Archive | October, 2013

Too Merciful to Let Go

26 Oct

In the first 27.5 years of my life, there were 5 dates.  Two of them were with the same guy (since he wouldn’t stop nagging my best friend to set us up, and one date wasn’t enough for him to figure out that it wasn’t going to work between us!).  Then, David came along, and, in a matter of weeks, I had gone on five additional dates. 

I didn’t have to pretend anything with David.  He told me my quirks were cute, that he found me stunningly beautiful, that he was awed by my purity and my heart for the Lord.  We were even on the same page theologically- we found that we both identified with a small, not-so-well-known Evangelical denomination.  And, David didn’t have to pretend anything with me.  He was open and honest about his past on our first date.  He had had other serious girlfriends and had been engaged twice.  He had tried to rush things, thinking that no Godly woman would ever really want to be with him.  But that was behind him.  He wanted to do things God’s way, now.  The more we discussed spirituality, the more I respected him as a man of God.  I even saw little things in him that I had hoped my future husband would have- a love for children and animals, a sense of humor and a sense of romance, a love for all kinds of music and a great singing voice.  On our third date, we went to a video game arcade.  Not only did David not laugh and my complete lack of gaming skills, but, when a particular game would flash images of a scantily-clad model next to our scores, he would look away, saying, “I’m just gonna stare at my beautiful date for a second.”  He did it lightheartedly- but I know many men who wouldn’t want to look away or admit that such an image could be a stumbling block.  Of course, that moment didn’t compare to other things he said about me.  When I confessed that I had seen a picture of his son’s mother and thought, “she looks just like me, only prettier.  He’ settling for me because I’m the next best thing,” he looked me square in the eye and said, “You are a hundred times more gorgeous than any woman I’ve dated.  Those thoughts are lies from the enemy.” 

I had to take a lot of things into consideration as I dated him.  Was I willing to stay in the city that I originally only moved to for grad school?  He can’t exactly pack up and move back to my hometown with me, unless he only wants to see his son a couple of times a year.  Was I willing to have a teenaged stepson before I was even 30 years old?  Was I okay with his past?  Was I okay with having possibly saved my first kiss for a man who couldn’t even give me his virginity?  The more I got to know him, the less those questions phased me.  He was worth it.  I saw nothing but a bright future for us.  In my mind, it all made sense why God had pulled me away from my home town and into this overwhelming, huge city for graduate school.  It even made sense why He hadn’t allowed me to have another boyfriend or even have my hand held by another man- He had wanted to use me to demonstrate His Grace to David, despite his past.  It all made so much sense.

Then, after our fifth date, my nightly online chats with David slowly dropped off.  I tried not to worry.  He still sent me a short message every day and mentioned that he had “a lot on his mind.”  Okay, he’s a dad and it’s a busy time of year at his job; I could understand that.  When I didn’t hear from him for 48 hours, I sent him a short message: “Hey, everything all right?  You’re last message had me a little worried.”

A few hours later, I got the email.  He didn’t feel peace moving forward with me.  It wasn’t anything I had done, it was just where he was at. 

I never knew the end of a relationship- especially a five-date relationship- could leave me so broken.  I didn’t want to do anything but lay down and cry.  No scripture, worship music, or friend offering to pray over me could comfort me.  The only escape was to either fall asleep (and hope I didn’t dream about him), or to take false comfort in pretending this was a misunderstanding that would soon be resolved. 

David and I talked online on Tuesday for a bit.  He explained that he just didn’t feel the “click” between us- apparently he found me stunningly beautiful, was moved by my heart for the Lord, adored my personality…but didn’t feel that “click,” whatever that’s supposed to mean.  He apologized for breaking it off over email and told me he hoped we would stay in touch and remain friends.  I told him that was what I wanted, too.  He said he would be around Friday night if I wanted to chat, but he never did chat with me tonight.  I’m not a priority like I used to be. 

If he had been a jerk or if there had been an obvious deal-breaker, this would make sense.  But neither is true.  I see no reason why David couldn’t have been “The One” for me, or why I couldn’t be “The One” for him.  Could there really be someone out there who will adore and respect him more than I did?  Who will fall in love with his son without ever meeting him, like I realized I have??   Can there really be someone who I will feel more comfortable, more myself around, who will draw me towards God more than David did?  If so, why did God ever bring us together?   Why didn’t He just skip over David and send me straight to my future husband?  Is there something I’m supposed to learn from this relationship, other than, “Be careful; guys can drop you unexpectedly?”  If there is no one else; if David was the closest thing to “being in love” that I’m ever going to experience, then why is it my heart’s desire to be married and have a family?  I know that a husband won’t complete me or fulfill me- that’s God’s job- but I don’t want “fulfillment” from a husband.  I want consistency- I want a partner beside me on life’s journey, not a lifelong dating game.  I want to raise children for the Kingdom of God, and I want those children to have a father- I’d like to experience having biological children, too. 

