A meeting was quickly arranged between the pastors of our church, Chris, and I.
And I seriously contemplated shoving all my stuff in my car and driving back to Reno- never to return again.
I was scared TO DEATH to meet with the pastors of my church and talk about Chris & I... to talk about sex. I had been deeply wounded by the church I'd attended in Reno when I had tried to reach out for help. I honestly felt like I just wasn't up for more pain... I was already hurting so badly from Chris, the last thing I needed was a harsh reprimand from my pastors! I felt like I'd rather just forget about church and God altogether rather than sit down, face-to-face, to DEAL WITH IT. I had almost talked myself into skipping the meeting and leaving the church for good.
When Chris showed up at my door to pick me up, however, I didn't put up a fuss. I quietly followed him out to his car. I was on the verge of tears already and we hadn't even begun to talk. I respected (and still do respect) my pastors SO MUCH, that the last thing I thought I could handle was knowing that I had "let them down". I felt sick to my stomach. I was preparing to have to defend myself- to lash out and get angry with them. I was going to show them that they couldn't hurt me or control me.
We started to talk. Right off the bat, our pastors let us know that they were not meeting with us to shame us or to make us feel judged. They began by telling us that they understood how hard it was to be in love and not express it physically. They told us they were not there to condemn us, but to come along side of us and help us get through our situation. We set up boundaries and committed to talking with one another- being honest and open about everything. They told us they loved us and cared deeply for us and wanted nothing more than to see us in a place of joy and peace again. They prayed for us, hugged us, and the meeting was over.
I was shocked.
I left that meeting feeling more hopeful than I had in... in... years maybe. I instantly felt like I wasn't ALONE. Like I could and would get through this. Everything was out on the table and it felt like I'd shifted the weight of the world from my shoulders and shut the door on it for good when I left the room that day. For the first time in four years, I felt like everything was going to be Okay.
Jesse moved down right after that and he and Chris and a couple of other guys started playing in a band together. By this point, I knew that I wasn't fit to be in any type of relationship with him or anyone else. I was still deep down desperately in love with Chris, and I remember wanting to hang out with him and Jesse and the guys just so I could be near Chris. This wasn't the healthiest thing for me to do, because instead of getting over Chris, I was actually falling more and more in love with him- even though we were interacting and hanging out solely as friends in larger groups of people.
Things went on like this for a couple of months. I began to laugh and smile again. I hung out with friends and had fun and wasn't obsessed over where Chris was and what he was doing all the time. I prayed and prayed and asked God to forgive me for blaming Him for all my problems. I asked Him to make me my own person- to reveal my identity to me. I embraced the fact that I was single and could actually enjoy that season of my life for the first time ever. I was finally OK with being on my own, I felt like a whole person. And I honestly began to want nothing more than for Chris to be HAPPY. No matter what that looked like.
Despite the distance between us and the freedom I was finally experiencing apart from Chris, my love for him only grew stronger and stronger. It moved beyond a surface-y, physical kind-of love (the only love I believe we had shared up until this point), to a much deeper love of Chris as a man, as a genuine, compassionate, and caring human being. I watched him from afar for months... praying that God would take away my intense love for him so that he and I could finally move on with our lives... yet the harder I prayed, the harder I fell. I would become giddy and get serious butterflies every time I got around him, every time he looked at me. I fumbled over my words and blushed bright red when he talked to me.
I wanted to marry the boy.
I continued to interact with Chris as a friend. I didn't let him know that our time apart was doing nothing but INCREASING my love for him. I finally trusted God enough to let Him handle the situation. DUH.
He was trying desperately to move on with his life, but was feeling much of the same. He was constantly battling with himself-- he knew he loved me, but didn't trust himself with my heart. He'd broken it too many times. He COULD NOT allow himself to break it again. So, he kept his distance. He fought against his love for me and was also praying that God would take away the stubborn love that only seemed to be getting stronger.
One day, Chris was riding with our pastor in his truck, when he turned to Chris and asked, point-blank, "So, honestly Chris. What is the deal with you and Emery? Do you love her or don't you?"
Chris told him that yes, he did love me, but he didn't trust himself with me because he was worried we would just end up sleeping together, and it would ruin everything all over again.
Our pastor looked at Chris and then said, "So, you don't want to marry her because you guys can't stop sleeping together? Isn't that what MARRIED PEOPLE do? You guys sleep together because you're IN LOVE. We can help keep you guys accountable with that. If that's the ONLY reason you guys aren't together, that just doesn't make much sense, does it?"
Chris had never thought of it that way before. It was like a light was instantly switched on in his brain. HE LOVED ME. And he was going to do something about it.
**to be continued...**