As we talked about how we could get to know each other on a personal level and explore how Abba might be leading us, the southern gentleman said that his preference was to continue to spend the majority of our time studying the Scriptures but to also begin to have conversations of a more personal nature to determine if we shared the same beliefs, goals, hopes and dreams. I was delighted that even though he was given the “green light” to move to a more personal relationship, this gentleman wanted to keep the Scriptures first and foremost in our lives.
I also knew that we would need to explore these things in the boundaries of courtship instead of dating. How could I not follow the same guidelines I required of my sons? I wondered how the gentleman would feel about courtship, and those boundaries, at our ages?
When I mentioned to the gentleman that we would need to follow the Biblical courtship model, he readily agreed. However, I knew that he most likely had no clue what that meant…and I was right. I explained to him that it meant that we would not kiss or even cuddle until after a wedding if that is where we felt Abba leading us. I explained that we would never be truly alone and that we would need to make ourselves accountable to at least one of my sons. He got very quiet and his eyes got bigger and bigger as I talked. His response? A very long, slow, “oookkkaaayyy…..” And I wondered if it really was.
That evening I got an email from this gentleman saying that he had been quite surprised by the idea of courtship and hadn’t really known what all that entailed. He was…*ahem*…surprised that at our ages there would be such stringent guidelines and restrictions. However, he said that the more he thought about it the more he liked the idea. He saw that by following a courtship model, we would have the opportunity to truly get to know each other in an environment that would not invite temptation. He also saw that if Abbba did not lead us to spend our lives together, it offered a tremendous amount of protection for each of our futures. He understood the guidelines, actually liked them and agreed to follow the boundaries.
I let two friends know what was going on – these were my prayer warriors! I coveted both their prayers and their counsel. Other than that, I did not share outside of my family. I did not want this to become an object of gossip nor did I want nosy questions. I also did not want to feel pressured to move one way or another. This was between Abba and myself.
Over the weeks, things continued much as they had been except that we now began to share from our personal lives. We spent hours each day studying but we also spent hours in conversation. We began to email back and forth on days that we did not see each other and in the evenings which allowed us to ask many questions, share our histories, hopes and dreams. Sometimes the emails went on for hours…and I knew that each morning when I awoke there would be an email waiting for me from this gentleman.
We did not go out to eat or to movies etc. preferring to spend our time in conversation or study. Elijah was always within earshot. We spent time with all of my kids and my mom. After all, this gentleman would have to “pass muster” with all four boys, 3 daughters and my mom. Not an easy task.
My Mom liked him immediately and became his loudest cheerleader. My boys were wary at first. They are very protective of their mom and were watching things closely. My daughters didn’t say much at first ….but they were certainly observing things and discussing them with my sons.
The proposals continued as always….done with a great deal of humor but that constant serious underlying thread. And I laughed….a lot. I found myself humming often. I found myself smiling…. often. I wondered why people at the stores were being so friendly and smiling all the time and then I realized that it was because I was walking around with a silly grin on my face. How embarrassing!
I also began to learn that this gentleman and I had led very similar lives in many ways. We had endured many of the same heartaches. And we found joy in many of the same things…books, conversation, and nature.We also had much in common …a passion for natural health and healing, for herbs, essential oils etc. As a Naturopathic Dr. and Master Herbalist, he had a great deal of knowledge to share. As an herbalist with decades of hands-on experience, I was able to share much of the practical learning I have experienced.
Life was good, I was happier than I had been…perhaps ever. Each of my sons, independently and at different times, expressed that outside of their marriages and the birth of my grandson, they had never seen me this happy…and this made them very happy.
Then one night, after hours of great conversation and lots of laughter, the gentleman headed to his home and I headed upstairs. I found Elijah stretched out on my bed smiling…and he asked me a simple question….