Category Archives: Relationships

Numbers

I don’t know about you, but I love when the Lord connects numbers for me.  Now, that may sound ridiculous or you may have no clue what I’m talking about, but don’t worry, I’ll do my best to explain myself.

Today I have 40 days until my wedding.

40 is a big number.  If you look in the Bible, the number 40 pops up A LOT!  It rained on Noah and the Ark for 40 days and nights when God flooded the earth.  Moses and the Israelites had to wander the desert for 40 years after they were freed from Egypt.  After Jesus was baptized, He went into the wilderness and fasted for 40 days, during which time He was also tempted before He started His ministry.  Jesus also appeared to His disciples and other people for 40 days after His resurrection.

Those are all that I can think of off the top of my head right now, but there are more.

The number 40 is typically linked to a time when someone or a group of people are going through a test or trial.  It’s used during Lent, the 40 days before Easter, as a time of fasting and prayer as well.  But my interest is not in numerology.  I just like the idea that the Lord has used 40 multiple times in His Word, which I think means that 40 is an important time frame.

I think these last 40 days before our wedding are going to hold many things for Brandon and me.  There will definitely be tests and trials galore, but I also think that there will be blessings galore as well.  Besides, James said that we should “consider it pure joy when [we] face trials of many kinds because [we] know that the testing of [our] faith produces perseverance” (James 1:1).  So any trials we face during this time will not only be used to help build our faith and perseverance, but also to mold us into the man and woman that God has created us to be so that we can do the things that He has created us to do.

I’m going to use these last 40 days as a specific time of prayer over our entire marriage.  Not just the wedding day and all of the things surrounding that.  I’m praying for our marriage.  The thing that lasts long after the flowers die and flower girls grow up.  I’m praying over the life we will have together and the years we will share with one another.  I’m praying over the trials we have not yet faced and the joys we do not yet know.  I’m praying over the people we influence and the people we allow to influence us.  I’m praying over the gifts and talents the Lord has blessed us with and will grow or develop within us as His perfect timing works itself out.  I’m praying over the love that we share and the lives that we impact with that love, given by the Lord.  And so much more.

*          *          *          *          *

As much as I like the 40 days until our wedding, there’s another number related thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately too: When Brandon and I get married, we will have been together for almost 6 whole years.

Now I know that 6 isn’t really a big deal in the Bible, but I like to think of it in relation to when God created the heavens and the earth.  He worked and created for 6 days, but on the 7th day, He rested.

That’s how I see my relationship with Brandon.  We have been working for almost 6 whole years.  We’ve been living life apart and dealing with a long distance relationship for a long time now.  We have and still are putting in a lot of work, cultivating our relationship and helping it to grow over all of this time.

But praise the Lord, this time of separation and distance is close to an end!  The 6 years are almost over!  The work that we have been putting in is not necessarily about to end, because marriages take work, but it will definitely change.  This season of our lives is ending after 6 years.  And what is to come?

The 7th year.  Rest.

During our 7th year together, we will finally be able to live together and be a part of each other’s every day life, rather than spending a weekend together once a month.  All of the work that we have put in the past 6 years will be completed and we will no longer be working towards marriage.  We will finally be able to rest in our marriage.  We will be able to rest in our union and covenant.  We will no longer be two separates striving toward each other, rather, we will finally be one and we can rest in that unity.

Oh how I look forward to that rest…

Oh how I pray that we rejoice and revel in that rest, rather than allowing the difficulty and negativity to pull our joy and rest away from us.

Many people say that the first year of marriage is the hardest.  I believe them.  Wholeheartedly.  It won’t be easy.  It won’t be pretty.  It will be chaotic and hectic and we won’t have anything figured out.  It will be absolute insanity and we will likely drive each other crazy with the little things we used to think were cute and indeering.  Words will be said and understood in ways they weren’t intended.  Feelings will be hurt and balloons will burst.  Negativity and frustration will likely win out over joy and peace some days.  Days will grow long and tempers will grow short.

But at the end of the day, when all is said and done, I will be there for Brandon and he will be there for me.  We will be a united front against the enemy’s schemes to steal our joy and rob us of peace.  We will be an unbreakable team forged in the refining fires of the Almighty’s Hand.

It certainly won’t be perfect, but we will be together.  Finally.

So here’s to 40 more days and a 7th year of rest amidst the chaos.

Gentry Bass

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Conviction

Let me just start by praying:

Lord God, You are Holy and Almighty.  You are Sovereign over my life and there is no one I desire above You.  You created me and You know my deepest, most heartfelt desires.  You have planned a life for me that I can live to the full, if only I obey Your Word and follow Your will.  You have given me talents and abilities that I am to use for Your glorification, not my own.  You have granted me grace, mercy, love, and favor that I do not deserve and have done nothing worthy of earning; yet, You bestow it all upon me simply because You love me and I am Your child.  Thank You, Father God, for Your abundant love and for Your plan for my life.  Because You are sovereignly in control, I don’t have to worry or fret about what I am to do next, where I am to go, or what I am to do when I get there.  Thank You, Lord, that You know all things and that You hold me within Your hands, guarding me against anything that You have not allowed to enter my life.  Thank You for molding me and shaping me into the woman that I have become, but thank You even more, Holy Father, that You continue to chip away my pride and negativity, ever perfecting and ever transforming me.  Thank You for the plans You have for me and for the ways in which You are preparing me for Your plans.  Thank You for walking with me through the refiner’s fire, the darkest valley, and the steepest mountain.  You are so Good.  You continue to amaze and astound me, Lord!  Thank You for Your trials and for the ways in which You teach me to be a better follower after Your heart and lover of Your people.  May You never cease to work in, through, and all around me.  May Your name be proclaimed by every thought, word, and action that spills forth from me.  May Your will be done, Your way, in Your timing, and for Your glorification.

Lord, allow the people who read this to hear Your voice, not mine.  Let them know Your Words, not my own.  Use me here to write honestly and humbly.  Lord, I ask that You would speak to each one as You see fit.  Thank You, Holy Father, for speaking to each of us differently and for convicting us all differently.  Help us not to judge one another simply because we have different struggles than another or perhaps someone else is at a different place in their walk with You and You have not yet revealed to them the things that You have revealed to us.  Help us all to put aside our prejudices and feelings of entitlement.  Help us to listen only to You and to praise Your Name when You speak to us and when You are silent.  May Your will be accomplished.  May Your voice be heard.  May Your people grow and return Your blessings with praise.  Thank You, Lord God, for all of the incredible things You allow us to experience each and every day.  You are Holy and we praise Your name.  Amen.

The Lord has recently been showing me my ugly side…  It isn’t super fun when He does that, but it is definitely something I need Him to do so that I don’t continue living in my sin or continue living a lie.

Now, let me preface all of this by saying that this is how the Lord has convicted ME about MY feelings and attitudes about MY wedding.  There is a high possibility that absolutely nothing that I write will have much meaning to you because you are not me.

First, let’s talk about a word I’m about to use a lot: convict (other forms include- convicts, convicted, conviction, convicting, etc).  When I use this term, I’m talking about the way the Lord points out something in your life that you are doing wrong, or that you aren’t doing and should be doing, and He brings it to your attention in a way that you know that something needs to change.  For instance: ‘the Lord convicted me of my sin’ means that God showed me that something I was doing was sinful and I needed to stop it and be obedient to Him instead of continuing to sin.

