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The air was warm, and the campground was dark and silent. My certainty seems a little less ridiculous when you consider the context: I had been taught to believe that the world was created in seven days, that two animals of every kind literally joined Noah on a boat, and that the Bible in general was a historically and scientifically accurate document.

I was too excited to sleep, thinking of all of the points during the weekend when Nathan and I might end up sitting next to each other: during a meal, or on the bus, or on the beach, our towels laid out side by side. Given all of that, was it really that much of a stretch to believe that my crush would one day be my spouse?

When he ignored me on church trips, or flirted with other people, I brushed it off.

I tried hard to keep a straight face whenever his name came up, knowing I’d already caught his eye. For the next half-decade, it was Nathan or bust — not only because I was a swoony teen with a crush that wouldn’t die, but because of everything my teenage self knew about what it means to be a woman in a relationship: that waiting is a virtue, that inexperience makes you a worthy spouse, and that forgiveness is expected regardless of the transgression.

That’ll happen when the bulk of your education on sex and dating comes from an evangelical church. I stayed in my spot, only going back to bed once I’d counted ten shooting stars.

Other times, I’d stare at him and look away as soon as he saw me.

At church camp that summer, there was some minor drama: One of the girls in the eighth-grade cabin confessed that she liked Nathan, prompting everyone else in the cabin to share that they liked him, too.

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