Relationships that taught me about overcoming conflict, setting boundaries, speaking up for what I wanted.Relationships where I didn’t equate worthiness with self-denial, or desire with lack of interest.It would be a while more before I could fully unlearn those associations, ingrained in me since adolescence.I still believe in God, but I no longer believe in the definitions of love that I absorbed as a teenager, or that God was sending me messages that night at the church campout.And I can admit now that deep down, I knew all along that the shooting stars weren’t really a sign: “There’s going to be a meteor shower this weekend,” our youth pastor had said in the van on the way to the campsite.
I had become accustomed to our time alone: picnics at the Hollywood Bowl and the Greek Theatre, decadent meals at Black Market Liquor Bar and Gjelina, ocean-side walks in Santa Monica.I’d been raised to have faith in the seemingly impossible. * * * Throughout high school, I remained steadfast in my certainty that Nathan and I would end up together.When he began dating another girl from our youth group named Tori, I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be his first girlfriend, but I wasn’t worried (and sure enough, they broke up later that year).Girls were reminded to dress modestly, to avoid provoking the sin of lust.
Church leaders told us that birth control was ineffective, that it was like jumping out of an airplane with a parachute that only worked some of the time.
Nathan was a lanky surfer type, with long knobby fingers that moved gracefully on a guitar, an effortless smile, and straight blond hair. It was also the thing that hooked me, along with his height.