Our Story: Q&A.2

{Ezra’s comments are in italics}

How did you stay objective?

I think the fact that we didn’t know each other super well before we started courting really made objectivity easier – that, and how clear we were that we wanted objectivity. Plus, when you’re writing emails, you think about things longer and so your conscience catches up before you send it and you have to really assess if it’s really what you believe or you’re just saying it. Objectivity got a lot harder as our courtship went on, and by October it was really really hard (meaning it was easy to want to brush some issues aside because you wanted so badly to marry them). But that’s also where parents help, to keep you on track. And, I think we were both learning more of what it meant to be fully satisfied in Christ. Ezra was (and is) very good at reminding me of that, and also to not be afraid of a “negative” outcome, since we were both delighting in Christ, and since He was our Lord, no matter what happened we would be fine.

Aren’t you too young to get married?

According to world, yes. But getting married isn’t really a matter of age but maturity.

As far as age is concerned, I’m 19. I’ll be 20 by the time we’re married. My older sister was 2 months over 19 when she got married. Ezra is just over 5 years older than me (and way more than that much wiser!). The world sees marriage as jail, or something to do later – but biblically, it’s a high calling, something worthy and beautiful, and so it is a good aspiration (and both of us are desirous of it!). My mother has trained me very well to be able to be a homemaker.

Maturity is harder to gauge, which is why it’s so vital that family and church be involved in the lives of a courting couple. While we understand the seriousness of the marriage covenant, Ezra and I also feel that with God’s help and the affirmation of our families, we are ready for it.
One thing that shows a person’s readiness for marriage can be how they treat their family, because in many ways that shows how someday you will treat your spouse and children.

Various societies have various expectations concerning what age is appropriate for marriage. In our society, these expectations are mostly shaped by humanistic views of education, family, and egalitarianism, none of which hold any weight for Kyleigh and myself.

Was a long-distance relationship hard?

Well, I don’t have anything to compare it to. We were between 6,000 and 9,000 miles apart for most of our courtship. It was hard, but most of that wasn’t because of distance. I did learn a lot about communication, and grew in it and also grew in opening up faster than sometimes I was comfortable with. I realized how much you can talk about in fifteen minutes, and so not to hold back because “we only had 15 more minutes left.”

I learned that some things are better written than said. Some things are better said than written. And there are things we want to write, but that should be said. Those were the hardest, but I always knew that Ezra would listen well and not be offended by anything I asked, so I was comfortable asking him anything, even though it often took courage. I knew that to have a good marriage we’d have to be open with each other and I wanted to be completely honest and tell him everything (with discretion, of course). And I knew that there were hard things I wanted to ask him to know more about him so I could make a truly informed decision about marrying him. We both needed a lot of courage, and God gave it to both of us, as well as grace to both of us to bear with, help, and forgive one another.

And, it’s nice to have some things in writing so instead of asking again you can just look back over it.

The only thing I see as being more difficult because of distance was priorities. I often felt like I was being torn five directions – family, Ezra, church, ministry, self. A lot of that didn’t have anything to do with the courtship, but sometimes family and Ezra conflicted, when Ezra and I were going to talk but the family was going to do something, or I really needed to reply to Ezra but there was no time for various reasons. So instead of Ezra and family going together like they so often would have if we were in the same city, they sometimes conflicted.

It was also sometimes frustrating not to have every-day conversations, like talking after church or sitting in on other conversations together. But, it definitely had its benefits, too, especially as far as being honest goes. By the time I replied to an email, I had thought out an answer, and my conscience wouldn’t let me write something just to agree.

It will take longer being long-distance. You don’t see them in daily life and you don’t hear affirmations from those who know them well. It will take you longer to get to know each other and to build trust (mostly if you don’t know the person that well before the courtship. The first few months of our courtship could almost be considered a “pre-courtship.”). What I did to help with building trust was to email some of the people who knew him well – his family, mentors, friends, and churches, to find out more about him. It was helpful, and I learned a lot about him. I’d recommend talking to people about the other person even if you aren’t in a long-distance relationship.

What did you learn?

The short answer is patience and reliance on God. But those two things showed themselves in so many ways. I was definitely sanctified. There were a couple of times where God let me see the depths of my heart, and it was not pretty. But then He was there, helping me through that and changing me.

The providence and sovereignty of God became much more real to me as I saw it in action. I began to see His perfect timing in bringing us together. There were ways we both needed to be sanctified before we could start courting. Then in our courtship, He used hard things to draw us closer together, and to renew and transform my mind by the truth – because until your mind is renewed, you can’t discern the will of God (Romans 12:1-2).
I learned about prayer and action, learning how to pray deeply and listen while I prayed. I still struggle with that, but courtship brought me to my knees crying out to God in a way nothing else has.

