My Love Story

Forever
The love story of Joseph Daniel Kibler and Charity Fay Beck

What is forever? Only God can create it and only God can understand it… He didn’t mean for us to die. He didn’t mean for love to die. If our love story can teach you anything, let it remind you that love is forever.

Forward

Four years ago, I was walking down the hallway of an airport with my family. There beside me was my Cowboy Uncle Greg, grinning that they had the Beck woman back in Colorado. I’ll never forget what he said when I threw my arms around him.
“Girly, there’s some son of a gun out there… and he’s looking for you!”
I laughed, “I pray that he is!”
Still Grinning, my Great Uncle said, “Jesus knows, and… one day he’ll be right here with ya!”
“Oh! He’s with me right now!”
The color drained from Uncle Greg’s face and every Beck in that hallway stopped and stared at me… And I began to wonder what I had said.
“We were talking about Jesus, right?”

My family still laughs at me for this one. I just naturally assumed that the answer was always Jesus!
What I would discover four years later was that it is.
Entry One
I ran into the office throwing off my book bag and falling into my chair. My hair was up… and, God help me, messy, but I was there and ten seconds ahead of being late. Back home, the kitchen was clean and that’s all that mattered. Really, it was all that mattered. I wouldn’t allow myself to think about my Grandma dying or the  hard conversation I had with her earlier that week. I didn’t want to think about my failure to trust my Dad when I knew that was what I should be doing. I didn’t want to think past the few hours in the office I would have; those few hours where I could lose myself in booking seats and laughing over a patron’s story… or one of Dianna Powell’s knock knock jokes.

There! With a few brisk motions, I had straightened up my desk. That’s when I found a medication bottle, labeled “Happy Pills,” with the instruction to “Use only as directed.” I ran into Debbie’s office, laughing, thinking she had put the little bottle there! She was holding her own though. That’s when I realized the young man in the office… and he was laughing at me!
Opening the bottle, I through a handful of lemon drops into my mouth! When I was a child… I would sneak lemon drops out of Mom’s purse. Hugging the bottle to my heart, I thanked the young man for the gift. He shook his head, still laughing and went to his laptop case and pulled out another bottle, saying, “Just for you. Although, I’m not sure I should be supporting this habit.”
I wish I could tell you that those happy pills were the reason why I fell in love him… but it wasn’t. In fact, I was so very far removed from being in love. So very far.
The young man in the office that day was a sweet, blue eyed, man named Joseph. I had met him before. It was February of 2010, when he came into LifeHouse for a staff meeting. It was my first day behind the desk after two weeks of internship, and he hardly seemed to notice me. Andrew Strachen introduced us, while Joseph was filling his plate with the staff dinner our kind employer had provided… and that was it. A nod, a smile… a hello.
But what makes me laugh now is what I didn’t know. Joseph has since told me, “I had him from hello.”
Entry Two
I put my head down on the steering wheel, “Why am I here, Lord?”
I was parked in front of Coffee Bean in down town, Redlands. I had made a habit of going there a couple hours before work every Tuesday to read my Bible, to write, and simply to find someplace to hide. But I wasn’t the only one who had made Coffee Bean trips on Tuesdays a habit.
As I opened the door and walked in the shop I knew he would be there. Joseph Kibler got up and motioned me towards his table, smiling. He was always smiling. And what was worse, it made me smile… and then I just hated myself for sitting there smiling at him… like, well, like I was in love with him or something. Which I wasn’t! No… that was irrational and I would have to be desperate to fall in love with a perfectly good friend!

But then, there he was… with his own stack of journals and such scattered all over the table. I always felt like I was disturbing him. He would put his books away and pull out two apples and peanut butter sandwiches. He WAS always trying to feed me.
Today, I pulled out my own Bible and started to share with Joseph what I had been reading. 1 Corinthians 7.
“I think I want the gift of singleness,” I began, “No, I am sure I want it!”
Joseph took the Bible out of my hand and closed it. He smiled down at me like he always did.
“No, I don’t think that’s for you.”

This was a typical Tuesday and how I became best friends with Joseph Kibler.
Entry Three
“I saw your ride, Joseph Kibler. Using a tow truck again?”
Yes, I saw his ride and a perfect opportunity to get a few things out in the open. Joseph was stranded at LifeHouse in need of a ride and who was going to give him a ride? I volunteered.
So, occupying the table and chairs in front of the Barnes and Noble of the Citrus Plaza, I just went ahead and said it, “You have to promise me you wont fall in love with me.”
Needless to say, the promise I got out of him was far from satisfactory. So, while I plotted to convince him he “wasn’t” in love with me… he sat back and let me do it!
I suppose Jane Austin said it best, “She is so very much preoccupied by the idea of not being in love with him, that I should not wonder if it were to end with her being so at last.”
If I had been able to look ahead four months… there I would be again, sitting in front of Barnes and noble in the very same chair I had sat in that day, crying… because I was so in love!

