HIMMW: A Paradigm Shift

Disclaimer: This is one of many stories of how I met my wife, substituting real names for fictional ones from the Fire Emblem series.  If you happen to know who I’m talking about, I ask that you respect these stories and keep any comments or names to yourself. Thanks!

By definition, Caeda and I were “just talking and going on dates”.  I think a lot of people were rooting for us, speculating that a marriage would result in the merging of two great families.  I will give credit where credit is due and that is that Caeda put a lot of effort into trying to figure out if she liked me or not.

Remember, at this point in time, she has no idea what “liking a guy” feels like.  She asked me what it felt like, and all I could say to describe it was “butterflies in your stomach”.  It was hard to put into words and I didn’t really know how to explain that then. So, despite all the phone calls, texts, dinner with each other’s families, teaching her how to bike and other fun times, she remained undecided.  Every now and then I asked her if she felt something, or if anything sparked in her and she would always respond with a “no, sorry”. You might think that after asking that a couple times that I should probably end things, but I think for Caeda, this was a journey of exploration and self-discovery.  For myself, it was interactions with a girl I liked, which is why it was important for me to keep my distance and not force her to do anything the least bit uncomfortable for her.

After a Summer’s worth of activities (Thailand missions, planning for camp, serving in camp, 4th of July at Caleb’s house, etc.), I came to the conclusion that if by now things weren’t working out, I probably shouldn’t keep pushing forward, especially with school starting soon.  So after my Summer job one day, I drove to her house to drop off a gift for her and her family. It was a little something I got for them while my family and I were vacationing in Hawaii. We stood in her driveway as we chatted a bit. As the conversation puttered out and as the last of the sunlight faded, I asked one last time “do you feel anything?”.  Once more, her answer was “no, sorry”.

Reluctantly, I called things off.  She agreed that continuing wouldn’t be a good idea, but that we still had fun and we wouldn’t be weird about it.  I said “good night” to her without extending a hand for a high-five and walked back to my car. As I drove home, I had this overwhelming sense of peace in my heart.  A sense of peace so strong that only God could bestow it.

It felt good knowing that I could date someone, for lack of better words, correctly.  I was okay, but certain friends and family members did not take it well.  Notably, one of her cousins took it pretty hard.

Caeda’s mom even wrote me a letter.  Mostly as a “thank you for the gift from Hawaii”, but she included a line about how she was sorry that things didn’t work out.

A couple weeks passed and it was time for College/Young Adult/Family Camp.  Already, I found myself thinking “okay, what’s my next plan of attack?”.  Playing out scenarios of how I could possibly win Caeda over.  Thoughts of biding my time, with really only next Summer to seize any sort of opportunity.  This is where my mind wandered as I faded in and out of paying attention to the messages at College Camp.

Pitiful, isn’t it?

“..but what is your treasure?  Your treasure is whatever the majority of your time, thoughts, effort and energy go into.”

Pastor Cory Ishida, the speaker of our camp said those words as he preached about Matthew 13:44.  It stuck out to me. Ever since Lyn, my life had been focused on pursuing someone, hopping from girl to girl, hoping to fill the vacancy that is Josh’s girlfriend.  Dang, this was my “treasure”. And so this was my turning point, my paradigm shift. No longer was my life so focused on finding a girl to fill a void only God could fill.

Fun fact though, I think me dating Caeda sort of unlocked a gate for her.  When word got out that we were no longer seeing each other, there was a line of guys waiting for their chance.  She would eventually know what it means to “like” someone as she met her future husband at school.

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

Matthew 6:33 (NLT)

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HIMMW: In Limbo

Disclaimer: This is one of many stories of how I met my wife, substituting real names for fictional ones from the Fire Emblem series.  If you happen to know who I’m talking about, I ask that you respect these stories and keep any comments or names to yourself. Thanks!

The next day I drove to Caeda’s area and picked her up for our frozen yogurt date.

One thing to know about Caeda is that she was so innocent that she didn’t know what it felt like to be attracted to a guy.  It probably has something to do with her strong family values and good friendships. So when her peers would talk about “cute boys” and what made them likeable, she would be a little confused why they felt this way.  With that in mind, about halfway through our date, she asked me the question “what are you looking for?”