The Lord speaks to each of us differently and He will convict each of us of different things at different times.  That is one very important reason why you can’t go around life expecting that everyone else in the world has been convicted of the exact same things that you have.  In fact, they probably haven’t because their walk with Christ is completely different than yours.  Other people have other stumbling blocks and other sins that the Lord has to work out with them.  That means that the Lord may convict them of some things that He never convicts you of because He has already worked that out in You.  We all need God to speak to us in specific ways so that we can better understand Him.  We all require different levels of support.  And praise be to God, He knows what we need and He will meet us there!

Recently the Lord met me on my couch, as I was praying about my wedding coming up in May.  It’s getting very close now, so all of the little things are starting to sneak up on me.  I thought everything was going just fine and I had everything under control.  But that was my biggest problem…

I had gotten to a place in my wedding planning where I believed that I had everything under control.  Did you read that right?  I was in control.  Not the Lord.  I was.

And that was my pride-driven downfall.

I thought I could handle planning a wedding and doing a full time externship and working and packing up and planning to move and getting things ready for an apartment and all of the expenses that come along with all of those things stacked on top of things I would describe as “my normal life” stuff.  I thought I could do it all on my own…

I actually did for a hot second…

Then I started drowning.  All of the things I thought I had under control were suddenly far too much for me to grasp.  My grip failed.  I started sinking beneath the weight of everything I knew I could never handle on my own…

Then the Lord reached down to me, just as He did to Peter when he tried to walk on the water, and said “Oh you of little faith. Why did you doubt?” (Mat. 14:31)

Everything that was overwhelming me and pulling me under had been in perfect order when I had given it all to the Lord and relinquished control to Him.  God gracefully holds every single one of my burdens far better than I could ever dream to, and yet I pridefully thought that I could do it all myself…

You’d think that by now I would know better, but I am apparently a prideful person.  I hate admitting that because I desire so much to be humble.  I want to be a humble servant and a servant leader, but I have this pride within me that rises up and takes over if I am not diligent in prayerfully crushing it back down and relinquishing all praise to the Lord.

So the Lord convicted me of that pride.  He convicted me of a lot of pride I didn’t realize I had let settle into my heart and overflow into my actions.  He showed me how entitled I was and I hated it!  I hated to see myself through the truth that He was giving me…

I felt entitled to have a perfect wedding.  Everyone is, right!?  Or at least that’s what everyone says!  Even before I got engaged, I had people telling me, “it’s YOUR day YOU do whatever YOU want.”

Yeah, sure, it may partly be my day, but it’s also my husband’s day.  It’s also a day to say thank you to all of the people who helped us get to where we are now.

From the beginning, I wanted my wedding to be a celebration with the people that have supported us and helped us get to where we are now.  I wanted it to be a huge thank you to everyone who came and to those who couldn’t.  Yes, I want to celebrate my love with Brandon and the long awaited conclusion of long distance and separation.  I want to celebrate the journey that God has led us on and walked us through.  I want to celebrate the unity and holy matrimony that Brandon and I will finally be able to be a part of.  But I also want to celebrate and thank those people around us that the Lord has used to help us become who we are today.

I lost sight of that.

All I could see was how imperfect my wedding was going to be when compared to the other weddings I’ve been to or those that are being planned.  All I could see was how unfair it was that everyone else got to have a perfect day but I couldn’t because of this, that, and the other.  All I could see was the anger that I had toward myself mostly because I wasn’t good enough or organized enough or pretty enough or friendly enough or *insert any other negative comment here*.

That was it.  All I noticed was the negative.

And the Lord called me out on it.

I had been blessed with more than countless others; how prideful and arrogant I was to pity myself and feel entitled to even more.  I had been surrounded by so many praises and blessings; how blind and foolish I was to only focus on the very few negative things.

Now let me just tell you, when the Lord convicted me of those two big things (pride and negativity), it was not a pretty sight.  It was like being pushed out into the freezing cold with shorts and a tank-top on.  It was a shock to my system to realize that I had been living a lie and had so easily allowed myself to be tricked into believing it.  It was painful when the Lord ripped off my blinders and shone the truth right in my eyes.  It was uncomfortable.  Honestly, it still is.

Being convicted is like being brought into the light or being told the truth.  You can’t just go back to living like you were.  I mean, you can, but it’s terrible because now you know the truth and it will eat you alive to know that you are living a lie constantly.  You have to change something.  You have to consciously and actively decide to make a change and act on the truth that you now know.

I now know that I was being far too prideful (about many things, not just my wedding) and overly negative (again, about many things, not just my wedding).  Now I have to decide what my next step is going to be.  Do I continue living in sin and lies?  Or do I ask for forgiveness, change my attitude, and allow the Lord to help me live a humble, positive life?

I’m personally choosing the latter of the two.

Now, am I good at this?  No.  Not at all.  But the Lord is working on me through it and I have faith that He will help me get where He wants me to be so that I can do the good works He has already prepared for me to do there.

It will be a long, tiring journey and Satan will do his best to throw me off and cast me back into pride and negativity.  But I know Who holds my future and I know Who holds me.  The Lord will walk with me through each and every step of this journey toward humility and positivity in every aspect of my life.  And I know for certain that He won’t let me down.

The question is: when the Lord convicts you, what will your choice be?  Will you continue to live in the darkness or the lie, even though you know the truth?  Or will you step into the light to let the Lord wash you clean and help you live in the truth?

The choice is coming, but the choice is yours.  Choose wisely, my friend.

Gentry Bass

The Goodbye

I look at my watch.  Again.  Five minutes.  I only have five more minutes until he has to leave.  Again…

This happens every single time.  He comes to visit for a weekend and it’s absolutely wonderful.  But at some point the weekend ends.  At some point our time runs out.  At some point he has to leave.  Again…

I wrap my arms around his waist and lean close into his chest.  I’ve learned that if I grit my teeth and look away, I’m less likely to cry…  He wraps his arms around my back and leans his cheek against the top of my head.  I grit my teeth harder and will the tears farther back.

It’s silent.

This is how it always ends.

This is how every goodbye begins.

Standing beside his car, still trying not to cry, I decide that talking might help me change my pattern of thinking.  If I can get my mind off of the inevitable goodbye, off of the negative time between, and onto the next visit, the next time I’ll see him, maybe I can get through this with a little more grace than I typically do.

“It’s only three weeks this time until I get to see you again!” I say in what I hope is a light, happy tone.  Of course, in my head I’m thinking, Three weeks.  Three weeks of long distance.  Three weeks of feeling like half of me is missing.  Three weeks…  “That’s only 21 days and that’s shorter than our normal four weeks apart.”  Sigh.  21 days is so short until it’s the 21 days he’s not here…

“I know,” he responds as he hugs me tighter.

He’s always so much more positive than I am.  It’s like I have this root of negativity in my mind that pops up whenever it pleases, which is often.  I’ve been praying about it…

“I’m gonna miss you, Brandon.  A whole heck of a lot.”  There they are.  I feel the tears stinging the backs of my eyes, begging to be loosed.  Deep breath.

“I’m gonna miss you too.  A whole, whole heck of a lot.”  He pulls away and looks at me.  He’s so serious, but a smile is playing at the corners of his mouth.

