Don't fall in love

Avoid falling in love

I just saw a glimpse of her through a broken window and knew I was in love with her.

I did not want to fall in love because I was married.

For two years I worked among the nurses and staff, went to meetings in churches and traveled across the countryside. I wrote articles for the town's newspaper and attended important meetings where I was invited as a community writer. This moment came without a warning.

I knew every nurse in the hospital, every member of staff, and many patients that regularly came to the community hospital for various activities that went on from time to time. This girl was new and she caught my eye and snatched my heart out like an eagle a fish in the water.

For a few minutes I was dazed, clumsily searching for myself. All I wanted to do was go after the girl, find out who she was, what she was doing here, and confirm what I felt in that revealing moment. By the time I parked my car and returned to the accommodation block she was no longer there. I prayed to God it was a mistaken sighting, an angel who came and went away, or at least show me that the girl I saw was not what I saw through that broken window. God sometimes ignores our prayers.

The following day I was walking out of the administration block, and bang!... there she was in her full glory. All my hopes of escape were dashed to the ground. I loved this girl more than I thought! That is the voice that tore through my entire being. I quickly took my eyes off her and disappeared into the emergency room where a doctor friend was based. I dumped myself on the patient's seat and took in a deep breathe. Fortunately, my friend was out.

I planted my foot down in the doctrine of my faith, refusing to acknowledge my desire or affection for the girl I had come to know as Nimee. The more I avoided her the more, it seems, that I encountered her.

If I saw her coming that way I would take another path. The hospital had many paths and you could choose to go through one of the departments: the dentist's, the pharmacy, the x-ray department, and the maternity wards were all interconnected with paths leading one way and the other.

Did Nimee read my heart? One day I was standing in a line at the supermarket when she walked in behind me, touched me lightly and said a disarming, "Halo sir, how are you?" Politely I responded with a quick, "Fine, how about you?" and again politely looked that way. Surely she did not read my mind. Another time I was coming on the highway, and there she was with two other nurses from the hospital waving me down for a lift home. She sat next to me on the passenger seat sending everybody else to the back.

I promise I would have taken her anywhere in the world if she asked me in that moment. She did not. Every time she appeared suddenly like that she took me off my guard and I just knew that I was totally vulnerable. Fortunately she never asked me for anything.

Nimee was wearing me down. I had to do something really drastic about her. The longer the battle, the thinner my resistance, the louder my wish to tell her she was very beautiful and that I was in love with her. My hopes that she would be transferred to another hospital did not materialize and my other hope that I would find her with a man, presumably a lover, never materialized either. I wondered where all the men in South Africa were.

I found out that I was doing small favors for anyone connected with Nimee. For example I would call the maternity ward when she was working there more often than any other department in the hospital. The sound of her voice was enchanting. I wanted to talk to her but could not do it because I knew I might open myself further to temptation. If I opened myself to the possibility of a relationship and she agreed, where would it end?

One day I was in my office working on the database that I created for the laboratory. There was a knock on the door. "Come in I said." Nimee was standing right there in the "forbidden" zone with the broadest smile I ever saw in the world. She was more beautiful in the nurses' white outfit than I could have imagined! Unlike the peacock that has a bad voice, Nimee had the perfect match. She was truly gifted in beauty and her voice was music to my ears.

She wanted to know why babies born to mothers who are Rhesus group negative tend to develop neonatal jaundice and in particular if incompatibility of the major blood group between the mother and baby contributed to the crisis.

To be honest, I did not care about her project; all I cared was that we were now face to face. My hiding was no longer going to work. I cannot remember what I told her, whether it was true or not. All I remember is that for the first time I figured that Nimee was probably watching me and I had not found the proper response. I had no one to tell and I could not face her with the truth. After all I did not know what the truth was.

Nearly one year went by and I still held out. I think I prayed about it, however my prayers went something like this, "Hey LORD, I love her but I don't want to love her because I am married, so, try to keep her away and possibly take her away to another place so that I am free again in this hospital." The LORD did not take her away and instead did the opposite.

At the Christmas party there were many nurses and other staff, except Nimee. She was, fortunately, missing. I sort of did not miss her, the kind of missing mixed with negative emotions of deeply missing someone.

I don't like dancing. So I sat at the back of the rows where it would be hard for anyone to call me out. I kept my gaze down as the frenzy of the party picked up. South African music was really enjoyable and dance-able and my friends danced very well.

