The initial weeks back at school were rough- spotting Luke in the cafeteria, seeing the places all over campus that contained so many memories, and feeling like a lousy friend because I was so sad. It was a dark time for me in my relationship with the Lord- I felt like He had abandoned me and I did not understand why the anxiety had ruled my life, why God would allow Luke and me to feel so miserable when we were apart.
Obviously God was with me the entire time, holding me and loving me. God did some amazing things that year, and I am so thankful for an all-knowing God. I'm thankful for His abounding grace and the work that He did in my life and relationship with Luke.
I really wish I had saved the emails that Luke sent me, but about a month or two into the semester, Luke emailed me basically saying he felt that God was telling him to continue to pursue me. That he was not done with our relationship and that he wanted to be with me. He had read a book that I think (can't remember for sure!) was about a missionary who had been through something similar. The missionary continued to pursue a woman who kept turning him away, and eventually God worked in her and the two of them ended up getting married.
the best roommates ever!
I remember meeting Luke at the quad on campus where he told me all of this. And I remember my heart exploding at the thought of someone I cared about so much wanting to pursue me despite all the pain I had caused. We talked for a few weeks, but the anxiety was just too much, and one night I told him that things were just done.
Life was pretty dark for me at that point, and I'm especially thankful for the amazing girlfriends I had who forced me to hang out with them, and even walked me to the health and wellness center on campus to talk to the therapist. (I met with the therapist once, but for me, it wasn't the most helpful.) I continued on with classes and sorority functions, but it was so hard for me to be there on campus.
I cared about Luke so much, and ached about not being with him and knowing that I had caused so much pain. I wanted to be with him, but was so incredibly frustrated that anxiety was controlling me. And I certainly didn't want to get over him.
We had zero communication until Christmas break. I think as long as we were on campus, I still felt some connection to him. We lived and ate in all the same places, interacted with some of the same people (I ran a youth group at a local church with one of his roommates). For Christmas, my family was flying out to Seattle to spend the holiday with extended family, and I think being completely across the country from Luke made me even more depressed. Before we left, I sent him a brief email telling him I hoped he would have a great Christmas and enjoy being home with his family. The email he sent me back was very brief and to the point. I remember crying me eyes out, but I knew that it was just how things needed to be.
Fast forward to when we were back on campus. In January, the Grove City swim team has their senior recognition meet, where all the seniors on the team are honored during the meet. I had been to see Luke swim so many times while we were dating, and I so wanted to be there to see him recognized!
Luke with his parents and coach
and yes, I did take pictures even though we hadn't been in contact in months
and yes, Luke has somesuper long hair and facial hair
One of my close friends was dating a diver on the team, and this meet was a big deal for him. A couple of girls from our sorority were going to watch and invited me along. Going against my better judgement, I tagged along. But I really wanted to be there and catch a glimpse of Luke! I knew his parents were going to be there for the recognition, so I was a little nervous about potentially running into them, but figured there were enough people that chances of that were slim.
The stands were packed, and I followed my friends as they searched for a place to sit. We pushed our way up the stands, and of course, ended up sitting literally in front of Luke's parents. I think my heart may have stopped for a second because I was terrified. I just knew they must dislike me for all the pain I had caused their son.
I turned around and said hello, but then things got started with the diving and it was too loud to talk to anyone. I remember the diving was exciting, and that my friend's boyfriend did really well, but I remember mostly thinking about the fact that I was there at a meet and could see Luke down on deck. And that I was sitting right in front of his parents.
After the diving, it was time for the senior recognition. Most of the students cleared out once the diving was done, and Luke's parents went down to the pool to be on deck with him during that. I sat and watched, and when the recognition part was over decided I would stay a little longer to actually see Luke swim.
I'd known Luke's family since we were in high school, I had helped them pack up their house to move, and had dated Luke, so I definitely cared about his family. Before leaving the meet, I put on my brave face and went to talk to them. We talked about how everyone in the family was doing and how their Christmas had been. They were as loving and accepting as ever, and I left feeling a tiny bit of hope. Which of course was God at work, as He always is.