Posts Tagged ‘Courtship’

“Me Too”

December 8, 2010

 

Some of the most comforting words ever said are “me too.”

 

So here we go:

 

Do you know that feeling that you get when you see a girl wearing a blue jean jumper?

 

The ones that are shapeless, low waist, faded denim, long hem?

 

The ones like our pseudo X-ATI girl {Miriam Reede} wears in her profile picture.

 

The ones that you wear a t-shirt under – many different colored t-shirts.  Oh the possibilities.

 

You know that cringing feeling you get?

 

You know how it felt to be her.

 

Me too.


You know how that girl feels to be somewhat ashamed that she has anything feminine, any indication of the sex that God made her, and she hides behind a blue jean jumper in hopes of disguising it.

 

You were her.

 

Me too.


Maybe it is equal parts: she’s heard so many words that have made her ashamed of her figure, and the adults in her life insist that this type of modesty is what God intends for her little body.

 

{What is modesty anyway?  And why do these people talk about it so much?}

 

You still wonder; there are still equal parts.  You still aren’t quite sure why a God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving would make something to be ashamed of.

 

And yet you feel ashamed.

 

Me too.


You are still wondering how much of that stuff to believe.

 

You’ve heard people speak, you’ve read sites like ours, you know so much of it was crazy – even a cult.

 

And yet you find yourself wondering: where does that end and I begin?

 

Me too.  I wonder, too.


You know how you feel when you pass the girl who has the white kerchief over her head and she imitates the older women in her life when she humbly says,

 

“I just want to show that my father is my authority.”

 

Me too.  I did that.  I remember how it felt at the time, and I remember it vividly today.


You wonder what went wrong.

 

You live with your parents, you’ve waited patiently, you wrote the journals, but at 28 your life is still where it was when you were 14 and you wonder why your patience hasn’t paid off.

 

You wonder if you’ll live in your pink bedroom forever if “a fellow” doesn’t come along who will ask your father if he can court you.

 

We know.


You regret not going past the eighth grade in math.

 

You regret it because it holds you back now from getting where you want to be.

 

At the time it sounded like a plan: you won’t need that!  You’ll be a wife and mother anyway!  You won’t have to support a family, and cooking does not require algebra!

 

We know.  Us too.  Me too.


You have these questions and many more.

 

We do, too.

 

You’re not alone.

 

You’re not the only one asking or wondering.

 

It doesn’t matter how much it turns your stomach or how dark it may seem…

 

We have been there, too.


And so have a host of other people.

 

Thousands of other people.

 

So ask the questions.

 

And look at it even when it’s dark and sickening.

 

Face the regrets and start addressing them.

 

We have too.

 

 


What is the language of love?

February 17, 2010

This is a joint letter that we received this week.  Please bear with the writers as they try to sort through what they are trying to say.

Dear X-ATI Girl, 

I have to admit that I am a little confused about your blog.  I was never in ATI so I cannot claim to be an X-ATI guy or claim any real knowledge of the Advanced Training Institute.  While I am a Christian, and I was homeschooled, I do not understand the realm of ATI’s impact on lives. 

I am now trying to develop a friendship with an X-ATI girl such as yourself, and your blog has shed some light on some of the struggles that she is facing.  Since reading some of the letters that people have written to you, I have begun to put some of her comments into context and my heart breaks to comfort her broken heart.  

I do not really know where to begin our story.  Our “relationship” (or lack thereof) is like a roller coaster ride where she’s on the first hill, and I’m still standing somewhere in line.  Every 3 days she has a need to question the sincerity of my efforts and whether I do really like her.  X-ATI girl, I do.  Please tell me how I can get her to understand this.  

She begins to speak about a rain shower, an umbrella, the 10 unchangeables, and my being a spiritual leader, and I get lost in her language while I try desperately to understand what she means.    I do not understand courtship.  I do not understand her parent’s authority in her life (she is 28).  I do not understand the guilt that she faces daily.  All that I see when I look at her is this wonderful, independent, strong, Christian girl whose wholesome morals and positive outlook on life have changed mine for the better. 

