Narrator: What does wise courtship look like? Here is Lydia's example.
Debi Pearl: Chapter two. Courtship to Whom?
Chapter two prelude. Discovering God's Will.
Moral to the story. God often leads us down His path through the counsel of those who are wiser. A caution, stubbornness can wreck your life. High‑mindedness can leave you a high and dry old maid.
How will I know whom God wants me to marry? This is one of the most asked questions of all time. Finding and marrying that one person God made for you is the most important decision in your life.
Since it is so critical to the success of the remainder of our life, surely God has a formula for us to follow. A step by step plan that leaves no room for error. Not so. God's ways are not our ways. The ways of the heart, the way of romance is a way of mystery and surprise, full of passion and illogical attraction.
Everyone's love story is an amazingly different journey. Here is Lydia's story.
My name is Lydia. By the time I turned 23 years old, I was beginning to wonder if I would ever marry. I am not one for sitting around worrying.
That summer, I signed up to help at several youth camps. Between camps, I came home for a short break, never suspecting my life would soon be changed forever. That first evening, I noticed my dad seemed in a hurry to rush my younger siblings off to bed.
When he stopped in my room for a talk, I knew something was up. As he sat on the end of my bed, he quietly said, "Lydia, a young man has asked for permission to court you." My first reaction was excitement. Then, a dream‑like disembodiment washed over me.
I was going into a serious case of shock. I'd hoped and waited for this moment. Some wonderful fellow to love me and ask for my hand in marriage. Now, it was happening. All I could feel was a strange disconnect.
As if from a distance, my dad asked if I could guess who it might be. I tried to guess and could have continued guessing all night. I would have never guessed it to be Billy Hill. I had met him off and on, over the years, in different groups. Never really had a conversation with him.
The last time I saw him was early summer. He had never said a word to me. He never talked to any of the girls. He seemed aloof and stiff. I was a little scared of him. Besides, I'd always assumed I would at least know the guy I would marry.
My mind hesitantly considered the idea of this stranger being my husband as in, my husband. It took an hour of my dad's gentle persuasion before I finally agreed to give it a chance by just getting to know the guy. Then we would see. No promises.
We emailed a few days. Mostly him answering my questions about who he was and why he had picked me. What did he want to do with his life? Nervous, are you kidding? I was a mess.
Can you imagine it happening to you? A total stranger wants to marry you. How would you feel? Exactly. Patience is an act of the will or at least acting patient is.
I made up my mind that I would not initiate any form of contact. If he emailed me, I would email him in return. I was scheduled to go to another camp in a few days. For my sanity's sake, I didn't want to leave it all hanging.
I really just wanted to meet Billy before I left. I decided that unless he mentioned us meeting, I would not say a word. It was really hard waiting and wondering. I had spent 23 years practicing patience for this moment in my life. Now was not the time to goof it up.
I did let him know I would be going back to camp in a few days. Thankfully, he was a go‑getter. I didn't have to wait. That evening, he arranged for our families to spend the next day together, which happened to be the 4th of July.
My dad was totally wonderful. He did everything he could think of to make the meeting less strained. I was still a ball of nerves. There we were, the prospective husband and wife, meeting face to face. We stood still like wooden statues awkwardly shaking hands.
I struggled to no avail to overcome my sudden shyness. Then, Billy asked to see the barn. That was familiar territory. I began to relax as I showed him my animals and talked about the good times I had raising them.
We swapped stories, but we were both distracted with wanting to get on to pertinent issues. Finally, I couldn't wait any longer. I asked him point blank what he thought courtship was. He said it as bold as day. "I want to get to know you with the intention of marriage."
The day ended and I knew that at least I could stand him. Progress. My mom and dad reassured me that I didn't have to rush. I knew I couldn't sit around and agonize forever. I had to know. How can a girl know if she will fall in love and be wonderfully happily wed to a total stranger?
I called Billy and told him that I was going to spend the next day in fasting and prayer and asked that he not call or email me, so I would not be distracted. I prayed and talked with my dad. Then, went to visit an older woman who had wisely mentored me many times. After talking and praying with her, I went home to talk with my mom.
I weighed each person's advice. I knew they dearly loved me and wished for my happiness. Their advice was cautiously given, leaving me room to make my own decision. "Where no counsel is, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors, there is safety." Proverbs 11:14.
"Without counsel, purposes are disappointed, but in the multitude of counselors, they are established." Proverbs 15:22.
By the end of the day, I had peace. I sat down and wrote up my carefully thought through reply. I called Billy and read my letter over the phone. I told him, "I don't love you, hardly even know you. But I feel God is in this. I am willing to learn how to love you if you will teach me."
The morning after I said yes to courtship, I went for a jog. As I ran, I was crying and asking God to please let me fall in love with this man before we got married. One month later, we were engaged.
I know it seems fast, but I had full confidence and assurance from God that this was his will for me. I found safety and rest knowing that my parents liked and admired him. I could immediately honor him because I knew he had walked honest upright before God.
It was deeply moving to see a good man's eyes profound thanksgiving, joy, and love for me. I felt precious to him because he had chosen me above all others. It was easy to open my heart toward Billy. Yes, God answered my prayers. I felt totally and completely in love with this wonderful man.
Three months later, we were married. The rewards of trusting God have been greater than we could have ever imagined. I am thrilled for the opportunity to tell our love story.
Debi Pearl: I hope it happens for you.
Narrator: Thank you for listening to this excerpt from "Preparing to Be a Help Meet." As always, remember to check for specials on this and other audio books on our website.