Our Story: First Four Months of Courtship

{Picking up where I left off! To read the rest, use the “our story” category from the category cloud! Ezra’s comments are in italics}

A few days after I got home, I told mommy and daddy I was ready to talk. I told them I was interested in knowing who it was. They told me it was Ezra, and I said I had thought so and that didn’t change my decision. That was April 24. April 25, daddy emailed Ezra, cc’ing me, telling him what we had talked about and gave him permission to email me, with him copied. He reiterated that the point of a courtship isn’t marriage but to get to know each other and seek God to know if it would be wise and honoring to God to be married.
April 26, I had a really busy day ahead of me and so I didn’t get on email in the morning, but then daddy told me there was an email from Ezra. I nervously and excitedly flew through the rest of my work in time to run upstairs and read the email before I left for a friends’ house.
Thursday night, we told Nate and Candace. As I expected, Candace was sad and Nate started planning my wedding. I told our closest friends that Friday at church, and then that afternoon sat down to write a reply. It took me at least half an hour to write the first sentence. I wasn’t sure where or how to begin, but eventually I did. As I wrote and sought to help and encourage him in his work and begin to make myself known, I had no idea how hard, yet beautiful, the next four months would be, and how difficult yet growing deeper and sweeter the five following them would be.
It took me a long time to write my relatively short first email as well. I would type an introduction and then think “no, that’s too awkward” or “no, that’s too formal” or something else, until I just finally typed something and sent it.
When I learned that Candace was sad because Kyleigh might end up leaving, I saw it as a mark of Kyleigh’s value. Later, in a birthday card to me, Candace told me that she had changed her mind, and liked me, and that it was OK for me to marry Kyleigh.
I, Kyleigh, wasn’t supposed to see that part of the card, and she’d told me that I wasn’t allowed to read his card, since I was delivering it, but she’d written that note on the BACK of the card and I saw it when I took it out of the envelope at camp.

The first “bump” was work-related. If all went according to “our” plans, he would make it out to the West Coast around the time we got there and we’d be able to see each other. But then things weren’t going as we’d hoped they would, and there were fears of whether or not we’d get to meet, or when it would be. I struggled a lot with anxiousness and would often look at the clock and calculate what time it was there and what he was doing, and then pray. Our courtship felt very fragile and yet at the same time it seemed so strong because of our reliance on God and all the people praying for us.
Work is excellent at bumps… but God uses even those for the good of His children.

We talked for the first time on May 5. It started out somewhat awkwardly, with my family sitting on the couch looking at my laptop screen. But after a while of everyone talking, they left Ezra and me “by ourselves” to talk for longer. We totaled three hours that first night, and have rarely talked for less than that (and when it has been less it’s not been our choice!). We found it was easier to discuss some things in person rather than over email, which surprised me – I often stumble over my words trying to speak aloud but they flow off well when on paper.
That night also began a journey for me that would last until August – praying through a burden of mine for missions that I had always understood as meaning I would “go.” I had known it might be something Ezra and I would have to work through, and had sought some counsel already from my father and my friend Sarah, who had married in December and had been through a similar journey. Ezra and I talked about it some on the 5th, but it lay quiet for a few more weeks.

We put together a list of categories of things to talk about that would help guide our conversations, and it really helped me to have that, since then I could organize all my questions (pages and pages of them!). One of those was callings/spiritual gifts, and so what became known for a while as “the missions issue” surfaced again. For a while, I wrestled with it but to no avail – nothing was clearer. I remember one night, I was babysitting at the neighbors’ and the kids were in bed so I was sitting downstairs reading and praying. Ezra was standing one of his graded watches – one that might “decide” the future – and I was worried about that and trying to work through my thoughts on calling. I don’t remember a lot of what I was thinking, just that it was a hard night of crying out to God. But it was also uninterrupted prayer, which I really needed.

We talked again on the 12th for another three hours. Everything was so wonderful and we were pretty much agreeing on everything – but in the back of my head the missions issue was still brewing.
My family was preparing for a trip to the states, and in the days leading up to it I was learning a lot about patience and trust in the Lord. The missions issue was something that I couldn’t work through quickly; I needed to wait for Him to show an answer. What happened with Ezra’s training was entirely out of my hands; I could only pray and trust God. It was hard- but I’m so glad for it now.

On our flight to the states I prayed and journaled a lot. Every day seemed so long since they were full of turning trials over to God and seeking wisdom – yet still without answer. I wrote some of the “older women” in my life asking for their help and waited eagerly for their replies as Ezra and I continued to write back and forth about calling, the church in America, missions, and reform. There was a night when I thought the next morning (or after the next email) if something didn’t change, I would have to end the courtship. But things did start changing.
When we were back in the states, I started to begin seeing things in a different light, seeing the need there, and also more of how the US affects the world. I was being reminded my a good friend/”older woman” of how desires, vision, and to some degree, calling, can change. I was reminded not to ignore the burden, but also not to blow it out of proportion. I was still unsure, but I told Ezra that I was comfortable continuing to move forward as I thought through it more and over time.

We talked on the phone for the first time on June 1, still not knowing if we were going to meet or not. The first week of June felt extremely long because every day was waiting for an answer to that question. I felt like our whole courtship hung on whether or not we were going to meet.
My family took a trip to Colorado, and I didn’t get online for a little over a day. When I did, there were 2 emails from Ezra. The first read that he was told he probably wouldn’t get leave. I figured the second was a reply to my last email to him and almost didn’t open it since we were on our way out the door. But I did click it, and it said that he was on leave right then and would be heading out to the West Coast soon.
For me, that bit of leave was a gift from God. I guess one of my higher-ups realized how crazy the last eight months of my life had been and said, “we can do without him for a few days”. Anyway, I was very excited.

