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First Love: problem solving
by Monica Uwajeh
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First Love: Problem- Solving
Sometimes I just hate emotions. I'm 16. And in a wheelchair. But at least I have a power chair, so I can move around. Reining in these wild horses is a different story. No matter what I do, they seem determined to go their own way. Not God's way.

When it comes to guys, God wants me to be like Rebekah and Ruth (Genesis 24, Ruth 2). He wants me to just do His thing and wait. And if I follow His wisdom, I'll never be like Aunt Nikki.

She's been married for years. And a Christian too. But let's just say, she was wicked into men. Often I'd overhear my mom praying for her.

Even six months ago, she was living with another guy. But when my mom died, she decided, by God's grace to move to Norway. She had to give up her decorating business. And that guy wouldn't even pay for the gas to come visit her. She was coming back to God. We were praying together. But she still needed a job. When I told her husband. He offered her a job as a painter for his construction company. Pretty cool, huh?

The day she started the job. She called me and asked if I wanted to go to lunch with her and Uncle Mike. They've been back together ever since. It was a day I won't forget for a long time. But not all the memories are good. They were all talking about our lack of faithfulness to God. And Aunt Nikki put an arm around me and said "Not even Ash here." It wasn't a big deal at the time. I knew I messed up.

But now those words play in my ear like one of those annoying telemarketing calls. Why? I met a guy. I like him. A lot. More then I should since I don't believe in dating 'til I meet the guy God wants me to marry. But I'd still like to be friends with him. I don't get it. It's not like I talk about him all the time. I pray ask God to help me every day and I study the Bible a lot. I’m great at algebra. And I've read Josh Harris's I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I'm following God's equation. Prayer- gushing + Bible study= a normal conversation. What wrong with me, Lord?

Sure, Chris is a really nice guy. But it really doesn't help, that he' s got really nice eyes. I'm not good with color. But they kind of remind me of a dark chocolate candy bar. I have to crane my neck in the other direction to keep my big blue eyes from staring at him. And that's gotten a lot harder since he volunteered to be my scribe in algebra class. Even when I'm telling him the answer at algebra problem, I can feel my face turning fifteen shades of red. And it takes me longer to complete assignments 'cause I usually mumble two or three times. Most days he would ask me what's going on.

I would look away and say, "It's just something between me and God."

I feel like I'm playing a game of "Stained-Glass Masquerade." It's a Casting Crowns song. And it fits to a tee how I act around Chris. I think I'm doing him a favor. 'Cause if he ask me out, by God's grace, I'd turn him down. But sometimes I wonder if I'm just flat scared of I'll wind up like the Aunt Nikki. Or like she used to be. I already feel like it's happening. Every time there's a Christian concert in Lewiston or Portland, I fantasize about going with him. They go something like this.

"Hey, Ash," wanna go to the Casting Crowns concert with me," he says.

"Sure," I say with no blush on my face. " But Aunt Nikki will have to come with us."

Even at her worst Aunt Nikki wouldn't flirt with a 16-year-old. And if she came, it wouldn't be a date.

"Wouldn't you rather invite an unbeliever from school? Chris asks.

Chris cares about evangelism like me. How can I say no to that?

"Yes," I say in a voice that sounds like a five-year-old at Christmas.

"My friend Dave likes rock," he says. Wouldn't it be cool if he got saved?"

"Yeah, I'd like Aunt Nikki to come along too."

My face feels like it's turning 15 shades of red.

"I understand, you haven't been around him much." Chris says.

My face goes back to its normal color. I let out a slow deep breath. I don't have to tell him about the no dating thing. He already must think I'm a bit strange. I'd hate for him to add tease— or worse poser to that list.

One day, I find a video on Godtube for Natalie Grant's "Better Hands". I am singing "There is hope when my faith runs out 'cause I'm in better hands now."

"Why don't you stay there?" Aunt Nikki questions

I begin to have spasms and declare, "I am. I'm praying. I'm reading my Bible."

