The Story of Us: Part 3

If you've tracked with this story from the beginning, great! If not, this is Part 3 of a series of posts. You may want to go back to read Part 1 and Part 2 before reading this post.

A New Beginning:

The last post left off with Elizabeth heading back to college in California and me heading to college in Florida. It was my third year of college, but now I had changed my major and that set me back some academically. Not all of my credits transferred either, so I had to do a little back-tracking. This was inconsequential. I was in a new place now--different culture, different student body, different everything! There were many new things I had to figure out, but it was a healthy process. It helped me "let go" even more of my past--my past friends, my past habits, my past reputation. It was a fresh start for me. But there are some things you can't run from by getting on a plane. Sin doesn't just let go. It goes with you wherever you are, though it might manifest itself differently in different environments. The first semester for me was tough, but I was making it. I was learning that God didn't just want to forgive me and let me run my life; He wanted to be intimately involved in my life. He wanted to be the One I turned to, the One I needed, the One I loved. For you who are not Christians, this might sound a little weird, and so it should; but loving God is the beginning of new life. Are you tired of spiraling in your life? Are you banging your head against the same old brick walls and pretending you're making progress? It might be (is) a good time to seek God.

The first semester was a big accomplishment for me. This new school had a bigger student body, which meant more girls. Lots and lots of pretty girls. Lay off, I was 19 and not married. I had the right to be scouting a little. However, most of the attraction ended when I got to know these girls. I am not speaking badly of them (well, most of them anyways), but they weren't for me. Elizabeth and I kept talking and emailing, but it was getting hard--really hard. We had completely separate lives now.

Mid-way through that year Elizabeth started discussing what she would do after her two year degree was complete. She signed up for a two year degree and was almost done now! I was hopeful she might come to Alabama or Florida so I could see her more often. Talk of that did occur. She seriously considered attending the college where I was. See! God was working. Things were finally fitting into place! This was God's plan all along--right?

More Controversy:

The next semester things got weird. For the first time in our relationship, Elizabeth started seeming very distant when I talked to her. Our emails got shorter and shorter, less and less personal. Somewhere around mid-terms of that spring semester, our communication died. It was mostly on her end. I came to find out later that she was concerned that I would become a medical doctor because I changed my major to Premed. She wasn't sure if she could handle the stress of being married to a doctor. I know what some of you single girls/women are thinking. What!? A girl could only be so lucky! Dollar signs were not in her eyes. She saw me heading away from the life she envisioned with her future husband. For that reason, she retracted. But I was in the dark. I didn't know this until a few years later. 

Keep in mind, we still were "seeing" other people during this entire year. I started worrying that she had found another guy, and I was toast. Time would tell. 

Elizabeth was set to graduate in May 2004, and I had already purchased tickets to fly out to California to see her graduate. Given our current situation, I probably would not have bought the tickets, but I bought them in January, before the collapse of our relationship. So me, being the cheap self that I am, decided I would fly out there to get my money's worth--and to figure out where we were going, face to face. I jumped (not literally) on the plane and headed for LAX. This was going to be a rough trip.



When I arrived at LAX, Elizabeth's parents were there and drove me from the airport to Elizabeth's college. We saw each other, and it was like we were dead. Not really dead, but dead to each other. I had mentally prepared for a break up of sorts, but it wasn't enough. She informed me that we were done. To really nail the hammer in the coffin, she even brought along her new boyfriend to the graduation, and he sat with her family--perhaps one of the most awkward experiences in my life. I didn't hate on him. Testosterone says to crack his skull open like a watermelon, but reason says that he was just dating a pretty girl; besides she wasn't really "taken" because I wasn't there. That's how most people think, because long distance relationships aren't really real. So this was NOT one of Elizabeth's finer moments. I was hurt, like past the sad stage and just mad. It would take a long time to patch up this mess--a very long time.

Silence:

I left California not acting much like a Christian--spiteful, angry, and hardened. I had been hurt before. I knew what it felt like. I felt betrayed. I felt like I never, ever wanted to speak to Elizabeth again. God's plan was over, or it never existed. This was all a big mistake.

I arrived home to Minnesota and deleted every email she ever sent me, threw away every picture of us I possessed, and tried to erase her existence from my life. I tried really hard to forget her phone number, but this was back in the days when people knew phone numbers, so I remembered it for a LONG TIME. I vowed I would not speak to her if she called me or respond to her emails. I was dead to her, and her to me. 

I spent the summer of 2004 working and spending time with friends and family, like I did most summers (see also 'My Brush with Death'). I had more free time now since I wasn't racking up gargantuan phone bills talking to Elizabeth. I'm not a pouter, for those who may not know me. I'm an optimist that always tries to make the best of things. I looked at this summer as an opportunity to unwind, refocus and head back to another year of college. I gave some serious thought to not pursuing marriage that summer. I asked God, "Do you even want me to get married?" This is a healthy question, because marriage is not for everyone. It's for most people, and I believe it's part of God's design; but He has also designed some folks to thrive in singleness. So if you're single, you should at least consider that marriage isn't for you, especially if you're not that excited about getting married. Don't do it just to please your parents or to cave to social pressure. Similarly, don't try to pressure marriage before it should happen. Timing is everything. Summer ended and I headed back to Pensacola for my fourth year of college.

September 24th, 2004: Hurricane Ivan struck the Gulf Coast with the strongest force on Pensacola, FL. I was there. It was bad. I have never seen devastation like that in my life! Power was out, no gas, no water, shattered trees everywhere, roads blocked, bridges collapsed, and civilization  was crippled. My college kept us safe in 15-foot concrete-reinforced storm shelters. I had not spoken a word to Elizabeth since I saw her in California. She called me the day after the storm to see if I was okay. It totally shocked me, but it gave me another clue. God said to me after that phone call, "See, she still cares." I would later find out that her relationship with that 'other guy' dwindled over the summer and fizzled out in the fall. But this event was not course-changing. I had no intention of calling her back. I told her I was okay and that was the end of it. 

I would not speak to Elizabeth again for an entire year. The story continues in Part 4.

Image credits:
Train tracks image from http://www.infinitesuccesses.com/a-new-beginning-on-a-powerful-journey/
Doctor image from http://www.123rf.com/
Cutting apart image from http://howardnightingale.com/family-law/separation-divorce/
Hurricane Ivan image from http://www4.ncsu.edu/~nwsfo/storage/cases/20040917/

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