THE RED HALL
"...in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore." Ps. 16:11. Our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and the joy of knowing Him will last through time and eternity. Earthly relationships and the joy and happiness they promise do not last as can be seen in the following story taken from the halls of my memory.
My first recollection that Frank was special was when he was playing softball with the guys, and he and another guy went after the ball which rolled under the school house. His friend went under the school house to retrieve the ball while Frank waited for him. Frank was standing under the school window where I was looking out. The window wasn't screened. He looked up at me, and our eyes met and locked. My heart skipped a beat for he had the most gorgeous bark brown eyes you ever saw. I knew then that Frank would become someone very special and dear to me.
Having a boyfriend in Guam in those days is different from having a boyfriend here in the United States. Frank and I exchanged love letters, and he walked me home carrying my books. But he was not allowed to go all the way home because I didn't want my parents (my mother was at home) to know that I had a boyfriend. Dating and going to movies were not allowed. How boring, you say? No, it really wasn't boring. It was wonderful to know someone loved you even if it was only a puppy-wuppy kind of love expressed in love letters only.
Now, if a couple were older and were serious and they contemplate marriage, then that's another story. The man would come to the home of his girlfriend and talk to her there. He would meet her parents also. Now, at eighth grade, I didn't want Frank to come near my house, much less meet my parents.
I lost track of Frank when I went to high school. In the summer, I met Ben. Oh, he was tall and handsome too. We went together throughout most of high school, and after high school, we became engaged, and a wedding was planned. I didn't remember officially breaking up with Ben, at one point in high school, but I met Eddie, and we became a steady couple. He had just broken his relationship with Julia, my classmate from elementary school, and he decided to look me up.
Eddie was exceptionally neat, and his clothes were always starched and neatly pressed. He was meticulous about his appearance and especially his posture. He walked straight and tall like a soldier marching to battle. Like my other boyfriends, Eddie was tall and handsome, and he promised me the moon. Eddie and I corresponded during the summer months. Since there was no dating, this was the only way we communicated. Every now and then I would see his two-tone black and white sedan drive slowly on the dirt road by my house. It would not stop for this would create suspicion on the part of my parents, but it was an indication to me that all was well in Lovers Lane and that I was still his girl.
Somehow Ben got into the picture again. My memory was somehow vague and fuzzy on my breakup with Ben - maybe there was no breakup. A Christmas Pageant was held at the elementary school where my younger siblings were participants. My family and I were all there. To my surprise, Ben was there. But guess who also was there? Eddie. And guess what happens when two rivals meet? Yes, your guess is right. There was a big fight that night. I quickly severed myself from the scene of action and hoped and prayed that one didn't kill the other.
After graduation from high school, Ben and I became engaged. He volunteered into the Army, and the plan was that we would get married before he left. We ordered our wedding accessories--napkins with our names and date of the wedding embossed on them, etc. etc. For some reasons or other, which I can't remember now, we decided to postpone the wedding until he got out of the Army in two years.
A lot of things could and did happen in two years. I started thinking about career advancement, finishing college, etc. Marriage was no longer high in my priority. But instead of writing Ben and telling him that I had changed my mind about marrying him, I simply ignored his letters and not wrote him anything. Oh, he was devastated. He was heart sick. He had his sister and his mom call me numerous times to find out if I was well and okay, and if I could please write a letter to Ben. I brushed off their pleas.
There are many things in life we do that we are not proud of. For me, this was one of them. I did not handle the situation with Ben compassionately. I was cruel, heartless, and insensitive. I had broken his heart, when he needed love. I had discouraged him, when he needed encouragement and hope for a bright future together. He was away from home, he was lonely, and he needed a friend. I wasn't there to be his sweetheart, but I could be there to be his friend, but I wasn't. I had broken an engagement. I had broken a relationship that was meant to be sweet and dear.
Shortly after taking leave of absence from the Army, Ben came and visited me one day at home just for old times sake. He said he forgave me for what I did to him, and, no, he didn't want the engagement ring back. He bought it for me; it would stay with me. I thought this was Ben's way of making up for losing my class ring somewhere in or near Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. My ring had my initials LQF on it, and it might also have GWHS (George Washington High School) and the graduation year 1961 engraved somewhere on the ring. [Hey, if anyone out there in Hawaii found a high school ring with the above description, you know who it belongs to].
Later, I found out that Ben re-enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Germany. He met a nice lady there and married her. I was so glad for him. I wished he and his wife happiness always. Ben was a good person, but he was not meant for me.
What happened to Frank, my childhood sweetheart? I found out that he had medical complications while stationed in Vietnam. I'm not sure exactly what that entailed, but Frank passed on. I will never forget Frank as long as I live. How could I? He was my first boyfriend. What about Eddie? I have no information on him; I've wondered if he is still as neat as a pin and walks straight and tall like a soldier marching to battle.
Through the years, other earthly relationships came and went. These relationships failed for various reasons. Some relationships left me heart broken, devastated, and disillusioned. There's only one relationship we can count on--a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He only can heal a broken heart; He only can bring inward joy and happiness in spite of flawed relationships for He is the Joy of Living, here and now, as well as for time and eternity.
Jesus Christ, The Soul's Delight;
Ev'ry blessing of His favor
Fills my heart with hope so bright.
Jesus is the Joy of Living,
He's the King of Life to me;
Unto Him my all I'm giving,
His forevermore to be.
I will do what He commands me,
Anywhere He leads I'll go.
Jesus is the Joy of Living,
He's the dearest Friend I know.
Life is growing rich with beauty,
Toil has lost its weary strain,
Now a halo crowns each duty,
And I sing a glad refrain.
Heav'nly wisdom He provides me,
Grace to keep my spirit free;
In His own sweet way He guides me
When the path I cannot see.
O what splendor, O what glory,
O what matchless pow'r divine,
Is the Christ of Gospel story,
Christ, the Saviour, who is mine.
--Alfred H. Ackley