Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day (Love Story Part III)

Happy Valentine's Day!

I'm was home sick from work today --- I've been fighting a bad cold and decided rest was just what the doctor ordered (especially since most medicines aren't allowed anyway).  So, nothing too exciting to report; but, at least I got to be with my Valentine...

Tonight, Jeff is making one of my favorite chicken-in-the-crockpot dishes and we are planning on watching The Bachelor (my choice) and playing the board game Sequence (his).  I feel lucky and loved. 

Anyway, in honor of V-Day, I thought I'd finally write Part III of our "love story."  If you want to check out the first two parts click here and here.
...

The night before I left for Clemson, Jeff and I had a sweet dinner at a restaurant called The Angler. As a gift, I made him a little calendar of the next ten months that I'd be away, complete with all of our "visits" marked.  We didn't consider breaking up, but we also weren't naive about how hard long distance would be.

Jeff would be staying in Roanoke, attending a local college, and starting a new job.   We were excited about his opportunities, but knew that the transition into two such different worlds would not be easy. 

We were also a little crazy strict about our "visitation schedule." I wouldn't have a car at Clemson my first year, so seeing each other would be dependent on Jeff making the six hour trip and me finding a ride home for breaks etc.  We also knew that it was really important for us to make friends and establish an identity in college apart from each other... So, we decided we'd see each other once a month to start.  In hindsight, I think this decision was funny (four weeks felt sooo long) but, I think it made all the difference.  A LOT of couples don't make it from high school through college - especially at different colleges.  But, God really gave Jeff and I a wisdom beyond our ages (and, trust me, it didn't come from us) about how to allow ourselves the space we both needed to grow-up and figure out who we were during this important time of our lives.  I am more grateful for that time than I ever realized I would be.  And, I honestly believe that I love Jeff more and better because of it.

That first year, I spent many a night sitting in the hallway or in the bathroom talking to Jeff.  I cried a lot.  We cried a lot - every single time we left each other, to be exact.  If I'm being honest, I'll say that we fought a lot too.  We missed each other.  We got jealous.  We were "too busy" to talk and felt "left out" too often.

Our first year was not easy.  Our experiences were really different.  And, a lot of the time it felt like we couldn't really understand each other.  I remember going to a church that year that LOVED to preach on dating and marriage.  I would call Jeff every Sunday and demand that he be more of a "spiritual leader," when - in reality - I was really the one that needed to learn to relax and be led a little. (I could write a whole post on this... Maybe I will one day.)

But, we both believe (firmly) that love is work, and love is a choice.  I don't know why or how we got that when we were only eighteen, but we did.  When one of us was ready to "give up," the other was always confident and strong.  We knew that God is not a God of confusion, so we trusted that if it was ever time to "move on," we'd both be on board.  Jeff was patient with me.  He made lots of trips.  He spoiled me rotten with care packages and dates when we were together.  My new girlfriends thought I was the luckiest thing in the world, and the boys got to know Jeff and respected our relationship.  The more we got to know each other's "new lives" the easier it became.

We grew up a lot that year.  I, especially, learned a lot about my God and who He made me.  And, how to love.  In fact, at the end of the year, we even decided that long distance WAS good for us... And Jeff accepted his admission into Virginia Tech for the following year and turned down his offer from Clemson.

The next three years brought many more trials and great experiences for both of us.  We each made lifelong friends and continued to learn about ourselves and our relationship.  Our Junior Year, we even got to spend six months in London together through a Study Abroad program that both of our colleges supported.  To date, it was one of the most wonderful things I've ever done... And, I wouldn't have wanted to do it with anyone else.

I'd say, early on, we both knew we were in this for the long haul.  I am SO thankful for God's protection in our lives and for giving us that peace early on.  However, we had NO IDEA what that meant, or what the road to "the long haul" would look like...

TO BE CONTINUED... (Read Part 4 - My Milk & Honey story - here.)

I love you Jeff.  Happy Valentine's Day!! I'm sure we never would have imagined that we'd be where we are today nine years ago... But, I love you more now than ever before!  Thank you for being my valentine, my best friend, and the only person in the world I'd want to go on this adventure of life with.

3 comments:

  1. Aww...I think it's so awesome you guys were high-school sweethearts! And it sounds like your LDR was really an opportunity for growth. I love happy endings!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh my gosh E i know this story already and reading it still makes me cry:) You are my new 'from black heals to tractor wheels.' Ben got that book for me for valentines day;)

    ReplyDelete

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