It might surprise you that the first photo I'm posting since Eric arrived to visit soon after we announced Eric and Lissie's courtship is this one. But to this mom, the picture speaks volumes.
After Lissie's dad gave Eric his permission to court Lissie with the intent to see if the Lord would have the two of them marry, Eric wrote to us. As part of the grateful email, he mentioned his desire to "study" Lissie. The words delighted me. The sentiment has the sweet fragrance of romance about it. What mother wouldn't love to have her daughter blessed in that thoughtful way? But, the concept Eric touched on also carries the weight of wisdom.
Eric and Lissie face the biggest decision of their lives. And they must navigate these waters of choice carefully because both of them are utterly committed to the concept of "until death do we part." God said, "And the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate" (Mark 10:8,9 NASB). Divorce will never be an option for either of them, no matter who they marry. And if they end up marrying one another, they're so young that they need to be prepared to go "dancing in the mine fields" for 60, maybe even 70 years. Whew!
On top of all that, this is a decision that will have a multi-generational impact. Thus, Eric and Lissie must both be about the business of studying each other. They must study each other now--before they stand at an altar and say, "I do." They have a great deal of intentional interacting to do, whether in person or over Skype while 6,300 miles apart.
The idea of Eric studying Lissie made this mama's heart happy for an additional reason. A really good, multi-decade union worthy of the title "marriage" is made up of a lifetime of spouse-studying by both the husband and wife. When the other person's likes, dislikes, fears, dreams, hopes, and even idiosyncrasies are watched and mentally recorded, the husband or wife has the information necessary to delight in, support and encourage the God-given uniquenesses and strengths of their best friend. Both spouses also have what they need to be their life-partner's greatest prayer warrior at those places of personal weakness which we all have. Each can call down God's grace in a way that allows the other to grow and change and be more than they ever would have been alone.
So, Eric's determination to study our second-oldest daughter is wise beyond his years. What was he watching so thoughtfully in the photo above? You've got the picture now--Eric was carefully observing Lissie as she played a Bach concerto on her violin with her long-time duet partner and sister, Anna. By laying aside whatever he was doing at the time and coming to the door of our music room, Eric got an important glimpse into who Lissie is and what's important to her. I am certain that God will bless his willingness to be selfless as he puts forth this ongoing effort to be studious as he courts our daughter.