Some of our closest friends and family may know that during the semester between when we met and when we got engaged (Spring 2005), Josh and I wrote letters to each other. No, not emails, but real, hand-written, snail-mail letters. Josh even designed and printed his own letterhead and envelopes! Most of my letters were scrawled on notebook paper or scraps of paper from the Health Services office, where I worked as a receptionist.
In the interest of preserving our letters in case a fire or anything ever destroyed them, I decided to type them all up in a word document. While typing, I thought that they might make a fun blog series. So here you go, the first of a multi-part peek into our romance as it was first blossoming.
|Our notebook full of letters.|
One last thing before I share our first couple of letters... you should probably know a bit of our backstory. We met through mutual friends during the fall of 2004. Josh was in Louisville at Boyce College and I was at Murray State University, attending the church he grew up in, which is just down the road from his parents' home. Just before we met, I had ended a serious relationship, and I was in no mood to start another relationship any time soon (as you'll see from our letters). I clearly liked him, but tried to deny it and push him away. He wouldn't take no for an answer. Letters seemed like a good way to keep in touch without the emotional intimacy that comes with spending lots of time talking on the phone. Little did I know how impressive and persuasive Josh was with a pen. I'll let you learn the rest as we go.
Blank card with a kitten and puppy touching noses on the front. Josh wrote:
Umm… I think you’re beautiful, and I feel really warm when I’m around you, and… my tongue swells up.
Joshua Caleb Hutchens1-17-05 Mon
*Is it plagiarizing when you steal movie lines?
Well… here’s my first letter! It’s a little weird writing it right now because you haven’t even left yet, but here we go anyway. Hmm… I wonder if I even have any stamps here… I’ll probably have to go buy a big book of them.
I know I’ve said this before, but I just enjoy you and your friends so much! ☺ I’m glad y’all are my friends too now. Since we’re not going to be seeing each other very often, you have to be faithful to update your xanga. ☺ I promise I will too. It’s so funny to me because I can almost hear your soft-spoken voice when I read what you write. It really cracks me up. I know this is so painfully random and I apologize. This is just me trying to beat past that awkward this-is-my-first-letter-even-though-you-haven’t-even-left-town-yet thing.
It’s hard because I really would enjoy the comfort of just spending the afternoon with you and talking to you on the phone and all that jazz, but that is exactly the reason why I don’t need that right now! And I know you know this because we’ve talked about it… and I just want to say again how much I appreciate your patience and respect. It really means a lot to me and even if I don’t want to admit it, the things you’re not doing and saying right now are saying more than you could ever do or say. With that, I’m going to close. There’s so much that could be said, but after a while that dead horse starts to look pretty badly beaten.
I hope to hear from you soon,
Stacy Leigh Browning
January 18, 2004 (It was actually 2005)
Dear Stacy Leigh,
It’s barely been twelve hours since I’ve seen you last, but I’m already having Stacy Leigh Browning withdraws. I am being sorely tempted to just pick up the phone and call you. Yet, as you pointed out in your wonderful letter, that is not what you need right now, and it would be wrong for me also. How easily talking to you on the phone could become an idol to me? (At some point I may call you, but such an event will be rare and brief. You have my word on that.)
It was just last night that we were at the Huddle House. I’d like to use the rest of this letter to elaborate on a conversation we had there. If you will remember, I said something about us now being two stubborn mules pulling in the same direction. To which you responded, “So have you given up? Have I won?” I then tried to explain in a very poor manner that you were mistaken. Now, though, with a clearer mind, I think I can better tell you my point.
“… Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:25-27 ESV
Here we see Christ’s self-sacrifice. He “gave himself up for her.” Why did he do this? “So that he might present her to himself in splendor.” I’m sure to some Christ’s self-sacrifice looked like he was giving in, like he was defeated. The White Witch and her evil forces rejoiced at the death of Aslan, but the next morning Aslan arose and delivered Narnia. In the same way, the death of Christ turned to a victory. How profound that the self-sacrifice of Christ was a purely selfish act? In it we see that in Christ’s love for himself he loved the church supremely, and in loving the church, he loves himself.
I am very selfish. I want you, but I do not want you broken and empty. I want you in splendor, holy and without blemish. So what do I do? I sacrifice myself so that the Lord may be your healer and lover. That is what is best for you. Sound altruistic? Well, in doing what is best for you, I am doing what is best for me. (What an aweful trick?)
So, Stacy Leigh Browning, I have given in but that is not a defeat. My ultimate victory is upon you, and you did not even know it. These two mules are not pulling in opposite directions, but in one mule’s seeming concession, he is guiding the other unwittingly to where he wanted to go in the first place.
A Stubborn mule,01-18-04 (It was actually 2005)
Joshua Caleb Hutchens
I’m going to start writing this letter hoping to surprise you with a letter in the mailbox before you’re actually expecting anything. But again, no promises on when it’ll actually get mailed.
Classes haven’t been as bad as I expected so far… we’ll see how honors English goes tomorrow. I’ve had people I know in all of my classes so far (I have two classes with Annie Leigh), and I’m actually thinking about picking up one more class, Inclusive Rec. (it’s about including special needs people in rec), which would bump me up to 20 hours. The thought of taking 20 hours sounds painful, but I hear it’s really easy and I have a few friends in there and I’m feeling extra inspired for some reason. I guess that whole, “do everything for the glory of God” thing is becoming real to me. What Chris said that Wed. night about his Lambda Chi brothers telling him that they didn’t take him as seriously in ministry because he didn’t take his schoolwork very seriously… that really hit me pretty tough.
So, it’s two days later now. I’m sorry this is taking me so long to finish. I haven’t had time to turn around! You should see my bedroom – it’s really suffering! I’m actually in Psychology right now and she’s talking about the scientific method, so I’m half-listening. Did you know that girls have been scientifically proven to be better at multitasking than guys? My Social Studies teacher in high school used to get mad because we would pass notes the whole class and still be able to tell him everything he said.
Man, my psychology teacher is really intense/obnoxious. She seems like a pretty good teacher though so far so I’m not complaining.
I got to spend so much time with Katie yesterday and it was so great. We ate lunch together, then I picked her up after work and we worked out, went to church, and went to the Pi party together. I told her I felt like her friend again. ☺
I just realized that I’m getting two free meals today! Leslie’s buying me lunch at the Hi Burger for my belated birthday and then I’m going out to dinner with my sister and Noah tonight. There’s nothing that tastes better than a free meal when you’re as broke as I am.
Okay, I’m going to close just because it’s the bottom of this page, but I’ll probably start on another one the next chance I get. ☺
Have a great day!
Stacy Leigh Browning
Continued in Part 2...