Identity: You Are More Than a Writer

Guest post by Michelle Vandepol

 

I heard a keynote at a recent online conference I really appreciated. This author, who had reached the goals many of us are currently setting for ourselves, was saying that he now enjoys his writing more than ever precisely because he hasn’t made it the sum of who he is. This wasn’t always the case. He had to be intentional about expanding the other aspects of his life so he wasn’t talking, breathing, and living only in pursuit of his writing. This is especially important in the digital age when building a writing platform takes time and can quickly overshadow things that are actually of more importance. Not to worry.

 

Here are 5 easy ways to move forward on your goals while not losing yourself in your ambitions.

 

1.     Keep a sense of humour about the climb

Between aiming for growth on word counts, book sales, and social media followers; hyper attention or discouragement are both risks. Adopting self-deprecating humour and knowing that it will happen when it is meant to keeps the writer productive as well as happy. If our identities are not all wrapped up in whether a review is stellar or less so, whether a book takes off or needs a follow up to draw attention to it, or whether someone follows or unfollows us; pursuing the writing life is enjoyable. Humour lets us step back and gain perspective. Check out the hashtag #writerhumor or others like it to indulge.

2.     Think about the expanse of a lifetime and beyond

When the day feels like a write-off  because the words are not coming quickly or if they’re arriving, but you don’t feel like they’re ones you can rave about, know that there are still days ahead in which to polish and have flurries of writing happen. There is an oft quoted adage about examining whether something will matter in a week, a month, a year, or ten. The farther we go out (I recommend thinking lifetime and beyond) the more we realize that it is our small attempts pieced together for bigger use, our relationship building, and keeping our eyes on the real prize that builds something of legacy and purpose.

3.     Nurture hobbies and interests outside of writing

Other interests can complement your writing life (think book reviewing, bookstagramming, journal art, or a side craft business that builds on your bookishness), but it can also be something completely unrelated like a sport, nature, spiritual practice, your day job, or volunteer work. All of the pieces together make you a more interesting multi-dimensional human and in turn lessen the stakes of any one thing in your writing life. This, ironically enough, is what allows the emotional angst that prevents productive writing sessions to fall away and get replaced by something much healthier and much more enjoyable.

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photo by ashley mckinney

4.     Bond with your writer friends about more than who they are as writers

We may meet our writing friends primarily because of our shared interest, but if the friend chemistry is there, it will still be there when we are focusing not only on writing. It is a heart affirming thing to learn more about your writing friends, celebrate similarities and differences, and move forward with intention to be a part of lives beyond word count and market recommendations.

5.     Spend some time appreciating who you were created to be

It takes courage to out ourselves as writers so it makes sense that sometimes our writer identities take on lives of their own. To only celebrate one aspect of oneself though, is to limit greater joy. There are many ways to fill your bucket and thinking about what you’re good at, enjoy doing, want to learn, and would like to make more time for is a good place to start. You were created for more than one purpose. Live like it.

 

 Michelle Vandepol is a writer, editor, and bookish Canadian who loves connecting with other readers and writers on instagram at @michellevandepol. For more articles on the writing life, visit her website www.michellevandepol.com

So we do not lose heart…

“So we do not lose heart…” 2 Corinthians 16.

 

I didn’t know how to weep – I didn’t know what weeping meant.

Not until my (mercifully short) season of infertility.

I quickly learned.

The carpet floors of our sweet townhome have known well the salt of my tears, my cries of ache, anguish, and fear, and my whispered prayers of mustard-seed hope.

I’ve learned what it is to simply get out of bed because I can do all things through Jesus, Who surely carries me through.

I’ve learned what it is to full-out wail for a child not yet.

I’ve stopped judging Sarah from the Bible for throwing her husband at another woman just to get a baby. Infertility is an ache like no other.

And yet…there’s this: Infertility also leaves space for a holiness, a sacred intimacy with Jesus like no other.

I have experienced the love the Father has for His daughters…the special nearness He gives to his daughters who ache.

