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.
I also dated in a courtship-style way. First guy I went on two dates with, although by the first one I already knew he wasn’t for me. He was a good guy but I learned a lot from him about what I was looking for and what I did not want in my husband, in regards to personality, goals, etc. Helped me a lot because the next guy I went out with I got engaged to on date 13. <3 Big fan of dating-with-a-purpose! There are hardships and heartbreak in every dating experience but this way brings it down to the most minimum possible, I feel.
Rebecca, thanks for sharing your story! Yeah for dating with purpose!!! Date 13, huh? I’ve never counted how many dates we went on. That might be fun…
Wow this is awesome! Joel Salatin is s smart man! Please tell me where I can find the next part of your story! (I have only read up to the ending of the first courtship relationship) thankyou!
Ah, Annaleise, the next installment is a long time coming, but I’m working on it this month!
Loved reading your story. And yet another thing we have in common. Both my husband and I agree on the “dating with a purpose”. We are both each others first boyfriend/girlfriend. And on our first “date” we sat and talked for over an hour about what “dating” meant to each of us. 🙂
I totally wish we had more of a chance to get to know each other! It does seem like we have a lot in common. 😉
Me too! Maybe we can reconnect sometime in the future when you come to visit. 🙂 Maybe for more family photos
Noooo…. where’s the rest of the story? I followed each and every one of your ‘how you met your husband’ posts but there’s no ending! Surely I’ve missed it???
it’s coming! I’ll go back to that series as soon as I publish my new book!
Looking forward to reading the rest of your mountain story! I only see 6 parts. Am I missing any more so far?
I found my way over here from Ashleigh liking this article on her FB page. 😉
All I can say is…. I can SO relate to this, Trina! At 18 years old, I met the man I thought I would marry. (He was 7 years older) We were going to be missionary photographers, I was going to be a young bride, a young mom…. everything I always dreamed & wanted! I was NOT going to be one of those “old maids.” My young heart was flattered with every move in his pursuit. Everyone around us could see how much he liked me. Until… one devastating day, after a year and a half of our “relationship” (if you call it that) I found out that he chased other young women around for the attention, etc. Heartbroken & sick to my stomach, I confronted him about it. He dropped all contact with me and 4 weeks later he began dating another girl who he ended up marrying the following Spring.
I was devasted & my world was shattered. This isn’t how it was suppose to go! I gave up on love and I shut down emotionally. I refused to ever love again… if that is what love meant (being so hurt.)
A few years have passed, and I am well in my twenty’s. God has brought tremendous healing & comfort from the rubble of that relationship. I have learned that God does not work by formula (“If you do this, this and this, you’ll be safe.”) Sometimes God’s plan DOES include walking through those darkest valleys and heart crushed moments… for our GOOD and for His glory. One day, I am trusting that my story will shine out the clearer, and I will be able to truly thank God He spared me from less than His very best.
Leah, thank so much for stopping by and sharing your story. Wow–even eight years later, it’s still comforting to know I’m not the only girl God led on this kind of heart journey. I can say now, I would not trade the treasures He gave me in the darkness for anything.
I can remember the pain and the resolve to not let myself be hurt again by love, but I pray for you, Leah, that, when the time comes, you will not let fear keep you from His best. The Lord guides our hearts, so I pray that for you. Hugs, Trina
Samantha R says
*hugs* for you Leah. I’m so sorry… I knew bits and pieces of your story before but going through all that must have been incredibly painful and I’m sure it still is at times. Praying for you!
Samantha R says
“Our God is a mountain mover. ”
Amen, I agree!!
It’s been great reading your story.
I have a question… do you think parents should always be involved? I think it’s wise to have the perspective of parents and also older, wiser people who aren’t “In love with being in love” right at the moment 🙂
Hi, Samantha! thanks for stopping by!
I think the ‘perspective of older, wiser, people who aren’t “in love with being in love”‘ should always be involved in big decisions we make as young people. That’s not always the parents–sometimes it can’t be. Yet there is ‘strength in a multitude of counselors’, and this is a big decision that I really feel we should not make entirely alone.
