I heard you say you love me.

Ben Teej Hands Ring

Ben,

I heard you say you love me when you gave me your jacket when I was cold.

I heard you say you love me when I was motion sick on the bus and you prayed for me.

I heard you say you love me when you were helping me place the goodies I’d brought for the children on the table, and you made sure everyone around us knew I’d brought them and not you.

I heard you say you love me when I was sick and you waited outside the airport bathroom for a long time, and we might have been the only two who missed our plane back to the states, but you wouldn’t leave me by myself.

I heard you say you love me when you prayed with me outside in the cold for the 40 Days for Life.

I heard you say you love me all the times you didn’t correct my misuse of vocabulary but you could have.

I heard you say you love me when you played along with my pitiful riddles.

I heard you say you love me when you prayed before you said you wanted to pursue me.

I heard you say you love me all the times you hold my face in your hand and rub my cheeks.

I heard you say you love me when you said I have cute feet.

I heard you say you love me when you told me the truth about who you are, faults and all.

I heard you say you love me when you let me wear your cloak at the Ren Faire, even when the hem was dragged through the muddy water.

I heard you say you love me when you tied my shoelace for me.

I heard you say you love me all the times you proof my work, and point out corrections in gentle, sweet ways.

I heard you say you love me when you brought Capri Suns and unsalted saltines for me so that I would have something to eat when I had the stomach bug.

I heard you say you love me when you stayed rational when I was irrational.

I heard you say you love me when you made origami roses for me, and that you showed them to me even though they didn’t turn out quite right.

I heard you say you love me when you prayed that I would find my retainer, and you didn’t make fun of me for losing it (or wearing a retainer).

I heard you say you love me when you prayed for Christ to reveal to me that He has already freed me from the chains of my past.

I heard you say you love me when you wanted to join me at the Apologetics Conference I so look forward to.

I heard you say you love me when you stood up for me whenever it looked like anyone was picking on me in the slightest.

I heard you say you love me when you clothed me in mercy instead of exposing the nakedness of my faults to the world.

I heard you say you love me when my church had a mission trip to India last Christmas and you wanted to go (but I couldn’t get off work).

I heard you say you love me when I broke your picture frame and when I spilled water down your side of the table and when I dumped a monsoon of water in your car from the turned-over vase, and you never became angry with me.

I heard you say you love me the times you blow-dry your hair just for me.  🙂

I heard you say you love me when you held my hair while I retched into the airport trashcan.

I heard you say you love me when you brought me plushies and roses and organic chocolate orange candy bars for Valentine’s Day, and my locket.

I heard you say you love me all the times I gave evidence that I wasn’t worth pursuing, and you pursued me anyway.

I heard you say you love me when you ran through the autumn leaves with me.

I heard you say you love me when I was freezing and you blasted the heat in your car even though you almost wilted, so that I would be warm and sleep on the drive back to your parents’ house . . even when you were more tired than me.

I heard you say you love me when you let me pick what to order that we would share to eat.

I heard you say you love me all the times you didn’t raise your voice to me, and you could have.

I heard you say you love me when you answered the phone, even when it was inconvenient or you were tired.

I heard you say you love me when I forgot you were carrying hot coffee and gave you a playful shove, and you burned your hand and didn’t say a mean word to me.

I heard you say you love me when you protected me from the animatronic cows.  😉

I heard you say you love me when you carefully think about my ideas.

I heard you say you love me when you cared that it was my father’s death anniversary and waited to help with any need I had.

I heard you say you love me when you wanted to dance with me at your cousin’s wedding, even if a Slinky would have made a better dance partner.

I heard you say you love me when I tried to help you lead by making you follow, and you were very patient.

I heard you say you love me all the times you say you love my eyes as they are, even though they aren’t nearly, nearly so beautiful as yours.

I heard you say you love me all the times you weren’t satisfied to eat somewhere I couldn’t.

I heard you say you love me when you took me even as a Baptist.  🙂 🙂

I heard you say you love me when you pressed your forehead in mine and you treat me like a helpmate and not a minion.

I heard you say you love me when you swept me up off my feet at the airport even when your back hurt.

I heard you say you love me when you stopped the car every time I needed a bathroom break without once complaining.

