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Category Archives: marriage

It’s Complicated…But Not Really

The most common question I got while dating and even now while engaged is, “Soooo…is it hard?” Usually this question came after I explained that Shawn is divorced and has two children. Sometimes it was said as a statement instead of a question. I’m never quite sure how to respond to that but today I’m going to answer the question: “Is it hard?”

Yes. And No. Does that help?

About half of my friends are dating or engaged right now. Sometimes I see the inner turmoil and stress in their relationships and I say to Shawn, “I think we must be doing the whole dating thing wrong. It’s too easy.” He would laugh and we would shrug and move on with life. I kept my LIST of questions going and Shawn grew to know that it wasn’t a thing to be scared of. The LIST were simply things that I didn’t want to discuss over the phone but I also didn’t want to forget about, so I put them in my phone to talk about later. He grew so used to the LIST that often we would be on a walk and he would casually say, “So, got anything on your LIST we need to talk about?”

I didn’t have to worry about what Shawn thought of something because if I was unsure, I asked him. (I know that is a novel idea.) Same on his end. If I didn’t like something, he knew it. I know so many girls that toss and turn, worried about what their boyfriend thinks about something, but they haven’t bothered to even ask him. Whyyyyyy? I don’t understand.

Now. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that we are perfect. [ha. HA! ha.] No joke, dating someone with kids is different and it’s a learning process. It’s more like dating three people and learning the emotions of all three. At times, it was/is overwhelming. And at times, I felt like an invader into this family. The amount of communication I’ve had to do has gone way up. I knew that when I felt weird or awkward, the solution wasn’t to pull away from the situation, but to communicate that to Shawn. Not in a way to make him feel responsible or blame him, but to work through a solution together. We both know that small things ignored build up to big things so we tell each other the small and the big things.

The hardest part about dating was and is outside people. People who make assumptions about our situation and jump to judgement. I’m not used to having my character called into question and so this was totally new for me. I’ve had to learn to respond slowly and in a gentle and understanding way towards others. To respect what others believe about divorce, even if it’s not what I believe. Even if they haven’t taken the time to ask about our situation.

And I would say that’s where Christ comes in. I’ve learned much about how Christ works this year! Every time another person has offended me and I’ve been tempted to just give up, I’m reminded that Christ moves TOWARDS US in forgiveness. He makes the first move, not us. Each time I want to make a snarky or angry comeback to someone who is being hasty in judgement, I remember how patient Christ is TOWARDS ME. This has been a year of moving towards other people in gentleness, love, forgiveness, and patience and although sometimes it’s hard, each step has been a reminder of just how much grace I’ve been shown.

So to answer the initial question…it may be hard, but it’s GOOD. It is not a burden or weight, but a joy and delight. It is a joy to build a relationship with someone in order to pursue Christ together. It may be hard, but it’s definitely worth it.

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2020 in marriage

 

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The Second Date

Now you may be wondering why I’m telling you about the second date and not the first. No worries, I’m going to tell you about both. After Shawn said he was still interested, we agreed to meet up. For our first date we went for a walk on a local bike path. I should probably define the word “date” right now. For us, a date was pretty much any time that we spent together and A LOT of that was walking. I love to walk and he knew that and we found it was a great time to talk. Walking and talking go hand in hand. (Also in the middle of a pandemic, options are limited. 🙂 )

Our first date was pretty much just catching up. After all, we hadn’t really seen each other in person in a while. I do remember telling him outright that I didn’t know how to date and he laughed. And we agreed to meet again later that week at the park in town.

But I was being honest. I didn’t know how to date. And I had many people tell me I was doing it wrong. Apparently you aren’t supposed to be bluntly honest with the other person? But I was and let me tell you, it made life SO. MUCH. EASIER.

I told Shawn that I was making a LIST of questions for our second date and not to be scared if I literally pulled it out. I just had things to ask that I didn’t want to forget about and my memory is bad. He said to bring it on. When I tell people that I brought a list of questions to our second date, they usually picture me interrogating that poor guy, but it didn’t feel that way. It was more like a conversation back and forth. I always say the most valuable dating advice I ever got was this: “Get the big questions out of the way first.” And that’s exactly what I did. I unashamedly asked the big questions right off the bat.

I want to be specific so you need to know a little about Shawn. He is a faithful follower of Christ and has been divorced. He has two precious children and he and his ex-wife co-parent them. So when I say I had questions, I had QUESTIONS.

