Saturday, February 11, 2012

How Long?

So, how long have you known each other?

I get this question a lot.
Sometimes I don't know exactly how to answer.
Sometimes I think of the first day I met Christian (see this post).
Sometimes I think of the first dance we went to together when I was fifteen.
Sometimes I answer by telling about when we became "official" as a couple once we both graduated from high school.

Most of all, I smile when I think of our friendship over all these years. First, before we fell in love or we dated, we were buddies. It happened like this.
First, Christian and I spent time with each others' families. From going to the school's family square dance to going to family camp together, we got so many chances to hang out and get to know each other and our families. I think that I was better friends with Christian's younger brother Jon before I was even friends with Christian. Christian was a grade older than me in high school  so we were rarely in the same classes. I have good memories of being invited to join Christian's family to do things like come over for dinner and a movie or go to a museum for the day. We had fun. These were fun and relaxed times getting to know each other better.

When we could (finally) drive, we would force get our siblings to go do fun things with us around town. We had to be chaperoned : ) At this period in our relationship, we had come to realize just how much we enjoyed being together. When a member of the National Honor Society as a junior, I helped plan to volunteer at an event at a local elementary school. I always knew I could count on Christian being there to help. One beautiful day, we coerced some of our siblings to hike up Kennesaw Mountain. This was something Christian and I really wanted to do together. So we drug our sisters up the mountain and I think they legitimately complained the entire way up. We didn't mind though. We were together. The first time that he put his arm around me was seriously at the park with all of our sisters and brothers. They laughed at us. They knew that we were more than friends. I guess a lot of people knew.

Christian likes to say that he took every opportunity to take me to dances and events through high school. He really did. Going to these special events were, well, special. It was a fun time for me to dress up and be the date of a handsome guy, but it didn't really mean anymore than that. That doesn't sound very romantic, but it took the pressure off. Christian never once made me feel like we had to define our relationship or anything. In fact, that didn't happen until years later, but that is a story for another day.

For Christmas 2009, we exchanged gifts with each other. We were still "just friends" at this point. I got permission from both sets of parents to buy Casting Crowns concert tickets to give Christian. We both enjoy Christian music and I knew it would be a great gift. Why did I have to get permission for going to a Christian concert you ask? Well, I was basically indirectly asking if we could go on a date. On our own.

Once we were in a relationship and going out on our own we appreciated it so much. It was SO different from having to be with family all the time. We actually got to talk! Today, we often remember and are thankful for that season when we were able to build our relationship in a comfortable context among family and friends with plenty of accountability. Because of all this, the transition from being just friends to a serious relationship was natural and the timing was right.  Our families approved, but they began to realize that once Christian and I began to go out on our own, they hardly ever saw each other! At one point my mom asked one of  Christian's brothers, "Jon, are we still dating?" It was never just Christian and I dating, it was our families too!
I have been so very blessed over the years of knowing Christian. I can honestly say that I have grown closer to the Lord through our relationship. We look forward to marriage and getting to grow up together. We also hope that our story and the way it has played out will encourage young men and women to think outside of the box when it comes to relationships with the opposite sex. We felt the Lord calling us at very young ages to do things way differently than the world does. I challenge you to talk to the Lord about this topic. I promise that God cares about your love life. You cannot put God in a box and exclude him from this part of your life. I am thankful for Christian who is a man after God's own heart and who has guarded me. He truly is my knight in shining armor. I am also thankful for all our family and friends who have supported us and kept us accountable to God's best. These are the blessings you need to be on the lookout for girls!

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