Just friends. About six weeks before the school term ended, the girl was straightening her classroom, watering the plants by the window, mentally preparing herself to grade an enormous stack of worksheets when he appeared at the door.
“This is for you,” he said, as he handed her an envelope.
She sort of sagged against the wall, “Is this what I think it is?”
He seemed in a bit of a hurry, grinned, wished her a good evening, and left.
“Duh, duh, duh… Is it what I think it is? What kind of dumb thing is that to say? What if it’s a thank-you note?” She beat her forehead with her palm. Then she laid the envelope on her desk, did every bit of that grading, passed out the papers, prepped the next day’s lessons, and cleared everything away. Slowly she picked up the letter, studied the flourish under her name.
It wasn’t a thank-you note. In fact, it was a rather eloquent request for a deeper relationship focused on seeing if they were suited to get married. He did not try to assure her that he knew this was God’s will; he did not say that he had fasted and prayed for years; he did not even say that she was the only one for him in the world, etc. She appreciated the simplicity of his request. Apparently she made him happy. He liked her! He thought they were heading in the same direction in life. So let’s seek God together, how about it?
There had been a lot of pressure to discern God’s will concerning marriage before ever going out with someone, like you shouldn’t just get to know each other, but really know that you are supposed to be together for life before you ever take a step. The girl had been terribly afraid of making an error in judgement that would hurt another person. She had been afraid that she would never be certain enough about a guy to dare to be “in a relationship”. She had prayed many prayers that God would give her clarity concerning who she should marry, like when she was twenty-eight or thirty, preferably. Writing in the sky, maybe? She just never expected it to hit her like it did, all unaware.
She sat at her desk until it grew dark outside, thinking, thinking. So God knew just how scared she was of making a mistake. He let her fall for someone that she never even thought of in a romantic way until after they were good friends. He got past her prejudices about someone younger by letting it be someone so much younger that she hadn’t even considered him possible husband material. It was really kind of funny.
She went home and talked to her parents, who already knew about her letter, because the young man had done the respectful thing and asked her dad for permission to court his daughter. They had only blessings for her, no reservations, provided that she was clear that this was a person she was genuinely attracted to and could have confidence in. “A spark,” her parents said. “More than just feeling like it’s a good thing, there has to be a spark.”
It was customary to fast and pray and agonize over this sort of decision, but it seemed silly. She knew. There was a spark, all right. Deep in her heart she already knew what she wanted to say. There was just one thing that seemed big to her. How could it not be big to him? The age discrepancy.
She wrote a letter back, because writing was how she processed all the big things in her life. “What about your dreams of adventure, of travel, of higher education? I don’t want to go into a relationship that will cramp what you want to do with your life. I don’t want you to ever resent marrying young…” and more in that vein. She told him that she was honored, that she really did like him, but she put the ball squarely back in his court.