becoming a sather | our courtship

I almost missed out on him. At least, it feels like I almost passed him by because Mister and I matched on Match.com when I was least expecting it. You can read about it over here.

After talking on the phone and texting for almost two days straight, we met for our very first date at Coal Vines in Southlake. He was coming all the way from Dallas and I wanted to get there early to get a good table and (keeping it real) I wanted to be able to see him when he walked in the door.

And it was a good thing I did y’all, because he was so nervous. With flowers and a dessert, he almost stumbled and tripped coming in the door.

It frightened me.

He was overly zealous it seemed, perhaps too excited.

What on earth did that mean?

After all the chuckleheads (that’s what I called the misfits) I was ready to call the date a “no go” and chalk it up to another date to put behind me.

But I gave him a chance. And dinner turned out to be a warm-up.

We continued our conversations from earlier in the week and I found myself surprisingly open and vulnerable and real with him. We laughed, we listened, we ate, we used manners (everyone does not) and the night flew by.

I wasn’t sure I’d see him again so soon but when he walked me to my car, I wrapped my arms around him and gave him a hug and then surprised both of us by giving him a quick peck on the lips.

I tell you that because if I don’t share this while telling about our courtship – HE WILL.

We agreed to meet the very next morning for breakfast at Le Madeline’s in Grapevine (again he came all the way from Dallas) and it was a fantastic experience.

Hindsight is 20-20, but I have to tell you; looking back on that second date, I can now tell that it was that we did something so normal and talked about such normal things that made me see a potential future with this man. The way he spoke about his family, the way he listened when I answered the questions he asked, even especially the way he was far more relaxed than the evening before.

Sitting there eating a lovely breakfast, at a French themed restaurant (J’adoré France!) at a table for two, in front of the fireplace, sipping coffee, I was intrigued.

Another date ended, he walked me to my car and I hugged him again. And when he put me in my car he leaned in a gave me a quick kiss on my lips. And there were butterflies.

A third date the very next night – back on my side of town – at Cowtown Sushi was when I knew this man was going to play a significant role in my dating experience.

If you’re freaking out about the kissing, let me tell you – it took me by surprise too. It wasn’t my modus operandi to kiss anyone on the first date, but it was so natural and felt so familiar to me that I simply took the leap and pecked him on his lips. It’s not for every date you go on – it certainly wasn’t for me – but on these dates with this man, it was sweet, nice and special.

On that date, he looked at me with all seriousness and confidence – where was the man from two evenings before – and told me that he was not dating to make friends; that he was not dating simply to date. He sat still and without hesitation or reservation and told me that he was petitioning God about the woman that would become his wife and that he was talking to God about me.

And it surprised me – not his declaration – but my response.

I wasn’t upset or put off by it.

It was comforting.

A man that knows what he wants and puts it on the table.

That maturity and assuredness is attractive. Very attractive.

I don’t remember what I said in response, but I remember allowing myself to be open and give him some room to walk it out.

With the distance between us, we attempted to see one another three times a week and agreed to prioritize daily conversation. And in nearly 9 months of being a couple, we have not missed a single day.

You read that correctly.

We’ve only been a couple for about 9 months are going to be wed in 11 days. We count our courtship as beginning on the eve of our very first date even though we didn’t verbalize our desire to be official until a bunch of days after it happened.

I had so many hang-ups about how all of this stuff is supposed to go down.

How you’re supposed to see someone sick or travel with them and especially see them angry. You’re supposed to date them for a year and so many other rules and expectations that we put on ourselves and others when trying to get to know one another.

And I’d say we did a lot of those things, but not in the order most would agree with and definitely with a different focus.

From the beginning, we asked ourselves if we could see ourselves marrying the other person. If we could see living the way God calls husbands and wives to love and respect the other. If we could refrain from sex or physical activity as He calls us to for His glory. If we could talk about anything and everything.

These are among some of the most important questions to ask yourself and the person you’re attempting to build a life with.

I asked almost every question you could think of – multiple times and in many ways – to see if he was trustworthy or like the other men I’d dated or found myself interested in. And he answered them all. Well.

He called when he said he would.

He texted first every morning with words of encouragement and prayers over me and my son.

He initiated dates and plans and tailored them to things I enjoyed.

He shared his life with me – his work, his children, his love for God.

After two months I went public and put our photo on social media.

After six weeks, I told him that I loved him over a game of Scrabble.

After three months, I asked about pre-marital counseling at church.

