I didn't see it coming. At all.
Perhaps it's because I'd known George for a couple years before I started to notice a certain flutter when we talked, a desire to dress cuter when I knew I'd see him, a slight blush when he asked me to meet for coffee to discuss a project we were both working on. It was several years ago, so I don't quite remember the exact moment when I realized I was crushing on George. But I remember the resulting feeling of dread quite clearly.
Sure, George was a great man who shared my faith and my passion for cross–cultural ministry, a man whose intellect, integrity, and humility I really respected. But he was also very married.
I was surprised by my feelings for George … and appalled. As a Christian, I know married men are so not an option. One of the first things I usually try to notice when I first meet a guy is whether or not he's wearing a ring. It just helps me put our interactions in context. When there's a ring present, so are a certain set of boundaries. Because that's just been truth for me for as long as I can remember, my romantic feelings for George hit me out of the blue.
A flood of emotions accompanied this realization. Embarrassment. Guilt. Perplexity. And, I hate to admit, a bit of that delicious excitement when there's a new love interest. After having no one trip my trigger for so long, it was kind of fun finally to have someone to think about whenever I heard love songs or whenever I'd lie in bed at night and daydream about some possible future before drifting off to sleep. These thoughts came unbidden, but I didn't always chase them away as fast as I should have. The guilt they'd cause was always close–by. Into the darkness of my bedroom I'd confess my emotions aloud to God, and (sometimes reluctantly) ask him to steal them away.
Questions swirled in my head in those moments alone with my conflicting emotions. Was this just a harmless crush? Or was this the slow–burn beginning of an emotional (or even physical) affair—as those things always start with secret emotions in someone's mind? Should I run away from our common circles? Or would that draw too much attention to something that could ultimately be harmless—and that would leave me with less community? Was George sensing my feelings? Did he share any of them—and what was the better of the two possible answers to that question? Of all the guys in my life, why was this one attracting me? And why wasn't God answering my prayers and melting these ragingly inappropriate feelings?