His prayers were with me in Hawaii.
And I knew it.
He wanted to get together and hear all about the trip.
So he said.
But I was still skeptical.
I didn't want to get my hopes up, you know? I had no idea whether this quiet guy whom I hardly ever actually saw in person was going to follow through with his Facebook-message-words. Sometimes it seems like people just say that-- "Let's get together soon!" You know? Maybe he didn't mean it.
And then I thought about how I mean it when I say it, but I also sometimes hope the other person will do their part and bring it up again and let me know that they really meant it when they said they'd want to get together...
Ugh. I did not want to be the one to initiate.
But he had started this whole thing.
What if he was waiting on me?
And what if I said nothing and missed out on getting to hang out with this guy that had me so intrigued? (though I dare not admit it out loud!)
Four days had passed since Daniel had sent me a little birthday message that had sparked quite a long Facebook conversation that had ended with him saying he would check his schedule and we would make a plan...
My hope had started to fade when a message popped up on my screen that Thursday afternoon.
Seeing it, I jumped to attention.
It was a message from Daniel!
My face suddenly felt very warm, and I casually got up to close my office door so no one would come in and find me blushing and giddy, trying to figure out how to reply without sounding too eager or too nonchalant. You have to find the perfect balance of the two, right?
We both had pretty busy schedules. Between his work schedule and a softball game, my family coming to town for Easter weekend, and me leaving for Nashville that Tuesday evening, the weekend was pretty jam-packed. Were we going to be able to make some time? Or was this thing going to be delayed and end up never happening? You know what they say: timing is everything...
Well wouldn't you know it, there wasn't a softball game Sunday night after all!
He messaged me to let me know he would be free that evening and the date was set!
Now let me point out the fact that this was in no way being called a "date" at the time.
We were just getting together.
This was no big thing.
No big deal.
Nothing out of the ordinary.
We knew our "when" but not the "where," so I casually suggested we make a plan.
(This makes me laugh because, at the time, I didn't know this was the beginning of a pattern. I'm definitely the one who prefers to have a game plan set.)
His response made me smile:
"Haha. Yeah that would be a good idea. What do you like to do? We could get coffee like everyone else does, or we could do something different and have fun... The weather should be perfect to do something outside. We could go downtown and walk around the park or something like that. What do you think?"
How fun is he?!
Big Spring Park.
We had a plan.
The weekend came, my family arrived in town, and we had a great time together, as usual. I don't remember exactly what we did, but I do remember sitting around in Karissa & Kyle's apartment that Easter afternoon getting all the more anxious as time passed and the family showed no signs of preparing for departure. What was I going to do if they stayed later into the evening?! I'd assumed they would head out around 3 or 4. How was I going to slip out without having to answer a ton of questions?! (Because no, I didn't happen to mention any of this to any of them at the time...)
Hey... So what time are you guys leaving today? Not trying to rush you, I just have plans this evening and am going to have to slip out in a little while..
"What do you have going on tonight?"
Which of course prompted them to press further, assuming (accurately) that this awkwardness meant there was a boy involved.
How was I going to get out of this?!
Well, I straight up lied.
In the midst of all the brainstorming of what I might be up to and all of my flustered denials, Karissa asked if I was hanging out with some people from my Sunday school class. It was an easy out, and I took it.
Yep. You got me. That's what I'm doing... haha... I'm just being weird.. ha.
(insert nervous laughter and a quick subject change...)
Lying isn't good.
And I apologized later and filled them all in.
But in that moment, I needed this to be my thing.
It felt big.
It felt significant.
And I did not want to admit that out loud and set myself up to look foolish on top of all the disappointment that would come.
Because as much as failing hurts, it hurts so much more when people watch the fall.
And I don't know if you realize this, but as a single female youth minister at a really large church, there are a lot of people watching.
And that. is. terrifying.
So I kept it all to myself.
I drove towards the park, spastically speaking all my fears out loud to the LORD.
And then HE sweetly reminded me:
Jenna, it isn't about success or failure.
It isn't about whether or not there's a medal at the end of this race, or a ring.
(HIS parallels to the marathon weren't lost on me.)
It is about stepping up to the door I lead you to and being brave enough to encounter what's on the other side, whatever that may be.
GOD had already taught me not to fear.
HE had freed me from that, and I'd just gotten back from a most incredible adventure where HE so clearly revealed what HE could do in me if I would simply trust HIM and take each step forward.
I remember turning the corner and seeing Daniel sitting on a bench outside the art museum. I remember when he saw me. He stood up, walked toward me, and greeted me with a hug.
I remember being so caught off guard by the tall, handsome, quiet, shy-seeming man hugging me. And as we walked around the park talking, he continued to surprise me.
His spiritual insight.
The way he'd playfully touch my arm.
Like old friends, but with an electricity to it that startled me every time.
(Isn't that how you can tell if someone likes you?!?!)
The way he heard me.
It was more than listening.
He heard me.
And when I talk about me and GOD and our adventures, I don't always feel heard.
We walked circles around that park and soon realized we'd been walking and talking for a couple of hours.
It was getting late, so Daniel walked me to my car.
He was parked further away, so I offered to drive him to his truck.
We said goodbye, and I drove off.
Before I even got home, he had messaged me.
We were going to hang out again.
Something was happening.
It was just going to take me a little while longer to fully figure it out...