There’s something you need to know about me. I hate conflict. I was blessed to be raised in home that, other than the normal bickering of siblings, was anger-free. I was never accustomed to yelling, rage, or even heated argument. In short, any ambiance of discord literally made me feel ill. My throat would tighten, I’d feel a knot in my stomach, and my guts would squirm. I was the child in elementary school who, when two boys would fight on the playground and other children would watch and chant “Fight! Fight! Fight!,” would yell, “Stop it! Stop!” and run into the circle and try to pull them apart. I couldn’t stand it. So this, the present, was my most dreaded moment.
I blurted out, “I don’t think you’re stupid. I don’t think you’re stupid at all.”
To be honest, my emotions ran so high that I remember very few details of the following conversation. I remember she began by asking questions, and we went to her room and closed the door. I remember we both cried. A lot. She felt hurt by my secret, and offended that I thought she’d be mad at me if she knew. I swore to her up and down that her friendship had been my top priority from day one, and that I had been so concerned about handling the whole situation the right way that I prayed constantly, and I did it all the best way I knew how. Up until the past two days, I had not allowed myself to do anything with him at all. For four weeks. I explained that from the moment he asked me out I had a feeling that maybe I should date him, but I did not want to compromise our friendship. And only as those feelings became more and more intense did I realize that I had a huge choice to make. I was so, so sorry about how the whole mess made her feel, but I really, really thought I was supposed to give this a chance, and neither Matt nor I felt like it would be right to not see each other.
This was one of the hardest things I had ever done in my life. The weight of it all pressed my emotions and my strength. I was almost limp, and it felt like some of my heart had collapsed on itself. Yes, she was embarrassed about the blatant fact that Matt didn’t like her and he liked me instead, but that wasn’t what her pained reaction was about. She felt humiliated by the secrecy, but even more than that, I think it was the last straw on the camel’s back of a long line of social disappointments. I knew what that felt like. We were the same age and had both struggled through fruitless relationships and tried to maintain some faith that maybe something would eventually work out. I think this one disappointment was the limit for her; she hit the wall, and at least for the moment, felt a loss of hope. I wished I could make it better, but I couldn’t. As I went to bed, I could hear her sobbing through my bedroom wall for most of the night. It was horrible.
The next day, I was exhausted in body, mind and spirit. I told a few close friends about what had happened and I continued to cry. I avoided my apartment because I didn’t want to cause her any more pain. At night I drove to Matt’s work. We sat in the empty cafeteria and I spilled out my heart, and the tears kept coming. He held my hand and listened and tried to comfort me. It helped. I had slept five hours total in the last three nights and I’d lost seven pounds in a week, so I was really worn down, but he was so kind and concerned about me, and it made me remember why the whole crazy thing was worth it. He reassured me of the things we had already discussed; We both continued to feel that God wanted us to be together. I told him there would still need to be a waiting period out of consideration for her feelings; I had no intention of rubbing anything in her face. Although he wouldn’t agree to leave me alone, he conceded that it would be right to be considerate and discreet.
I believe that it was the very next day that Sarah called me downstairs as she arrived home from work. We went into the sitting room off the main entrance and she closed the french doors. “I need to tell you something.” There was the knot in my stomach again. I swallowed hard. “Today while I was at work, I kept thinking about you and Matt, and a feeling of peace came over me. I want you to know that I think you should date him, and I’m sincerely excited for you.” I stared at her dubiously. “I’m totally serious,” she said, “You guys need to date. I’m fine with it.”
Coming next…. Chapter 6: The Providence