Courtship Series Part 2: The Courtship begins!
If you missed reading part 1 go here.
As I walked over to my small group and sat down, I was thankful to see a few girls in the group that I knew. As for the guy who introduced himself as the leader, I had no recollection of ever even seeing him before. We spent the time in that first meeting getting to know each person in our small group study. The leader, who was a young man named Sean, wanted each person to ask a question that everyone else had to answer about themselves. He himself, however, seemed to take particular interest in asking me questions, and quite frankly, I wasn't comfortable with it. So, when my turn came around to ask the group a question, I asked how old everyone was. I did this mainly because I wanted this guy to "discover" that I was only 17. That would pour cold water on his curiosity for sure! But no, all night long the questions kept coming and I began to wonder if he was flirting with me! By the end of the night I had pretty much made up my mind that I really didn't like him. Not only was he bothering me with all of his probing questions, to make matters worse, he was wearing baggy basketball pants! YUCK! There's few things I disliked more on guys than baggy basketball pants :)
On the way home I told my sister about the evening, but after awhile I dismissed the whole thing from my mind, thinking maybe I had made it all up. A college guy flirting with ME?! Ha! The next few weeks went pretty much the same way though. He would teach the scripture lesson he had prepared, but he always seemed to find a way to draw me out and ask me what I thought about certain passages, what my views were on certain doctrines etc. Strangely enough, after a few weeks of this I began to realize this guy (ahem! 'young man' now) wasn't so bad after all. He was serious, yet nice. You could tell he really loved the Lord, and was taking his job as small group leader very seriously. What impressed me even more, I could tell he didn't look down on me for being a homeschool girl who dressed differently! Actually, based on all appearances, this seemed to actually intrigue him. Now, if we could only do something about those basketball pants : )
I talked to my mom, telling her all about Sean. What I didn't know was that my sister was also watching this young man very, very closely and she was also bringing home reports of him to my mother.
Then there were the phone calls. One late Wednesday night the phone rang and my dad answered. He called me to the phone, and said (where the person on the line could clearly hear) "It's a guy on the phone for you!" I was mortified to say the least. When I got on the phone I could hear Sean chuckling on the other end. I explained to him I don't get many guys calling me (umm, like NONE!) and that my dad was teasing me. Thanks Dad!
That phone call begin a tradition of Wednesday night phone calls. Sean would call all of the people in his small group study to remind them about the meeting. But his phone calls to me grew into chatting about other things. He admitted later that the one thing which kept him consistent with these reminders were the opportunities they provided him to speak with me.
I knew nothing about Sean's past. One night, I walked in to the small group study and he was with another young lady. He seemed to be directing her somewhere, and I wondered if it was his girlfriend. He never mentioned having a girlfriend though. Then, at a campfire outside he greeted the young lady, but came and sat down next to me. Come to find out it was his ex-girlfriend, who he was still trying to encourage to become more involved in church activities. I also know now that he purposefully sat down next to me to make it clear to me that he was not attached to this young lady. He was afraid his interaction with her would trouble me, and he was right.
At this point, I was a nervous wreck. I talked to my mom and sister a lot, telling them what was going on, what we were talking about, etc. I didn't hide anything from them, and I really wanted my mom to meet Sean. They finally did meet up at a event that the college group put on. I led him to meet my mom, and he introduced me to his Mother. It was all so awkward. We were just friends, right?
At this point I put on the breaks a little bit. Sean was so eager to learn many new things. He asked me many questions about my conservative lifestyle, and wanted to know more about courtship. I let him borrow a few books to read, which he did. I thought he would get the point. The young man comes and asks the girl's parents if he can court her. But he wasn't coming.
At one point during the study, I actually had another young man interested in me that was in our small group. Sean clearly picked up on it, and thought for sure I would be mutually interested in this young man as he had been home schooled also and had embraced similar values as my own. I was NOT interested at all, and wished this guy would go away! At one point he asked me in front of Sean if I had come to the study with Sean, to which I replied no. He seemed happy and hopeful then, but I think he finally got the point that I wasn't super friendly in talking with him :)
Months dragged on, 8 l-o-n-g months to be exact. During that time Sean spent some time doing a few church activities with my family. I was at his families house once for a special small group study that was held there.
Then it happened. Spring break came and with it we said goodbye. He said he would probably see me around that summer, and hoped I would have a good summer. I cried all the way home from the meeting. I felt cheated almost, as I wasn't sure what to do. I had prayed and trusted the Lord through those 8 months, and I felt like I had just given my emotions away to a guy that wasn't taking them seriously. I felt like the Lord had been telling me just to trust Him through all those months, so now what was to happen?
Sean actually called me a few days later, and at the end of the conversation he said he would see me the next day. I asked him what he meant, and he said my mom had written him a note asking him to come and see her. Interesting....I didn't know anything about it. I got off the phone and asked my mom what was going on? She told me that she never intended for me to know about the meeting, but she was going to sit down with Sean and ask him what his intentions were. She said this had gone on long enough, and she couldn't keep allowing me to talk to him, etc. if he had no future plans with me. As nervous as I was, I agreed with her. Emotionally I couldn't handle this any longer.
The next day she sent me out of the house. I spent a very long two hours at the library, and then just sitting at a Civil War cemetery (of all places), praying to the Lord to help me through this. If he said no, my heart was going to be broken. If he said yes, I was going to be a nervous wreck!
She finally called me and told me to come home. I asked what he said and in a nutshell, she said that he didn't say yes, and he didn't say no. He said he wanted to go home and pray about it, and he would be back that evening. Now I was REALLY nervous!
Come to find out, Sean had thought about courting me, but he honestly wasn't sure how to go about it, and if we would even be open to that. That afternoon he went home and prayed a lot. He called and said he would be coming over for dinner. I can't remember when I had ever been so nervous! When he knocked on the door, I didn't want to answer it, but I made myself go and open the door. I'm afraid I was rather rude, I was so shy and nervous I barely looked at him all night, and didn't talk much throughout dinner! After dinner was over, he was just standing there, so I asked him if he wanted a tour of our house. I showed him around. Finally he looked at me and said we should talk - alone, so we went outside and sat in front of the house on a blanket.
We sat on the blanket for well over two hours! Sean was getting mixed signals from me. My mom had made it clear I was interested in him, but I wasn't acting that way. When he made it known that he would like to begin to court me, I begin to describe all the problems in my complex family life to make sure he was willing to deal with it. I learned that Sean's major concern was whether or not he was worthy of me and my family. He admitted he was largely ignorant when it came to the mechanics of courtship and he didn't want to do anything which would offend or disappoint my hopes and dreams for the process. He did make it perfectly clear, however, that by intimating this courtship, he ultimately intended to marry me. I accepted his proposal with the same understanding and have never looked back.
We went back in the house and I think my mom laid down some guidelines for us. By this time my dad was fast asleep as it was around midnight when we got done talking :)
So that is the very unconventional, non-typical courtship story of how we begin our courtship.
I do want to make it clear, that if my father had been involved it probably would have gone differently. A wise father would not have let that friendship blossom for eight months without knowing if that young man had any intentions of courting his daughter. My mother did the absolute best she could in that situation, and I know it was hard for her to play the role of the father. My dad just didn't care to step in and do that. Sean's parents had never even heard of courtship before I came around, and they were not extremely involved in the typical way either.
But, the Lord is gracious and merciful in these situations. Our courtship was sweet, and was filled with time spent with family.
Part three will be where I write more about what our actual courtship looked like....