I recently wrote how I met Rob here. A few people seemed to want to know more of our story. You’re getting an in-between story right now of Rob & I before we started dating (this particular section covers late January through early August of the year 2000).
I had befriended a few girls in my new school who told me they attended a youth group. They invited me to go with them because it was a lot of fun. They weren’t really Christians, but they liked hanging around there and checking out all the guys. It was going to be Super Bowl Sunday and this particular youth group had parties every year for the Super Bowl. I already attended two youth groups regularly, but what was one more? When I got there it was packed with kids. My friends sat at a table filled with teenagers who had colorfully dyed hair and looked like they were a mix of wannabe punk kids and colorful club kids. I had my hair down and parted in the middle with little wisps of bangs. I was growing my hair out which reached the lower portion of my back. I wore a bell-sleeved top that was a little too transparent. It was maroon and white with some flowers in certain spots and also a midriff slit so you could see my belly button. I wore bell bottoms and my amazing dark blue and bright orange platform sneakers.
After I met some of the kids at the table, I noticed one guy kept asking what he could do for me. He became my errand boy, even though I told him I could get my own water and hot dog. He kept insisting over and over again to get me whatever I wanted to eat and drink. He also sat by me and I felt a bit uncomfortable, yet really flattered.
Rob and his 13 year old sister Katherine showed up. Rob had just received his license on his 17th birthday six days earlier. I was in shock that he was there. I had no idea he’d be there. He went right over to me. Rob informed my errand boy that I told him he was cool just days earlier. He had so much pride in already “knowing” me.
I tried to talk to Katherine, who was such a sweet and devotedly adoring sister towards her big brother. I felt I could relate to her (having older brothers myself). I told her that I had a crush on Rob. She said, “Well, he has a girlfriend.” Confused, I said, “He told me he just got out of a relationship.” She smiled, “Oh no, they just became a couple. This is someone new.”
What? Boy, he moved fast. One day he seemed to have a thing for me, the next he had another girlfriend already? Turns out Rob went to another youth group two nights earlier (yet one day after we met) and talked to a girl he thought was cute. He asked her out on the spot and she accepted. How annoying!
I went home that night feeling happy but sad. I did more praying and reading of The Bible. I continued with my usual prayers to ask God to put someone in my life who would become my husband one day and that if that was Rob, to let it be His will and not my own. I felt like that was hopeless. Regardless of how I felt, God knew better and actually comforted me quite a bit.
The following day I went to school and tried to adjust to the new schedule. The second semester was beginning and I had some classes that changed, due to our block scheduling. When I headed to my gym class first thing that morning and walked to the gym, Rob was there too. We had gym class together. He went up to me and said, “Funny how we just met and now we keep seeing each other!” It was really funny and interesting to me. Was this part of God’s answer to my prayers? I quickly prayed in my head thanking God, but also to keep my head clear and not allow myself to be tricked. Not only did I see Rob in gym class, but he had my lunch rotation too and sat a table away from me.
The week after I met Rob, many guys started to ask me out on dates. I received eight inquiries for dates. Two of them tried hard while the others gave up pretty much after I told them I didn’t date. I let the two guys who pursued me know that I had a crush on Rob. I didn’t keep it a secret from Rob either. He knew. I told him plainly and sincerely that I liked him and he went and reminded me that I turned him down because I “didn’t date”. Throughout the months he would remind me that I had my chance once. I didn’t like his attitude about it. He constantly flirted with me though he had a girlfriend and that bothered me. I told him that he shouldn’t flirt because that would hurt her. I didn’t inform him that it was hurting me too.
During our time in gym class, students were put in pairs with partners of the same sex and given a rotation to play volleyball against other pairs. It was usually during this time that Rob and I hung out talking to one another as we’d get time to rest in between playing rounds. We got to play against each other pretty regularly for about two months. I was so comfortable around him and loved that we could laugh and share our lives together.
I was a little too active when it came to playing volleyball against Rob. I spiked the ball into Rob’s gut so hard that the wind was knocked out of him. I watched his body bend over as he wheezed out in pain. I panicked and dropped to my knees while praying. I cried tears of fear in the horror that he’d hate me. I thought that any chances I did have with Rob just dropped in an instant. He looked up at me and once he regained his focus (and was able to breathe) he stood up laughing while caressing his abdomen. I apologized over and over to him. He assured me he would be okay. I was so upset with myself over it but he laughed and made jokes about it on a regular basis, which felt like a jab into my own abdomen.