I heard you say you love me when you wanted to hold my hand even when it was red and chapped.

I heard you say you love me all the times you’ve talked to me at your lunch break.

I heard you say you love me when you were willing to take me, curved spine and all.

I heard you say you love me the times when I could have thought something better about you, but you were honest about your motives.

I heard you say you love me when you helped me move stuff around in my car so we could both sit up front.

I heard you say you love me when you made Life Chain phone calls for me, even though you don’t like making phone calls at all.

I heard you say you love me when you wrap your arm around me and you’re careful not to lay your hand on my chest.

I heard you say you love me when you said it was all right if I couldn’t come and forfeited the plane tickets because I was sick.

I heard you say you love me when you bought me a study Bible to read with you this year.

I heard you say you love me when you really believed me about the 6-hour wedding.  😉

I heard you say you love me the times you’ve made plans when I come to spend every possible moment with me.

I heard you say you love me when you wrote me that I was the beauty on your journey (from John Eldridge’s books).

I heard you say you love me when you took me mini-golfing because I used to go with my father.

I heard you say you love me when you’re proud to show me to your friends and family.

I heard you say you love me when you walked 3 miles to the airport to see me.

I heard you say you love me when you said you wanted to play Monopoly with me, even if you didn’t use to like it before you knew me.  😉

I heard you say you love me all the times you go around to my side of the car, open the door, and hold your hand out for me to take.

I heard you say you love me when you let me listen to your heartbeat.

I heard you say you love me when you gave up films with bad language because they bother my conscience.

I heard you say you love me in the early morning when I’m not attractive by worldly standards but you still think I’m your treasure.

I heard you say you love me all the times you’ve read Scripture to me.

I heard you say you love me when you draw little pictures for me on the cards you send, even when you really can’t draw well.

I heard you say you love me when you bought my family Christmas presents.

I heard you say you love me all the times you spoke with highest respect for my father.

I heard you say you love me when you brought me pink roses, red roses, tiny roses, bronze roses.

I heard you say you love me when you didn’t tell all you could tell about me.

I heard you say you love me when you bought me gum at the gas station.

I heard you say you love me when I showed up at your small group and you had already purchased a book for me to follow along, even though I would only be there for 1 session.

I heard you say you love me when you wanted to whisper to me even in The Hobbit.

I heard you say you love me all the times you’ve protect me from my own fears through your unconditional love and deep prayers for me.

I heard you say you love me when you asked me to be a part of the ministry God has placed on your heart, the E-Town Passion Play.

I heard you say you love me all the times you treated me better than I treat myself.

I heard you say you love me all the times you’ve been patient when I’ve tried to lead.

I heard you say you love me when you told me I had alfredo sauce on my mouth so I wouldn’t be embarrassed later.

I heard you say you love me when you shared with me the results of your sleep study, and asked me for input on what you should do about the narcolepsy.

I heard you say you love me when you let me drive your car.

I heard you say you love me when you gave me the necklace of hearts in the park.

I heard you say you love me when I was sobbing and you were praying.

I heard you say you love me all the times you waited to be last to hang up the phone.

I heard you say you love me when you held me close when I was frightened.

I heard you say you love me when you stuck with me, all the times mostly anyone else would have given up and walked away, because you held true to your love for me, and it wasn’t based on my performance or even beauty, but on how much you love me through Christ.

I heard you say you love me when you listened to me, all those times, even the times when I went on and on.

I heard you say you love me all the times you’ve placed my problems as more urgent than yours.

I heard you say you love me when you arranged for the waiter to bring flowers, plushies, and locket to our table for our Valentine’s date.

I heard you say you love me when you invited me to watch you play your guitar in worship band practice.

I heard you say you love me when I peeked through the window in the auditorium door at practice and distracted you because you think I’m worth looking at.

I heard you say you love me when you fasted with me.

I heard you say you love me all the times you’ve wanted to hear news about how God is working on my heart.

I heard you say you love me when you brought me coffee in the morning and I threw my arms around you in a big good morning hug.

I heard you say you love me when you paid for all my meals.

I heard you say you love me all the times you’ve praised my hair and touched it, even though it is not especially beautiful in color or certainly texture.

I heard you say you love me when you don’t compare me to other women.