I smile up at him as a tear finally falls down my cheek.  How swiftly he wipes it away and another follows.  Dang it.  I was going to be good this time.  I wasn’t going to cry!  I think to myself.  Granted, I think those things to myself every time.  It only rarely works.

“I love you,” I say, trying to smile and keep the wobble out of my voice.

The answering gleam in his eyes is enough to pull me over the edge.  I tuck my head back into his shoulder and squeeze tight.  “I’ll see you in three weeks.  Not long at all.  You’ll be back before we know it.”  Even I’m not convinced… The wobble in my voice gives me away even when my face is hidden.

I look at my watch.  Again.  Two minutes…

“You need to go,” I say against his chest.

“I don’t want to leave.”  He squeezes tighter again.

“I know.  I don’t want you to leave either but we’ll be together again soon.  And one day I’m not gonna have to miss you so much.  One day you won’t have to leave me and I won’t have to leave you.”  Please let that day come soon, I silently pray.

He pulls my chin up and forces me to look at him as he says, “236 days.”

“236 days,” I echo.  “Then I’ll be your wife.  Then I’ll be able to see you everyday.  Then when we say ‘goodbye’ it’ll just mean that I’ll see you later that day.  I can’t wait to marry you.  236 days.”  So. Far. Away…

“I can’t wait to marry you either,” he says as he puts a hand on my cheek and wipes away the tears that are quickly replaced by new ones.  “I have to go.”  His words are so at odds with what I can see so plainly in his eyes: I want to stay.  He kisses me one last time and pulls away.  “I love you.”

It’s strange.  The moment he pulls away it truly feels as if a piece of me is left there, with him.  “I love you too,” I whisper as he turns away for the millionth time to get into his car to drive away for the millionth time.  I wipe at my tears.

I’ve endured five years of this.  Five years of waiting a month to see him for a weekend.  Five years of making the most of the time we have together and trying not to fall to pieces when we’re apart.  Five years filled with so many goodbyes…

I hate goodbyes.  Hate them.  Especially when they happen so often.  Especially when they are filled with so much emotion that you can’t even think straight.  Especially when they mean so much.

He turns his car on, rolls his window down, and tells me again that he loves me and will see me soon.  I return the sentiment and give him one last kiss before he pulls out of the driveway.

I stand on the porch, tears streaming down my face, as I watch him back away.  Just before he leaves, he holds up the “I love you” sign and smiles through his window.  I sign and smile back through my tears as he drives forward…  Away from me…  Again…

Every single time he leaves, I watch until I can’t see him anymore.  Until he rounds a corner or gets too far for me to see.  Sometimes I wait there for a while.  Sometimes minutes, sometimes longer.  Most times there are tears.  Most times the tears come more quickly and forcefully after he is out of sight…  But there’s something about watching him leave me.  Again.  And again.  And again…

Sometimes I catch myself thinking, This isn’t fair!  What did I do wrong?  Why does everyone around me get to enjoy their relationship all the time and I only get monthly visits?  Why do we have to suffer this over and over again?  For years!  Why didn’t my friends have to wait this long?  Why do they get to love each other so easily while we suffer again and again?

No!  I would NEVER wish this on anyone.  It sucks.  A lot.  Knowing that someone is your husband and knowing that you have to keep waiting and keep being apart is awful.  I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to go through this.  I’m thrilled my friends didn’t have to wait 6 years like I will.  I’m so happy that they are able to love their people as often as they can.  And I know that I also have friends who haven’t yet found their person and I know that is extremely difficult: to watch everyone else experience what you are dreaming or praying or hoping for while you still can’t or aren’t.  And I know that there are so many other people out there waiting longer and traveling farther.  No, it isn’t fair, but as a wise woman once told me, “Life isn’t fair. Fair only comes once a year.”  

No one’s life is easy.  No one’s life is perfect.  If you think that it is, you’re either wrong or blind to the imperfections in your own life.  Sometimes it’s just harder than others…

I have to remind myself each time Brandon leaves that God has a plan for us.  And not only does God have a plan for us, but that this is His plan for US, not other people.  That God wants us to be in this exact situation at this exact moment for this exact amount of time.  I have to remind myself that the Lord is the only one who can help me get through the negativity, and the depression that comes with it if I don’t surrender my negativity to the Lord, when we are apart.  That may sound dramatic, but it’s the honest truth.  When we are apart, Satan uses any bit of negativity and turns it into something I fixate on if I am not careful to keep my eyes on God.  It is in those moments that I have to remember that regardless of what I want or think I need, God knows best and He has it all under control.

So, here’s to 230 days until our monthly goodbyes become a thing of the past and something we thank the Lord for teaching and guiding us through.  Here’s to 230 more days of learning through the distance and loving across the miles.

Gentry Bass

Finally

If you would like to read the rest of our story, you can find the highlights of our four year journey up to this point here.

Allow me to set the scene for you: I was sitting on the couch and Brandon walked into the room.  It was such a typical, mundane act and yet it filled me with a shock of joy that I couldn’t contain.  Before I was able to suppress it, a brilliant smile broke the stillness of my face.  As he walked toward me, Brandon cocked his head and a slow smile spread across his face as well.  “What?” he asked.  “Nothing” I responded.  But then I really allowed myself to think about it.  As he sat beside me, I leaned my head onto his shoulder and quietly said, “I’m gonna marry you one day.”

Now, this happened about a year ago, and whereas it was most assuredly the first time I had spoken it aloud with such confidence, it had been a topic of quick conversation and much thought over the years prior to that moment.  However, even though Brandon and I had discussed it, the idea of actually marrying him and spending the rest of my life with him didn’t fully sink into my consciousness until that moment.  Until I saw him walk into the room and realized that he was indeed the man I would one day marry.

‘Maybe I’ll marry him one day‘ was nothing more than a fleeting thought in my subconsciousness that continued to make itself known time and time again, with more frequency the longer we were together.  But, me being me, I always tried to push it away and I never truly let it become a solid reality.  Instead, I would quickly follow thoughts of my future with things like, ‘but anything could happen!  Who knows what God’s will is for us.  Maybe it’s too good to be true and He’s just using this time we have together to prepare us for our separate futures…’  All completely valid thoughts!

If you’re thinking that I’m insane, especially after three years with the guy, then you would agree with pretty much everyone else I talked to.  Needless to say, that way of thinking didn’t last forever.  However, when I came to the realization that Brandon was indeed my future husband, things got rough.

I knew he was “the one.”  I knew I would marry him one day.  The problem was, we weren’t at all ready at that time for the next step in our journey: engagement.  So, the days went by as if in slow motion and my heart ached for the day we could finally move forward in our relationship because I was so tired of everything seeming so stagnant.

It was during this time that the Lord confronted me and tested my faith in His timing by helping me to overcome the quick, bitter pang I felt each moment I scrolled through social media and found another of my friends engaged or married, or even just moving forward in their relationship at all.  It took some time, but God is good and, thankfully, He is also patient.  I turned my bitter spirit, covered by a facade of happiness, into a true joy for those around me who had finally found the person they would love forever.  Then, He helped me to see that their joy in that moment and my prayers for them could fuel my joy in the waiting.  Don’t ask me how it makes sense, because it doesn’t in my mind; but God is greater and He helped me to see that in this particular season, just as I had numerous times before.

