As we continue our Series on Love and Marriage, it is my pleasure to introduce to you the first couple who will be sharing with us their Courtship Story: Chase and Sarah. I have known these two and their families for many years. They have a sweet love story. They each loved the Lord with all their heart before they ever thought about a future mate, and had a desire to keep not only their body, but their heart, pure and to be able to give themselves, whole-heartedly, to only one. They desired to be a one-woman man and a one-man woman, forever.
But, I hope that this will be more than a sweet story for you. My prayer is that those of you who have not kept yourselves pure will be encouraged that today is a new day, and you can turn and recommit your lives to Christ, or surrender your life to Him for the first time, and start anew. And those of you who have children, that you will be challenged to cast a vision for them, no matter how young they are, of saving themselves for one person: heart, soul and body. We are the greatest influence in their lives, and everyday we are sending messages through the way we talk and act, through a million little ways, by our choices of movies and books, by the people we choose to be with, and who we allow to stand before us and be admired and looked up to. We’re sending messages everyday of what our hopes, dreams and expectations are for their future. We are their teachers as to how to fall in love and marry. So, I hope you’ll be encouraged and challenged by reading the story of Chase and Sarah’s Courtship. Feel free to leave comments and questions.
FFF: Please, tell us a little about yourselves!
Chase and I have been married for about 4-1/2 years, and we now have two children, a 3-1/2 year old boy and a 1-1/2 year old girl. We both grew up in loving Christian homes and personally made Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. We are striving to continue to grow in our walk with Christ to this day.
Faith’s Firm Foundation: How did you “keep your heart pure” before marriage?
Chase: I made a commitment early on that I would not pursue a relationship with a girl, more than just a sisterly friendship, unless I felt as though she was potentially the one that I would marry. I committed myself to serving the Lord during those years while waiting.
Sarah: It helped me to see the guys around me as brothers and friends with hearts of their own. I tried not to think of them as potential future husbands, but to value them as one of Godʼs creation. I tried to treat them just as I would my own brother or friend. They did not deserve to be flirted with, but they didnʼt deserve to be ignored either. If I sensed that a guy was becoming interested in me (as more than a friend), I usually pulled away and tried to give subtle hints that I did not feel the same way about him. (I think there were times I was a little too mean trying to get this point across.) If my feelings were stirred, I took the situation to the Lord, praying, “Lord, if this guy is your will for me, please work through him and my parents, and if heʼs not please help me not to think about him.” I knew I could trust God with the situation, and I knew I could not fully trust my own feelings, so it gave me peace to give it over to the Lord and do my best not to entertain any thoughts in that direction. Having a good relationship with the Lord, my dad, my brother, and brothers in Christ helped me not to feel the need for a boyfriend. I felt valued in all these relationships.
FFF: What things helped you during the years between graduation and courting? How did you, and/or your parents, prepare (you) for marriage as you were growing up–or did you/they?
Chase: I was taught that I didnʼt need to have finding a spouse as my main focus but that God would open my eyes to that when the time was right. I was also encouraged by an older man to do as much as I could for the Lord while I was single and to make the most of those years – that it was a time I had the freedom to give more time to ministry. (I Corinthians 7:32-35) An analogy that stuck with me: “We need to be running the race with the goal (of ministry) in front of us, but itʼs okay to look around from time to time to see who might be running towards the same goal.” My parents didnʼt exactly sit down and talk about marriage with me, but they just taught me a lot of principles of life that were necessary to being married. One of the main things that my dad taught me was to be wise with my money and save a large amount of it to build a nest egg, not necessarily for the purpose of marriage but to be a good steward of what weʼve been given, which is also very beneficial to starting a marriage. My dadʼs example of total commitment – he made it very clear to us kids that he was totally committed to his wife for life. In the two years before I started courting Sarah, I had the opportunity to travel, having a leadership role doing childrenʼs ministry. This taught me the responsibilities of having to make decisions on my own that affected many other people.
