It all started freshman year of college. That's me - on the left. I was 18 and had just started dating a guy from Oklahoma. It was around this time that my boyfriend admitted to me he wasn't a virgin. I was...devastated. You have to remember something. I was 18. And a virgin. And planning on staying a virgin until my wedding day, thankyouverymuch. And this...boy who I was falling in love with had just admitted one of my worst fears.
I wouldn't be his first.
We were pretty serious. Within four months of us dating we were already throwing around the "l" word & talking about marriage. I had started the school year pretty involved with campus activities & freshman groups - people knew who I was & I had a lot of friends. But slowly, my nights went from hanging out with the girls to sitting outside in the hallway talking on the phone long distance. It was during one of these conversations he confessed about sleeping with other girls but promised "he wasn't like that anymore." It...sent my naive & innocent heart into a whirlwind of questions & doubt & prayer. I had gone to a private school all but one year of my education, and besides a few of my classmates who had quickly gotten pregnant at or closely after graduation, pre-marital sex hadn't quite hit my radar yet.
Suddenly, purity within relationships became a primary focus for me. I couldn't shake this feeling that there was something I needed to learn from this situation...so I prayed & read the Bible & journaled. A lot. Finally, I sensed a release of anger towards my boyfriend. I then began to wonder...if I feel this used & betrayed towards someone who has my heart but isn't my husband...how does one feel in this situation who is actually getting married?
I wanted to tell other people it wasn't too late. I wanted to encourage others to wait. I wanted to encourage others to commit to lifelong purity for their future spouse. I didn't really know who to go to, so I sought out an older girl friend I knew on campus. We met for lunch & I shared my story & what I felt God was doing. I wanted to share with other girls what I had gone through. I wanted to minister to youth & people my age. I wanted them to know of God's grace.
"Hey, Tracy. I was wondering what you were doing the weekend after Valentines Day. I have a True Love Waits rally at my church & wanted to know if you could speak."
Tracy looked at me & smiled. I just sat there and bit my lip. I had met Russ before - briefly - in class. We had Success in Academics fall semester & aside from a misguided question meant for his best friend, we hadn't spoken much. It was now January, and we were in Psychology together, but again - we just knew the other person's face. What I wanted to do was totally interrupt the conversation & say "no but really...you want ME to speak." But I didn't. Somehow, I kept my mouth shut & waited for their conversation to end.
"Actually, Russ - I may have a Disciple Now already booked for that weekend, but I can check my calendar & get back with you."
My heart jumped. Literally. I remember it like it was yesterday. I seriously had to sit on my hands because I was so excited. Russ & Tracy talked for a little bit longer & then he waved goodbye & walked away.
Once he left, Tracy looked at me and asked, "if I have a D-Now that weekend, do you mind me giving Russ your name for that event?"
I smiled. "Absolutely not."
It took about two weeks for Russ to ask. I was waiting for chapel & he walked up to me and asked if I was Elora & if I would consider talking to his youth group about true love waits. I am pretty sure I looked foolish because of how excited I was, but it was one of the first times I experienced a tangible answer to prayer concerning ministry opportunities. I didn't even hesitate to say yes. He mentioned he would be getting back with me about when & where, and that was the extent of our conversation.
Come to find out, there were other plans in the works. Boyfriend came & surprised me for Valentines Day, and needed a place to stay.
Russ offered up his dorm room as a free hotel.
Later that week, after my emotions were back under control from the surprise visit, Russ called & confirmed plans for the event. He would come & pick up my roommate & I and take us to the church in Morgan's Point.
I don't remember much of what was said on the way to church, to be honest, I was getting nervous about speaking to a group of teenagers about a subject I really had no knowledge to pull from. But I trusted I was there for a reason, and prayed for words. The only thing I remember from that night is perhaps one of the most important of our story. At the end of my talk, I had the kids write a letter to their future spouse - something I had done before & encouraged them to do in order to develop a life long purity towards their future mate. I sat down & did the same thing. And even though I do not have the letter - it was lost somewhere in the freshman dorm abyss - I remember vividly the first line of the letter:
My love, I have no idea who you are. I may not even know you; you may be sitting in this room. But one thing is for sure, I already love you.
Looking back, it's as if my heart was trying to tell me something. You always hear hindsight is 20/20 - and there are moments of my life where I realize it was God nudging me to let go of boyfriend for something bigger - something grander & beautifully perfect. My friendship with Russ blossomed after this event. I still have the pink flier advertising "special guest speaker from UMHB" & Russ still has the thank you letter I wrote to him after he housed boyfriend during Valentines Day.
Because once again, I was completely oblivious to my surroundings.
Russ had already started falling for me.
...to be continued.