This is the part of our story where chronology is getting confusing. I've taken you, my sweet readers, through four long years and five summers and now we are getting into the details, the minutia of how we met and got together. Of course, all the details, while seeming trivial were all in the grand scheme of God's planning and workings.
Looking back, we both laugh at how blind we were to obvious truths. "Were we really dating all that time and we just didn't know it?" "How did you not know I liked you?" "Everyone else did?" Honestly, I was so in the dark about how Tuan felt about me and I had been waffling myself up to the end of that summer, so in my mind it was perfectly rational that the guy who had written me multi-page missives all summer, could truly be taking me to meet his "future wife. " Also, I had been the "friend-girl" to so many guys that had been very good buddies and then paired up with other girls, that again, it made sense to me.
I didn't know what to expect when the door opened. Would I like these new friends? Was Tuan really in love with one of them? I was so confused! However, when the door opened and I was greeted with big warm friendly smiles and huge hugs and exclamations of "we are so glad to meet you!" I didn't care one bit if he married any of the sweet Ridgehaven girls. I liked them immediately! We had a bitter sweet evening of fellowship--grieving with Josh and at the same time listening to the Ridgehaven crew reminiscence about their summer (camp sub-cultures are so cool).
It was early August--the time when you're moving back to school, but things haven't really started up yet and there's lots of free time to be had. I'm sure we hung out a little bit, but one of the episodes that stands out in my mind is when Tuan asked me to go down to Baton Rouge with him. He was moving back into his apartment and invited me to come, stay the night and go to church with some of our campers from Harvest. "You can stay with my friend ______, she lives in our complex and you'll like her, she's a great girl.
I was thinking, okay, now we're getting somewhere! We'll get to hang out, maybe have some good conversation--you don't just invite any old friend to do something like this. There's gotta be something going on!
Instead, I left Baton Rouge on Sunday afternoon even more confused than I was before and quite ready to wipe my hands of the whole situation.
I followed Tuan down to Baton Rouge and we were not at his apartment but perhaps three minutes before there was a knock at the door. It was his neighbor, who we shall call "Lucy".
It quickly became very clear to me that there would not be a moment alone with Tuan the entire weekend as "lucy" was on the prowl and bound and determined to take Tuan for herself. I am not exaggerating, people. It was wild. Where Tuan went, there goeth she. I was bewildered and amazed. Was something going on between them? Had I misplaced my paranoia on the Ridgehaven girls all to find that he had a girlfriend in Baton Rouge?
I stayed in her apartment that night and it was quite chilly. Just when I thought that things could not get even weirder, we headed to the parking lot intending to go to church the next morning. We'd decided to take my car and since I was totally lost in Baton Rouge, I handed the keys to Tuan so he could drive. She immediately hopped into the front seat of my car.
The front seat.
Of MY car!
You are thinking to yourself: "oh no she didn't!" and I am telling you, "oh, yes, she did!"
There is a line that you do not cross in the game--nay, war--of love and that was the line. I sat in the backseat of MY car (did I mention I was in the backseat of MY car?) and there sat in stunned, amused bewilderment and I thought to myself, "If she really wants Tuan that badly, I am not getting in the way."
I went back to Hattiesburg that afternoon, I was confused, and perplexed. What in the world was going on with this? One night soon after, I went to eat at McAllister's with Josh, Troy, Leigh, Anna and some friends from church. Leigh, Anna and I went to the bathroom together (as girls do) and we were rehashing the same conversation we'd probably had many times before, but this time there was new information as Troy and Josh had been loose-lipped. "Paula!" Anna said, "Josh and Troy said that Tuan talked about you all summer and he definitely likes you!" "Really? AUGH!!!" I said jubilantly and somehow jumped up in the air and simultaneously kicked the garbage can across the girls bathroom. It was loud. I was so mortified (and all at once grinning and sheepish). We came out of the bathroom painfully aware that the entire restaurant had heard our ruckus.
But, O, take that, Lucy!
Lest my readers think that all I did in those days was gallivant between fun destinations and socialize (like the Jane Austen characters I so longed to be), I actually did go to school, worked everyday, spent hours upon hours on projects (I was studying art/graphic design) and was involved with RUF. With school starting I was getting to know our brand new campus minister, Clint Wilcke and staying busy. I was also becoming convicted.
It became clear that I was getting very consumed with Tuan--whether it was the idea of a relationship, wondering about it all, or just being rather head-over-heels for the boy himself. It wasn't a good thing and I'm thankful God helped me to see what was going on deep down. I realized that I could not keep on obsessing and thinking and daydreaming. I needed to be focused on the Lord and living the life he had called me to live right then and there.
I prayed about it and just kind of said, "God, I'm sending Tuan to you and if this works out, so be it, but I cannot cling to this." It sounds so abstract, and I'm going to make it more so by saying that I put the whole idea and the hopes and dreams of a relationship with Tuan in a bottle, corked it and threw it out to sea. If God wanted this to happen, it would.
It was time to wait a little longer.
1 month ago