Shortly after fall break, my dorm room began hosting a Bible study. It started with just a few of us, but soon, more started coming. And of course, my friend had invited those two guys whose dorm room I had practically invaded. After the Bible studies, everyone would usually hang out in my room, and our Bible study group quickly became my core friend group. At first, I did not notice Nate too much. He was hilarious, that was still true, and always had me laughing. But other than that, he was just one of the friends in the group.
However, something started changing. As I got to know him more while hanging out with the group, I began noticing him more. I remember the first time I noticed him as more than a friend. We were all hanging out after Bible study, as usual, and we decided to go to this little island nearby that had a good spot for star-gazing. As my friend and I were walking along this path with a small river beside it, Nate came up behind me and pretended to push me in the river. Of course, he had my arm and I did not actually fall in, but my heart still was beating fast. Mostly due to the fact that I thought I was actually going to fall in. At least that's what I told myself. The real reason for my heart beating so fast was because of the guy who "pushed" me and was standing so close to me. We kept walking and there was a very muddy area that looked like you would sink right in if you stepped in it. So of course, being the smart person that I am, accepted a challenge by Nate to see who can take the most steps in it and make it the deepest. Now, only the feeling of liking someone would cause me to do this in my expensive, white sneakers that I was wearing (mind you, they are still dirty to this day because of this moment, never to be recovered). I honeslty have no remembrance of who won the challenge, but I remember one thing: this was the night were it all began for me. When I went to sleep that night, I thought about our time together and how much fun I had. But I brushed it off as just having a good time with a friend and very much ignored the feelings that I had felt.
This went on for a little while. I began checking how I looked before Bible study, knowing that Nate would be there. I would get excited when he finally arrived at my dorm or when he sat next to me. I would want to ride in his car when we went on group outings. And yet I would not face the fact that I was beginning to like him. My friends would ask me about him, and I said I did not like him like that. I used to read teen romances where the girl would not acknowledge the fact that she liked someone until the end, and it was like a big revelation to her when she admitted her feelings to herself. And I always used to roll my eyes and think, "How unrealistic, you obviously know when you like someone." But now I understand, and it's real!
I began to hear rumors from my friends that he liked me, but I thought they were false rumors. I was quite oblivious, when he literally did things like tossing me a friend's inhaler and saying "You take my breath away." I just assumed he was joking, or rather I couldn't accept the fact that he would actually like me. But one day, I knew it was true because I heard it from Nate himself. That's what it took for me to believe it. I remember sitting in class, having a perfectly normal day, when I received a text from Nate. This was strange because we normally did not talk one on one, and we never texted. The text said something along the lines about how we had both been hearing rumors and it would be nice for us to meet and get things straight. I read this text and started freaking out. I had to go to the bathroom and was in there for like, 15 minutes, trying to type back a good response. We agreed to meet at the school's student center later that day, and I cannot even describe how nervous I was. I honestly had no idea how this was going to go.
My heart was beating intensely as I walked to the student center. I came in and found where he was sitting, and walked over to him. His friend who he had been eating with left as I got there, and then it was awkwardly just the two of us. I sat down across from him and let him lead the conversation. He put himself out there and admitted that he was interested in getting to know me better, which was a very brave thing to do. And you know what I told him? That I didn't like him! I know, I know, I was very stupid. That would have been the perfect opportunity to face my feelings and put everything out there. But no, I was stubborn and scared to face the fact that I actually liked someone who liked me back. The real possibility of dating someone scared me, and so I hid from my feelings. But I told him that he was a nice guy and that I would give him a chance and get to know him a little more. I did not sound very hopeful though, and I told myself that I was just giving him a chance because he was a nice guy. I was so oblivious, or rather ignorant, of my feelings and continued to push them aside for quite a while.
As the months before winter break passed, Nate and I began hanging out quite often. We would get together somewhere on campus and get to know each other. We always got into quite long, deep conversations about our faith, dreams for our futures, and everything else. I even missed a mandatory hall meeting once because we were so caught up in conversation (don't worry, I didn't get in trouble). Things never felt awkward after that day we met at the student center, and our times and conversations together always flowed naturally. And he really began pursuing me. He would always open doors for me, get me medicine when I was sick, compliment me in the sweetest ways, and treat me to desserts that I wanted (let's be real, this is what really pulled me in). I had never had a guy so openly pursue me and treat me so well, and it made me feel so special. He gave me confidence in myself that I had never had before. And then winter break came. I knew by this point that I felt differently about him in a way I had never felt about anyone before.
It was the last day before I was going home for winter break, and Nate and I had an "update on feelings" talk. He confessed that his feelings were getting stronger, and you know what I said?
That I DIDN'T LIKE HIM. Go ahead, smack your head at how stupid I was. While I knew I felt differently about him, I did not exactly know how to face and explain my feelings. I did not feel how I had felt in the past with other crushes, and I thought maybe that meant I didn't like him as more than a friend. But really, I had just never experienced those deep feelings for anyone before, and was at a loss for how to deal with them. I said I was still willing to talk, but I felt awful for saying no again and did not think he would stick around.
But for some reason that I will never understand, Nate still decided to hang in there and give me my time. He never pushed me to date him or made me feel bad for my confusing feelings. Instead, he was the most patient man as he waited for me to figure out my feelings. And that month that we were apart, I came to some deep realizations. We took a short break from talking so that I could seriously think about my feelings, something I had been avoiding from the start. And as I sat down and really thought about things, I finally began to admit my feelings to myself. That time spent away from him made me realize how much I cared for him, and as I sought God's help and guidance, He really began revealing things to me. He gave me peace about the whole situation, and after talking a bit more over break, I finally knew how I felt about Nate. I began to slowly admit my feelings to Nate, and when we came back together after break, I was finally ready to say yes.
Looking back, even though I can now acknowledge how silly I was in hiding from my feelings, I know it all worked out in God's timing. Those months of us just talking and getting to know each other really set us up for a serious, intentional dating period in which we already knew each other pretty well. By the time we decided to start dating, we already knew each other's goals, dreams, and beliefs. And as we set up our relationship with Christ at the center, we quickly realized our future together. It's amazing how quickly I realized I loved him considering how long it took me to admit even liking him!
Looking back on our story, it really reminds me of the importance of turning to God and following His guidance. I was lost and confused on my own, but as I took time to really seek the Lord and His plan for me, I quickly became at peace and knew what to do. I encourage you to seek the Lord in times of confusion, and He will make your path straight.
I love you, Nate, and I cannot wait to see what else the Lord does in our lives as we are beginning to live our lives together as one.
Oh, one more thing. There was one more thing that made me sure Nate was the one for me, because it showed he could put up with my awkwardness. It was something I never realized until a while after we started dating. Remember the guy from that networking orientation, the one I talked about the weather with?
Yeah, that was Nate.