That first semester knowing Shawn was casual and unassuming. We'd occasionally see each other around campus, but at Moody, it was almost impossible not to. In other words, we weren't making plans to run into each other. We did have a class together and would sit together occasionally, but it wasn't a given.
At the same time, in the beginning, I tended to feel a little nervous around him. I remember just a few days after meeting him for the first time, I stopped by my friend Ilene's apartment and walked in to find him sitting on the couch in her living room with a couple other friends. It stunned me. They were friends? How did I miss that? I made an awkward greeting, then stumbled into the kitchen because I felt my face getting red and hot. I made small talk with some girls until I was ready to come out and have a normal, nonchalant conversation (without a red face). So I guess you could say I had a crush, but wouldn't admit it to anyone, not even to myself.
My first impressions of Shawn - his endearing, engaging, encouraging spirit - hadn't changed. I admired him so much as a person and I honestly felt he was on a different level than I was in so many ways. Surely he would choose a much prettier, smarter, more spiritual girl than me. I was out of the question, and I didn't let my mind go any further in thinking there may be something more in the future. It was just a privilege to be his friend, and I was content with that. At the time, too, I was still interested in someone else and was enduring (and possibly creating) all kinds of drama, which distracted me from any feelings I may have had for Shawn.
As the semester went on, we started hanging out more. We spent lots of time with our friends Ilene and Justin at one of their apartments. It was an escape from campus - the "Moody bubble" - and an excuse to procrastinate studying even more. At Justin's apartment late at night, we'd make our signature "Canewtun" cakes (Caster + Newby + Tunney = Canewtun) which consisted of whole wheat pancakes with chocolate chips, peanut butter, syrup, and cinnamon. One night, the three of us sat around and took turns reading the entire book of Esther out loud. It makes me laugh now thinking about it, though at the time it was a very worshipful experience. All that to say, both Shawn and Justin were like brothers that I never had and inspired me to be a better version of myself.
In the meantime, people were beginning to ask if we were dating. It's part of Moody culture, I guess, to be so curious about one's relationships status on campus. If we were seen walking through the plaza, sitting in chapel, or eating together, well... it must mean we're dating. It would've been a compliment if I saw a chance with Shawn, but because I didn't, the constant questioning just annoyed me.
So as I went home for Christmas that year, I hardly thought about him at all. I think we exchanged a couple of quick emails wishing each other a Merry Christmas (he was in Germany that year), but that was all.
It's amazing to me now that my eyes and my heart were so blind that I had no clue I was already friends with my future husband. But I now know that the Lord had purposely closed my eyes to him until just the right time.