X-ATI Girl, please tell me how I can get this message across to her: I am in love with this woman.  I need her to trust that I love her more than anything in life.  I do not care what her past was, I do not care what her present is, it doesn’t matter to me who her parents are or how many siblings she has.  I love her and I just want her to let me love her. 

Sincerely, 

Hopeful in Halifax

Dear X-ATI Girl, 

I do not know how to explain to the non-X-ATI guy where I am coming from.  Of course he must be trying to deceive me; I have never had anyone “love” me like this before now.  I doubt his sincerity daily because his actions are so out of the ordinary for me.  He sends me flowers on a regular basis.  He buys my dinner every time we spend time together.  He cooks for me (and cleans without making any “that’s a girl’s job” jokes).  He calls me just to check in and see if I’m okay.  He always comments on my being able to do anything in life that I want to do even when it is a career that I have always believed to be un-lady-like.  He tells me all of the time that he feels so lucky to have met me.  (Isn’t the fact that he’s even using the word “luck” a bad sign?) 

The only relationship I have had previously was when I was 15 and a man approached my father about the possibility of courting me.  This man had been previously married, his wife had left in a terrible act of defiance, and he desperately needed my help to raise his 5 children…oh yeah, and he felt it was God’s will that he court me, too.  After 5 hours of careful consideration, my parents granted him permission to court me, and we began sitting together in church.  From the onset of our relationship, he did everything that I had grown to expect in a man.  When one of the children got upset in church, I took them out.  He never changed a diaper while he was in my presence.  He never cooked a meal (that was a girl’s job after all).  He began to believe that it was not God’s will that I be allowed to drive, and after sharing this conviction with my father, my car was quickly sold to the highest ATI bidder.  This man was 18 years my senior and eager to share his thoughts on my life actions, making sure that I did not make the same mistakes that he did in his youth.  It was during this time that most outside influences were removed from my life.  

We courted for 3 years before he told me one day that God had clearly shown him that he should not marry me and our courtship should end.  I felt used and abused by both him and my parents.  How could this have ever been God’s will?  Who was faking it?  Who was lying?  Who just didn’t care what happened to me?  While I was relieved that I did not have to marry him, my emotional attachment to his children and his life ran deep.  The separation felt like the tearing apart of a cloth that had been woven together.  My parents felt as if the end had been my fault – if only I had been able to be more submissive, maybe he would have married me. 

 One of the things that I find most confusing about the non-ATI-guy is that he just doesn’t care what my past was.  In fact, he tells me often that he can’t imagine my being with anyone else, and that my talking about past relationships is hard for him to listen to.  While he will and does listen to me, he asks me that I not tell him details because it pains him too much.  Does he not care that I am now a broken woman?  Doesn’t he need to know what he’s getting into?  I feel like I am betraying him.

I have now moved out of my parent’s home and have my own small apartment in my hometown.  The thought of giving up my freedom scares me terribly.  I know that the non-X-ATI guy tells me that he is sincere, but how can I believe this?  How can I trust that he too is not just using me?  Granted he has no children, he does have a job, and he is only two years from my own age, but I still have nightmares about letting my heart go to him.  

Have you experienced any of this?  Can you help me?

Praying for God’s blessings and freedom,

Hurting in Halifax

The List

January 11, 2010

Dear X-ATI Girl, 

I started writing The List when I was around six years old.  It has now grown to 240 items representing the man that I (and my mother and father) believe will be only God’s best for me.  My mother has told me that I should settle for no less than everything on the list.  If “broccoli lover” is present, broccoli lover God will provide.  After all, there really should be no exceptions to the list if you remain in God’s constant will and under your father’s guidance and protection. 

 I have met a few nice men in the past year during which my family was attending a home church hosted by a fellow Gothard disciple.  All of these men come from ATI families.  I met one very nice young man 11 months ago who constantly shows humility before God and our church by confessing his sins before the congregation.   I am moved by his obedience to the Lord and his parents.  I rush home from church every Sunday afternoon, excitedly pull The List from my hope chest, and begin to examine whether this could the man that God has sent to ask my father for courtship.  