Though she probably meant to ask something along the lines of “what do you want out of this date?”, the way I interpreted that question was “what was my end goal in this dating process?”  What I should have said was something along the lines of “I’m not looking to date to have fun and mess around.  If things progress well and you should reciprocate my interest, I would like to enter a Christ-centered relationship with the ultimate goal of marriage, if God allows it.”  But instead I said:

“…a relationship..?”

I was still a little nervous and not quite sure what she was getting at; I think she interpreted my answer as “let’s jump straight into being boyfriend and girlfriend!”.  And with that, she essentially said “no” to whatever it was I was asking for. She apologized, but I said it was okay and thanked her for letting me go on a date with her.  We finished up and I took her back to her place. The drive back to my home was quiet. The same kind of quiet when you lose an away game in football and you’re not supposed to talk during the whole bus ride back.  After all that, I came up empty handed. Still, I was glad that I took a chance and was even able to go on a date. Once more, I had no regrets and I was content with that. This is where most stories end, but then something strange happened.

The next day was Sunday.  One thing the planning team and I did the weeks leading into retreat was gather together and pray in between services.  Marty had the idea to do it one last time as a wrap up to retreat and winter break and so we did. As we start heading into the sanctuary for worship, Caeda pulled me aside.  She apologized again for how yesterday went down, but after mulling it over and talking with her family, they encouraged her to let me have another chance. Confused and happy, we agreed to discuss this more later.

Thus began an era of dating Caeda.  To show my respect for girls, women and the institution of dating, I tried to be very formal.  When we went on dates, I kept a respectable distance and never intruded on her space bubble. When I dropped her off at night, I didn’t even hug her.  Instead I high-fived her good night. Though I knew her parents as “Auntie” and “Uncle” so-and-so, I now referred to them as Mr. and Mrs. LastName.

But remember, she went to a school far away, so the times that I was able to see her were far and few between. We agreed that I would call her once a week as a pseudo-date and to get to know each other better.  And that’s how things went for the rest of Junior year; phone calls and the occasional date when she happened to be home for the weekend.

HIMMW: The Magic of Holidays and Retreats (Again)

Disclaimer: This is one of many stories of how I met my wife, substituting real names for fictional ones from the Fire Emblem series.  If you happen to know who I’m talking about, I ask that you respect these stories and keep any comments or names to yourself. Thanks!

When I was a sophomore, I had the privilege to be the director for college winter retreat at church.  I did a good enough job where I was asked to do it again the following year, to which I gladly accepted.  Really, I was just above-average organized and was good at emailing people to get things done. Still, no retreat can be planned without a good team, so I messaged a handful of people to see if they were interested in serving or helping out.  Of those people, I asked Caeda to be my Assistant [to the] Director

 

We’re all collegians and we all go to different schools, so planning things can be a little tricky at times, especially as our schedules get busier with more tests, projects or homework.  Knowing that, I would start planning early to get as much out of the way as possible. Part of the planning process involved a handful of phone calls and text messages with Caeda in order to bounce ideas off of her and to hash things out.

I will admit, I had a small crush on Caeda before all of this, but it was during my war-torn state after breaking up with Lyn.  Besides, with her college choice, I figured she was beyond my reach, so that faded quickly. For the record, this is not the reason why I asked her to be my assistant.  Anyway, spend enough time with someone you are barely even friends with and then one will eventually bend. Of course, the one that was doing the bending was me. Unfortunately, I was kind of stuck.  We were only in contact because we were planning together, but I didn’t want to ruin any part of this retreat simply because of my emotions. I did the right thing and ignored those thoughts for the better.

All the planning came together and the retreat was, for the most part, a success.  There would be a serious night where the WQ guys and I would gather. We talked about some deep stuff, so talking about my new crush was eventually revealed when it was my turn.  They acknowledged and thanked me for sharing such a secret and it was agreed that I shouldn’t do anything about it, especially on this retreat.

Winter retreat came to a close and everyone got home safely; which meant that I was officially done with my director duties.  Yet there was this feeling of being unsatisfied as I returned home. Luckily, I was able to sleep on it since it was still Winter break.  The next day I got a stray phone call from Man Lauren. We talked about school and continuing our study on the book of Mark in Winter Quarter.  Because Lauren is very wise, I sought his opinion on if what I did was correct with Caeda. He countered with, “well, what has God been teaching you..?”.

