the story of Elizabeth Kenyon & Benjamin Flesher
by Elizabeth Kenyon Flesher
The first time that I gave a second thought to dating was when I turned 15 years old. My aunt had given me the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris for my birthday and as I read through it I began to realize that dating was not the most perfect way to find a future spouse. I was also confused though, because if you don’t date then what do you do?! A short while after that I first heard about courtship, and while I agreed with most of it, there were parts of courtship that sounded less then perfect. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place for a while, not knowing how I was going to even begin to find a future spouse. Being only 15 years old at the time though, I was still content being single and was in no hurry to begin my search for a husband. Then the thought struck me that it was not my place to even search for a husband because when the time was right God would lead the right man to me. That thought set my mind at ease and I went on enjoying being single and young and not having to worry about the dating scene.
When I turned 16 years old my mom subscribed to a magazine for homesteaders titled Countryside . Being an avid writer as well as a “country girl” I felt compelled to write an article for the magazine about homeschooling and my experiences with it. My article was printed in the spring 1999 issue along with my address so that like-minded people could write. I soon heard from many people, many of them with the same interests as I had. I gained many friendships through the mail and corresponded regularly with many of those who wrote, both females and males of all ages. One of my new-found pen pals stood out from the others mainly because we could relate to many of the same things. His name was Benjamin and he was from West Virginia. Having been writing to both male and female friends since the young age of ten years old, it was only natural to me to find that this male was becoming a good friend of mine. We continued to be impressed by each other’s letters because we had so much in common. Our correspondence continued for months, both of us answering each other’s letters soon after we received them. We wrote about all kinds of things – hiking, gardening, reading, hunting, animals, our life experiences, etc.
About six months after the beginning of our correspondence Ben shared his feelings with me; that he was becoming attached to me and had feelings that were more than friendship for me. I wasn’t really surprised when I read that letter, although I was a bit perplexed. At first I thought, “How can you fall in love with someone through the mail?” After thinking and praying about the whole situation I realized that Ben wasn’t the only one with those kinds of feelings and replied to his letter (after speaking with my mom about it), sharing my thoughts and feelings with him. We both agreed that it was best to only stay friends though, considering that we lived more than six hundred miles from each other (I was living in Iowa). We continued our friendship and managed to remain only friends. We encouraged each other through the mail, listened to each other’s problems, and just shared thoughts with each other. About a year after we first wrote we had our first phone conversation. I was nervous when I realized it was he on the phone (I’m not much of a phone person to begin with!) but we had an enjoyable conversation. After that we talked on the phone a couple times a month as well as continued writing. The phone calls began to happen more often and the conversations became longer with each call.
We both knew that no matter how hard we tried to “stay just friends” it just wasn’t possible, since we both still had feelings for each other. About two years after beginning our correspondence we met for the first time but felt as though we had known each other for years. I truly felt as though I had known Ben forever and right when I met him it felt as though we were old friends that had seen each other in person often. During that ten-day visit we got engaged and planned for the wedding to be five months later. That visit helped me get to know him and his family better. During the visit, even after we became engaged, it was still more like a visit between two old friends. Yes, of course we both shared romantic feelings for each other, but we spent those days talking, spending time with family, watching movies together, and just getting to know each other better. I was never uncomfortable around Ben, and nether of us felt as though we needed to try to impress each other by being someone that we weren’t. Our visit showed our true selves, just as our letters had done before.
Our parents were excited and supported us in our decision and most of the people close to us supported us as well; but there were some people that didn’t understand the whole situation. Many concerns were expressed: “You don’t know him well enough”, “You can’t get to know someone enough through letters”, etc. The fact of the matter is that I feel as though you can get to know someone through the mail just as well as you can get to know someone face to face…if not a little better. Ben and I started our letter writing as friends and we shared so much about ourselves…our thoughts, dreams, temperaments, etc. We weren’t trying to impress each other like so many couples that date. We had the train of thought, “like me as I am” and let each other see our true selves. As we grew closer there was no problem of physical temptation (which can get some couples in a dating relationship into trouble), as we were more than six hundred miles away. The only thing “missing” from our whole relationship was the physical aspect, and that is just fine with me—no temptations, no lust, no mistakes or regrets. It was love in its purest form: true, innocent, and wholesome.
Some people still don’t understand how we met and how it could work out. The world sees dating as the only way to meet a spouse and anything different from that is considered odd or impossible. I didn’t go searching for a spouse…I let God do the searching and leading. Never would I have imagined that I would meet someone through the mail and get married to him a few years later. It all seems like something out of a fairy tale, something that sounds wonderful but couldn’t possibly happen in real life. But fairy tales can and do come true. All we need to do is trust in God to lead us to the right relationship at the right time and let His hand be in it the whole time. Whether you plan on dating or courting, or just letting a relationship “happen,” put your trust in God. Don’t overwhelm yourself and spend your time thinking about a future relationship. Enjoy your single time and use it to the fullest. Learn housekeeping skills, help teach your younger brothers and sisters, use these single years to grow closer to God. And remember…fairy tales do come true.
Benjamin (23) and Elizabeth (19) Flesher were married on May 5, 2001.
Originally published in the YLCF Journal #31.
When you hear a love story it is the description of something that happened, not a prescription of how to make that very same thing happen in your own life.
(Natasha Metzler in “How to Read Love Stories“)