Friday, September 27, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Volume 29


{story of a soul, condensed}

Visit Jen at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

{1} Please say some prayers for my grandfather, who had a stroke about a week ago.  Thanks be to God, he is recovering very well and doesn't seem to have been affected too much physically or mentally, but there are still questions to be decided about a future surgery and some other measures.  Thank you so much!

{2} I'm so looking forward to a weekend of nesting!  I feel like we've been so busy lately, but I can't ignore this sneaking feeling that our baby is going to come a little early before we even have a place for him to sleep or any tiny clothes washed for him.  Andrew and I went shopping for a few things this week, and after two incredibly generous baby showers, we are close to having all of the basics covered, but everything's still in boxes and I still need to order a few of the big things like diapers and whatnot.  We are so anxious to meet our sweet little guy!  Preparedly, of course...



Very anxious indeed.
{3} We're also going apple picking, a family tradition, this weekend!  You know those two showers?  The setup for one of them was that we were going on our orchard trip, only, Andrew and his brothers kept giving me wayyy more details than normal about where to pick everyone up and when to get there and I have to admit I was a little suspish.  But, surprise-revealed or not, it was still such a wonderful afternoon with both of our families, and I've been so amazed at the love and generosity people have for a little baby who's not even born yet.  The other shower was thrown by my friends and sisters-in-law, and it really was a huge surprise--I'd thought Andrew and I were going on a double date with my siblings-in-law for Mediterranean food, which is always enough to get this homebody out of the house and on a date, only to be surprised at the door!  So, so thankful.

{4}  I can't stop with the baby fever takes (I'm wracking my brain for a Bieber joke and am coming up short)...on the subject of preparedness, any advice from you mamas on unexpected items to make sure I bring to the hospital?  I've been reading things here and there and making a list, but I'd love to know if there's anything you found extra comfy or anything you wished you'd brought along, beyond the typical PJ's-camera-birth plan-Gatorade front.

{5} Blog posts telling Robin Thicke to man up are kind of old news now, I realize, but my friend Angie shared this article recently, in which the language from "Blurred Lines" is compared to the language of sexual violence, that really struck at my heart.  Read it.  

{6} Clearly I have my priorities straight...if my baby were to be born tomorrow, he'd have bare buns and no bed, but at least I could record all of it--we've been saving up for a DSLR camera for almost a year, and I pulled the trigger a few weeks ago.  I love it so far and have been trying to read as much as I can.   It was really important to me (and to my ever thrifty husband) that if we splurged on a fancier camera, we learned over time how to use it to its full capabilities beyond the Automatic modes; it didn't make sense to us to get something expensive and very adaptable and then use it the same way we would a regular point and shoot.  That said, I'm a very eager student right now!  This site has been an awesome resource, but I've been a little overwhelmed trying to find other tutorials or books.  Any recommendations?

{7} Also in the interesting articles category, did you read this one about why parents shouldn't send their daughters to college?  All due respect to the Catholic family ministry that published it, but I found the article incredibly presumptuous, negative, and full of logical fallacies.  A few days afterwards, I found myself really enjoying Haley's response, as well as this post from the National Catholic Register, by a stay at home mom who went to Princeton.  Thoughts? 

Off I go to pick apples and feather our nest.  Have a wonderful weekend; let me know what you're up to!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

DIY: Fall Wedding Crafts


As much as this is my favorite time of year, I have to ask: am I the only one who feels like obsessing over riding boots, apple picking, and Pumpkin Spice Lattes as soon as Fall hits has become kind of cliche?  Not that I dislike any of those things (far, far from it, in fact); I just get a little peeved, for some reason, at the constant emphasis.  I should probably take a Pinterest vacation.

Regardless, I suppose there really is no getting around the greatness of snappy fresh air, deeper, crisper blue skies, and crunchy leaves.  Here, in the spirit of celebrating the season as you celebrate your wedding feast, simple, inspired DIYs to add a touch of all that warmth to your day (links to each project are in the caption):

1. Silhouette Art.  2. Embellished Cardigan.  3. Gilded Pumpkins.  4. Caramel Apple favors.  5. Painted Wine Bottles.
Yes?  If you're having a Fall wedding or have been to one, share your best ideas in the comments!


