Young Love (#113)

November 14, 1969

Young people in their 20’s are living through the most exhilarating decade their lives will ever know. Some are graduating from college, traveling the world, choosing careers, entering the military. Others are getting married, having babies, buying homes, adapting to community life. Spiritual commitments are often made (or unmade) during this decade, and 20-somethings literally pass from childhood to adulthood.

20-somethingsNate and I were no exception. We never ran out of stimulating things to talk about.

Where should he apply for his first lawyer-job? Should we live in a big city? A suburb? A small town? Should we move to his home town? To mine? To a new part of the country? Where should I work? Or should I go back to school? Should we have children? If so, how many?

We were euphoric as we talked about our options. Life had no restrictions, and it seemed we could do anything we wanted. But this belief in unlimited choices, though typical of our age group, had its dangers. In our case it turned out to be too much gazing at the un-decided’s while ignoring one of the decided’s.

3.40It was Friday evening, and Nate and I enjoyed a glass of wine celebrating the many happy decisions ahead of us. Before we knew it, it was 2:00 AM – and then past 3:00. We began to rationalize how practical it would be for Nate to stay in the apartment till breakfast, only a few hours away.

Though we had a rule against him spending the night, most of the night had already passed. Besides, we’d stuck with our decision to remain sexually pure through lots of tempting moments. So we decided he could stay – promising each other we’d “be good.”

But that’s the thing about temptation. The devil whispers a mix of truth and lies into our ears, and before long we’ve stepped over a line we were determined not to cross.

With our inhibitions down because of the wine, our hugging and kissing started to get out of hand. Nate began whispering, “I probably shouldn’t stay.” I responded, “You probably should go.” But neither of us had the will power to pull apart. That’s when something very strange happened.

God has promised to provide an escape hatch when we’re having trouble resisting temptation, and on that Friday, Nate and I were having trouble. Right then, God delivered.

Out of nowhere I heard a car door slam down on the street, and a vivid picture popped into my muzzy mind: Mom…. arriving for a surprise visit.

Logic would say, “Impossible! It’s after 3:00 AM!” But Mom had pulled some pretty crazy stunts in her time. I sat bolt upright and said, “Quick! Grab your shoes and run for the back door! I think Mom’s here!”

“What?” he said in his confusion as he rolled off the Murphy bed and did what I asked. When I heard the back door close behind him, I knew he was headed for his car and his rented room.

I lay there quietly in the dark, waiting to hear Mom’s tap on the front door…. but it never came.

CerealIn a few hours, Nate returned for breakfast. Both of us agreed we’d had a close call – and were thankful for God’s odd but effective “way of escape.” Feeling humbled, we again determined to save our first sex for our wedding night – only 15 days away.

“There’s a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.” (Ecclesiastes 3:5)

Young Love (#102)

October 26, 1969

 

As Nate and I drove back to Champaign from Wilmette, we needed to make a decision about my safety in the apartment. Living alone until we were married had left me vulnerable when several young men had attempted to break in. Nate expressed extreme concern, telling me it was his job to protect me. But neither of us knew how to fix the problem.

One bedHe could move in with me, but both of us knew we wouldn’t be able to resist each other physically, especially since we only had one bed – the one that pulled out of a closet. And we both wanted to hold out until we were married (which was already difficult enough). To compromise after we’d come this far seemed like too big a defeat.

As the miles clicked away, we discussed our options:

  1. Nate could move in with me, and we could try to maintain purity.
  2. We could continue to live separately and hope no further incidents occurred.
  3. I could advertise for a roommate on the university bulletin board (for one month).
  4. We could trust God to protect me.
  5. I could be more diligent about locking both locks on both doors.

The thought of option #1 brought immediate comfort to both of us. But to do that was to make a decision based on the fear something bad was going to happen. I liked the sound of #4. If I continued to live alone, counting on God to protect me as he already had, we could also count on him protecting our desire to wait for sex till marriage.

I said, “After all, those guys didn’t get in. And I wasn’t hurt.”

“Yes, but you were hurt emotionally.” Nate said. “Both of us were.”

“But, I know God will heal all of that.” I said. “He will.”

