Shawn would make visits out to the school about each semester. When he arrived, he would say we needed another Bananagrams® night and so it happened! We caught up and had a blast like no time had passed, but the shy little girl still would not mention her feelings. I remember sitting in the cafeteria for one of those visits and he asked me who I liked. I brushed it off and remember thinking, “If only he knew.”
My heart yearned for him. I remember watching a romantic movie my sophomore year with my roommate and thinking how much the male lead sacrificed for the one he loved. I remember thinking that Shawn had the same heart, one of giving up his time and talent for and serving others while never thinking of His own needs. This brought me to tears, which if you know me, crying is something I rarely do. I was crying like crazy thinking of Him. This movie made me miss him so much and I remember just going to the chapel to pray for him because I was so strongly moved in missing him and seeing his dignity and worth.
Another time he visited, he was sharing with me the many struggles he was going through in life. He mentioned one of the lowest moments in his entire life when he failed to see his worth and purpose in this world. I asked him when this was. It was 6 months prior. I looked back into my journal at this date and sure enough it was around the same exact time I had watched the movie reminding me of his sacrificial nature and was praying for him. I don’t believe in coincidences. God was working. Big time. I came to realize I was called to be his prayer warrior. I would continue all through my time in college to like him, miss him, and pray for him.
It would be Christmas after Christmas with my family and I just wanted him there. We would be on family vacations, and I just wanted him to be having a good time with us. Often I would feel the burden was too big for me to carry. I would go into adoration crying for him. I knew I couldn’t do it on my own and so I would give Shawn to God. Over and over. When I felt the pain was too much and I needed to forget him, I would give him to God. But he always came back to my mind and heart, teaching me to trust God’s plan.
Someone asked me about my vocation during my junior year and I surprised myself in hearing my answer aloud and without thinking: “Well if I’m called to marriage, I know who I’m going to marry.” It came naturally and unexpectedly. I knew that if there was one man I would spend every day with, one man I would raise kids with, it was him. Otherwise, religious life was a possibility. There was only one guy on my radar and there was too much history and “weird coincidences” for him not to be the one.
Need for Closure
It came to my last semester of college and I knew I needed closure. I had held on to him for so long and although he acted like he liked me, he never had made a move. I was so broken and raw, my heart broken, that I knew I needed closure. I had spent years praying for him and missing him, who I knew I loved. I decided to message him during my last semester in college, even though we had not talked or communicated in a long time.
I said, “Can I ask you a question?”
He responded by asking, “Yes, are you alright?”
I said I was fine and that I wanted to know who I was to him. He responded with “a sister/friend.” I knew I had to embrace this answer. I had held on to the moments it had seemed obvious that he had liked me. I knew he would have done something about it if he had but I needed the closure. But the funny thing was that it wasn’t the answer that hurt. It was his initial response that dug deep, “Are you alright?” His sacrificial nature of putting others first came out and what hurt was that this response was why I had fallen in love with him three years before: his ability to love well. I proceeded to tell him I had liked him a long time and I needed closure and he apologized if he had led me on. That was the end of the Shawn chapter. I thought I got the closure I had needed, after liking him for five years since high school. The boy doesn’t like me. Case closed. The end.
Right after graduation, my family decided to take a family trip to Disneyland, “the happiest place on earth.” It was a nice trip and I hadn’t been there since 3rd grade. I was up next for a roller-coaster ride with my siblings. We were leaning up against the gate waiting for it to open so we could hop into the next open cart. I’m looking at the people about to load off and I recognize someone a few rows up: Shawn!
I’m not making this up. I haven’t been to Disneyland since 3rd grade, and Shawn lives about a thousand miles away from there. There are a lot of people at Disneyland and not only are we there on the same day, but we just happened to be on the same ride at the same time. No coincidences, right? “God, what on earth are you doing?” my heart screamed.
Not long after I saw him he looked over and saw me. He got out and stood there while my siblings and I loaded in. He was friendly and asked how we had been, and we were off on our roller-coaster ride as I tried to process what just happened.
My parents were waiting for us after the ride and when we came to them, Shawn and his dad were talking with them since Shawn had remembered them from five years prior. We all caught up for a bit and then he went on his way. That was it. I was in shock after that chance meeting in Disneyland but that was the end of our story.
Broken and Healed
I wish I could tell you there was another part, but there isn’t. I keep getting little reminders to pray for him and so I do. Honestly I can say I have prayed more for him than most other people in my life. God wants me to continue my prayers for him today and He keeps making that obvious. So, Shawn, if you read this, know of my prayers and I thank you for your friendship, dear friend. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without you. Your witness is beautiful and you will go far if you keep your eye on the prize.
It’s now been two years since I ran into Shawn at Disneyland, and I don’t have feelings for him any more. How did I go from holding on to a crush for over six years to not having feelings for him? I have been healed from my brokenness through the power and grace of discovering my vocation in life, a vocation I never expected.
© Jamie Leatherby 2017
Photo Credit: Stock Snap