Entry Four
Driving away from the Spaghetti Factory on October 8th, I found myself sitting at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf once again… with Joseph Kibler. I had spent the morning ignoring him at Debbie Rao’s Birthday brunch, and now, I was being… civil. And yes, that’s why the girl who didn’t want to fall in love found herself going along with Joseph to one of the sweetest, most magical parks in Southern California; a park surrounded by orange groves and roses, where children dress in play clothes and sweethearts sip wild cherry pop on picnic blankets.
Joseph led me to the top of Prospect Park where there was a rail and wild flowers. We sat under it.
Looking out over the Orange groves, he talked about his family and the parents he loved. He told me that his sweet mother had been waiting for him to bring home a girl for some years, but that he just didn’t think that in all that time he had met the right one. He pointed out the mountain where he lived and told me all about Green Valley Lake and his cabin there beside the lake. The blue sky started to stream into a river of color as the sun began to set. And, I remember thinking how hard it was not to fall in love with a man like him. That’s when he really threw me. He stopped talking about Green Valley Lake and said, “If you are worried about me kissing you. I would never do that.  At least, not unless I was going to marry you.”
Biting my lip to keep from laughing, I tried to think how Jane Austin might have replied.
“Joseph Kibler,” I began, “I think to highly of you to ever marry you.”
But maybe Jane wouldn’t have said that, because… it didn’t work. Three months and twenty one days later, in that very spot… I sort of got engaged. Ha, ha.
Entry Five
“Charity Beck, just let me love you.”
His words went to my heart and left me tortured. I was sitting beside him in Yucaipa’s Starbucks; sitting there because he had asked me to come. Earlier that day, he found out that one of my dearest friends had died. He called me to say he was there for me and invited me to Coffee. And I went, but I sat there, and wouldn’t let him in. I wouldn’t share my heart’s pain. It was a tortured emotion somewhere between forced peace and a chosen chaos. What Joseph didn’t know was that while I was grieving my friend’s suicide, I was also grieving my Grandma’s death, my father’s heartache, and my own broken heart. Nothing had ever felt worse than those emotions! I knew how to be strong and not let anyone in… but Joseph wasn’t letting me anymore! He was asking for me to let him into my very broken heart… and I wasn’t ready to give that to him.
“Let me love you,” he said it and took my hand.
Across the room, my youngest sister Elizabeth was watching us while pretending to read a book, and Tori was stepping out of the shop with a smile and a raised eyebrow. I pulled my hand away.
“Friends don’t hold hands.”
Joseph took my hand again, “Yes they do.”
That’s when I realized how desperately I needed him to hold my hand, and to never let go.
Entry Six
The pink roses looked so lovely in my room; growing from the rich brown soil in their pot, they lifted their small heads up to smile at me. Joseph. Why did he give me these roses? Why had he been there for me at all?
The night before, he had found me crying outside of the LifeHouse studio. Somehow he knew where I would be. And, he came and sat down beside me on the curb and listened to me; he listened to me rage and grieve and… break. And he just… loved me when I couldn’t. I hated the selfish choices I had made that had kept me from being there for the one friend who needed me most. But Joseph wouldn’t stop showing me love… and I knew he never would.
Entry Seven
Mom was leaning over what looked like 100,000 piece puzzle and I was trying to point out that it was the perfect metaphor for my life; there were more pieces than I knew what to do with and the only ones that made sense were the three that I had in front of me, 3 of 100,000. I glared at the pieces and Mom laughed… sagely. I hate it when she does that.
“What about Joseph, Charity?”
“Joseph being the person I have a strictly ‘professional’ relationship with?”
She laughed again.
“You are precious to him, Charity. Everyone sees it, but you. You need to be honest with him—”
“That’s exactly what I have been doing!”
“And with yourself.”
I looked at my Mom. How could she know that I was lying to myself?
What she said next changed my life forever.
“Whatever you choose, the choice is yours. But if you can’t love him. He needs to know that. But know that the friendship you enjoy with him now will have to change drastically. It’s not fair to him.”
“I know, but what if—”
“Charity, you keep saying what if… but why don’t you try living in what is.”
Entry Eight
I stood in front of my brother’s apartment door with Joseph beside me. Before knocking I made sure he knew that, “You are here to be my brother’s special friend, not mine.”
It was a Sunday night and John had called me and asked me to bring a friend over. I called Joseph because I needed a man to walk me to John’s apartment from the street that late at night.
Joseph was as always nonpulsed by my request that he be “someone else’s” special friend. We went in and I don’t understand a thing of what happened after that! My brother really liked him and before I knew it John and I were telling old stories and reliving a childhood I had forgotten. Leah, my brother’s fiance, was laughing at all of us, and Joseph… made it all so magical.
The evening ended with John composing a song for me on his guitar called, “The last creature at the zoo.” And… the name has stuck. Thank you big brother!
Joseph walked me back to my car, and I found it harder than ever to say goodbye to him; To look into his eyes and not tell him the truth of what I felt.
Entry Nine
“Charity, don’t ever give me your heart. It belongs to Jesus.”
I listened to the alarm clock on my sister’s phone go off in her bedroom… for the second time. I had been awake for hours trying to understand what Joseph had said to me a few nights before.
Maybe he was right. We girls are so busy about putting our hearts in the hands of man after man without realizing we do it. And each time, we hope they won’t break it, but they always do. Maybe they don’t know how to hold our hearts. Maybe all they know how to do is learn to know our hearts and to love our hearts… to see our hearts. Maybe they were meant to hold our hands and let Jesus hold our hearts.
I got out of bed and fumbled with a tea shirt I had got at Victoria Gardens. It was Yellow with a script across the front that read, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I loved that shirt.
Hannah Jannett and Joseph had come out that day to be with my family and I when I got it. Hannah wanted to know who the boy with me was. I quickly told her that Joseph wasn’t with me. She laughed. Why did she laugh?

