These three alliterative words were only said as a sidebar during one of our pastor's sermons about two years ago. I don't remember what the actual sermon was about, but at one point, he stopped and said, "I've just got something to say to you young guys who want to get married: Plan. Pursue. Propose." He got a huge round of applause from the congregation, especially loudly from the single girls in the room.
Well, our Steve took it to heart. Yes, he was only 19 years old, but since he has always been mature and marriage-minded with a heart to be a daddy someday, and he graduated high school at 16 and was on a college and career path that looked promising for gainful employment, he got about the business of praying for a wife. We had never told our kids they couldn't date, but we told them:
1. Don't casually date because you will break hearts and get your own broken. Dating and breaking up, dating and breaking up, sets up a pattern of thinking that is hard to break in marriage. Putting a ring on the finger doesn't eliminate the mind from thinking, "Okay, when we fall out of love, or we can't get along, then we'll just find a new partner." No. Get your mind accustomed to thinking in terms of commitment. Perseverence. Responsible love. If all you want is fun Friday nights and someone to hang out with, stick with same sex friends until you're ready.
2. To our sons, my husband said, in essence , "Women are expensive. Dating is just the beginning. The right thing to do as a man is to pay for everything--food, gas, movie tickets, whatever. No matter what anyone says, it's the man's duty to provide for his family, so get used to it before you say " I do.' Think about whether you want every spare dime you earn to go toward financing a woman. If you don't enjoy her company enough to pay every single time, then maybe you should wait. When you love her, you will sacrifice that way."
Both of our oldest sons are frugal with themselves but generous with others. They get that from their dad, and both of them took his advice to heart. Ben had one girlfriend before his bride -- but he never kissed her- his wife was the first woman he kissed by choice and with great self-control. That girlfriend, I believe, used him as a summer fling, for their romance lasted July 3rd to September 3rd. Then she went back to college. I've never seen my son more brokenhearted, and never hope to again. He realized we were right. He had invested heart, soul, time, and money and all he got was a 'you're a great guy, but...". She also refused to let him pay for everything, and he admitted, that bothered him. He didn't like that independent streak in her. She thought it was overkill that he held her car door. Anyway, the way he was raised and the man he wanted to be for a woman were not compatible
and so dating her opened his eyes. He really did want to be the main provider and a gentleman whose lady appreciated being treated like a queen.
3. To our daughter, my husband has already said he has a checklist and a shotgun ready. And not only does a suitor have to get past Dad, he has to get past three brothers who love and adore their sister. That man will have to love the Lord, respect authority ,be an ambitious breadwinner, want to be a father, have a good sense of humor, be fiscally responsible, know how to fix things, hate cats (okay, so maybe that one is a bit far-fetched, and just a preference), and not a lay on her until the wedding day, and only then when we GIVE her away. She will not be TAKEN away.
So, all this to say, our second son chose not to date until he found a girl he thought he would consider
marrying. Not that he didn't have crushes or want to hang out in groups to be with this pretty girl or that funny ,bright one, but he has a keen sense of discretion and can easily pick out the ungodly characteristics that he doesn't want to get tangled up with in a wife.
Instead of dating, he took Pastor Arie's words seriously. His plans began with prayer. I think that was June of 2010. In September of 2010, he found Ambrey at Christian Club--found her very attractive , too, I might add--and fun and easy-going and godly and gentle and bright and, well, like Mary Poppins "practically perfect in every way."
In February of 2011, he started turning up the magic factor, adding romance a bit more intentionally. You know, in a "make no mistake, I really like you" kind of way. Here he is on Valentine's Day, 2011. He got all her favorite things--an aquamarine necklace, a polka dotted stuffed puppy, some Swedish fish, a card that has " a lot of his extra writing I like so much" she says. He also delivered a bouquet of gerbera daisies and a hot cappucino to surprise her with when she walked out of her last class of the day. This guy knows how to deliver, let me tell you!
The word "pursue" came to him again, and that's exactly what he did. Steve pursued Ambrey (and she was smitten with him, so it wasn't like she was standoffish, by any means).
She didn't mind doing grunge work, as long as they were together.
And he pursued and pursued her heart, hand in hand, as they started growing closer and closer and closer in their desire to be together for all time. When she went off to Zambia for five weeks to work with orphans, and he went off to podunk, PA, to make a dollar an hour as a camp counselor for eight weeks, their separation proved to them what everyone else already knew: these two love each other. The pain of being apart is so great we can all feel it.
Their reunion was marked with laughter and tears, a huge relief to everyone. I think he knew in his heart then that he never really wanted to be apart from her again. It was time to start planning for their future together, dollar by dollar, college class by college class.
A few practical jokes along the way keeps them both snickering. Here they are at the Inner Harbor one night discussing how he is going to get down on one knee and pretend to propose. They will soon walk to the water's edge and draw a crowd of onlookers. Oh, my, we still chuckle about this prank.
So, anyway... he kept slaving away at Chick-Fil-A, and socking away his nickels. He really didn't like it there. The people yes, the job, no.
He feverishly worked his way out of a minimum wage job and into an internship that paid a good deal more. The engagement ring fund began in earnest. He would save up as fast as he could on the road to making this beautiful young woman his happy wife.
TO BE CONTINUED...