If you look back to my last post, you will remember that before I ever messaged Shawn, I first messaged his pastor? There was one question I needed answered. I trusted his pastor because we have both been through the same biblical counseling classes and he knew Shawn’s situation better than I did. I asked him if he believed Shawn had a biblical basis for remarriage. I know there are different beliefs on divorce and remarriage and this post is not long enough to go into those. Suffice it to say that we believe Shawn has a biblical basis for remarriage.

So on our second date I pulled out my LIST of questions. They were questions like:

“Play the movie for me.” (AKA- tell me your life story)
“What do you do when you are angry?”
“Who are your closest friends and mentors?”
“Tell me about your marriage and divorce?”
“How is your relationship with your ex?”
“What are your political stances? What do you believe about obeying the government?”
“What are your fears?”
“Do you consider yourself a good driver?” (I don’t like driving lol)
“What are your intentions for this relationship?”

It was on my LIST but before I got to it Shawn said, “I think we should talk about boundaries in dating.” I LOVED that. I loved that I wasn’t the one that had to bring that up but that he took the lead. It meant a lot to me because it showed respect for me and for our witness as believers. Our boundaries are different than other couples’ and THAT’S OKAY. Among other things, one thing we agreed on was that we didn’t want to be alone in each other’s homes. We wanted to maintain integrity and avoid all appearance of evil. And despite what people think, that is not an impossible boundary to keep while dating.

We also discussed the kids at length. I shared that I wanted to be very mindful and understanding of their emotions. I told Shawn I was fiercely opposed to any sort of forced affection from them and that they needed to be allowed to come to me by themselves. He wholeheartedly agreed and appreciated my attitude towards them.

Shawn asked if he could pray with me at the end of our date and I told him I would love that. He took my hands and prayed. When he finished I looked up and knew right then that I was looking at the person I wanted to marry.

I walked away and my best friend asked how the date went. I calmly replied, “Well, I’m going to marry that man.”

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2020 in marriage

 

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When the Lord Directs

You may be wondering how I got here. How did it get to this point? How is a girl who 9 months ago was turning down any and all dating requests now ENGAGED? Sometimes I sit and wonder the same thing to be honest. Let me explain…

I always wanted to be married growing up. Always. If I had it my way, I would have been married right out of high school and would have had a house full of kids by the time I was 30. But the Lord had other plans. And at times I really struggled with that. I’ve always struggled with contentment and I wanted to be content in Christ but I also wanted to be married!

Fast forward to 2018. My health was finally doing a little better. I was on meds for the seizures and starting to do better. It was in that year that I suddenly realized my desire for marriage had left. That is the simplest way to put it. I don’t know whether it was hormone stuff from the medication, emotional issues, or simply a blessing from the Lord for that season but I had absolutely no desire to be married. I felt a peace I had never felt before. I was able to whole-heartedly rejoice with my friends who were getting into relationships because I felt no envy or jealousy! For the first time in my life, I truly felt content with singleness, even as I thought way into the future if that was what the Lord had for me.

I kept those thoughts mostly to myself. The church has a pretty high standard for girls. Most people think you are crazy if you aren’t actively looking for a husband. There were a few trusted friends, mentors, and family members that I told. Wouldn’t you know that from 2018-2020 I got asked out by more men than I ever have before? Every single time I would pray about it and every single time my answer was the same. I gently but confidently explained where the Lord had put my heart at the time and every single man understood. I’m still friends with all of them and I’m incredibly thankful for that.

On August 28, 2018 (do you know how much digging I had to do to find that date???), a man I didn’t know very well asked if I would like to go out with him. We had many mutual friends and we were both bloggers which was our connection. I prayed about it and declined but said I was always willing to have another friend. And we remained friends.

For almost two years, we enjoyed a robust friendship. A lot of our interests overlapped and he was easy to talk to. We both enjoyed talking about the Lord, what we were reading, praying for each other, movies we like, etc. While we had a lot in common, we had a lot of differences and liked to discuss both. Small stuff and big stuff. It was easy because I had made it clear that I was NOT interested and so that was out of the way.

In January of 2020, I started taking biblical counseling classes- a dream come true for me! One of the books on the reading list was Marriage Matters by Winston Smith. I thoroughly enjoyed that book. At the same time, it revealed heart issues that I wasn’t even aware of. I clearly remember one day reading the book and suddenly I started shaking all over and sobbing. I thought, “What in the world is wrong with me?? Why am I crying?!” I realized that the topic I was reading had been an issue of fear for me. I had such a strong fear about it that my body was reacting before my brain could even process the truth!

And suddenly it hit me. I’m afraid. I don’t want to get married because I’m afraid. This was new. I literally had no clue that was lying beneath the surface of my heart. (You ninny!) But with the realization came a strength. Not a quick fix to the fear but a knowledge that I’m a child of the One who calls out fear. The fear was still there but I knew it now and I could deal with it.

