What a Woman’s Heart Really Is
My favorite farmer and I took the girls to Chicago, for our first-ever “big-city vacation” … and a meeting with my book-publishing team at Tyndale, in advance of my book’s release in March. In my absence, Laura Lynn Brown — a generous-hearted and incredibly talented friend — is bringing words today for #TellHisStory. Welcome Laura to the blog. Her story unfolds like a flower, … to tell us what a woman’s heart is really like.
Something Ventured, Something Gained
by Laura Lynn Brown
He was such a gentleman that he wouldn’t come over to my apartment alone and let me cook for him. And it wasn’t even a date. It was two friends having dinner.
We’d known each other for years. At a chance meeting, he had told me a long story that revealed a heaviness he had been carrying, and I said I had a story I wanted to tell too.
So we met one evening over barbecue. After his prayer for the meal, and “How was your day?” pleasantries, he prompted me: So, you said you had a story. And I took a risk, opened up and talked. He listened well, compassionately, interestedly. He asked good questions that put me at ease. We covered a lot of ground, the way you do in the best conversations, when you’re with a friend you can trust.
Then we noticed the absence of ambient noise. We looked around … All the other patrons had gone. An employee was sweeping the floor. It was closing time, and we were just getting started.
Is there somewhere else we can go to talk? he asked. I suggested the Big Dam Bridge, a pedestrian and bicycle bridge nearby, built over a lock and dam and providing a popular place for all manner of folk who want to exercise or simply to walk and talk.
We went to the bridge, found an empty bench and talked for another hour or two. Time flowed like the water beneath us: upstream, words dammed, unspoken, waiting, building; downstream, a free-flowing mingling of stories and questions and jokes and give and take. But the next day was a work day. So he walked me to my car.
“This was fun. We should do this again sometime,” I said.
He said thank you and shook my hand.
And that evening marks the beginning of what I have come to call our nine-day courtship.
Our conversation never really stopped for a few days there. We talked on the phone. We wrote letters via email. We gave each other nicknames. We had a growing to-do list of stories to continue another time. I lived near one end of the bridge and he lived near the other end, so I suggested that we go to our respective ends and meet in the middle.
The evening we did that, the first of my patio cherry tomatoes was ripe. I harvested it, washed it with the stem still on for looks, and packed it in a lunch-size cooler with a plate, knife, salt, pepper, olive oil and a red and white checkered tea towel.
I got there first and claimed a bench for us. Eventually he came in view, loping along, toting his own small cooler. When he got to where I was, he unpacked two tumblers filled with ice and a jar of fresh-made sweet tea. I set out my tea towel, sliced and prepared the tomato, and said, “Cheers!” We clinked our tomato halves and toasted our impromptu picnic.
“I liked knowing you were up here when I was walking up the ramp,” he said.
“I liked knowing you were coming,” I said.
We talked for four hours, continuing where we’d left off, picking up threads we had dropped. Things that I had said to him in imaginary conversations, I found myself bold enough to say when the subject came up. About 45 minutes of our talking took place after he walked me to my car.
Have you ever been to a cavern? Passed through the nondescript opening in the rock, or grass, and entered a room of wonders, and then another room, and sensed it opening upon room after room of yet to be discovered amazements, each more stunning than the last?
That is exactly how this felt. Such discovery, such unexpected riches, such beauty. It was a space we were in together. It was a space we were exploring together. Each question we asked was a flashlight, searching and illuminating the other’s gems.
And aside from a joshing tap on the shoulder, and the friendly one-armed side hug at the car, when we parted, there was no touch — just words and eyes and ears. a tender listening.
We met for dinner one more time, when he’d had a bad day at work and wanted to talk. He invited me to pray the blessing over our meal. I brought another tomato as a brown-bag appetizer and started to eat my half before he reminded me, Wait. We have to do cheers. We talked, and talked, even more boldly. I said, and immediately regretted, that if he began dating, I’d like to be first in line.
Time passed. We looked around … there were no other diners … an employee was putting the chairs up on the tables, preparing to sweep …
In the parking lot that night, I got the full-frontal, two-armed hug, which he teasingly noted was still within the bounds of friendship; he hugged his men friends that way too.