Monday, September 23, 2013

Inspired: Maternity Bridesmaids Wear


{delights}

As a girl who's officially 9 months pregnant as of today (!), I feel like I have a new appreciation for my wardrobe, as in, all the things that used to fit.  Dressing a baby bump has definitely taken some creativity with items I already own, which is fun if limiting, but for a few special occasions (baptisms, interviews, and parties) I did have to go hunting for new dresses.  For a while I was able to get away with bigger sizes of regular items, but at 36 weeks, there's pretty much no getting around the maternity wear right now.

My guess is that if you're having a Catholic wedding, there's a good chance at least one pregnant girl is involved.  Out of solidarity, I offer you today some of the cutest belly-friendly bridesmaids' dresses I've stumbled across:
Dresses, Left to Right: Ruche, David's Bridal, Ruche, Ruche, Topshop
What do you think?  If you've had expectant friends in your wedding or one that you've been in, I'd love for you to share any extra advice!





Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Woman and The Serpent



At just about 9 months pregnant (I'll be full term on Monday!), I think I'm only now becoming able to articulate the thought that's been swirling around in my head for the past few months.  Over the summer, I started to notice a more and more frequent sense of heaviness on my heart.  Maybe part of it was the insanity of a 300 mile move and the temptation to despair when a lot of details Andrew and I had planned and anticipated ended up falling through or changing, but I think there's been something else at work, too.

Way back in the early days of this blog, I wrote about my first encounter with spiritual warfare during my engagement.  During the year I worked as a chastity speaker while planning my wedding, my purity came under attack big time.  I realized something that year, and I'm realizing it again now: Satan's enmity for woman, the hatred that began in the Garden, affects brides in a certain way.  Authentic beauty and purity shine so clearly in comparison to the lies of artifice and lust that the world packages and presents to us, so why wouldn't the evil one strike constantly at our sense of beauty when it goes to the core of who we are?  It can be so easy sometimes to feel like your weight and your looks aren't enough, and chastity before marriage can be such a battle.

A few years later, I'm feeling some of the same attacks on who I am as a woman.  I really have been blessed with a healthy and pretty easy pregnancy, but it's still hard, more and more often, not to feel huge and clumsy when I can't get out of the car or sit up in bed without help, not to be frustrated with my increasingly limited wardrobe and my belly when I look at magazines and clothes catalogs, and not to hate the stretch marks that suddenly started zebra-ing their way down one of my legs.  I need to remind myself often (and, thanks be to God, I'm constantly reminded by my sweet, affirming, and truthful hubby) that regardless of how I'm feeling physically or how I perceive my appearance, my body is doing something amazing and something beautiful in growing and caring for our son before he's even born.  I have a really strong sense that it's the same way the evil one came after me when I was engaged; authentic womanhood and motherhood are such enemies of his.

Engaged ladies?  Mamas?  Do you ever feel this way?  Being a bride and being a mother can come with such a spiritual struggle when you're down on yourself.  All of it goes back to Our Lady, I think.  She is a perfect bride, virginal, beautiful, and completely integrated in her body and soul, and a perfect mother, a holy dwelling place for the Lord.   So Satan's constantly after her, and her children, but of course, she can't be touched.  If only it were that easy for us...

I love statues of Mary where she's crushing the head of the serpent beneath her feet.  As hard as it is, and as resistant as I have to admit I usually am, I know that clinging to her during my times of self-doubt and attack are graces in themselves.  Please pray for me.  Even as I wrote this post over the last few days, I had a hard time, not with being honest but with just feeling peace.  I noticed a greater sense of impatience and frustration with myself and even a feeling of self-loathing and despair for feeling that way in the first place; it's a feeling I know wasn't of the Lord.

St. Maximilian Kolbe wrote, "to come closer to her, to become like her, to permit her to reign over our hearts and our whole being, that she live and ace in us and through us, that she love God with our hearts, and we belong to her unreservedly; this is our Ideal.  That her life might grow deeper in us from day to day, from hour to hour, from moment to moment, and without limits: This is our Ideal."  Amen.   


Monday, September 9, 2013

Not Alone Series: Can a Woman Pursue a Man?