The pain isn’t quite as raw as it was on Saturday- but it’s still there.  WHAT is God doing here???  WHY couldn’t David feel that “click” he was missing???  Why would God allow me to meet someone so amazing, just to take him away?  The loneliness of singleness hurt so much less then the pain of losing David. 

It’s a good thing God is so merciful- too merciful to let me turn my back on Him in the midst of my sorrow and frustration.  I know that’s the only thing keeping me close to Him right now- not my commitment to Him, but His commitment to me. 

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How It Feels To Be Honored

5 Oct

David told me early on that purity has been a struggle for him.  Once you begin to explore sexuality, stopping isn’t like flipping a switch and waiting for your wedding day to turn it back on.  It’s more like sliding partway down an icy slope, and then trying to stop and hang on until your wedding day.  I’ve tried to take extra care in our relationship regarding this- I’ve taken care to select modest outfits and non-“flashy” hair and makeup.  I’ve told him I understand if he needs to cut a date short.   I want to encourage him in his walk with the Lord, not drag him back down.

Tonight, we met up and went to an arcade for a fun game night.  I’m a complete video game klutz, but he was far more concerned about having a good time together than winning games (although he was determined to win me a stuffed animal- I will enjoy snuggling with my new giraffe tonight!).

We were having a great time playing a game that simulated an African safari hunt, when a video of a scantily-dressed woman suddenly appeared on the screen that showed our scores.  I’m not talking about a pornographic image or something extremely hypersexualized, just an image of a girl-probably a professional model- in shorts, a shirt that covered her chest, and a safari hat, gesturing towards the scoreboard.  I feel like it was the kind of thing that a “good, Christian guy” would be embarrassed to admit was causing him to stumble.   Even so, when the image appeared, David looked away, grinned at me, and said, “I’m just gonna stare at my beautiful date for a second.”

I just laughed and struck a playful pose, and when the image was gone I told David he could look back at the game.   It was such a small gesture- but it carried such a deep meaning to me.    He told me afterwards, “Really, Laura, you were the better looking one, anyway!”  But his actions carried a much deeper meaning- David, being the man of God that he is, would rather look at me than at those superficial images on the screen.   I might have my own resume of modeling experience, but I didn’t look like those girls- I mean, David was seeing me live, unphotoshopped!  And yet, by choosing to look away and look at me, he was saying, “I would rather honor you and appreciate your beauty than allow these pictures to be stored in my mind.”

I have had my dad and other brothers in Christ tell me that I deserve to be treated with honor, but this was the first time I’d actually experienced it.   Regardless of what the future holds for David and me, I pray I will remember what he demonstrated on this night- that I am a King’s daughter, and He has made me beautiful.  Society will tell me that I need to flaunt what I have, but He tells me to walk in modesty and purity…and that’s the kind of beauty that men like David will recognize.

My First Rose…

3 Oct

Tonight I received my first rose from a man who wasn’t my dad or my brother.

As a teenager, my friends and I all tried to save at least some of the petals from every rose we received.  Some planned to have them sprinkled on the aisle on their wedding day, others planned to stuff them in a pillow.  

My box of flower petals consists of a bouquet my friend’s mom gave me after our dance recital, a few from the bouquet my roommates gave me on my 23rd birthday, some from the bouquet that my friend tossed at her wedding (her maid of honor caught it, but since she already had a bouquet she told me to take the second one home to enjoy), and the bouquet that a friend presented me with last summer as a “welcome home” gift when she picked me up from the bus depot.  Once this rose is dried, it will be the first added to the pile as a gesture of romance and not just platonic friendship.   No roses from past boyfriends who left me with emotional baggage or trust issues.  But, this rose is still blooming right now, so I’ll enjoy it in it’s present state!

Speaking of the present…

The man I am dating, David, has a past, as I mentioned in my previous entry.  However, I have chosen the pseudo-name “David” for him because, like the Biblical David, today he is a man after God’s own heart.  He is also a man who can make me laugh so hard it hurts, who rushes ahead to open doors and pull out chairs for me, who tells me I look beautiful and that he appreciates the Godly qualities he sees in me.  He has an honorable profession, serves actively in a Bible-teaching church, and is a devoted father to his son.  I don’t need to worry about his past when I see who he is in the present.  That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be aware of or sensitive to his past- purity will be an exceptionally strong battle for him, as sexuality isn’t something that can simply be turned on and off.  He needs to make his son a priority- I’m the woman he’s dating right now, not his wife or even his serious girlfriend.  He needs to take things at the right pace and trust in God’s timing; he’s rushed into things before.  That’s fine.

I also need to remember the future.  There is no promise that things will work out for us- maybe we’ll be married, maybe we won’t have a third date.  Either way, I need to be aware of the choices I make now.  I may be dating David, but dates aren’t wedding rings.  I pray that, whether this relationship ends in a farewell or a wedding ceremony, we can both stand at the end of it with no regrets.

But right now, this rose is just starting to bloom.  We have the present.  We have this time to enjoy each other’s company, to build each other up, and to encourage each other.  We both need to set our hearts on glorifying God above all else, and trust the past and the future to Him.