Our Courtship Story
I’m coming to understand what Courtship really means : “dating” with PURE passion for CHRIST and for each other. As I entered into this courtship, I remember that it was the first time in my life that I had truly entered into something that I knew God was calling me to. He was calling me to be pure personally and to be in a pure relationship.
1 Corinthians 6:13
” You say, ‘Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.’ The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. “
I remember that when we starting talking and “dating”, (discerning His will and what God had planned for us) Andrew was planning/preparing to leave to live in Honduras again at the end of that same summer in 2010. In the beginning I was constantly thinking, “Lord, if you are really calling Andrew to serve you in Honduras and leave me, then Amen!”… I would sit in front of the Eucharist for hours and all I could do was ask Him to prepare my heart for what was to come. Oh how I loved Andrew the very moment I saw him again and I knew that if the Lord was calling him to go back to Honduras, He would grant me peace.
But as a woman, the thoughts that went through my head were CRAZY (but human!) Like: “What if he meets someone while away?” or “What if someone confuses me here?” and even “NOW after 5 years, to wait all over again until he gets back?!”. But, the worst was the thought that something could happen to him while he was away from me!
I felt like our first pope when God was asked me “Do you TRULY trust and love me?”
As difficult as it was….(and I know that ONLY the Lord could have given me the grace) I responded like St. Peter: “Lord, you know that I love and trust you”.
As corny as it used to sound to me, I would sing to the song “JESUS, TAKE THE WHEEL!” And as I sang along with the words of “He makes everything Glorious”, I started accepting that He makes everything Glorious IN His time.
As time passed, Andrew and I grew so very close through our long distance relationship which we stayed apart for 3 ½ months. (Ha Ha! It’s funny to think that would spend about 5hours on the phone EVERY night….and ended up texting all throughout the day)
Looking back, I can now see that as painful as a long distance relationship was at the time, the Lord REALLY gave us that time for a good reason. I noticed over time that our long distance conversations grew deeper deeper, and so did my prayer life (Shoot, part of that was because in my mind, I was NOT trying to waste any time….I had ENOUGH guy friends)
Please don’t get me wrong! In no way was I ever pushy with Andrew or with God, because no matter the topic of our conversations, we were always pointing each other towards our ultimate goal – Heaven. BUT, I did feel a certain urgency of putting everything on the table from the start. The biggest question I would ask myself before and after each conversation was “Can this man bring me to Heaven? Can I do the same for him?”. It’s important to tell you that I was already keeping myself in check by asking these questions BEFORE I got emotionally attached to Andrew or our relationship.
Isn’t our goal in this life to get to Heaven?! Through our vocation we will be sanctified, and must help sanctify the other! Our vocations is what get’s us there.
If I look at my life and all of the men and women around me in the Catholic-Christian circle and non-Christian circle, all I saw was people settling! Left and right – young adults who committed themselves to waiting for their future spouses BUT got tired of waiting. Trust me! I was close to doing the same thing many times, but something within me (Now I see it was the Holy Spirit) reminded me when I got close to falling “Don’t settle!”
Even some of my Christian sisters around me were constantly falling into temptation of sex, or dating guys that they hoped that “they could convert”. Some of my friends settled with guys who were simply “luke-warm” or even “NICE” but did not help them grow in holiness…. and some of my sisters settled and ended up just living with their boyfriends instead of expecting something better like MARRIAGE!
Oh, how this made things even more difficult for me!
Without judging, something within me saw these relationships and would think “why are you wasting God’s time and your time?!”
(If this is your situation, remember – HE’S CALLING YOU TO SOMETHING DEEPER AND BETTER! TRUST ME!)
But with Andrew it was different, the center of our relationship was (and IS) Christ. I would attend daily mass and so would he, and even though we were far from each other, we would meet in the Eucharist – Our First Love. I still remember the first time he asked me on the phone if we could pray together before bed! I even vividly remember the day we first prayed a Holy Hour together. Oh how we enjoyed some of the most simple things. We would read books together. We would journal alone and then write to each other. We would fast together. We would so FREELY communicate all of what we wanted in life (like talking about how we desired to be true catholics, to know and love our faith, about our saint friends, living out chastity, dreams about marriage, desire to have children, dreams of living in the mission, how to live simply, EVERYTHING!)
It sounds like a lot, I know.BUT, I know that if we didn’t put everything out on the table from the beginning and without fear, we wouldn’t have been able to discern God’s will the way we did.
I had people telling me, “You guys are moving way to fast!!….shoot, I would just giggle and say “well, you could wait til later to talk about these things….but you might risk falling in love and being afraid of being honest and LOSING that special person” or you could live a lie for years and when you decide to be honest, it might be too late….
Some of those friends said “Why aren’t you sleeping or living with him? You guys love eachother!”
AND I’M MOVING FAST?! I would think to myself.
The world is constantly telling us the lies of the so-called “good” life….this “Sex and the City” life style…..but do we wonder why Carrie and the other 3 girls are single and STILL at the age of 40+?! These girls do not stop seeking love (REAL LOVE = JESUS). It’s so sad that we look in the wrong places…
Okay let me not get carried away!! I laugh because I get very passionate about this! Unfortunately, I was constantly lied to about this so-called “good life” and I suffered so much.
So….back to our courtship and how Andrew ends up in NYC.
Like I said earlier, Andrew and I were in deep prayer for our vocation.
Andrew and I both went through the same stages of what someone might go through when entering religious life. God made it clear that He was calling us to marriage. So what could I do when the one that I loved was going to leave for Honduras?!
One night under a full moon, Andrew tells me “Cristina, if I was called to enter a seminary to become a priest or to join a religious order, would I pospone my vocation? Is my vocation not my number-one prority?!” and then it hit us…
We knew that we had to take this time of courting very serious because it was a time to discern if were called to be each others sacrament!!
UNTIL DEATH! For marriage is for LIFE… not “for as long as love lasts”, like so many are watering it down to now.
Okay so now what? We both knew that we had to eventually live closer to better discern this.
My thoughts were “I can’t move to Virginia Beach because I don’t even know how to drive (haha I ONLY RECENTLY GOT MY PERMIT!) and I have a ministry that is dear to my heart.
Andrew is recent graduate with a Spanish Degree. LOTS of people in NYC speak spanish!
So why not come to the concrete jungle and discern with me here!!”
Honestly, the Lord provided and He did it so quickly! So many doors were opened.
Andrew found a job working with the Spanish Programs in The Family Life/Respect Life Office of the Archdiocese of New York!
This would mean that we could work in the SAME building. I worked for Catholic Charities as a case manager on the 6th floor and this job was open for the office on the 7th floor. We would be able to attend mass together PHYSICALLY everyday!
The Lord truly provides…. but we must choose to be still and listen. WE must choose to swim against the current of this world…..so that He can reveal His will to us (as He wants to at every moment)
Now the question I got (and still get) all the time is “How did you know he was the one?!” and I answered by saying “….I just knew”. But it WAS NOT an emotional decision…. I knew because it was a prayerful, grace filled and peaceful discernment. To be real about it – the moment I knew that my heart and soul were willing to be CRUCIFIED for this love, I knew Andrew was the one.
So….there you have it. My sooooouuthern boy moves to the big city.
“If we can make it here, we can make it anywhere!”