Earlier, I had hopped on the piano to pass time.  I was messing around with some chords and melodies when I realized that despite my ~10 years of training, I hardly remembered much of it.  My learning moment being that “whatever I don’t actively pursue, deteriorates quickly”.

“Thanks Lauren, I think I know what I need to do” I said as I explained all of this to him.  He prayed for me before we said our goodbyes.  I then took one deep breath and exhaled as I pulled up Caeda’s number.  With my moment of clarity, I realized I had one opening: a quick debrief on how retreat went as director and assistant director.  I happened to learn that a lot of people weren’t too fond of the speaker I had found. I called her and we chatted a bit. She told me mostly things and opinions I knew about retreat already, but before my little survey finished I said

“Hey Caeda”

“Hey Josh..?”

“We’re pretty good friends.. Right?”

“Yeah..?”

“So, I was hoping to get to know you a little better, would you be interested in going out on a date with me?  For lunch… or maybe yogurt?”

A small pause.  My heart was pounding as I heard her put the phone to the side to ask her family if her schedule was free.

“Sure, yogurt sounds good.”

HIMMW: The Park Bench

Disclaimer: This is one of many stories of how I met my wife, substituting real names for fictional ones from the Fire Emblem series.  If you happen to know who I’m talking about, I ask that you respect these stories and keep any comments or names to yourself. Thanks!

Sophomore year came to a close and I have to say, it was a good year.  Lost weight, gained confidence, better grades, no regrets.. All good stuff.  Since it’s Summer, you’re correct if you guessed that there would be more instances of hanging out with Lyn.  As much as it could have been weird considering where things were left off, it wasn’t. We were cordial and there wasn’t any sort of animosity.

But one has to wonder, why was Lyn pushing so hard to stay in touch?  Yes, we had some history, but it’s not like we were childhood or family friends.  Also, all of these hangouts we had were one-on-ones. In my head, there was often the looming thought of “could we even get back together as we began to find ourselves and grow as an individual?”  What was her ploy?

A turning point came after we had lunch together one day.  She was showing me her new iPod touch and being a techie, I was curious to explore it a bit.  Upon further inspection, it was basically an iPhone without the data plan. As she talked about its features, I perused her apps.  So, I used to be the type of guy who would look at your photos without your permission if given an opportunity (but never texts, cause I respected that area at least).  I opened her photo library and at the very top, I saw a handful of pictures of us. They were photos we took while we were dating. Afraid of what I discovered, I quickly closed it and handed the iPod back to her.

For whatever reason, I didn’t have a car to use that day, so she picked me up and did the driving.  As we got to my home and before I got out of the car, I asked her “do you still have feelings for me?”  She was confused since it was so out of the blue; she asked me what I meant. So then I told her I saw our photos together still in her photo library.

She was a little speechless, but she said that she had a small hope that we could get back together, just not now.  Since our conversation was getting serious, we went to a park to continue.

I admitted to the same, but explained that this probably wasn’t the best way to do it.   With these hangouts, there was always the danger of me being infatuated again, just like that Christmas on the rooftops.  Thankfully, I knew this about me. On the one hand I wanted to be her friend, but I couldn’t keep setting myself up to be disappointed.  Because we kept in touch, it created this false sense of insurance. In the back of my mind, she was the fallback plan should we both graduate, not find anybody and she moved back home.  It sounds terrible, but not overly farfetched given the circumstances. She said she valued our friendship, but I explained that I won’t be able to completely get over her since we keep having these hangouts.  

It came to a point where I said I don’t think we can be friends anymore so I could free myself of this thinking.

“So what do you want me to be then?” she asked.

As we sat on a bench, I stared off  into the distance. I thought about it for a good 5 or 10 minutes as we sat in silence.  I finally responded with:

“An acquaintance”

I said that as I put an imaginary push pin into an imaginary corkboard.  I then got up and proceeded to walk away. Drama aside, I knew I couldn’t ask her for a ride home, so I started walking.  I needed to relieve myself of this burden that has been sort of haunting me for the past year and a half. So if I let my guard down and stopped or turned around for even a second, I would nullify my statement.  There was no turning back, I couldn’t, I had to be firm. I don’t know if she was crying. I don’t know if she was sad. I don’t even know if there was an attempt to run up to stop me. I just kept walking until I got home.  My mind was detached from her.

