I deleted Matt’s call from the caller ID, and determined that I would make no mention of it to Sarah or anyone else. The secret was both a burden and a pleasure; it was dangerous and thrilling all at the same time. Our two apartments continued to do some things together, initiated by our unknowing roommates. I felt badly for Matt in those circumstances because he now recognized that he had previously unintentionally encouraged Sarah, and he struggled to politely distance himself so that he would not continue to misrepresent himself to her. Sometimes he would arrive a couple hours after his roommates did and stay only briefly. We would exchange glances and quick understanding and try to seem as casual and normal as we possibly could. Maria was the only one who knew, so she was helpful when conversations or attentions needed to be redirected.
One Sunday night, after Ward Prayer, we invited Matt and his roommate to ride around with us and listen to some of our fun, latin music. I sat in the back next to Matt and we drove around and laughed and all talked together until midnight. Now that I watched him through new eyes, I knew that I did like him, but I was still resolved to stand by my decision. At one point in that conversation, Matt mentioned the difficulty he was having in making a decision about a job change. He had prayed about it, but didn’t feel he had a clear answer. I told him I loved a quote by Brigham Young that talked about how the Lord is bound to bless us when we make a choice and act in faith even after our prayers seem to go unanswered. He liked the quote and I mentioned I could give him a copy of it. At the end of the night, we exchanged email addresses.
The next day I emailed him from my office on campus and sent him a copy of the quote. That began a covert exchange of emails that went back and forth. He wrote that he was fascinated with me. Because of the way situation began, we were kind of forced to be very honest with each other from the start, and I found myself being much more bold than I normally would be. I started to feel really attracted to him, and wished that we could do things together. I had no Internet at our apartment, so I could hardly wait for the chance to go up on campus and check my email. When there was a note from Matt, I was so excited that I was almost dizzy. He would ask over and over again, “Can I take you out yet?,” and I would answer over and over again, “Not yet.”
Sarah, I think, had noticed a difference in his behavior and began to question his interest. She talked about it a lot, the way any of us who have been part of a confusing relationship would do. It was very hard to listen to, not in a selfish way, but because I knew more about his feelings than she did. Finally one day, when she mentioned something about him maybe just wanting to be her “buddy” or something, I seized the moment to influence her perspective. I sincerely wanted to protect her, and I spoke as honestly and non-specifically as I could. “I think he might be interested in someone else.” “Really? Why?” “Well, when we talked last week, he mentioned that he liked someone and that he had asked her out for that Saturday.” It was true. He did like someone. And he did ask her out. I didn’t feel like it was necessary to mention it was me. She was disappointed and felt and expressed discouragement over the next few days. It was a hard time for me, too, because I felt indirectly responsible for her hurt feelings, but I was earnestly praying the whole time to handle things the right way. My entire decision had been based upon trying to preserve her friendship and protect her feelings. I did the best I could to do the right thing.
And the days and weeks went past.
One Saturday, Matt called and I answered the phone. This was four weeks after his initial phone call. He asked what I was doing, and I told him I was studying for one of my exams and working on grading and my thesis. He wanted me to come to his house. I said no, that I needed to study. “Come study here.” I paused. “I can’t.” He told me that if I had to study, it didn’t matter where I did it. I said, “If I go, I am really going to study. That’s what I’ll do.” He agreed. I said goodbye to roommates and told them I was headed out to work on my thesis and grading. I felt a little weak in the knees– part nervous, part excited, part guilty, and part adventurous.
I sat in his living room and did my studies. Matt sat in his bedroom and worked on his own assignments. This went on for three or four hours. When I felt burnt out, I walked to his bedroom door to tell him I thought I was done. We started to talk. We asked each other questions. We discussed the strange sequence of events that seemed to have brought us together. We shared some scriptures and thoughts together and it was a real spiritual experience. I felt comfortable and at peace. He told me about his life story and conversion. It was amazing. We moved back out to the living room and sat on the couch. He turned on ESPN and I put my head on his shoulder. He smelled good, and he held my hand, and it just felt so comfortable and happy. I drifted off to sleep until I heard his roommate come home, and I got up to leave. Ten hours had passed since I arrived at noon. He gave me a hug goodbye when I left and I knew that something big was happening.
The next day I was scheduled to meet my brothers at a fireside devotional at the Marriott Center. I told him where we would be if he wanted to join us. He held my hand there, and my brothers gave him the evil eye. When it was over he walked me to my car and we had a discussion about how it was important to trust in the Lord and not fear. He knew I had plans to leave in April (less than three months away) and then possibly pursue a Ph.D. in the Fall. He said he was scared about that. We made plans to do several things together. I honestly felt the Spirit every time we were together and, at this point, I just knew that I was supposed to date him. He kissed me before I left.
I had a lot of things I needed to decide and figure out. I knew what I needed to do, but the details were fuzzy. When I got home that night, I opened the door and saw Sarah sitting on the couch. She was tapping a pencil up and down on a notebook that was sitting on her lap. She looked up at me through narrowed eyes and said, “How stupid do you think I am?”
Coming next…. Chapter 5: The Confrontation