My mother taught us when we were little that prostitutes are women who sell their kisses. We, in contrast, were to be pure and save our kisses for our wedding day.
I am not sure when I learned that my dad would give me a purity ring the day I turned thirteen, but it must have been fairly early on because I remember thinking “I’m only seven and it will be six more years until I get my purity ring! How am I going to wait that long?” And indeed, I couldn’t wait. Finally, on my thirteenth birthday, mom and dad took me out to eat and gave me the most beautiful ring I had ever seen. It was love at first sight, and from that point on, I wore my purity ring constantly.
When I was around twelve, I read I Kissed Dating Goodbye, by Joshua Harris, and loved it. Next I read Jeff McLean’s Courtship. There was a lot of other literature too, most of it from No Greater Joy and Vision Forum. My parents read the literature too, though I am not sure when. What I do know is that I cannot remember a time when courtship was not the expectation. I embraced the idea of courtship as wholeheartedly as my parents, and used to daydream about young men asking my father’s permission to court me.
I never found not dating as a teenager odd, and I think that this was for two reasons. First, I did not meet many boys my age. In fact, I did not have a single male friend. Sure, I saw my brothers’ friends, but they were significantly younger than I and thus not marriage material. Through some strange coincidence, all of the families my family associated with had only girls my age, and their brothers were all younger. So in other words, I never had a guy that I was close to, or even really knew at all, so there was never any desire to date anyone, or even any opportunity to court. But then, I knew that would come eventually. The second reason not dating didn’t seem odd was that none of my friends dated either.
While I knew I believed in courtship, I had very little idea about how it would unfold in practice. I guess I figured that my father would handle it when the time came. Every time I saw an article on courtship in No Greater Joy magazine, I hoped my dad would read it and take notes. At some point, dad gave me a list of requirements that a candidate for my hand would have to pass. While his list was not very long, it did include the basics. My list, in contrast, was much longer.
When I was sixteen, my dad made me a hope chest. I was thrilled. I proceeded to fill it with a variety of items, including linens, kitchenware, and books on homemaking. I was very proud of my hope chest, and I could hardly wait to be a wife. I would open my hope chest and smell the cedar, and just know that my future would bring me much joy. I could hardly wait.