Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Love Story: Forming Friendship

Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one’s side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music, perhaps . . . perhaps . . . love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath. 
~ L.M. Montgomery

I like to laugh and say it was "love at first click."
It was January 2010 when Nolan and I first "met" through Facebook. He lived in Albuquerque, NM and I in my hometown, Mesa, AZ. My dear cousin, Alexis, was instrumental in introducing us to each other. It is humbling to confess that our first conversations were via Facebook. It was unthinkable to me that a dear friendship could ever begin from a social network. But, it was the first of many unexpected threads by which our story was woven. 
 I simply cannot explain how it was that my heart was drawn to him the moment we first corresponded through Facebook. It just was. It went beyond attraction. I saw a reverence for and an enjoyment of the Word in this man. In fact, our first conversation involved Scripture. 
 We soon after discovered our mutual enjoyment for blogging. This opened to us a great expanse of endless conversations by which we learned of each other's interests, visions, and pursuits. Talking to him was natural and wonderful. It was easy to think more into what was really there. We conversed off and on for the first 5 months, by the end of which I was more than ready to take a break - to give my undivided attention to the One who had been drawing me closer. The Lord's love had been drawing me in through a series of events in the previous year, which resulted in a call to prepare to leave for 11 weeks to a Christian retreat/Bible school, Ellerslie, in the summer of 2010. I sought to take a break from my life to steadfastly seek my Maker in the set-apart environment in Windsor, CO. I was so rigidly bent on this distraction-less pursuit that it really did ruffle my feathers when Nolan e-mailed me his home address asking for a handwritten correspondence while I was away at Ellerslie. Needless to say, in my silliness, I was a bit distressed, but decided to share my experiences there. 

 (our letters and a prayer journal that I had been keeping throughout most of our friendship)
That summer our friendship took root through our handwritten letters. Instead of a distraction, this new friendship was edifying and renewing as it solidified between us a deep trust to speak to and regard each other as a friend to a friend, a brother to a sister. We lifted each other up in our small prayer requests and needs, while sharing verses, quotations, and materials that spoke growth into our lives. This friendship complemented my summer of drawing near to the heart of my Lord. 

 About a month after returning home, Nolan and I met for the very first time.
 Shy. Awkward. Quiet. 
Our letters seemed so much more relaxed than our face to face encounter. In fact, our first in-person meeting was of a hilarious nature because it took place at my cousin Alexis' going-away/graduation costume party. Placing two introverts within a setting mostly filled with extroverts would only add to the awkwardness. Also, we weren't exactly our "normal" selves as he was dressed as the Phantom of the Opera and I as Senator Padme from Star Wars. Thankfully, later that weekend, we were able to enjoy each other's company among a smaller group of friends, in which I was later prompted to lead everyone in worship through singing and guitar playing.

 I remember he hugged me very quickly before he left that night - just barely so. I recall that I couldn't read him at all. His nature was so reserved, but it was these quiet aspects of his personality that I admired and left a deep impression on me. 
 Our weekly e-mails continued from fall 2010 into 2011 followed by a short visit from Nolan in March. My sister, cousin, and I got together with him for some short enjoyable hours of fun and games and fellowship. It was a time that brought much happiness to me. But, I sensed a wall about him that seemed unmovable. It kept me from acting as a flirt or trying to catch his attention. His reserved demeanor actually protected me from acting like a silly-heart, something of which I had been convicted of around other young men in the past. Nolan was different from the others. He genuinely seemed to love talking with me and being in my company, but not in a bold and flirtatious way. His nature was relaxed and soft and it inspired a quietness in me as I waited upon him. On the last evening of his visit, after a dinner with my family, he mentioned, while walking out the door, that I should write him. I immediately responded, "You write me first!" 
When he arrived back in Albuquerque, he did just that.

Prayers were laced through the weeks and months that we corresponded through e-mail. Surrender - daily surrender - was the most prevalent attitude that marked this season of our friendship. Neither of us sought to make our intentions known. We were very much "asleep" to each other's thoughts and emotions. And I couldn't have known at that time the full significance of travailing in tears and prayers through my frustrations, wondering the purpose of this friendship and where it was heading. I told no one of this, save Christ, for over a year. 

  My mother was the first person I confided in about this in the early summer of 2011. I knew that, if anyone's opinion mattered, it was my mother's because a mother has such a way of knowing and seeing what her children really need in a spouse. My mother, who has always had very high standards for me and my siblings, reacted very peacefully when I told her about my heart for Nolan. She also expressed her curiosity through questions and wanted to "learn more" in her quiet way. It gave me such a peace that I wasn't going crazy and that, perhaps, this young man in my life was purposefully placed there. A couple of months after the talk with my mother, I found myself spilling the "juice" (as my cousin, sister, and I love to call it) to my sister and a couple of friends after being asked if there was anyone in my life whom I was interested in. It was quite hilarious to see the look of surprise on my sister's face, although a part of her seemed to finally have the "answer" for some of the suspicions she had kept to herself about me. 
My mother and sister were my support through their prayers as the season of waiting for clarity and answers seemed to drag. I am truly grateful for my sister who spent many sleepless nights listening to my ponderings, tears, and prayed with me.

It was that July in 2011 that Nolan and I acknowledged, in very short words, the significance and value of our friendship to each other. It was the most precious thing to me that he would express it. Yet, he gave no indication of any other "deeper" feelings on the matter. 

As our friendship deepened, the emails at the end of the week became even more of a sheer delight. We shared poems, verses, songs, quotations, and teachings that were significant to our weeks. Sometimes, we discussed our mutual love and shared passion for natural health and living. When either of us was wrestling with an unnamed struggle, we were there to lift each other with our words.  I sensed his guiding and protecting efforts to keep our conversations strictly on a friendship basis. He treated me gently and kindly through his words, and I sensed such purity in him towards me that never once led me on. 
An e-mail was never sufficient. To sit in the presence of one you enjoy until they become a familiar part of your existence is the natural longing that came. And, yet, we were separated by hundreds of miles and there was no obligation towards each other since neither knew the other's deepest thoughts. 

1 comment:

  1. Oooh, what a touching beginning to a wonderful story. I sense a lot of patience and respect in this, which I love. Going to read the next one now. :)