Y’ALL. My fiance is taking over my blog today (okay okay, not LITERALLY) to share his perspective of the very early stages of hearing about each other. Most of this you guys already know, but I thought y’all would like to read his side of things. Part 2 is coming soon, I PROMISE. But here’s some to tide you over. Andrew, begin. *cue my Andrew grin*
I’m Andrew, Aria’s fiancé, and her most ardent and unreserved lover! The last few months have been the most incredible of my whole life, and courting Aria is the best thing I have ever done! I am truly grateful to God that I can have the privilege of even just knowing Aria, but to be marrying her is just incomprehensible to me, and I thank God over and over for it! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading her posts over the last six months or so without her even knowing about it until after we were engaged!
Here’s a little about me. I’m a child of God, brother, country boy, biochemist, welder, creationist, inventor, philosopher, Chevy guy, violinist (and Aria is so much better!), INTJ, woodworker, BJU grad, DIYer, pyromaniac, and homeschool graduate. I tend to think I can understand just about anything unless it is either inherently unknowable, not worth learning, or there is just not enough information yet. I always avoid absolutes – at least most of the time, unless they are absolutely absolute. I tend to overthink the future and procrastinate the present, but never in my wildest dreams did I even consider the possibility of writing a post for a blog, much less a girls’ blog! XD (You can thank Aria for teaching me what XD meant!)
One of the passions that has become a theme of my life is sharing my life, because my life is not my own. I have been reaching out to boys and young men for years to seek to pass on the experiences, successes, and failures so that hopefully they would be able to walk closer to God, live a life for His glory, and avoid many of the practical potholes I have tripped on. When Aria asked me if I was interested in writing this post, I was first taken aback with shock at the thought, and then I started bubbling with excitement at being able to share what I have learned with a larger audience, and then a wave of in trepidation as the responsibility of teaching stunned me. What I adamantly desire is that you would be able to learn from what I have done well and avoid my many mistakes and shortfalls.
I was born in a little town near Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi where Dad was stationed at the time. I am the third sibling with three sisters, so I am not quite the youngest, and my parents did an excellent job of keeping my sisters from either bullying or spoiling me. I wouldn’t trade them for anything, not even brothers now, but there were times growing up when I really wanted a brother! We would move every 2 to 4 years as Dad would get his next assignment. I lived in Colorado Springs, CO; Little Rock, AR; Yorktown, VA; then Dad retired from the Air Force and we moved to Joplin, MO when I was 12. My parents had a house built on 75 acres in our own little valley and my three sisters and I absolutely loved it! I would spend hours wandering through the woods with my dog, Coco, hacking brush with a machete, picking blackberries, burning wood, hunting deer, squirrels, and rabbits, gardening, blacksmithing, and so much more! We started collecting our own little hobby farm. We started with a few pet miniature goats, a few feeder pigs, some bottle calves, and then Dad decided that we should get into the meat goat business, and so we have a small herd of meat goats now.
I was homeschooled all the way through high school, and I graduated when I was 17. I always knew I wanted to something with science, but I couldn’t figure out what. I finally decided on going to BJU to major in biochemistry. It was tough, but God gave me the grace and work ethic to chug through, and I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2017.
After I graduated, I struggled to find a job, and found myself working in the lofty position of roofer for a man that went to my church as I looked for a job in my field. I eventually got a job as a microbiologist in a fried foods plant. Seven months later, I lost that job, and was back on the job hunt. After hundreds of applications, several interviews, high hopes getting crushed, and much waiting, I ended up with a job in Cuba, MO as a paint inspector for airplane parts. So, in September 2018, I moved about 3 hours away from my parents, but the plant was less than 30 minutes from where my oldest sister and her husband lived! God had provided in ways that I couldn’t imagine. The next few months were very monumental for me as I got my own apartment, built my routines, set and fulfill personal expectations for myself, became part of a church, and sought to become more prompt and responsible.
