A True Courtship Story
An older sister, Sylvia Busbee of Oklahoma, shares her story with girls of today. Interviewed by Laura and Skye Erickson
How did the Lord deal with you as a young girl as you began thinking of marriage?
When I was a young girl, before I ever got saved, I had the training that I wanted to have a happy Christian home. When boys wanted to get too familiar with me I said, “No, I want to keep myself for a pure husband and a pure home.” And I kept myself pure.
Did anyone influence you in your values for courtship?
I had high standards about it, and after I got saved I began to pray that the Lord would give me the right companion. I had two different young men to court me and both were ministers (this was right after I had gotten saved). I really sought the Lord and prayed about it, for these young men were not really devoted—they let the world and their desire for a companion come into their life more than living and preaching the Word of God. I told them that I thought they ought to put their hearts into the work of the Lord and establish that first, and then seek a companion. They didn’t do that, but went and got married. Now neither of them are married nor saved.
As I grew older, there weren’t any other young men around, and I gave myself to the Lord and committed it to Him.
Did you consecrate to be single?
After those two young ministers left and married someone else, I thought, “Lord, You can be my companion,” and I wept and prayed about it. A lot of times when I’d come home from work my mother would be away at the housing project teaching children, so I would use that time to pray. I would tell the Lord that He knew that I was just half—that there was another half of me somewhere and if it was His will, that He would direct me. I knew of no one eligible and so I thought, “If there is going to be one, then the Lord will just have to manufacture him.”
There was a man at work who smiled at me, and I thought, “Lord, maybe he has potential.” He was older than myself and not married, which was unusual because I was already in my twenties. I put a notice on the board about our assembly meeting, and signed my name. I thought if he was interested in me then he would come and see about what I believed. If he was interested in me, he might be interested in living for the Lord. But he didn’t come, so I relapsed that thought completely and said, “Lord, I don’t want to marry anyone that is not interested in You.” And so I left him alone. Later he married one of the girls of our congregation that worked there also, but it only lasted two years. I thanked the Lord I didn’t get into that. I just decided I could live without a companion, but I really was praying constantly about it.
Then it was presented to me about coming to work at the print shop in Guthrie. Sister Marie came to our house and said to me, “Sylvia, I want you to pray about coming to the print shop, for there is an opening there.” I was twenty-three then, and it just seemed like it was the right thing to do. So I left my home and told my mommy and daddy that I felt that this was what the Lord wanted me to do. They were very happy, for if I had to leave home they were glad I was to be with someone they knew and trusted. I was going to live with Sister Marie and Brother Pruitt in their home. I didn’t go off and get an apartment. I just don’t think girls ought to do that. I know one girl who did, and she got into trouble. An older man came to visit her and she went off with him, though he was someone else’s husband. That was such a sad thing that happened. Girls shouldn’t go and live by themselves, yet I know sometimes that it is necessary. If they go out maybe they can stay at loved ones, but even then sometimes it isn’t the right thing to do. If a young girl lives in a home with another young couple, she can get involved with that husband. It is possible, so be careful.
How old were you when you actually started courting someone?
I went out with a couple of boys (before I was saved) several times when I was in high school before and after I graduated. These boys were in the Korean War and one of them was killed. The other I wrote and shared how I had gotten saved, wasn’t wearing makeup any more, and how I felt the Lord had a young man for me. We told each other goodbye as he wrote back to say that he wished the best for me. I knew all the time that I couldn’t marry that man because he wasn’t of my faith.
How did you meet your future husband?
When I came to the print shop, Sister Marie introduced me to different ones and said, “This is our new girl we are going to have at the print shop.” And she introduced me to Leslie. At that time he was just out of high school and I was twenty-three. I didn’t have any thoughts about him, because he was just a young man of seventeen—almost eighteen. He was going with another girl, so I didn’t pay any attention to him. He was around a lot and started preaching the next January. He began going with Brother Pruitt on Sundays on his appointments at different congregations. Every fourth Sunday they would go to the Enid congregation, where they didn’t have a pastor. Brother Pruitt was getting older and asked Leslie to go along, because he couldn’t preach two times every Sunday. Sister Marie would often go and I nearly always went along, for I could help drive and lead the singing. I also taught the children’s class. Since I always did this, Leslie and I were together a lot. We sang together with others for funerals and weddings and up front for specials. He would come over to the print shop and help out with the paper, so he began to notice me. After awhile he left off all those other girls and began to seek the Lord for what He wanted him to do for a companion. The Lord showed him that it was me. Leslie drove a school bus then, and can show you the very spot on the road where the Lord told him, “It’s Sylvia, but you have to wait until I tell you.” It was nearly two years before he got the “go signal.”