I want to share my story here, not to give anyone an “answer.” Not to say “If you do ___, then ___ will happen.” That’s not at all what I’m saying. I don’t think God works that way, as frustrating as that is at times.

But I do want to share what God has done for me and for my family.

I want to point us to Perfect Love who heals, Who works miracles, Who does more than we can imagine.

I am here to share my story. Glory be to God.

“I am my Beloved’s and He is mine, His banner over me is Love.” This is the song I played to and from every doctor appointment, beginning with the one when Michael and I heard my doctor sigh and say, “Robyn, you have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It’s a disease. It can be managed, but it cannot be cured. Your hormones – even for this disease – are very uneven. They make it so that your body doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. This makes it…very tricky to conceive.”

Michael held my hand on the way home from that appointment. It was a bright, sunny day. A beautiful work day, cars whizzing by, people going to lunch.

And I felt so alone.

No one knew.

No one knew what I was going through.

It was too personal. Too raw to write about.

Too raw for anyone but Jesus.

You know those trials we face that are so tender to the heart that if you tell even one person who speaks a careless word in response, you might just break?

Those trials where if ONE MORE PERSON gives you a contrite Christian saying, trying their best to make an uncomfortable situation feel better, you might (not so)accidentally punch them in the face?

This was one of those.

In her book “Every Bitter Thing is Sweet,” Sarah Hagerty writes, “While mothers cradled their babies at night, I cradled my barren womb.”

Oh, the pain. The pain.

I can’t describe it.

But in the dark, in the pit, in the nausea from medication trials, in the endless, quiet appointments, in the aching emptiness of my womb, in the heart-stabbing dig that was every baby shower invitation, Jesus was not only there, but He whispered a different tune.

Hear me, Beloved. I am bigger than doctors. I am bigger than your body. I am bigger than disease. I AM.

all bundles by Erica Zoller

photo by ashley mckinney

Michael came to me one day, strolling in the warmth of summer. “I get the feeling we’ll have a baby in 2018. I even…” he paused. “I think we’ll be pregnant before this year is over.”

I narrowed my eyes. I’m the one with all the “feelings.” He’s the one with very mature, rational thoughts.

“Why?” I asked. “Why do you think that?”

He gave a small smile, raised his eyebrows, and shook his head. “I don’t know. I just…I just do.”

“Do you think…should we, like, pray for that?”

Oh, gosh. I can’t pray for something that may or may not happen. I can’t open myself up to disappointment. Shouldn’t I only pray for God’s will? Because then I can’t ever be disappointed…

(I TOLD you. I had mustard-seed faith. Not the big, giant kind of faith. I had the little, scaredy-cat kind that wanted to pray “correct, A+” prayers.)

Michael nodded. “Heck yes we should pray!” (I love my husband.)

And so we did.

At first it was hard to pray. I didn’t want to ask anything of God that He might not want to do.

But then, as the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months and as the tears fell one by one into His hands, the praying got easier.

Because I knew Him more.

I loved Him more. Trusted Him more.

And yet, by the fall, my body still didn’t do what it was supposed to do. The medicine still hurt; my body still didn’t “work.”

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photo by ashley mckinney

I yelled at God. “Why me? Why? What have I done?”

God simply held me. Rocked me. Comforted me.

And by the grace of Jesus Christ who strengthens me, I forged ahead, continuing a trial of different medicines.

Fall leaves drifted to the ground, and Michael and I fell to our knees, eyes on the calendar.

We prayed fervently for our baby. Every night. In the hushed quiet of longing, we held hands and prayed.

Snow fell and winter rolled in.

And suddenly, gently, I felt strange.

Peaceful.

And…weird.

Hope against hope, praying silently “Can it be, Lord?” I drove to the doctor and took a blood test.

A few hours later, back at home, I got the call.

The smile in the nurse’s voice was unmistakable.

The miracle had happened.

I was with child.

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photo by emily youngo

 

I fell to the ground and cried. I couldn’t believe it.

What happened next, I couldn’t tell you. I don’t remember.