If you haven't come across it yet, Jen from Jumping In Puddles and Morgan from Follow and Believe host a fantastic weekly linkup for all the single ladies, with a new topic for discussion each week.  Today, what's on the table for their Not Alone Series is the question of whether it's possible for a woman to pursue a man.  I've never participated in the series until today, but this question is one that I've changed my opinion a lot on in the last few years, and I was so glad for the opportunity to put it into words.  Click here for more bloggers' takes on this!

My short answer to this question is yes: I absolutely think it's possible for a woman to pursue a man, in a real, genuine way that neither defies who we are in our femininity nor buys into what the culture has to offer.

Until I was in my 20s, my dating experience was limited, to say the least.  I was big-time shy in high school.  That's not to say I didn't ache for a loving relationship; I definitely did.  During my conversion in college, that desire deepened more and more in my heart as I learned about pure, authentic love and began praying for my future husband.  I loved being surrounded by a community of friends who were growing in faith at the same time I was and meeting other young women who took relationships seriously and weren't afraid to want both a family and a fulfilling life outside the home.

But there was something else among young Catholics, sometimes in books (I had a lot of issues with Captivating, but that's a post for another time) and sometimes in conversations I had, that I started to notice.  They had a lot of opinions, bordering on rules, it sometimes seemed, about dating and relationships:  Guard your heart.  Guard his heart.  Don't be too forward with guys, because it's not feminine.  He should always be the one to initiate texts, dates, and hanging out.  Be a little hard to get, because men like having something to fight for.

Whoa.  These ideas represent just one school of thought when it comes to dating, one I know isn't universal, nor entirely wrong, but at the time, it was pretty confusing for me.  If men and women are created to inspire each other's inherent masculinity and femininity, I wondered, was it really necessary to analyze things so much and to practically strategize my dating life just so I could follow the Catholic playbook?

The conclusion I think I've come to is no; all of that's not necessary.  I wrote a few weeks ago about a thought I often have, that the more intimately you come to know the Lord through prayer and worship, the more deeply you come to know yourself.  As I grew in faith, I discovered, I grew in honesty.  Not without difficulty and a few servings of humble-flavored pie, I slowly, slowly became (and am still becoming) more honest with myself about my shortcomings in virtue, more open with my friends about my struggles, and much more able to see a negative relationship I was in with truthful, critical eyes.  I think, then, that honesty plays a huge role in creating clarity when it comes to dating.

John Paul II's Theology Of the Body goes back to the Garden, where the Father created man and woman from love and for love.  Man and woman He created them, to each answer the deepest desire of the other's heart and to be loved in the fullness of their dignity and worth.  Men and women complement each other, and it's written right into our bodies that men are active initiators of the gift of self, and women are active receivers.

So, do I think men and women each have something distinctive to offer in a relationship and that our sexual difference fosters different roles in giving and receiving?  Of course (I think about this in particular as we prepare to become parents next month!), and far be it from me to disagree with a Pope, but in my opinion, there has to be a meeting somewhere between theology and our daily lives.  Focusing too much on distinctions and roles, in my observation, can sometimes inhibit the natural growth of a friendship between a man and a woman, as well as the path to romance.  There can be all this head knowledge, but it doesn't always translate to movements of the heart.  If a woman insists, for instance, that she should only receive, rather than give or initiate, any romantic gestures from a man who's interested in her, I've noticed that it tends to squash any potential relationship more often than it helps it along, because there's a lack of complete honesty and reciprocation.

Boldness can be good, and even holy, I think.  If he's interested and you like him, say so!  Being honest with yourself and potential dates about your feelings, instead of keeping a man guessing for the sake of maintaining his interest or hiding your inclinations out of fear or convention, just seems to make things so much simpler and clearer for both people involved.  As women, I think pursuing men involves directness and a willingness to make our feelings and intentions clear, and to return his gestures, like phone calls and time spent together, rather than leaving it all up to him.

The first time Andrew asked me on a date, I had just ended my first serious relationship a few weeks before and knew I wasn't ready yet, even though I really liked him.  So I told him so.  After spending several more weeks in prayer and discernment, I felt like the time was right, but I knew that the ball was in my court.  He, after all, was waiting patiently and so sweetly for me, and if I didn't say anything to this boy I knew was special, how would things ever get rolling?  I saw him and asked him to ask me out again.  "Okay, soon then," he said.  Not ten minutes later, he asked and we made plans for our first date.