That was the 7th, and the next few days almost flew by. On the 12th we drove down to Portland. Thankfully, I wasn’t very nervous. When we got there, we sat all together in the living room and everyone else was talking but neither Ezra nor I said very much. Later everyone walked to the park and we were able to talk the two of us and then were playing games with everyone else. The rest of the time was filled with eating, talking, and being outside – whether it was games, badminton, or hiking.


{Nate implementing his 3-foot or one-person apart rule}

Then just 24 hours after we arrived, we drove back to Enumclaw, but Ezra came, too.
I it’s a little funny to think of how little we knew each other then, vs. how many inside jokes and such we have now. I was certainly glad, the first time Kyleigh and I met, to have all of the siblings around to fill in the conversations and such for a bit. We did have some good conversations that day, though. Then, especially up in Enumclaw, I began to get to know her family better, and to see who Kyleigh really was, and to become a part of her life. Those walks up and down the lane were probably my favorite part of the whole trip.
The next few days were some of my favorite ever. We went on walks up and down the lane, played games, hiked, looked at pictures, cooked together, did dishes together, and just talked. We decided to interview each others’ families about the other, which at least for me was helpful over the next weeks as I began to learn about him from those who knew him best. I especially enjoyed emailing his mother and getting to know her more.
Our walks held some of our most important conversations, especially for learning how the other thought and processed things. Our last walk we talked about idolatry and keeping Christ the focus, in really practical ways for us in our courtship.

Around this time, I began noticing wrong things in my thoughts regarding missions. It was very subtle, but I realized I was thinking God could only be glorified in salvation, forgetting passages in Isaiah where His glory is made known in judgment, and also realizing that I wanted to do everything – not realizing as I later did that “not every possibility is my responsibility.” And so since I saw such a great need there, I assumed that meant I personally needed to go. And sometimes that’s true, but not always.

Throughout his visit, my soul was peaceful. But then after he left, the storm rose again about missions. Looking back, I can see I was trying to decide something that wasn’t really for me to decide. But then it just felt like turmoil. I made lists and that helped a lot, and it started to show me that a lot of my desire to be overseas was because of selfishness. I began realizing the difference between a calling and a burden, something that really helped. Burdens don’t equate callings, though I knew whether I went to the foreign field or not, I couldn’t just sit back and ignore that burden. However, the conclusion to the struggle wasn’t reached for a few more months and it surfaced a few more times before I reached the end of it.

We talked on the phone on the 24th, for almost four hours. We’d gotten used to having a few days and so four hours really didn’t seem like much (and I don’t like to talk on the phone, so I was so surprised I could do it happily for four hours!). Then we started digging somewhat deeper and talking more about our strengths and weaknesses, and soon tendencies toward certain sins or things in the past that would affect our relationship, and that began another “bump,” that combined with resurfacing missions issue made a giant mountain. I was leaving for camp in a week and was both dreading and looking forward to it. I wanted the rest from the trials of courtship it would bring, but I also wanted to have worked through those issues before then. There were sleepless nights, and late nights talking with mommy before camp. And lots of prayer, and relying fully on God, and long runs to unwind. I was continuing to learn patience as I waited for clarity.
I went to camp and we wrote letters. In his first letter, he encouraged me not to fear the hard things we were going through, which was strengthening to me. I was beginning to see more of his wisdom and through this and other things, see how he could comfort and support me in various fears or troubles, and also how he hoped in God. Then there was another letter, and then he was there for 24 hours, and it was so wonderful being together again, and being together in a place that has meant so much to me.
While I was at camp and shortly after, I began to see that I had a burden for the struggling church in the US and also how a passion for missions could work with Ezra’s passion for the American church.

Shortly after I got back to Dubai, Ezra began finding out more about where he would be going, but didn’t get official orders until September. It was hard to wait, but it was nice because he had much shorter hours so our communication was more frequent.

A turning point in the missions issue and so also our courtship came in early August. I went with daddy on a trip and on the plane I spent a lot of time reading and praying, and God really began to show me how much of the desire was my own pride and legalism. I hesitated for almost a month to write anything, though, for fear that it would surface again and I would have spoken only to retract my answer. But then I realized that God had given me so much wisdom and guidance, and it was enough, yet it was as if I was asking Him for wisdom while ignoring what He had given me.
And so I wrote a long email saying what I had realized. At this point I began feeling a lot more relaxed in our courtship, and we also began talking weekly, often for three or more hours, sometimes drifting into five hours. Around this time, too, we began studying 1 John together.
The missions issue was something I had not anticipated at the beginning. I was a little surprised when it came. But in the end, it did make sense to me that she was having a struggle about it. At that point, my primary concern was to “clear the field” as much as possible for her in her decision making process. I wanted her to be unafraid of either outcome of the question, seeking to follow God’s wisdom and please Him above all other things.

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2 thoughts on “Our Story: First Four Months of Courtship

  1. homeschooledlady says:

    {Nate implementing his 3-foot or one-person apart rule… protective brother! He brought the yardsticks when we went hiking}

    That made me smile, Kyleigh. I would really appreciate that.

    Thank you for sharing your struggles through this long journey. I enjoy reading this and can’t wait for more. 🙂

    Like

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