As I pen this now, fatigued with pregnancy hormones, full of baby in womb, I am still teary-eyed and at a loss for words.

“Wow…look at what your hormone levels were,” another doctor said, looking back over my file. She handed me the ultrasound of my baby, heart beating loud and strong and full of miracle in my womb. “How did you…?”

“Yeah,” I said, looking at Michael, shaking my head. “I know. It’s…it’s a miracle.”

Beloved Sister, this is my story. It will not look like yours, and yours will not look like mine. But something is the same in all our stories.

God hears. God heals. God is able. God provides. God does miracles.

Sister, I don’t know what your miracle will look like.

I don’t know. I wish I did. I wish I could comfort you and balm your ache and tell you it’s going to be all right, but only Jesus can do that.

Beloved, pray for what’s in your heart. Don’t ever stop. Don’t be afraid of disappointment. Let the salt of your tears be the fragrance of your prayer and rest assured each tear is held close to His heart in the quiet.

My prayer for you, Mother-to-Be:

I pray that the God of miracles Himself would bless you with abundantly more than all we can ask or imagine. I pray for healthy, strong, beautiful babies filling your wombs and homes. I pray for safe pregnancies and for anointed adoptions. I pray for healed bodies and for blessed marriages. I pray that you would soon receive the desires of your heart. I pray that you might know intimately the God who loves you, the God who heals, the God who is so, so pleased with you. May you know fruitfulness in every area of your life. May your family and your children and your children’s children be a lineage who rock the generations with His love. May you be a beautiful story of His faithfulness. May you quickly and safely have in your arms the perfect baby God has for you. May you know intimately His love.

 

In Him,

Robyn

 

P.S. – If you or a loved one are diagnosed with PCOS, it would be my privilege to share any information I have with you, and to pray for you. My email is rfieldwriting (at) gmail.com.

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photo by emily youngo

Ten Things I’m *Loving* Lately

It’s time for another Ten Things Tuesday

 

Here are ten things I’ve been *loving* lately (starting, of course, with the all-important coffee category):

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photo by Elah Tree

  • Nestle Coffeemate Chocolate Toffee Truffle Creamer – Do I really need to elaborate more than this name implies? I think not.
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image via coffee-mate

  • Dunkin Donuts Caramel Coffee Cake Ground Coffee – All I’m going to say here is, “You’re welcome.” Plus, this coffee doesn’t have any sugar in it! Just delicious flavor. Also, side note: I get the impression it’s seasonal (as if we needed another reason to love fall), so get it before December!
ground coffee

image via walmart

  • Fall decorations via the Target dollar section – Tucker ate our last fall centerpiece which was a plastic pumpkin. I didn’t know cats liked to eat plastic but…I mean, I can’t really explain Tucker. Anywho, I bought a very cute ceramic pumpkin centerpiece from Target for just $5. Pretty sure Tucker can’t chomp into ceramic. Although…I wouldn’t put it past him. I’ll keep you updated.

 

  • Going on walks just for fun – And I mean the kind of walk that isn’t for exercise. Don’t get me wrong – I love a good run. But separate from running, I’ve really enjoyed taking work breaks by stepping outside for a minute or two, putting in a podcast, and enjoying the fall air (while killing it on my fitbit…because, let’s be real, why walk at all if your fitbit doesn’t give you virtual fireworks at the end of the day?
spring landscape

image via SheWorksHisWay

  • Taking my iPad to the gym – Okay, okay. I know. This one is so millennial of me. But it really does make the elliptical/bike/treadmill much more entertaining! And now that Netflix lets you download certain shows onto your device, you don’t need wifi to watch while you’re at the gym! Just download an episode or two while you’re at home (may I suggest Parks and Rec?), and then watch it at the gym!

