I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases. Song of Solomon 8:4
Katie and I have been meeting with Jon and Sarah, who got engaged over the Christmas holiday. We’ve been talking about marriage—thinking about what it will mean for them. And for others.
So we had them over dinner last week, to celebrate their new level of commitment and, as it turned out, there were five college students here as well. Every one wanted to hear their story.
It’s a wonderful story, with all the appropriate romantic bits. He had chocolate and roses delivered to her room while she was away on a trip to Paris. And they got engaged at an overlook in the Sequoia national forest in California. It felt like a romantic comedy, at times.
But the most remarkable aspects of the story have to do with patience and pursuit, in a relationship marked by their willingness to wait and their capacity for self-restraint.
The on-again/off-again parts are not that unusual. But his persistence was, marked by deliberate choice and self-control. When an ex-marine pursues a recent college graduate and doesn’t kiss her until he asks her to marry him, that violates a lot of cultural expectations.
He waited, however, while her love grew, and it grew as she saw his constancy—not just in loving her but in serving others. It might sound corny to some, but this is a relationship that grew while they were passing out Bibles together as part of a church ministry.
And it matured as he overcame fears rooted in her past. He did this by being patient, gentle and sacrificial. It’s the same way that Christ won his church.
This is not the practice of many husbands and boy friends today. Young men in particular seem insistent and self-centered, constantly defrauding their girl friends by raising expectations they can not practically or properly fulfill.
Both physically and emotionally they push the boundaries, ignoring the implications and expectations of implied commitment. They do this lacking the resources to make an actual commitment, and lacking the maturity and judgment to carry it out. It’s a recipe for regret.
I’m not saying that young women can not or do not defraud young men as well. I’m just saying that ultimately this particular relationship worked because he didn’t defraud her by stirring up emotions and desires in self-centered and impatient ways.
It’s a love story, a story of trust earned and joy restored.
It’s a story that needs to be told.