Almost a year later, I am happy to say that the Lord heard my prayer and has answered with more blessings and joy than I could have imagined!

Brandon and my friend Katie literally had to drag me to look at engagement rings.  And when I say drag, I mean that they lured me to the mall and then casually shoved me into a jewelry store against my will…  They’re the best… (note the sarcastic undertone)  But, I eventually warmed up to the idea and found a general style that I liked.  The thing is, I absolutely refused to pick a ring myself or even narrow it down too much, even though I had one in mind.  I wanted Brandon to pick my ring, and boy did he pick it!  Literally.  The exact one that I couldn’t get out of my mind.

On October 22nd, Brandon surprised me with a visit and also picked up my ring (which was the cause of the surprise visit).  Yes, I knew he was getting my ring, I just didn’t know which one it was at the time.  I was actually the one who carried the bag with the box with my ring in it from the car into the house.  Where it sat.  In my room.  Taunting me.  All weekend…  He’s nice like that…

So anyway, I knew he had the ring.  I knew I would say yes.  Now all I had to do was wait.  But praise the good Lord in Heaven above because I only had to wait a little while!

And so do you!  Next time I’ll tell you all about the proposal, but for now you’ll just have to wait!

 

 

Haha just kidding!!!  I’ll go ahead and tell you now.

On November 5th, my friend, Kayla, got married and she ever so lovingly allowed me to be one of her bridesmaids.  (Congratulations Kayla and Chad!  You’ve officially been married a week now!!)  Brandon came up for the wedding and we were able to dress up and have a fun night celebrating with everyone at their wedding (for future reference, some of those in attendance included: my best friend Katie, her boyfriend and my good friend Coryghan, my sister Lauren, and her boyfriend Josh).  Brandon even asked me to dance for the first time!  It was perfect, I was shocked, and the song was A Thousand Years by Christina Perri.

Katie, Coryghan, Lauren, Josh, Brandon, and I had all planned to go to dinner together the following day.  One thing you need to realize is that we aren’t the kind of people that typically dress up and go do things.  We’re more of a ‘let’s just be comfortable’ kind of group.  So, later that evening, when Coryghan told me to make sure that I dressed nicely for our triple date, I began to get suspicious…

My next moment of suspicion came when Brandon decided that we would ride to dinner with Coryghan and Katie, but we were going to make a pit stop (which just so happens to be WAY out of the way) at camp to see Lauren and Josh beforehand because Coryghan wanted to hand out there for a little while.  (Brandon did really well.  He made sure every piece of the plan came from someone other than him, but because I knew it was coming, I was suspicious.)

First off, remember, we aren’t really people who dress up just because.  Second off, no one ever dresses up at camp unless they’re trying to impress a boy they have a crush on or they’re at a wedding or other event.  In this case, neither was the cause.  Or, at least, that’s what I was supposed to believe.  I didn’t.  I knew then that Brandon was probably going to propose that day at some point.  Besides, where better to start the next part of our lives?

Brandon and I met at Camp Chula Vista in June of 2012.

Brandon asked me to marry him at Camp Chula Vista on November 6, 2016.

From the moment we stepped out of the car, I saw a picture that begged to be taken.  So I grabbed my phone, walked down the hill, and almost laid down completely in the grass just to get the perfect picture of the swing.  Then we moved closer to the lake and I started taking pictures of Katie and Coryghan as well as Josh and Lauren as we meandered around the lake.

There were many fantastic pictures taken that day, but my favorite one wasn’t taken by me.  It was taken at four different angles, with four different cameras, by four different friends.  It involves the man of my dreams on a knee, offering me a ring as a symbol of his love and devotion; as a symbol of the long life we will have together.  It involves a proposal, not only of marriage, but of trials and difficulty and a promise to stand together no matter what we face.  It involves a boy and a girl, ready to face whatever this life gives them with Christ leading the way.  This is that picture.

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He took me back to where our story began.  And so, the next chapter in our story begins much the same way as the first: a guy and a girl at camp, led by the grace of God, surrounded by friends, destined to love each other more tomorrow than they thought possible today.

As you can imagine, I said yes.

Your prayers would be very appreciated.  A long distance relationship is rough, but a long distance engagement is sure to test us beyond what we have previously known.  Planning a wedding while in school and working will be difficult as well, but we believe that this timing is of the Lord and we are confident that He will provide all of our needs and supply us with abundant joy and strength to face each mountain in our path.

Thank you so much to everyone who has helped us and encouraged us over the years.  It means the world to us and we pray the Lord blesses you beyond all measure!  Y’all are awesome and you have blessed my socks off with the level of support you have offered us.  So thank you.  A million times. Thank you.

Gentry Bass

My Jericho

Have you ever had a crazy encounter with the Lord?

You’re sitting there, minding your own business and you feel the nudge to go grab your Bible or a devotional or just take a moment to pray.  When you’ve fought with yourself long enough to realize that no, it wasn’t just you having a random thought, it really was the Lord nudging you to move, you get up and go find a quiet place and obey.

Then He hits you.  Hard.

This happened to me in the beginning of August.  The third day of August to be exact.

I was minding my own business when I felt the Lord nudge me to find a quiet place and do the Bible study I was working through, Believing God by Beth Moore.  So, after a moment of soul searching, I knew that I needed to obey and I needed to do so right then.  So I did.  I’ve learned over the years that if the Lord tells me to do something and I don’t listen right away, or at least as soon as I can, then I’m in big trouble.

I settled down with my Bible, markers, and study in hand and opened the page to see that the topic of the day’s lesson was Joshua and Jericho.  “Okay,” I thought, “I know this story.  It’s a great story and I’m sure God has awesome stuff to tell me today.”  Little did I know that what He had to tell me that day wasn’t something that I could shrug off.  In fact, it took me 3 whole weeks to complete the task He set before me that day…

If you have never heard the story of Joshua when he faced Jericho, you can find it in Joshua 5:13-6:27.

Joshua encountered an angel who told him that the Lord had a message for him.  That message included God telling Joshua that He had given Jericho into his hands; in other words, God was telling Joshua that he already had victory over the city of Jericho, which also happened to have a massive wall around it and gates that allowed no one in or out.  God also told him the plan for victory: walking around the city.  Not fighting or preparing a sneak attack.  God simply told them to walk around the city once per day, for six days, and then seven times on the seventh day with the priests blowing trumpets and then give up a final shout.  Then, after all of that, the Lord told him that the walls around the city would fall in so that Joshua and the Israelites could rush in.

When they obeyed and carried the ark of the covenant around the city once per day for six days and then seven times on the seventh day and offered up a shout, that is exactly what happened.  The walls fell in and Jericho was taken.

The reason Joshua and the Israelites were faced with Jericho was because it was directly in the way of their promised land.  To get to the promised land, they first had to get through Jericho.

As I read through the lesson, I was prompted to take a moment and ask God what my Jericho was.  So that’s exactly what I did.

I put the Bible study aside, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath.  Then I saw it.  I was standing high upon a cliff overlooking a vast, desolate wasteland.  I searched the desert for a city surrounded by a round wall (because that’s how I envision Jericho must have looked).  I looked, but saw nothing.  I even tried squinting my eyes, but again saw nothing.