Before Andrew, I think I'd still held onto some conventions about Christian dating, about how the guy should always do this, the girl should always do that, and all that jazz.  I was amazed to find that as our relationship grew, I thought about those conventions less and less, and it was so good.  Instead of blurring the lines of what manhood and womanhood required in dating, I feel like both of our identities became so much clearer.  We revealed more and more of who we are, not just to each other, but to ourselves, because of the easy honesty between us.  I realized that it's not who does what so much as the fact that equality in dignity and in love is the most essential part of a relationship.  Andrew was, and still is, such a gentleman, but suddenly it didn't seem to matter much if I treated him or drove us to our destination now and then.  Serving each other and giving gifts were acts of love, not declarations of masculinity or femininity and who wore the pants.

Being on the other side of marriage now, I guess some aspect of pursuing each other is over, but I've learned that it really is so important to still initiate love and pursue Andrew as a woman, in everything from our physical relationship to how we get chores done.  For us, I think having strictly defined notions of what a husband does and what a wife does would put more pressure on being a certain way for the other and wouldn't let our natural skills, inclinations (I enjoy cooking more than my husband does, for example, while he never minds doing the laundry), and affections flourish.

Thoughts, ladies?  I get that everyone sees dating a little differently, and that can be so good.  I'm taking the rest of this week off from blogging, but meantime, I'd love to know where you stand on this!



Friday, September 6, 2013

7 Quick Takes, Volume 28

{story of a soul, condensed}

Head over to Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!  Linking up with Jen.

{1} I am so proud of my husband!  It's Andrew's second week of his PhD program and he is such a hard worker in his classes and in getting things ready each night for the freshmen undergrads he teaches.  He spent last year teaching no less than six classes while taking some time off from school, so in some ways, his new workload feels like less, though he's back to writing papers and sitting in classes himself.  There have already been days, though, where it's hard finding time to just relax together--student-teacher life means there's always something else that needs to be done!  Hopefully we'll get into a groove soon, though I expect that once our baby comes (in about six or seven weeks!!), things will change for us again in the best way.  For any other grad school wives out there, I'd love to hear your take on prioritizing each other while still focusing on school!

{2} Maybe it was that busyness of this week, but I've found it hard to feel truly restful in my soul lately.  That said, I'm going to take most of the next week or so off from blogging to just unplug and retreat a little, but do check back for new stuffs on Monday--Jen and Morgan ask, for their Not Alone Series, is it possible for a woman to pursue a man?  It's a question I'm really excited to answer.


{3} I don't talk about it much on my blog (where do my personal hobbies fit in with weddings?), but I am a huge knitter (though I'm sure Tiffany could smoke me).  I've made baby blankets for my friends over the last few years, and I'm so happy to say I just finished my first one for my own baby!  It felt really special making it, knowing my own children will use it, and I can't, can't wait to cozy him up in it.

{4} Speaking of our little guy, he's working on his sleep habits, building up his immunity (I'm trying to load up on the probiotics, which I hear are important in the third trimester) weighing in at about 4 1/2 pounds this week, and I'm starting to feel every ounce of it--his new hobby, it seems, is kicking my ribs!  I know that everyone feels her baby in slightly different spots and at different points in her pregnancy, but these harder kicks that I can feel higher up are brand new to me.  If it's any indicator of his activity after he's born, I think we'll have quite the mover on our hands!

{5} Other pregnancy updates...I have been craving, and making, Eggs Benedict like nobody's business, kickboxing a lot because I love it and to offset the Eggs Benedict, my friend Ashley took some wonderful bump photos last weekend that I can't wait to share with you, and somehow, I managed to paint my toes a few days ago.  It might be my last DIY pedicure for a while...

{6} Back in college, I listened to a fair amount of Christian music and enjoyed it, but in the past few years I've become less drawn to worship music specifically and more to musicians, secular or Christian, that aren't afraid to get real about the harder, sometimes uglier and more wounded, aching parts of our hearts (thank you Josh Garrels, Mumford, the Avetts, and The Head and The Heart).  It's just the turn my spirituality has taken, I guess, but anyway, I found this interview with Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins pretty interesting (though also a little pretentious, in my opinion) in the way of what makes for good Christian music and searching.  Thoughts?

