Enjoy Writing | Oh My My My | Part 11

"every heart is a package 
tangled up in knots someone else tied."
josh ritter - kathleenPhotobucket

part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4 | part 5 | part 6 part 7 | part 8 | part 9 | part 10

The loud silence after we hung-up sat on my heart.  The rest of the Las Vegas trip was emotional, discouraging and heart-thupping.  Besides the whole "the boy I like doesn't want to date me" thing, there were other family, friendship and even just business issues I felt like I was delicately holding in my hands, like thin wine glasses or intricate tea cups.  I couldn't hold them all at once, and the harder I clenched my fists, the faster they snapped in my hands, cutting flesh before they fell to the ground and broke even further.  With bloody hands, my numbness was frequently interrupted by shrieks of my pounding heart.

I felt guilty for actions I had done.  I felt like "the innocent victim" for things I hadn't done.  I felt helpless when other people were hurting and there was nothing I could do to take away their pain.  It was Caleb, it was everything.  It was a trip where it all crashes down on you - every flaw and hardship in your life seem to be competitively racing each other to win at beating you down.  "Little" things like a bad acne break-out.  Does that make sense?  It was all-encompassing.  Er, it felt all-encompassing.

I would escape to my hotel room anytime I could.  When I was up there I would either cry or read Alyssa Welch's Love Story.  I felt incapable of having a meaningful conversation with anyone, I felt like photography WAS STUPID SO GET OUT OF MY FACE, I felt like I was a failure everywhere I turned.  Crying soothed that like a good aloe vera to my life burn.  Alyssa related to that with her clear, vulnerable writing about her heart and life.  She used to have a music player at the bottom of her blog and I'd listen to one of the songs on repeat.

"I searched for love, but then the night came
And closed in.
I was alone, but you found me
Where I was hiding.
It was the sweetest voice that called my name, saying:
'You're not alone, for I am here.'"

I felt so hidden away in the middle of a ridiculous (and frankly awful) city in the desert.   Besides my roommate and two or three others, no one knew who I was for miles and miles.  You know that feeling of "if I disappear from here, no one will notice at all"?  But I sang my broken, messed-up little heart out.  
"You cry your self to sleep, cause the hurt is real
And the pain cuts deep.
All hope seems lost, with heartache your closest friend,

 And everyone else long gone, 
You've had to face the music on your own, 
But there is a sweeter song that calls you home."

Meredith Andrews isn't my favorite or preferred Christian artist, but man, that song spoke to my stitched up spirit and helped keep it kind-of together.  I don't know how many times I listened to, quoted and sang those lyrics.  

  • 2/29/2011 "Again, here I am saying: 'Wow. I did not expect that.'  This time last week I was hugging a boy at the security gate, excited for when we'd talk next and anxious to be his 'official' girlfriend.  One week (and a few texts and one phone call) later I've 'walked away' from the relationship, as it was clear that Caleb was too fearful to move on... Another surprising aspect of that weekend was how much I like him now! Somewhere between making lunch at 1 am, doing mexican hat dances at 3 am, piggy-back and four-wheel rides and porch swing conversations (Oh.  And big hugs in those arms of his. Dang. Dang. Dang.)  I like him.  Watching him with his sisters, watching him with his mother, watching him with me... something flipped!  I like him!  Like, "like-him" like him.  And now I wish I didn't... Did he ever really like me? I sometimes feel like he was just a 23-year-old single guy with hormones, and I came along with straight blonde hair and enough personality to be entertaining and enough character to be 'an option'... but did he like me?  Did he enjoy and become friends with Kristen Snyder?  A real girl?  Or was I just something that met a desire, provided attention and kept him company.  Ugh.  I feel like all my girly insecurities are coming out:  you weren't pretty enough, you weren't good enough.  Number one: I need to remember that it's OK if I'm not right for him and that he wasn't feeling it.  That's really fine.  And number two:  my heart is what matters.  I do believe I treated him respectfully, carefully and kindly.  I prayed for him and grew to genuinely care for him more than myself.  He and his returned affections are not my hope... Part of me wants to hang on to Caleb, but the other part knows I need to move on, and not mope around and wait!... 'Because He is my right hand, I shall not be shaken.'  God. Is. Still. Good.  I'm dissapointed, surely.  But in God? No.  No, His power is made perfect in my weakness.  And He doesn't give me gifts because I need them; those things don't fill a need.  He satisfies me completely.  His gifts bless me - God through His gifts bless me. But they are not my right, nor my salvation.  'He gives and takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.' 'The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, therefore my heart is glad!'