After a few months God started to truly reveal a lot to me about Himself and what I needed for my own life. I was dedicated to Jesus and was trying to not think of what I wanted because I was naturally selfish and needed to become more selfless. It was a huge downfall for me to try to push myself aside when I wanted my own way. I clearly felt God’s peace when it came to Rob. I didn’t want to think that Rob was going to be the one for me at all, but God kept showing me, “YES, it’s Rob! He’s going to be your husband. Don’t give up on him no matter how difficult it might be! He is the one I have placed in your life.” Although I was only 16 years old and knew that telling anyone such notions would be considered immature or not of God, it was the truth. I had no doubt because of the scriptures, the dedication, and the intimacy of a prayer life that I had with God. He could have decided to let me wait ten years for someone else, but He chose that this person in front of me was the one; yes, even though I was just a teenager and “too young” to be considering marriage at all. I questioned God on it often.
I dove into writing poetry as Rob started to anger me so often. We had some amazing God-centered conversations and then some surface-based ones. He was obviously very attracted to me and knew that I liked him, so he took advantage of that from time to time. I really hated head games. I was a very open and honest person and I just had wished he would be too. He would even bring up to me in front of people (but talking about me without saying who I was) things like, “I could have been with this one girl if she didn’t tell me she didn’t date.” So I’d respond with, “If you would be patient, the girl would probably have been your girlfriend by now.” When people would hear us saying things like this they’d roll their eyes, laugh, and exclaim, “You two really should just go out! You obviously like each other.”
Rob tried to make himself believe he was very much in love with his girlfriend. He rarely even got to be around her, and she didn’t live that close to him which made it more difficult. She’d flirt with loads of other guys at the youth group they attended together. He wanted to be the one hugging her, but she’d let plenty of other guys put their arms around her (in front of him, no less). His relationship was based on fantasies. They would write emails and notes about what they would do with each other if they could be with one another (how they’d hold each other or cook one another a meal and gaze at one another while smiling and more gushy things like that). They’d describe what life would be like if they went to school together and if they could hang out on weekends. The truth is they only had a few dates with each other (Apparently she was not allowed to date yet because her dad wanted her to concentrate on school, but she went ahead and became Rob’s girlfriend). The rest of their relationship was made-up in their heads of what they really wished they could be. It irritated Rob and he would tell me all about it every single day. I would always open my heart to him and help him, but it was not easy to give him advice so that he could keep his girlfriend when I wanted to be his girlfriend. He would say he had “the perfect love” when all I saw was a huge mess. When he would finish pouring his heart out to me he’d flirt again as if that perfect love he expressed really wasn’t anything at all to him. When I would share my poems with him, I thought he’d hate them and laugh and find them a little odd since they were about him (and he knew it), but he encouraged me to continue showing them to him. Our friendship was so sincere.
When school ended that year, our youth group had a “Burger Bash” at a lake where we’d play games, swim in the lake, and eat burgers. Rob and I were inseparable the whole time. We played frisbee together, talked, and Rob even cooked me a special delicious burger. He didn’t inform me that he was having many issues with his girlfriend. We enjoyed being close friends and having the ability to be there for one another, but it was always difficult to think about being simply friends since we both always had feelings for each other (and deep down inside we knew there was no one else for us). He was going to break up with his girlfriend and ask me to be his girlfriend instead, but since he decided to be in his relationship, he believed he should try to stick with it. Perhaps I was influencing him with how I processed relationships. It was not easy on his mind or his heart. We flirted together more than ever which made things more difficult for him (and I became far more flirtatious towards him than I ever had been before).
I went to an all-girl Christian summer camp every summer in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. This was the last time I would be at summer camp and I would be there for three weeks. I worked there for the second summer in a row as a groom aide; mucking horse stalls and brushing the dust out of horse manes. Rob couldn’t help but miss me the entire time, though he didn’t let me know until months later. I was on his mind throughout it all. I brought a picture of him with me to camp and prayed for him, for me, and for God’s guidance on my life and his life. I prayed that God would ease my heart so that the pain wouldn’t be so great. I was really starting to get frustrated with God. I was having a hard time. At camp, it is hard to cry out when there are 11 people in the same large dark tent with you. I often prayed during our camp’s quiet times given to all campers for reflection and devotion with God. It was the first time I felt homesick at camp, and it wasn’t because I wanted to be home, it was because Rob was becoming such a part of what home was for me. I was in love.