Bryan & Bonnie
Bryan and I met in the summer of 2003, shortly after we had both graduated from high school. Bryan was invited by some friends to attend a young adult small group at Abbotsford Christian Assembly. It was there that he became a Christian. I (Bonnie) had grown up at this church and had been serving the Lord for many years. Our groups of friends quickly merged, and we started hanging out regularly. After some time, we started to develop feelings for each other. We both felt from the Lord that it wasn’t the right time to start a relationship, but unfortunately, neither of us had a revelation about how to carry that through. We now teasingly say that this began our stage of “not dating”. This season involved inviting friends to hang out with us so that we would not be alone. Bryan would buy me gifts, pay for my meals, and we would always drive together and arrange to be sitting close together at social events. We both knew in our hearts that we were finding fulfillment in each other, whereas the Lord was calling us to be sold out to Him first.
Fortunately, the Lord had a plan to help us do what we needed to do. I was called to go to a nearby city for an eleven month discipleship program where one of the guidelines was “No pursuing of relationships.” The intent of this guideline was to help us surrender this area completely to the Lord. Because of the distance between us and the new teaching we were receiving, we both started to understand the heart of the guidelines. Now our friendship was truly becoming a friendship, instead of a means to securing a future relationship.
Beginning in the fall of 2005, our home church was going to start a discipleship school of its own, and both of us were going to be involved. Knowing we were going to be in close proximity to each other all year and through the counsel of some leaders in our lives, we talked about what the next year was going to look like between us. We both felt that it still was not time to start a relationship, so we entered a second year of surrendering this to the Lord. Now we were spending three to four days each week in the same small class, experiencing the Lord, and being taught His Word. We were becoming increasingly established in our individual identities in the Lord. Again, under the supervision of parents and leaders, we strongly adhered to boundaries that we had set for ourselves to assure that we would not fall back into the place we had come from. By the spring of 2006, as our intern year was coming to a close, we had individually come to the place where we both were satisfied with the Lord. We could both honestly say that if we never married, He would be enough for us. Only then did we receive the green light from heaven to move forward in our relationship!
The Holy Spirit was our teacher and guide during the whole process of our relationship. One principle that we valued was guarding each other’s hearts. Since courtship was a time to prove if we were meant to marry or not, we didn’t want to do things that would unnecessarily tug on our hearts or emotions. We wanted to be able to think clearly and not be solely tangled up in romance or emotions. We had waited a long time for this chance, and we weren’t taking it lightly. We had marriage in focus and if we were “the one” for each other, we knew we needed a strong foundation of integrity and trust. If we were not meant for each other, we wanted to be able to walk away unscarred—physically and emotionally.
We both had a conviction to honor God in the process, so we welcomed and pursued input from leaders and trustworthy friends who would call us to a high standard. Bryan and I established some practical standards for ourselves, and we gave a copy of these standards to our parents and our accountability partners. These boundaries included a self-induced curfew, never being alone in private settings, and numerous specifications on physical affection. For instance, we agreed to not hold hands for the first three months and to only side-hug, among other things. Later, as we grew closer to marriage, we decided to save our first kiss for our wedding day. We had spent a lot of time together during the discipleship school, so we were already quite familiar with each other’s personalities, strengths and weaknesses, values, and character. As we grew closer, and it became clear that we would get married, we began to discuss marriage roles, our pasts, children, finances, and our dreams.
We were both committed to another year with the discipleship school at our church, so this definitely slowed down the rate at which our relationship could proceed. Our dating season lasted eleven months, and so we were diligent to move forward cautiously. In May of 2007, after receiving the blessing from my parents, Bryan bought an engagement ring, took me for a lovely dinner, and proposed. I confidently accepted. Five months later we were married. On November 10th we celebrated our two-year anniversary. We are continually grateful for the lessons we learned during those difficult years. They laid a foundation of respect in our marriage that has been crucial. When I (Bonnie) was young, I would often pray for my future marriage and spouse. Now I see that it was during those years when I couldn’t date that God was specifically answering my prayers. I had always desired chastity in a relationship, and I would not have known how to navigate through the obstacles of our relationship if God had not first brought me through that season of surrender.
Bryan adds the following: We live in a society that seems to make the goal of life to get something for nothing. This philosophy trickles down and spreads throughout our entire lives. God says His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. God’s reality is that whatever is really valuable will take sacrifice. The way Bonnie and I handled our relationship and the decisions we made definitely went against this philosophy of “buy now, pay later”. It may seem crazy from the world’s perspective, but I will let the fruit speak for itself. My marriage is strong, with no shame that will restrain intimacy. I can stand before both God and Bonnie with no regret or wondering what might have been. Was it easy? No! But that is what makes my relationship with Bonnie so valuable--it cost me. Through skillful and godly wisdom is a house built, and by understanding it is established. And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches…For by wise counsel you can wage your war, and in an abundance of counselors there is victory and safety (Proverbs 24:3-4, 6). I read this verse a couple of weeks ago, and I realized that it directly applied to the forming of healthy relationships and marriages. The worldly culture around us is directly opposed to the principles of courtship and tries to convince young people to “follow their hearts” and trust their fleeting emotions without the covering of people who have walked the road before them. Wisdom shouts out, “You can’t do it alone!” Every couple needs guidance from the Holy Spirit and a godly community surrounding them. READE MORE TESTIMONIES