My mind did a warp-speed time travel back to camp. I couldn’t believe who was standing in front of me. Of course I remembered him. I still had his picture. I knew I had found an instant friend. I was so grateful for a kind face. We became inseparable but I had no intention of having a romantic relationship with him. I was head-over-heels for this guy but would die before admitting it. Going to a school known for its “ring by spring” motto, I was determined not be that girl going to college simply to find someone to marry. I remember at one point my “friend” asked me, “So, do you want to call me your boyfriend?”
I quickly said, “No, and, by the way, now that you mention it, we aren’t dating either.” Thankfully, he didn’t believe me.
Our “non-dating” time was spent going on very long walks to the beach and back to campus. Because his job was to fix anything and everything, he had the keys to the university and it became all ours to explore. Don’t tell anyone, but we snuck onto the roof tops a few times and enjoyed the fire works coming from the fair grounds. We fell in love over the simple joys of picnics and bike rides.
I was the perfect girlfriend. I never complained. I was a cheap date and I rarely disagreed with him. I was also a complete fake. I was hiding deep emotional pain. I always had a mask on. You see, I thought I was going to marry someone else and it didn’t work out. At the time it had completely crushed me. I wasn’t a virgin any more, and though it was never said outright, it was deeply communicated to me throughout my life that sexual sin was the ultimate failure for a Christian girl. I was broken goods and nobody would want me. I was not worthy of being loved. If I could get away with it, I vowed to myself that I wasn’t going to tell anyone.
Ten months later, at the ripe age of nineteen and twenty, we were engaged. I still had my secret though, and I was tormented with guilt over it. Because he grew up in the same culture I did, I knew I would lose him if I told him the truth. From this point on I was plagued with night terrors. Every time I tried to sleep I could feel the heaviness of something black over me, preventing me from moving or speaking. I remember trying to yell out, “Jesus help!” and I couldn’t open my mouth. It happened over and over; it got to the point where I was too scared to sleep at all. The medical community calls this phenomenon sleep paralysis, but I felt like something else was happening. I had chosen to do the exact opposite of what I knew God wanted me to do and the night terrors weren’t going to go away until I told the truth. I purposely chose to hide because I didn’t want to be seen as used and defiled, but at the same time, I felt like I was experiencing a true demonic stronghold as a result of my choices. I had never felt anything like this before.
It was the middle of the night. I just had another horrific nightmare; heavy blackness holding me down until I couldn’t breath. I turned on the lights and I knew what I had to do. I couldn’t live this way any more. God loved me too much to let me live in a lie. It was His mercy to allow me to feel the weight of my decisions. I picked up the phone, took a big shaky breath, and as I listened to the ringing, I prepared myself to give the ring back.