If this story sounds familiar, it should.  I’ve actually told this story before by dramatizing it and flipping the genders.

HIMMW: Seizing an Opportunity

Disclaimer: This is one of many stories of how I met my wife, substituting real names for fictional ones from the Fire Emblem series.  If you happen to know who I’m talking about, I ask that you respect these stories and keep any comments or names to yourself. Thanks!

As much as I interacted with Clair, it really wasn’t much more than a group hangout or group meal here and there.  We exchanged a few texts, but the conversations didn’t go anywhere in my favor. She was elusive because she was so busy taking 18-20 units a quarter, among other things.

So, when an opportunity arose to see her more often in the form of an intramural coed basketball team, I took it.  If you know me, you know that basketball is definitely not my thing. Thankfully, it’s a sport where if you throw enough shots at the basket, you’re bound to make one or two.  My days in football helped me stick to a man (until they eventually passed the ball anyway). Other than that, I was pretty useless on the court. For what it’s worth, I did score a basket to bring us into overtime in the last game of the season.  I would have happily warmed the bench the whole time, but we were an inclusive team and everyone was encouraged to play. I was hoping to do as little as possible and chalk it up to teamwork.

Though I didn’t contribute much, I was able to get the face-to-face time I wanted.  In addition to the games together, I had the privilege of walking to and from the courts with her.  At the conclusion of the season, we had a team dinner to celebrate our 1-win season. Afterwards, Clair and I were driven back to our dorm where the perfect moment presented itself.  By “perfect”, I mean that if it didn’t go well then there would be finals and spring break for us to forget this ever happened.

As I walked her to her dorm room door, I got her attention before she walked in.  I was about to ask her out on a date, but then I froze. Bear in mind that up to this moment, I only had three semi-experiences of asking someone one out on a date.

  1. Asking Lissa out on a date as a dare from Caleb, via instant messenger
  2. Expressing my affection for Lyn in the form of a poem posted on social media, followed up by a conversation via instant messenger
  3. Asking my ex-girlfriend, Lyn, on a date on a rooftop

So, as much I rehearsed this in my head a dozen time, my nerves were getting the better of me.  I managed to push out the words of “I’m interested in you, do want to grab lunch or a drink sometime?”  Clair responded with an awkward smile and said that she wasn’t looking to date anyone as a sophomore. With that, we agreed we wouldn’t be weird about it and parted ways.

As I walked back to my dorm, I was sad that I got a “no”, but I was happy that I did it, since now I had no regrets and that door could be closed.  But sometimes, I still cringe at how poorly executed that was.

Before the school year ended though, it would be discovered that Clair would start dating a guy we’ll call Wally.  I was disheartened to find that I might have been straight up lied to and the rejection was greater, but Wally is a good guy and a great find.  And he managed to win her over enough for her to break her self-imposed rule to not date that school year. Almost as a weird turncoat switch, I began rooting for Wally as I realized what a fine specimen he is.

HIMMW: A Crossroad

Disclaimer: This is one of many stories of how I met my wife, substituting real names for fictional ones from the Fire Emblem series.  If you happen to know who I’m talking about, I ask that you respect these stories and keep any comments or names to yourself. Thanks!

Who’s Clair?

Rewinding back to freshman year, I actually visited this one campus fellowship only twice before I deemed it as something I was too good for.  Clearly, I was arrogant and wrong. Within those two visits, I met Clair. She kind of caught my eye, but I had Lyn, so her allure had no effect on me.  So, to learn that we lived in the same building, the single hopeless romantic in me ignited, and I could not help but have all the possibilities you learn from Disney, romantic comedies and other TV shows fill my head.  But I knew that focusing on pursuing Clair would not be wise. I came into this school year with a new mindset and outlook and I would do my best to concentrate on that.

Unfortunately and thankfully, life isn’t always so linear.  Consider the following:

  1. You might have heard it said that if you break up with someone, it takes around the same amount of time you were together with that person to get over them.  This is pretty true as I’ve talked with others about it. Although, Eddie has also said that it takes about three times the length of time you were with that person.  Law of averages I guess. All this to say that yes, I still had some feelings for Lyn. It’s not that I was expecting to sulk over her for the next three (or nine) years, but I figured I should give myself time to heal and better myself.
  2. But as it turns out, Clair is pretty cool.  Whatever few conversations I had with her in fellowship or in passing were enjoyable.  No, I did not just go to fellowship to talk to her. These little interactions were merely a bonus to plugging in.  It was all a happy environment for making new friends and growing my faith and spiritual knowledge.
  3. Thinking about Clair pushed out the old memories of Lyn.  In some sense, that was good for me, but replacing old romantic thoughts with new ones is like paying off credit cards with other credit cards, which doesn’t work (or exist).  So I knew this was weird and probably not healthy for the mind and heart.

