In my life there have been moments I look back on that defined my future. Moments where choices were made, words were said or my perspective was altered. Moments that I will remember in great detail for the rest of my life, because my life as I knew it changed in that moment.
Our third date provided one of those moments.
Rob and I pulled into the parking lot at Minto Brown Island Park in Salem. He parked his car and we headed out for what I hoped would be a really, really, really long walk.
This park was beautiful. There were walkers, joggers and bikers enjoying the endless trails. There were parents calming fussy babies in strollers. There were dogs playing fetch with their owners and children playing on the play structure. There were green trees and lush vegetation as far as the eye could see. There were concrete paths and dirt trails winding in every direction.
Rob and I chose to venture on a concrete path that would eventually loop us back around to the parking lot. We walked slowly, not wanting to burn through the miles of concrete before we’d spent a sufficient amount of time engrossed in conversation with one another. I walked the whole way with my hands down at my side—hoping he’d take the hint and grab my hand. I wanted so badly for him to grab my hand, or do something that would tangibly express to me that I was special, that I was more than just a friend. He’d already become so much more than a friend in my mind, but I still wasn’t sure what I was in his.
After a fair amount of general chit chat and sharing about each of our days Rob looked over at me and inquired as to what was on my mind. Wanting to be completely honest with him I looked up and said, “You know, you’re really hard to read.”
“What do you mean?” he asked as we walked toward a very romantic looking old dilapidated dock.
Trying to find the words to capture what was plaguing my mind without being too forward I finally replied, “I have no idea what your intentions are with me.”
Rob chuckled and said, “Do you think I spend this kind of time with just any girl?”
Well, goodness, I don’t know! I would assume that he’d been out on plenty of dates and had plenty of opportunity to spend time with other girls. For all I knew he’d just walked this path with someone else last week! He was quite the catch and well known and well loved on our small Christian campus that was brimming with eligible godly ladies.
“I don’t know, do you?” I inquired.
And then the moment happened. The moment that changed everything. The moment that set the course of direction for our dating future. The moment where we both unapologetically began slowly trusting each other with one small bit of our hearts at a time.
“I don’t want you going out and buying bridal magazines just yet,” he smirked. “But, my intention in spending time with you is to find out whether or not it is God’s desire to bring us together in marriage.”
Then he remarked about how natural our unfolding relationship felt. I felt it too. It wasn’t hurried, forced or artificial. There were no pretenses. While were both certainly putting our best feet forward we weren’t pretending to do be anything other than who we were. There was just a genuine desire to get to know one another and to seek God’s plan for our respective (and perhaps connected?) futures.
Wait a second, did he just say marriage? As in, he was actually considering whether or not I was marriage material? Well, I guess it was safe to conclude that his feelings for me were indeed at least partially returned?
I had dated my previous boyfriend for nearly an entire year and we didn’t so much as talk about marriage even once. Yet, here I was, on my third date with Rob discussing the very real possibility of a future together.
And he still hadn’t kissed me, or even held my hand! These weren’t words spoken in a moment of infatuation. They weren’t words dripping in romantic sentiment for the sake of winning over someone’s heart. They were simply words spoken out of the heart of man who was seeking God’s will for his life and for his future. They were words spoken by a man wondering whether or not he was taking a walk with the woman who would walk beside him for the rest of his life.
Could I be that woman? Could I be his lifelong helper, companion, ministry partner, playmate, soul mate and best friend? Could I be the woman who would cook his dinner, wash his socks and make his lunch? Could I be the one who helps him decompress after a long days work, who encourages him when he’s down and dreams with him about his future?
Wait a second. Doesn’t he realize that I’m so much younger than him? Doesn’t he know that I’m still new in my faith? Doesn’t he know that God’s just getting started on me? Can’t he see that the family I grew up in didn’t prepare me for the family he dreams of having someday? Doesn’t he know that I have baggage? Can’t he see that I’m not exactly pastor’s wife material?
I could see him wanting to date me; I could be rather fun at times. But wanting to see if God is bringing us together in marriage… what was he thinking?
Or maybe the better question would be, couldn’t I see that God was indeed doing a work in my life? Couldn’t I see that he was clearly preparing my heart and mind for something grander than life as I knew it? Couldn’t I wrap my mind around the fact that God is bigger than my past? Couldn’t I consider that I was something more valuable than damaged goods destined to be cast off like yesterdays fashions? Didn’t I see that I was forgiven? Couldn’t I conceive of the fact that maybe, just maybe I was worthy of a man so incredible, with so much character and integrity? Was it that far fetched that I could walk alongside of a man like Rob, be his best friend, his partner in life…his wife?
I was still trying to wrap my mind around the possibility of a future with Rob. He wasn’t saying he wanted to marry me, but he was saying that he was enjoying our time together enough to want to know if that was God’s plan for our growing relationship.
We both began to hope that night that maybe, just maybe, we were eye to eye with the answer to our prayers. We committed to pray diligently from that point on; to seek God’s will for our lives and for our relationship; to consider a future together as husband and wife.
It was almost pitch black by the time we looped back around to his car but neither of us wanted that night to end, so we decided to continue our date in his car, in the Wal-Mart parking lot up the street. There was so much more we both wanted to talk about!
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