Last week, Anabelle shared Part 1 our love story on her blog, Written By The Finger Of God. But my husband, Gregg, may have (understandably) felt a tad bit left out because the majority of what I shared was about me and God. My hope was to glorify God, Who is my first Love. So the overall focus of Part 1 was on God and His healing.
Part 2, however, is about our courtship which, to me, can only be fully appreciated in light of the details in Part 1. So, head on over to Anabelle’s blog first and read Part 1 if you don’t already know the details! Part 2 is lengthy so grab some coffee and a snack!
Run Toward Jesus
Upon meeting single Catholics, Gregg tells them to ‘run toward Jesus and then look around and see who is beside you.’ This, we both believe, is the best way to know that a potential spouse is the one God intends for you. I believe that is what happened with us. We were both members of an on-line Catholic dating site. This was an indication of our desire to meet and marry someone who shares our faith. Participation in a Catholic-specific dating site is one method of eliminating the rest of the world that is not running toward Jesus.
Gregg contacted me in August 2001. He later revealed that he loved my picture and my profile. He also thought it was cool that I am a mechanical engineer involved in the design of Naval aircraft. He is a big aviation nut so this part of my profile was intriguing to him.
Within a couple of weeks from that first email, the tragic events of 9/11 happened. Gregg, knowing that I lived close to the Pentagon and supported the military, was not sure if I was harmed by the terror attacks. Thankfully, I wasn’t.
As soon as phone service returned that week, we spoke on the phone for the first time. I could tell this guy was different and I had a feeling our courtship was going to be different. And, it was! Gregg pursued me with a great deal of courage and chivalry. I was sincerely overwhelmed.
Gregg flew to Virginia from Kansas four months later in January 2002. He, of course, stayed in a hotel. I had a feeling after our four days together that this courtship was a “go.”
The four months between our first contact and our first meeting in-person gave us the opportunity to get to know each other simply through conversation. We talked and talked about everything (and still do). I found him to be interesting, smart, sweet, kind and very impressive!
What impressed me was the way he pursued and wooed me. I have souvenirs of our courtship ranging from love letters and emails to teddy bears and jewelry. The necklace he sent to me for Christmas (even before meeting in person) was beautiful. It had a very delicate a rosary-like design with these gorgeous little bluish-grey pearls and a pendant of the Virgin Mary. So elegant. I wore it in our wedding along with the matching earrings he had specially made for me.
The souvenirs were nice and flattering but what was really impressive was his strong interest in me and his willingness to go outside and beyond himself in order to get to know me. Keep in mind, our courtship was completely long–distance. But, he rose to the challenge. He was willing to prove that he would be a wonderful husband. And he succeeded!
For example, his house was located in an area with weak cell phone reception. Once he met me, he would get in his vehicle and drive 5 miles to a location with reception. He did this just so he could talk to me after work. This was a strong clue to me that he was not a lazy or selfish guy.
His courtship and pursuit were unlike anything I had ever experienced. Oh, I had relationships and plenty of dates. But those guys (affectionately known as my ‘stupid old boyfriends’ ~ LOL) were lame and inconsistent in their pursuit. I have more stories about them to entertain you in my book, but suffice it to say, their efforts were lame-O (bless their poor little blinded-by-the-Veil hearts!).
Gregg, on the other hand, was trying to pull me towards his heart and into his life. Right after our first meeting, he invited me to his hometown to meet his family and friends. By the time I arrived, on Valentine’s Day 2002, his family and friends knew all about me and did everything in their power to welcome me and let me know that Gregg was head over heels for me. Just like him, his family and friends were (and are) wonderful!
It was a romantic weekend which included Mass, of course, a NASCAR party hosted by his friends and a gig with his part time rock band. Yes, Gregg was not only into his faith, sweet, kind and interesting, gainfully employed and a homeowner, he was also a talented musician. I had to pinch myself. I was hooked.
