24 March 2011

51 Weeks [in which things are said]

WARNING: Obscenely Long Post Ahead.

First of all, the comment volume on this series-- at least four times as much as a typical post, except perhaps for when I was in Turkey-- has really amused me. Romance draws a crowd.

Now, about those two conversations. I guess there were three.

In July we went to a family wedding near Scranton, and Jared came along. We drove up on Saturday morning, and the wedding took place that afternoon and evening. We stayed in a hotel that night (a saga in itself, but you'll have to ask my dad if you want the most colorful retelling and best imitation of the proprietor's Indian accent) and drove home on Sunday. Awkwardness abounded. Conversation was stilted. What is he thinking? What should I say? The ease of our first date had evaporated. Now I preferred to joke around with Luke than with Jared. At the reception, we didn't dance, and this was a big deal to me; afterwards we argued* about it. My relatives teasingly alluded to wedding bells and I, a quivering mess inside, pretended to smile. I felt like everybody had a clear vision of my future . . . except me.

I was miserable.

On Sunday evening, I finally spilled these problems to my parents. (Conversation number one.) I had no idea where our relationship was going and felt unfairly benighted on that score; I was convinced that Jared liked me no more than any other girl in the universe; I was terrified that love would never appear at all and our courtship would stall, yet outwardly putter on because we had no way of discussing that issue. When was love supposed to appear anyway? It seemed like we had done the "getting to know you" thing long enough. Shouldn't the "winning my heart" thing start soon? For goodness' sakes, how was I supposed to know if I wanted to marry him, if he didn't do something to take our friendship past its current level? But how could I communicate this need to him, since he was the one leading the relationship?

If you can't tell, I was a little very angry and was also blaming Jared for most all of the problems. As if he were intentionally tormenting me. Silly girl. :)

When the foaming emotions had subsided, the issue boiled down to this: I needed clarity. Daddy, who incidentally had much more compassion for my boyfriend than I did, offered to broach the subject with him.

I am grateful that as Jared and I dated, we were "under" our parents, who kept a loving eye on us and helped us to sort out tangled issues. They never gave us orders and they refrained from giving perpetual advice; they knew we were adults and had no interest in micromanaging our relationship. Yet they also knew that we needed help, and were glad to give it.

So. Daddy bought some beers, called Jared, and went to talk business. (Conversation number two.) Jared was informed that 1) I did not think that he liked me very much, 2) he therefore needed to chase me, 3) I was not at that point particularly inclined to be caught, 4) he therefore should feel free to do so in any manner he saw fit.

Aaaaannnd . . . GO.

The romance signal had turned green, and as I understand it, this was very helpful to my poor boyfriend. All of a sudden, I found myself being romanced. (Apparently Jared didn't need too much encouragement.) Within a few weeks of conversation number two, I had no doubts about his feelings. For the first time in my life I was reveling in the knowledge of a man's affection for me, and of course, I found it indescribably sweet.

Smooth sailing from here on out? Ah no. You forgot there were three conversations, didn't you? Jared had changed, but alas, I had not altogether followed suit. I still couldn't see myself marrying him. Time had to play a role, time and patience, just as before. Only this round, I felt guilty; here I had gotten exactly what I wanted, a convincing and consistent demonstration of Jared's serious intentions, and my heart hadn't budged a bit.

Well, I wanted to wait and see. However, I also wanted Jared to know where I stood. I felt that by asking my dad to talk to Jared, I might have sent the message that I was, so to speak, ripe for the picking . . . when in fact I was still quite green. Now I feared that unless I made that clear, I would be leading Jared on. Which was approximately the last thing in the world I wanted to do.

(You know, it sounds paranoid now that I put it into words, but at the time it was a legitimate concern. I just can't squeeze all of the events or emotions of that month into one blog post. You'll have to take my word for it.)


Cue conversation number three, a.k.a. one of the most awkward conversations of my life.

One warm summer morning, Jared took me to the gardens at the Masonic Village in Elizabethtown. Lovely gardens, truly, but I was occupied by my own worries. What's wrong with me? Why don't I like him? He's amazing. He's a great friend. And he likes me, I know he does. HELLO. What's wrong with me? This is ridiculous. I'm ridiculous. Wouldn't any other girl be in love with him by now? What's wrong with me?! We finally sat down on a bench and started to talk, and the conversation edged toward Our Relationship. Oh boy. Now or never.

I honestly don't how I managed to tell Jared that I had noticed his recent change of tone, deeply appreciated it, thought he was a wonderful person, was still not in love with him, thought I might get there soon, wanted him to keep pursuing me, was frustrated with my own emotions, and hoped that he could be patient.

But I did. He understood. We ate Vietnamese food for lunch. None the worse for wear, Jared continued on his new trajectory, "chasing me" with obvious gusto and never minding if I reciprocated. If it took time to win me over, so be it. He had to find a job anyway.

[Side note: at this point Jared had moved out of his parents' house, into an awesome stone farmhouse on our church's large property,  in order to work as the caretaker for that property. This was only a part-time job, however.]

If Daddy's conversation with Jared was a big turning point for him, this other conversation at the Masonic Gardens was a big turning point for me. It was as if I'd finally admitted my weakness, my inability to boss my emotions around. I had essentially said that if anything was to happen here, it would be God's doing, not mine. I turned my heart over to Him-- the creator of love, after all-- and waited.

By the time my birthday came around, I was feeling a lot more stable. That breakdown had been the beginning of a renewed trust in God, which produced a serenity I had not felt since the beginning of our relationship. Time for me to stop striving, to let go of my timetable, to be quiet before Him. Jared was leading me; my parents were watching over me; God, above all, loved me. Everything was going to be okay.

Then a few days after my birthday, we went to a Phillies game. It was awfully enjoyable, greasy pizza and all, and I promptly fell in love with the game . . .

. . . or maybe I was falling in love with something else.

*That is, we strongly expressed differing points of view, tried to convince the other person to agree, failed, and ended with us me in a funk and Jared confused.


  1. You must listen to Matthew Taylor's Link from his comment to your last post in this saga..... very appropriate


  2. This prompted a discussion by EA and I about how much we love and respect you both. I love hearing your whole story, and really Rebekah, I want to be like you when I grow up. :)

  3. Another great post. Thanks for telling your honesty so honestly. :-)

  4. Any man who can make you fall in love with baseball is a real keeper.

  5. Still devouring the telling of Your Story. I never would have guessed all that transpired.