A few days later came a letter that made me cry, for the loss of something that never would have been, and I knew it, but he was the one disciplined enough to say it. He couldn’t offer the kind of friendship I was seeking. And one paragraph could have served as a credo for us both:
“God wants us to learn that He is sufficient not only to save us but to hold and comfort us in the night. I think we both are at a point in our lives where God is burning out all the underbrush and trash, knocking down anything we may use as a prop, which He does because He loves us, and He wants us to love Him as much, and to depend fully on Him to take care of our lonely hearts. He wants us to love Him first and most.”
Before that letter, though, I had had, to use his phrase, a Damascus 2-by-4. Sometime after the Tuesday barbecue-and-bridge talkathon and the Thursday bridge picnic of cherry tomato and iced tea, but before the following Wednesday cafe talkathon, it hit me.
In just a few days, I was feeling peppy, happy, hopeful, confident , optimistic, even pretty. And one moment outside my home, walking to my car with a new spring in my step, I thought, how ridiculous that a few days of thoughtful attention from a good man should have such a profound effect on my image and awareness of myself as a woman.
A woman’s heart is like a sunflower, and it turns toward the light. I had flourished in the light of his truly seeing me. But I needed to aim the angle of my flowering heart a little higher — to the Father who made me the woman I am, and who knows and sees, more intimately than anyone on earth ever will, the woman he asks me to be.
In answering his letter, I told him I was officially moving him to the category of male friends I call BFAMs — brothers from another mother. I thanked him for those days, for the attention that reflected and refracted God’s love for me.
In his relieved reply, he gave himself a nickname that still characterizes our friendship, two years later: BFAMBTSF.
Brother from another mother, but the same Father.
Laura Lynn Brown works as a copy editor and writer at a daily newspaper in Little Rock, Ark., where her headline writing has won regional and national awards. She grew up in eastern Ohio and was educated at Harding University and the University of Pittsburgh. She is a keeper of memories, a listmaker, and an observer and collector of small marvels. Her first book is “Everything That Makes You Mom.” She invites you to follow along on her blog.
So, what’s your Story? A #TellHisStory is any story that connects your story into the story of God.
For details on the #TellHisStory linkup, click here: https://jenniferdukeslee.com/tell-his-story/. Be sure to find someone (or two) in the link-up to encourage with a comment. Come back on Friday to visit our Featured #TellHisStory, in the sidebar.
Your words matter to God. They matter to people. And they matter to me!
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I’m glad for that friendship…for a brother who invited you to be a sunflower for a while. And Laura? I think, so many times it’s all about meeting in the middle…of the bridge, or whatever it is that keeps us from stepping over. This is the sweetest of stories. I’m glad I stopped by tonight.
All about meeting in the middle … I like that. I think you’re right. Thank you, Laura.
Laura, I live up the highway from your place in the world. Thank you for sharing this story. I haven’t made it to the Big Dam Bridge yet but when I go I will think of this story.
Thank you, Dea. Enjoy your visit there. It’s a great place to walk and think.
Laura, such a beautiful story. I experienced through your words being with someone who really gets you, who really sees you, and then your powerful reminder that there is One who already does, always has, always will.
Laura, these words hit me particularly hard: “A woman’s heart is like a sunflower, and it turns toward the light. I had flourished in the light of his truly seeing me. But I needed to aim the angle of my flowering heart a little higher — to the Father who made me the woman I am,..” Sometimes I can be such a sucker for people’s approval and affirmation, lately God’s had me in a hidden place and I am learning to like myself best in God’s eyes. Thank you for this beautiful post.
Thank you for this, Amanda. Those hidden places can be fruitful.
Such a beautiful story! Even though I was surprised by the ending I was comforted to know we are so loved and we don’t have to seek approval…
Laura, I just wonder, if the story had gone the other way, if you two had agreed to date, would the takeaway have been different? I’ve been thinking about this lately in various areas of my life, so that’s why I ask.
