Christmas 2002 was not a joyful time for me. I spent my vacation from school feeling confused and heartbroken. In fact, I was so unsure about the decision I had made that I was seriously contemplating changing my mind.
I received some particularly memorable advice from my best friend, Julie, during this period of turmoil. Between Christmas and New Year's, she told me that she thought the idea of giving it a chance sounded like the smartest decision I'd made in this whole mess. Thanks to my journaling habit, her words have been preserved for posterity; on December 27, 2003, I wrote:
"Julie also got really candid with me about Steve--saying she wasn't trying to tell me one way or another, and would support me whatever happened, but that even though Steve's a great guy she doesn't think he's right for me. It's a great fairy tale--a cute story--but I wouldn't be happy; he isn't thoughtful...etc. It's just hard to let go of the fairy tale after holding to it for three years."Then on December 29, I wrote a prayer in my journal that included the following:
…Continue to give me wisdom and peace in this situation with Tom, Lord. Work all things out for Your glory. Comfort Tom and give him patience and wisdom and peace as well. Redeem our mistakes; do not forsake us, but lead and guide us as You have promised so many times. Help us both to trust in You. And guide me as I spend time with Steve this week, Father—please help me to view him simply as a valued brother in Christ. I’d love it if You’d even cure me of these feelings for him once and for all!
Anyway...so while I still wasn't "over" Steve, I continued to second-guess myself and began to believe that I needed to give Tom a different answer. After Kaleb, his wife, Steve and I rang in the new year at Steve's house, we sat talking well past midnight, and I told them I was thinking of taking it back: I was seriously considering returning to school the following week and telling Tom I'd made a huge mistake--telling him yes, I wanted to give "us" a chance.
What I didn't know was that when I shared my inclination to change my mind with Kaleb and Steve, I threw a huge wrench in Steve's brain. So here's where we have to back up and get his side of the story. Steve graciously agreed to tell it in his own words for your
It’s the summer of 2002, and I’m in one of the most painful college courses ever. There’s something about a two-hour course with an older, lifeless, likes-to-lecture kind of professor teaching about technical engineering that causes your mind to wander. And wander my mind did, to the most absurd (or so I thought at the time) idea I had encountered in a long time.
The idea? Amy and I as a couple.
Now, to be fair, this idea had run through my mind before, but it was always on an “in one side, out the other” kind of path. I was never real welcoming to the thought, so it didn’t stick around for any length of time.
Amy and I were friends for sure, and I certainly highly valued her friendship, but we weren’t ever meant for a romantic relationship. She was just “one of the guys,” and to be honest, was a little more liberal than I was interested in. I specifically remember telling Kaleb at one point that “whoever ends up marrying her is going to have his hands full…”
So this thought shows up, and as has been the standard procedure, I dismiss it immediately, and it leaves. Briefly. Only to return again. And again. And again… Think “persistent widow” kind of returning.
If you ask my wife, she may tell you that I’m a little stubborn. Which means that in order for me to finally catch on to something (especially if I don’t think I will like it) there has to be an inordinate amount of prodding to move. I was pretty certain that I was receiving an inordinate amount of prodding.
So like any good Christian, I prayed about it. “Lord, please take away these thoughts you are bombarding me with…” OK, I don’t remember exactly what I prayed, but I’m certain it wasn’t real affirming toward the thoughts. It was more like, “What in the world is all this about?!”
Fast forward a couple of months and I find out this other guy is interested in pursuing Amy. Immediately there is a sigh of relief. Clearly I was misinterpreting the thoughts of her, and God was using this other guy to answer my prayer and inform me that, no, I was not suppose to pursue her. Thank you, Jesus, for your clear answer!
And then Amy has to throw a wrench in the whole thing (women can be so difficult…). She informs Kaleb and I that she is not ready to date this other guy, and is clearly an emotional wreck about the whole thing.
What she didn’t know at the time was that while she was crying over being confused, she was absolutely thrashing the giant neon sign that God was using to inform me of what I was supposed to do. I didn't have a clue what to think.
Within a few days, I’m *starting* to see another sign, but this one is different. It suggests a turn from the normal course of action, and into the area of pursuing Amy. It seemed reasonably clear as far as the final destination, and as best I could tell, it was one of those “exit 5 miles ahead” kind of signs, giving you plenty of time to get into the correct lane to make a smooth transition from one direction to another. This gentle change, I thought I might be able to handle.
Waiting 6-8 months before actively pursuing her seemed like it would work out better in light of when I would be willing to get married (not until after I graduated college) and the fact that I didn't want to rush Amy into a relationship when she had just stopped one from happening. Plus, I knew she would be doing a lot of traveling that spring and summer (a mission trip in Asia, for instance, and a Colorado internship), and I didn't want to be a distraction. It was all starting to make a little more sense.
Only I misread the sign.
Oh, I got the destination part right, but when it came to the “gentle exit in 5 miles part,” I bombed the interpretation. It was actually a flashing, “TURN RIGHT NOW” deal, and my mental car was about to feel like it was out of control trying to stay on any kind of reasonable road.
A few days after I got the signal that I was supposed to pursue Amy, here she comes with her hammer, chasing my sign again. She says she's thinking about going back to school, and telling this guy that she is willing to give “them” a try.
Um, no! Didn’t you know that we are supposed to start dating in about eight months?
And off my car goes, screeching and shaking, driving through the ditch as I try to make my exit.
[...continued in part 11...]