Where did she come from? She came straight where I was sitting and bowed for me! I gladly took off; many onlooker would have thought I would refuse but I yielded to Nimee. We all danced on a large floor - no real touching, just paired up, far apart. Once I was done dancing with Nimee I picked some other girls and hopefully dispelled any thoughts others would have had about me and Nimee. I was sad and happy at the same time.

I made up my mind to speak to Nimee.

On Monday the week after New Year I saw her coming on the same path and asked her to stop for a moment. "Tell me when you have a moment, I would like to see you in my office in private and confidence." I actually used the two words to emphasize the nature of our meeting.

She came. Sitting across the room, six feet from where I sat I took my time to examine her facial features, looking for blemishes that would cripple my affection for her but found none. The closer I came to her, the more stunning she appeared. One year was past and I had noticed nothing to deflect my attraction from her.

"Nimee," I said awkwardly, "You are the most beautiful girl I have seen since coming to this hospital. I will repeat what I just said, I have not seen anyone so beautiful like you. I saw you the day you arrived and I have struggled to get you out of my mind and miserably failed. If you could help me I would have asked for your help."

She did not say anything, she just sat there staring at me. I continued, "I do not know what to do. I have never been in this situation where I am secretly in love with someone who is a stranger, well, not so much a stranger as when I first saw you. I am married and I cannot let myself fall in love with you or anyone else. That is the source of my struggles over you."

I think I saw a slight smile on the sides of Nimee's mouth, but she did not say a word.

I asked her to stretch her two hands to me. I held both in my hand and they were perfect, soft, tender hands. Putting those hands back closer to her, I said, "You are gifted with beauty. Take care of yourself because God did this for a purpose."

For a few minutes we just sat there in silence. I do not know what she was thinking and I doubt she knew what I was thinking. Finally I spoke up for the last time.

"Nimee, I will be watching out for you as I watch out for my young sister. I love you very much. I am attracted to you as I have never been before. You have a license to call me any time if you are in need of anything. I promise I will be praying for you."

Not wishing to be surprised by any new surge of feelings toward her I asked her to go back to her station and to call me if and when she ever wanted to talk to me.

"Thank you sir." She went out beaming with a smile. It was not the smile of a person who thinks poorly of you. I saw her through the reception area of the laboratory where she collected the reports for maternity ward. I watched her disappear into the x-ray department and returned to my office.

I collapsed into my seat, tried to sit up but could not. Overwhelmed with a sense of bloody victory, I sank on my knees and offered a genuine prayer to the LORD. "Thank you for the long journey you have seen me through."

One day, almost a year later, Nimee called me on the phone asking to see me in privacy and confidence. I still admired her very much and never saw anything in character or otherwise to indicate that Nimee was anything but a decent girl. I knew I still had to be cautious as I could find it hard to turn down a specific request for a relationship with her.

She came in first. Sitting in the same position she sat many months earlier she asked me if I could provide HIV counselling to her and the man who was marrying her. I said I would be happy to do that. She went outside momentarily, returning with the young man who was her boyfriend.

I saw that couple a few times, first for the pretest counseling, and then the post-test counseling which was a joyful occasion because they both tested HIV-negative. I saw them again when Nimee was expecting their baby; I carried out the laboratory tests for her and finally saw the young family when their baby boy was born.

I believe God used her to deal with an area in my life where I would need to be sealed for service. I regret that it took me so many months and so many turns and twists, many narrow escapes. I regret that I could not talk about her with my wife. I still do not know what would have happened had I gone to my wife and said, "There is a nurse who charms me all the way to the bottom of my heart." I feel it would have been unfair to her.

The bigger lesson for me is not to fall in love. If I find myself caught or ensnared in such an affection, I learned to make haste and cut it off.

Three suggestions to deal with unholy affections:

1. Acknowledge your feelings to the LORD, He hears and understands because He made us and made woman beautiful and attractive to be (generally) desired

2. Have nothing to do with things done in darkness. Run away like a bird from a snare. If your conscious tells you something is not right, it probably is so.

3. Expose the things that seem to have trapped you and look for the way out. Speak out. In the process, take care not to cause damage to anyone. Do this with tender love and care. Be particularly careful speaking to the person at the center of your issues. The LORD always makes a way for His children to escape from temptation (1 Co 10:13).

If this sounds like advice from scripture, it is indeed! Ephesians 5:11, 1 Co 10:13 and generally advice given to believers in the Word of God.

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