A week had passed since that first date/hangout of ours.
I'd been at the Q conference in Nashville most of the week, so we made plans to get together after Sunday night's youth event. Well, that little rendezvous had to be rescheduled due to a pretty traumatic ER visit for one of our teens. Dodgeball was not our friend that night. I was not leaving that waiting room until I was sure everything was okay and there was nothing I could do to help the family, so meeting Daniel wasn't an option. Thankfully everything was fine, and the injury was far lesser than it could have been. (I love you, Micah!!!)
Since Sunday night didn't work out for another hangout, Daniel and I decided to get together the next night. Well, that didn't end up working out either. Tornadoes. Or at least a severe threat for them. We tried to figure out a way that we might still manage meeting up, but ultimately it was decided that we wouldn't be idiots, and we would just try again the next evening.
Tuesday. Finally a free night with no disaster in its way! It was still pretty rainy, so we decided that Daniel would come to my apartment and we could hang out there. He wanted me to fill him in on all the things I'd heard at Q Nashville. No big deal.
Well, people, I'd recommend not choosing your home for the setting of a second date/hangout. It. is. awkward. You aren't close enough to actually be comfortable with each other, so simple things like where you sit all feel incredibly unnatural. I didn't want him to get the wrong idea, so I had my notes from the conference at the dining room table.
Here's how the evening went:
He came in.
I walked to the table.
We sat down.
I shared notes.
Felt like I was rambling.
He was quiet.
I was boring.
It all felt very disconnected.
Very.... well... not good.
I was certain that any interest he'd had was completely lost that evening.
Much to my surprise (and by surprise I mean absolute shock), I still received another message telling me how much he enjoyed spending time with me and that he would love to do it again soon.
So that weekend we found ourselves at Big Spring Park once again, walking circles around the thing. I was a little more guarded that night. Nervous. Hesitant. But very intrigued.
The next week I felt my fears rushing in.
Wednesday night we had gone to a movie after church. Bless his heart, he let me pick the movie and it was a major disappointment, yet he never spoke a negative word about it. He never made me feel dumb, which I truly appreciate about his character.
That night, he made his intentions known to me.
He was really enjoying spending time with me, and he wanted to continue getting to know me. He had been praying a lot about it, and he wanted to see what would happen if we pursued a relationship. He told me that he didn't know what would come of it, but even mere friendship with me would be a blessing in his life.
I was speechless.
For the first time, the guy had actually initiated the relationship conversation!
And I didn't know what to say!
I believe my response was something like:
Yeah, I really enjoy spending time with you too...
And I'd really like to keep getting to know you...
But... maybe let's not rush this thing...
Maybe we keep it on the down low...
My words turned over again and again in my mind, and my anxiety increased.
It's a vulnerable thing, to let someone into your world like that. And to have someone see you like that. To choose you. To desire you. Romantically. And for me, it felt especially vulnerable to let someone into my world...
My world was a world with a couple thousand eyes on me.
I had an audience.
An audience of teens.
Of their parents.
Who are mostly men.
Who are church leaders.
People I know who know me.
People I know who don't know me.
People who would recognize me, but I wouldn't have a clue.
Lots of people.
With all their eyes.
And all their minds drawing conclusions from what they see with their eyes.
I'm uncomfortable in front of an audience in this way.
To have this audience watch me be chosen.
Watch me be wanted.
Watch someone see me in a way I so deeply wanted to be seen...
It felt weird for this audience to see me being seen in that way.
I can make myself crazy with all my overanalyzing fears and assessments of how to balance responsibilities and personal life. How to be what I need to be for the sake of those watching, yet not become enslaved to perceptions. How to simply be free to walk as HE calls me, in the way that most honors HIM, dictated by this audience of ONE, not the audience of everyone.
That, and I was scared of not being enough.
Once Daniel really knew me, would I be enough?
(whispering cause it makes me nervous to say it.. Sexy enough?)
Or would I be too much?
Thankfully I found myself sharing all these fears with my good friend, Kristen, the next afternoon as we were waiting to go in for a show choir performance at Huntsville High. She listened, and then she spoke some powerful Truths to me.
She reminded me who I am.
What GOD says about who I am.
She reminded me that I am so much more than a physical appearance, but an entire being.
She pointed out the things that Daniel seems to be finding attractive about me-- the very things I was fearful might be too much.
She spoke Light into the shadows of fear that threatened to spook me into hiding.
And Peace returned to my timid heart.
After the concert, I met Daniel at the movies.
This time we saw Spiderman 2.
He held my hand.
And I left with butterflies in my stomach and peace in my heart.
That next weekend I was with my family in Cleveland for Mother's Day.
I kept these unfolding events to myself just a little longer, considering them.
And as the weekend ended, I knew I wanted to see what was going to come of this.
I wanted to know Daniel better.
I wanted to be around him more.
I wanted to see.
When I got back to Huntsville that afternoon, Daniel picked me up and we went to Ditto Landing, walking a different park before the sun started to set. Then we drove around talking, learning more and more about each other. We ended up at the Challenger playground, continuing our conversations on the swing-set, pausing only to explore the rest of the playground equipment and try out the monkey bars. That is until the police came by to inform us it was too late to be hanging out there. Oops!
Daniel was so much fun!
He let me be silly, joining me in the playful moments.
He was sincere, sharing sweet stories that showed his love for his nieces and nephew.
He was kind and gentle, and I felt safe with him.
My spirit felt at rest.
We watched a little bit of Narnia at my apartment until it got late and he needed to leave.
We walked to the door.
We said our goodbyes.
And then he leaned in to kiss me.
And it was perfect.
It wasn't reckless or rushed.
It wasn't too much.
It was sweet.
And guarded in a sacred way that made me feel so cherished.
This was really happening...