She laughs.

"What's so funny, Aunt Nikki?"

My eyes are trying to bore holes through her matching eyes.

"You are so like your Uncle Mike," she declares. "You think the right tools can solve everything."

"We're not talking about mere hammers and nails here," I say starting to have spasms again.

"Honey, chill out, you definitely using great paint rollers but the wrong shade of paint."

"Yeah," Uncle Mike says coming in the door after work. And it can sure mess up your job, too, if you don't have somebody on your team with a great eye."

He comes over and kisses her. Then he hugs me.

"What's going on?" He says. "Ash’s caregiver trying to repaint her room or something?"

"No, Ash is trying to get rid of her feelings for Chris, " Aunt Nikki says. "And she can't understand why they're still there."

He winks at me and says, "Sounds like you need someone with a great eye."

I don't know anything about painting. But the eye thing clicks like a digital camera.

"Come on, Uncle Mike. It's been three months."

He says nothing.

I stare at him. I'm getting a headache.

"I'm tired, I wanna go to bed," I say.

"Ash, have you finished your algebra homework?" Uncle Mike asks.

"No, Aunt Nikki just got home. And we've been talking about Chris."

"Girl, you know I hate algebra," she says. "Good thing it never takes you that long."

I turn on my chair and put it on snail speed as my caregiver calls it.

"Holla when you guys are ready for me," Uncle Mike says.

I only have two problems. Normally, it would take me about five minutes to do each problem. But my head still hurts really bad. I want this Chris thing over. About a month ago. I kept saying X+ Y = 4 over and over again.
After about 10 minutes of this aunt Nikki says, "C'mon, Ash Chris isn't even here."

"Yeah, I know," I say.

I bite my nails. My caregiver paints them to prevent that.

"That bad, huh, "she says with a twinkle in her eye. " Let's just say a prayer."

I take my finger out of my mouth. We pray. I feel better on the inside. But my head still hurts. So it still takes me 20 minutes to finish the assignment.

Aunt Nikki and I turn to go into my bedroom.

From the moment I wheel in, my eyes focus like a movie camera on my white walls. They are empty now.

They used to be covered with Tom Brady posters. So it's not the first time I've noticed a guy, just the first time I've liked somebody for real. I thought this was OK. It wasn't we were gonna be talking anytime soon. So I have nothing to worry about. But I stared at those posters a lot. And if I had several hours where I could just chill. My chair was parked in front of the television watching those games, not at a table reading my Bible. God showed me He wanted more time with me. So the football and the posters had to go.

"What is it, Lord?" I whisper. What is it?

Trust me. Trust me.

After Uncle Mike puts me in bed, we pray together. My eyes are still zooming in on the wall. I can't see Uncle Mike and Aunt Nikki. But I bet they're smiling. They know me better than anyone—except Jesus, of course.

After a short Bible reading, they kiss me goodnight. I mumble goodnight and God bless.

What is it? What is it? Colossians 2:6.

I fall asleep before I read it.

The white paint on my walls is still wet. I'm standing with a paint roller in my hands trying to paint my walls neon red. Even I can spot a color like that.

"Your base coat isn't dry yet," says Aunt Nikki. "And neon red. It's not you. Try some more base coat."

I fall down on the floor.

I'm in my bed. My Bible is on my stomach. I flip the pages to Colossians 2:6.

I read, " As you received therefore have received Christ, Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." (NKJV).

"More base coat, Lord," I declare. "No more neon red. You sure have a great eye."
Grace. Faith. Love. Stop problem- solving.

After that night, I read the Bible asking God to show me and give me grace, faith and love. Especially love. This isn't algebra. I don't need answers.

A month later, I see Chris in church.

"Hi, Chris," I say.

He looks around and says, " Did Ash Davidson just talk to me without starting a sentence with x?"

I feel my face turning red again, but it stops.

"Yeah, I guess I did."

"What's up with that?"


I smile and tilt my head up.

If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW

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