only help my unbelief

The big things and the little things
December 11, 2008, 10:26 am
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Two nights ago, I had a bit of a meltdown. It was partly wedding, partly lack of sleep, partly sin, partly Chelsey. Christian got to experience my emotional instability in all its un-glory.

Last night we were driving to a Christmas party and were stuck in traffic for a good 30 minutes. We started talking a little bit about our conversation the night before, and Christian asked me a couple questions about how he could have responded better (for the record, I thought he responded well). He asked me if there was anything he said that really didn’t help the situation, and what kinds of questions he could ask that would point me to Christ and keep me from getting defensive.

Of course, it wasn’t all his fault, but him being so vulnerable with me made me willing to confess the pride and sin in my heart to him, and within 20 minutes or so, what little tension might have remained was gone. All that was left was joy and closeness.

I think that was one of those Big Things that you’re supposed to do in marriage, and I’m so glad we’re being given opportunities to practice in little ways.

But I don’t think it’s just about how we deal with conflict. I think there are smaller things, almost more meaningful things, that nurture that closeness.

The best example I can think of is actually an example of me failing miserably, but maybe some of you can learn from my mistakes.

After the party last night, I stayed at Christian’s apartment for a few minutes. Because my computer is broken, I’m having severe Facebook withdrawal, so he let me use his computer. We sat next to each other while I browsed profiles and read through some items on Google Reader. He watched some YouTube videos I had starred, and he commented on some recipes I had saved (“So, once we’re married, we’re eating chocolate desserts and stove-top macaroni and cheese?” he says. What can I say? That’s what the food bloggers are making these days, it seems.). Then he said he wanted to watch an episode of The Adventures of Pete and Pete (TAOPAP).

His roommate recently got them an entertainment center and TV, and Christian has been really excited to watch some of his DVDs. I never watched TAOPAP as a kid, so I have no attachment to it, and the one episode I have seen I thought was fairly stupid.

I watched the first half of the episode with him, although I wasn’t paying attention at all. Then I picked up his laptop and continued perusing the blogosphere. I completely lost touch with the television.

As soon as the credits started rolling, though, I noticed Christian sitting on the other end of the couch, and I felt so far away from him. I immediately felt terrible.

“Hey, Christian?”


“Would you have enjoyed it if I’d watched TAOPAP with you?”

He smiled a little. “Maybe.”

Lesson learned. Next time, sweet boy, I will watch it with you, and we can laugh together.

From online to long distance
July 9, 2008, 6:00 am
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Note: This post is part 2 of “How I met Christian.” You can read part 1 here.

After I headed home to South Carolina on April 9, 2006, reality sank in.

Sure, I’d met an awesome guy through the Internet by the providence of God, but now I was back at school, taking 19 hours and trying to work part-time during the week. I hardly had time to be, let alone stay in touch with a boyfriend. Before it had been official, there weren’t many expectations. But now that I had met this charming young man and he had expressed interest in pursuing a relationship with me, I really wanted to talk to him!

As exciting as our relationship was, it came at an interesting time. It came at the right time, I know, because God is sovereign, but in the couple of months before I met Christian in person, I had started having sleeping problems and panic attacks. It wasn’t because of Christian initially, but once we started dating, the problems were compounded.

Even though he had remained firm in his commitment to me, I still wasn’t sure if he really meant it. And it didn’t matter how many times he told me, I still just wasn’t sure.

As you can imagine, this was a hard time for both of us. I wasn’t trusting God or Christian, and he was 400 miles away trying to do well at school and spend time with friends and still be there for me.

I wish I could say that the problem quickly subsided, but it didn’t.

Instead, the anxiety turned into dependence, which turned into some behavior that I’m pretty embarassed about and would rather not disclose completely. In short, the summer after we met, I dishonored my parents, ignored most of my friends (which really hurt them) and didn’t really resolve any of my anxiety about Christian.

And so that summer was a rocky time, and not indicative of what our relationship would become. I get really sad thinking about all the opportunities that I wasted during those months, but God is a good and loving God who redeems bad things for good. It took me a while to see any good out of those things, but if nothing else, I can see that God sustained me through a period of time when I deserved grace less than anyone.

At the end of the summer we had almost two weeks together. He stayed with some friends of mine in Columbia, and we got to see each other every day. This was good, but almost too good. When he went back to school, it was really hard for me. Over the summer we had been able to talk pretty much whenever. But now he had a schedule and so did I, and we had to fit each other in.

The first semester of my junior year was rough, because our relationship was really and truly long distance. He wasn’t just some guy I talked to through AIM who I thought was really great. This was someone who was pursuing me, who wanted to know me better, who wanted to know my family and friends, who really and truly loved me. The only thing was, he was a six-hour drive away.

We managed to visit each other fairly often. He came down for an Andrew Peterson concert. I went up for our six-month anniversary. He came down for fall break. I went up when we had a Monday off school. But the fact remained that we did not live in the same town, we didn’t get to see each other much, and it was really, really hard.

There was a light at the end of the tunnel, though it was a temporary light. After Christmas 2006, he was going to spend six weeks in Columbia… before he went to Germany.

To be continued.