Billy's description of courting Lydia is harder to read; not because of Billy or any of his actions, but because his interview is interrupted by comments from the editors - All. The. Time.
All emphasis is from the original.
Q: What attracted you to Lydia?
A: When I first met Lydia I wasn't what you would call really attracted, nor was I ready for marriage. (...) Our initial meeting was relaxed. She knew my brother, so she stopped to talk to him about ministering to the youth.
Wonder if Lydia guessed the brother on the list of men she thought might court her (that one that didn't include Billy)?
She was bright and interested in what she was doing. I shared her interest in ministry. I saw she had a drive for life. Her face constantly reflected joy and active interest in life and ministry. This is very appealing in a female.
I completely agree that active interest is extremely attractive in a future partner. I know that I broke off a few relationships because I wanted a partner who was passionate about something. I want to live my life to the absolute fullest and wanted a spouse who felt the same way. (Now, if you had told me that my spouse would be passionate about large-scale dairy agriculture, gathering wild plants and everything on Think Geek, I may not have believed you....silly me.)
Know what's really unattractive? Using the word "female" to describe a woman.
I also knew she was happy to live at home, yet she was very active in serving in many different ministries, and was taking part in productive actives.
Note from Steady Man: Yes, it is good for a young, unmarried girls who is out of school to be involved in ministry. She should be investing her time in worthy activities (long-term rewards) and not spending too much time just hanging out with friends (short-term rewards)
Plus, having access to your young, unmarried and presumably unpaid adult daughter's labor at home and at your business is great for the bottom line. Notice the glaring lack of support for two common and productive activities for young women - advanced education and working outside the home.
What's with the obsession with ministry? So far, every adult we've met in the book is "in ministry".
True confession time: I was involved in ministry before I married AND the most toxic relationship I have been in started 'in ministry'. Prior to that, I believed that meeting a man at my church protect me against dating a creep or a low-life or someone who was just out for themselves. Meeting someone at church would be safer emotionally than the imaginary scary guys I pictured on online dating sites. I was wrong. Please don't make the same mistaken assumption I did - you can meet a bad partner at church; I did. You can meet a great partner online; I did.
This was important to me because I knew I wanted a wife that would be satisfied with being a stay-at-home wife, yet I also wanted a women that had a lot of drive to get things done.
That combination sounds like a recipe for disaster. I'm a teacher and have three months - give or take - off during the summer. Every summer, I nearly go bat-shit crazy by the end of it. Even with new curriculum to write, conferences to attend, a vegetable garden to care for, canning and freezing to do and a blueberry patch to work in, I get bored. REALLY bored. Being Billy's stay-at-home wife before children arrive would probably push me into psychosis in a few months. Oh, but that would lead to disappointed angels......who would start making my pictures fall off the wall so I'd have something to do.
Also, I noted she wasn't a flirt. I always disregarded any girl I ever saw flirting or hanging onto a guy's arm. (Grabbers...beware!)
Note from Steady Man: I agree; flirting cheapens a girl.
How'd that work out for you. Billy? I mean, you didn't make it on to the list of people Lydia could think of that might want to court her. She cried out to God to let her love you before she married you! THAT'S NOT NORMAL. If you had flirted with her, she might have actually gotten to know you, liked you, and *gasp* been excited when your courtship started rather than anxious and wooden.
Plus, flirting is fun and a great skill to have to use within a marriage.
Q:How did you come to believe Lydia was God's will for you?
A: I had come to a point in my life where I was ready for marriage. I had spent the year getting certifications and furthering my education, and I knew I was ready to take on the responsibility of a wife.
The underlined section rubs me the wrong way. Getting married is the beginning of a partnership with mutual rights and responsibilities. Billy makes it sound like he's taking on a dependent child rather than partnering with an adult woman.
My antennas were up. Over the years I had been attracted to different girls, but for one reason or another they moved off my radar.
From Lydia's point of view, Billy never made it onto the other girls' radars since he rarely talked to women, FYI.
Lydia and I were both working at the same camp that year. I watched her, noted her ready smile. (...) Unexpectedly I caught myself perking up every time I heard her name called over the loudspeaker. I decided that before I found myself getting too attracted I needed a reality check on my feelings. Was God leading me in this direction? I didn't really know this girl at all; was this for real?
