I’m honestly so excited to share this part of our story. Starting today, I’m going to have a guest blogger sharing his side pretty cool story. You know what was going through my head during the years of knowing Stephen, and now you’ll be getting an inside look at what he was thinking throughout our 7 year friendship.
If you haven’t read my part of the story, start off with the link below!
Our Story: Part 1 – College Plus and First Meetings
I had recently started CollegePlus and was getting accustomed to the demanding study routine that was required. Jumping onto the CollegePlus Forums, I was quickly drawn to the Debate Hall and started participating in some of the doctrinal discussions that were going on. After a while, I decided to post one of my own asking about the purpose and meaning of baptism.
As a result of that thread, I received a Personal Message from another CollegePlus student from Texas clarifying what my beliefs were and we found out that we were both members of the Lord’s Church. She said how nice it was to meet me and mentioned you as another Christian girl on the forums from Arkansas (Thank you Hannah!!! 🙂 I sent you a Personal Message introducing myself with the basic premise of “Fellow Christians!”
I recall probably close to a dozen PMs we sent back and forth, focused pretty much exclusively on different threads in the debate hall, helping each other out, along with Hannah. All I knew was that I was extremely impressed with both of you young, Godly women. It wasn’t either of you specifically, however I was praying to find someone that was as knowledgeable and who loved the Lord like it appeared y’all (your beautiful, Southern influence on me coming out again 😉 ) did through our limited, online interaction. I had never met anyone like either of you, especially at our ages.
I had been talking about the different debates we were in with my family periodically and my brother Andrew was giving me a hard time about you, saying that I obviously had a crush, which normally would have embarrassed me, however I surprised myself when I said that I would be lucky and very thankful if I ever ended up someone like you. Never could I have realized just how lucky I would be, though! 🙂
I was at my Grandparents place in Ringgold, Georgia for a few months while I finished my degree, and I saw you posted a picture in the Random Thoughts thread on the Forums and you were holding your degree!! I sent you a PM to congratulate you and then, well we just kept messaging and eventually emailing once the holiday hiatus began, when the Forums would shut down each year.
November 2013-August 2014
After the first few months, I was realizing it more. Nearly every message that you sent you appeared to be even better than the picture I had in my mind of the ideal woman I was looking and praying for. You loved God, you respected His Word, you had a great family who you loved to spend time with, you were involved in your local church, you were health conscientious, etc. Basically, you appeared to be more and more like who I read about in Proverbs 31 and I was getting excited! I had never been in a relationship before and didn’t know exactly what to do about how I was beginning to feel…I was excited and scared at the same time. What do I do? What if she doesn’t feel the same way about me? How will I get to know her better? These were all questions I was silently dealing with.
I went back home to Alberta before the end of the year and then ended up moving down to South FL to start a new job by April 2014. I was starting a new career and stepping out on my own. I had an apartment, a good paying job, and wasn’t dependent upon my parents anymore. If the right person came along, I was now in a position that I could support a wife. And so I was ready to actually start pursuing you. I just had to build up the nerve.
I typed up a letter that I edited and re-edited, which I wanted to send to your father. I showed it to my parents when I went to go visit them up in Montana for a week long camp in August. They were both happy for me, and the only thing was that Mom said she didn’t want me to settle, as neither of them really knew you at all. I thanked her and told her that I was not settling in the slightest; that in fact I would be lucky and extremely blest to have you in my life (seems to be a pattern, huh? :).
Once I returned to Florida, I sent the letter to your Dad asking for his permission to begin getting to know you better. Every day, sometimes twice a day, I checked my mail and 5 weeks went by and still, nothing… Did the letter get lost? Had your Dad seen it? The questions were swirling in my head. I finally sent it as an email to your home congregation, asking that it be given to Mr. Keith. I was desperate. It wasn’t but a few days later that I received a letter in the mail from your Dad (Oops…I learned a valuable lesson in patience that day 😉
The letter wasn’t what I had hoped for; the answer was “no”. It was very gracious, however, there were a few things that were mentioned as concerns, including the distance between us and the obstacles inherent with a long-distance relationship.
I emailed back, asking if this was a hard no, or if there was still a possibility of things working out in his mind and I offered to come up and meet with him face-to-face, if that would help anything. He said that it wasn’t an absolute no, and that he didn’t want it to be like a business meeting, so he said he would look for an opportunity for me to come up where it could be more of a laid back, organic meeting as much as possible. OK, I thought, there was hope! And I was desperately holding onto it!