 

  • The Glorious in the Mundane podcast with Christy Nockels – I didn’t know her speaking voice could be just as soothing as her singing voice, but it totally is. This is a podcast I love to listen to when I’m doing mundane chores like dishes or laundry. She uploads about one podcast a month, and each one is full of encouragement, entertaining small talk, and feel-good deep talks.
  • On that note…Be Held, a lullaby album by Christy Nockels – Pretty sure this came out less than a week ago. It’s an album full of lullabies, and one of the songs, Pitter Patter Goes the Rain, features her children and husband singing, playing the ukulele, and drumming. It’s adorable and refreshing.
  • “Surprised by Joy” by C.S. Lewis – Now, to be totally honest, I haven’t yet finished this book. But here’s the truth 100 pages in: it’s fascinating. This book is basically Lewis’s autobiography of his childhood/early adult life, and it’s been quite an interesting read. Disclaimer: it’s not for kids. Lewis, a strong believer himself, is pretty frank about certain things that young eyes don’t need to read.

 

  • Lularoe Butter Leggings – They are what they sound like. Leggings that glide over your legs like butter. You will never wear real pants again. Never! Just kidding. Sort of. You should probably wear real pants. BUT when you are in the mood for leggings, look for a retailer on Facebook who sells lularoe, or find a friend who sells it (yes, I know. It’s one of those, but it’s a great product). They’re $25 each. I have three pairs. I would have more, but Michael keeps mentioning this bizarre concept to me called “a budget.”

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  • Homemade Sweet Potato Fries – Y’ALL. They’re so good. Like, this one time, Michael and I just made a boat-load of these fries and ate them (plus some cookies) for dinner. Literally all you have to do is cut up your sweet potato into little fry-looking strips (warning: cutting through a raw sweet potato is like cutting through brick. But it’s totes worth it!), toss them in olive oil, spread them on a cookie sheet, salt and pepper them, then bake them at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until they’re crispy to your liking.

 

Enjoy, and Happy Fall, lovely friends!

 

Blessings,

 

Robyn

10 Things I’m Loving Lately

10 Things I’m Loving Lately

 

  1. Southern Savers

Y’all. Guess who can’t make sense of numbers and therefore is super bad at budgeting?! Yep. This girl. But then I discovered two things that help me stay on budget dramatically, and one is this website. LITERALLY it’s every manufacturer AND specific store coupon compiled in one spot – you can print off any coupon and use whenever. (I saved $7 on just 3 items at Target yesterday!)

  1. Paying with cash

I believe Dave Ramsey says to do this…keep all your money in separate envelopes and pay using cash – not card – so you have an idea of how much you’re spending, and if what you’re buying is really worth it to you! I only use this method with my spending budget for the month, and it’s been a game changer.

  1. Hershey’s nuggets

Because the nuggets give you more chocolate per bite than the kisses. And sometimes you just need more chocolate.

hersheys

image via amazon.com

  1. Half & Half Coffee and Half & Half Tea

If you make your coffee half caffeinated and half decaf, then you can have more cups per day! Because why wouldn’t you want that?

Sweet tea was always a little too sweet for me, but un-sweet tea was too boring, and so when I heard my mom order a “half sweet half un-sweet tea,” I tried it, and it’s now my favorite drink. Especially in the summer.

  1. Beth Moore’s bible study – A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place

The Old Testament can feel like wading through pudding at times. Beth takes Genesis and Exodus and points out the story God is weaving specifically for us as women through these pages. Highly recommend.

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image via lifeway.com

  1. My critique group!

I don’t know how anyone gets published or even finishes a book without a critique group. If you’re a writer….find one! I promise, it’s not scary. Literally, just google critique groups in your city. I bet you’ll find one.

  1. Hoka tennis shoes

Y’all. The people at Big Peach running recommended these shoes to me since I’d had surgery. I don’t know why I ever wore ANYTHING ELSE even before surgery! These shoes make me feel like I’m running on clouds. Or marshmallows. Or both. They range anywhere from $100-130, and they’re worth every penny.

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image via hokaoneone.com

  1. Crockpot Barbeque Chicken

Michael and I make this recipe at least twice a month. It’s ridiculously easy and way too yummy. Make some coleslaw, buy some fresh slider buns, and you’re good to go.

