[I drew tiny anime “super deformed” versions of Rob & I instead of writing notes in one of my classes. Rob’s shirt originally said his ex’s nickname, but I whited it out and put “Vixen” which used to be one of the nicknames Rob called me, which hasn’t been used since way back then]. I taped the drawings to this photo, which was taken in February 2001 at a show]
One day we were wrestling with each other playfully (not good to do unless you’re married, brings up a lot of temptation to grab in places you shouldn’t and pin one another down). I was wearing my brother’s old Dallas Cowboys’ Herschel Walker jersey with very baggy pants. At one point I started to tell Rob that I loved him. Oh no! I was starting to break my promise to myself (I had believed men were supposed to say it first). The words started to come out of my mouth and I was stuttering because I didn’t really want to say it but I did! I was afraid of being rejected. I said, “I. . .I. . .I. . .I love you.” in his ear. He looked at me and said, “I know.” He gave me the Han Solo answer on purpose; just what I wanted (Oh boy! I loved Star Wars, but not enough for it to be a part of my actual love story). This made me a little sad at first. I realized I had to be patient with him. The young man just got his mind on track with all these girls. I was okay with his answer, I just hoped I wouldn’t scare him away.
I realize that a lot of times people tell each other they love someone because they believe they have to do so when in a relationship. The fact that Rob wanted to be careful told me that he really did love me. He didn’t need to tell me. I knew.
Rob wrote me a few notes during the week.
In one he said, “If I could, I would tell everything that was hurting you to just leave you alone because I don’t like seeing you cry, at least not from pain. I think if I ever saw you cry tears of joy, I’d do the same thing. I wish I could better understand how I feel, but right now, what I do know is that I’ve developed a screwed up perception of what it means to be in love with someone. I believed I was in love with [ex’s name], and I believed I was in love with [other ex’s name]. I would say that I’m in love with you if it felt the way it did with them, but it doesn’t. I can see you every day and go places with you and grow with you, and all the while your mom doesn’t mind. For the first time that I can recall (at least in a while), I’m truly happy with the situation I’m in. It’s not even like I gave up a wonderful feeling for a better circumstance. The way I feel about you is honestly different than the way I’ve felt before. I hate saying that because I’ve said it before so many times, but it’s real!! It’s like I care about you more than just a friend and yet that’s how it is because I’ve gotten so used to seeing you. I’ve only ever dated one person that I saw every day, and if I had kept going at the rate I was with her, we probably would have started sleeping together. I know for a fact that we aren’t going to get into any serious trouble, and that in itself makes me think. I mean, all the opportunities we’ve had to try and go somewhere to just be alone, and since we got back together, I haven’t taken any of them. I mean, it’s almost as if I haven’t even noticed it, because I haven’t. I could easily just tell my boss I wasn’t going to be in on a given day and just hang out with you, all by ourselves, but the idea has never really crossed my mind. I guess my point is, I really do feel differently about you. Whether it’s ‘love’ or not I can’t and won’t dare to say (at least not yet). I just pray that I don’t make a huge mistake and hurt you again, but you already know how worried I am about that.”
I responded with a note in return saying, “Take as much time praying to God about this whole ‘feelings’ situation. There is plenty of time and you just have to put total trust in what God will allow and what he wants for us. No need to rush and be all eager to want to know how you feel. Everything will come to you a lot clearer if you just wait and be patient. I don’t really need to tell you things you already know, but I am here to remind you. To be honest, I truly feel that God wants us to be there for each other in times of happiness and sorrow. It is as if I feel that honesty and trust actually helps us understand each other and there is just this connection that doesn’t seem to ever be disconnected. If any two people were meant to be together, through all the things that ever occurred in our lives, then we are those two people. I know for certain that we have an exciting adventure in store for us. My point is that sometimes people search for how they really feel about something, when if they just open their eyes and see something they never really saw before; something that would knock into them when they weren’t even thinking about it, it just will show in a second. Little actions that can really help will change a feeling and makes the heart beat just a little faster to reveal an answer. I hope I’m making sense.”
I guess Rob had a lot on his mind because I got another response from him over the subject.
“I know you told me not to think so much, but I can’t help it. I care about you so much and I just want to have a real understanding of how I feel. I don’t really have any reason not to say ‘I love you’ except for these dumb emotions I was talking about and just that I don’t feel like having my parents give me trouble. I mean, it’s weird, even my emotions are changing, like last night when I had that dream about leaving, I was really upset. Then when I woke up and smelled you on my jacket, my heart started beating a little faster. Then of course, I found a picture of you. It sounds a little divine to me, but whatever. I just wish my feelings were obvious. I mean, I’m sure it took me more than a week before I felt I was in love with [ex’s name], but I really don’t remember anymore. I guess I just don’t want to spend another year of my life believing I’m in love with someone and having it end the same way. It’s not like I’d regret spending time with you, it’s just that I don’t want either of us to get hurt by being wrong. I want to do what God wants us to do. That’s actually the biggest thing about this. I just really want to do what God wants us to do, and as of now I don’t know what He wants. I guess I’ll just keep praying and caring the way I am now.”
I got my license on Rob’s 18th birthday (I failed my permit test 3 times, so it took me a while before finally going to get my license which I passed easily). I didn’t show up at school since I was taking the test in the morning. He forgot that I had to take it. He asked everyone where I was (seriously, he went up to so many people in the hallways asking if they had seen me). No one knew. They said I’d show up. Halfway through the day when I did get to school, I had so many people approaching me to tell me how worried Rob was about me. I laughed saying, “I told him I was going to get my license today.” I showed it to him when I got there and he remembered. It was cute that he was worried though. He thought I was getting back at him on his 18th birthday for my 17th birthday since I told him I’d never let him live it down (though I did forgive him and now it is just funny to recollect on for our story).
