I love a good love story. Always have. When I heard that Jonathan Crombie died, the actor who played Gilbert Blythe opposite Megan Follows in Anne of Green Gables, I was genuinely saddened. While I did not know the actor, Jonathan portrayed Gil so well. He represented a character that I, and many other girls, had loved so much. Gilbert was a boy and then a man who was undaunted by a strong and feisty Anne. He was not intimidated by her but liked being challenged by her. He encouraged Anne and even admonished her to do what she knew best. He was steadfast. He was fun-loving and generous. And he was not perfect. At times, he teased and didn’t think twice. He even got engaged to the wrong person before breaking it off. His flaws endeared readers to him. Although Gilbert was only a character, I am glad he existed. He reminded readers that love should include loving someone’s intellect, flaws, and unique temperament. He was the first literary character that future boyfriends or husbands would have to live up to.
I am very grateful for my dad and my mom and the faith they modeled for us kids. My dad was also the first man that any future boyfriend or husband of mine would be compared to. He met my mom in 1969-1970. She stood out in the little Saskatoon church of Christ congregation; she originated from Jamaica, having lived in England for 6 years and then moved to Weyburn for six months before arriving in Saskatoon. She was like no one my dad had met before and he pursued her. For obvious reasons, I am glad he did. He was not at all put out that she was the wage earner when they first married. He was not intimidated by her strength of character. He was challenged by her and had to get to know her. Her beauty and cooking skills certainly helped deepen the attraction.
I appreciated the way my parents worked at marriage and still do. I loved that my dad would buy mom flowers for no particular occasion and as kids we got in on those trips to the floral shop. I loved that he continued to pursue her after they were married. And if she hinted that something needed to be done, he would do his best to figure it out and complete the task.
My husband John is my match. He was not my idea of who I would marry; to quote Anne, not “my idea of a romantic suitor.” Except he was. He came up with some wonderful romantic ideas when we were dating and I looked forward to being done work each day so I could chat with him or go out. It was easy being with him because we were good friends too. He continues to remind me that he loves me and his daily behind-the-scenes-actions keep me going. I am so grateful that I paid attention to him when I did (it only took eight years of sharing the same group of friends before we dated).
I look and see that there are many beautiful love stories that surround me. I am encouraged by what my friends have been through and how they have stuck it out in difficult times. I know several husbands who know the importance of the village and encourage their wives to have some girl time. I appreciate the way the men value the bond we women share. I know they appreciate having a wife come home rejuvenated and in a better frame of mind. These are also husbands and dads who volunteer, who help out with others’ kids and who don’t say no to someone in need. I am glad to know these modern day love stories.
God’s Word is full of love stories. If you haven’t read Hosea: it will wreck you, or it should. Love in this book is more than unrequited. I am so grateful for our God who loves us elaborately and practically: who loves us completely, flaws included. Who loves us in ways that we can only hope to mirror in a sliver of a way. He loves us with abandon. He loves us when we are undeserving and “in the depths of despair.” How great is His love.
A favourite scene from Anne of Green Gables the Sequel
Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel (1987) (TV)
Anne Shirley: Our friendship, it won’t ever be the same now. Why can’t he just be sensible instead of acting like a sentimental schoolboy?
Marilla Cuthbert: Because he loves you.
Anne Shirley: He loves me? I can’t know why.
Marilla Cuthbert: Because you made Josie Pye and Ruby Gillis and all of those wishy-washy young ladies who waltzed by him look like spineless nothings.
Anne Shirley: Marilla, he’s hardly my idea of a romantic suitor.
Marilla Cuthbert: Anne, you have tricked something out of that imagination of yours that you call romance. Have you forgotten how he gave up the Avonlea School for you so that you could stay here with me? He picked you up every day in his carriage so that you could study your courses together. Don’t toss it away for some ridiculous ideal that doesn’t exist. Hmm? Now, you come downstairs and see if a good cup of tea and some of those plum puffs I made today don’t hearten you.