Three days prior to this moment I finally went to the doctor and he gave me less than stellar news about my foot. He proceeded to place me on rest and ban me from work. That night I went to a Fourth of July party where I was told about this guy I needed to meet. The chances seemed very slim so a running joke was made about my “boyfriend” who was busy saving little children in Nicaragua. That same night I was invited to be a leader at a youth camp in Daytona Beach. The doctor said no sand and no water, so the only logical answer was yes.
Six hours prior to this moment, I walk down to the hotel lobby to eat breakfast with all the camp people, and I was quickly informed that my “boyfriend” was actually on his way and I would be meeting him shortly. I’m pretty sure my given middle name is awkward, and that immediately began to show through. I just kept saying, “I don’t know what to do with my hands.”
The moment arrives and I see him walk through the foyer. I am keeping cool, calm, and collected, and hiding behind friends and strangers. He came close and I ran away. I would like to say that I was trying to play hard to get, but no, I’m just not that smooth. An hour later the whole group is sitting in the middle of thousands of other youth students. Steph gives me a pep talk, and I man up and go introduce myself. It was a brief but kind introduction, and right when it was over I ditched for the second time. Needless to say I make one heck of a first impression.
But give me some grace (I heard someone say the other day, “Use your grace muscles, so I will from now on be stealing that), last week’s story had just begun to wrap up and I was emotionally drained. I said I had learned about being vulnerable with others about my heart, I was not, however, a pro. I had just learned that I could survive heartache and come out okay, I was in no way looking for that to happen again. This was probably the first time in my life that I was not looking for a guy. I had always heard it said, “The minute you stop looking, God sends Mr. Right in.” So I used to tell God, “Okay, I’m not looking. Bring him on.” He didn’t fall for it and I remained single up to this moment in the story. Now I’m pretty much over it, and walks in this guy.
Our timeline after that was pretty quick. Two weeks after that, we were dating, and I was beyond out of my element. I wanted a relationship, but I had no idea how to actually be in a healthy one. In the past, I was really good at playing games. It was part of my defense and self-protection. I remember calling a friend and telling her that for the first time ever, I didn’t have a move, and that scared me. I liked the control I thought that I maintained through self-protection. But really I was just isolating myself and not allowing myself to be truly known, which led to loneliness.
Not only was this relationship new, but right after we started dating, I went back up to school 6 hours away. If you have ever done long distance, you know the struggle is so real. The only form of intimacy available is communication, and I was not good at that. I was still learning how to speak and allow my voice and heart to be heard and known. A few months in, I remember a skype conversation where Matt had to literally say to me, “You know it is okay to like me.” Yes I was that bad. Poor guy. His patience surpasses most, and I’m over hear getting mad when he leaves the toilet seat up (which is fully warranted when I fall in…)
While long distance was one of the hardest things we did, for me, it was also one of the best. I had no choice but to risk. I was not guaranteed anything, but day by day I found freedom in risking my heart. For the first time, I felt known by another, and being known gave me that power and confidence to keep trying. It was, and still sometimes is a very slow process for me. There are times in the midst of hard conversations that I feel myself retreating back behind the walls that Matt had slowly pushed aside a little while ago. It’s a constant choice to risk and be known, and it can be painful at times. Not because people are cruel, but because people are people, and people are messy, oh and people aren’t perfect. That’s where a whole lot of grace comes in, and when grace is given and healing starts and relationship continues, I have found that I feel more free and more known.
I will say that there is a whole lot of wisdom that goes into risking. But I believe that wisdom and gentle nudges (or in my case, less gentle, but there are points that I do not know that I would have known a nudge if it was a punch in the head) are given, and that God provides the chances to risk. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Right before Matt, when my world was less than stellar, I will say that was one of the times I felt God the most. I was pissed at him, but I still felt the whole time that he was there, sad right with me. I felt a constant ‘just wait, I know what’s coming.’ Turned out he was right. Without that initial risk and the pain that came from that, I would have in no way been ready for the biggest risk I have ever taken.
It is a risk to love.
What if it doesn’t work out?
Ah darling, but what if it does.