{7} We're looking forward to a relaxing weekend exploring our still newish neighborhood after a week of much, much running around and catching up on things around the house after spending Labor Day weekend away--am I the only one who feels it all week long if I don't spend most of my last weekend day at home getting things like meals and chores ready for the week ahead?!  We're also off on a double date with my brother and sister-in-law for Mediterranean food.  My appetite is so ready.

Tell me what you're up to, as well!  Enjoy the weekend!




Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Veritas: Jared & Rebekah, Part 1

{real life love}

Rebekah blogs about recipes, writing, and family life with her sweet new baby girl, Ellie, over at A Mad Tea Party.  I was so glad when she asked to share her love story here!  Without further ado...

I was knee-deep in textbooks and half-folded sweatshirts. Saturday morning in my dorm room at Hillsdale College, and I'd just started to unpack: I had arrived back in Michigan the night before, and was gearing up for a fabulous spring semester. In a couple of months I would graduate and head home to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Now it was time to dig in for my last academic hurrah. 

First I had to put all this stuff away.

Then my dad called. Listen, my dad never calls me-- I knew something was up.

"Hi honey."
"Umm. Hi?"
"Your mom is on the phone too."
"Crap. What did I do this time?"
"Ha, ha. Nothing."
"So what's going on?"
"Well."

"I had breakfast with Jared Randolph this morning."

I promptly forgot the teetering stack of dystopian novels on my desk. Jared? Had breakfast with my dad? Oh.

“He's interested in dating you.”

I think my dad said a few more things, but I wasn't listening.

Before I go any further, let me tell you a little more about Jared and me, and why this was such an unexpected phone call. We grew up in the same church, but he barely figures at all in my memories, and it's about the same for him.  We pursued our own interests, made our own friends. Jared went to Millersville University in Lancaster to study business; I packed off to Michigan as an English major. We saw each other occasionally over breaks, and that—from my perspective—was that. In fact, I'm quite certain that at some point I thought these exact words: "I could never marry Jared Randolph. He is very nice. But he is quiet. It would be boring."

Interestingly enough, in the spring of 2008 I'd felt a strong sense that I was ready to get married. Before that, I would not have said that I had the maturity for marriage or even a strong enough desire for it. When I came to that realization, I wasn't dating anyone even though I had plenty of great guys around me. So I waited. Not always patiently, but God gave a lot of grace, and by January 2009 I found myself thoroughly content with singleness, and not remotely interested in dating any of the boys I knew.

That is when Daddy called.


As I said, I wasn't listening anymore, because almost as soon as he'd mentioned Jared's name, the weirdest thing had happened to me: I had faith. All the faith in the world for this crazy venture. I couldn't explain why, but it's God gave me complete peace about it, when I could have freaked out or gone into convulsions of indecision. My father told me to call him back the next day, but before he'd even hung up I knew what I would say. "Yes! Why not?"

People are usually skeptical when I tell them that. Really? After lacking any interest whatsoever in this boy, I agreed to date him just like that? Yes, I do solemnly swear. I had good reasons. First off, I felt that God had been preparing me for a relationship all year. More specifically, Jared and I had talked several times the previous summer and again over Christmas Break (of course this was part of his strategy but I didn't know it at the time), and because of those conversations my opinion of him had really changed: I thought he was smart, interesting, and funny. Everyone I knew respected him and that spoke volumes to me. Besides, he was pretty cute.


I had absolutely no reason to say no, except for being afraid . . . and seriously? That would be lame. When I tried to apply Scripture to the situation, the only verse that came to mind was, "If anything is not done from faith, it is sin." If I said no it would be from fear, not from faith. So that settled it.

I called Daddy back. I said yes.


I guess a lot of you will wonder why my dad, rather than my potential boyfriend, broached the topic to me first. It isn't because we believe that fathers should direct their daughters' every move, or that children are their parents' property to dispose of at will, or that a dad's opinion of a suitor is more important than anything else, or that men need to jump through a series of old-fashioned hoops before getting to the girl. It's just because we both respect our parents a lot and thought we should have their blessing for a relationship. Also, I was still part of my parents' household, following their leadership (even though that looked much different as a 21-year-old college senior than it had as, say, a tempestuous toddler). It made sense for Jared to ask my dad—the head of that household—before he asked me.