All of the above were thoughts that cycled through my head.  Think of one girl, like the other, conclude that this wasn’t wise and then flushed the thoughts and focused on school work.  Amidst this though, I wanted to be more social and get out more (despite having so much space in my dorm room). So I made efforts to go out, and if that meant another chance to see Clair to maybe get to know her more, all the better for me, right?  I’m all about the friendship first approach. As I got to know Clair better, I began to peg her as that girl.

  • That Girl – given a group, club, fellowship or church, there is often one girl that most, if not all, guys have their eyes set on with romantic intentions.  In addition to being attractive (or in some cases, the most attractive in the group), that girl often has a fun and outgoing personality to match it. This almost makes it so she is like a prize or trophy that said guys want to achieve by winning her over.  Whether or not that girl is aware of their status, it is up to them to use or abuse this position of power. It should be noted that it is not necessarily her fault, it’s mainly a matter of the circumstances she happens to be in.

When I realized this, I took a couple steps back.  Reason one being I didn’t want to be just another “suitor” and reason two, maybe it would give time for the other guys to potentially mess up.  As much as my mentor told me if I’m interested to just ask her out on a casual date to get drinks or something, I decided to take a slower approach.  I think I figured if anything, I had all year to make something happen. I wasn’t in a committed pursuit either, I was just seizing opportunities as I saw them.

Winter break came along and I had prepared a Christmas present for Lyn.  Initially this was a “look, I’m still trying to be your friend because I know that’s what you want” type of thing.  But In just a quarter, I felt like I had grown up a lot. Dropped some weight, started taking relevant programming classes, was discipled, was eating better. Feeling bold, I added a short note to that present, essentially saying this song.

I followed up with that when we had another of our for-the-sake-of-friendship hangouts.  Our hangout ended with us sitting on a rooftop of a nearby school (because I like high places I guess).  As I found that to be a pretty good hangout session, I couldn’t help but feel infatuated by Lyn again. With the magic of Christmas in the air and feeling like I was in a good spot in life, I took my mentor’s advice and just asked her out confidently, and with purpose.  Note that I wasn’t initiating getting back together, but just a date. And if she was cool with it, maybe we could follow that up with more.

To my dismay, her answer was “I don’t know”.  Confused, we spent a reasonable amount of time talking it out.  We were pretty transparent with one another, admitting that we still had a non-zero amount of feelings for each other.  Oddly enough, I even brought up Clair by saying that there was another girl out there that interests me. It wasn’t meant to be some form of an ultimatum, but more of a “am I wasting our time here?”.  Lyn explained that now was not the best time for her as she was getting more involved and busy at school. But we agreed that we would try, starting with a couple phone calls a week to get reacquainted, even scheduling the first one at the start of winter quarter.

Sadly, I had the hardest time getting a hold of her.  I would call a couple times and it would go to her voicemail.  When she finally called me back, we only really chatted for 5 minutes before she needed to go again.  After a few more attempts, it would be nothing but voicemail, and that’s when I threw in the towel. She truly was busy and I didn’t want to impede her.

With some time, I slowly turned my attention to Clair.

HIMMW: A Bumpy Road Ahead

Disclaimer: This is one of many stories of how I met my wife, substituting real names for fictional ones from the Fire Emblem series.  If you happen to know who I’m talking about, I ask that you respect these stories and keep any comments or names to yourself. Thanks!

After breaking up with Lyn, I slogged through the rest of freshman year.  Peppered into a couple of those weekends were instances where Lyn would want to hang out.  They weren’t dates, rather something casual like grabbing a drink as friends. This was her way of keeping in touch and staying friend, and so I told myself that I would hang out with her for the sake of our friendship and history, despite how it tugged at certain still-aching heart strings.  To my credit, I was pretty good at not being weird about it.

