If You're New..
Do you think that this 17 year old girl, complete with Twilight book and Coach Logo bag is ready to fall in love with her future husband? Wait. Don't answer that. :) Because ready or not, it was happening.
At the end of my junior year, my friend Morgan brought up the idea of the two of us running for senior class president and vice president. The whole process was one that inspired so much growth in me, and I can never thank Morgan enough. She 1000% should have been president, because she was the brains behind the operation.. but we made a good team. Anyway, this is relevant because we decided that we wanted to make t shirts for who we thought were a variety of influential students in our grade to wear on voting day. We combed through our friends who were involved in all different activities, and I thought of Ben Strader, who I vaguely knew from youth group. He was well liked and we thought that we should have someone from the baseball team. I believe we gave shirts to a few other guys on the team, but they also represented our football team demographic. ;) We ordered our shirts, and had to "charge" everyone a penny so that we couldn't get in trouble for giving away free things for our campaign. Ben's shirt was one of the ones that I was supposed to hand out, so I put it in my silver vw bug (yep.) to give to him before Wednesday night church. I grabbed him walking in and I remember standing by my car explaining that he had to give me a penny because of the rules, and him saying he could just pay for the full shirt and giving me $10. He was the only person other than our parents who financially supported the ultimately successful campaign.
That school year came to a close and summer was in full force. That was the first year I attended Super Summer, one of the summer camps that our youth group went to during the summertime, focused on leadership. Each grade wore a different color, and this was our "green school" year. Over that week I remember talking to Ben more than I ever had before and noticing that we got along well. On paper we were so completely different, but something just made sense. I had a big old crush. And the way that played out was by always standing by him in the group photos.
I don't remember a lot else about the progression of my feelings throughout that week at camp, but I do remember what sealed the deal for me. On the long van ride home, Ben and I said beside each other. Everyone was exhausted and a few of us tried to nap. Ben put his pillow in my lap and laid down and I'm pretty sure at that moment it was all over.
That green blob is him hunched over onto the pillow. And I'm completely awake but pretending to be asleep because of what was so out of character for Ben, and what was happening. This reminds me of a major side note. Ben is one of three brothers, and they were sort of known for their lack of dating. There was never any lack of interest in them, but they were known for their commitment to growing in their faith and thinking that dating as young teenagers wasn't going to be of benefit to that. I can clearly remember Ben saying that dating in high school was pointless because marriage was so far away. So the closeness displayed in the photo above, which honestly is nothing, was huge. I remember the two friends sitting behind us laughing and saying that we were "making out" which we obviously were not... haha! It was a very mature van ride, as you can tell. You can also probably tell that I was suddenly caught way deep into a crush that I knew wouldn't be returned. Oops.
The rest of that summer my feelings kept growing but I knew it was going no where, no matter how close our friendship grew. Looking back, we both were so obvious with what was happening. Even with his "no dating in high school" proclamation, our relationship, or whatever you want to call it, was the source of a LOT of conversation with our peers and adults alike. I loved talking about it, because honestly, I already loved him. Talking about him just encouraged that love. It might have just been a strong infatuation at that point, but things weren't going to be turning around any time soon.