  1. Jergens Daily Moisturizer

I used to only use this on my legs, but I’ve seen the light!! I was just in a wedding with a pale gray dress (lovely color!) but I didn’t want to blend in with the dress and look, like, see-through or something. I used Jergens all over my arms and neck area, and it looked super natural and gave me a “healthy glow” 😉 with no streaks. It was a win, and a lot cheaper than a spray tan.

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image via jergens.com

  1. Making the bed

For me, this is revolutionary. And somehow it makes the whole house feel cleaner!

 

Have a great week, and blessings to you,

 

Robyn

when chasing your dreams makes you want to stuff your face with chocolate…and maybe even give up

Sometimes, God’s answer isn’t “No,” it’s just, “Not yet.”

And so then you imagine banging your forehead on the keyboard in front of you. But you don’t, because you’re having a good hair day and also because you’re at the library and you would scare all the children.

But really. The love I have for my Asher series is big.

I love the seven year-old I created. Love him. Love his quirks and his imagination, love his freckles and his two best friends who wear capes to school and only talk by writing on mini-whiteboards.

I love them. But an agent hasn’t picked them up yet, and at this point, it’s been about a year shopping this little guy and his crew.

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photo by erica zoller

And so, for now, it’s time to move on from this particular series. I mean, I could self-publish Asher, but that route simply was never in my game plan. It’s a great route to take! I know BUNCHES of self-published authors, and they’re SUPER successful.

But for some reason, I just don’t get the feeling self-publishing is my route.

I’ve wanted to go the traditional publishing route since I was little, and by golly, I’m going to do it.

(Well. Maybe. If I can stop eating these dang Hershey’s chocolates and let Jesus pick me up by my bootstraps and kick me in the pants to snap me out of my pity party.)

Just kidding. Jesus doesn’t kick me in my pants. I don’t think.

Or maybe He does. Goodness knows I need it.

But my point is, I’m having a moment where I imagine I’m staring into Jesus’s eyes from across the table.

I say, “I’m done. Find me a cave. I’m moving to Alaska with moose and hubby and this bag of Hershey’s and I’m totally serious this time. Why haven’t you published my books yet? This is NOT how I would have planned it!”

And I can almost imagine Him sighing, tilting His head and looking at me with only Love in His eyes.

I imagine Him saying (with a touch of humor because my own mouth is full of chocolates like a squirrel with nuts), “Don’t you remember, Beloved?”

“Remember what?” **mouth still full of chocolate.**

“I have good plans for you. And there are many things you just can’t know yet. I promise, My plans are far better than your own.”

all bundles by Erica Zoller

photo by erica zoller

**Squints eyes accusingly. Tries to look tough and it’s not working but that’s fine.** “But my plan was really good. I was going to show everybody how easy it is to follow your dreams and I was going to make money from my book sales and shop way more at the Loft and take a vacation it totally would have been awesome.”

This is where I’m pretty sure He hoots with laughter the way one laughs at a puppy chasing her own tail. But not a mean laughing, a laughter laced with delight in His creation. In me.

“You’re funny, Robyn, Beloved. I love how I’ve made you.”

I can imagine Him smiling at me, and I try my best to frown in return because I want to stay mad at Him because He didn’t do what I wanted Him to do.

He didn’t follow my plans.

But I suppose Jesus is more exciting than that, right? More exciting than my type-A calendar squares. More exciting than dollar signs or likes on Facebook pages.

And I suppose He really does love us too much to let us settle for lesser things than the glory He’s got in store.

And now, just like that, I hear a whisper that’s more quiet than our conversation had been a minute ago. “Just keep your Eyes on me, Dear One. Are you not worthy already? Are you not already My Beloved?”

I exhale and I smile. Just a little.

Because, yes. I suppose I am.

I know I am.

Despite my forehead banging on the keyboard and my squirrel-esque consumption of chocolate nuggets, I am already enough for Him.

And you know what else?