Sarah: Honestly, the best thing was for me to not think of marriage as being “the next step”. I think I wouldʼve gone crazy with impatience. I had every desire to be married with a family of my own someday, but I also knew that I needed to first be content to be single. Life is not about getting married (though that is usually part of life, and a wonderful part), but life is about bringing glory to God. The best thing for me was to focus on ministry–not just a short-term “while Iʼm waiting for marriage and ʻreal lifeʼ to start,” but ministry for a lifetime. At times I did get in a rut, because I was limiting myself to short-term ministry opportunities that would allow me to get married as soon as the opportunity arose. I was putting God in a box. When I stopped thinking that way, God gave me a vision to become a teacher of E.S.L. (English as a Second Language), which required some years of college. This was a step of faith for me, but I think itʼs interesting that God brought a courtship into process only months after starting college. It was like He was wanting me to take that “first step into the Jordan River before parting the waters”.
As far as being prepared for marriage, I think that had been taking place since I was born. Since I was little, my mom had been teaching me how to cook, clean and take care of little ones. Life was the classroom, and my mom was very good at getting us kids involved with everything. I think it must be hard as a parent to find the balance between letting kids be kids and also giving them responsibilities which they can learn by. My parents must have done a good job, because I donʼt feel deprived on either end.
“Friendship”–by Sarah: Chaseʼs family and my family had become very good friends. Our families were like-minded in many ways, so we naturally started spending a lot of time together. We went to the same church, shared the same friends, did ministry work together, got together for some holidays, etc. Even though Chase and I were somewhat close in age, I never thought of him as a potential future husband. The main reason for this is that he was 2 years younger than me, and I always had in my head that I would marry someone older than me. Two years younger seemed like a huge gap to me then. So, I really only thought of him as a younger brother-in-Christ. I think this had a lot to do with my blindness to the fact that he was interested in me, although I also have to say he did an excellent job of not letting on to that fact. He was always very honest with me, and I sure didnʼt sense that he was trying to impress me. On the contrary, sometimes it seemed that he was trying to annoy me more than anything. If he didnʼt agree with me in something, he let me know it, and we could both be very stubborn about our views. We werenʼt always at odds, though. In spiritual matters and many matters of life, we were “kindred spirits”. It was definitely that oneness of spirit that attracted us to each other, but I think our little “spats” drew us closer together, too. I loved that Chase was so himself around me and that I could be myself around him.
When I realized Chase was more than just a friend:
It was the end of the summer, and I was about to start going to college. We all knew things were going to change, and that when the school year started I was going to get busy, so we decided to go out to eat together before they did. It was me, my brother and sister, Chase and his sister and another friend. We were all very close, like siblings, but it seemed very clear there were no “matches” in the group. So, what was more natural than to start probing some of the members of the group for their potential future mates? It was all fun for me until the conversation turned to Chase. I think it was one of my siblings who asked, “So, Chase, you just bought some land, huh? Do you have any girl in mind?” I donʼt remember his response exactly, but it was enough to realize that he DID have a girl in mind, but he wasnʼt going to say who she was. Thatʼs all I remember about the conversation, but I remember how I felt. I was shocked. I wanted to know WHO this girl was! How could he not tell me?!
At the time, Chase had been doing some traveling ministry, and my first thought was that it was some girl I didnʼt even know and that wouldnʼt know me and that would take him completely out of our circle of friends and away from me as a friend! I was so bothered by this! When I got back in the car with my siblings, they started talking about Chaseʼs “secret girl” like it was some exciting mystery. All of a sudden, I realized they didnʼt feel the same way I did about it. I felt intensely possessive of my friendship with him. Little did I know, the “secret girl” was me and he couldnʼt tell me about it yet. When I started realizing my interest in Chase as more than a friend, I still was not sure if this was more than just a crush, and I didnʼt tell anyone about it. I had always been that way. I kept those feelings to myself, and as my relationship with the Lord grew, those feelings I shared with Him, but only Him. I tried to put Chase out of my mind, and if I had a hard time doing that, I prayed, “Lord, if Chase is not the one for me, please help me not to think about him; and if he is the one for me, please work through my parents and Chase to reveal that to me in Your time.” And then I tried to go about life not worrying about it, but trusting it to the Lord.