The opportunity came up in October to go camping and your Dad sent me an invitation to come. I thought I wasn’t going to be able to come because it happened that my Dad was down visiting me that weekend, however he was willing to come and your parents were open to having him come too. It was all coming together!
I had no idea if you knew about the letter I had sent, or if you did, how much you knew? I was super nervous. My stomach was tied in so many knots, I thought I might end up getting sick. Your parents picked Dad and I up at the airport in Little Rock and we had a good ride out to the campground. We didn’t make it in till late and we were unloading in the dark, when all of the sudden you were behind me saying hello…I hadn’t heard you walk over and I was so flustered when I turned around, I don’t know exactly what I said…Whatever it was, I was humbled and felt completely stupid, never had my tongue been so tied in a knot in my life! 😛
The next day was a little rough, as I didn’t know anyone, and we weren’t able to spend much time actually together. Even so, I was watching you nearly all day and I did notice that you were great with kids, that you were helping with all of the cooking duties, etc. and all of that greatly impressed me. Once we were back at your home and then also at your grandparent’s house for Sunday lunch, things were a lot better. Then on the way back to the airport, we had an excellent time together! The middle seat was kind of broken, however you said it would be fine and didn’t want me sitting in the back seat alone, so we sat next to each other all the way back. We spoke about a number of topics and I got a really good glimpse of who you were. And I loved what I was seeing! I didn’t want that car ride to end. Then the hard goodbye came, we stood there looking at each other. I didn’t know if it would be appropriate to give you a hug or not, so we only said bye and wished each other well.
Also; I absolutely loved your family and while I was there it felt almost like I had spent some time with my own siblings 🙂 It was so refreshing and I have told your parents, like I have told my own parents, that I look up to them the way they have raised their children. I pray that I will be able to have the same results down the road, if the Lord ever blesses me with children.
After I returned home to FL, I sent you an email thanking you for organizing the trip and telling you how much I enjoyed it. You said, “you’re welcome” and that you had enjoyed it too. At the same time I sent your Dad an email seeking his blessing to get to know you better once again.
Three weeks later I still hadn’t heard back, so I sent another email…then another two weeks and nothing…I finally reservedly emailed your Mom making sure he had received the emails (remember what happened the last time I wasn’t patient? ;). She got back to me right away saying that there had been an email filter issue and that your Dad had not received anything from me. She apologized saying that she didn’t want me to think they were ignoring me. I finally got the email to him early December. I received an email December 17, 2014 in response that again was very compassionate and kind, like the original reply to my letter he had sent me. Contained in it, though, you said that you “valued our friendship, however did not wish to move the relationship into courting” Now I knew that there wasn’t any hope, like there had been the first time. I was devastated.
I valued our friendship as well. A lot. So I emailed you letting you know that I respected your feelings and asked that if my request hadn’t ruined everything, and if you were comfortable with it, I would like to continue emailing as friends as we had been. You said thanks and that you were totally fine with that.
Our emails weren’t as long as they were before, however, you were still willing to talk to me. We got into more meatier, meaningful doctrinal topics and I was again very impressed with the way you handled yourself and your studious attitude towards the Scriptures.
I moved back to Edmonton to help my family towards the end of 2015 and I was getting busier and busier. Life was pulling me in 10 different directions. Until finally I had a draft to reply to you and it sat there for some 6 months and I never finished it in that time… I’m sorry, that was never fair of me. 🙁
I was super busy and that played a part, however, I was also trying to let you go. I was talking to a great girl down in Florida who was showing interest in me. I wasn’t able to commit anything to her though, because as hard as I tried not to, in the beginning everything about her I was comparing back to you. It wasn’t fair. I needed that time to allow my feelings for you to be put to rest. This was one of the most difficult things, if not the most difficult process I’ve ever had to face in my life. And after time passed, I did begin to pursue a relationship with her, because at that point I was able to see her for who she was and was no longer comparing her back to you.
I had allowed you to leave my life and I was moving on emotionally. I received your message that you had left in Florida to say “hello” when you had just missed me on your Florida trip.
I finally just took the time, like I should have done months earlier, to reply and say sorry for being so absent. I said hello back and that I hoped you had a good visit with everyone while you were in Florida. I was ready to not hear anything back; because why should I expect you to reply after I had neglected you for 6 months? I knew you were busy, that you only viewed me as a friend and didn’t want anything more than that, plus I was sure that whatever friendship we still had before, I had already ruined…