Sixteen years ago on February 20th, I got into the mini van (known at the time as a "Bike Transport Vehicle") of a guy that I hardly knew to go on a four day cross-country skiing mini-vacation. Not exactly a situation recommended in Christian dating how-to books. Or even Stranger-Danger videos we tell our kids. My reasoning was as much a need for a four day weekend away from my high pressure job and a chance to test my endurance on cross country skiis, which seemed to overwhelm the negatives. I originally had another reason to go, which was to meet new potential friends, which can be a lot harder to do as an adult out of college. That third reason was laid to rest when the large number of people who initially signed up dropped out for various reasons.
This is what I knew about him: he was an avid bicyclist and in the "fast" crowd, meaning that he could bike much faster than I could; he had been very helpful in teaching me the basics of cross-country skiing when a group of us gathered at a forest preserve in Chicago on a rare day when there was enough snow on the ground AND it was above 20 degrees; he recently had become unable to do things on Sunday because he had "found Jesus" and started attending church on a regular basis. That last bit of information was provided by one of his friends and piqued my interest. It also made him a little more trustworthy in my eyes. Before I went on the trip, however, I prayed and asked God because I had just promised Him that if He gave me a godly man, I would not under any circumstances allow myself to become intimate with him. God was silent on the subject (or it could be that the wax in my ears prevented me from hearing His still, small voice), so I decided to see if the gentleman would be willing to go. He was, so I took it as a sign that God was okay with it (which is not the same as "approved of.") I found out later that his small Bible study group, when they met, prayed for my future husband's safety, safety of his heart, and for God to protect him from sin while going on a trip with an unknown woman. They might have even prayed for me.
I had brought along a stack of books, too much to read in a month, much less a weekend that was supposed to be spent in the great outdoors. Shutting myself in my room to read when we weren't skiing was my back-up plan in case he was creepy or annoying. I never touched the books. Within the first 30 minutes of the four-hour trip, he started telling me about how he had found Jesus. He was hoping to convert me, if I was an unbeliever. It started a great conversation about God, one that I had been longing to share with a man for a while. He was so funny and punny (he still is), which is my love language. We had a great time cross-country skiing and at night, we either watched "Into the Woods", which is a very long Steven Sondheim musical, or played board games. The only other thing that happened was that the seeds of a relationship was started. Two days after returning, we met for dinner at an average Chinese restaurant before the monthly bicycle club meeting and agreed to pursue a relationship. That was the start of a beautiful relationship, created by God, that remained pure until our wedding night. And that is why we ignore Valentine's Day and, instead, focus on our own personal Valentine's day on February 25th.
God is the best matchmaker. And my husband, though he would never be considered perfect, is still perfectly wonderful in my eyes, sixteen years later.