Getting to Know Each Other

From Brad’s Perspective

It has always been my intent to never write off someone I have met unless I had very specific reason. So far as I was concerned, Julie was still an option for me until I knew she was married or I found out that we weren’t a good fit. So, getting a text from Julie was as much a reason to start up our conversation again as anything.

I soon found out she was planning to come to the fireworks show in my city. It’s no secret that I have a big party before the fireworks because my house is within walking distance, and I’m known for inviting complete strangers in addition to friends and family. I saw it as a great chance to meet this woman who had thus far eluded me, so I invited her. To my delight, she accepted.

Julie and I met face-to-face and heard each other’s voices for the first time in my garage on July 3rd while I had a backyard full of other guests. The hug she gave me is one I won’t soon forget. Hugs are about my favorite thing in the world, and a good hug is a wondrous thing. Once again, I knew I wanted to get to know her better.

The next day, we found ourselves texting for 6 hours from dinner time until after midnight. She even invited me to her church, of which her brother is the pastor. How could I say “no”? From that point on, we began texting pretty regularly and getting to know each other as friends.

This was very new for me with her living relatively close. We could grab lunch together on random occasions, and we could hang out pretty easily throughout the week, so long as one or both of us had a sitter.

And yet, I was doing my best to take it slow. One of my mottos has always been: “I’ve never seen anything bad come from having patience. At the very least, you learn patience.” I intended to live that out, and follow God as best I could in His timing. That wasn’t always easy for me, especially as I knew it wasn’t always easy for Julie. I knew she was being gracious to continue waiting on me, but she was also so respectful and honoring towards me in letting me lead as I followed God’s lead.

And then the week came. I didn’t even realize it when the week started, but by Thursday, I knew that I knew. We were not exclusive, and we had both gone on other dates. And then, that Thursday, I noticed the twinge of jealousy I felt as I thought about her with any other guy. As we had an event together planned for that evening, my mom – wise woman that she is – encouraged me to mention my jealousy to Julie. So I did. We had a great night and a great conversation and we knew the direction we were heading, while still trusting God’s timing. It wasn’t time quite yet.

From Julie’s Perspective

After the momentous Father’s Day text to Brad, our electronic friendship resumed. There were somewhat consistent texts between us. During this back and forth, it came out that I was attending the fireworks show in his town with a few of my friends. I knew he had an annual 4th of July party. There was a twinkling of the thought that perhaps he would invite me. However, since we had yet to even hear one another’s voices, I banished the thought to the back of my mind.

Brad, who continues to surprise me with his courage, did extend an invite to Hannah and I to stop by his party before the fireworks. He assured me plenty people would be there. Me being an extrovert saw that as a great opportunity to make new friends, especially if Brad and I failed to connect. I thought to myself this is a perfect way to finally discover if there are any sparks between ‘super spiritual guy’ and I.

July 3rd – the day of the big party and firework show – arrived. As I drove to Brad’s house, I found myself feeling nervous. I had no idea what to expect of this man I only knew through the written word. I parked and proceeded to unload Hannah and our accoutrements from the car, all the while saying a praying for peace and discernment.

I walked into his garage and saw him. We smiled at each other. He came up to me and we spoke for the first time and hugged. His hug was warm and inviting. That helped put me at ease. As the day continued, we had moments to converse. He was hosting the party, so there weren’t long moments. Hannah and I had fun playing with the other children, including his adorable children, Halle and Brady. All in all, it was a nice day. It left me with a good feeling, but not really seeing the ‘sparks.’ I mentally noted well at least now I know there are no sparks (pun intended). Hannah and I left the party and walked to the fireworks to find our friends. I was hoping I would see more of Brad along the way or at the fireworks show. There was a part of me wanting more opportunity for the sparks to begin to fly.

The next day, I decided to sent him a thank you text for inviting Hannah and I to his party. He responded graciously with a sentiment about how lovely it was to have us there. I thought that was that. Later that day around dinner, he sent me a question about how Hannah and I liked the fireworks and that was all it took. Thus began a 6-hour text conversation that led to me inviting him to church with me the next day. This is church where my brother is the Pastor and he actually agreed to come.

