[continued from part six // start here]
During my first two years of college, I traveled for the university on a "Christian Service Team." Our six-member group sang a cappella music at churches nearly every weekend throughout the school year, and then spent the summer traveling to youth and family camps. It was a little crazy: they gave us a van, a trailer full of sound equipment, and an itinerary, and said, "See you in ten weeks." Talk about a learning experience and a summer full of memories!
Our team was two girls and four guys. The other girl, Stephanie, became my roommate for two years, and her friendship is a precious gift to this day. Three of the guys changed between the first and second year, but one guy traveled with Stephanie and me both years. For the sake of his privacy, I'll call him "Tom."
This is the point in my story where it gets a little tricky, because I really can't tell the story of Steve and me without talking about Tom. Yet I have so much respect and affection for him that I don't want to share in a way that is hurtful or disrespectful. Thankfully Tom is happily married now, so I can look back on our friendship with gratitude and rejoice in knowing that God had the perfect girl--not me--in mind for him all along.
During our second year of traveling together, I began to develop a little bit of interest in Tom. And as the summer progressed, it seemed possible that maybe the interest was mutual. The thing you have to understand here is, when you travel with someone like this, you get a super realistic picture of who they are. You see them at their best and at their worst; you observe how they handle nightmare campers and bad directions and lack of sleep and disorganized camp directors, how they react to team conflict and how they respond to powerful speakers. You pray together, you worship together, you spend hours upon hours (upon hours) in a van together. So if you can come through all that and still be interested in dating the person...well, I'd say your marriage prospects are good. You certainly aren't going into the relationship blind.
So for the first time in my life, it seemed reasonable (not just a farfetched daydream) to think of beginning a relationship with a guy I would marry. I knew it was best for nothing to happen while we were traveling together that
summer. (It was incredibly common for ministry team members to fall in
love; I can think of several who ended up married--but it could also be
messy and complicated, and our team didn't need that dynamic.) My hope was that once we got back to school in the fall and were all done traveling together, Tom would pursue me. At least, I thought that was my hope. I was equal parts excited, terrified, thrilled, anxious, uncertain...but it seemed like maybe, just maybe, this could be IT.
Steve? I was pretty much over him. Old feelings crept up now and then, when we'd go home on breaks from college and I'd see him in person, but mainly it appeared that perhaps The One had arrived on the scene--and it wasn't Steve.
[to be continued...]