The Attraction of Chastity
Gregg knew, based on my profile, that I was different. My profile stated that I taught 7th grade Catechism and Chastity. Oh, did I mention our physical attraction? Suffice it to say, it was (and still is) verrry strong. We both knew that this physical attraction would need to be supported with the virtue of chastity. If you ask Gregg, this was a major attraction for him. No other girl he knew had this commitment to our Lord or to waiting until marriage. He knew he had found something special in me and was highly motivated to win me over. And, he did!
The Engagement and Wedding
Let’s see, by my Valentine’s Day visit we were talking on the phone daily and “love” had been spoken. He came back to visit me in early April and met my family. They adored him and he immediately loved them.
We began talking about marriage and engagement R.I.N.G.s (a story for another time). He wanted to know my requirements for color, cut, clarity and caret size. My goodness, this wonderful guy was planning on proposing to me! I really did not have any major engagement ring requirements in light of that wonderful fact. But, he wanted to know in order that I would be happy. Another very good sign of a very good and considerate man.
I visited him again on May 2nd and he proposed. Oh, and yes the ring was perfect and stunning. Wedding plans began and we were married October 19, 2002.
Beyond My Hopes And Dreams
You can tell a lot about a man simply by observing him in the courtship phase. Why is this important? I think it is important because there are a lot of women who are disappointed in their husbands. I wonder what they could have noted in the courtship phase that could have been a warning to them of what to expect in marriage?
A kind man in courtship will be a kind man in marriage. A sacrificial and unselfish man in courtship will be a sacrificial and unselfish man in marriage. A man deeply dedicated to the Lord and his faith in courtship will be the same in marriage. And so forth. A man’s character very rarely changes so it is wise to pay attention to his character during the courtship phase.
I will give you two examples of Gregg’s character, both of which happened in the last 48 hours. Yesterday (as I write this) was a first Friday of the month and our church hosted Eucharistic Adoration. It was our day off from work so I planned to go and adore our Lord for an hour. I asked Gregg if he would like to join me but he said, “I would love to but I have ‘day off’ tasks I need to get done.” So, I happily headed up to the church by myself. As I was there adoring my Lord, Gregg walked in and joined me. I felt like the luckiest girl alive.
The second example happened just a few moments ago. Today is Saturday (as I write this) and Gregg had to run an errand about 2 hours from our home. He was sort of close to my Mom’s house so he called her and is taking her and my sister out to lunch. There were many ways he could have spent his Saturday, but he chose to spend it with my Mom and sister (who are also wonderful).
Gregg displayed these same character traits during the courtship phase. You get the picture. Keep your eyes wide open before marriage.
The Holy Spirit constantly carries out this work in the most interior part of our being with wonderful subtlety and the delicacy of a wholly divine art.” St Bernard of Clairveau
In Part 1, I discussed the healing that took place prior to meeting Gregg. Along with the Sacraments, God continues to heal me through what I believe is a very effective method – our family. I believe the love of my husband heals me. Being a Mom heals me in a way that only a child can do.
Our love story would not be complete without making a connection to Chastity. Not only does Chastity prevent us from damaging ourselves spiritually, emotionally and physically, it is also critical to our healing after marriage. The marital embrace, when we are open to life, heals us. Isn’t that crazy and beautiful? God is a genius!
And, of course, I believe Chastity leads to the good fruit of Superabundance. This good fruit includes children and many other common human desires such as faithfulness, devotion, sacrifice, reliability, gentleness, constancy, affection, admiration, freedom, security, peace, compassion and protection. The Catechism also teaches us that in the case of marriage, the practice of chastity (remaining open to life) naturally leads to patience, temperance, prudence, honesty and trust. These good fruits cannot help but heal us.
I am not saying that Chastity guarantees that you will become a wife and a mother. But, I do believe that the Lord is committed to healing you. Work with Him and let the Holy Spirit, with His wonderful subtlety and delicacy of a wholly divine art, heal you. He may just surprise you beyond all your hopes and dreams. I pray He does.