Jen Jeffrey: Courting With Mama

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - by Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey

When Mama requested that I live with her last year, she was going through a transition in her life and needed the support of her daughters as she slowly accepted the changes she was facing. All of my sisters knew it would not be permanent and Mama knew it too - I wasn’t so sure.

After having my own place for the first time in my life, I did not want to move in with Mama. As close as I am to her – I loved having my own place. I was lonely at times but I liked the fact that I could set up my kitchen the way I wanted to. I liked that I could open my blinds when I wanted, have certain food in my fridge (and NOT HAVE certain food in my fridge) and I loved my freedom as a single person with no daily schedule to consider other than my own.

If you have followed my stories for a while now, you may remember when I wrote that I did NOT like being alone and I had eventually asked my son to move in my apartment. The difference was …it was my apartment and I got to have the say in the things that mattered to me. Also my son stayed to himself pretty much and we did our own thing. Living in Mama’s house… it would be still her house and I was still her “baby” even though I was 46 years old.

Giving up my independence was not something I really wanted to do. I tend to “people please” and let it hold me back from how I would normally do things if I were alone. Nevertheless, Mama would feel secure and it would save me money. Those were positive aspects for sure, but the best part of me living with Mama would be our time we got to enjoy together - making memories.

No matter what things I looked forward to in my own life, I knew that I would not regret living with Mama because I eventually saw it as a privilege to have time with her that I did not get to have with my father. He passed away before I really became a grown up. There was so much that I didn’t get to share with him. I never want to think I missed out on this part of Mama’s life.

When Brian came into my life, Mama knew that I had found the one. My whole family knew. I was beginning to wonder if I was just supposed to live with Mama for the rest of her life, but I think my family knew that I would most likely meet someone.

Even though Brian and I are not rushing any future plans – we know the inevitable and so does Mama. Yes, there were a few “territory wars” that Mama struggled with when Brian came into the picture, but she gracefully kept it to herself. I was her baby and she didn’t really want to share me – yet she wanted me happy and she has accepted Brian as a part of our family.

My courtship with Brian has been much different than I expected, but God knew exactly what He was doing. I could not throw Mama into a whirlwind of change and just take off on dates with Brian, leaving her to find new things to do and feeling lonely. Brian moved back here from Alabama, with thoughts of being closer to his parents who are in their eighties. He had just completed his second masters and planned to search for a job in Chattanooga.

With no income I did not want him using his savings for dates with me. We do eat out at times, but we have not worried with impressing the other in spending money neither of us has right now, so most of the time that we see each other Brian will come over and we just stay at the house with Mama… in the living room.

That’s right… this 50-year-old man and 46-year-old-woman are courting with a chaperone! We could choose to do things differently, but Brian is aware of the change Mama needs to get used to and he is so good to respect that. It also helps us with our vow before God. Being called to ministry – being called as Christians… we are very careful with what we feel is right in a love relationship before we marry.

Nobody has lived a faultless past, but Christians strive to live our lives pleasing to God. When Brian and I know that God has put us together at the right time – we don’t want to do anything to mess it up! We don’t want to move too fast by rushing things too early and, that not only means with merging our lives together but also having a physical relationship.

Yes, I am talking about this out loud and yes, I am honest in sharing that this middle-aged-couple who have been married before, still believe in purity.

We have a few friends who tell us under their breath, that nobody expects a couple who has already been in a marriage, to wait to be physical before marrying again. It seems that the popular concept is that Christians being physical before marriage is nothing you broadcast, but that if you know you will be getting married – surely God understands a human’s needs (some even feel it is important to ‘know’ if you are a match intimately). If you know that God put you together and, not just for your pleasure but for His purpose, then shouldn’t we trust that He thought about that? His word still gives me direction that no matter what has happened in my life, I am still called to follow His commands.

I certainly don’t judge anyone who has their own personal belief of right and wrong in that area, but I know what is right in my life and thankfully, Brian has the same exact belief that I do. If we feel led to begin a single’s group and teach others what God has taught us, then wouldn’t we be hypocrites to teach God’s word if we ourselves cannot follow it? “But it’s too hard to do everything God asks of us,” you might say. Yes, it is hard… but not too hard. It is a choice. We are not perfect and we will fall to sin, but this is an area, that God is using Brian and I and we have made the choice to do everything right so that we can be a role model for others and bring back healthy, God-ordained relationships in such a sloppy society of Christians who stopped caring. We Christians have found the battles tiresome and have given in to what others have accepted.

It bothers me that there are just as many Christians as non-Christians who fall into pre-marital sex, affairs and divorce and we accept that “we are just human”. I made my share of mistakes in life, but that doesn’t excuse me as a Christian for whom I represent. How can I associate myself with my Heavenly Father and take Him along with me in sin? I can’t. Each of us have our own battles to fight and we each have to be accountable.

I am not trying to preach here, I know that I have some readers who don’t believe exactly like me and that is okay, I won’t always talk about this subject, but in the path God is leading me this is an important issue personally.