He began attending church weekly with me at this time.

After five months of dating, we participated in a pre-marital counseling session.

After six months of dating, we were engaged.

Two and a half weeks into our dating, I had an emergency blood transfusion and six months after we began dating, I had major surgery and he was bedside, attentive and loving throughout both.

He moved to my city six months (farther from his work) after we met and rented the apartment we will live in after we’re married with us in mind. He signed the lease before we were engaged.

There have been so  many milestones during our courtship:

  • meeting one another’s children + parents
  • praying together
  • him joining our church
  • talking about finances
  • sharing our dating histories
  • fancy dates
  • regular dates
  • travel
  • Scrabble competitions
  • copious amounts of coffee
  • running errands together (some of my favorite time with him)
  • meeting one another’s friends

So.

Many.

Experiences.

There’s been so much; even not-so-great experiences.

My courtship with Mister is has not been not perfect. We’ve disagreed, hurt one another and have had to apologize and ask for forgiveness. We’ve misunderstood the other and sometimes we even caused the other concern and stirred up fear.

But we’ve also loved deeply, laughed a lot and learned to sit in silence and be still with one another. It’s been about getting to enjoy and appreciate being our real selves with the other person.

I’ve never experienced a love connection like this one. In past relationships, I thought I had to fix or help the other person be the man they had the potential to come. That I needed to water down my quirky and tone down my feelings. It seemed necessary for me to hustle and strive to put effort into improving the relationship and experience for the both of us. What I was essentially doing was dragging some man along on a ride he really didn’t want to be on; at least not with me.

Because let.me.tell.you ladies…

When a man is into you, he will do things you only see in movies or read in books – the very things you poo-pood as being fake and contrived. And it will melt your heart. But you’ve got to be present and authentic in the experience, let go and really receive his attention; to really embrace his preference for you.

Y’all, I have loved this experience. And have grown to love the woman that I now recognize as the other partner in this relationship.

Building this love connection with Mister has been a blessing.

I laugh with God weekly. It’s amazing to think that I didn’t know this man before 2017 began and in 2018 I will begin to know him in the most intimate ways.

I’m truly grateful.

And excited.

I know it’s not about getting through perfectly. We won’t be able to.

It’s not about what it looks like to those around you or even what you think it’s should look like. Or be like.

It’s about allowing yourself to be pursued by a man that is leading you towards God.

It’s learning about you and how to love you so that you flourish and grow.

Being courted is about listening to your hurts and being a partner with God in His perfect healing of your past hurts and negative thoughts.

It’s not about what you think you want.

It’s about submitting yourself to God’s best for you. Trusting Him and watching Him show you what true, real – spoil you silly – authentic, life giving, godly love looks like.

Consider yourselves warned ladies.

That man you couldn’t “see yourself with” before will suddenly become someone you can’t spend too much time alone with because you’re tempted to kiss longer and lust in your heart and head towards him. You will have hot flashes when you catch him staring at you without makeup and he tells you’re beautiful. You will better understand how and why other men were not the right ones for you and the life you’re meant to live.

There will be a new clarity.

A new perspective.

It’s real ladies.

Our courtship has been a gift.

One that has reaped many benefits and blessings.

There were many times where I tried to make this relationship like ones I’ve experienced in the past. Where I attempted to take the reins and try to control the way things were going. It wasn’t that I wanted the experiences of the past, but I did want to navigate the familiar.

It just seemed easier to do the old than let myself be free in the new.

I had to trust and pray to trust and fight to trust what was foreign because what I could see was sometimes so unbelievable.

It was like all my sin, mistakes, past was all that I deserved.

That enjoying the preference of a godly man who is attracted to me for who I am and how I love and care for him was not something I could allow myself to receive. 

But God.

He’s been so faithful and Mister has been too.

That combination has helped me let down my guard faster than I would ever have anticipated. And because I trusted, I was able to really enjoy far more of the relationship and building and investing in us and our love connection than I would ever have imagined. 

Only God knows what’s in store for our relationship. But I am eager and excited to continue building on the foundation that we have prayed for and worked at strengthening for His glory.

I intentionally refrained from sharing photos from our engagement as I did not want it to seem as though that was the most important reason for our courtship or that it was the bulk of our focus. We talked about marriage consistently, but it did not consume our conversations. We were focused on getting to know one another and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable so that we could be known by the other person. I’ll share that part of the story in this space eventually, but it will likely be in the context of something else, something bigger.

And I thank God for the hope of that.

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