Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5
Well, not broke exactly. Amanda, Richard and I were too close to get upset and leave each other. What we didn't count on was The Move. In the early summer of 2006 Amanda came to us and told us that her parents had just informed her that they were moving to Virginia. She had just one month left. It was a very sad time, full of whirlwind activities, and excuses to see each other nearly every day.
When the dust had settled Richard and I were left alone. Though we deeply missed Amanda, our own friendship continued to grow. We carefully observed the line between loving each other as siblings in christ, and going over the line into something else. In truth, "something else" never occurred to Richard, and I was far too content with our relationship to risk any changes to it. Within our brother/sister relationship we had great freedom.
We began a daily scripture memory accountability program--every morning we would recite whatever scripture we had chosen to memorize to each other. This habit we maintained for several years. Over that time Richard memorized the life of Elijah, plus a large portion of Revelation. I memorized over half the book of Romans, plus a third of Proverbs, and other smaller sections--individual psalms and such. It got to where our mornings didn't feel complete without that time in the scripture together.
Our spiritual closeness naturally brought about a deeper relationship in other areas as well. I remember one year God had done an amazing work in my life freeing me from a sin I'd grappled with for years. I'd never felt free to share the struggle with anyone, but the joy of God's release bubbled over. New Years day arrived, and it is my habit each year to write a review of the year and what the Lord has done. I usually sent this to Richard as well. As I knew he would be reading I only vaguely referenced my newfound freedom--but woudn't--couldn't!--leave the joy out entirely. I didn't expect Richard to catch my reference, but he did and asked. I could have easily chosen not to answer, and I'm not entirely sure now why I did choose to share my past struggle. All I expected was rejection--I would have rejected myself had roles been reversed. But not Richard. He wrapped me in such warm love and acceptance--I'd never experienced anything like it before. Since that evening, even when we weren't "in love," I have known that he would never reject me--no matter what I'd done.
Of course, there were challenges with a friendship like ours. We tried to be very cautious about how we related to each other so people didn't get the "wrong idea." Yes, we thought of each other as siblings, but we didn't take the same freedoms of affection that siblings take. Other people wouldn't have understood, and besides, we both had a strong desire to save everything possible for our future spouse. What if the future spouse didn't understand that the affection we'd shown to each other was truly, entirely, sibling-love and not something else? Neither of us wanted our future spouses to have any doubts in their mind as to what our friendship had been, so we followed a very strict hands-off policy.
Of course, despite our cautiousness, there were still people who misunderstood. To some degree that is to be expected, but what is truly difficult is when those who are close to you misunderstand. It was just such a misunderstanding that took our friendship "to the next level."