I heard you say you love me when you believed the reality of me was better than the fantasy of who your Cinderella could have been.

I heard you say you love me all the times you’ve protected me and kept us pure for our wedding.

I heard you say you love me when you took me to New York City on Friday-after-Thanksgiving, when I know you hate crowds.

I heard you say you love me when you sent me money for my Compassion children for Christmas.

I heard you say you love me when you started calling me in the mornings, even though you’re not a morning bird.

I heard you say you love me when you read every blog I wrote.

I heard you say you love me when you got us two hotel rooms when we stayed in Baltimore for your cousin’s wedding.

I heard you say you love me when you tried to eat the cereal I accidentally poured milk on, when you hate cereal with milk.

I heard you say you love me when you introduced me to all your family and friends.

I heard you say you love me all the times you’ve gently touched me and kissed my hand and cheek.

I heard you say you love me when you gave me high-fives for being part of the Socially Awkward Team.

I heard you say you love me when you prayed with me at the Christmas Eve service at your church.

I heard you say you love me when taught me how to dance in the park.

I heard you say you love me when you praised the bologna sandwich I made you, when you could have commented on my failures as a cook.

I heard you say you love me when you sent card after card to me, even though cards didn’t used to be something you liked to give.

I heard you say you love me when you hugged my teddy bear.

I heard you say you love me when you cried for my journey with God.

I heard you say you love me when you carried me over the snowy bank on our way.

I heard you say you love me when you rubbed my neck when it was really sore.

I heard you say you love me all the times you’ve stayed up late to talk to me on the phone, even when you were really, really tired.

I heard you say you love me when I said I was unworthy and you said I was worth it.

I heard you say you love me when you built me up with all those texts and facebook messages and emails.

I heard you say you love me when you helped me pay for plane tickets to come out, so I wouldn’t strain my budget.

I heard you say you love me when you started wearing more colors and less black for me.

I heard you say you love me when you listened to my fears and didn’t laugh them off.

I heard you say you love me when you paid to sponsor a child for me in memory of my friend.

I heard you say you love me all the times you’ve let me text you at night when I had bad dreams.

I heard you say you love me when you’ve let me watch you at band on Sunday mornings in your church.

I heard you say you love me when you let me use your phone, and you don’t care if I look at your old text messages to anyone.

I heard you say you love me when you got organic crackers and Dutch cheese cubes for me to snack on.

I heard you say you love me when you wanted me even knowing the undesirables of some of who I am.

I heard you say you love me when you let me write love notes all over your hands.

I heard you say you love me when you let me share your Starbuck’s cup.

I heard you say you love me when you chased the cat out of my room at your brother’s house.

I heard you say you love me when I confided in you and you never told.

I heard you say you love me when you played air hockey with me.

I heard you say you love me when we were on the rock at “deer park” and you gave me your jacket to wear while I sat on my jacket so I wouldn’t hurt my tailbone.

I heard you say you love me when you wanted to save our first kiss for marriage, like I asked, and all the times you’ve helped me keep to it even though you are very tempting. 😉

I heard you say you love me all the times I was bossy and a control freak, and you won me over in your gentleness and the honor of your character.

I heard you say you love me the times you’ve gotten to my house early instead of late to pick me up, because you were so eager to see me.

I heard you say you love me all the times you didn’t answer back hatefully when I said something nagging.

I heard you say you love me all the times you prayed for me on the rough days.

I heard you say you love me when you gave to Samaritan’s Purse, Compassion International, and Rahab’s Rope on my behalf.

I heard you say you love me when we shared shrimp pasta at Olive Garden and you only ate half the shrimp even though I eat really slowly.

I heard you say you love me when you drove 17 hours to see me for my birthday.

I heard you say you love me all the times you’ve forgiven, and really let go, of my faults.

I heard you say you love me when you offered to give me your coat in the cold New York night even though I had a coat, too.

I heard you say you love me when you comforted me even when I didn’t have much or anything to give back.

I heard you say you love me when I was on the floor crying in despair and depression and you, far away in Pennsylvania, prayed in strength and love for me to come near.

I heard you say you love me when you climbed a tree so your friend could take a picture of you to send me.

