We all have mountains in our lives. I’m sharing this story of how God brought me and my husband together–despite mountains of shyness, living in the boonies, and other challenges–to encourage you with this truth: Our God is a mountain mover. Today, after years of busy, contented singleness, we finally see some romantic action…
Finally, that sacred day came. My parents seemed anxious for my siblings to get to bed, and I got the impression Dad had something up his sleeve. We’d just been to a civil war ball and every one was in high excitement, us sisters goofing off in our hoopskirts and remembering the fierce competition of the Nine Pin Dance. When the final bobby pin had been extracted from curly up-do’s and the last of my younger sister’s tired feet had tromped up the stairs to bed, Dad tilted his head toward the living room and told me to sit down.
And I heard the words I’d been waiting to hear for 22 years. “Someone has asked to court you.” Suddenly the air in the room seemed a little lighter and my breath felt shallow. This was it. I knew this was a moment I would remember the rest of my life. The yellow couch, the hoopskirts scattered on the wood floors, the kitchen light shining irreverently in my eyes—all of this was cemented in my mind because I knew my life would be different from this moment.
Now I should just give you a little background into some terms and definitions. I didn’t believe in casual dating. I felt if a guy and girl were going to spend focused, one-on-one time together, it should be with the purpose of deciding if they’d like to spend the rest of their life together. In the circles I grew up in, this was called courting. Now, I call it dating-with-a-purpose, or just dating, ‘cause we’re all a little tired of the word ‘courtship’.
That’s why some guy asking to court me was so significant—just this side of engagement, actually—because it meant he was seriously looking for a wife, and thought I might be ‘it’. This wasn’t just some guy asking to take me out to dinner. He wasn’t just window shopping. He was ready to see if I was the one.
And that brings us to the guy himself – who was he? I know y’all are thinking it’s Jeremy, or at least someone I knew and maybe even had a teensy, tiny crush on. You’d be wrong. He was a fellow from a sister church a few hours away who I’d seen maybe 3 times—I actually didn’t even know his last name.
Dad filled me in a bit on the guy—he’d been getting to get to know him a bit—then asked me what I thought. I looked from him to mom with a silly grin on my face. I felt honored, excited, but mostly I was just in shock. Dad told me it was entirely up to me if I wanted to get to know the guy. Then, ‘cause there wasn’t anything else to do, we went to bed.
Here I’d really like to fast-forward about 8 months and just say ‘We dated for a while, found we weren’t compatible, broke up, and moved on’, because that’s just what happened. But that would hardly do the story justice. You need to know that, with my no-nonsense view of the dating process, as soon as I felt the Lord’s go-ahead for the relationship, I was pretty much a goner. The relationship consumed me. I reveled in the idea that someone had finally chosen me, and that it looked like there would be a wedding in my near future, that someday soon I would become a wife and even a mother. All the dreams I’d cherished since girlhood were within my grasp. I was in love, and in love with being in love. Then, in one day, everything turned upside down. The Lord led me out of the relationship just as quickly and clearly as He’d led me in. It felt like a death.
When you grow up with a courting mindset, you begin to get the impression that if you follow all the rules, you’ll get to the altar safely without any of that yucky stuff like broken hearts. The pain I felt in the next few months was not just from losing someone I loved, but the destruction of a dream—an ideal, that I had built my life around. Slowly I came to realize that this was not the end of my life, but very likely the beginning of a much better story—one in which I understood that sometimes God’s plan includes a broken heart, and gearing your whole life to avoid pain is no way to live.
And so I entered my 23rd year with a bit of tenderness still around the scar, but a small trust in a God who’d kept me alive through the hardest life experience I’d had yet, and an even smaller hope that there was, indeed, a man out there for me.
Good thing I still had a little faith left, because this was the year Jeremy and I finally noticed each other.
Want to hear more about what I learned from my first relationship? I’ve written an article for KindredGrace about how I believe that there is no such thing as a failed courtship. You can find it here: Courtship–Dispelling the Myths.
Did you marry the first guy you ever dated? If not, what did you learn from the experience? Was there a time in your journey where you lost hope in ever finding a mate, or being found? Maybe you’re there now. From one who’s been through a deep valley on this journey, I just wanna tell you to keep hanging on. God’s writing a story with your life that you can trust—after all, He IS a best selling author.