Suddenly, I wanted to be married. In the reading of one chapter of one book, my heart had changed.

I felt very different. No one could tell. I didn’t tell anyone for weeks because I was still praying, still processing. But I did do one thing. I started praying for God to bring a godly husband if that was his will.

A lot of people have asked me if I regret those two years where I said no to every date. I do not. Looking back, the Lord needed to work in my heart. He had weeds to pull and flowers to plant and I’m grateful for that. I’m also thankful for the contentment that I now know is possible in the Lord. Even after I felt like I could be married, I still felt content. It wasn’t like before where I had a subtle discontentment about singleness. I knew the Lord was enough either way.

As I was praying for a husband, one name continually popped into my head. You guessed it. Guy from 2018, Shawn. I kept pushing it out. Nope. We are good friends but I don’t want to marry him. No thanks, Lord. Too many differences between us.

One day in June of 2020 I got tired of the nagging name so I decided to make a mental list of qualities I would like to see in a husband. I know a lot of girls have these lists hanging around- I’m not one of them. So I sat in my prayer wardrobe making this list and like scales falling away I saw that Shawn hit all of them! What??? No! That’s not how this was supposed to work! Pretty sure the Lord heard my gasp that day.

I went to work feeling weird from this talk with Jesus. I decided I needed to do something about it. In case you don’t know, I’m a straightforward kind of person. You should know that before you read further. I messaged Shawn’s pastor. I had some questions about Shawn that were serious enough that I needed an outside opinion on. I knew and trusted his pastor and I knew his answer would be truthful and biblical. It was. And it was encouraging.

Next I messaged a mutual friend of ours and asked her opinion. She was also positive (okay, she’s been trying to set us up for years) and wanted to know WHY THE HECK I WAS ASKING.

And lastly, shaking all over and about to throw up, I sent a message to Shawn.

At this point, I don’t know what you are thinking. Am I a lunatic? Insane? Incredibly bold? Possibly all of those things but on June 19, 2020, I sent a text that was not like any text I had ever sent before. The conversation went like this:

Me: Hey can I ask you an insanely crazy question?

Shawn: YES

(I laughed despite myself because I knew he wasn’t expecting the question I was about to throw his way. He was used to my random questions, but not this one.)

Me: Okay, take it slowly. I had to think and pray about this a lot. Remember when we first met and you asked me out and I flatly declined? I had very specific reasons for that but what I didn’t know was that the Lord needed to work in my heart. There were a lot of weeds in there that I wasn’t even aware of and he has been good and faithful to remove them. It has hurt like crazy but I’m confident it has all been for my good. All that to say that if you are still interested, I would like to get to know you better. (Gosh that was hard and humbling and vulnerable and I didn’t like it at all!)

Yeah, I sent that last line too. I’ve always been completely open and honest with Shawn.

Shawn: Really??

I LAUGHED.

Shawn: That just made my day! Yes! Of course! I’ve been holding out and praying for you for two years.

What??? No. People don’t really do that, do they?? I was relieved and excited and at the same time I felt immediately calm. It was the weirdest thing. I actually had people question my excitement but I think they are confusing excitement with anxiety. And I didn’t feel anxious. I knew this person already. When we started dating, it felt like a seamless transition to me. People around me thought it was sudden and fast but it didn’t feel that way to us. We both felt sure and confident in pursuing Christ as we moved closer together. Suddenly I saw God’s hand everywhere in the past couple years.

I saw him as he had been working in Shawn’s heart and in my own to remove our sins and replace them with righteousness. I saw him preparing and preserving us for each other even though I was blind to it all. I saw that it had been the Lord that had driven our close friendship and I sat back in amazement.

How could I not have seen this sooner?? My best friend tried to tell me that my eyes lit up slightly while texting him and I told her, “Uh no. We are good friends. I just like talking to him. STOP making it something it’s not!” Do you think I’ve had to eat those words? Yeah.

And yet I’m truly just thankful. I’m thankful for those years of friendship. What a blessing! I would never, ever go back and have done it a different way. The Lord knew what he was doing and when he was doing it.

And so on October 20, 2020, my life changed for the better as I got to start calling someone my fiancé. Shawn asked if I would be his wife and I believe my exact response was, “Yes! Finally.”

The Lord has done great things for me. Holy is his Name.

(Someday I’ll be back on here to explain our dating story because that’s also a story. But I think this post has been long enough. Also, does this excuse my lack of posting over the last few months?? I hope so. 🙂 )

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2020 in contentment, marriage

 

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