. . that Paul and I are married . . .
We first met when I was at summer camp meeting (Roxbury, PA). I was all of 14–he was newly 21 and off to seek his way in the world on his own for the first . . . I can still see him after all these years–standing in a circle of others with his hands jammed into his black dress pants, cracking jokes.
My immediate impression was favorable. This guy was fun! I soon found out from someone with hushed tones that this guy was actually catching a ride in one of the two big green maxi-vans Luke S. drove back to Ky. He was coming to work at Rod and Staff. How exciting! I hoped this jolly stranger would end up in our vehicle, but alas, it was not to be! We ended up with another stranger–one who was not nearly so jolly or nice. One of the vehicles developed serious problems and we limped our way back home, with repeated stops. During one stop Paul and this other guy were both out of the vehicles. The conversation they had did nothing to impress me with the good qualities of the man in our van . . . and only added to my interest in Paul.
So . . . time moved on . . school started again for me. . . Our paths crossed now and then.
Paul worked his stint and moved away . . . and more time went on . . . our paths continued to cross . . . and the positive feelings we’d had from the start about each other continued to remain positive. But nothing romantic. Paul actually was dating a girl more his age, who I knew and liked as a friend. Eventually the girl made the decision to end the relationship, so Paul remained without a girl friend after that.
He actually called me his little sister because I was the age of one of his sister’s, and I thought of him as my big brother because he was the age of my older brother who I missed desperately.
When I was around 18 and a half, Paul began to try to see what he could do to get a boyfriend for me. He thought that a friend of his who was about my age would be just right, and after all–what would be nicer than playing match-maker with two of his friends that he cared deeply about?! Well, when he brought this young man around I felt pretty strongly that I was “under the microscope” and didn’t like it AT ALL because while I liked Paul, and had nothing in particular against his friend, I felt NOTHING that said to me that this friend of Paul’s was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I was such an emotional wreck that weekend as no matter where I went . . . Paul and this boy seemed to show up! Later I found out that the boy had finally told Paul, “If you think she is so great, then why don’t YOU date her?!” Paul denies that the remark had any thing to do with him later deciding to ask me for a special friendship but I dunno . . . I think I’m going to always feel a sense of gratitude to JM for just bluntly putting it out there!
Soon after I was 19 I was at Messiah Bible School and Paul showed up there to visit during the term. He tried to find out if I had any boy’s who were special to me, and I encouraged him to find a good wife. I suggested someone I thought might be appropriate for him, but he laughed and insisted that she was related to him so many different directions he’d never consider it! At the time, I thought he was just making excuses, but I later found out that he was totally right.
Paul told me later that as he drove away that night and headed back towards Canada where he was working at the time, he began to think. “What am I doing driving away from the only girl I really want to be with?” He went home and fought that battle for a good many weeks. Finally . . . feeling convicted by God that it was the thing he MUST do, he wrote me a letter, asking if I would consider a change in our relationship from brother-sister to boy-friend and girl-friend. He ended the letter by letting me know that if I didn’t feel clear to do that, he hoped it wouldn’t change our relationship.
My reaction?? Tears. Huge amounts of tears. Tears my Mom couldn’t understand. What she didn’t know was that in addition to praying fervently for Paul to find a good wife (and I did NOT see myself as that for him) I had also just in the last week or so before Paul’s letter arrived spent a time journaling about my feelings about my spot in life. I’d written, “I’m saved, sanctified, single and satisfied–and I fully expect to remain that way.” To so suddenly get a letter from a boy (man) I cared very much about . . . was very emotional for me . . and to know that when I said “no” to him, as I thought surely I was going to have to do, that things would NEVER be the same between us . . . was heart-breaking to me. As my Mom tried to find out from me why I would be crying, I finally managed to sob out, “I’ll have to tell him ‘No’ and it will break his heart!”
And in a nut-shell . . . that is why we are married, right?? I couldn’t bear to tell him “no” and break his heart?! Not quite that simple. My Mom actually had the wisdom to tell me, “Hope, he put so much into writing that letter–you need to show him the respect to at least take a few days to think and pray about it!” Unbeknownst to me until some time later, my parents had actually had a long conversation some months before when Paul came around with his friend . . . and that conversation had consisted of my Dad being ready to go tell Paul to not bring any more friends around to check me out because it made me such a nervous wreck that weekend . . . and my Mom asking my Dad if he really thought that was a wise thing to do because “what if Paul some day gets interested in Hope himself and you would have scared him off?!” Turns out that BOTH of our sets of parents had actually privately each thought that maybe some day we would get together as they observed the mutual respect and friendship we had over the years . . . Funny, huh??!
Anyway . . . back to my my big decision . . . in the setting I was in you weren’t allowed to accept a date unless you had both your parents permission AND the permission of your ministry. So . . . after taking a few days to think and pray about it and talk with my parents, I began to feel a lot more positive . . . I finally talked with one of the pastors and he was fairly supportive. Some people expressed doubts due to the differences in our back grounds but this pastor was affirming and thought that we could overcome those cultural differences and make a relationship work if we wanted to. (He has proven to be quite right . . . and since we are soon married 20 years, I think we can safely say that we aren’t just living in the “honeymoon” any more, but have been through horrible things and good things and painful things and exciting things and we still love each other and are glad we married each other!)
To my surprise, I found myself a week or so after I got Paul’s first letter writing him back to let him know that I would accept a change in our relationship. It still felt very wierd and ackward to me, and even almost WRONG–after all, you just do NOT date your brother !! Our first few dates were ackward and uncomfortable and we both hardly knew how to relate to each other because the old, easy comradrie of “Big Brother–Little Sister” was being disrupted big-time. With time, our dates became more comfortable and pleasant and less than a year after we had our first date (June of 1990) we were married on May 3rd of 1991.