Back to the story. Once my father gave Jared got the go-ahead, he sat down and wrote a letter. A real pen and paper letter, you bet. I checked my mailbox twice a day until the blessed envelope arrived. As I read, I was astonished to find out that Jared had been interested in me since the spring of 2008, exactly the time that I'd felt a push towards marriage myself. He had actually been studying abroad in Germany and for no reason whatsoever. found himself thinking about me; we hadn't communicated for months! Yet there I was in his head, and apparently, I wouldn't go away. Jared mulled over this newfound interest all semester (while in Germany), then all summer (while we were both back in Lancaster), then all fall (when, still oblivious, I had gone back to Hillsdale). He wasn't sure whether he should keep it under his hat, or bite the bullet and ask me out. He talked to people and he prayed. A lot. He did know that he liked several things about me-- and I'm sure I don't know what they were, for I am loud and weird and emotional, all the things he isn't-- but anyway! There I was, and there he was, and he decided to do something about it.


I couldn't have asked for a sweeter or more thoughtful letter.

Jared suggested that we stick to letters until I came home on Spring Break (both snail mail and email). That was fine with me, since writing generally requires more thought than talking and I wanted this first stage of the relationship to go slowly. We both stocked up on stamps and envelopes and settled in for some serious correspondence. I spent a lot of late nights writing . . . and I can't say that I worked very hard on my senior thesis.


With each new letter from Jared I grew more excited. I felt as if I had a permanent grin on my face; I couldn't believe that this wonderful young man had reached out to me, and was now putting up with all my silliness and sauciness. Jared made me laugh, encouraged me, and asked great questions. When I got horribly sick in February, it was good to know that he cared, although he couldn't be there. It was a giddy, exhilarating time.


When Spring Break rolled around, I started telling more people about our relationship; I knew that the beans would spill as soon as I got back to Lancaster, so I wanted to make sure that certain people heard it from me! Again, everyone shared my excitement. I'd been a rather stubborn non-dater throughout college, so my friends knew that if I had a boyfriend, it was serious.

When I flew home for Spring Break with my friend Gretchen, I felt like I was about to meet my boyfriend for the first time. Weird. Despite this, I never contracted the case of first-date-nerves I had so dreaded. When Jared knocked on the door the next evening, all spiffed up and a white rose in hand, I couldn't stop smiling. As we chatted over our tortellini, there were no awkward pauses, and I don't think either of us were afraid. We had already said so much in our letters-- revealed good and bad about ourselves-- that this part was easy.

When I came home that night, Gretchen took one look at me, laughed, and said, "Shall I buy tickets for your wedding?" I must have been glowing.

The rest of the week, Jared and I saw each other almost every day. I had no illusions of love just yet, but I did know that I really liked this boy, and was thrilled to be with him. To me, spending time with Jared over Spring Break had been a way to gauge the quality of our relationship. All indications were positive. Once back at Hillsdale I found myself missing Jared immediately. 


The semester rushed on. I completed that thesis, I took my finals. I graduated, and my entire family plus Jared came to watch! Then the summer began.

Now that I had come home for good, Jared and I were together two or three times a week, whether out on a date, at a church event, or with our families. I enjoyed doing normal things together, not just "date" things. I loved it when we had a chance to work alongside one another, whether helping our parents with a project or participating in some church event.

One of the greatest things I realized in those months was that I could trust Jared-- a rare thing. I was so happy to find that when I admitted my weaknesses, he moved in to meet them. Furthermore, whenever we had a conflict we addressed it head-on. Neither of us liked letting arguments simmer on the back burner. We talked about our problems, honestly addressed the issues behind them, and did our best to restore peace quickly. 


But there was no romance.

Mostly, I wasn't certain how he felt. Did he like me? I supposed he did, since we were still dating. But really. Did he like me?

I wished for some words or actions that would tell me which way he was leaning. I had a tight grip on my heart and refused to open it up for love until I knew it would be reciprocated. I wanted to love him, but pretending would do no one good. I grew frustrated and a bit frightened. To make matters worse, I felt as if most people around us assumed that we were madly in love and that we'd already made wedding plans. Everybody had a clear vision of my future . . . except me.