I realized a lot about positive emotion – how when it’s in the bounds of wisdom and scripture, it can be a good and even helpful thing. Also, it was strange being allowed to think about a man in a special way. It took me a while to get used to that.
I also learned that him leading doesn’t mean I can’t ever ask questions. He’s not going to know what’s on my mind, or what I want to talk about, so there are times I need to ask him. But then I quickly went off the deep end of asking too many and had to pull back and let him lead.

I learned how important trials are in sanctifying us and also in His wisdom and plan for everything. I think if it weren’t for some of the trials we had, our courtship would have been much longer. The hard things sped up getting to know each other in a way nothing else could have.

What were are ways you wish you had been better equipped beforehand?
I wish I had been better at praying. I’d prayed a lot before, but it was more of lists, not wrestling with issues in prayer. I’d never really prayed for any sort of decision before, and then suddenly I had lots of them, and I realized how lacking my prayer life was (and still is, especially now that the hard decisions are all over).

A person can always say, “I could have been wiser and more godly.” But in truth, though I felt weak often, I never felt unequipped. I certainly did gain a much better understanding of how I will someday help my own children to step through the courtship process.

What’s the difference between this and storybook romance (say, Anne of Green Gables)?

This is way better. 😀

More seriously, one thing that often happens in books is that a couple is in love, so they start courting, or so they get engaged. There’s a degree of truth in that, but it’s not fully true, especially for engagement. I would never truly admit to myself or anyone else that I loved Ezra until we were engaged.
Another thought is the verse in Proverbs that says “an honest answer kisses the lips.” I know it’s a crazy sounding verse, but Ezra didn’t win my heart with flowers and presents (though the things he has given me are very, very special to me) – he won it with his honesty and character, and that will remain if we have no money for presents, or forget birthdays, or whatever comes our way, in Christ, that character will only grow more priceless and wonderful. Our love is built on a covenant and other things that last, not romances that will fade. It’s hard. Even books that write it realistically and don’t ignore the hardships of love may not help, because it feels so different when you’re going through it.

So, my opinion still holds: don’t read too much romance – be it a romance novel, a book with lots of romance in it, or just too many books that have small romances in them. Let everything be as surprising as it can, and be who you are and let him be who he is, not trying to be Anne and Gilbert or anyone else.

It included a lot of difficulty; its “sweetness” was directly dependent on whether we surrendered it to
God; I never called Kyleigh “carrots”
; the first thing that caught my attention about Kyleigh was her virtue; it is not the ultimate thing in our lives.

What attracted you to each other?

When we started courting, I knew I was interested in Ezra, but unlike most courting couples wasn’t really thinking “I’d like to marry him.” It was more of “from what I know of him, I’m interested in knowing more to see if we should get married.” So the first few months were kind of a pre-courtship but were still courtship. But what did I know of him at that point? I knew he loved his family, respected my father, sought to protect and help his sister, had similar convictions regarding things like college, women in careers, etc., and I knew that his poetry was wonderfully deep and God-centered (and his review of the Hunger Games was good and wise). I also knew we were raised similarly, had a lot of the same tastes and interests, and probably had similar convictions in most areas, from what I knew of his family.

As our courtship went on, I began seeing that he was thoughtful, balanced (something I have trouble with – I like black and white, not middle ground), sought God first, and wanted the same for me. I could also see his honesty and that he wasn’t saying things just to agree, because he brought things up that he thought we might not agree on – his intent was godly marriage, not just marriage. And as I began to see more of how we are equally yoked, more of his character, and heard affirmation from his family of that character and conviction, attraction grew. I could keep going for a long time, but those are the biggest things.

Kyleigh’s virtue, modesty, devotion to truth, and love of God.

When did you first say “I love you?”

The first time he told me “I love you” was a few minutes after we got engaged, and the first time I told him was probably right around then. We knew it wasn’t appropriate for a courtship, which is based on objective truths, conviction, and character rather than feelings, so we didn’t want to muddle things with emotions (though it still did get muddled with emotion just by the nature of a courtship, but that muddling was minimal and we sought to fight through them and be led by truth and not emotion, though sometimes the emotion and truth did go together).
We also understood that while we were moving towards the possibility of marriage, we weren’t “promised” yet and so the level of commitment to declare love wasn’t there.

That’s not to say it wasn’t hard not to say anything before then. There were times it took a ton of self-control not to, and there were times I was thinking it constantly. The main time I remember was at the end of September when he was driving across the country, and I couldn’t help but wish that I could tell him, so that if something happened to him on the drive, he would know I loved him. But I also knew we needed to wait.

