Today, I’m contemplating a question: How can you love someone you’ve never seen? Believe in someone you’ve never known?
It happens more often than you might think. Even now, in our modern, gadget-filled, instant news days. In former days, people wrote letters. Lonely hearts out west wrote to ladies back east. Sometimes they fell in love with one another through those letters and they agreed to meet. Sometimes, sight-unseen, they agreed to marry.
Soldiers received letters from girls back home. Girls they’d never seen, or maybe only in pictures. How did they know the pictures were real? How could they trust that the letters were truthful? Yet, some did. Relationships began, marriages happened. Love found a way.
For some of us, it’s mind-boggling. It would involve shutting off a part of our brain in order to accept such a thing. Only a desperate person would try something like that. Well, the world is full of desperate souls. Sometimes, love finds a way.
Consider Patricia MacLachlan’s Sarah, Plain and Tall, that tells the story of a woman who answers an ad for a wife and mother. She left her home in Maine and traveled to the prairie to meet the man she only knew through letters. Words on paper. I know, it’s fiction. But how many times in history did this actually happen? Could a person find love and purpose in such a way?
Farther back, in one of my favorite Bible stories, Abraham sent his servant back to their original home, to find a suitable wife for his son, Isaac. The servant prayed in advance that he would find the right woman, the one God had chosen for Isaac. He prayed that the woman would offer him water, and also, water his camels.
Rebekah appeared. Many of you know this story, so you can easily finish it. She was very young, and of course, beautiful. Her kind heart made her attentive to the servant’s needs. She also offered to water his camels, thus fulfilling the servant’s prayers. He knew this was the one.
She had never seen Isaac, and there were no photographs or portraits in that day. She agreed to leave her family and go to a stranger. Sight unseen.
Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?”
“He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself.
Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. [Genesis 24:62-67 NIV]
How can someone do that? What if he’d been hideous, dangerous, or worse—boring? It involves trust. How many of those who wrote to strangers and fell in love through letters, agreed to meet, then returned home again, disappointed? I imagine that happened, too. A sweet romance I once read happened just that way, but the lady never made it home. On the way to the train station, she met another stranger and decided to stay for a while. She soon realized he was the reason she’d answered that lonely hearts ad, written all those letters, and made that long journey.
Some are spurred by loneliness and desperation to do what others might think is foolish. They’ll cast aside common sense, or whatever it takes to go and find someone. I know many of you have beautiful stories in your life, of how you met your spouse. Maybe you know of someone in your family who took a chance, did something that may seem foolish, could have been drastic, but found the love of their life.
Disclaimer: In today’s world, meeting someone over the internet is extremely unsafe. Please don’t risk your safety!
If you have one of those beautiful stories, I hope you’ll share it with our readers. Leave it in the comments below.
I’ll leave you with another of my favorite Bible passages, about a sight-unseen love, dear to my heart. I hope you know this one, and if not, I hope you’ll take a chance and trust in someone you’ve never seen.
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. [1 Peter 8-9 NIV]