Chapter Fourteen: We’re in Love; Can’t We PLEASE Get Engaged?!
Boyfriend and I maintained a long-distance relationship for several more months. I’d known for a long time (you know, like since Freshman year) that I was in love with him, but didn’t want to be the first to say it. So we carried on, talking on the phone, talking online, emailing and even occasionally snail-mailing.
One day, he sent me a letter, and here is part of what he had to say:
Every day that passes, every email I send or receive, and every little thing that happens keeps confirming to me that my 6-year-long wait is over.
Remember how I said that a long time ago I asked God to cause it so that my next girlfriend would be my last? Well, I think He has honored that request, and one of the ways I know that what I feel toward you is not simply a “warm fuzzy” feeling that makes me feel good inside, but a deep desire to make your life a fulfilling one, and serve you, and do everything I can to help you be all of the woman that God would have you to be.
It’s not just a feeling that I enjoy, but something that is screaming to jump out of me into action. To me, that distinguishes everyone else’s sturgeo/eros/phileo from what I am more and more convinced is God’s true agape love.
So it is no small thing that I am saying “I love you.” Not like little kids on the playground, not like adolescents feeling their first hormonal high, but I really, truly love you and desire the best for you.
From that point on, a discussion about marriage was inevitable. The more we talked, the more we came to the conclusion that we were each other’s happily ever after, and marriage was in our future.
I couldn’t get engaged soon enough. Every moment I spent dating this man I loved and not being officially betrothed was agony. If I’d had it my way, we would’ve been married yesterday.
One minor hiccup in my idyllic vision of my life was that I planned to go on a mission trip to Costa Rica for an entire year.
I had gone to Urbana, a giant gathering of high school and college students designed to awaken the call of missions in young people, and really felt called to do a semi-long-term trip. After the summer I spent in Mexico and the workshops I attended at the Urbana conference, I felt called to Latin America, and in the end felt like Costa Rica was the place I was supposed to go.
So, putting my love life on hiatus, I sent out my support letters, gave my notice at work, and made all the preparations to go, and then I waited.
And the longer I waited, the less support for my trip came in. Eventually, it became obvious that my financial needs were not being met, and my trip fell through.
When that happened, though I was naturally disappointed (and a little embarrassed, since it turned out my calling was a wrong number), I was more than ready to move on with my life, and plan my wedding.
In the meantime, however, Boyfriend had decided to go back to school. Before I met him, he’d spent two years at a military academy, studying computers. At the school where we met, he’d primarily majored in a Bible degree track. Then, when he’d moved to be near his parents, he stopped going to school and got a full-time job.
Then, one fateful day, he saw a notice about a tiny Bible college in America’s Armpit where he could do a double major in Computers and Bible, and he decided to finish out the two degree programs he’d started.
As I was preparing to leave the country, Boyfriend was preparing to go back to school to become a Genius Nerd, and when my plans fell through, I felt more or less stuck. I had been promoted to a day-time position at my job before I quit, but when I discovered I wouldn’t be going to Costa Rica for a year, I tried to get my job back. I got re-hired at the same place, but not with the same position. Now, I was back to working overnights and the occasional on-call shift.
Genius Nerd Boyfriend was heading to school, taking another giant sashay ahead in his life, while I felt like my life was at a standstill. So, the raging obsession at this point of my life was: I really wanted to be engaged.
Also, as it had been several months since we’d seen each other, I really wanted to see him again before he left for school. I offered to buy him a plane ticket to come visit me, and so he came just before he was to leave for school.
The entire week he visited, I pushed the issue of engagement.
“I don’t care if I don’t have a ring,” I insisted. “You can buy me a $10 piece of junk from Wal-Mart for now, I just want to be engaged.”
We even looked at some cheap rings and got my finger measured to see what size I should wear, but the whole time he put me off, presumably not yet ready to pop the question.
Finally, his visit was nearing an end, he was heading off to school in a matter of days, I was stuck in a mediocre job, I still wasn’t engaged, and I was frustrated. It had been almost a year since he’d sent me the letter telling me he thought I was the woman for him, several months since we’d first confessed our love for one another, and I didn’t understand why he wasn’t ready to commit. Plus, I didn’t want him to go off to a new school where there were going to be hordes of pretty young women flocking about who would inevitably be attracted to his excessive charm, wit and good looks, and not have tangible proof that he was taken.
The night before he was going to leave, we went to the college and career Bible study that my brother led. Half the people didn’t show up, so instead of studying we decided to go out to dinner, but it was hard for me to enjoy the evening.
All I could think about was that after tonight he’d be gone, I wouldn’t see him until Christmas, and I still wasn’t engaged….