Thursday, May 05, 2011

Permissions and Clearances

Now I’ve been interested in people before, and I’ve even dated some, but I haven’t spent that much time in the dating sphere.  Honestly, for a long time I called myself a “bachelor to the rapture” because I really wondered if it wasn’t best for me to be single.  I believe that if you are going to be married or in a relationship that the person you are with should be a complement to you, should spur your growth, and should be someone with whom you can pursue your faith in a meaningful way.  I further believe that friends and family provide some of the best guidance and perspective when it comes to whether or not to pursue someone.

I had talked to a handful of friends in the days before the ‘Bubble Tea Episode’ and they all thought Jamie was absolutely wonderful.  After Jamie had let me know the answer she had received through prayer, I told her that before we pursue anything further, that we needed to ask for a few people’s thoughts about it, and the first people I wanted to talk to were her mom and dad.

There were a couple of reasons for this.  The first being that quite simply, courting/dating relationships shouldn’t be entered into lightly, and it is honorable and right to ask a woman’s parent’s permission before entering into a dating relationship.  Mind you, I had never done this before, but I just believed that on this occasion, this was the right course of action.  Another reason was because at the time we started dating, I was leading a ministry in the church that Jamie was part of.  I wanted Jamie’s parents to know that I wasn’t some creepy church guy who was preying on their daughter (unfortunately there really are people like that and it’s a tragedy that they turn people away from the faith).  If those reasons were not enough, a month prior to asking Jamie about dating, I had a dream in which I drove to Jamie’s parents to ask their permission to date Jamie.  All in all, it seemed like the right thing to do.

During thanksgiving break, I followed Jamie to Lake Floyd and had lunch with her parents and her.  I explained to them how very special I believed Jamie was, and that I was interested in pursuing a relationship with her, but that I would stop that pursuit immediately if they did not feel that they could bless it, or did not believe it was honorable.  Jamie’s dad had one of the most profound responses I’ve ever heard—it echoed Gamaliel’s statements in the book of acts  (read em).  He said, “Well, if this is God’s will, then there’s nothing we can do to stop it, and if it isn’t, there’s no way it will ever amount to anything.  So we will trust God, and give you our blessing to pursue a relationship with our Jamie.”

After Jamie’s parents, it was time to ask my own family.  I had really never even talked about dating anybody with them in my whole life, but I wanted them to weigh in on it with Jamie.  As I spoke with them after leaving Jamie’s folks they said they thought it was my choice, and they looked forward to meeting her.  My best friend, Willie, expressed some concern over her being a Tarheel fan but other than that, he thought it was great! (Just for reference the photo above was taken just after I told them about Jamie, and just before I let Willie know she was a UNC fan.)

And my final clearance and permission needed to come from the pastors of my church.  Now I don’t think this is necessary for every person, but for me, as a leader in the church, and knowing some of the downright awful things that can happen among ‘leaders’ and members of a congregation, my ultimate concern with all of my asking permission was that I did not want to do anything that would tarnish the name of Christ in mine or Jamie’s lives, nor did I want to do anything that would draw reproach on the church or undermine mine or Jamie’s testimony to the hope we had found in Jesus.  The response of my fellow staff member’s and pastors was enthusiastic and encouraging.

So on December 17, 2008 Jamie and I announced our relationship at a birthday party at the Olive Garden.  While all of my conversations with family, friends, and church leadership might seem a bit over the top, I’m so glad that from the beginning of our relationship we have invited many others to speak into it, to counsel us, and to encourage us in our pursuit of God first, and then our relationship with each other.

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