending on the season. Any heel measured in something larger than centimeters is reserved for the occasional bridesmaid duty. I’m not sure what possessed me to wear the strappy, impractical sandals on my third date with Daniel, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.
That night as Daniel walked me to my car, I never saw the tree branch protruding from the grass. I was on the ground before I knew what had hit me. It wasn’t one of those graceful missteps either—it was an all-out tumble, the kind where you biff so hard you don’t have time to break the fall and the contents of your purse spill out all over the grass. Hypothetically speaking.
Occasion #3: The navigational disaster
It was the fourth of July, and Daniel was going to a picnic to meet my church friends for the first time. I’m infamous for my navigational impairments, but I hadn’t exactly mentioned that to Daniel yet. I had carefully researched and printed out directions, and I thought I was ready.
Until we got to the street where the party was being hosted…and there was no house with the specified number. After some unproductive wandering and several confusing phone calls, I finally discovered that the address was indeed correct…but the city was not. Uh, yes, minor detail.
As chagrined as I was for royally botching things up on each occasion, ultimately these flubs turned out to be the best thing that could have happened in our young relationship. For one thing, Daniel might as well have known from the beginning who I am: a girl who is, inherently, a mess. A girl who can’t go many consecutive dates before things go up in smoke.
And it turned out that my faux pas gave me a glimpse into the character of this man I was coming to appreciate more and more. In each situation, Daniel responded with the kind of grace that made my knees go weak. As the smoke alarms went off, he fanned the air and assured me we had plenty of food to eat. After my spill, he helped me off the ground and gently made sure I was okay. When I found myself directionally flustered, he patiently drove around a three-city radius until we finally reached our destination.
I received the gift of his grace that month, and I also had the rare window of seeing how this man would respond one day in the future, when the stakes were higher than burned bread. Two years later, I see that my hunch was right: this man is a daily reflection of God’s grace to me.
Happy two years of knowing you, Daniel Rische.
“I do not understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”