Encouragement & Forbidden Hugs

“Chrissy we’re not supposed to hug each other on campus”

“I don’t care”

Slowly I wrapped my arms around Daniel and rested my chin gently on his shoulder. He relaxed and did the same. We lingered there on the post office stairs a minute or two.

After dinner we’d gone to check our P.O. boxes. There was a stairwell in the post office building that was not isolated, but offered a little more privacy for a deeper conversation than sitting out in the open. I had prepared some things I wanted to say to Daniel after praying for a few days and I didn’t want to be interrupted. Some words would be sweet and some would be difficult truths I knew he needed to hear in a loving way.

He had done the same for me when I was struggling with faith. After hearing the truths he spoke I was surprised to feel cherished, loved, and spurred on to experiencing life with God more fully than I had before. Honesty without condemnation or guilt.

A few days earlier he invited me speak into an area of his life where he was feeling discouraged in his preparation to work in Asia. I listened for a long while. Then I asked for some days to pray, think, and write things down. He was ok with that. Now we had an hour or two before curfew to talk.

He listened intently as I read my thoughts.

While I read, I realized how much my heart had been changing over the winter months. Almost like it was slowly waking up to realize what had been happening with Daniel since the autumn. He had demonstrated love for me in patient pursuit. With Christlike humility he had been willing to say the hard things (he earned the right to say them by the way and did so with gentleness).

We had spent many hours sharing what we wanted in life. All of this somehow increased my devotion to him. There had definitely been a process of discovering who the other truly was and there, sitting on the Post Office stairwell, I found myself wondering if what was going on in my life was real love.

If so, it was different than I thought. Neither one of us felt that we’d found the perfect person. No blind infatuation. We saw flaws in each other, talked through possible red flags, shared concerns, and had disagreements. (In the early days one such misunderstanding happened during a picnic, resulting in my pouring water down the front of Daniel’s pants and walking away. Later he asked advice from my friend. She explained to him it didn’t matter that I wasn’t very girly, one just doesn’t say that to any woman. Ever. Obviously we worked it out).

But we saw strengths too, some similar and some vastly different that complemented and sharpened the other person. I had never experienced this level of openness with another human being in the process of God conforming me to the image of His Son.

During these moments on the stairwell I began to understand that to walk in everything God would have Daniel be and do, he needed help. He needed an encourager who would appreciate his strengths. And someone who would speak truth to him when it was difficult. Was it possible God was leading me to be this person?

Our relationship had some romantic feelings, but there were stronger ones that overshadowed them. Feelings of beginning a journey together, running as partners in a long distance race, or training to fight at one another’s sides. Committing to give love while trusting God to strengthen the weak places we saw in each other and ourselves. A difficult calling- impossible without God.

I needed all those things in my life too and obviously God had brought us together, but for how long?

My summer trip to Central America had fallen through and I was disappointed, but knew God was directing me to experience international work with Daniel by joining his group’s trip to Mexico. If I went it would be a game changer, another step in knowing whether we should continue experiencing life together.

©2017 Chrissy Winslow – All Rights Reserved

Thanks for reading! I’ll share more in a few weeks. When a season of transition comes, it’s good to be reminded of what love is and the commitment we are called to in Christ. This week felt like a good time to think about this story.

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