Letting Him In

Continued from “I’m Married to My Best Friend

In December 1992, two months after our hiking weeknd, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and scheduled for an immediate mastectomy. The first person I called was JJ. He drove two hours to Raleigh, NC, to listen and pray with me. Then he offered to drive another 6 hours the following week to be with me during her surgery.

At first, I declined his offer. I didn’t want to let my heart attach to him during an emotional time for fear that I’d get hurt again. I knew my guard was down a little leaving me vulnerable. He insisted on being there because he didn’t want me to go through my mom’s surgery alone. I didn’t want to be alone either so I told him I would pray about it. I decided to process my decision with my roomates and my pastor’s wife. I shared my fears and they challenged me to take a risk and let JJ in, a little. Letting him in the protective wall around my heart was exactly what I would be doing. After praying about it more and sensing God provision of comfort through JJ, I decided to take the risk.

My mom’s surgery went well. Her lymph nodes were clear and her prognosis was very good. I wanted to feel relieved, but I still felt overwhelmed by the “what ifs” and my fear of the unknowns that lay ahead. My mom’s mother and grandmother had died with breast cancer. I felt pretty certain that my mom would be okay, but I wasn’t so sure how I’d be. I feared that a very similar chapter would be written into my own life story. More than being afraid of cancer, I was afraid I would not be able to handle it with as much courage and confidence as I saw in my mom at the time.

Looking back I can see that I didn’t need to be worrying about a future chapter, God was writing a very current chapter in my life, right then and there. The main character was standing by my side the whole time. JJ had arrived the day of my mom’s surgery. That night we went to the grocery store to get some ice cream for her. I shivered from the cold air as we walked through the refrigerated section. JJ put his arm around my shoulder to give me warmth. It was a gesture of friendship but instead of making me warm, it gave me chills – you know the kind you get when someone you like brushes up against you. Uggg, I just knew this was going happen! I thought to myself as I casually found a reason to turn down an isle and pull out from the shelter of JJ’s arm.

While JJ was at my mom’s, I was plagued by something that had been bothering me for several weeks. You see as sweet as JJ was, and as Godly as he’d been, he also had a quick wit and made sarcastic little comments every once in a while. I was sensitive and took them personally. It had only happened a few times and he hadn’t done it during his visit, but with my heart falling for him, I knew it was something that needed to be addressed.

The first time he used one of his quick “come backs” we were with friends and it totally caught me off guard. But I had noticed the more time we spent together the more easily he would make a funny, but not-so-funny, remark to me. I also noticed he didn’t do it to my friends and that bothered me. It seemed that he was letting his guard down with me and I was seeing his darker side. I knew I was falling for JJ and the alarms in my heart were warning me that I had let him in too close and I needed to pull away before I got hurt. But instead of simply withdrawing, I decided to talk with him about it.

At first, he was a little defensive. Understandably so, since I hadn’t said anything to him before. He said it was just his sense of humor. He didn’t mean anything by it. He explained that he’d grown up with sarcasm so it was just natural for him. I decided to throw in some Biblical backing to my concerns, mentioning how James says our tongue is a powerful weapon. He didn’t seem to think there was anything wrong with the few incidences I mentioned. I wondered if I was making a big deal out of nothing. Yet, I didn’t want to continue a friendship with someone who would hurt me with their words and not see anything wrong with it. I knew I needed to pull back.

The next morning during my time with God I talked to Him about my fears and concerns. As I prayed and read my Bible, I felt like God showed me how we all have areas we need to work on and the He wanted me to find verses about the power of our words to give to JJ. I remembered the many times we had shared favorite verses on the phone or when we saw each other during our time knowing each other. God’s Word had a special place in the foundation of our frienship and I knew JJ loved the Scriptures. I wondered how much he’d love and honor them in this hard situation.

It was the day before he was leaving and I decided to wait for just the right time. When I gave the verses to JJ, he was shocked and convicted. He took them and looked them up and spent time praying through them. That night we sat at my mom’s kitchen table talking and he apologized. His defenses were gone and he was completely humbled.

He explained the problem – he cared about me, more than just a friend!!!He told me he’d been praying for three months that God would give him the go ahead to pursue a relationship with me. But God hadn’t given him peace or permission to tell me until that day. (Okay, I was dancing on the inside, just so you know.) He said his sarcasm was his way of keeping me guessing, of keeping a distance. He said he had asked God to help him with his words and help him lose the sarcasm. With a glistening in his eyes and tenderness in his hands that held mine, he asked for my forgiveness and told me he never intented to hurt me.

That night he also asked if we could be more than “friends” and I gladly agreed to let him in, just a little more!

About Renee

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, story-teller, heart-encourager and grace-needer. She's also a wife, mom, friend, daughter and author of A Confident Heart, a Retailers Choice Award winning book that became a best-seller and has been published in six languages, with over 150,000 copies sold. Renee is speaks around the country at women's events and and serves on the writing team for DaySpring’s inCourage blog. For twenty years, Renee served in leadership at Proverbs 31 Ministries and as former co-host of the ministry's radio program, “Everyday Life with Lysa & Renee.

Comments

  1. Hey Renee– I am loving this continuing saga!! Keep writing for those of us who are glued to the whole story– you have inspired me to write ours, though unfortunately ours is not so God-grounded!! Ours is more like, “Hey, you’re cute– wanna go out?” Ü
    Ah, but God had SO much work to do with us– good thing He doesn’t get tired!

  2. Very interesting!

    Nice job adding the quote in the sidebar – good coding! 🙂

  3. Even before you got to the part where he shares that he does like you as more than a friend, I KNEW he was being sarcastic- a little- to you, and not others- because that’s what Guys do when they like you!
    In college, there was this guy, Eric, who was always picking on me and saying little witty but sarcastic comments. I had had it with him! One day I was walking into the cafeteria when he called something out from across the room that I did not hear very well, but I knew he was picking on me. I shouted out, “Oh, why don’t you just grow up!” All the guys and he burst out laughing hysterically. What’s so funny with my remark, I thought? Later, when Eric finally told me he liked me, we also talked about that day in the cafeteria, and I asked why he thought my remark to him was so funny. He said, “I thought you said, ‘Oh why don’t you THROW UP!” !!!!
    I should have given him a Bible verse instead!!
    Can’t wait for part 3!!

  4. Renee,
    I am so enjoying your story. I agree with Marybeth, maybe we should all share ours. To think we have known each other for over a decade, and I did not know these details. Thanks for sharing.

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