I have observed many different paths to marriage, and though sometimes the parents were negligent or had forfeited their right to relationship with their child (through abuse or dysfunction), there was usually a few, special friends praying and supporting the couple with wisdom and advice on the journey to the altar. From my point of view, this only adds to the experience.
Samantha R says
Thanks for the reply! I have to agree with you… I truly do believe there is strength in counselors too. I think a young person is wise to listen to counsel and advice from those who are strong in the Lord, those who are already married, and those who can perhaps see more clearly than we might be able at the moment. 🙂
Very well written, thought provoking, and fun to read!
Ashleigh Baker says
I’m catching up on this story, Trina, and I’m loving it – along with the other pieces on YLCF about relationships.
I didn’t marry the first person I was in a relationship with, although the relationship was never as serious as my dating/courting/whatever was with my husband from the beginning. That was the first of many lessons teaching me that one can’t protect themselves from every heartache, and I can’t say I regret it.
Thanks for sharing your story, friend. Maybe one of these days I should tell mine again, with a little more honesty and perspective…
Ashleigh, thanks so much for stopping by!
I do find it quite a different experience (and way more fun) writing our story with the hindsight of (going on) seven years. I highly recommend it. It’s such a great way to celebrate what God has given us, as well as remembering and sharing the lessons He taught us during that time of transition. I’d love to hear yours…
Sandra at Thistle Cove Farm says
Your story is lovely and am enjoying reading about you and your love. I’m so much older than you; no, I didn’t marry the first man I dated and Dave, my husband, died last November. He thought I was robbing the house next to him, which is how we first met.
Read about it here – http://thistlecovefarm.blogspot.com/2012/06/you-are-never-too-old-to-set-another.html
First, I just have to say…when I see posts from this series, I want to grab my glass of water and hunker down for a while and just devour it! But they’re always too SHORT! AHH!
The long and short of it, for me, I did marry my first boyfriend, but there were a series of guys that I had liked before him, all of whom hurt me very deeply. As you said, living to avoid being hurt doesn’t work, but once we are hurt, it helps us to appreciate what we are given even more.
(I haven’t read any of PW’s High Heels to Tractor Wheels, yet, but your posts remind me of them).
Um, you totally made my day, you know, by comparing me to PW. LOL I haven’t read much of her romance series, either, but I guess it has influenced this series. I think it’s great how she celebrates her man and their story.
These posts are my favorite, too–the comments are awesome! I love how sharing mine has allowed you guys to share bits of your love stories, too!
I think it’s good to see the “other side” of courtship stories because, as you pointed out, we rarely hear about the relationships that end.
For myself, I had a boyfriend when I was 16. I think we held hands some, and I ate dinner at his folk’s a couple times. I suppose you’d call it a casual relationship, but I broke it off when it became clear this wasn’t going to be one of the “and they were high school sweethearts” love stories. I think I was 19 when I briefly got into another relationship (funny story, this guy actually asked my future husband whom I was not dating at the time and barely knew if it’d be ok to ask me out. Allen’s response was apparently a very confused “Why are you asking me this?”) This guy and I went to church things together for a couple months until we both realized this wasn’t going anywhere. At which point Allen and I switched it in drive and ended up talking marriage after two months of “oh my goodness, no we are not dating!” dating. I was still in college though, so it took us a couple years to get married. 6 years on Sunday 😀 And we refused to admit we were dating until about 2-3 months before we got engaged. Strange kids we were.
Testimony to my mother-in-law: She said that the first time my family came over for dinner at their house I made a bee-line for Allen, and she realized there was something there. She also realized pretty darn fast that I had a deep hunger for male approval and attention. And she still liked me and spent time with me and has in general just been the best mother-in-law a girl could want. In fact, I’d almost say she set us up because she’s the one who suggested Allen take me to their church college/single’s superbowl party 🙂
I love your MIL (and mine!) My experience with MIL’s has been all positive! Glad yours is, too. What a gift.