I’ve got a 2-inch binder at home chalk-full of 320 pages of the most favorite words I’ve ever written. Words filled with magic and wonder and beauty and messiness and a character I’ve poured my heart into.

They’re untouched words, words full of the hope and excitement and the possibility of publishing.

So I ask Him what His plans are for this next book, and all He’ll tell me is that…

…I’m already worthy.

 

Blessings, joy, and an abundant knowing of your worth,

Robyn

why we can actually love our stories: a poem

why we can actually love our stories…

…and maybe trust that the Author loves us, too…

 

a poem, written by a heart that doubts more than I’d care to admit:

*

You are faithful when I rest

You are faithful when I work

*

You are faithful when I’m happy

You are faithful when I’m hurt

*

You are faithful in the evening

You are faithful in the day

*

You are faithful through the night

You sing melody at daybreak

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You are faithful when I’m right

You are faithful when I’m wrong

*

You are faithful when I can’t

find the words to sing Your song

*

You are faithful to the animals

You are faithful to the trees

*

You promise to come back

and take the pain from them and me

*

You are faithful when I weep

You are faithful when I dance

*

You are the author of joy

You call us home in true romance

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You are faithful when I know

I need you all the time

*

You are faithful when I say

“I’ve got this. This life is mine.”

*

You are faithful every season

You are faithful in all Your plans

*

You are faithful to me always,

for I am always in Your hands.

 

“Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6

“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands.” John 3:35

Blessings and peace to you,

Robyn

just as friends

“Hey, so I was wondering if you’d like to go to dinner with me.” Michael’s voice on the phone sounded excited and rushed and I was fairly confident he was pacing whatever room he was in.

I, on the other hand, was paralyzed in shock and bewilderment on my bed in the sorority house.

It was our sophomore year in college.

“Who is it?” one of my roommates whispered, probably after seeing my face revert to an awkward shade of tomato.

I answered Michael. “Um, sure! Dinner is good,” I blurted haphazardly into the phone, trying to sound normal.

But I didn’t feel normal. I felt like I just agreed to go on a date with a boy – and boys, to be sure, were currently on my “no” list. I’d written off dating entirely after my senior year of high school, and I’d held pretty steadily to that standard up to this point.

But at least, I figured, this boy seemed like a nice one.

Last year, he’d agreed to carry my large, mysterious trash bag full of something out to my car at the start of Spring Break. The trash bag exploded in the parking lot, resulting in an avalanche of stuffed animals. (They travel with me. Don’t pretend you don’t also have a teddy bear or something. I just happen to have a million.)

Michael had laughed then, and asked me if they had names. (Of course they did.) Unhesitatingly, he’d picked them all up and brushed them off, cars whizzing past.

In that parking lot moment, I had decided Michael was nice. And comfortable to be around. Even if he was a boy.

“Great!” Now, on the phone, I could hear the smile in his voice after I agreed to dinner.

I panicked. My mouth got dry. Then I turned to my roommates. “It’s Michael,” I finally whispered.

One raised her eyebrows and smiled. The other silently squealed.

But I didn’t. I was trying not to faint or hide under my covers.

“So, what’s your favorite place to eat dinner around here?”

“…Moes.”

I was sophisticated.

“Erm,” he chuckled. “I like Moes, too, but how about somewhere nicer?”

I blanched. My mouth had lost the ability to speak without croaking, but somehow we settled on a place called Transmetropolitan in downtown Athens. A pizza place.

It ended up being a great date, I was surprised to admit.

We ate pizza and pasta, then went back to his apartment to watch Chronicles of Narnia while wolfing down Junior Mints.

I made sure to sit on the edge of the couch the whole time, on the entirely opposite side from Michael. I was practically perched on the arm rest like an awkward parrot. He didn’t seem to mind. In fact, he didn’t seem to notice. He was actually ENJOYING himself.

Why is he so calm? I wondered. We’re on a date. A DATE. (!!!!!!)

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college babies

After he dropped me off with that big, goofy grin I’d later come to fall in love with, I answered my roommates’ questions about the evening.