I heard you say you love me when you sang Somewhere Out There to me while strumming the guitar–and in front of your family.

I heard you say you love me when you cut your hair for me.

I heard you say you love me when you bought supplies for my friend’s mission trip to Ethiopia.

I heard you say you love me when you didn’t blame me for things we both knew were my fault.

I heard you say you love me when you didn’t say a word to my foolish ones.

I heard you say you love me when you see my beauty as unchanging, defined as my image made in God, rather than changing, defined as how I look this day.

I heard you say you love me when you gave me socks out of your backpack at the airport because my feet were really cold.

I heard you say you love me all the times you stepped into my world.

I heard you say you love me every time you hold my hand and our heads meet as we pray.

I heard you say you love me when you shared that you want to be to me like Christ is to the church–and I can see that you meant it.

I heard you say that you love me when you said it, too, but that was the truth claim put to the test by what you did, not the evidence that was supposed to prove itself.

You remind me a little of God in that . . He says He loves us . . and He puts His love for us to the test by all that He does for us.

He does not flatter us with a false love, but rather He walked down dusty roads and healed real people with ugly problems, many of whom probably smelled bad and had utterly no importance in their society whatsoever.  In the summit of His love, He closed His eyes in death so our eyes could open to Life.  He exposed His back to torture so that we could stand upright before Him.  He received nails into His hands and feet so that we could reach for Him and dance for Him.  He tasted bitter sweat and vinegar so that we could taste the sweetness of friendship with God.  He shut Himself from even His Father’s Presence so He could break through the door holding us back from entering that Presence.  He gave His last breath up so that we could breathe forever in Him.  He lay in death in a tomb of cold and stone so that we could lay in life in the sanctuary of His arms of power and grace.  He rose and proved He had the power to rescue us; but He’d already died and proved He had the desire to.

You, like me, are imperfect and leaking out failures, disappointments, missed opportunities, and downright evil from the hopelessly corrupt nature of sin within us.  But you, through Christ, are more than just that.  You, like me, are the becoming-holy new creation pouring forth love, hope, kindness, graciousness, forgiveness, and mercy.  I see in you a foretaste of the Presence of Christ.  Not that you are divine or that anything about you is worthy, but that you have given God your life so He can bust apart your old sin nature and pour into you the nature of the likeness of Him.

It is in that likeness of Him that I see another glimpse of how much He really loves us, for Him to send a compassionate-because-of-Christ sinner to my side to love me when I thought it was impossible for any earthly man to do so.

You are an earthly reminder of my Heavenly Boaz.  I am reminded that the love of God is beyond me, beyond my ability to disqualify myself from it.  I see how He loves me, even now, when there is no deserving way.  I am reminded of His undeserved and everlasting grace, poured out for anyone who will fall at the foot of the cross and cry out for Him.

I still and yet cannot wholeheartedly believe God has meant for you to be the romance of my life.  How that I, a wretched beggar picked up off the streets by His nail-scarred love, should be treated as a princess in His Kingdom, the beauty of a Kingdom only outmatched by the beauty of the King Himself?

And then I remember that my squeamishness over this temporary grace of you is in direct contradiction to my acceptance of His eternal grace of Himself!  How is it I should expect that a King who would die for me would not dare give me a smaller gift from His Kingdom?

I still hold that, should you ever find someone more worthy, or should you ever wake to the realization of my unworthiness, I release you with great wish (though a broken heart) that you find the princess God has for you in this Kingdom.  I should not be able to say one word if you would give up this beggar for a far more lovely maiden.

But should this, should this be the case that–though you are free to choose anyone in God’s Kingdom, and though hundreds of thousands of girls there outmatch me–you should still, of your own free will, find it in your heart to choose the least worthy, and reach for me . .

I want you to know that I realize what you have done,

and I have heard you say you love me.

Thank you for showing me, in how you’ve surrendered yourself to God’s love, a faint ‘glimmer of a glimmer’ of the unfathomable attitude Jesus Christ has towards me–and all of us.

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Though he was God,

he did not think of equality with God

as something to cling to.

Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;

he took the humble position of a slave

and was born as a human being.

When he appeared in human form,

he humbled himself in obedience to God

and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

(Phillipians 2:3-8, NLT)

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