Last week I shared the back story of our love story. Today, I want to share details of the one year of friendship we had as we dealt with our growing attraction to one another.
Shortly after they met in Honduras they started communicating through Social networks (Valerie added Javier on Facebook first and Javier added the picture he snapped of her right after). What started as very short messages morphed into longer and longer ones as the weeks and months went by. They remained in the “friend zone” for nine months. During seven of those months, they decided to limit their communication to the written word. Looking back, they realize that it was not only romantic, but it also developed patience and communication skills without making them feel closer than they really were at that point. It acted like a speed break in this pen pal relationship charged with great chemistry.
Real friends, not friends with benefits
Many times, when we first meet interesting people, we get excited and sometimes burn through the stages. We make an acquaintance into a “friend with emotional benefits” right from the start. We decide from the start that this good looking, interesting person I met today can potentially be my next BF or GF. Making such a premature decision leads many people to overlook serious character flaws and major red flags because their emotions and hormones (let’s face it!) are already involved. In reality, this period should be a time to cultivate a real friendship. At this crucial point, where a friendship can potentially become a relationship, Self- Control (a fruit of the Spirit) is necessary in order to get to know the person and not how much they like you.
After nine months of talking about everything, except how much they were starting to like each other, they had the inevitable ‘serious talk’. It was on Valerie’s birthday (2010) that she asked for clarifications about what their exchanges meant to him, since for the past two months they had upgraded to daily phone conversations in which the intensity was undeniable. That night Valerie received the longest most beautifully written declaration followed by a long phone conversation where Javier explained the adventure on which he wanted to take Valerie, if she accepted.
Be pursued but don’t lose your voice
I am a firm believer that there’s a great blessing and beauty in a woman being pursued by the person that really wants to conquer her heart (which should be hidden in Christ). However, I do not believe that women should lose their voice during the process because God gave us a heart, a mind, and desires of our own to use. Many people make the mistake of assuming that lovers should read each other’s minds when truly the only person that can unmistakably know all our desires and completely satisfy them is God.
From the get-go, communication is very important. You only stand to gain from asking the right questions and communicating your expectations, as long as they are realistic. As a woman, I had to learn to be fair in what I desired from a godly human man as oppose to what Disney (or Hollywood) taught me about men. The harsh truth is that if I was not willing or able to live up to my mental “ideal”, I should not expect it from others either.
I want to say to all my sisters out there: if after you have clearly communicated your desires and expectations, you do not feel respected, heard or comfortable, have the faith and the self-respect to move away from that situation. If you made a mistake, God will let you know and guide you back, but do not stay because of fear that you may be missing out on love.
The nine months leading up to “the talk” were really important and proved to be beautiful and full of small steps of faith. They never crossed boundaries trying to get romantic. Instead, they worked on cultivating a friendship that proved to be a great foundation for their future marriage. Javier visited Valerie during different Conferences and events around the U.S. and other parts of the world (which was part of her job) to show that he was serious about getting to know. However, he never tried to be romantic until he became sure that this was what God desired for them both. They separately prayed for each other, asking God to reveal each other’s heart, for guidance, and for His will to be done. On February they had “the talk” and set a date in June for Javier’s visit to Montreal to ask her father’s blessing to date her. On June 28, 2011 they started their dating relationship, a year after they had met.
Pray, consult, and THEN act.
I’ve been to many youth camps and other high intensity youth events and shortly after I start seeing relationship status changes and new added pictures with ‘special’ friends appear on my social network feeds. Other times, couples have come to me and said, “Hey Val, this is my new BF or GF and we are dating to find out God’s will for us to be together.”
The truth is, we are called to pray before, during, and after we meet special people (NEVER stop praying is really what God says). However, choosing to hastily follow our heart can be dangerous because the heart is deceiving, but if we choose to pray and wait to hear from God, we would save ourselves a lot of trouble, don’t you think? No, there will not always be an angel that will appear in your room (with a bright light) to say, “YES, this is my will for your life.” But I am of the school of thought that believes in a God who still speaks to his people. In our case, God chose to feed us bits of information little by little (this required constant faith, trust and patience.)
If God would’ve given us a definite “yes” we may have become overconfident and ruined something that was meant to be handled with care; in other words, in godly fear, wisdom, and timing. Take a chill pill, and spend more time praying and in God’s word instead of trying to impress or catch that cute person you met at youth revival or something. It is in the presence of God and in His word that you will be reminded of the characteristics of love itself. Ask for wisdom to handle your emotions until you feel peace that this special person you have met, truly has God’s character and produces fruit that prove it.
Here are some of the things God did during the time Javier and Valerie were getting to know each other.
They were separately invited to minister in the same places and without knowing they would meet there (keep in mind that they were in separate countries). Unknowingly, in their written correspondence Javier started communicating things that Valerie had written to God in her prayer journal. In Javier’s case, Valerie’s non-flirtatious attitude, while in this day and age unconventional, made her even more attractive to him. Contrary to popular belief, guys (especially godly ones) do not see spouse material in the obvious, flirty girl that is falling at their feet. Hard to get (not as game but just being more in love with God and confident in that fact) is much more attractive and lets guys know that you are not a toy to play with, but someone that deserves being pursued and conquered the right way. Another way God manifested himself in their relationship was that He began to place peace in their family members’ hearts and they all started falling in love with each other even though they had never met. Being from the same denomination, Javier and Valerie had a lot of friends in common but had NEVER heard of each other. After they met, all these friends started praying and were thrilled that they met.
During the whole ‘open to receive God’s direction” process, Javier and Valerie were willing to pull away from their correspondence if at any point they felt it was what God required because their relationship with Him was and is the most important thing in this whole world.
It’s not ALL spiritual
Honestly, I spoke a lot about the spiritual aspect of the pursuit because it is the core of what it should be, but not every aspect of love is spiritual. Coming from a Pentecostal background, I have seen too many people over-spiritualize certain things that should not be. When you meet someone special, you have to connect in different areas: enjoy each other’s company, sense of humor, physical appearance and intellect. You HAVE to be attracted to each other in every way and that takes time to discover and unveil. Time will tell who this person really is because you can only put your “best foot forward” while conquering for so long. You want to fall in love with a friend (a friend that you are very hot for) and make God smile through the whole process.