“It was a great date,” I admitted. “He even bought me junior mints because he didn’t have any chocolate at his apartment.” This was a big plus for me. Because chocolate.

 

“But…” I continued explaining, my brow furrowed in bewilderment. “I just don’t think it’s the right time. I don’t know why. I don’t want to be any more than friends right now.”

I prayed about it a lot in the days that followed, and I felt certain about my decision not to date him. I couldn’t explain why. It just wasn’t the right time.

And when I told all this to Michael, he shrugged his shoulders with a small smile. “Welp. If you prayed about it, then I can’t argue with The Lord!”

He said this good-naturedly as a joke, but there was tangible disappointment in his voice. I wanted to jump into a nearby bush and stay there a while. But I was also relieved, because boys, in my 20 year-old opinion, made things too complicated.

I wasn’t ready for it.

A few weeks later, I got another call. “Hey!” Michael’s voice.

My stomach dropped.

“Hey,” I croaked. Hadn’t I totally disappointed him? Why was he still talking to me?

“So, I was wondering. Would you come to my fraternity date nights with me? You know, just as friends.”

“Um. Just as friends?”

“Yep. I had such a great time with you, I’d really like to hang out with you as friends.”

Okay. But just as friends!”

If someone were to tally the number of times I repeated the phrase “just as friends” in the year that followed, well, we’d have a lot of tallies.

And so I went on his Christian fraternity’s date nights. Over and over and over.

And every time, I double-checked: “Just as friends.”

He’d agree every time. And every time, we had fun.

But I was stubborn. Like a donkey, or something.

Fast forward to that summer. We both signed up to work at a Christian sports camp in Colorado, literally by coincidence. Neither of us knew the other had signed up or had been hired.

But I quickly figured it out when we showed up at training together.

I was set to shovel snow away from the buildings (we were living at 9,000 feet above sea level), and Michael ambled up next to me and started helping.

“You don’t need to help. I’ve got this,” I said forcefully.

He wasn’t deterred. “Well, I want to help you!”

Gosh, I thought. This guy! Do I need to say “just as friends” again?

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still college babies

But somewhere deep in the pit of my stomach, I was glad he was there next to me. I was a little homesick.

And so we shoveled.

He worked the first half of summer, and I spent the first half of summer at home in Georgia.

When the last half of summer rolled around, I flew out to Colorado in a pit of nerves. Being away from home wasn’t natural for me. I was scared. But I was also excited. I could tell I was right there in the exciting, albeit painful stage of truly growing up.

I arrived at camp.

Then I saw Michael. And I stared. And stared. And stared.

He was really…handsome. And, dare I think it? REALLY ATTRACTIVE.

He politely greeted me with a friendly hug. “You’ll love it here,” he assured me. “Best summer of my life.”

How is he so confident? I feel like I’m going to pee in my pants. And who are all those girls looking at him and smiling at him? Don’t they know he likes me?

 

Does he like me, still?

He went home, and I worked at camp. It was hard and awesome. I grew more than I think I’ve ever grown in the span of six weeks.

But still, by the end of the term, I couldn’t stop thinking about that goofy-grinning boy. Goofy-grinning man, more like it.

I couldn’t fall asleep without thinking about him, and I couldn’t talk without talking about him. (Sorry, Jaime.)

But by the time I got home, I was utterly confused.

God, I prayed. I like this boy. I do. And I’ve been telling him ‘no’ for over a year now. I’m sorry I’m so all over the place, but, if this is something You want for us, could You do something about it?

I wasn’t about to call Michael myself and profess my love because, honestly, couldn’t he get mad about that? Say something like, “Well it TOOK you long enough. Sorry. Too late.”

So I didn’t call.

Instead, he did.

The day after I prayed for our maybe-relationship, Michael texted me. “Want to go on a walk?”

Yes.

And we went.

Three months later I decided I wanted to marry the man.

And I don’t think we’ve ever said the phrase “just as friends” ever again.

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UGA graduation

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when I said YES!

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happy campers 🙂