Building My Convictions
I have never been oblivious to girls, and during high school, I knew that I wanted to be going somewhere before I got into a serious relationship, and I knew that I had standards for myself, but I couldn’t really put it into words. My freshmen and sophomore years in college were very educational for me as I got firsthand experience watching the dating dramas unfold up close and personal. I still remember sitting smack dab in between a dating couple in one of my classes because of the way the seats were assigned, and they broke up in the middle of the semester! I firmly decided that all of my interactions with girls would fall into one of two categories: I was either I was just a friend, or I was seriously assessing compatibility for marriage. One summer, I read a book that revolutionized my understanding of the biblical role of a man. It was The Mark of a Man by Elisabeth Elliot. It clarified my understanding of how I should treat women across the board, and what I was looking for in a potential spouse. So I strengthened my convictions to be an initiator and protector in whatever relationships I had in the future. I also realized that for me to be a provider, I decided that I would never get engaged in debt, and that I needed to at least be close to graduation before I even let myself think seriously about a relationship. Even with a decent start, I look back on some of the things that I did, and I am amazed at all the things that I have learned since then. I never dated in college. The closest I ever got was being slightly better friends with one girl than I should have without clarifying that we were just friends. To this day, I do not know how much of an effect this had on her, and I regret my cowardice in not trying to clarify.
After I graduated, I wanted to do things right, but how would I know what girl to pursue? I didn’t want to be a lazy bum that expected a girl to come find me, but I also didn’t want to just be chasing every pretty chick that caught my eye. I have seen plenty of both, and they both look startlingly immature to me. For a long time, I was sort of locked in by this conundrum. After a while, I realized somewhat that I should be looking at who was paralleling my life, or who was in the same ministries that I was. After I came to this conclusion, I sort of stopped worrying about it, and tried to just do the jobs I had before me, and just keep an eye open if God brought someone along. This was not always easy, and I can remember telling a friend that I wished God would just slap me upside the head when the right one came along!
The Providential Night
One Sunday afternoon, the Eldredges invited me over. I had been over to their house several times before, but not recently, and I had come up with some questions for Mr. Eldredge since then. During the conversation, I was asking most of the questions, and we were having a lively discussion about the rabbit trails that spawned easily from that. Mr. Eldredge was just finishing a story about a long-time friend named John that was an illustration for one of his points when he mentioned that this friend had a granddaughter – and her parents asked John to contacted Mr. Eldredge and asked him if he knew any godly young men that were viable suitors for courtship. I was stupefied. What had just happened? He then told me that he had told them that he might know someone and asked if I would be interested in talking to her dad! My knee jerk was to suspect a trap, but it just didn’t seem like someone trying to “set me up”. And, we had just finished a 20-minute conversation about this very topic, and the girl’s parents were examples in the story! My mouth may have been gaping for a while as I struggled to comprehend what was happening. I had been planning to ask the questions that led up to Mr. Eldredge asking me a question that he had planned to ask me! And the question was if I was interested in getting more information about courting a girl! I was overwhelmed, perturbed, fearful, scared, intensely hopeful, in deep thought, flabbergasted, and knew I could only trust the Lord. After stammering out a few shell-shocked sentences, they asked me if I wanted to know her name. “No,” I emphatically responded, “I need to go home and pray about this for three days first.” I knew I needed to make this decision based on what I know of God’s will, not her name. We talked about other things for an hour or so, and I left, still wondering if I was in a dream.
On my way home, I called my best friend Fleet to pour out my odd circumstances to him, and neither of us knew what to think! I prayed harder the next three days than I think I had ever done in my life! I thought through the possible endings of getting more information, and I realized that aside from Providence, the probabilities were not great. The chances of actually liking each other at face value were decent, but not assured because there are many conservative Christians that are just very different than I on personal levels, and I have rarely been accused of being normal. The probability of actually starting a courtship was very slim – roughly one in a thousand – and the probability of actually getting engaged to this girl was somewhere on the order of one in a million or worse! That made it extremely likely that by asking for more information, I was willingly accepting the probable emotional heartbreak of a breakup and investing time and energy freely for the likely devastation of politely ripping a relationship in half to prevent further pain because it wouldn’t ever work out. Needless to say, I didn’t take my prayers lightly. One phrase that kept popping into my mind was the words of Laban when Eleazar came for Rebecca, “The thing has come from the Lord; we cannot speak to you bad or good.” Here was a Godless man acknowledging that God’s plan should always be followed. How much more should I want to follow each step that God places before me? I realized that the main reason I was hesitant to go forward was not because it was an unwise decision from the information I had, but rather because of my fear of the unknown and possible heartbreak. In other words – doubt. So, after three days of intensely praying that I was making the decision based on the information God had given me, and not on any of my mystical dreams or foolish impetuosity, I asked for more information.
Her name was Aria!