This morning I was thinking about the phenomenon of a crush. I have no idea why. When I was in middle school, I had it bad. He was a few years older than me which, when you’re young, feels like a forbidden gap. He was also a country boy with a squeaky voice who liked guns, country music and country things. I loved horses (that’s about as country as I was willing to be) and that’s why I didn’t appreciate guns. But his family had horses so what was a girl to do?

Nervousness, a flushed face, and gut twinges all somehow amounted to a pleasurable feeling and the most nonsensical idiotic behavior. For a few years we were acutely aware of each other’s presence but hardly ever spoke. There was a time when he got up the guts to approach me without the presence of any of our friends who would have pointed and giggled. He told me then that he liked me. Naturally, I ran away and avoided him. I had never considered where any of the crushing might go, never contemplated that we would ever speak of “it” so when he finally did I got scared and I ran. And then I moved away and he dated one of my closer friends.

I find that my experience with love has been a much different thing than a crush. A crush revolves around someone who is a mystery to you. You know them somewhat but not really. They are just an object of your desire. Perhaps what makes a crush so intoxicating is the secrecy, the mystery. But that is not love. This current love story of mine didn’t begin with a fever but rather it unraveled slowly, often painfully. What I found was something different than I expected, someone who was not afraid to speak of “it”, someone rooted in the realities of life, not taken with fantasies. That was difficult for me because I love a grand, sweeping story. But I discovered that my reality was mixed up with fantasy, something nobody thinks to warn you about when you’re young.

When I struggle with my story—and I still do sometimes—I need an anchor: God chose it for me. And because I know Him to be good to the core, there is purpose in every pain, there is extra joy in every triumph, and there is purpose in every piece that I may never understand. That is what He does. Sometimes I would rather get swept into the fantasy of a grand, easy love story but that’s just not my reality. And I will continue to learn that that is a very good thing because God is good.