“Nne, what have I done to deserve this intense avoidance?”
I didn’t respond. William had cornered me after service. I’d succeeded in avoiding him for a long time now, after the vision. I didn’t pick his calls or respond to his messages.
“You know you can always talk to me, right? If I’ve done something wrong, please let me know.”
I braved a glance at his face, then looked away. He seemed to have picked something from that.
“Come,” he said.
My legs followed without my permission. We found somewhere and sat. The church building was almost emptied of people. The speakers blared one last time, while the choir sang the ending chords of their after-service melody.
He studied my face, seeming to consider how to proceed with his query.
“Mary, what did the angel say?”
I was so nervous I was almost fidgeting. And did he really have to look at me like that? I couldn’t breathe. “Well… I think you know.” A sob cracked my voice.
“Jesus, nne I’m sorry.” He raised both hands as if to indicate his innocence. “Please don’t cry.” He was almost panicking. “It’s fine if you don’t want me, you know? It’s perfectly okay.”
Did he even understand? I wanted him, with everything in me. So much that I felt… I didn’t know what I felt.
“I do,” I muttered. “You just don’t know how much.” I sniffed.
He stared for a while, then scratched the back of his neck, grinning sheepishly. “This was why I kept my distance all this while, until months ago. You feel so intensely. I didn’t want to awaken love in you, until God was done with you.”
I raised an eyebrow. Some things were finally adding up.
“Mmm-hmm,” he said with a nod. “You were the sister I told you about. I prayed for you every step of the way.”
“You don’t mean it.”
His words over time and the way everything played out was actually very suspicious, but I was the last woman who would make assumptions for anyone.
Until he verbally declared his intentions, I certainly wasn’t going to permit my mind to believe he was anything more than a friend. For security reasons. Someone’s heart was too precious for assumptions please.
“I do. However, there’s a progression to the building of a love relationship between believers. It must progress from spiritual oneness to intellectual compatibility, before emotions are permitted to get involved. Physical involvement only exists within the confines of marriage.”
“Hmmm. True sir.”
“So, that was how I came to you. We bonded in the spirit before we began to diversify our talks into other things. I pursued you without appearing to.” He winked.
“Why?” My deadpan expression was aimed at making myself a little less shy.
“So that I’ll give you space to get to know me without bias and so that I can let God work on you without interference.”
“Why didn’t you just tell me that God was leading you to me?”
He laughed. “People could lead us astray with prophecies, dreams or visions of whom our spouses should be. If we are actually children of God, then God should equally convince us of such. Otherwise, we’ll make terrible mistakes.”
“So, you just set me up and allowed me to hear it by myself?”
He raised both hands, trying to suppress a grin. “I’m innocent of any accusation.”
He paused suddenly, then seemed to gather some courage to continue. “Right now, if you will permit me, I want to open my heart and emotions to you.”
“Owkay…?” I responded in anticipation.
“Mary.” He swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing with the effort.
“I love you.” His eyes searched mine. “So much.”
I didn’t respond. What was I supposed to say? That I loved him too? I couldn’t. Because I did love him and that was the issue. Okay, I wasn’t exactly making any sense to myself at that moment. A day at a time, or we’d both drown if I opened the dam locked my soul.
“I do. I always have. I was just waiting for the right time. I hope you don’t mind my saying these words to you?”
He looked so… Vulnerable. God, I didn’t know anyone could be so tender.
I found my tongue. “I don’t mind. Not at all,” I muttered. Tears filled my eyes when I looked at him. My breathing was unsteady. He looked like a lost little boy, hoping he’d found safety. Or something. I just wanted to love him.
“I want to hear them and more too. I want to know that you do love me and that I can trust these words,” I said, swiping at the tear that escaped an eyelash.
Relief flooded his chest and I was rewarded with the most beautiful smile. “Will you marry me?” he asked without hesitation. “I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”
Even though I was kind of expecting it, my heart still missed a beat, then started again in a hurry. William would be mine? Forever? I felt dizzy. Thank God I was sitting. I might have fallen face down if I wasn’t. I needed time to process this. So, why did I want to jump up and scream yes?
He continued. “There are very intimate information I want to share with only you, things I’d love to show you about my past and my future; our future, assignment, the supernatural, territories. I’ve been waiting.”
I wanted to scream! I just couldn’t seem to sit still and take this like the calm, levelheaded woman I was. My voice was cool when I spoke. “Will I sound cheap if I say yes right now, without stressing you out a little?”
He chuckled. “You can’t be serious right now, Mary.”
I shrugged, feeling a little insecure. “At first, I wondered if I appeared too cheap to the other guy.”
I was full of hope and life. Everything came crashing down at my feet and he’d said it happened because I was too fast. Maybe, if I’d played a little hard to get, he might have had more respect for me.
