Most of my blog posts start out apologetically.

It is usually something like, “I haven’t written in a while” or “I’ve been very busy lately” or “I’m sorry, but this post is going to be more complicated/longer than you probably want it to be.”

So, this time, you aren’t going to get that. Instead, oh reader, you will get an assertion of rightness.

I have been keeping up with my blog amazingly well given the busy-ness of my life. That work?

Anyhow, this post is going to take on a different flavor from most of my blog posts. Most of the time I muse about my community, the nature of the Gospel, or something theological. This time, though, I am going to be relatively personal.

You see, this post is about me and a woman named Amanda Pavlik, a woman whom I have come to care deeply about.

* * *

Amanda and I started dating about three weeks ago. Well, we were sort of dating for a couple of weeks before that. Well, actually, about five weeks ago we recognized that we had a fairly special relationship. But, as with most good stories, this story begins in the mists of the distant past. Or not so distant past, but certainly in the past.

This story began on October 9th 2010. (I suppose it technically begins at my birth, but that would be a very long story indeed. For our purposes, then, the story began October 9th 2010). October 9th 2010 was the date of last year’s Fall Party. The party consisted of a group of friends getting together, eating Fall food, carving pumpkins, making music, and hanging out.

That’s where I met Amanda. I first discovered Amanda outside in the front yard. I had actually arrived slightly late to the Fall Party because I had prepared my contribution to the Fall food: pineapple casserole (known by my family as scalloped pineapple, which sounds fancier). I walked into the Man Castle bearing my gift and noticed, as I entered, a group of people in the front yard making music and singing. They were, in fact, singing Shane and Shane songs. One of these people was Eric and one was, I came to discover, Amanda.

Amanda came to Fall Party because Morgan invited her. Fall Party mostly consisted of my Jesus community and some hanger-ons, and so Morgan was, herself, relatively new to this group of people.

In any case, I sat down with the music makers. Soon, though, we ate food. After eating food we carved pumpkins. After carving pumpkins, people began to go home. However, I heard piano music coming from Drew’s room, and Drew wasn’t in there. Curious, and delighted by the music, I made my way to his room. Upon entering, I discovered Amanda sitting at Drew’s keyboard. I also discovered Morgan sitting in the room singing. They played and sang many ditties. I sat down and wrote this poem. Asked what I was doing, I announced to the music-makers (I think Drew was present by now) that I had written a poem, inspired by their marvelous music. We ended up staying late, hanging out, and clearly determining to become best friends.

Drew and I had, actually, been praying for girls. Not girlfriends, but girl friends. The Lord provided with Morgan and Amanda, and the middle of last Fall became the start of one of my favorite periods of life.

* * *

Friendship developed in organic ways which I will not begin to try to explain, but I will say that the four of us began to hang out a lot.

In December, Drew and Morgan began dating. Basically everyone and their mom saw this coming, and all were delighted. Christmas break began and I spent the five weeks of it in Sugar Land. Something I discovered while in Sugar Land, though, was that I was both talking about and texting Amanda a lot. In fact, my sister asked me once, “Who is this Amanda girl anyway?”

That is when the thought first crossed my mind: “umph. I think I like this girl.”

Sometime in early January before the Spring semester started I confessed to Eric that I thought I liked Amanda. He said, “Well, duh”, as if it was obvious. The thing to do, of course, was to brave fear, muster courage, and tell Amanda that I liked her. Since she provided a timeline in her blog post from her perspective, I figured I could provide one as well. Now, the following is a record of my inner thoughts. In this I’m being fairly vulnerable with whoever reads this post. I hope it proves edifying.

* * *

February: I like you, but I doubt you like me. No one really ever has. I want you to know about my feelings, though, so when you inevitably find out about them you don’t think I was manipulating you. I hope this doesn’t ruin our friendship.

March: Now I really like you. A lot. We can’t keep spending all this time together; it’s not good for my heart.

May: I still really like you, but I’m sorry that it makes you feel awkward. There is nothing I can do about that. I have come to peace with the fact that we will never happen. My satisfaction is in God.

June: I’m 400 miles away from everyone, including you. This suits me fine. I can focus on myself and God, but I’m coming back in the Fall. I hope you will have sorted yourself out by then.

July: That was fun. See? See how well we interact? Oh well, this was clearly never meant to be.

August: WHAT? What do you mean “I can’t tell you ‘yes’ and I can’t tell you ‘no’?” You have seriously screwed up my equilibrium. I was freaking okay with us never happening. I need you to give me an answer soon. Until you do, I am going to be in turmoil.

Sept 2: Look, you’re just holding out because you’re afraid. That is NOT a good reason.

Sept 3: Yes!

Sept 6: What on earth does it mean to ‘pursue’ someone? Is that sort of like hunting. . . ?

 Sept 8: What an excellent date! This is surreal. Who would have imagined, six months ago, that I would be out here with you by the lake watching the stars?

Sept 14: So you finally admit it, huh? You. Like. Me. God is so kind. So so kind.

Sept 17: Arm around you. On the Ferris Wheel. So cliché. So good.

Sept 24: Today was a really good day. I sat outside and read all day, but you weren’t here. And I missed you. I wasn’t expecting that, for some reason.

Sept 25: I want to hold your hand, but I’m going to wait for you. I want share experiences with you. I want to talk to you about you. I want to share life with you.

Sept 30: Date tonight was even better. Dinner together. More stars. A different lake. Holding your hand. I know you’re here. I know. So am I.

* * *

I stop there because that’s where Amanda stopped in her timeline. And, really, what’s the point of continuing it? I certainly haven’t been able to adequately express in those short, generalizing statements what has actually gone on. I think I would do worse if I were to continue.

In any case, this relationship has taught me a few things. It has taught me. . .

. . .that what Luther said was true. The life of the Christian is one of repentance. Saying “I’m sorry. Please forgive me” has been one of the refrain’s of this relationship. I’m beginning to suspect that it should be the refrain of every relationship of any kind.

. . .that I am broken and full of pride. I’m having to learn to think outside of me. I’m not used to that. I’m used to doing/saying/getting what I want when I want. Dating Amanda is making that pretty difficult. I suspect that this only gets more pronounced. In this way, this relationship is a means by which the Holy Spirit is sanctifying me.

. . .that life done in the context of a community of people who love Jesus might be the most important aspect of the Christian life outside of knowing one’s identity in God. Our relationship isn’t a secret, it’s not done in secret, and it is open to the immediate scrutiny of a dozen or more of our closest friends. In this way, they help bear our burdens. Our brothers and sisters rebuke or encourage us as the situation requires. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

. . .and, finally, that there is tremendous joy to be had in a relationship with a woman. Amanda encourages me, lends me her strength, and lends me her ear. She does goofy things with me. She has serious and deep conversations with me. She shares her nerdy-ness with me, and allows me the same freedom. But, best of all, she prays and worships with me. Coming before God as team mates and Jesus as team captain—worshipping and praying together—dangerously brings the Kingdom to bear on our relationship and on the people immediately around us. By praying and worshipping I mean far more than singing songs and talking to God. I mean that we are committed to prayer: the entirety of our lives is submitted to God’s control. I mean, also, that we are committed to worship: the entirety of our lives is about extolling God’s glory.

* * *

And, so, today is the anniversary of the day we met. Yesterday we celebrated the second annual Fall party. Amanda still makes beautiful music. I still write poetry. And we still love Jesus. But, as Amanda tweeted earlier today, “A lot can happen in a year.”

May God continue to use us as a conduit of grace and an instrument of his Kingdom.