When Summer came around and the school year finally ended, I took a good look in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw.  So, like many newly single guys, I looked to take my frustrations out through exercise and activity. As much as I tried to exercise, I wasn’t very disciplined at it (yet).  Caleb and I would bike and swim, but our desire to look like Matt eventually died out.

There would be a moment where I would get reacquainted with a high school friend during that Summer.  It was one of those planned group hangouts that quickly devolved into just us two. We innocently talked about our respective break ups that day and I basically took it as an opportunity to be a rebound.  I think I turned a little creepy as I started texting her more, but thankfully I didn’t try too hard; she ignored me for the most part and nothing else happened.

Serving in church and going on missions trips helped keep my spiritual life and emotions in check.  Because in the very back on my mind, I knew and acknowledged that there is more to this life than having a girlfriend.  Acts of service is my love language after all, so helping others helped me focus on things that mattered.

In the middle of Summer break, there would be an instance where Lyn would initiate getting back together, but it would fall apart within hours as I unearthed some hatchets.  I’ll take the blame for this one. I think she thought I was ready and/or had changed, but I was still immature.

When Summer came to a close, I vowed to myself that sophomore year would be different.  I would actually go to the gym. I will give the campus fellowship one more chance. I will eat better.  I will study harder. For further context and readings, it was around here where I started to develop my discipline and where WQ sought discipleship.

There was an air of uneasiness as I moved in to the dorms again.  A new school year, a new outlook and a (hopefully) renewed Josh. I was set to move in with my friend Brandyn and we were pleased to discover that we were given the super triple.  Previously, we lived in a dormitory that was dated and had oblong shaped rooms that made it so sharing a space with two other guys felt very cramped.  Moving into this new dormitory was already an upgrade, so this was even better. The super triple was a room that was converted from a laundry room, and there was so much space for activities.

Things were looking up and school hadn’t even started yet.  I finished filling out the moving day paperwork and was waiting to get my keys when I saw someone round the corner and walk towards me to exchange a quick “hi”.  It was Clair.

And I would come to find that she would be living in the same building and on the same floor.

“Yup, it’s going to be a good year.”

HIMMW: Highs and Lows, Oh the Woes

Disclaimer: This is one of many stories of how I met my wife, substituting real names for fictional ones from the Fire Emblem series.  If you happen to know who I’m talking about, I ask that you respect these stories and keep any comments or names to yourself. Thanks!

Some people say that when you’re dating someone, you gain super powers and you feel like you can conquer anything.  I think it’s pretty true, for the rest of high school went smoothly knowing that I had Lyn.

We experienced our fair share of ups and downs, some fights here and there, some arguments about petty things, lots of laughter and good moments.  Whatever thing we had felt strong, and it empowered me with this weird confidence.

You would think that we would go to high school dances together, but we didn’t.  It would have been a perfect opportunity to essentially be on a date under some amount of adult supervision and with a group of friends.  But in addition to the “you do NOT love anyone” talk my mom gave me, she also said that I am not allowed to go to school dances with girls from church.  Her reasoning? Because then there would be one less girl at school that wouldn’t have a dance date, and maybe I should ask them instead. You can’t make this stuff up. Upon further reflection, I’m pretty sure my mom just didn’t like Lyn.  We would eventually be able to go to one together, not before jumping over a dozen hurdles.

About halfway through senior year, we would take on the label of boyfriend and girlfriend, mainly to stave off all the guys that were preying on her at school.  It wasn’t really something we went public about. Maybe out of habit we felt the need to keep things secret still, even though everyone knew there was something between us by now.  We would graduate high school, happy that we made it. But we would be going to separate colleges very far from each other. I think every high school relationship secretly hopes to be that 0.01% that lasts after high school and withstands the test of distance and time.

Getting a handle on college is tough enough; pair that with a long distance relationship and it complicates things.  On the surface, we thought it would be more of the same. That is, more instant messaging, phone calls, and now, the luxury of texting. But it wouldn’t be enough, even with some weekends and holidays where we would both come back home and see each other.  Our lack of immaturity showed as things slowly fell apart.

The tipping point? I was trying to turn over a new leaf, forcing myself to sleep 8-9 hours and to have better study habits.  Which meant that I aimed to sleep at 10pm the night before any 8am classes (so I could wake up at 6:30, have breakfast and ample time to get to class).  Which meant that on the eve of our 3 year anniversary of when we first admitted our feelings for each other, I refused to call her at midnight for a celebratory chat.  And even though I ended up setting an alarm, waking up and calling her anyway, it would spark a fight that would prove to be one too many.

