Sometimes when I look at you,
I don’t know why you wait.
School-girl in a little world,
Who learns everything late.
I’ve always had all the answers,
Now I don’t have a clue.
Say the word,
And I just might listen.
Say the word,
And I might have to stay…
Then they were gone.
The Harrisons left and, after Naomi departed after another week with us, I felt completely lost. My beloved Poppop had taken a terrible fall and was in the hospital and I was still trying to get used to this idea of pursuing something more with Austin and I became a complete mess. My emotions were all out-of-control because the recent events were being compounded by a lack of sleep and getting sick. Doubts crept their way into my mind. Doubts that it would never work with Austin and me. Doubts about whether or not we were doing the right thing. There were days when I would burst into tears for no apparent reason, but my parents were loving and patient and helped me through those hard times.
Austin and I were talking on the phone once a week and my parents listened in at the beginning to be able to provide us with guidance. After a couple of months, though, they gave us permission to talk on our own. Our texting was monitored and both of our parents were in a texting group with us. It was incredibly convenient because I would know Austin was texting me when I heard three phones going off in my house.
This is the part of the story when now, looking back, I wish I hadn’t made it so hard for myself. I wish I could tell you all that our “intentional friendship” (because we both decided not to use the term “courtship”) we easy and that everything fell into place smoothly and perfectly. I wish I could tell you those wonderful things, but I can’t. As amazing as Austin is, and with as great friends that we are, I still had a tremendously hard time accepting what was happening.
I had a hard time accepting everything that was going on. Because of my plans. Because of what I wanted. Because I didn’t feel ready. Because … me. Because me and my selfishness and me and my not trusting. I spent a lot of time in prayer and I did a study of Philippians with my life-long friends, Hannah and Emily, and it was so clear. I was complaining and I wasn’t thankful and I was discontent because I thought that I knew what was best for me and I thought that I knew better than God. Who am I to question God’s timing? Obviously, He thought that I could grow more and glorify Him better and become more sanctified through this relationship with Austin than I could have if I was still very much single and unattached. God’s timing is perfect and He said that this was the right time. Even if I didn’t think I wanted this or didn’t want it now. After that I finally began trusting Him again to guide me through this new season the same way He had guided me through every other season before. Even though I was scared and even though everything was so new and I felt incredibly skeptical, I trusted that God knew what He was doing. A few months later, I began to feel less tentative and began to feel very unworthy and very blessed. I knew I didn’t deserve it, but I planned to honor God with it and hold my relationship with Austin in open hands. Open because I am willing to accept the blessing He chose to give me, but keeping them open acknowledging that it is His to take away if that was His will. Even though that gave me peace that I didn’t have before, I still wasn’t confident that it would work out.
All of that kept me busy for the month of April and then, in May, my Poppop passed away. He was back home from the hospital after his fall in March and was doing well and everything was fine until one morning he just didn’t wake up.
I remember the day vividly. Getting the call from mom. Telling my siblings. Texting people who knew him. Breaking down. Realizing that my grandfather who had always been there – the one who took me to bookstores and had taught me physics and who I saw on a weekly basis – was gone. Then Austin called. I was fighting back tears the entire time but I remember how much I appreciated hearing from him right then. About a week later, when Austin texted me telling me that his Poppy had passed away unexpectedly as well, I knew exactly what his family was going through. It was an immensely challenging time for us and our families, but the way God allowed us to be there for each other through it is something I am so thankful for.
The rest of May was a somber, melancholy month, but we continued talking on the phone for hours a couple evenings per week. We talked about so much over the course of such a short time. Theology, family traditions, personal convictions, quirks, ideals, our strengths and weaknesses… we already knew each other so well as friends but we were working hard to know each other on a deeper level. Questions were asked about fears and hopes and I found myself understanding Austin better than I ever had before and I was sharing things with him that not many people knew about me. We read through The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller and I filled my moleskine with copious notes. I was ready to see him again.
In June, Austin came out to work and train at a Chick-Fil-A grand opening about forty-five minutes away from where I live. He was in the area for two weeks and we took advantage of his few free afternoons and Sundays off to get in as much time with him as possible. It was a paradoxical visit for me. It felt perfect and difficult both at the same time. I felt content but unsure. Happy but insecure. Being together in person helped me clarify things, but also made things more complicated. Spending that time with Austin was wonderful and relaxed and yet, I was plagued by the same fears that had been taking root ever since the beginning. I realized that I had always loved Austin as a brother and as a friend, but had no idea if I could ever love him as more than that and I had no idea what to do about it. We were both maintaining some barriers to prevent us from becoming too close too quickly and I was studying our relationship through very objective eyes and I was emotionally detached from it all. As much as I loved spending time with Austin, I still doubted that this would work out. With so many things going on all at once, I decided to just take things one day – and one conversation – at a time and see where God would take us.by