At several points throughout the summer, I asked myself how I'd feel if were were to break up, and I never felt terrible about the possibility. I would wish that it had turned out differently, but I had no attachment beyond close friendship. Now I realize that time was the missing ingredient (well, and a few other things, but we'll get to that later). But for most of that summer I could not see any way forward. It seemed like Jared was perfectly fine with how things were going. How was I going to get through this?

One Sunday evening, I finally spilled these problems to my parents. I had no idea where our relationship was going and felt unfairly benighted on that score; I was convinced that Jared liked me no more than any other girl in the universe; I was terrified that love would never appear at all and our courtship would stall, yet outwardly putter on because we had no way of discussing that issue. When was love supposed to appear anyway? It seemed like we had done the "getting to know you" thing long enough. For goodness' sakes, how was I supposed to know if I wanted to marry him, if he didn't do something to take our friendship past its current level? And so forth.


Obviously, I needed clarity. My dad, who had much more compassion for my poor boyfriend than I did, offered to broach the subject with him. (I am grateful that as Jared and I dated, we were "under" our parents, who kept a loving eye on us and helped us to sort out tangled issues. They never gave us orders; they knew we were adults and had no interest in micromanaging our relationship. Yet they also knew that we needed help, and were glad to give it.)

So. My dad bought some beers, called Jared, and went to talk business. Jared was informed that 1) I did not think that he liked me very much, 2) he therefore needed to chase me, 3) I was not at that point particularly inclined to be caught, 4) he therefore should feel free to do so in any manner he saw fit.


As I understand it, this conversation was very helpful to Jared. All of a sudden, I found myself being romanced. Apparently he didn't need too much encouragement. Within a few weeks of conversation number two, I had no doubts about his feelings, and of course, I found it indescribably sweet.

Smooth sailing from here on out? Ah no. I still couldn't see myself marrying him, and I felt pretty guilty about that. Here I had gotten exactly what I wanted, and my heart hadn't budged a bit.

Well, I wanted to wait and see. However, I also wanted Jared to know where I stood so I wouldn't end up leading him on. Which was approximately the last thing in the world I wanted to do. (You know, it sounds paranoid now that I put it into words, but at the time it was a legitimate concern. I just can't squeeze all of the events or emotions of that month into one blog post. You'll have to take my word for it.) Hmmm. Cue one of the most awkward conversations of my life.

One warm summer morning, Jared took me to the gardens at the Masonic Village in Elizabethtown. Lovely gardens, truly, but I was occupied by my own worries. Why don't I like him? He's amazing. He's a great friend. And he likes me, I know he does. This is ridiculous. I'm ridiculous. Wouldn't any other girl be in love with him by now? What's wrong with me?! We finally sat down on a bench and started to talk. I honestly don't how I managed to tell Jared that I had noticed his recent change of tone, deeply appreciated it, thought he was a wonderful person, was still not in love with him, thought I might get there soon, was frustrated with my own emotions, and hoped that he could be patient.

But I did. He understood. We ate Vietnamese food for lunch. None the worse for wear, Jared continued on his new trajectory, "chasing me" with obvious gusto and never minding if I reciprocated. If it took time to win me over, so be it. He had to find a job anyway.

If my dad's conversation with Jared was a big turning point for him, this other conversation at the Masonic Gardens was a big turning point for me. I'd finally owned up to my weakness, that is, my inability to boss my emotions around. I had admitted that if anything was to happen here, it would be God's doing, not mine. I turned my heart over to Him-- the creator of love, after all-- and waited.

By the beginning of August, I was feeling a lot more stable. That breakdown had been the beginning of a renewed trust in God, which produced a serenity I had not felt since the beginning of our relationship. Time for me to stop striving, to let go of my timetable, to be quiet before Him. Jared was leading me; my parents were watching over me; God, above all, loved me. Everything was going to be okay.


Stay tuned for Part 2 next month!  Meantime, be sure to visit Rebekah at her blog and to share your thoughts on courtship with us in the comments!

Want to share your love story on Captive the Heart?  Email me at stephanie.captivetheheart@gmail.com!




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