  1. Male – yes! CHECK!
  2. Humble – yes! Check again!
  3. Compassionate – oh yes
  4. Strong – we’re on a roll
  5. Under his parent’s authority – definitely
  6. Building a barn – wow, I’ve never gotten this far before
  7. Pure –there is no way that this man could be anything but pure
  8. Respectful to his mother – he was holding her hand when they walked in!
  9. Wants kids – already overheard his dreams of raising mighty sons
  10. Respects me – of course!  He hasn’t even looked at me yet!
  11. Respects my father – he didn’t even shake his hand he is so scared of him
  12. Goes to church – faithfully 

And so down the list my pen has flown, checking off each ever-so-important item, and getting more and more confident that God has given me the willingness to be his wife.  The young man did ask my father for permission to court me!  My father prayed about this matter for 4 months before telling me (and the young man) that while the answer is not a decided ‘no,’ it is a definite ‘not at this time.’  This is item 57 on my list – I know that God will send me a young man who my father will immediately love and I should not accept a waiting period. 

I knew I should have used a pencil this time when marking off my list, but it just seemed so very sure.  X-ATI Girl, have you had a similar experience?  An older woman in our church suggested that I stop my list at 200 items, what are your thoughts on that?  Would that be settling for something that is less than God’s will? 

May you find a rhema this very day,

Waiting in Wisconsin

The Spirit of Bitterness and Rebellion

January 9, 2010

Dear X-ATI Girl,

I have just given birth to our eleventh child, our seventh son Jedidiah.  Since Jedidiah’s birth, I have had very little strength to do anything other than being able to spend time on my knees in prayer.  I rise at 7:00am and immediately go to my prayer closet and spend three hours praying for the lives of my children, my husband’s business, and that I will be able to be a submissive wife with a gentle spirit.  My prayer time grows with each day and I am prayerfully considering beginning the use of a headcoverings for my daughters and I so that we can publicly testify of our submission to my husband and their father.

My children arise at 5:30am to milk the goats before the girls prepare breakfast and feed their siblings.  My dear daughters are preparing for being wives and mothers by caring for their siblings and truly find so much joy in taking on this responsibility.  They diligently make all of our household clothes and linens.  When my dear sons shear the sheep, the girls spin the wool to create beautiful blankets which are on every bed of our home.  Because my dear husband and I believe that refined sugar is an addiction that Satan would wish to allow into our lives, my daughters also have the responsibility of grinding the wheat we get from a co-op each month, and making our bread daily. 

My oldest daughter, Sara (28), is beginning the midwifery program offered by IBLP [Institute in Basic Life Principles], while she faithfully asks God to provide a fellow who would be her husband.  My dear husband only allows our daughters to court and carefully discerns which men are sent from God and which would be a wolf in disguise to steal our daughters’ virtue.  None of my dear daughters are currently courting gentlemen, and none of them ever have.  I am blessed to have a daughter like Sara who understands her role in life as being a keeper at home.

In the past year, my children have developed a spirit of bitterness and rebellion. I do not understand how this can be the case.  There is no rock music in our home.  We do not have a television.  They do occasionally listen to the radio, but only when it is closely supervised by either me or my husband.  We have Character Link internet so I am able to view everything that my children see online.  My dear husband and I diligently search their rooms to ensure that there are no evil influences that enter into our home.  Even with all of this, my children are choosing anger, and the light in their once bright eyes has begun to dim.

Please, X-ATI Girl, help me.  I am told that you have had experience in all of these areas and can give me advice on how to regain control of my home and my children’s spirits.  Since Jedidiah has been born, I have required much more encouragement from other mothers and the teachings of the older women in our home church.  Because of this, our long distance was at a rate which we could no longer afford and our phones have been cut off.  Although we will be unable to speak to each other, I would ask that you write me a letter. 

Many blessings to you,

Gentleness in Greenville