05 March 2011

51 Weeks [in which everyone is surprised]

One week before ye olde relationship began.
 Before we start on those fifty-one "official" weeks, you will need a little backstory.

Jared and I grew up in the same church, it's true. But I barely even remember him before high school, when we were on the youth group worship team together. Apart from that, he barely figures at all in my memories, and it's about the same for him. No friendship, let alone romance, as I was a spacey introvert and he was girl-o-phobic. (I'm still pretty spacey but I lost most of the introversion at college. Also: he is no longer scared of girls. Note that he has one living in his house.)

So we went our separate ways, pursuing various interests, making our own friends. Jared went to Millersville University here in Lancaster to study business; I packed off to Hillsdale, Michigan, as an English major. We saw each other sporadically on break.

That was it.

But in the spring of 2008, when Jared and I were both juniors in college, something happened. He went to study abroad in Germany, and the scene was set for . . .

Surprise Number One. For no apparent reason (we still can't figure it out), Jared found himself thinking about me. Note that we hadn't talked, emailed or otherwise communicated for months! I remember having a brief conversation on Christmas Eve, and I left a few comments on the blog he kept while in Germany, but then, so did a lot of other people. So there had been zero noteworthy correspondence between us. Yet there I was in his head, and apparently, I wouldn't go away.

Being the prudent man he is, Jared mulled over this newfound interest all semester (while in Germany), then all summer (while we were both back in Lancaster), then all fall (when, still oblivious, I had gone back to Hillsdale). He wasn't sure whether he should keep it under his hat, or bite the bullet and ask me out. He talked to a few friends, including his dad and our small group leaders at church, and he prayed. A lot. He did know that he liked several things about me-- and I'm sure I don't know what they were, for I am loud and weird and emotional, all the things he isn't-- but anyway! There I was, and there he was, and he had to do something about it.

He did.

Surprise Number Two. This one was for my dad. Until Jared sat down with him on January 9, 2009, and asked for permission to date me, poor Daddy had been clueless about this boy's interest in his eldest daughter. His response?

"Hmm. Interesting."

I'm not sure that was the most reassuring thing Jared had ever heard. However, for a father who has just been accosted by a 22-year-old college kid asking to date and possibly marry his little girl, I think it's pretty good.

Surprise Number Three. This one, of course, was for me. Let me backtrack here so you can appreciate the shock . . . and the providence.

In the spring of 2008, at exactly the time Jared was starting to feel an interest in me, I had a strong sense that I was "ready" to get married. Before that, I could not have honestly said that I had the maturity, understanding, or even the desire required for marriage, but suddenly I could. Of course, I was not dating anyone and saw no real possibilities around me, either at college or at home. Male friends I had in plenty, but potential boyfriends? No. So I waited.

Now if you'd asked me what I was looking for in a husband, I would have said quite a few things. Among them would be: likes to dance, not quiet, lots of siblings, went to a liberal arts college like me. (If you know my husband at all, you should be laughing.) Also, I'm quite certain that at some point I thought these exact words: "I would never marry Jared. He is very nice. But he is too quiet. It would be boring."


As I was saying, I waited. Not always patiently, but God did give me a lot of grace in that area, and by fall 2008 I found myself thoroughly content with singleness. I was enjoying my friendships with various young men at school, cheerfully acknowledging that I didn't want to date any of them and never would. (I just fed them instead.) In fact, through those friendships I learned a lot about encouragement, respect, and how to follow good leadership-- without the distraction of romance. It was pretty swell. When I bothered to think about the future, I had confidence that God would send me a husband in His timing, without any help from me. I still felt "ready" for marriage, but I'd be graduating in a little while, then going home to Lancaster; who knew what would happen after that?

Christmas Break came and went. I caught up with friends, attended a young adults' retreat at church, hung out with my family. Then I flew back to Hillsdale for my final semester. I thought I knew exactly what spring 2009 would look like: I was going to write my thesis and concentrate completely on my life at Hillsdale. There would be plenty of time to think about Lancaster after graduation.

Then my dad called me.

My dad never called me.

I knew something big was going on.

Dad: "Hi honey."
Me: "Umm. Hi?"
Dad: "Your mom is on the phone too."
Me: "Crap. What did I do this time?"
Dad: ::laughs:: "Nothing!"
Me: "So what's going on?"
Dad: "Well." ::awkward silence:: "I had breakfast with Jared Randolph this morning."

At that moment every thought I had about unpacking, meeting up with college friends, and buying textbooks flew out of my head. Jared? He was talking to my dad? Oh my God. This means . . .

Dad: "He's interested in dating you."
Me: "O-kay."

I think Daddy said a few more things, but I wasn't listening. The weirdest thing had happened to me: I had faith. All the faith in the world for this crazy, unexpected, unfamiliar venture. I couldn't explain why, but it's as if God gave me complete peace about it, just when I could have freaked out or gone into convulsions of indecision. Daddy told me to call him back the next day, but before he'd even hung up I knew what I would say. "Yes! Why not?"

People are usually skeptical when I tell them that. Really? I said "Yes, why not?" After lacking any interest whatsoever in this boy, I agreed to date him, just like that? But it's the honest truth. I felt that God had been preparing me for dating and marriage all spring, summer, and fall. I had absolutely no reason to say no, except for being afraid . . . and seriously? That would be lame. On the other hand, I had several excellent reasons to say yes: I deeply respected Jared, and I thought he was smart, interesting, and funny (we had talked several times the previous summer and over Christmas Break, and my opinion of him had changed a bit).

Besides, he was pretty cute.

When I tried to apply Scripture to the situation, the only verse that came to mind was, "If anything is not done from faith, it is sin." Well. If I said no it would be from fear, not from faith. So that settled it.

I called Daddy back. I said yes.

{This is at the young adults' retreat one week before Jared asked my dad for permission to date me.}


  1. What a great post, Rebecca! It's weird, isn't it, how that dormant desire suddenly seems to spring to life at the right time? I had never actually really been interesting in marriage, even a little, until I met James. I was pretty sure I would never marry, and was happy about that. Oh youth, and folly. But when I started dating James, I knew (I won't say how quickly, lest I get branded a hopeless romantic or something.) I'm grateful to God that that instinct to marry stayed dormant until I met the man who was to be my husband--sure, I had crushes and stuff, but that urge to cleave to one person alone? That's different. Thanks again for the post.

  2. Yes... what surprised me was how quickly that desire was fulfilled. I know many, many women who waited (or have been waiting) a very long time for marriage. God was so kind to me! I still can't get over it. :)

  3. My grad class for tonight was cancelled and for some unforeseen reason, instead of doing all the work that I should be doing for class tomorrow, I am back-blog-binging on your lovestory. And I would now like to interject this interchange, had between our two selves, at some point in senior spring semester, while waiting for a meeting with the wise Westblade:

    Hannah: What do you want to do after graduation?
    Rebekah with (dare I say, smug? Yes I dare) SMUG smile: move home, get involved in my church, and get married.

    I promptly might have (equally smugly) thought you were being ridiculous....little did I know that you were being wooed!!!! : ) So glad it all worked out!