Today is the 47th anniversary of my marriage with Lynda Bryan Cooke. I wanted to stop and share with any and all why this relationship has survived and thrived to this day.
I first noticed Lynda on a Saturday night at a youth retreat on Lake Norman just north of Charlotte, NC.
There are two things worth noting for context. First, I had come by circumstance, via an invitation from my best friend Stan Smith. If “Smitty” was there, chances were good this was going to be worth my time. Second, I had brought with me my girlfriend Diane. At the end of the evening it would be the last time we would talk to one another. That’s important because of what I’m going to tell you.
Two thirds of the way through the evening we were gathered up by our adult chaperones and youth leaders to hear their ideas about the upcoming summer for our Youth Group at Calvary Baptist Church.
I had my own ideas about my own upcoming Summer but I dutifully presented myself into a large circle of fifty teenagers to consume mass quantities of hot dogs while enjoying the blazing bonfire.
As the talk of a fantastic Summer Youth Ministry was being shared, my eye caught a glimpse of a girl whom I had yet to meet.
Looking across through the glowing hot fire I turned to Smitty and inquired of him,
Who is that girl sitting directly across from us? He responded to my question, That’s Lynda Bryan, she’s Wilson and Pat’s daughter.
I found my way over to Lynda Bryan to introduce myself. I do not recall the details of the short conversation as I was, and this is the truth, smitten by what I felt in the presence of this new girl 579 days younger than me. But what I can tell you is that I left that gathering later that evening knowing that Lynda Bryan would one day be Lynda Bryan Cooke.
That evening, that event, took place in May of 1970. I know;, I know, that’s a long time ago! Four years later, Lynda and I would share our vows on a Saturday evening at Calvary Baptist Church.
And 47 years ago today, Lynda and I would depart into the evening headed for Columbia, SC. There was a message in our madness we had plotted out together. Our thought process was that while it had been 4 years since we had met across that bonfire on Lake Norman, we could both survive just another hour and a half to get to our first destination in order to consummate our marriage. Is that too…, well never mind.
If you think, and you probably do, that Columbia was a strange place for a night you’ll never forget, just know the honeymoon got better with each day as we headed for Charleston and from there to our final destination of Hilton Head Island.
We would return home to Charlotte later that week to begin our lives. Of course each day in the early going was a day of new discovery of being husband and wife. There was never a dull moment as we felt ourselves being pulled into God knows what.
Lynda and I are polar opposites when it comes to our personality profiles. Somehow we managed that which often times fails young couples. But before I run out of time, I am writing this blog post knowing that marriage can be maddening… until it becomes manageable and then, with some help, it has a chance of becoming marvelous.
God created us for one another. And together, the mystery of marriage, over a lifetime, begins to change who you are. Two people, not simply becoming a great couple but celebrating each other for overcoming the worst of times life will try and throw at you.
In our late sixties, Lynda and I realize that without help from others in our lives, alongside the Holy Spirit, we may never have made it this far on a journey that has has tested our mettle in life like never before these past five years.
We’ll be thanking you guys as long as we live. Thankfulness has become our go to on days when we would just as soon cash in our chips. One of us has often said to the other, You know what I’m thankful for today? You!
The Apostle Paul once said; These three things remain, faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love. I think that is true especially for couples as they experience their own conflicts. The biblical concept of love is far deeper than the secular concept. And this, brings my back to where this all began.
A 16 year old boy meets a 14 year old girl on an evening across from a bonfire. Together they begin a journey and find a love that remains.
Tomorrow we will be at it again. And so it goes, and so it goes!
With Love To Each Of You – Mike and Lynda