And then it all fell apart, and then it all came together
Nathan and I dated for a couple of years. We spent hours on the phone and less hours together in person. He was a busy engineering student at UA, so a lot of our relationship was long-distance.
(By the way, long-distance relationships get a bad rap, so let me just say: They have more pros than cons in my book. So much time communicating, learning to communicate, ironing out the relationship without the distraction of sexual temptation. What is accepted as 'the way it's done' in the area of physical affection in dating relationships is not healthy... That's a whole can of worms I'd better not touch right now ;o)
The summer of '98, I went on a TLC trip to Bolivia. That meant one week in Boot Camp in the South Floridian wilds (with snakes and armadillos), followed by 3 weeks traveling through and ministering in La Paz. God had been poking at my heart for some time- you know, that little stick He uses to stir up restlessness and concern. Ugh. Tim Keep preached a message during Boot Camp regarding putting God first, total surrender of our desires and plans. That was the service that God asked me if I would be willing to give up Nathan for Him. I remember my response clearly, "I'll give you everything, anything you want, but please, please, please, don't touch the guy." After 3 weeks away with virtually no contact with Nathan and lots of contact with the Father, His request couldn't have been any clearer. This was a test of my character. So I did the right thing. And it was horrible. No guy wants to hear, "God asked me to break up with you." Never comes out right. I never thought I'd see him again, nor did I have the Father's permission to even dream of that possibility. I began making plans for attending Bible College, preferably not the one his parents worked at (at 18, that seemed HUGE and very awkward), and for working with Spanish translation ministries. I even had an application in at a college in Texas where I was planning to transfer after my time at Hobe Sound. Nathan was far, far away.
My senior year of high school was ghastly. I had peace in my heart regarding my decision, but a huge, great hole for Nathan that only seemed to get larger and larger. I was beginning to suspect that God was placing a love for him in my heart, which I thought was horribly unfair, since I was never going to see him again. (Turns out that Nathan was having a very similar experience around the same time, although I had no clue.)
At his mother's request (who did have a clue), he attended my high school graduation, and then at my mother's request (who had a pretty big clue about my heart), our family's 4th of July get-together. We walked and talked all around a huge ballfield of people with lawn chairs, blaring country music and fireworks. We both felt that God might be re-opening the door for a relationship that put Him at the top, but we weren't sure. We decided to spend the fall semester (my first college semester) praying about it, with just one contact allowed for Nathan's birthday in October (my request). I do remember one rather awkward moment, when he asked me specifically if I thought we should get back together. He had walked me to my car in the rain, and was holding the umbrella over the open driver's window as we talked. I blurted out, "If I date you again, I'm going to marry you!" I was mortified, rolled the window up as fast as I could, and sped away. Awkward:o)