“But what if something else happens? And what if God chooses not to step in? I would feel like it was my fault…. again.”

“I guess we have to believe that if that ever happened, he’d walk us through a recovery then, too.”

Besides, it wasn’t just in the apartment that bad things could happen. And it wasn’t just to me. Nate could become a victim, too. There were no guarantees about safety.

DowntownWhen we pulled up to our apartment, we were still hashing it out. After making multiple trips up the stairs with our gift boxes, we finally sat down and looked at each other. The time had come to decide. I felt completely bonded to Nate and knew he would do anything to keep me from suffering in any way. But as I studied his face, I could see he was going to let me make the final decision.

In the end, I opted for a combo of numbers 2, 4, and 5. We would continue living separately, relying on God for protection (wherever we were), and would be more diligent about locking doors.

When Nate finally drove away that night, for the first time I thought it best not to stand in front of the window and wave.

“The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

Young Love (#101)

October 24 – 26, 1969

As Nate and I struggled to make a wise choice on the heels of the attempted break-in, our calendars told us it was time to drive to Wilmette for my second bridal shower. This was a welcome change from all the negatives we’d been talking about, and we decided to postpone our decision about where Nate would spend his nights — at least for now.

InvitationThe wedding invitations had arrived but were sitting in boxes, unaddressed – and we were about a month from the wedding. Our plan was to get going on those, along with anything else Mom might want us to do.

She had written earlier, asking what kind of stamps we wanted on the invitations. In those days there was no such thing as a “love stamp,” but we did have several to choose from: the moon landing, a spray of pink flowers, a muscle car, and a cardinal. Then there was Mom’s up-and-away favorite, former President Eisenhower.

Ike.She’d written, “The P.O. puts new stamps out periodically, but personally, ‘I like Ike!’ He’s smiling because Nathan loves Margaret, and Meg loves Nate.” We liked her logic and joined her in voting for Ike.

When we arrived in Wilmette, my folks’ home was in complete disarray. The remodeling crew had torn their kitchen to the studs that very day, relocating its contents to the living room. We could barely squeeze into the house, and I wondered how Mom was holding up under this added inconvenience.

When we finally found her, she was sorting wedding music under the grand piano. Smiling broadly when she saw us, she told us how “absolutely thrilled” she was with the kitchen. “Finally!” she said. “Things are really moving now!”

JohnnyNate and I decided to take the invitations elsewhere – where we could spread out the project and leave it set up until finished. I called Aunt Agnes in the next suburb, Evanston, and asked if we could bunk with her over the weekend. She welcomed us gladly, and that first night we stayed up past 2:00 AM putting the first dent in a very long list. Aunt Agnes kept us going with coffee and ice cream, and of course we took time out to watch her favorite show, Johnny Carson.

Bridal showerTP brideThe bridal shower on Saturday was an extravaganza with 73 guests and just about as many gifts. Their generosity literally moved us from mis- matched hand-me-downs to the lovely look of fresh-and-new. And in case I still needed a wedding gown, they modeled several I could choose from – created with flowing TP.

 
After the shower it was back to our invitations. I wrote addresses, Nate stuffed envelopes, and Aunt Agnes fueled the whole operation with sandwiches, doughnuts, and bottomless cups of her delicious percolated coffee.

On Sunday Dad told me he hadn’t forgotten about our need for a second car and had been keeping his eyes on the want-ads. Apparently brother Tom needed a car, too, so Dad was doing double duty. Bervin had joined in on the car project, for which we were thankful. He knew best of anyone how to analyze what was under the hood.

As we drove back to Champaign Sunday evening, our little VW was crammed with gifts – on the floor, in the back seat, on my lap, at my feet, and piled tight against the hatchback window. We were a blessed couple indeed, and I couldn’t wait to bring such bounty into our fairly empty apartment. Although we didn’t have furniture in which to put our things, it would be a joy just stacking those beautiful boxes along the wall.

As the 150 miles flew by on our drive south, both of us knew it was time to talk again about my safety in the apartment…. and where Nate would sleep, starting with that very night.

“Now then, my children, listen to me…. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it.” (Proverbs 8:32-33)