One afternoon, I was asked to drive one of three buses for the girls' ministry. It was a perfect time for me to put a fleece before God in order that I could have some physical evidence that God was directing my path towards Lydia. I asked god to confirm to me His direction by putting Lydia on my bus. Soon a stream of girls began filling the bus, and then their leader stepped in. I actually breathed a sigh of relief....Lydia wasn't among the group. [Camp leader orders everyone off the bus.] The door swung open and there was Lydia's smiling face.
Side note from Visionary Man: As an entertaining and enlightening study read the account of Gideon and the fleeces (Judges 6) to understand a Biblical view of the term. You may be surprised that "putting a fleece" before God is not a good thing, that it is a blatant sign of doubt. Just count how many times Gideon contradicts and doubts the messages given to him.
I remembered the story of Gideon, but couldn't remember the bit about the fleece so I reread Judges 6. God handed Israel over to the Midianites because Israel had moved away from God. When Israelites cry out to God, God tells a local farmer - Gideon - that he's gonna save his people. Gideon asked some questions. God's angel answers the questions and appears after a sacrifice. Gideon destroys an altar to Baal. Gideon asks for proof in the form of dew appearing on the fleece when the ground all around is dry - twice. God gives him the required proof.
Hmm. My take-away from this that God is OK with us asking for proof - especially when asked to do improbable things. Does God seem angry with Gideon? No. Does God storm off in a huff and find another warrior? No, God showed Gideon all the proof he wanted and still used him to free the Israelites in Judges 7 after Gideon asks for proof again.
I do wish that Billy had asked for a form of proof that had more than a 1 in 3 chance of happening....
[Billy admits to be very afraid after his proof that God wanted him to court Lydia.]
Q: So how did you proceed?
A. I searched the internet for anything she might have written to anyone. I found her blog and read all of her posts. If I had read flirty nonsense, or noted anything that lacked chastity in her manner, or seen pictures that alerted me to anything off color, I would have dismissed her.
Cyber-stalking. That's a creepy twist.
I emailed my sister, who was a friend to Lydia, and asked some questions: Was Lydia a hard worker? Did she have a good head on her shoulders? Was she flexible? Also, I needed to make sure that she wasn't legalistic. I asked about her stand on music, dress and movies, which are things I knew would affect my future children.
Billy objects to flirting, touching other men, women working outside the home, flightiness, and laziness. He needs to be sure she's got the right views on music, dress and movies to avoid contaminating yet unborn offspring - but God forbid Lydia is legalistic.
Notice that Billy has never talked to Lydia directly. No wonder she was so blindsided by his courtship.
She was the kind of woman I had always wanted. Plus, I was highly attracted to her.
Let's make this an honest statement:
"She appeared from a distance to be the kind of woman I had always wanted. Plus, I was highly attracted to the image of her I had created in my head."
I went home for the weekend and talked to my dad. My dad offered to call her dad and so it went.
[The editors stuff a section of Proverbs in.]
God really blessed me with a jewel.
I think two really important parts have been left out of this story. First, how exactly did Lydia's parents decide Billy was a suitable suitor for her? Shouldn't their criteria be public knowledge at least for Lydia and Billy's sake? Second, what exactly did Billy do between the wooden and awkward first meeting and their marriage to help the two of them fall in love?
My guess is that it involved a legion of angels making pretty sunsets and idyllic woodland scenes appear whenever Lydia saw Billy.....
Debi spends several pages on lists of how men and women should get ready for marriage. Let me summarize it because it's really tedious. Men - get ready to support a wife, find a good woman, marry her. Women - wait patiently at home until your parents tell you who to court. Never make the first move. After all, Debi didn't and she married Mike Pearl! For the love of God, don't say no to the courtship.
In the next post(s), we get to watch Debi
From the movie "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day"
And that is why you must not waste a second of this precious life. Listen to me. Once I too had ambitions. Not your grand ones, simple ambitions. Marriage, children and a house of our own. He died, in the mud in France. A good, solid man. You would call him dull, no doubt, but he smiled whenever he saw me and we could've built a life on that. Your heart knows the truth, Delysia. Trust it.