Before I knew it, I was home.  I couldn't help but poetically notice how the weather was so similar to my soul.  Empty, bleak, cold.  Too far into winter to have frosty, crispy, snowglobe, magical cheer.  Too far from spring to have sunshine, refreshment, color and hope.   Days ticked by dreadfully slowly. Nights were even slower.  I slept in until 11:30 am or later.  I cried every day.  If I went out to keep busy or distract myself, I still had to come home and be alone.  Being out made me want to be alone, being in made me want to be out.  I was actually shocked at how much I had been crying about life, about Caleb.  I'm the sort of a girl who stores up her tears in a big Drops Bucket and doesn't let them out until the whole thing tips over.  Tears don't come again for a long time - until the Drops Bucket is filled all the way back up again.  But I was crying daily.  Not misty-eyed or wet-eyed.  Crying.

I cried reading old texts from Caleb.  Then I deleted all my texts from Caleb so I couldn't read them anymore.  Then I cried that I deleted them.  I threw away a print I had of Caleb holding my yellow scarf.  I took out the trash, but it in the dumpster, did away with it!  But then I changed my mind and wanted it back, and the trash truck had already come.  I cried.   That whole week that only thing I could muster up the energy to do was prepare for my end-of-year team party.  I distinctly remember how much energy and effort it took to go to Michael's to get the supplies to make a little banner.  It felt so hard.
The day of the basketball party, I had a meeting with a pastors wife (Autumn's mama!) and small group of girls from church.  We had these get-togethers once or twice a month.  I had to leave early, but I had missed the last five or so meetings so I felt bad not at least appearing ;)  My plan was to come in, sit down, say nothing and leave.  But as Mrs. Pastor Wife Who Makes Beautiful Children started she said "Since you have to dip out early, lets start with you Kristen.  How has life been for you?"  My bucket tipped.  I don't know what was coming faster: my words or my tears.  It was the crazy, deep, kind of dump where I couldn't catch my breath, people knowingly handed me tissues, snot was all of my face and when I finally finished the room was silent, aside from confused blinks (which, when you are that emotional, you can hear.)  Courtney, my best friend and assistant coach, finally said "She's never like this.  If she's crying, it's serious."  Her comment actually made me laugh - and I used that light note to excuse myself and leave.  That evening was the first enjoyable evening I had had in what felt like months (though, really, I had been at Caleb's house less than ten days ago.)  It was the first night I felt connected with what I was doing, and not detached thinking about what could have been.  Thank you, God, for my basketball team!
getting dressed up ALWAYS helps. always.
With a spark of motivation, I came up with an idea as I was driving the next morning.  I had spent so.much.time. thinking about my life (ha. And by that I mean: Caleb) and it really wasn't producing anything.  It wasn't making Caleb come running back to me.  It wasn't making me happy or joyous.  It wasn't blessing or uplifting me.  All my thoughts (and phone calls to my parents where I would cycle back through the details over and over again) were halting me.  I needed to pray.  As I turned from 118 to Century Boulevard that actual, vocal thought came into my head "Stop thinking.  Start praying."

  • 3/8/11 " 'He bowed the heavens and came down, He came swiftly on the wind.  He took me; He drew me out of many waters.  He rescued me... the Lord was my support.  He brought me into broad places, because He delighted in me.' (It's 12:15 am and I'm journaling and crying... who am I?!?)  I don't know exactly why Caleb is on my mind so much & why I've been so emotional and cry-ey about all of this.  Part PMS, I'm sure.  Part embarrassed at 'not being liked enough.' Part lonely.  Part missing the friendship.  Part fearful.  And part... girl?  Lord, I have no good apart from you.  And please help Caleb as he supervises the big Texas job [I had gotten that information from his mother's blog].  Spiritually work in his life through his physical work.  Amen."