It was October 25th. Charlie’s memorial would be at three. I had decided last night that I was going to wear the yellow shirt today. I felt that Charlie would want me to wear it. Deep down inside, I wished I could have been the change he needed to see in the world… and I still wish I had been.
Entry Ten
“Hey Chair.”
I turned to see my friend Taylor Joseph in the parking lot. He was going to lead the ceremony for Charlie. Oh, how I love Taylor… but sometimes he asks me to do what I think I can’t. That’s why I found myself reading 1 Corinthians 13 for the service… and why I finally let everyone in, and spoke from my heart there in LifeHouse theater in front of so many people, all of them, my loved ones… even Joseph.

Earlier, when Joseph had come in with my Dad and sat right down with him… I remember thinking, “No you didn’t.” But there he was and Dad was all buddy-buddy with him. Joseph and my Dad had been spending time together? Evil Joseph. I decided that I hated him. In fact, in weeks previous I had frequently told him, “I hate you,” but he would always respond with his nonpulsed, “How much?”

Hate is a tricky emotion. If felt too strongly it quickly becomes something else all together.
After ignoring Joseph the whole service, I was walking out to the car when I saw Mom and my sister’s already occupying the vehicle that was pulling out onto Church street headed to the LifeHouse studio for Women’s Bible Study! Joseph was at her car window saying good bye, arranging to “go ahead and drive me over, himself,” and I thought excuse me! Now my whole family is in on this! And you think your going to do what!!! I looked for Daddy, but he had already left… So, I rode with Joseph.
Strange things were happening in my heart… I knew that I loved him. And when he told me that he had asked my Dad’s permission to pursue me… I was both happy and afraid. But then… you know that peace you can’t understand… it just washed over my heart and for five glorious seconds I was brave enough to believe I could love this man… and after those five glorious seconds passed, I knew I could.

The Dream we all share: and the desire in each of us…
The joy of a commitment without fear, the peace of a love without guilt, and the hope of a lover who gently understands where we fail and graciously loves us anyways.

A year ago, when I sat down and wrote out all the things I desired in the Love of my life, I was told, “It’s like you think some one out there is Jesus! Sorry sweetheart, you’re not going to find a guy like this.” But that’s exactly who I found, someone like Jesus…

Who…

Believes in a lasting legacy of forgiveness.

Who is always telling me and showing me that he loves me.

Who has the strength of a selfless and gracious leader and who is someone I can follow.

Who knows how to comfort and address with gentleness the fears and forebodings of my heart and constantly reminds me of how God sees me.

Who corrects in a non-condemning manner and who listens, cares, and responds with fairness.

Who can show me vulnerability and give me an open door to his heart.

Someone who strongly and deeply honors and loves God.

Someone who desires to live out the same kind of selflessness Christ lived out; who knows how to both live and die for others.

Some one who believes in hope and beauty.

…where ever you are in your own love story, don’t let love die… and let Jesus be the answer.

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