Brian and I have chosen the first few months of our courtship, to stay in the living room with Mama as we all watch Little House on the Prairie and the Waltons. Then after the Waltons, Brian and I pray before he leaves. We have prayed together each evening since the day we met. Sometimes, we ask Mama to join us.

While Mama is getting used to the idea of Brian and I being a couple, she is not left with us going out each night or me going to Brian’s all the time and leaving her out. In God’s perfect timing (while my courtship is ‘old-fashioned’) it has allowed Mama to get used to the idea of me leaving. It has also built a relationship between Mama and Brian and it keeps us from any opportunities we do not want to afford ourselves that would not be a good witness – even if we were the only ones to know. God would know and so would we.

I have waited all of my life to have THE person God has for me. Every other relationship I had, it was for the wrong reason or rushed into or unequally yoked. With Brian and I both assuredly out of our past relationships, with time to heal, to learn and to grow and with us praying for that special person as we listened to God instruct us in our lives – we have an assurance that we are starting off with God’s blessing.

Brian has found a job now and it could be temporary for months or even years until God leads him to his career job. Or maybe this could be a change in careers but while he waited for two months to have income and we were bound to watching the Waltons on a Friday night… I am sure that now we will have a few special dates.

Still, I will never regret the first two months how we have courted and to me it has been very special. It has built strength in us as we got through the excitement of our new love and it has built good family ties. It has given Mama an opportunity to digest more changes and it has actually been fun.

I love the look on people’s faces when I tell them about my courtship. Brian has been invited to assist his former church in Alabama with the music ministry and it will be the first time he will be leaving me for a few days. Yes, I could go and stay in a different room at his brother’s house, but when people don’t know all the facts and are left to assume – they are left with ‘appearances’ and form their own judgment. Christians need to be mindful of that, as well as knowing in their heart that they are not doing wrong. I will not be going with Brian for that reason.

Yes, I have been married and yes, I have sinned in my life, but when you live a Christian life and do your best to do what is right, it is important to keep growing. I don’t want to accept something in my life just because it seems too hard to follow. I want to challenge myself, knowing I become stronger each time I fail and each time I try. But I don’t become stronger in my failures, if I accept them. I have every confidence that my relationship is pleasing to God - that He had formed and blessed our union. I wanted to grow old with someone and to do that; I can’t be careless in what is given.

How is this fun? How can we possibly be ‘living our lives to the fullest’? We laugh, we kiss, we talk and we do fun things together (walks in the park, visit the ranch, and visit friends). We know what we have to look forward to. Our lives are not boring in the least! In fact, I think it gets more exciting all the time. I believe that God is bringing meaningful opportunities to us in our obedience and trust.

As Brian works and saves for our future – we will be content to have occasional dinners out, time with friends and …watching the Waltons with Mama. 

jen@jenjeffrey.com


Photographic Society Of Chattanooga Open House With Vinny Colucci Is Oct. 16

The Photographic Society of Chattanooga will hold its annual Open House with special guest Vinny Colucci on Thursday, Oct. 16.  The presentation will be at 7 p.m. and visitors are welcome.  Mr. Colucci has been an active photographer since 1979, and shooting professionally since 1995.  He is an avid outdoorsman, and member of Nikon’s Professional Services and Wimberley’s ... (click for more)

Grand Opening Of Joseph T. McConnell Park Set For Sept. 25

The Board of Commissioners will hold the Grand Opening Ceremonies for the Joseph T. McConnell Park located at 41 Catoosa Parkway in Ringgold,  next to the Old Stone Church Museum. This park was funded with 2009 SPLOST dollars and constructed utilizing Georgia Dept. of Corrections Labor, multiple local contractors and businesses and several County Departments. ... (click for more)

Person Shot Sunday Morning On Englewood Avenue

One person was shot on Sunday morning in North Chattanooga. At approximately 9:18 a.m., the Chattanooga Police Department responded to a gunshot wound call at 1049 Englewood Ave. involving one victim. T he victim was transported to a local hospital suffering from a non-life-threatening gunshot wound. Chattanooga Police ask anyone with information regarding ... (click for more)

North Carolina Man Dies In Rafting Incident On The Ocoee River

A 50-year-old North Carolina man died Saturday morning when the raft he was aboard overturned in the Ocoee River. The victim was Gary Brown of Clayton. Mr. Brown and five other occupants along with a guide were ejected after the raft they were navigating overturned in a rapid.   The victim was unresponsive when he was recovered from the water further ... (click for more)

Dirt Decision At Camp Jordan May Come Back To Haunt East Ridge Councilmen

Wow. I thought the arrival of Bass Pro Shop would help bring East Ridge back to a position of prominence in the Chattanooga area, but the Council proved otherwise last night.  To the council - There is a reason that the developers want that dirt: It's valuable . You currently own it and the developer wants it. Bass Pro has already agreed to set up shop. They were going ... (click for more)

Farm To Table To Dollars

I recently hosted a discussion with local business leaders, Andy Berke, mayor of Chattanooga, and Heather McTeer Toney, southeast regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We had an important conversation about the role of the business community in combating climate change. As the owner of 212 Market Restaurant in downtown Chattanooga, I’ve experienced ... (click for more)