After my post about how to act around people of the opposite gender, I received a lot of questions about one prevailing concern:
How do we get to know the other person? Doesn't that mean we need to spend more time with them? Didn't you talk to Hans a lot?Me? Talking to Hans? A lot? What are you implying?
Of course we talked, a lot. But thankfully, Hans was very clear about his intention and commitment from the very beginning. We had two good things going for us (though they felt more like curses at the time). First, we lived in different cities up to our wedding day. The cellphone was pretty much all we had most of the time. Second, we were studying theology at very different graduate schools. So our discussions were often painful and ego-shattering, and often about things close to our hearts.
My cellphone wasn't able to get reception from my basement apartment. One night, I was standing under a tree, having one of these painful discussions. It started to rain and I didn't have an umbrella. Suddenly, I felt something on my shoulder. I looked, and there it was -- bird droppings. Just then, the battery died. I didn't even get to yell about my plight.
Getting to know people is not always fun.
A year later, Hans flew to New Haven for my birthday. We stood under the said tree. I had a strange feeling that he was going to propose right then. So, I walked away and demanded that he propose somewhere else.
So, how do we get to know the other person? This is an excellent question, because it is a very important question. How do were get to know anybody as a matter of fact?
Here are some thoughts that might be helpful:
1. There are many ways to get to know people that are neither intimate nor exclusive. Thoughtful listening goes a long way. Take mental notes. What do they care about? What is obviously important to them? What is obviously not important? How do they treat others? How do they talk to people? What do they talk about? How do they spend their time and money? Chances are, you are attracted (or not attracted) to him or her by something you have already observed.
2. When your commitment grows and marriage is a real possibility, time will provide some answers to more probing questions. What are their hopes and dreams? Where will their path take them? What do they love?
3. Becoming more like Christ is more important than finding the right person. When God made Eve, he did not hide her in the garden and tell Adam, "Go find her!" God created the man and the woman in his own image, and thus, they were drawn to one another. We become more like Christ by beholding him and obeying him. We become what we worship. In time and with much grace, we learn to love what Christ loves, and hate what Christ hates.
4. A wedding is a grand entrance, not a happily-ever-after. It is a beginning, not the end. I love that I am still getting to know Hans, nine years after our first conversation. I love that he still surprises me, that he is still a most interesting person to me. I love that he is still changing, still being transformed. Mostly of all, I am grateful to know whom he is following, whom he is beholding, and where this path will take us.