How did you conduct your courtship?
During this two-year wait, Leslie was rather cold to me. He was finding out that he loved me and couldn’t express it, for the Lord said, “No.” This was puzzling to me, and it hurt. But we were still together a lot and different ones would try to say we were going together and different things were put out about it. Leslie always said, “No, it’s not true.” We were very careful. We made a trip together with Sister Stover, Sister Geneva, and her little boy all the way to Oregon. That was pretty hard as he didn’t show any affection to me at all.
Finally on a January day at the print shop, when everybody began leaving, the Lord told Leslie, “This is your chance. This is the time. You tell her what you have on your heart.” I was still working on the linotype out in the back. He came and said he wanted to talk to me, so I turned off the machine. He said, “I believe the Lord has showed me that we have a future together. I know this is hard for you to answer right now and I don’t expect you to. You just think and pray about it and I’ll see you later.” And he took off.
He was gone a couple of weeks to a meeting and a funeral somewhere in Missouri, and so when he got back he called me and said he would like to be with me a little bit. Soon the folks at the print shop began realizing that this was the beginning of our courtship. We decided in ourselves not to touch knees, not to touch shoulders, and we did not hold hands. One time he pressed a dime a little hard into my hand. Afterwards he asked me and the Lord to forgive him. We never stayed out late or sat out in the car. We didn’t sit in Church service together until we were engaged. He brought me home at a decent hour if we went anywhere after meeting. Sometimes we’d go and get something, but we didn’t have much money so we didn’t do it very often. We didn’t really spend much money on each other at all.
What were your parents’ feelings about it?
When I told my mother and father they were very excited, for Leslie had gone out to California and stayed in their home when he had meeting out there. My daddy was growing older, and he was so happy that the Lord was finally giving me a companion. He felt that as long as I was unmarried he was still responsible for me, but when I got married and had a home of my own he was no longer responsible. My Daddy died about six months after we were married. They couldn’t have felt any better about our marriage.
How were you assured that this was the man that God had chosen for you?
One time, before we began courting, he went on a little trip with another minister’s family and their daughter. I knew they were going to be together and so I prayed earnestly, “Lord, if Leslie is to marry this girl, if she is the one, (for she was a sweet girl and more his age), if they are for each other, then relinquish my feelings even though I love Leslie.” I prayed about him because somehow I felt that he was entering into my life, even though he was so cold to me. There were times when he gave me a look with his eyes, and I knew something was there. I was beginning to fall in love and so I said to the Lord, “I do not want to fall in love with this man if he is not the one.” I had had already one heartbreak, and didn’t want to fall in love if he wasn’t going to work out for me. I also prayed that the Lord would give him the right one, even though I might not be the girl. I loved him, but I wanted him to have the one the Lord had for him. Then the Lord told me, “Now I know you love Me, for the sacrifice you’ve made” (Genesis 22:12). So He blessed me there.
What about your engagement?
When we had been going together for about three months, we made a little trip to a meeting down in Louisiana with Sister Marie and her husband. He could have asked me to marry him, down in a lovely garden, but he didn’t. However, when we got home, he asked, and I said yes. I believe it was in March, there in the Print Shop office.
I began making my wedding plans and we set the date for July. The engagement wouldn’t be that lengthy and my parents would come from California anyway for the Monarch meeting. We felt that it was a good time. We continued to carry on our engagement as we did our courtship—with purity. We talked and always had prayer together and talked about the Lord. It was just so sweet. He wrote poems to me, and we were together every night except Monday. We felt that it was a good thing for us to have a night to ourselves. That was the time I washed my hair and did other things for myself. Leslie would call me on the phone, but we did not see each other that night. That was a little relaxed time for us. Tuesday night we had Bible study, Wednesday was prayer meeting, Thursday we were at the old peoples’ home for meeting and Friday night was young people’s night. Saturday we went out for lemonade or something. But like I said, we didn’t have much money.
Could you please tell us about your wedding day?
