Click on the OUR LOVE STORY label for all three previous parts...
Chris had this teeny crackerjack box of a car. It was a two-seater convertible and it was awkward (for my six-foot tall frame, anyway) to get in and difficult then, to get comfortable. Not to mention, I imagine I looked quite comical in it.
The next day, the soonest he could come was the evening, so his black ‘cool car’ squealed to my curb after dark. I don’t remember where we went exactly…all I remember were the streetlights we passed, the lights from the houses, stoplights, stars. I knew just what I had to say, but I hadn’t a CLUE how to say it. So, I just dumbly stared at anything that would break the silence of the dark outside.
Chris piped up, “You seem a bit distant.” And he put his hand on my knee, reassuringly. “What’s the matter?”
I just sat there, in silence. My lips simply would not part. I couldn’t do it. But Gosh. I HAD to say something! I mean, I was the one that asked that we ‘talk’ in the first place.
There was so much on the line at this point. This was the first man that I had opened my heart to. He loved me and had certainly THOUGHT of marrying me. I would break his heart and a piece of mine, too. I had just turned 17. I was graduating high school in a few weeks. This was too much for me to think about right now! I seriously contemplated putting it off. Maybe, the Lord would work in Chris’ heart in a deeper way and he would become all I want in a man. Or maybe, I was just procrastinating.
I said a prayer, hoping that I would make sense to him. Hoping that my words would not hurt him. Hoping that he would mutually agree, we would shake hands and thank each other for the time we had spent with one another, then happily part ways. Hoping for a miracle.
I drew in a breath and then slowly let it back out. False start.
So I tried again. This time, what escaped with my breath was a torrent of apologies, compliments, explanations, and concerns. I explained that I had loved our time together and appreciated so much how he had been the one to open my heart to the idea of a relationship. I told him that he was a wonderful man and would make a wonderful woman so very happy, as he knew how REALLY be tuned in to a relationship, how to sacrifice and compromise, how to spoil and make someone feel cherished. I loaded him up with compliments so that when I told him that while he WAS all those things-they weren’t GOOD ENOUGH for me, it wouldn’t break his heart or worse, make him lose control of the car and kill us both.
Once the conversation started, (well, conversation implies two participants and at this point it was all me talking..) the words flowed pretty easily. Eventually I got to the point. To the heart of it. To the knife. “I don’t want to be in this relationship anymore Chris.” As much as I didn’t want to, the silly, stupid clichés that women still use today spewed from my mouth… “It’s best for us BOTH.” “Staying in this relationship would be unfair to YOU.” Yada yada yada. Now that the dam had been broke, I filled the air with words in order to avoid the impending reaction.
He was shocked. And quiet. He just drove. His silence shut me up completely. While just moments before I wasn't allowing him to talk and dreading with my entire being his response-now I wanted to reach over and strangle him so that he would say SOMETHING. ANYTHING! Eventually, something did come. One single word. “WHY?”
Now, I don’t know if what was spoken next was the right move or not. Might I remind the audience I had just turned 17 years old. Might I also reiterate that this was my first real RELATIONSHIP so this was new territory for me…
“Well, Chris. These men came into my church on Sunday and, for some reason, I saw what I wanted my husband to be. I was impressed in the reverence he showed during worship, in the great desire to learn and heed the words of scripture, in the compassion and mutual respect he showed ALL manner of people, even the elderly, in the great passion in which he sang. Don’t get me wrong-I don’t know the guy. I mean, I just met him. It isn’t like I want to date him or anything. Not at all. But-I do very much like the way that he IS and whoever I marry NEEDS to have those things. I don’t see those things with you. I see you…doing quite the opposite in fact.” Then, I began to list his related ‘failings’.
At that point, he got angry. I found myself at my very own doorstep not long after. Of course, tears had been flowing the entire car ride and that didn’t stop once I was in the safety of my room. Was what I had done the right thing? Or had I just thrown away the best (albeit only) relationship I had ever had, one that promised MARRIAGE, because of some super high expectations that suddenly revealed themselves to me in the last month?
It was over and I might have made the worst mistake ever. Or maybe, I just did the best thing for me. I didn’t really know. But I still grieved. Not just for me, but also for Chris. The man who had shown so much kindness to me, and whom I had just so deeply hurt.
to be continued...