From then on, I purposed that every time (every time... which was all the time) Caleb came into my head, I was going to pray for him.  Not for "us."  Or for his feelings.  Or for him to change his mind.  Just him.  Turn my anger/worries/upset-nesses/instant-replays/doldrums into something powerful and effective.  My dear friend Nadia reminded me of the classic truth: "The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  This was the first time I felt like I understood what "guard your heart" meant.  That phrase seems to mostly be used when talking to girls about emotional purity - it's a thing I do.  I often strove to "guard my heart!  Don't get too attached too soon!"  The phrase echoed off of Nadia's lips:  the peace of God will guard your heart and mind.  It's not something I do, it's something He does!  How do I access this protecting peace?  With a heart full of thanksgiving, present my requests to God.
In my journal I assigned 30 pages to prayer requests to pray over the next 30 days for Caleb.  At the top of each page I wrote "Day __" and the prayer of the day.  It went something like this:  D 1 / Know God's Love, D 2 / Trust God's Plans, D 3 / Be a Man of Worship, D 4 / Be a Man of Prayer, D 5 / Be a Man Who Loves Counsel, D 6 / Be a Man Who Studies Scripture, D 7 / Be a Servant, D 8 / Be a True Leader, and on for 30 days.

The plan was to immediately start praying for the "topic" of the day if I started thinking/wandering/worrying about Caleb.  I wrote out my prayers for him.  Each day had one full page.  The first day, on March 15, I wrote:  

  • "D-1 / Know God's Love.  'I have called you by name, you are mine, you are precious in My eyes, and honored, and I love you.' Isaiah 43  'How deep the Father's love for us // How vast beyond all measure // That He should give His only Son // To make a wretch His treasure //'  Dear God, today I lift up Caleb and specifically ask that Your great love for him would effect his heart today, and would change his life altogether.  You love Caleb with a complete, final, perfect, sustaining love - in fact, You ARE love!  You've proven Your love, promised Your love, and given Your love.  And that can never, ever be taken away.  Please help him to drown under, run free in and delight in Your love.  Show him more!  Make it sweeter!  More precious!  More wonderful!  And let Your example and character of love rule his heart, dwell in his mind and drive his actions.  Thank you for giving us the greatest thing: You. Amen."

[Now, let me pause the story for a brief moment of "WAIT!"  If you are not a Christian, this all may seem odd, irrelevant, boring-and-the-part-to-skip-over, or dumb.   I know that.  I hope my sureness of what and who I believe is at the very least respectable to you, and at the very most intriguing.  If you ever would like to share with me your thoughts on God and life, or ask me about mine, I'd love to have a conversation (or seven!) with you.  And I'd love to know you.  You have the chance to get to know me (the very real - eek! sometimes scarily real! - me), and I'd be tickled to have a chance to get to know you.  I love people.  And new people.  And people who think differently than I do.   And if you are a Christian:  please don't look at this as a formula.  Please don't go make a prayer journal for the boy you like so someday you can write a story like Kristen and Caleb.  Instead, please know God and let Him work in your life differently than He worked in mine.  It's supposed to happen that way.  I'm not a journaler, I'm not a "disciplined pray-er," I'm not flaunting a new system. This was HUGE for me.  And something I haven't even done since.  I'm sharing with you this really, really cool thing God did in my heart while I worked through tears, questions and unrequited butterflies.  And God probably has a really, really cool way He wants to meet and help you wait, wonder and thrive through heartache seasons.  Alright.  That should do it.]
The brilliantly happy result of all these prayers was that I did indeed experience peace.  I felt happy and eager to see people.  I went to Varsity sports games as a fan, I went to Vancouver on a whirlwind trip to visit Jamie, I went to an FCA banquet (I even tried to look nice in case I met someone! Or whatever.)  Rock-climbing, volleyball, shooting and blogging weddings, engagement shoots, proposal shoots, decorating, cooking, shopping, planning Europe trips, and I even announced a FunShop Photography Workshop I'd be hosting.  But I'll also be honest, I did quite a bit of blogging with the not-so-secret hopes that Caleb might possibly be reading.  This post about "my weekend"?  Ha.  I just wanted Caleb to know I had bought a pair of white jeans - he always said those were his favorite.  Or how about this post where I cheerfully (and truthfully) and publicly dream about having a future as a wife and mom?  No, no, no, this one is even better: airplane thinking... not Caleb Morris thinking.  If I didn't make myself totally obvious with this post (titled:  The Heart of A Girl. Ouch), then this post where I posted a video of singing animals chanting "No Fear" on the quest to find true love.  Don't even worry about my "preach-y" commentary.  Of course, however, the post on my personal blog about "People of Faith" takes the cake and the gold.

