Day 6 - Courtship and Dating

Welcome to another day in our 40 days for Vocations! This week, I am sharing with you my own vocation story.

After several failed introductions (that I don’t remember) I finally started noticing this cute boy who sat behind me in my “Theology of the Mass” class. Actually, he was really cute. But, I knew how this story went – typically, if I was this attracted to a guy he wasn’t as attracted to me. So, I didn’t get my hopes up.

Little did I know, this guy was actively pursuing me, in his own quiet way. (And he had actually been attracted to me ever since a large lecture style class that we’d taken together the previous Spring. He’d sat on the opposite side of the room and admired from a distance, but never gotten up the nerve to talk to me.) When I finally noticed him, he was more than ready to get to know me.
We hung out together for about a month – just getting to know each other as friends – before we went on our first date. From the first time we “hung out” together, I knew that there was something different about him. He was quieter and calmer than the kind of guy I normally was interested in (which, let me tell you, has been an absolute blessing in our marriage!). And, more than anything else, I felt so incredibly respected by him. That was really all I could manage to say, when my friends and family asked me about Andrew, “I’ve never felt so respected before.”

From the beginning of our dating/courtship, it was clear that our relationship wasn’t going to consist of fluff. We hit the ground running, tackling the tough issues together. We shared stories of our individual baggage with each other, and helped the other make some tough decisions. At the time we started dating, we were both facing a crossroads of sorts, and we helped each other through some difficult growing periods.

On or right around the time of our first Valentine’s Day, we sat in my dorm chapel and had a talk about chastity. We both desperately wanted our relationship to be a chaste one. Chastity is basically just keeping to whatever expression of sexuality is appropriate for your state in life, so it’s a bit subjective. The idea is, though, that the focus is on getting to know each other's hearts, not getting to know each other physically. We set standards for ourselves that we were both comfortable with (although would probably be considered pretty strict by most standards!), and we also spent a lot of our time hanging out in chapels. (Notre Dame has chapels in every dorm and most other buildings, so this wasn’t any huge feat). We wanted Jesus to be our “chaperone” – to be a part of our conversation, and to be our safeguard when it came to chastity. (Again, we were in a kind of unique situation, since went to a Catholic university with tons of chapels everywhere.)

What's not to love about a guy with a favorite mystery of the rosary?!

That time together, with each other and with Him, came to define our relationship. We were moving together closer than we had expected. The summer after Junior year, I was working not far from where Andrew’s parents’ lived, and so we got to go on a couple of dates a week. We always tried to have our weekend date include Mass or adoration. One of our first Sunday afternoon dates, we visited the National Shrine of St. Therese, and sat on a bench talking. I shared with him some of my fears and anxieties, and after that conversation...something felt different. We didn’t know what it was, but we felt as if God had been a part of our conversation that afternoon – enabling me to open up to Andrew and enabling him to show me the deep love and understanding that I needed. Low and behold – seven months into our relationship, we begin to feel that we were being called to get engaged...and soon.

Thus followed several months of lots of prayers, lots of very serious discernment discussions, lots of conversation with family to try and get everyone on board, and even a joint trip to my spiritual director. Andrew and I were (and are) both planners/by the book type people, and neither of us anticipated being engaged before graduation or married right out of college...let alone getting engaged to someone we’d known less than a year! But, God kept nudging us in that direction. One by one, the obstacles and fears fell down. Suddenly, we found that God had given us the peace we needed to give Him our “yes.”


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