That’s an interesting question, Megan. The insight about hearts and light sources came before the “breakup” letter, so I think that would have remained, and actually would have been a good framework for a dating relationship.
It’s a beautiful story, but like the hopeless romantic that I am 🙁 , I feel an “ache” in my heart that a lovely friendship of two godly people didn’t blossom to be more than that. But then again, this is really His story.
Rina, he and I have some of the same strengths and some of the same weaknesses. He has married a woman who is a much better match for him than I could ever have been. And I think our culture, or perhaps at least church culture, over-values — perhaps idolizes — marriage and undervalues friendship. You’re right about whose story it is. We don’t get to write it, but we do get to live it.
I’m glad you at least get to keep the sweet friendship in this relationship. Who knows what might come later? We do just naturally turn toward the light, don’t we? Thanks for the reminder to keep facing the strongest Light and turning that direction.
You’re welcome, Lisa. Another part of this lesson for me is to try to be refracting light for others, to see them better and convey the love of the One who sees them best.
Laura, you sound like a woman who is comfortable in her own skin I like your style. (and would love to taste a tomato…)
Thank you, Lyli! In my opinion, a fresh, ripe cherry tomato is one of the most glorious flavors there is.
It’s a beautiful, safitsying story that demonstrates there is only One who can truly fulfill us, and He is pleased (amazingly!) to call us friend. But it also demonstrates to me that there can be purity in a real friendship with the opposite gender. People don’t think it’s possible, but it is. And I think you gain new perspectives from this kind of friendship that are wonderfully enriching. True friendships are worth their weight in gold, and I know you both treasure yours inestimably. And I love your use of the sunflower. God has used that “symbol” powerfully in my life to show me that growth in Him is always possible if I keep turning toward His Light.
Bless you, Laura Brown. Your writing must bring your Father such joy. It has me.
Thank you, Lynn. Healthy male-female friendships are a gift, for sure, and I have the gift of several.
Laura, what a beautiful story. I especially loved this line “the Father who made me the woman I am, and who knows and sees, more intimately than anyone on earth ever will, the woman he asks me to be.” Thank you for sharing.
So lovely, Laura. A sweet story told so very, very well. Thank you.
Laura, your words fill me with that resonance of deeply satisfying conversation flowing both upstream and downstream with hardly a thought for the current below. Though the ending was like trying to stop that flowing conversation–a bitter sweet experience–the genuineness of your heart-lesson warmed me!
Thank you so much, Sheila. I love your appropriating of that river metaphor.
Oh Laura. Your words above and the ones I just read about our society idolizing marriage and undervaluing friendship… this is precious to my heart. Bless you Sister.
He was courageous to be frank with you. So many people would have either simply disappeared or strung you along unfairly. His honesty saved a beautiful friendship.
So glad to see you here, Laura.
Thank you, Michelle. His honesty was a risk, for sure, and one worth taking.
Laura, I want to, first of all, thank you for bringing such beautiful words here this week while I was away. You are a gifted storyteller and a dear friend.
This post was such an encouragement to me as I consider my own relationships and friendships. I desire to be seen and loved by people in life (and that’s not bad, to be loved, of course), but I know that I need to continually “aim the angle of my flowering heart a little higher” to grow more fully into God’s love.
Thank you again. I will never look at a sunflower the same way again.
Thank you, Lorretta. Look at you, among the sunflowers! I’m glad you saw that comment and that it was meaningful to you. I think friendship can be a high calling.
How very special!
For me, I am currently reordering the thoughts of my heart to be that sunflower who looks up because she knows Who her Creator is and Who loves her most of all, Who calls her beautiful. I have forgotten these things in these years of caregiving and needed this story to keep me on track. Thanks, Laura. So blessed to have come by.
Caring through Christ, ~ linda
Such a beautiful post. What I really liked is how God surrounded you with His love and your heart did not seem to be broken. You didn’t say so with words, but you accepted God’s gift and drew His message from your loss.
I loved too, the sunflower analogy. I’ve been amazed by sunflowers turning toward the sun and circumstances being barometer so often to my heart’s joy.