Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Our Love Story—Willamette University

Because we had little to no money between us, Rob usually went home for dinner and I would eat at the dining hall. Typically Rob would do his homework then call me to see if I wanted to hang out for a while. I’d like to say that I did my homework while I waited for his call—but it seemed all but impossible for me to conceive of studying before midnight. There were too many places to go, people to see and things to do on our bustling campus. Regardless of what was going on however, I would anxiously await Rob’s phone call and drop everything to meet up with him as soon as it came.

There was no one else I’d rather spend time with than Rob. At this stage he consumed every other thought that ran through my head. I was falling hard and fast for this man. I still can’t believe I’m dating (or not dating… what do you call what we are doing?) him.

Most nights Rob and I would meet up somewhere downtown, which was half-way between his place and mine. One of our favorite spots to hang out was Willamette University. Willamette is a stunningly beautiful campus with old (yet nice) brick buildings scattered throughout the immaculately kept grounds. There was a charm about Willamette that was terribly romantic.

I had spent plenty of time at Willamette before meeting Rob. I had twice attended peer mentoring training at Willamette and between my Junior and Senior years of high school I attended a week long leadership camp there. That is when I made a pretty strong determination that I wanted to attend school there the following year.

At the end of that summer I started dating a guy who happened to be a Junior at Willamette that I had met while working at my summer job. I visited him there several times during the Fall of my Senior year and fell deeper and deeper in love (with the campus, not the guy) every time I set foot on campus.

I applied to Willamette at the beginning of my Senior year and much to my surprise I was accepted into their early admit program (where they’re so sure they’ll take you once all of the general applications are in that they guarantee you a spot early). So I knew early on, by the beginning of December, that I would attend Willamette University. I even bought a sweatshirt and paid a $200 deposit. I was naively confident that I would attend that school. It was right across the street from the State Capitol Building and I wanted to major in political science. It would be the perfect place to study while I gained amazing internships that would set me on a path to change the world!

At the end of December I gave my life to Jesus Christ. My perception of how I wanted to change the world began to change. Suddenly I wasn’t so sure that politics was the best avenue to accomplish my goals.

And suddenly my boyfriend wasn’t so sure that things were going to work out between us. The story is a little more complicated than that, but the bottom line is that we broke up before he headed back to school for Spring term.

Yet, I still wanted so desperately to attend that school, despite the fact that I knew I’d run into my now ex more often than I would care to. I loved that it was a small school. I loved that it was prestigious. I loved that it was close to home, yet far enough away to give me freedom. I loved the beauty and romance of the campus.

I proudly declared to all of my friends, family and teachers that I would be a Bearcat—until I got my financial aid package that is. My hopes and dreams were crushed that Spring. While I was offered a lot of financial aid, and a cumbersome amount of student loans, the gap between my grants, scholarships and loans was still more than $11,000. For just one year.

I quietly mourned the death of my dream and began to make plans to attend the smallest (and cheapest) state school, Western Oregon University. It lacked the romance and prestige that Willamette promised, but it would provide me the education I desired at a price that I could actually afford.

God was working in my heart and in my life in ways that I never could have imagined at that point. He allowed me to eat a sizable piece of humble pie when I realized that price, not prestige would determine my college future. He allowed me to go to a school that provided me an opportunity to meet some really great godly friends. I got to be a part of Campus Crusade for Christ, a highlight of my time at WOU, which helped me to build a solid foundation for my faith that began to prepare me for the road ahead—which unbeknownst to me would be a small Christian college just 20 miles away.

If I thought Willamette University was romantic before, I was blown away by its romance now with the object of my growing affection enjoying its beauty alongside of me.

After strolling through campus one evening we headed back to Rob’s car to grab his green Navy blanket. He spread it out on a piece of grass overlooking a small peaceful stream on the edge of campus. We sat close, but still not close enough to meet my need for physical affection. I longed to snuggle close to him. And, as always, I kept my hand readily available… just in case. Yet, that night we simply enjoyed each others company until long after the sun went down without so much as a single touch. I was beginning to wonder if I had cooties! Oh well, cooties or not, physical affection or not, you couldn’t pay me to stop hanging out with this guy.

How different it was to be spending time with this God-fearing guy who wasn’t pursuing a physical agenda and wasn’t playing complicated mind games with me. Just over a year earlier I would have imagined myself attending school on that very campus, living up a sorority-style life complicated by physical pursuits, mind games and more.

It was so refreshing to be smack dab in the middle of God’s will for me. All in one moment I was overwhelmed once again at God’s guidance, intervention and direction in my life. The previous Spring I thought my dreams had been crushed. Little did I know at the time, God was at work amidst my sorrow and my dreams were really just beginning.  

Click on the "Our Love Story" tag at the top of the page to see other love story posts, or to start from the beginning.

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