I knew there had to be something special about a man who was brave enough to visit a small church where a lady he had just meet in person and many of her family members attended. He was either crazy or there was the beginnings of something very real forming between them.

The journey of getting to know one another began in earnest after the 4th of July weekend. There were many lengthy and deep text conversations. A couple weeks later there as a two-and-a-half-hour lunch date. My heart had that giddy feeling of the early joy of something really good between two people. Just as this was happening, Brad had to leave for the Pursuit singles conference in Colorado. I was trying not to be too girly about this. The thought ran through my mind while he was away, what if he meets some amazing girl at the conference and we don’t have a chance to continue getting to know one another! He was gone for almost a week at the Pursuit conference, and we didn’t get to communicate as often as we had been the last few weeks. I can’t lie. I didn’t like not hearing from him as consistently.

Upon his return, we set up a real date. It was actually in the evening and included dinner. He asked if I wanted to help decide what we did or to be surprised. I love when the man plans the dates. I wholeheartedly chose being surprised. You can tell a lot about a man based on the first date he plans.

The night came for the event and he picked me up at my home. We headed downtown to a local restaurant (the Greenhouse Tavern). I am an avid fan of the local Cleveland foodie scene. I was impressed he remembered that. We stayed at the restaurant just talking for over 2 hours. It was a lovely July evening, so we walked around Cleveland for a long time enjoying one another’s company. We eventually stopped in the Chocolate Bar for dessert and proceeded to talk some more. After that, we headed toward my home. Although it was after midnight, we didn’t want the date to end. I wouldn’t let him in my house for two reasons. For one, it was our first date. And for two, my house was a mess!! I didn’t want to scare him off.

We took a long walk all around the neighborhood learning more about one another. As the walk concluded, we still didn’t want the night to end, so we sat on a bench near my home for another 4-5 hours, laughing and talking. Finally, at almost 5 in the morning, we agreed to part ways. I think our first date must go down in the record books. It was over 11 hours long!

One item that came to the surface during this epic date was the nature of our friendship. Brad made it clear that he was intentional in getting to know me. He felt it was wise to focus on friendship and see where God was leading. With that in mind, he didn’t want to date exclusively yet. I was relieved. I wasn’t ready for that step either. To both of us, that step was a meaningful one. Little did know just how circumspectly Brad would observe this goal to be wise and intentional in not rushing into anything.

After about a month of getting to know Brad, I was convinced that there was a truly great thing between us and he was the kind of man I wanted in my life. However, Brad was still not ready to commit to an exclusive relationship. Knowing he was talking to other woman was hard for me. There were times when I just wanted to go off on him. How could he treat me so amazingly and ask me to continue to open up to him as an intentional friend while seeing other women??? I talked with my mom and other wise friends. They encouraged me to seek the Lord about this instead of giving in to the emotional struggle of it. I knew Brad was a man after God’s heart, so I prayed. I remember one night blasing “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten and making it my time to pray, choosing to trust God and stand strong. Through this I season that felt so very long – but was actually rather short – I leaned on God and I grew as a woman of faith. Looking back, I wouldn’t have changed the timing of it at all. God did a beautiful work in my heart and prepared me for the next step.

Another month passed, and I had invited Brad to attend a fun Cleveland event with my sister and I on a Thursday evening. I had decided that since we were still at the point of seeing other people, I would try to embrace it, and I had a date set up for the coming Saturday since Brad did, as well. That Thursday, when Brad walked in the door to pick me up for the event, I could tell something was different. He looked at me in a new way, and it thrilled my heart. That evening was wonderful. We talked, and I found out he was actually jealous that I had a date that coming weekend! I had the biggest smile at that news. We both decided to honor our dates that Saturday, but knew that things with us had turned a corner. The next two days felt agonizingly long. Then Sunday came.