When I began to plan my wedding, I kept in mind that I wanted the Lord to be there and sit in our wedding. I prayed that the Lord would help me, and Leslie had his own feelings about weddings also. We wanted it to be simple without a lot of fanfare. I wanted my wedding dress to be modest, and I believe the Lord helped me to make it like He wanted it to be. It was rather long, but not floor length. It didn’t cost a whole lot of money either. Sister Inez made my wedding cake. It was a plain tiered cake, without anything fancy on it. Aunt Hatty loaned me some lacy green curtains which I hung up behind the wedding cake in the old dining hail at the Guthrie Chapel.
Leslie didn’t want me to walk down the aisle, so we came in together and sat down before the morning service. The minister preached that morning on the church and how beautiful she was and how Christ will come for her, His Bride. It went right in with our little wedding. Then after a song, we stood up and Leslie had a long poem he wanted to say to me [To Sylvia]. He told about how the Lord chose me for him and many were touched.
Just my parents stood with me. Many saints, friends and relatives were there. We had wedding gifts coming from several congregations, and after a lunch reception, we opened our gifts.
We didn’t kiss at our wedding, because we decided ahead of time we didn’t want to do that yet. So we went out the door and back to the Sunday school room and he kissed me for the first time. While everyone was waiting to congratulate us, we weren’t there. Later we got back in the reception line and many told us, crying, that it was the sweetest wedding they had ever been at.
Has your marriage turned out as you thought it would?
Oh, yes! We had a little honeymoon planned and drove away that night towards the Roaring River in Missouri. Later we went over to his Uncle Darius and Aunt Evelyn’s house. They had gone and said we could stay there. Then we went over to the Monarch Camp Meeting. We had been married on Sunday and were at Monarch by Thursday!
We didn’t have any plans of where we were going to live. Leslie just had a little green Chevrolet and two suitcases and that was it. He didn’t even have enough money to buy a marriage license—I paid it. We started out by faith and just went from there. We spent the rest of the summer with Brother and Sister Stover, going to Oregon and California, and finally back to the print shop.
Leslie then felt like the Lord wanted us to go to Anthony, Kansas. So we went up there and found a little apartment, and that is where we started. We stayed there for 3 1/2 years and two of our boys were born there. Then the Lord showed Leslie that he wanted us to move to Springfield. I felt the same way. We stayed in Springfield for eight years and had three more children there. The Lord took our oldest little boy to heaven while living there. The Lord has led us. We didn’t have much to start with and Leslie didn’t work steadily, but he did find work. Sometimes we got a bit short, but the Lord really blessed us in those times. It was a time of growing—I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I think it has been a wonderful life together.
The Lord led us away from Springfield, and so we left, though it was very hard to do. During this time the saints at the Enid, Oklahoma, congregation prayed that we would come to Enid, and invited us. Even when we moved to Springfield they wanted us to come. After a period of time we moved to Guthrie where we lived for fifteen years. After that time we felt that perhaps someone else could be used there, and so the Lord directed us to finally come to Enid. These saints have been so happy and we have been happy and blessed also. Moving to Enid was just like moving to another part of our family—it wasn’t strange at all.
Leslie and I realize, now that our family is gone, that we just have each other. We are working on our relationship day by day, and it seems like we are growing closer all the time. We have a wonderful foundation to build on, as you can see. We have had a few stormy times, and some hard places, but our foundation was laid and it was a sure foundation that we built on. That is why our marriage is enduring. It is so sad to see young people now, for most don’t have that foundation under them. They haven’t put their consecration and sacrifice to prayer and seeking the Lord, and I am fearful for them.
Seek earnestly, girls, to know God’s will for your life and trust Him for a companion. When you are married, always pray together, for this resolves all disagreements and brings you closer together. How happy are they that do it the Lord’s way!
The Lord has placed each one of us in our families, each with different backgrounds, each with unique ideas and ways. We feel God has not laid down a certain method for each courtship; each experience will be different and unique in their own way. One thing will be the same—God wants to bring each of us to a place of consecration for our future. He wants our lives to be totally dependent upon Him and His ways.
This is just one of the many courtship stories out there. We were blessed with the purity in the Busbee’s courtship and how the Lord led and prepared their hearts for each other. We hope, in the future, to hear of other courtship stories in which the Lord was leading and His will was sought.