I met Michael Bradshaw (the handsomest guy ever!!!) when I was a freshman in high school. Mike’s family had recently joined our church and we participated in the same youth small group. Our four years of high school found us as friends, but nothing more. Unbeknownst to either of us, we each began to feel more than friendship during our first year of college. We did not tell one another how we felt, but began watching and noticing one another in a different way. When I communicated my interest in Mike to my mom, she quickly informed me that now was not the time for a relationship (Mike had no means of supporting me). She challenged me to guard my heart and trust the Lord for my future. Growing up, my mom always told my sisters and me that, “until a young man has come and specifically expressed his interest in you, he should be viewed as another woman’s husband.” I had no claim on Mike. He wasn’t mine. And so the battle within my heart began.
A year went by and Mike was asked by our pastor to lead a small group for our singles ministry. I was asked to assist him in caring for the ladies in the group. We were more than happy to be placed in this position. We began to see each other more frequently and our affection for one another only grew. Mike has never been known as the subtle type…he began to show up at my house to watch a baseball game with my dad or go fishing with my little brother. To say the least, my dad’s suspicions were aroused. After a few months of Mike “just stopping by the house to say hi,” my dad gave him a call. Dad got right to the point, injecting his characteristic humor into what could have been an awkward moment for Mike: “You have been coming over to our house quite a bit lately. Now, either you want to move in with us, you like my daughter, or there is something you aren’t telling me!” Mike immediately fessed up that his true feelings were for me and not fishing with my little brother.
To say the least, I was more than a little excited to hear that Mike returned my feelings. I was ready to marry him the next day. I’m so grateful to the Lord for my wise parents and their leadership. My dad did not know Mike very well and he began a series of meetings with Mike to learn more about him and to discern if this was a man with whom he was comfortable with his daughter pursuing a relationship. My dad took Mike through materials on four specific topics: the gospel, the doctrines of grace, biblical manhood and womanhood, and the local church. My Dad also used this time to get to know him better. After a series of weeks my Dad informed me that he was very encouraged by his many conversations with Mike and that he would be comfortable with us beginning a courtship—with the understanding that things would move slowly. Mike and I were far from marriage at this time. Mike had 3 years left in school and was unsure about his future after that.
We began hanging out with each other in a structured way. Mike would come over to my house once a week and we would talk on the phone a few times weekly. We also saw each other in lots of church contexts. We were having fun, but a certain unrest began to grow in my heart. I began to question whether or not I was “sure” that I wanted to continue in this relationship. Fear about the future began to creep in. I was confused. My affections were only growing towards Mike, but the unrest seemed to be growing at the same rate. I will never be able to thank my parents enough for the way that they led me through this challenging time. They continually listened to my thoughts and fears and directed me to the truth of God’s Word. After much praying and counsel from my parents, I decided to end my relationship with Mike. It was the hardest thing I have ever walked through, but the Lord had much work that He wanted to do in both our hearts.
The next nine months were full of much seeking the Lord and many conversations with my parents. With the pressure of the relationship removed, I began to see more clearly all that was taking place in my heart. I saw that there was a fear of marriage and a fear of leaving all that I had ever known. I saw how my unbelief towards the Lord and His faithfulness bore bad fruit in my life. As I began to see the issues more clearly, I was able to repent and receive the Lord’s abundant grace in the form of forgiveness and help to change. As I gained clarity, my feelings for Mike only continued to grow despite the status of our relationship. I knew that if Mike ever came back to my dad again, I would give a decided YES.
He came back! Mike had been waiting for me those nine months and he wanted to try again. He went to my dad and received permission. One cold night in January of 2003, Chad yelled at me from upstairs to come quick as there was some kind of strange noise in my bedroom. That strange noise was Mike throwing skittles at my bedroom window (yes, people throw food—not rocks—to get my attention.) I opened my window and Mike asked again, if I would court him. Things moved quickly after this. We were engaged in April and very happily married in June (both stories for future posts).
What a process! Mike and I look back often and marvel at the grace and sovereignty of the Lord. He led us each and every step of the way. He used our courtship to strengthen our relationship with Him.
This post also gives me a fresh opportunity to thank three people…
Dad and Mom, does this bring back memories? Thank you for the countless hours you spent caring for my soul and seeking to lead me in the ways of the Lord. You never once complained even in the midst of my many tears. You showed me true love and patience (more tears are coming as I write this). As my own parenting adventure soon approaches, I only hope that I can emulate your example in some small way. I love you both so much.
Mike, thanks for waiting for me. After my salvation, you are the greatest gift that I have been given. Thank you for pressing into the Lord even when it wasn’t your desire to end our relationship. Your demonstration of faith and humble submission to God’s will has never ceased to provoke me. Your patient love for me won my heart and it is yours forever. Love you tons!