Then, suddenly, the Lord was standing on the cliff by my side.  I asked Him to show me where my Jericho was; to point out the city and then name it for me.  I knew my Jericho wasn’t actually a city that I needed to walk around.  Instead, I figured the city I would find in the desert would be a symbol of something else and the Lord would name the city with what it was that I needed to pray circles around.

The Lord stretched out His hand and pointed into the distance.  I looked, but I saw nothing but the desert laid out before me.  He continued to point and said, “Look right down My arm to the point of My index finger and see what I see.”  I leaned over; so close that I could see straight down His arm.  He was pointing into the distance, beyond the vast desert before us.  I could see mountains in the distance, but that was all.  “No, Gentry, not with eyes of man” He said, “Look with eyes of faith! See? See it My way!”

Then I finally saw it.

The mountains weren’t just mountains, they were my promised land!  Those mountains represented a previous vision the Lord had given me: when Brandon and I kneeled to pray, closed our eyes, and then arose from our prayer as an elderly couple, years into our marriage.  “That is your promised land,” the Lord said.  “This vast, desolate desert you see before you is your Jericho.”

Yes.  the entire desert.  As in all of it.  As in a wasteland.

“Lord, how in the world am I supposed to circle the entire desert?” I asked.

I opened my eyes.  I knew exactly how to circle a vast desert.

I found a piece of cardboard, a sharpie, a ruler, and a box cutter and I went to work.  I measured the piece of cardboard and cut it into a 250mm x 250mm square.  Then, I labeled it, “Jericho: a vast distance: 250 miles.”

That desert in my vision was indeed a vast, desolate wasteland, but that wasteland represented the vast distance between myself and the man I love.  The distance which has been in place for more than four years and seemed to desire to stay that way for many more years, that was my desert.  It had plagued me. That distance of 250 miles caused me so many days of worry and anxiety and stress and even depression at times.  It was the source of so many problems, and yet I knew the Lord had that distance in place for a purpose.   But I had gotten to the point of being so completely done with the distance between us and I was more than happy to circle that distance in the hopes of it crumbling.

I had grown so tired of the distance.  So tired of only seeing Brandon for one weekend out of each month, save those nice times when we were at camp or able to visit after three weeks or even two at times.  I had prayed so many prayers outlining just how tired I was of the distance and asking God to lessen it.  And it seemed in that moment that He may have finally heard all of my prayers and finally decided it was time to let the distance crumble.

I was dedicated.  For three weeks I laid that piece of cardboard on the floor and silently walked around it as I prayed in my mind for six days and on the seventh, I walked around it seven times while praying aloud and claiming the victory of my promised land even in the face of my Jericho.

During that time, God gave me a very specific prayer to pray, which aided in my circling.  That prayer had to do with asking the Lord to hasten the day that Brandon and I would finally be able to be together.  At the time, it looked as if we would have to wait another three to four years to be together because of school and work and the insanity of life.  So I gladly prayed the hastening prayer that the Lord gave me.

At the end of those three weeks, the Lord answered my prayer for hastening and cut the projected time we would have apart in half.  Praise Jesus!  He opened doors and opened our minds to see His plan for us.  He opened our eyes to see with eyes of faith, rather than simply seeing what was placed before me in this life with the eyes of man.

I found my Jericho.  I circled my Jericho.  In reality, I still am circling my Jericho, but victory is already mine and I can see my promised land looming on the horizon.

Now it’s your turn.  Take some time and ask the Lord what is standing in the way of your promised land.  Identify your Jericho and then circle it until the walls shatter into oblivion.  You might just be surprised by what He shows you, but I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Gentry Bass

Are you sure?

As awesome and incredible as my relationship with Brandon is (at least in my eyes, anyway), we have had more than our fair share of rough patches.  There have been a couple of times that we’ve come close to ending everything and walking away from each other forever.  This post is about one of those times.

If you want to read our story, you can find the entirety of our rather long story here.

A couple of months after I was diagnosed with VEDS, my friend, Katie, and I went to Chic-fil-a after prayer.  We started talking about different things and somehow we got on the subject of my relationship with Brandon.  Things went South quickly…

I questioned everything.  I mean, it’s not like I hadn’t done that before.  I had.  I’ve had many conversations with the Lord, asking whether He was sure that Brandon was the right guy.  (Don’t judge me.  Every girl has their doubts.  Even girls who are blessed with young men who don’t tuck tale and run when their girlfriend is diagnosed with an insane genetic disorder with more problems and future complications than could ever be noted…  I know.  I’m insane.)

Allow me to describe myself while in this type of mindset.  I worry that I haven’t heard the Lord correctly and I question every decision I’ve made concerning Brandon.  I worry that I have fabricated God’s blessing for our relationship over the last years.  I worry.  I doubt.  I don’t trust.  In other words, I allow Satan to whisper lies in my ears and I choose to believe them over what I know the Lord has told me.

So, there we were: Katie and I were sitting across the table from one another in Chic-fil-a.  A few others were seated in various places around the restaurant, but we were far enough away to have a conversation without worrying that we would be overheard by our nearest neighbors.  Because of that, our conversation flowed for a while and then moved on to the terrible subject of long distance relationships and my doubts.

I didn’t know what the cause of this incredible and sudden onslaught of doubt was.  I couldn’t pinpoint where the overwhelming feeling that I had to break up with Brandon came from.  All I knew, is that after spending an hour or so in prayer with our prayer group, I felt this burden and I felt that it was from the Lord.  It terrified me.  I felt as though the Lord was telling me that I needed to break up with Brandon.  No reason given.  Just a heavy burden that weighed heavier with each passing moment.

Of course, we had problems.  Every couple has problems.  Our main struggles consist of distance and a love language barrier (on top of me being an overly emotional person), but it isn’t like we wallow in our struggles and allow them to consume our every thought.  We had difficulties.  We still do.  But in that moment, it seemed as though every trial we had ever faced rose up before me and would not allow me to ignore them or pray them away.  Instead, the mountain of never-ending trials threatened to overshadow everything and plunge me into a despair so strong that I would never be freed from it.

However, the most peculiar aspect of it all, is that it seemed to come from God!  It didn’t feel like a temptation.  It didn’t feel like doubt.  Actually, if I’m being completely honest, it felt like a test.

Talking with Katie, I came to the conclusion that God was asking me to break up with Brandon to prove that I loved God more than I loved Brandon.  But this wasn’t just a ‘break up with you today and date you again tomorrow’ kind of feeling.  It more along the lines of a ‘break up with you and never see you again’ kind of thing.  So, with a heavy heart and tear-stained face, I walked to my car and sobbed a prayer on my drive home.  I begged God to show me what His will was.  I begged Him to ease the weight I felt in my soul…

He didn’t.  The weight clung heavily all the way home.  It worsened as I texted Brandon the most dreaded words: “we need to talk.”

Later that night, when Brandon got off of work, he called me.  My heart hammered and I was crying before I was even able to say, “hello.”  I must have said, “I don’t want to do this” and “I love you” a million times in that conversation…

I told him that I felt like God wanted me to break up with him.  I told him that I had felt unloved and unwanted by him because he still didn’t speak my love language, even after multitudes of conversations about what that means and how to do so.  I told him about my doubts and worries that I had heard the Lord wrong when He gave me the blessing to date him.  I told him all of it.  Let me rephrase that: I sobbed my way through attempting to explain everything that was chaotically clanging about in my thoughts.  I’m pretty sure the whole, “let’s be friends” thing was even stated and explored for a while.