But praying really was a fantastic part of my days and life.  I had never spent such focused, concentrated time praying for one person before.  And my concerns and insecurities really were fading. I felt bold.  I felt brave.  I felt not-pathetic. 

At the end of March I took a Fake Family Vacation to Florida with Dre and Becca.  We went to go see my family, to watch the Nationals pre-season training games, and go to the beach and Disneyworld.  We "accidentally" got stuck in Florida together the year before, so we always joked about going again - just the three of us.  Once my family moved to Florida, it was a no-brainer.  We had to go.  
Baby Behr was on this trip with us, and none of us knew!  She found out she was pregnant after she got home.  If you ever want to hear some funny stories, just ask me about lunch at Wolfgang Puck ;)

While we were at Disney Dre posted a picture of us in front of Cinderella's castle on his Facebook.  When we were driving home, I scrolled through all my notifications.  "Caleb Morris liked a photo that you were tagged in."  Heart stop. Gulp.  Aaaah.  This was the first "communication" we had had in weeks.  That little "like" of a photo was so much more than just a like.  Caleb hadn't liked, commented, texted or talked to me.  And he had barely posted anything (I think maybe just one Bible verse) in that one month span of "break-up."  That "like" meant that he had at least seen a picture of me today!  It meant he had to have thought about me today!  I wonder what he thought?  Why did he like it?  I know for a fact that he has liked lots of girls pictures "just because."  But, I know I'm not just another girl to him.  I'm the first girl he ever talked to on the phone.  Pray.  Prayer. Praying.  Pray.  Day 13 was pray that Caleb would "be a man who loves grace."  I prayed.  And stopped checking Facebook.

It's hard to summarize what those 30 days were like.  I feel like I could almost do a chapter of each day by itself.  But this story needs to press forward.  Those days included leaning on my entry-way wall after coming home at night.  In the darkness I zoned out by staring at the car lights outside my window while an Aaron Zigman classic played on repeat.  I thought about how badly I'd like to slow dance with Caleb and tell him how I forgive him for everything, if he'd just have me back.  Those days also were some of the most motivated, upbeat, sunny days I've ever experienced.  My feelings for Caleb were fading.  There wasn't much to hold onto and my grip was slipping.  I liked the idea of eventually meeting somebody else.  Or being single for a while.  I read and wrote a lot.  I felt like I was thinking smarter, deeper and better than I ever had before.  Caleb and his mysterious entrance and departure in my life was a chapter that was being closed.  I decided that after 30 days I wouldn't continue my planned prayers for him.  My mind was (mostly) elsewhere and I didn't need to keep that habit up.  


April 14 just so happened to be the last day of my journal entries and prayers for Caleb, and also the day I picked up his sister Anna at the airport.  She was interested in furthering her photography business, and we had texted frequently between the Christmas trip and that day.  She asked if it would be alright with me if she applied for the FunShop (or if that would be weird?).  I told her that it would be perfectly fine with me!  We were friends, after all, and I knew she'd love to see "the big city," do something new and share her country spunk with us East Coasters.  The moment I saw her I knew I had made a big mistake.  Not with her... she was wonderful.  But with myself.  "I shouldn't have said she could come.  What was I thinking?  This is going to be miserable."  Just by talking with a Morris family member all my "done-away-with" feelings came galloping back into the pasture of my heart and belly.  "Great.  Now I'm going to have to get over him all over again.  I thought I had taken care of this."  And, not only was I going to have to battle my little emotions again, I was going to have to completely hide this battle from his sister - and the other two girls.  