“No. You’re not,” he declared in a matter of fact tone. Then his voice changed, like he was trying to reassure his 4 year old daughter. He frowned. “You’re not, Mary. You’re… Jesus, help me.”
He buried his face in his palms, with his elbows on his knees. I watched the muscles in his jaw tic continuously, as if he was struggling to pull himself together. I wanted to touch his head, then restrained myself. May my hands not put me in trouble. I waited patiently, using that time to regain my composure as well.
When he looked up, he didn’t appear any better. Was he going to cry?
“You are my heart beat. Do you understand?”
My mouth opened, but no sound came out. I looked everywhere but at him. No, I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand how God had packaged everything I’d ever wanted into one person. I didn’t understand how he stirred the depths of my being without even trying. Nothing made sense.
“I mean every word. You love deeply and sacrificially. It’s what any young man would want in a wife. God was simply saving you for me. And I’m the luckiest guy alive.” He smiled. “Have I told you how I once battled with insecurities?”
I shook my head.
“Don’t worry, we will eventually get to that. I want to tell you everything, to lay myself bare before you, open my heart to the woman I love.”
He reached out to take my hand for the first time, then hesitated. His eyes asked if he could. I knew he shouldn’t, because I had an issue with my hands. I had wandering hands. Tell me all the sweet words in the world, but please don’t touch me or you could unleash in my hands something that always wanted to explore.
I still smiled and nodded. Maybe later, I would tell him, but today, I wanted to hold his hand. He took my hands in his, pleased at the sight of it.
His were big and warm. He squeezed gently. “I want to introduce you to my father in the Lord. His wife can’t wait to meet you. They were the ones who taught me most of the things I know.”
“I’ve never heard about your family.”
“Lost both parents the year I turned 4. My father in the Lord was single at the time. He was my father’s son in the Lord. He took me in as his own son. As I heard, my mother was pregnant with her second baby when the accident happened.
“Those early years, my mother in the Lord caught a vision of my life’s assignment, so she practically raised me like a soldier. I don’t remember what it feels like to be held by a woman. I don’t know the warmth of a mother.”
My eyes softened. “It’s well.”
“So, I have your permission to open my emotions to you?”
I laughed. “After you’ve turned me inside out already, you still haven’t? Now I’m scared. Careful though. I can get really emotional.”
“I know.” He squeezed again, staring down at our hands. “Just holding your hands makes me shake on the inside. I’m trying not to let go and run out of the door.”
It was hilarious! “I’d race right after you and the church wardens might conclude that we’ve both run mad.”
We giggled like two little children.
“And all this while, I’ve prayed for patience, daily. It took maximum self discipline for me to stay away. You move me like no woman has ever been able to.”
“Jesus,” I exclaimed, letting out a breath. “I almost can’t believe these words are coming from Bro Will, the intercessor. The bishop must hear this.”
He laughed long and hard. “You see, self control never kills anyone. Just like you, I learnt to bring my emotions under subjection to Christ. Until I released it, it stayed put.”
“I’m glad you didn’t tell me this before now. I might have actually run away,” I said.
“Or worse, gotten lost in the process. I just wanted to be left alone. This thing in my heart for you, started after the vision. It was overwhelming, as if someone poured a bucket of ‘love for William’ on me. It was greatly unsettling.”
Amused, he caught my gaze and held it. I looked away.
“Please, don’t,” he implored softly.
I slowly returned my gaze to his. I felt trapped, looking into his eyes like that. He had such piercing, knowing eyes, as if he could see your soul and read your every thought.
He swallowed again, then grew serious. “Do you understand what a man could mean when he says you make him feel complete?”
I shook my head, then thought about it and nodded. I almost laughed at myself.
He smiled. “Mary, I’m not here trying to see how it goes. It’s you for me and I want to go all the way with you. Marriage, ministry, babies, forever. I need your help to complete my assignment. I need you. You’re already my best friend. Please be my love too.”
A furrow formed on my forehead. I cut the eye contact again. “Will, please. It’s almost painful to contain what I feel right now. Can we just…”
My fingertips tingled with emotion. I thought I might drown in it. After such a long period of waiting and living like a nun, I didn’t really know what to do with such an avalanche of pure affection.
“Yes. Please take your time,” he said. Squeezing my hands one last time, he let go. He leaned back into his seat, still looking at me.
“Thank you. You’re my best friend too, but you see, I’m scared.”
“I understand. I’ve been waiting. I can wait some more. Take your time.” His voice, devoid of judgement or undertones of anything similar, was filled with compassion.
I was grateful. I stared down at my hands, trying to pick what the spirit was saying about them.
I was shocked at what I heard. He said that before I entered any relationship with William, I should cut off my hands! Or the evil day would come upon me like a rainstorm. Cut off my hands? How? Why?
I wondered if I should share this with William, then decided against it. I needed to pray and understand what this continuous sense of foreboding was all about.
To be continued…