When I finally gave him time to speak, he was calm.  (That freaked me out more than anything.)  His voice was quiet.  He listened to each word I said and simply replied in a manner of acceptance.  He didn’t seek to change my mind.  He never once raised his voice, he simply said, “if you feel like this is what you need to do, then I understand.”

There was no fight, no anger, no frustration.  There was simply an acceptance of the inevitable end.

And in that moment, I couldn’t do it.

I couldn’t bring myself to hurt this young man I loved so completely.  That was the thing, I still loved him!  It wasn’t like I was fed up with him and he had frustrated me to the point that I couldn’t take it anymore.  I simply felt like the Lord was calling me to do the one thing I never wanted to do.  So, regardless of my feelings and desires, I was determined to do what God asked of me.

I have never identified so completely with Abraham than I did in that moment.

There is a man in Genesis, named Abraham, who was told by God to sacrifice his son as an offering to the Lord.  Not like, give him up, but sacrifice, as in kill on an altar.  Abraham obediently took his son, Isaac, up a mountain with everything needed for the sacrifice except an animal.  Once they reached their destination, Abraham tied Isaac to the altar.  Then, just as the knife in Abraham’s hand, poised to kill, came slashing down, and angel of the Lord stopped him.  The angel called out to him and showed him that the Lord had provided a ram stuck in a thicket for the sacrifice so that Isaac didn’t have to die.  The hard part is, if Abraham wouldn’t have tied Isaac up and raised the knife to sacrifice his beloved son, he never would have been shown the ram.

The willingness to sacrifice our own desires has to come before the Lord’s provision and blessing.

That’s what I learned while on the phone with Brandon that night.  Only after I had come to the point of being willing to end my relationship with Brandon and had actually attempted to do so, was I able to see the provision.  As soon as I had told him that I had to break up with him because I honored and loved God more than I loved him, the weight seemed to lift.

This simply confused me even more.  First, I felt as though God wanted me to break up with Brandon.  Then, only a short while later, I felt as though God was saying that I didn’t actually have to break up with him, I just had to be willing to do so.  I had to show where my loyalties lie.  I had to prove who I loved more and who I truly served.

As the weight lifted, and the confusion set in, I had to talk it out with Brandon: the one person who was completely fine with me breaking up with him…  (I personally think that is a whole other problem we should probably address…)

In the end, through every sob and change in thinking, we ended up staying together and promising to pray it through to determine what exactly the Lord wanted us to do and then reevaluate where we were and whether to continue our relationship or end it when he visited almost a month later.  Praise the good Lord in Heaven above that the final decision was to stay put, together, and really strive to focus on Christ, keep Him at the center of everything, and listen to how He wants us to live our lives and then obey.

So here we are, still together, and still waiting to see where He takes us next.

Gentry Bass

A Promise

After I got diagnosed with VEDS, my relationship with Brandon took a negative turn.  If you want to read the beginning of our story, you can find that here.

A few days after I was diagnosed, as I was driving to work, I prayed that the Lord would give me something to hold onto while I grappled with living with VEDS on top of every other thing I was dealing with.

So He did.

I was sitting in my car with tears streaming down my face.  I was praying.  Asking God to give me something, anything to hold onto.  I felt like I was drowning.  I felt like this new knowledge that I did in fact have Vascular Ehlers Danlos Syndrome was going to send me into the darkest pit of despair.  I needed something to cling to; to keep me from falling into the pit that threatened to ruin my life and steal every ounce of joy I had ever known.

So I pleaded with the Lord to give me something.  Anything.

And then it happened.  In my little two door car, trying to see past the tears that filled my eyes, hearing the cracks in my voice as I cried out for help.  I saw it.

It was about five years into the future.  Brandon and I were married and we were in our room getting ready to go to sleep.  We walked over to the bed and he reached out his hand to me.  I took his hand and we knelt down beside our bed with our clasped hands between us on the quilt.  We closed our eyes and started to pray.  Just like we did every night.  When I opened my eyes, our clasped hands were old and wrinkled.  We had the hardest time getting off of the floor with our old knees.  But we still knelt beside our bed and prayed together every night.  Just like we always had.

I was frozen.

That was it.  That was my hope.  That was my promise.  That was the thing that I could cling to for the rest of my life.  When my world started to crumble again, I could remember that promise that came straight from Heaven.

I had been given visions before and I’d had dreams that I knew were from the Lord, but nothing had ever compared to this.  It was so vivid and I knew it was just for me in answer to my prayers.  I had asked God for hope.  I had asked Him to give me something to cling to; to keep me from slipping into the darkness.  And He answered me.  He is so good.

He gave me hope.  But not just a fleeting hope.  This vision that He gave me filled me with joy and hope and peace.  It has continued to fill me with joy and hope and peace.  Through every trial and every temptation to give up and sink into despair, this vision has been a reminder of God’s plan for me.

Just because a doctor says that my median life span is 48 years doesn’t mean that I can’t live to grow old and kneel with my husband in prayer every night.  Just because a doctor says that I’m at an incredibly high risk of rupturing anything in my body at any moment doesn’t mean that I can’t live a full life.  Just because a doctor says that it’s really risky for me to have kids doesn’t mean that I can’t adopt the sweet kiddos that need someone to love them.  Just because a doctor says something doesn’t mean that God can’t turn what he says into a new dream, a new blessing.

Just because I have VEDS doesn’t mean that I can’t live a long life with the man of my dreams.  It doesn’t mean that I have to live in fear.  It doesn’t mean that God has turned His back on me and I have to walk this road alone.  Actually, it means the opposite.

Being diagnosed with VEDS has opened my eyes to just how near God is every single moment of every day. The vision He gave me has reminded me of that more times than I care to count.  Chronic pain and a different issue every day makes life a little more insane.  But it also makes me a little more thankful for each day I see and each moment I get to live.  It makes me realize how incredibly blessed I am to have a man like Brandon who is more than just willing to walk through this insane life with me.  He wants it.  He is actively choosing me, with all of the crazy complications that come with a life entangled by VEDS.

He chooses to stay with me instead of walking away like most rational people would.  He chooses to help me through the nights that I’m plagued with negativity.  He chooses to hold me when the tears overwhelm my joy.  He chooses to pray for me when I don’t know how to pray for myself anymore.  He chooses to pray with me and help me to see the good all around me.  He chooses to point out the positives and remind me of all of the blessings the Lord has given me.  He chooses to walk with me through each of the painful moments, letting the Lord lead us on this crazy path that we call life.  He chooses to love me, in the rare good moments and the frequent bad ones.

So, Brandon, it means the world to me that you actively and presently choose me, regardless of every problem we have faced and all of the craziness I’m sure we will face.  You are my sunshine.  Truly.  When skies are gray and all I can see is the negativity, you help me to see the sun hiding just behind the clouds.  You remind me that the Lord is still there and He is ready and willing to carry my burden and give me joy.  You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you.  And I pray the Lord never takes you from me.

