Read part 3 here The fall semester of my junior year brought a lot of change - the severing of my relationship with ex-boyfriend, & the tender beginnings of my relationship with Russ.
I'm not quite sure how everything started - I just remember one day not talking with him online, and before I knew it, our nightly chats had become expected & something I looked forward to all day. I was still incredibly cautious. I remember my mom telling me she didn't want me to become jaded - someone who almost expected to not find love again. I wasn't there...yet. But I had given up on any sort of relationship for awhile.
At the beginning, our conversations were centered on getting to know each other all over again. He introduced me to Superchic[k] - I introduced him to Chevelle. He told me Only Hope by Switchfoot reminded him of me, & that he preferred Miles over Coltrain. I told him I hadn't touched a cola bong in two years.
The most important transformation during this time was my heart. Every time I spoke with Russ, something inside of me woke up - suddenly I realized everything I had let go while dating ex-boyfriend. If I could pin-point a moment where God whispered in my heart: hey! wake up. pay attention. look around you. something needs to change & I am going to use you - this is it. All of the dreams I once had about being used & being uncomfortable & letting go of the American Dream came rushing back with a ferocity I couldn't ignore. Something was happening. Every time I prayed - Russ came to mind. Every time I sought the Lord about where he wanted me - a flutter in my heart of nervous expectation would startle me to action. I argued with God a lot during that time period. Not because I didn't have feelings for Russ - because, well...I did. Strong feelings. Different feelings than I had ever experienced before. But, the whole "getting your heart dragged through mud & then broken... " thing kind of hinders a lot of emotional trust. And it wasn't just about Russ, either. It was during these few months that God re-awakened my desire for worship, reminded me of my passion for writing, and began planting seeds in my heart that would sprout into full blown dreams within a few years.
But, despite my feelings for Russ - despite my willingness to take risks in other areas - to say I was hesitant with my heart is a huge understatement.
For example. Christmas came & I went home. Russ & I continued our conversations at night & he mentioned me stopping by to see him on the way back. I agreed. At least, I told him I would try. We were planning on meeting for lunch on my way through to Shawnee. When the day came for me to head back for J-term classes, I got in my car & drove straight through to Shawnee. I sped through Belton, my heart racing, not wanting to take a chance or risk letting my feelings show. In a drive that should have taken about eight hours - including stops - I made record time in six hours. No stops. No opportunity to second guess my decision & turn around. Later that night I made an excuse about needing to get back for girls who were going to be at the dorm, but the truth was, I had the Kerr dorm to myself that night. I had never been so scared to jump in to a relationship before. I knew that's where this was headed. I knew the chemistry was there. I felt it - even though I hadn't even spoken to him on the phone. I knew. And I was scared spitless.
The whole thing started escalating in January. He was still on break - I was in classes for the month of January. It was during this month we dreamed together, laughed together, he counseled me & encouraged me to continue to let go of ex-boyfriend-that not every guy is a tool. Not every guy is looking for selfish ways to pursue a girl. One day, I would meet someone who would treat my heart with the utmost respect & humility.
I knew I had already found him.
I did. By the end of January, I was totally smitten - but still pulled in different directions. I felt pure peace when considering allowing Russ to pursue me - I knew he was just waiting for cues - but at the same time, I was still absolutely terrified of opening up my heart. One evening after talking to Russ in HD's room (we often had conversations with him while the other person was watching - you know - typical girl reconnaissance that really isn't so inconspicuous) I had a sudden urge to go back to my room & pray.
It was that night I purged myself of the past. Praying, I knew without a doubt God was telling me to move forward. To forget about what had happened before & to trust that He knew what was best for me. He brought back to mind what my best friend had said the night boyfriend had broken up with me - and it was this night He told me I had just found the person who had been running with me the whole time.
With tears of excitement & emotions I couldn't yet express, I grabbed a huge trashcan out of the hallway & started throwing everything away that dealt in any way to ex-boyfriend. Stuffed animals, notes, cards, jewelry, movie stubs, notes/cards from other people who we both were close to, clothes I had stolen from him over the course of two years & clothes I had bought simply because he liked them on me..everything.
I filled the entire trashcan.
When I was done - I felt a weight lift. Literally. A burden I didn't even know I had was gone & in it's place was an incredible peace & calm. I knew I wasn't totally finished, though. I called my two best friends on campus - HD & Daree - & asked them to come up to my room because I had something for them. While I waited, I grabbed all of the pictures which included ex-boyfriend/ex-boyfriend & me. When they showed up at my door, they looked at the trashcan, and then at me, questioning. I told them it was simple - I had held on for too long. Letting go was long overdue, & although I had thrown everything I could away, I thought they would want to help with something else. I gave them the pictures, asking them to get rid of them in whatever fashion they deemed necessary. The glint in their eyes was priceless - and as they turned around to complete their sudden project, I knew I had done something right.
I walked back to my desk & started writing. Within minutes, a message popped up on my screen:
"I hear you did a bit of spring cleaning tonight."
I smiled. He knew. I found out later HD had returned to her room before taking care of the pictures to let Russ know what I was doing - and how significant it was - but at the time, I just assumed she had been the birdie who whispered in his ear.
"Yeah." I responded. "It's time. I've held on too long & God really just showed me He has so much better waiting for me. I've learned this past month you can't ever take a step forward without letting go of the baggage keeping you from moving."
It was quiet for awhile, and I wondered what he was doing - if he was talking with HD (she really was quite the wing-woman) or if he was just reflecting on what I was saying. When he finally responded, my heart gave wings & started to fly.
"So...can I call you?"
I started giggling like a little school girl - alone - staring at my laptop - I blushed ten shades of red & tried to quiet the butterflies going crazy in my chest. Instantly, a memory wheel started playing scenes I had forgotten.
The cola bong. The hugs. The not so obvious avoidance. The heartbreak. The step of faith.
Everything I had been through - the roller coaster of life I had chosen for myself over the past few months - the mistakes I made & the regrets I had - these meant nothing in comparison to what God had offered me.
I told him yes, he could call me; I had about three minutes before I heard the phone ring. My heart jumped & I took a deep breath. It sounds absolutely ridiculous - but I still remember his voice at that moment. It was absolutely beautiful - and incredibly shaky.
"Hey! Wow. I haven't heard your voice in years...it's nice."
I smiled. It was a new beginning....
(to be continued)