I was never worried about his interest or affection towards me, since I knew that if he wasn’t interested we wouldn’t still be courting. And I was glad that we waited, since it made the courtship easier because it was objective and I didn’t think “well, this is something we need to weigh seriously, but I really love him so it won’t be a problem.”

However, there was a time when “love covers a multitude of sins.” There were things that if they had happened or I had known them early on in the courtship, I probably would not have had the heart to push through – these things weren’t necessarily sin. Sometimes they were, other times they were slight differences or just something difficult in the path. But by the time we got there, it was worth overcoming them.

Ezra said this earlier, but I wanted to put it here again: It meant a great deal to me that I would not express or speak love to Kyleigh until it would have the deep meaning given to love by being in covenant. I think that our expressions of love to each other are much sweeter and healthier because we saved them in this way. Every single time that I have said, “I love you” to her, it has meant, “through whatever comes our way, because ours is covenant love”.

 

When did you know you wanted to marry him?

I knew I was interested somewhere between late 2010 and mid-2011. But even when we began courting, it was still just “interested,” since I didn’t know a whole lot about him. It was somewhere between August and October. Before August, my thoughts were so consumed with the things we were working through that I didn’t have time to daydream. After August it was harder to not think about getting married because we’d worked through the major humps, and by October I really had to guard my thoughts. So by then I knew I wanted to marry him, but until we were engaged I never said we would get married, even if people asked. I would say probably, but since we weren’t engaged I couldn’t say yes.

Since you talked about defining courtship, how have you defined your engagement?

Engagement is the period of time when you can get to know the other person on an emotional level and in a more intimate way as far as the thoughts that you share, etc. On the practical side, it is a time during which the wedding must be planned (in all of its glorious and terrible detail).

In some ways, it is the beginning of the marriage covenant – almost a “mini” or “pre” covenant that says we will get married, and this time in between is to specifically prepare for marriage to each other, and also prepare for a wedding. It is a longer engagement that either of us would choose in ideal circumstances, but we don’t have ideal circumstances.

I am still under my father’s authority, so while Ezra has permission now to “go after my heart,” there are still boundaries, some that we have chosen and some that my parents have counseled us to use.

We have decided to limit physical contact to hand holding, at least for now. As our wedding gets closer, we may decide to allow a little more physical contact, but since the covenant is not “complete” then there’s still not freedom to “do whatever.”

Excerpt from Ezra’s post on my ring:

While Kyleigh’s ring does indicate to others that she is engaged, it does this by implication rather than by direct meaning. It is not the relationship status bar on facebook. Rather, it is a symbol of the sacred covenant which is being formed between us. By implication of the covenant, we are engaged. However, the ring symbolizes the covenant, not the “relationship status”.

When a man gives a woman a ring in modern western culture, this is typically seen as “going to the next level of relationship”. But in giving Kyleigh her ring, we began our relationship as an unbreakable union (Matt 19:6), symbolized by the fact that the ring and the diamond form an unbroken circle.

Note: to be clear, the unbreakable covenant of marriage is not yet formed between Kyleigh and myself. However, in the interim, the ring symbolizes our promise to finalize the covenant on our wedding day.

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3 thoughts on “Our Story: Q&A.2

  1. homeschooledlady says:

    Thank you for answering my questions!! “I never called Kyleigh “carrots” – I smiled at that. You know, Kyleigh doesn’t have red hair, so there is no reason to!

    But on the more serious side, thank you for your bravery in telling others about what you struggled through in your courtship and what are your convictions – even though some may disagree.

    I really enjoyed this – is this the last part? Or are there others coming?

    Like

    • Kyleian says:

      Well, I don’t really have red hair – under certain lighting it does look red, but that’s rare. The funny thing is that we caught it on camera (I looked at a photo someone took of me and it really looks red) the day before we answered your questions. 😉

      It is the last part, for now. When we’re further into our engagement I may post about the first bit of engagement, but we’ll see.

      Like

  2. Joseph Fox says:

    First off, I think Ezra wins the world’s shortest lengthy legit run-on sentence award; I don’t ever remember hearing you can’t use 5 independent clauses in one sentence.

    I have really enjoyed and been blessed by reading your story, and look forward to talking to you about it in person (especially meeting Ezra).

    In particular, I found Ezra’s symbolism in the ring more beautiful than any ring could be in its own physicality (or in fact any painting I’ve seen in a museum).

    I also thank you for your bravery in this; I really appreciate seeing the down and dirty of a courtship not so distant from me.

    And also, and a very late, congratulations!

    Like

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