It’s called many things: Sparking, wooing, courting, keeping company, hanging out.
Invariably, it’s an awkward business — if you’re fortunate. And if you're not, it can go from awkward, to bumbling, to downright embarrassing really fast.
Johnny Gentry surprised me with a kiss when I was all of 6. He was 7. I dashed into my house and up the steps where I sat forever.
I told no one.
Years passed and I matured. When the second surprise kiss came, of course, I was cool, calm, and collected. Uh, no. It’s too embarrassing to tell. Okay, here it is.
I didn’t know him except through school. This was our first (and last) date. We’d gone to a Halloween party and when we left, just as we reached the car, he abruptly kissed me. Completely unexpected. It overwhelmed me so much that I turned in a half-circle with my back to him.
I know, not the response he’d expected. I get that.
And, honestly, I loved that kiss. I wouldn’t change a thing about it, except, well, you know.
It reminds me of an embarrassing moment in Scripture. One with an equally inexperienced young maiden.
The story begins when Abraham’s 90-year-old wife is promised a child. It’s safe to say that Isaac was treasured. I understand this kind of love, my parents felt that way about me. I also know what it’s like when death steals that love away. Just so, when Isaac’s mom dies, he’s heartbroken.
So Abraham sends his servant, probably Eliezer, back to their homeland for a suitable bride for his son. Eliezer takes his men and a fleet of camels for what was probably a month-long journey. Immediately, God guides him to Rebekah, she agrees to the marriage, and Eliezer is soon on the long journey back.
Scripture tells us it's late in the day as the caravan reaches Abraham’s tents. This is the moment Isaac sees Rebekah and she sees him.
“Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw… there were camels coming. And Rebecca lifted up her eyes and … saw Isaac.” Genesis 24:63-64
Hollywood couldn’t have written it better!
Rebekah then acts quickly. She wants down off her camel; she must know about the man. Once on her feet, Rebekah heads to Eliezer.
“Who’s that man coming to meet us?” she asks.
“My master,” Eliezer says.
Rebekah had just traveled a month or more from present-day southeastern Turkey to southern Israel, apparently riding along in comfortable ease with all his men. But no more!
Suddenly, Rebekah grabs her veil and throws it over her head. Bam — that veil goes up and over her head!
It’s sort of funny, but my eyes always pool with tears when I read it. I can feel her emotion, her uncertainty, the shyness. She’s hiding beneath that veil, wondering: Will he like me?
Don’t act like you don’t know. Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt you might not be good enough.
Okay, I’ll go first. Believe me, I’ve wondered that more times than not.
Clearly, Isaac can see Rebekah. He walks straight toward them. And nevermind the whole veil thing. Isaac needs to know if she’s agreed. Here’s what happens:
“The servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah, his mother, and took Rebekah and she became his wife. And he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.” Genesis 24:66-67
Isaac takes Rebekah by the hand, she follows him, and the marriage happens that fast.
This is one of the most touching passages in Scripture. Did you see it? The poignant verse? Look again.
If you’ve suffered the kind of sadness grief brings, you’ll understand. “Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.” Such is the power of love.
The reason we endure those bumbling, fumbling, downright embarrassing moments. The quest for what Sir Hugh Walpole called “the most wonderful of all things in life.” Love.
Such an awkward business. Worth every awkward moment.
The Rev. Mathews is a faith columnist, seminary graduate, and the author of “Reaching to God.” Write to her at Letters@RAMathews.com. Copyright © 2018, 2021 R.A. Mathews All rights reserved.
This article originally appeared on The Star: Such an awkward business, why do it?