A couple conversations later and she would ask if we could take a break for an arbitrary amount of time.  Young and naive, I thought that could mean as little as two weeks or a month, so I agreed.

Even though we were “on a break”, she still wanted to keep in contact.  She wanted to continue having sparse phone calls at night and that was very weird for me.  While I was trying to focus on myself, she was trying to maintain our long friendship, and I wasn’t ready for that.  During this time, I sometimes found myself frustrated, which sometimes led to anger, which would lead me to take it out on her.  All of that solidified the fact that I was not the “man” she wanted, but still just a boy. So when things moved to full break up just a week before Valentine’s day, my life went to shambles.

The last 3 or so years of my life had been centered around Lyn, and just like that, it was over.  I didn’t shut down, but I was still sad, mad and heartbroken. A word invented by Taylor and my brother to describe this emotional state is “zemo”.  No longer as confident in my own abilities, I set out to somehow finish off freshman year of college.

HIMMW: Technical Difficulties

Disclaimer: This is one of many stories of how I met my wife, substituting real names for fictional ones from the Fire Emblem series.  If you happen to know who I’m talking about, I ask that you respect these stories and keep any comments or names to yourself. Thanks!

Great!  We liked each other; I was so confused and happy at the same time.  Apparently, Lyn lied to me because she thought I was an irrelevant crush to her.

I remember the first time she called me.  There were butterflies in my stomach as we moved our conversations from instant messaging to phone calls.  Responsibly, our talks were always past 9pm as to not use up any precious minutes of our families’ phone plan.  But, now what?

There’s a lot of variables to understand before you see the way we moved forward in this relationship:

Sunday school, the opportunity to teach about love and dating was too good to pass up, so the whole month of February was dedicated to teaching us high schoolers about it.  The book our Sunday School teachers chose to teach out of was “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, a book about taking an extremely conservative approach to dating and about guarding your heart.  A book so extreme the author has since apologized for his mistakes. There are some good principles and takeaways, but it certainly made it feel like the first person you date should probably be the person you want to marry.  A concept that makes sense, but not really practical.  Lyn and I agreed that we didn’t want to just jump into a relationship.  All too often did we see our classmates in school start dating and have things fall apart within a few months.

Early on, my mom told me that i shouldn’t date in high school because it’s probably a bad idea.  Well, I think that’s what she meant to say, but instead what came out of her mouth was “you DO NOT love anybody, okay!?” (I’m not even joking).  I once said something in passing, like “I love mama’s fried rice” and she exploded at me because she thought I said I “loved” a girl. In addition, my mom believed that boys and girls should not hang out in equal numbers, because then it would be considered a date (or multiple dates as once).  To take it a step further, she used to tell me that it’s best if there are more guys than girls when I hang out. All this to say that my parents would not be supportive of this. So whatever happens, things needed to be low key and/or as much as possible, a secret.

Many of you know me to be an obedient person, but as much as I wanted to respect my parent’s wishes for me not to pursue anyone, it was hard.  They had pretty much the same conversation with my younger sister, but she still found a boy she liked and aggressively and rebelliously dated him.  On the other side of the spectrum, my parents so easily approved of my brother dating a non-Christian girl in college. Not a huge deal, but it was weird how easily that was approved or not denied by my parents.  Everything aside, it just felt like they were being super hard on me but unfairly lenient to my siblings. It didn’t help that my sister felt the need to point out any sort of female interactions I had (with any girl, not just Lyn).  It only further exacerbated my mom’s stance on how I am “NOT allowed to love anyone”.

With all of this, it was clear that we wanted and needed secrecy.  I didn’t really talk about it with my friends in fear of any sort of judgement or opinions.  My parents made it clear that there wouldn’t be an air of openness to this. After that month of learning about “dating”, church made it feel taboo.  Yes, people would eventually catch on and word can travel fast, but we didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. It’s not like we were openly holding hands and sneaking away to be alone together, but I guess people noticed I stopped teasing her and instead was being nice to her.  Anyway, I liked this girl and in my simple thinking and small world, she was quite the find. So, I wanted to pursue her correctly, whatever that meant.

