Texas Heart – Part 6

My Journal – August 28, 2008

It’s amazing how much change has come into my life at once. Grant Castleberry has begun to write me. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him. I feel like we connect deeply on a spiritual level. I have been encouraged by his spiritual intensity and leadership. It has also been nice to know that he truly cares about my ministry here at Duke and that he cares about me and prays for me. He has shown interest in the “real” me, who I really am, and my faith.

I never expected that he would come into my life, never wished it, never planned it. In so many ways, it’s hard for me to know what I really think of our “relationship.” He’s a friend I’ve never really met. I’m a little scared to continue writing someone I’ve never interacted with in person.

I know that a true man is a man of integrity. This is the type of man every Christian woman dreams about. I know it is my hope and dream as well. I have given this area of my life to the Lord and will continue to trust Him. I don’t want my heart to get hurt or broken. But I know that God cares for me and I am continually amazed by Him. Like the Psalmist says, “I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad!”

—————————————

It had been about three weeks since I had received the first message from Grant and we had been writing one another every day.

We immediately connected on so many levels. It wasn’t like I had planned to keep writing him or that I was trying to “keep something going” between us, it was like I couldn’t help but write him.

I enjoyed reading every one of his messages and I couldn’t wait to write him back.

I was loving my time at Duke and I was getting used to my new job. It was a super busy time as students had arrived back on campus and my days were filled with campus events and appointments with freshman girls.

I loved the beautiful Duke campus and spending every day there. In the midst of all the busyness, I would find time to slip into the Duke library and check my email. A message from Grant would brighten my entire day.

Grant was different than any guy I’d ever conversed with. He asked me so many questions. And not just basic questions, but spiritual questions. And he shared his thoughts with me. He would tell me what he was learning from God’s Word and how he felt God was leading him.

He would share stories with me that would make me laugh. I would sometimes catch myself laughing aloud reading his emails.

But even more than how much I enjoyed reading his emails and writing him back, I couldn’t get over how alike we were. I mean, we were definitely different in a lot of things – I could tell that our personalities were different, but in terms of the things we believed, I felt like I was talking to myself sometimes.

We shared so many, “me too” moments and “I feel the exact same way!” and “I’ve never heard anyone say it like that. That’s how I would explain it!”

Over those first three weeks of messages, I learned a lot about Grant. I found out that he grew up his whole life in Texas (besides the time he lived in Beaufort when his dad passed away). He played all sorts of sports growing up, but he loved football the most and was captain of his football team in high school. He was always sharing his faith and leading Bible studies at the public schools he attended (this point continually blew me away – I couldn’t believe how rock solid his faith was and had always been). Grant would think it was funny the way I would say, “How did you grow up attending public school and still be so untainted by the world?”


{This was later on – but Grant told me a funny story once about how he “tract-bombed” his school. He used to go to a Christian Tract Store and pick out tracts that he thought would best relate to his classmates. Then, while everyone else was goofing off during recess or breaks, he would slide a tract in ever single locker in his school. Grant thinks this is a hilarious story now, and while it may not have been the most effective method of sharing Christ with his classmates, it spoke volumes to me about where his heart was.}

I learned that when he was 14 years old he shared the Gospel to over 1,000 students at a youth event. Afterwards, an older man approached him and asked him if he had ever considered being a pastor. That night, God planted the seed in his heart that God was calling him into ministry.

I also learned that he had always, always, known that he wanted to attend Texas A&M and that no other school was even an option. Both of his fathers had attended there, as well as his mom, and countless other family members.

He also felt God leading him to join the Corps of Cadets and be a Yell Leader so that he could have a bigger impact and witness for Christ.

Even though by the time he graduated from college he knew he wanted to go to seminary and be a pastor, he felt that God wanted him to serve his country first. He wanted to “give back,” and so he joined the Marine Corps.

And now he was stationed in Japan. Yes, Japan.

That did pose a little problem in our “relationship.”

I knew I was growing close to Grant. In fact, that’s the part that scared me. After only three weeks of writing him, I knew that if he were to stop writing me for some reason, it was already going to hurt.

How did I let this happen? I couldn’t believe I’d allowed myself to get attached to this guy so quickly. But I couldn’t help it. I thought he was amazing.

And that’s the whole thing, he was too amazing. This couldn’t be “real.” He couldn’t be real. He probably just seemed awesome, but really he wasn’t.

Yes, these were the things I was telling myself.

I was starting a new job in a new place. I needed my heart to be focused at Duke, not in Japan to a guy that I’d only met for like a minute years before.

But that was the funny thing about our “internet relationship” (as my brothers would later joke me about), Grant helped my heart focus on the things that I needed to focus on. He helped my heart focus on Duke.

I remember one day walking out of the library and feeling scared.

Lord, I prayed. You have brought Grant into my life. I know this without a doubt. For some reason, you have wanted me to have this “relationship” with Grant. Regardless of where this goes, I know that this has only encouraged me spiritually. But if you want this to continue, please confirm this to me. Please show me. And if this isn’t your will, please step in and end it now. Amen.

In an answer to my prayer, later that day I received an email from my mom.

GraceAnna,

I found this video on Grant Castleberry. You’ve got to watch it.

Love,
Mom

I sat alone in my room as I opened up the video.

It was a video that a local news station had done on Grant while he was a yell leader at Texas A&M. It documented his story, including the death of his father, and how it had impacted him.

As I watched Grant talk in the video (it was really the first time I’d ever heard him talk), I knew that he was genuine. I knew that he was real. I knew that writing him was okay because he wasn’t leading me along. It was as if God was giving me a big “yes” to keep writing Grant.

Tears streamed down my face as I heard the genuineness in his voice that I had been reading in his emails.

He was so amazing. I knew that God was doing something special in my life.

Oh, I hope he keeps writing me.

My computer chimed. I walked over and opened up a gmail chat from Grant. It was the first time he’d ever “chatted” with me. “GraceAnna, would it be okay if I called you?”

My heart skipped a beat, well a lot of beats.

To be continued…

The video I watched of Grant is below.



5 thoughts on “Texas Heart – Part 6

  1. Erik and Sarah says:

    This touches my heart; I am so thankful for God's evident activity in both your lives! Thank you for sharing through your writing and through this video a glimpse into your heart and into the heart of the man you love!

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