Have you read any of the recent stuff over at YLCF on courtship/dating relationships? The writers over there are doing a great job tastefully, gracefully telling the other side of courtship. Even though I’m beyond that season now, I’m so glad for the light and truth being shed on this subject, after so many years of misunderstanding and confusion.
Aren’t the unseen reasons things happen in our lives so much clearer years later? I am happy you found your husband after all that and that you have been happily married since. 🙂
Anne @ Quick and Easy Cheap and Healthy says
Oh my goodness Trina, i could have written this paragraph: 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’.
We did “courtship” too, but I always mentally called it dating with purpose! Can’t wait to hear the rest of your story:)
Anne! we have yet another thing in common.You should write up your
courtshiplove story in this long, drawn out, celebrating all the details sort of way. It’s so fun! 🙂
Beautiful, Trina. All of the challenges you’ve experienced in this life have molded and shaped you into the wonderful person of depth that you are now. Looking forward to the rest of the story… :]
Me: I did not marry the first guy I ever dated, and did have a serious relationship (that I thought was leading to marriage) fizzle out. My husband and I had our rocky moments prior to and following our marriage, as well. Most of the lessons that I learned were things to maybe one day pass on to others – – many things it was too late to apply in my own life. Maybe what I learned best, though, was that God can redeem our failures. And He does! And although there were times where I lost hope of ever finding a husband, I see now that God’s plan was best, and I need to always rest in the fact that He will work all things for His (and my) good.
Hooray for redemption!!! 😉
Oh! I think God lead me to your website!! Funny… it all started with oil pulling :p
When I was 11 years old I started praying for my future husband. My parents had divorced a few years before that and my Mom suggested I start to pray for my future husband… So feeling a little silly at first, I prayed for him every night. The first time I prayed for him, I dreamed about him.
The years moved on and so did my teens, I kept praying and dreaming 🙂 At about 19 I got curious about him and started asking God “What’s his name?” God said he was promising me a “Good man”. A few days later I got a call from a Dr. Office trying to give me a “Michael Goodman”‘s medical information. I smiled and told them they had the wrong number.
Still doubting (a lot) I asked God again “Is that his name?” For about a week after that every couple I saw on T.V, heard about or met almost it seemed were named “Michael and April”.
Doubt still attacked me constantly! Voices told me I was crazy and had made it up, that God wasn’t talking to me. I felt so so morbidly ALONE all the time. Then, when I was 24 I met this guy at work.
Remember how I said I had dreams about my future husband? In my dreams I see green eyes 🙂 This guy had green eyes! And he was so sweet… His name wasn’t Michael Goodman, but I was crazy anyway right?!
So he wanted to start dating… I said yes… I was so sooo happy! Everyone said I was glowing! But I had built my little fragile glass castle of dreams on sand… And the eyes were only green in certain lights… And then other things came to light, like…
“Oh, by the way… I’m a wiccan. And I have A LOT more ex girlfriends then the one I told you about… And they all know who you are… And they REALLY don’t like you… Neither does my Dad…”
All these little thing kept piling up and he kept begging me to give him a chance anyway because “We love each other, right?” And he said he would “Stand by me while I dealt with my jealousy.”
One day I was talking to him and he mentioned another girl named April. He said “She even used to work in the same department as you do, she left when she married Michael though.”
I almost spat out my yogurt.
I thought “Lord!! I’m in the wrong place!! I need your help to get away!! But I don’t want to hurt him! Please help me!!”
Then there was Kaley… his “Friend” who was a lot more than a friend and only 16 at that. So we broke up and he immediately started dating one of my girl friends at work :p
But like you said, God lets a little pain into our lives to help us learn better 🙂 And I trust him this time. I’ve been praying about this a lot… And I think God lead me to your webpage so I feel less alone 🙂 Can’t wait to hear the rest of your story!
April, thanks for sharing your story–wow! It can be so hard to discern truth sometimes, can’t it? I hope that one of the things that you notice in my story is how I involved wise counselors. It can be so beneficial in a dating relationship to have other older, wiser believers aware and involved. I hope He will bring people into your life so you do not feel or operate alone! Blessings, Trina.