So where did that leave us?  After lots of discussion, prayer and thinking, we agreed to seek advice from the holiest fellowship counselor we knew.  [Name omitted because he is so humble, he hates it when people refer to him as holy]

We told him everything and asked him “what do we do?”.  He basically validated our thinking and agreed that we should not enter a relationship, but said that maybe with some time, this can become something.  He concluded by praying a prayer of blessing over us; which included a sentence along the lines of “LORD, maybe You will make something happen for them in like 10 years from now.”

After that meeting with unnamed counselor, we agreed that we would not be boyfriend and girlfriend.  Instead, we would continue being good friends that liked each other, chatting via instant messenger and phone calls after 9pm.  It sounds like something written by Nickelodeon, but that’s what we rolled with.

HIMMW: Feelings, Poetry and Other Stuff

Disclaimer: This is one of many stories of how I met my wife, substituting real names for fictional ones from the Fire Emblem series.  If you happen to know who I’m talking about, I ask that you respect these stories and keep any comments or names to yourself. Thanks!

In our fellowship, our theme for the year was “No Borders”.  It was perfect for my grade, since we had spent so many years embracing the natural gender divide.  It was monumental at winter retreat when we collectively decided to make more attempts to interact with the opposite gender.  It was pretty cool to be normal; sitting together at meals and teaching the girls how to play the numerous card games we knew of.  Additionally, it was nice to get to know the youth group as a whole. Truly, our borders were broken down.

The Sunday after retreat ended, we tried to have lunch as a grade.  Imagine trying to organize 20+ hungry high schoolers as a high schooler, let alone finding a place to fit everyone.  When we decided on a place, Lyn volunteered to go ahead and reserve some tables before the lunch rush beat us. Not wanting to stay behind to deal with the stragglers, I volunteered to go with her.  And so did Matt. And weirdly enough, I felt slightly disappointed by that. A missed opportunity to have a short one on one time? I shook it off, there was grade lunch to focus on.

Winter break ended and school resumed.  For the next couple of weeks, I kept catching myself daydreaming about Lyn in a romantic sense.

Within the past few months, I had gotten to know the better side of her in small group and over small conversations here and there.  Our jokes and teasing with one another had turned more playful. Whatever animosity I had against her before was gone. All good things, but where did these romantic feelings come from?  A logical being, I traced my thoughts back to that one moment at retreat. Her kindness and care were the tipping points. An irrelevant crush? No, this was a real crush that I couldn’t shake off, but I didn’t want that to ruin our budding friendship.

As you know, I learned a lot about poetry in 9th grade and my friends and I were above average at writing poems.  So one Saturday morning, I decided to channel my feelings into a poem.  Writing it made me feel better and less love struck. Despite some forced rhymes and cheesy lines, I was pleased with my final product.  I was so proud of it, that I posted it to MySpace and Xanga, where it actually got some nice comments from my peers and whatever the equivalent of “likes” where.

Other than for the validation of others, I posted it with a small hope that maybe Lyn will read it and think it’s her.  You see, I had a hunch that she liked me too. The ways we interacted, I couldn’t help but think there was something there.  Then again, what did I know as a sophomore in high school?

Anyway, it happened.  Lyn and I would have the occasional conversation on AIM and our friendship had grown enough where I wouldn’t act dumb and/or lie to her.  So when she asked me who that poem was about, I kind of froze. As much as I wanted to have this conversation, I did not anticipate having it so soon.  I had some perception of if I told her I liked her and the feeling wasn’t mutual, then our friendship and small group might be weird. I avoided the question a little bit until I finally caved in and told her how I felt about her.  Here I am wearing my heart on my sleeve telling a girl that I like her behind the safety of instant messenger, but I was so nervous that I almost threw up.

Of course, she told me she didn’t like me and there was the “let’s not be weird” talk.  But when you’re 15, sometimes you just can’t help it. I recall passing by her the following Sunday; our eyes met and I sadly looked away as we walked by each other.  That Sunday night I would get a message from her. We talked about how I was being weird and distant, and I apologized, but what was I supposed to do? I felt so dumb for writing that poem and for telling her.  I could have waited for an opportune moment. I could have said things differently.

As all these negative thoughts filled my head, that’s when Lyn told me she actually liked me this whole time.