January 2000 - With Christmas break behind me, mom slowly recovering, and Y2K behind us, I went back to school. If my life was stressful before - it was about to become even more so. My grandfather had loaned me the money to go to Bob Jones and in January was diagnosed with cancer. In April I attended his funeral. This meant getting a job to pay my way through second semester. Thankfully Bob Jones University Press had an opening in their customer service department and I began training by the end of January for a part time position.
This was the semester that I met Dr. Guenter Salter (that's a whole other story of God's sense of humor and power that needs to be told) in Philosophy of Education. To make a very long story short, to pass this course required many, many hours of study which I did with two other young ladies in the class every Saturday but that wasn't enough. Philip knew Dr. Salter - how he thought and what he was looking for and so he offered to help me study. The details are a little fuzzy in this area but it seems we started studying the beginning of February - sometimes in the common room of CVA (campus view apartments where he lived) or in Mrs. Tomlinson's dining room (she absolutely LOVED Philip!). Discussing philosophy was an interesting way to get to know each other a bit better and it definitely helped me in the class. I will say though, that after some of those session, my brain hurt! My admiration of Philip was growing, not in a romantic way but respect for him as a person.
The details are not important but the stress of the previous semester, concern for my mom's health, having to get a job while in grad school and taking a course that had the potential of disqualifying me for the master's program began taking it's toll on my physical body and it wasn't good - at all. I became very ill. By the middle of February it was clear that something was very wrong and it would be several years before I'd fully recover.
But in spite of illness - life was marching on! There was starting to be a tug of "wishfulness" that by spells I didn't want nor totally understand towards this young man that had exhibited himself as a careful gentleman. I found myself leaving campus after the library closed at night and watching to see if his apartment light was on (sometimes going the long way around campus to do so), or making sure I waved at him in chapel, sharing cookies from home, running to the store to get him chicken soup when he was sick, etc. At this same time we began car-pooling to church on Wednesday evening. Philip would drive to Mrs. Tomlinson's after work, we'd eat supper together and then go on to church together. He would drive me home and we had some fantastic and rousing conversations during those times.
One of those Wednesday evenings when we pulled into my driveway, Philip turned off the car and turned to me. It was in that conversation that Philip laid out his ideas of how relationships progressed. Stage #1 Friendship - This was the very basis for a relationship, basic information, finding if there were shared goals and ideas, finding out their commitment to God and His Word. Asking, "Is this person even a possible candidate for a wife/husband? If there was friendship and compatibility of goals and ideas and commitment to Christ then it was possible to progress to Stage #2 - Dating - sharing things that you wouldn't share on a friendship level, further probing of personal philosophies and background, examining theological ideas further. Deciding yes, this person is a possible life partner which would lead to Stage #3 - Courtship - This person has the characteristics of a life partner but there are some things that need to be talked about that are just not appropriate at level #2 - finances, any previous sin that would affect the relationship, all those "sticky" things that are "where the rubber meets the road". If the relationship withstands those scrutinies then the next step would be Stage #4 - Engagement - the actual commitment to marry this person, premarital counseling, and preparing for Stage #5 - Marriage.
That Wednesday evening Philip shared that we were in Stage #1 and he was praying about how to progress. That was one of the things I appreciated about him - I never had to guess about where we were at or how he was viewing the relationship. He'd had many years to figure out how to avoid some of the common pitfalls of romantic relationships and it sure saved me a lot of anxiousness and fear! When I got out of the car that evening I was confident that Philip wasn't out to take advantage of me, he respected me as a person and would treat my heart gently. But there were other problems that caused my gut to clench that evening.