How We Met Part Nine--More Declarative Statements

In the days of my youth, when I was full of crazy ideals and expectations, I would have quickly informed anyone that I would not kiss anyone until I was married, I would definitely not declare my love to anyone FIRST, nor would I have done what I am about to share with you all.

Isn't it lovely how God humbles us and teaches us that perhaps we didn't have it as right and all-together as we thought we did?

Over four years, God had constantly opened and shut doors, weaving my life in a way I never expected and finally, I was in a most unexpected place: Hattiesburg, Mississippi; going to school at USM and head over heels for a boy I never would have chosen for myself.

And, yet, in Fall of 2001, there he was. And at that point, Tuan met nearly every criteria on my high school "list".

Am I the only girl who made such a list in high school?

I think the only "qualifications" he didn't meet were: playing the guitar (bass and trumpet instead--acceptable), being taller than me (exactly the same height--mere superficials) and being a "Twin Lakes Guy" (still, he was a "camp" guy--Twin Lakes was to come).

The truly essential qualities, though, he met to a "T": loving the Lord, treating his Mama well, being Reformed, putting the toilet seat down (thanks, Mrs D!) and so on and so forth.

In about a three week span, several things were happening. I had confessed my love to Tuan (blush, run, hide), I had had a heart-to-heart with my dear friend Josh Fortier, who had prayed for me in the Wal-mart parking lot, and I was seeking counsel from my campus minister, Clint Wilcke.

I was one of Clint's first RUF'ers and I'm sure I was keeping him busy with my questions. One day, as I was going over the whole "Tuan situation" with him, Clint said,

"Paula, the problem is, you are making it too easy for Tuan to not make a decision. When he comes around, you are there. You need to draw the line in the sand and cut him off, so he has to make a decision."

Yikes. Crazy. Campus ministers love to provoke and say hard things. They also like to strongly encourage people to marry, but that is for another post.

Spurred on by Clint's encouragement, I realized that he was right and I needed to follow his advice. Did I mention that I was terrified?

The weekend of October 13th, Tuan came home to Columbia for the weekend and we made plans to hang out that Saturday. We spent the morning with Troy and another friend, then I left them to go to a shower for one of our RUF girls.

I was as nervous as can be. I was literally sick, because of what I needed to do and was so not sure of how to do it!

Unbeknownst to me, Josh Fortier, in his big-brother way, had sent an e-mail to Tuan laying it all out. Tuan says it was a "if you don't realize it, Paula likes you--here's your sign" kind of letter. I so wish I had a copy of that e-mail, but it is gone. Anyway, Tuan checked his e-mail while he and Troy were hanging out and read it very quickly before anyone saw what it was.

Tuan has been known to dwell in the land of oblivion at times and he says that despite my declaration of love at the bonfire, things had not altogether clicked. It wasn't until he read Josh's email that afternoon that he became more aware of what was going on deep down within himself.

Tuan says he went from a "I could be in a relationship with Paula" kind of place, to a "I should be in a relationship with Paula" kind of place.

So, all these things were coming together, much like the end of _The_Gods_Must_be_Crazy_, where the guerillas, the bushman, the scientist and the school teacher all collide in one glorious plot explosion.

That night, we hung out with Troy and another friend and watched _You've_Got_Mail_. I don't know if I paid much attention to the movie as I was still sick and nervous about it all. When the movie ended and everyone got up to leave, I asked Tuan to stay behind. It was late--somewhere around midnight and we went back into my apartment and sat on the couch facing each other. My roommate, Jeanine, was back in her room, oblivious to the significant and important event occurring in our our living room.

What happened went something like this:

"Um, er . . . " I stumbled, "I um, well, you need to make up your mind what you're going to do, because I'm tired of hanging on a limb."

That was not quite what I intended to say and every time I've shared with with my single friends, I encourage them NOT to do things the way I did. But God in his providence worked things out that way for us, and Tuan, having already been awakened by Josh's email, quickly decided what we were going to do.

"Okay, then, we are going to do this"

That's what he said, more or less.

We spent the next hour or more hashing things out. Each of us had a few concerns or reservations and we spent some time talking about those things. My roommate be-bopped into the living room at one point, realized the seriousness of the situation, then fled. A few minutes later, she walked into the room again, loudly announcing that she needed the radio and some ice cream and grabbing those essentials, returned quickly to the safety of her room.

Saturday turned into early Sunday morning and we reached compromise about our concerns and differences. Tuan may be laid back, but when the rubber meets the road, he is decisive and sure. At the end of our conversation, we were in a committed relationship that was definitely heading towards marriage.

Towards marriage, as in, we were practically engaged.

Tuan is a very intentional guy.

I walked him to the door, where Tuan kissed my hand, said good night and I watched him walk to the Jeep. It was a warm fall night and the air was slightly humid, making the streetlights a bit blurry and atmospheric.

"Wait!" I called out. He stood on the Jeep's running board and said, "what?"

"What are we going to say?" I asked.

I was asking what we were calling this new relationship: dating? going out? courting? betrothed?

"I LOVE YOU!" he called out.

"No, no, I mean, I love you, too but what are we?"

And that, my friends, is how Tuan and I met and started dating.

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