Gentry Bass

One Year Later

This post is going to serve two purposes.  The first is to take a look back at a year ago, September 17th 2015, when I was diagnosed with VEDS (which in turn, led to this blog).  The second is to continue my story with Brandon as it relates to that fateful day.  If you would like to read the beginning of our story, you can find it all here.  If you would like to know more about VEDS and how I explained it, you can find that here.

One year ago today I was diagnosed with Vascular Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, otherwise known as VEDS.  When I walked out of that doctor’s office, I knew my life would never be the same.  One year after that day, I can say that I was definitely right.

The doctors gave me so many limitations: don’t lift more than 20 pounds; don’t exercise with any repetitive motions or heavy weights; don’t run; try not to do anything that makes your blood pump harder in your veins; oh yeah, and if you ever get pregnant, it will immediately be a high risk pregnancy and you have a 50% chance of passing VEDS to your kids.  Just to name a few.  They even threw in a median life span around 48.  Have they stopped me?  No.  Did they give me pause?  Heck yes.

The thing that gave me more pause than anything else had nothing to do with me.  It had to do with my mom and Brandon.

First, let’s talk about my mom.

She’s literally one of the most incredible women on the planet.  I’m pretty sure she knows everything and I’m not the only one who would say that.  She is asked about anything and everything, unless it’s sports.  But I don’t have to defend her to you.  If you know her, then you know how fantastic she is.  If you don’t, then you are missing out on knowing an amazing woman of God.

When the doctor told us that based on the data they had, VEDS patients had a median life span of 48, my first thought was, “I can’t lose my mom.  That would only mean a few more years with her.  That can’t happen.”  I held it together in the doctor’s office, but trust me, I had more than my fair share of tears over that thought when no one was around.

Yes, it was an awful thought.  Yes, I cried over it.  And yes, there have been many prayers over that whole situation.  But a few months later our suspicions were confirmed when my mom’s dad was also tested and diagnosed with VEDS.  Considering that we have some semi-distant cousins who also have VEDS, we are also assuming that my great grandmother and her sister also had VEDS.  Why is that important?  They both lived to be in their 90s.  My grandfather is currently in his 60s.

Know what that means?

We are defying the odds and making the doctors eat their words!  Life span of 48??  Ha!!

There is so much peace in knowing that the Lord has been watching over my family with VEDS for decades.  He has been helping us defy every odd that has been placed in our path.  That, my friends, is one of the many ways I know that God is good.

Now let’s move onto the second thing that gave me pause: Brandon.

Before I was able to walk out of that doctor’s office, it was as if moments of my future life were flashing before my eyes.  The problem was, they weren’t very nice ones…  *insert dramatic blur to dream vision* I was in my 30s sitting in yet another doctor’s office and he had no answers for why this was happening.  I had to visit what seemed like a hundred doctors each year because of all of the problems I was having.  I was being wheeled into the emergency room because a major organ had ruptured and they were going to try to save my life, but the likelihood of them being able to save me was minimal.  I was slipping away while giving birth to a child, realizing that I would be leaving my husband wifeless, perhaps childless if the baby didn’t make it, and that baby may have the same disease that caused me so many problems if he or she made it…  A life of pain.  A life of heartache.  A life of frustrations and trials and worries…  *insert blur back to reality*

Needless to say, I had a lot on my mind.

My brother, Parker, was diagnosed with VEDS a couple of months before, which is why we were tested for VEDS at that time.  Since Parker had already been diagnosed, we knew what to Google.  We knew what the geneticist said about it and we had some resources to look at, so the 6 weeks between when the blood work was taken and the results came in were filled with learning more about VEDS and how it could potentially affect us for the rest of our life.

Brandon and I had talked about the fact that I was in the process of being tested for VEDS.  (Granted, I waited a few days to tell him that my mom, sister, and I had gotten tested…  He wasn’t too happy about that…)  So when I called to tell him that the blood work had come back positive, it wasn’t a big surprise.  We had been planning for that.

I’m sure that Brandon wasn’t too thrilled when I basically told him that I thought it would be better for him if he let me go and found someone else to be with.  His life would be better.  He would’t have to deal with all of the doctors and medications and bills and problems.  His life would be easier and probably a lot simpler without me in it.  So I offered him an out.  I gave him a way to leave without guilt and without any hard feelings.  I didn’t want him to be stuck with me and VEDS for the rest of his life.  He deserved better than that.

The problem with that whole conversation was that he didn’t agree.

A year ago we were 21.  Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many 21 year old guys who hear that their girlfriend has a progressive and chronic genetic disorder with many limitations and still decide that they would rather live that life with you than leave you for anything or anyone else.

That moment made me realize how much Brandon really did love me.  It wasn’t that he felt obligated to stay with me or anything like that.  He had prayed about it and thought about it deeply.  He actively chose me, knowing everything that came with that choice.  He chose me knowing how many sacrifices he would have to make.  He loved me not only in spite of all of those things; he loved me because of them.

Here are a couple of the things he told me after I was diagnosed with VEDS:

“Let me be your leg to stand on when you can’t stand on yours.  Let me be your rock when you need it.  I’m here for you and I’m not going anywhere, so you better get used to it because you have a long time left with me!” and “I know that there’s a lot that I’ll have to deal with in this life if I’m with you, but who’s to say that it’ll be easier without you?  No one!”

Each day and each moment that has filled the last year of life with VEDS has taught me so much.  But most of all, it has made me realize how short life is and how quickly it can all change.  Brandon not only loved me in that moment, he loved me for every moment after that.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  He held me while I cried and suffered through an insane diagnosis.  He kept telling me it would all work out and God had it under control.  He worked with me through one of the roughest seasons in my life and he continues to do so each day.  I guess you could say he’s a keeper.

The Lord was able to take that crazy day and turn it into a blessing.  It has definitely been a rough year, but I have been blessed beyond measure since that day.

However, as blessed as I was and as loved as I was after that day, I went through a rather difficult time.  I felt guilty for dating Brandon because I felt like I was dragging him into a terrible life.  I felt bad for the people around me who had to deal with everything too.  In reality, I would have preferred leaving everyone I knew and living by myself and taking care of myself so I didn’t burden anyone else.  Granted, that didn’t really work.  At all.  But I did still slip into a short season of not understanding why this was happening to me.

One day on my way to work, I prayed that the Lord would give me something to hold onto while I grappled with living with VEDS on top of every other thing I was dealing with.  So He did.

But I’ll tell you about that next time.

Gentry Bass

He Loves Her. She Loves Him Not…

Here’s the beginning of our story.

So 2013 started off with my first kiss.  Even if Brandon did technically miss the first time.  But that was just the beginning.  As if the missed first kiss, in the dark, on the side of the road, with my sister waiting in the car wasn’t awkward enough, we were also in the most awkward position ever.  I was carrying stuff in one arm, which ended up wedged awkwardly between us, and my other arm was slung around his super tall shoulder.  It wasn’t super romantic, but it’s one of my favorite memories and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Can you imagine that my life got more awkward than that?  Not even two full days later, I found myself in one of the most awkward situations that I have ever experienced to this day.  And believe me, I’ve had more than my fair share of awkward moments in my lifetime…

Allow me to set the scene for you.  We were sitting in my very small, 2-door car.  It was late, and even though I didn’t have a curfew, I probably should have been driving home.  But I wasn’t.  I was sitting in the driver’s seat across from the guy I was very quickly falling for, talking.  Yes, we were actually talking, not being typical teenagers.  And then it happened.  The words I never dreamed I would actually hear come out of a guys mouth when they were talking to me.

