I Met This Great Girl Online
I’m nearly 30 years old and engaged. Finally. After I had spent over a decade yearning, longing, and storming the gates of heaven, the Lord has introduced to me the woman with whom I am meant to share the rest of my life. Her name is Faith. She’s a lovely woman and everything I ever wanted in a spouse—intelligent, witty, adorable, beautiful. Most people only have to introduce their spouse to their family and a handful of friends and co-workers. As a pastor, I also have to introduce my fiancée to the 1,200 members of my congregation. Inevitably, one of the first questions they ask is, “How did you meet?”
We met through the Internet. We both keep online journals, and we stumbled upon each other as we were exploring interests which we happen to have in common. We began exchanging e-mails and chatting through Instant Messaging programs, and then we continued on the phone. Finally, we decided we would meet in person—which was an adventure since she lives in Louisiana and I live in Ohio. I met her at the airport, and she was more beautiful in person than she’d been in any picture. As we talked, we couldn’t help but recognize the connection growing between us. I asked her out; she said yes. It wasn’t long before I was asking the Lord if Faith was really the woman He’d set apart for me. Once I knew she was, I wasted no time in asking her to marry me.
This would not have happened without the Internet. I did not go online to meet a wife, but God used the Internet to introduce us. If I had met Faith in a class in college or in the mall or even at church, I probably would never have spoken with her. I’m not comfortable approaching new people in person. During my many hours online, I’ve met quite a few people with whom I have had wonderful conversations. These conversations would never have happened if I had to speak the words and that includes my first conversations with Faith.
The Internet is an amazing tool for meeting people with whom it would normally be impossible to interact. However, some adults do not or choose not to understand computers so the horror stories they see on TV are all they know about the Internet. When they hear that a young person has met a significant other on a computer (of all things!), they immediately see this as something bad, something dangerous.
This is not all that different than how quite a few of our grandparents met in their generation. Especially during World War II, many couples met through correspondence. Ask WWII veterans how they met their wives and it’s not uncommon to hear, “She wrote me letters when I was overseas.” Our parents and our older brothers and sisters, especially those who grew up before computers were in every home or even in every school, used the telephone to meet and to get to know people. Most people today really don’t write letters anymore. Most of us have phones on our belts or in our purses, and we continue to use them for interaction. But when corresponding by e-mail is so simple and we can talk to five different friends over IM at the same time, it’s no surprise that “snail-mail” has given way to e-mail and Instant Messenger programs.
In any event, God works in mysterious ways, and that includes the ways He introduces men and women. There is nothing innately sinful about finding a mate online. The Internet is a relatively new thing, of course. However, we know the Lord works through means, and one of those means can be a computer. The Internet is not evil in itself.
Meeting someone you have met online in person calls for some caution. We’ve all heard the real-life horror stories of older men who talk to children online and, when they meet, the child is never heard from again. Unfortunately, this is a very real danger. With caution in mind, I offer these suggestions:
Anything worth doing should be done with the Lord. Pray. Ask the Lord to be with you as you interact with people online, that what you say and do may be pleasing in His sight and safe for you.
Do not rush a meeting.
Anyone worth meeting is going to understand your caution. They won’t want to hurt you, and they won’t want to be hurt themselves. The world we live in can be dangerous, and, sadly, not everyone you meet is necessarily a nice person.
Do not give out your address, phone number, or schedule over the Internet.
They can already contact you through your e-mail or instant messaging program; they don’t need your phone number. List a few times when you will be able to meet. Choose one together.
Ask your parents.
Your parents care about you, and they want what’s best for you. Tell them about this person you’ve met online. Tell them that you would like to meet this person. Ask them to go with you so you won’t be meeting strangers alone. Suggest to your online friend that they do the same thing.
Do not meet a stranger alone.
There are a number of ways to make sure you’re not meeting a stranger alone for the first time. Ask a parent to go with you. Invite a group of your friends to join you. Again, ask your online friend to do the same thing. There is safety in numbers.
Make appointments to check in.
Inform the other person that you’ve scheduled check-in times, though don’t tell them exactly when or how many. If someone is expecting your call and they don’t receive it on time, they will know that they need to check on you.
Meet in a well-lit public place.
Movies are a lousy place to meet someone for the first time. Not only is it a bad place for conversation, but it also means that the room will be dark for over an hour. Meet in a mall food court or a coffee house. It will be safer, and you will have food to discuss even if the rest of the conversation falls apart.
Yes, this appears on the list twice. That’s because prayer is twice as important as anything else you do. When the meeting is over, thank God that He has given you this opportunity to meet someone new. Thank Him for bringing you home safely. Tell Him about the meeting. He cares about you, and He wants you to share your life with Him.
God is gracious to grant you friends. Whether this is a platonic relationship or something romantic, make God a part of it. With God, all things are possible. After all, if I’m engaged to be married, it can happen to anyone!