At our first dinner together Anna set her phone on the table.  While she was talking it buzzed and "Text Message: Caleb Morris" shone forth from the screen.  For a split second I thought that was my phone and that the text was for me.  Then reality harshly reminded me of truth. They continued texting throughout the meal.  Peeerfection.  I barely ate.  The next morning at breakfast, before the other girls arrived, I decided to have a conversation with Anna.  "Hey, so, I just want to let you know:  I'm your friend.  And you're here for photography.  And I don't want anything that happened with your brother to make that awkward or strange for us.  You haven't seemed weird to me, but I just want to get that out there.  I won't ask about him, nor will I talk about him.  And please don't go repeat anything back to him.  I want you to be free to just enjoy your trip and get your money's worth!  I'm really doing well, moved right along and am very happy.  So we're good, right?"  She wholeheartedly agreed with me.  But no sooner had I said that did Caleb "happen" to wish Anna a good morning via text.   That night I didn't fall asleep until after 4:00 am, and woke up an hour or two later.  He was on my mind completely.  During bathroom breaks I'd scroll through pictures of him on Facebook.  I was dying to know what he was saying to Anna.  Was it about me?  It had to be.  At least a little?  Did he wonder how I was doing? Did he wish he was here too?  Was he just an excellent brother who kept tabs on his sister and cared when she was away from the family?  And liked to keep in touch with her?
The FunShop was a success.  I think.  The girls said it was.  Right, girls?  Even though Rachel asked me seventy-bajillion times who that boy was in the pictures I had to scroll past daily when I imported my iPhone pictures to iPhoto.  "One of my friends."  "But... isn't that...?"  "Alright!  Ladies!  Open up your brand boards and we're going to talk about..."  And they may have wondered why we listened to "Little Bit Stronger" by Sara Evans so many times.  It's catchy, k?  It totally wasn't my anthem or anything.  Who has an anthem?  America?  Yeah.  Not meeeee.  Kind of.  I kind of didn't have an anthem.

We really had a wonderful time and enjoyed our mornings, days and nights together.  They were my little family for a few days, and made me feel more like a fellow sister than a "mentor" or "teacher."  It's rare to find a group of strangers than gels like that. But God knew.   And it worked magically.

The morning of April 19th I took Anna to the airport.  To send her away.  To Oklahoma.  To the man I missed more than ever.  The weather was rainy, but traffic was non-existent.  I gave her a good hug and sent her on her way.  The hour-long car ride back to my apartment went surprisingly quickly.  It would have been the perfect weather to sulk in.  Or to listen to sad country songs.  Little Bit Stronger, anyone?  But I think I listened to classical music most of the drive... maybe some good ol' family-friendly radio.  I didn't feel gloomy.  I thought about Caleb the entire time, but it didn't make me "sad" - it made me wonder and think, but not lose myself in that vicious downward spiral of old memories.

When I walked into my apartment I saw a pink gift sitting on the table.  I figured one of the girls had left it and I very casually went to the table to open it.  I was right: it was from Anna, and it was very sweet.  At the end of the note she she said: "Make sure you check your mail today!"  I wasn't quite sure if that was some inside joke I had forgotten or a real hint, but nonetheless, I hadn't gotten my mail the entire time the girls were in town, and the next morning I was leaving to go see my family in Florida again.  I should probably go get my physical inbox emptied out.

With keys in hand I walked down the concrete steps to the courtyard where our metal, on-the-wall mailboxes lived.  The groundskeeper said hello as he walked by.  "Hello!" The key got a little jammed. I could tell the box was filled.  Oops.  I finally opened the tiny metal door and saw a box crammed with magazines, letters and flyers. And then, there it was.  A worn, taped envelope.  Thick. Smudged.  And from Caleb Morris of Coyle, Oklahoma.  I turned into Lady Tremaine when she saw Cinderella pull out the other glass slipper.  Caleb Morris had sent me mail.  Oh my my my.

(to be continued...)