“I think I love you, Gentry…”

The words hung in the air.

Silence…

I knew I was supposed to respond.  I knew exactly how I was supposed to respond: “I love you too, Brandon!”  But I didn’t.  The silence lingered.  My facial expression was probably priceless.  I racked my brain for an answer.  This is what I found:

“I really want to say it back, Brandon.  I’ve thought about saying that a million times over the last six months.  I’ve prayed about it.  Literally.  But I can’t.  I can’t say that right now because I’m not sure that I know exactly what love is.  You’re the first guy I’ve ever liked this much and I want to say that it’s love, but I’m not positive.  I’ve never experienced that kind of love before and I don’t want to say it and then not really mean it because I don’t understand what I’m saying.  I’m sorry.  I just can’t say that right now.”

I realized I was rambling and repeating myself, so I stopped talking.

If you told someone that you loved them and they gave you that response, how would you respond?  Honestly.

I expected shock or silence or something other than what I got.

The look on his face was purely apologetic.  He started apologizing profusely for springing it on me so suddenly and saying that he didn’t want me to say that I loved him until I really meant it.  He was completely understanding and never once made me feel uncomfortable.

Now, that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t uncomfortable.  I was extremely uncomfortable and felt like the most awkward person on the face of the earth.

So, I didn’t tell Brandon that I loved him that day, but I did eventually.  I probably would have the next day if he wouldn’t have left to go back home.  But he did go home and that wasn’t something that I wanted to say over the phone.  So I waited a month until he came to visit again in February.

*                    *                    *

It was like a flashback in my mind.  A month later we were sitting across from each other in my car once again.  Brandon hadn’t told me that he loved me again since that first time a month ago.  But this time, it was my turn.

My mind was muddled and my heart hammered in my chest.  My mouth was dry, but I had to say it.  I had to tell him.

“Brandon.  I love you.”

The next words out of his mouth shocked me more than the first time he told me that he loved me.

“Are you sure?”

It wasn’t a movie moment where he kissed me or we had a nice romantic moment or he even said that he loved me too.  Those three words, not “I love you” but “Are you sure,” through me for a loop.  I questioned everything I had been thinking for the last month.

“Uh…  Yeah.”  I mean, I was sure, right!?

He looked worried.  Not happy, but worried!  (I’m literally laughing as I type this.)

“I just want to make sure that you actually want to say it.  I don’t want you to say it just to make me happy.”

I had just told this boy that I loved him and he was worried about me saying it just to say it.  That was why I loved him in that moment.  That response is what solidified my love for him and my resolve to tell him.  He never pushed me.  He never tested my boundaries.  He respected where I stood and stood beside me until I was ready to take the next step.

The best part?  He hasn’t changed.  He still stands beside me and respects my boundaries.  He doesn’t push me to do anything that I’m not sure of.  But he also doesn’t just let me stand still in life.  He pushes me to be a better person and grow each and every day.  He prays for me and with me and he supports me in my classes, work, relationships, and family.  He really does love me.  It wasn’t just three little words that he said one day.  He lives it.  He actively loves me.  And that is one of the many reasons that I love him.

Gentry Bass

New Year; New Life

If you want to read the beginning of the story, you can read it here.

So now you know that I lived out a Hallmark movie and got my first boyfriend for Christmas in 2012.  Today’s part of the story, however, is about a mere seven days later on New Year’s Eve.

It started out just like every other New Year’s Eve had over the past few years.  I was getting ready to go to a friend’s house to celebrate with the girls in our youth and college group.  Of course, throughout the entirety of my readying, I was texting Brandon and trying to wrap my head around the fact that I, for the first time in my life, actually had a boyfriend.  What a weird word!  Boyfriend.  My boyfriend.  Weird.  Of course, I hadn’t seen him or anything like that…  We do happen to live a small distance away from each other; though the distance is great enough to limit our visits to one weekend each month, except for special occasions.  However, on this particular New Year’s Eve, we had yet to see each other since our first encounter, six months earlier at summer camp.

It was our one week anniversary!  (I know.  Gross.)  However, the conversation we were having was short and seemingly one-sided.  I was suspicious.  It turned out that I was right to be suspicious.  The boy was acting upon a plan that had been in the works for quite some time…

You see, Brandon was a tricky little booger.  Well, he still is if I’m being completely honest.  Remember that whole boyfriend for Christmas over text message thing?  That isn’t exactly how he had planned for that conversation to go.  He had talked with a few people and had already planned to come up to visit me for New Year’s Eve and that is when he had planned to ask me to be his girlfriend in person rather than over text.  Which, by the way, he has apologized for profusely since that day.

So, there I am.  Almost finished with the daunting task of blow drying my insanely thick hair.  My sister also happens to be in the room with me, though she is standing on the edge of the bathtub to better see herself in the mirror above the sink.  We also just so happened to be singing at a not so quiet volume…

There was a knock at the door.  I turned the blowdryer off, we stopped singing, and I opened the door to see my mother standing there with a big grin on her face.  “You have a visitor,” she trilled as she walked away.

I was in shock!  There was no way that the absolutely insane boy that I had just recently agreed to start “dating” (remember that previous discussion about the difference I hold between “talking” and “dating”) actually took the time and spent the money to drive 250 miles just to see me.  I walked out of the bathroom mumbling, “It better not be…”

It was.  I turned the corner and there he was.  He was actually there!  Standing in my living room and grinning from ear to ear was the boy I hadn’t seen in half a year.  Needless to say, I rushed over to him and gave him a long awaited embrace followed by a few laughs.  Apparently my face was priceless or something like that.

Standing there beside him for what felt like the first time, I realized something.  He was tall!  I mean, I knew he was 6’4, but seeing as I hadn’t really been around him, I had honestly forgotten how much taller he was than I.

As we walked out of the house and made our way to the New Year’s Eve party, I felt every bit like an awkward teenage girl going on her very first date.  I mean, it wasn’t a date.  It was an ambush.  But that’s beside the point.  The smiles were radiant and the laughter was genuine.

When we walked into our friend’s house, everyone laughed and started talking at the same time.  Brandon had brought two of his friends from home and they were waiting there for us as well.  Apparently everyone had been a part of the ambush except me.  I was bitter at first, but that faded away rather quickly.  I guess my joy at seeing him in person and actually being there with him overshadowed my bitterness.

Now, our New Year’s Eve parties aren’t really anything like, well anything.  That night we sat around the room, watched Pitch Perfect, and talked about life.  There was also a toast around midnight with some sparkling apple juice and perhaps a hand was held here and there, but that’s as close to a typical New Year’s Eve party as we get.  I think it’s absolutely brilliant.

We left later on that night and I got another first for the New Year: my first kiss.  It wasn’t anything super romantic.  Actually it was rather awkward because he just so happened to miss the first time…  Got me right on the side of my mouth!  He’s a keeper, I know it!  He redeemed himself a moment later and met his mark.  Only for a short moment, but it marked the beginning of a new year with a new guy.  Actually, it marked the first year with the first guy that will hopefully be the last guy.  But I guess we will have to wait and see what God has planned for us.

Gentry Bass

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