[continued from part five // start here]
During our first semester of college, Steve and I emailed back and forth occasionally, and even talked on the phone a couple of times. I of course agonized over the girls Steve was meeting. Once he mentioned that some people in the band (he spent one year in UC’s marching band before deciding that was NOT for him) were trying to set him up with “some baritone chick.” I writhed in fear and frustration, but needlessly so; Steve was uninterested. True story: a few years later, that “baritone chick” would become my sister-in-law. Yes, Steve’s older brother briefly attempted to set Michelle up with Steve before realizing he liked her himself, and eventually marrying her!
I missed Steve and Kaleb like crazy, and when we were reunited during school breaks, my feelings for Steve were as strong as ever. Here we are on a ski trip that Christmas break:
Let me back up and explain that my freshman year of college was pretty brutal. I was utterly unprepared for the adjustment; I mourned the loss of my childhood. After two years of senioritis and "I can't wait to leave this dumb small town behind me forever," after all my smug superiority about not going to the local university where ten percent of our class had enrolled together, I had to eat a huge helping of crow. Homesick? Big time. I was excited and blessed to be at IWU, but I was miserable. It seemed like everyone else had taken a seminar on "How to Make Friends Instantly"--and I was absent that day. So, so lonely, and so embarrassed to be so lonely and not thriving at college.
The upside to my misery was the spiritual growth it occasioned. I learned to lean into God that first semester because I had no one else to lean on. I would never want to repeat that time in my life, but I also wouldn't trade it for anything; God used it to drive His Word deep into my heart, to teach me about prayer, to reveal Himself to me as Comforter and Refuge.
And as time went on, He was so faithful to answer my desperate prayers for close relationships. In fact, when I read back over my journals from that time, I have to laugh at how abundantly He provided. I begged for just one friend--and it boggles my mind to think back on those four years of college and the crazy number of awesome people He put in my life!
Anyway. You can see why this series is stretching on endlessly...all kinds of rabbit trails. I have a point, I promise.
Freshman year was a year of incredible growth for me, but it wasn't so for Steve. He wasn't in the nurturing Christian environment I enjoyed, to say the least. He didn't walk away from the Lord or anything, but it's fair to say he stagnated--just didn't get plugged into any campus fellowship or look for opportunities to learn and grow spiritually.
He was also terrible about keeping in touch, and some insensitive things here and there really hurt me. Plus, for the first time in our friendship, it felt like Steve and I were no longer at the same point spiritually. We'd been so much at the same maturity level, so much on the same page, but now I was sort of leaving him behind.
Add to this the fact that I was at a Christian university--so I was surrounded by dozens and dozens of Christian guys. In other words, I saw that there were other fish in the sea :) Suddenly Steve wasn't the only handsome, talented, Jesus-loving potential husband in my world, and his appeal diminished a little.