I tried to not bother Rob about telling me he loved me. I wanted to put all my trust and faith in the Lord. Deep down inside I was going through a hard time as if I had a one sided love (this was in my head). I didn’t know it would be so hard to reveal something that meant so much to me for so long. Rob and I both knew too many people who spoke of love and never put God at the center of their relationship. It was completely a passion-factor relationship instead. We didn’t want that to happen to us. We wanted to make sure that if we were in love with one another, it would be something we shared because of our love for Christ, rather than our attraction to each other and the nice feelings from knowing someone else cared for us.
There was another Super Bowl Party at youth group (January 28, 2001). Sadly it was also the year anniversary of when Rob asked out his last girlfriend; being a year and a day after I had met Rob. I started to get really down about not being told that Rob loved me. I don’t know what overcame me. I tried to stay strong. I ran outside pretty much barefoot in the snow while the Super Bowl party was going on. How dramatic of me. Rob came to me and I looked up at the sky while I cried (as my feet froze in the snow). He knew why I was crying. We stood there not saying anything. I put my shoes on but still stood outside crying. Rob was praying to God to send him signs if it was the right thing to tell me that he loved me. It was then that we heard some kid we didn’t know open the door while yelling across the field to their friend, “Tell her! Tell her!” We laughed and Rob said, “That was weird.” Then Rob prayed again. He looked up in the sky while asking for a shooting star. He saw one. He thought, “Wow! That was really weird too.” He figured God was trying to let him in on telling me. He sighed as if nervous. He whispered in my ear, “I love you too.” I smiled while crying and hugging him saying, “I know.” with my Princess Leia response to her Han Solo. It was really a wonderful moment for us.
Rob wrote more of his thoughts out while he was in his World Literature class. He left it in his notebook for a couple years before finding it again.
He wrote, “Out of all the mistakes I have ever made there is only one that I won’t ever stop making. That mistake is the one of letting myself get so wrapped up in a relationship that I completely forget about and/or ignore anyone else around me. Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t any reason for me to not be totally into my girlfriend right now, I just don’t want to make another mistake. I mean, I’ve been dating for about six years and since then, there hasn’t been a month that I didn’t have a girlfriend. This time I waited a little while before I jumped back into everything, but I’m still not sure I waited long enough to find out if this was what I really wanted to do. See, I sort of have this problem of just needing a girlfriend. Well, at least I did. Now that I’ve come to think of it, God truly has taken over my heart and caused me to not need the things I had at one time believed I did. See, with the whole dating-Vicki-for-real-thing, I didn’t really wait to get myself into another relationship, but I guess due to either my own stupidity, or God’s all-knowing self, I am now deeply involved in this relationship. I waited a while before I even let myself attempt to tell her I loved her, so something must be different. In the long run, I just think that I need to remember that not everything will always be obvious, and not everything obvious will always be His will.”
Rob wrote me a note the day after he told me he loved me. “I spent the last year of my life looking at you and telling myself that I made the right decision in being with [ex’s name] and ignoring the fact that, despite that I was with someone else, I had definite feelings for you. These feelings started the day I met you (whether I knew what they were or not), and ever since then I’ve grown accustomed to just wanting to be around you. I don’t really know why God decided for us to wait until now to realize how we really feel, but I think I have a good idea as to why. Throughout the last year I was convinced that I was flat-out head-over-heels in love with some girl that I didn’t even know. At the same time, I had this girl sitting here dying to show me how much I meant to her. As hard as I tried to ignore the fact that my feelings were growing; they were every day. My feeling grew more and more intense and I guess I just couldn’t hold it in anymore. I mean, I didn’t even realize exactly what these feelings, and I still don’t understand it, but I can say that it only makes sense to call it love. Victoria Grace, I love you! You mean so much to me that I don’t even realize how much I need you now. I don’t have any clue what I would do if you weren’t around anymore. Anyway, I love you! I love you so incredibly much!! I love you.”
How do we ever really truly know that we love each other? For me it was that God is the creator of love. It is the greatest gift he gave to us. Jesus is love. How can we love each other without Him involved in our relationships at all? This is how I knew that I was seriously in love with Rob. God was a big part of my day-to-day life, and everyone knew I meant it. We often look to 1 Corinthians 13 and hear the different examples of how we know what love is. How many people actually try to follow it step by step? Can we ever completely have the whole list be a part of our relationships? Now that Rob told me he loved me too, I thought it would be an easy road ahead for us. I felt like nothing could harm us. Nothing was going to tear us away from God. No one would be able to interfere with what we had. It was a bond that was intense. We put a lot of thought into sharing our love with one another.
I’ve heard people mention many times that they fell out of love with the person they devoted so much time with. When you marry especially, it is impossible for you to fall out of love. Instead I see people putting something in place of that love to distract them from what is truly important. True love works at the relationship constantly. Love has to be tended to. If we were to be given a puppy to train, without proper care the puppy will die, and the same thing happens when people have a relationship, it needs to be taken care of or it will die (and we’ll all have to go through some hard issues of relational “potty training” as you’ll read Rob and I had to go through several times)! True love doesn’t give up. I was not willing to give up on Rob once I knew that we truly loved one another. The journey of a year seemed so long and dreadful at times, and there would be many years ahead for us together if we were willing to stick at it as a couple. When people are actually married, they need to work on their marriage and find a way to love their spouse even when it is hard to do.
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” -1 John 4:11-13
[this is one of those sticky polaroid camera pictures that is really tiny that someone took and gave us the night that Rob told me he loved me. Notice Rob’s in a sweatshirt while I’m in a sleeveless shirt on a cold snowy January night]