When You’ve Only Dated One Guy 10 Years Ago, And He Broke Up With You.
I went on my first date when I was eighteen, if you want to call it that. I didn’t. My goal all along was the smart path of the forward-thinking, 21st century woman: go to college, make the grades, get the degree, and begin charting the course toward my perfect career. Radio and the music industry was my destination, and I had to at least get started before I could even consider any kind of relationship. Besides, as the I Kissed Dating Goodbye generation knows well, why even bother if I wasn’t ready for a ring? God’s perfect design, right?
But, well… when the boy you’ve known for years admits he’s crushed on you for most of that time, and the shy, quiet homeschool girl, all frizzy curls and acne marked, finally feels noticed, clearly God has changed his mind, right? I wasn’t ready to be serious, but I was open. So, jittery and aimless, I agreed to give it a shot, at least in the “let’s hang out and get to know each other” sense.
Our dating “relationship” consisted of several months of self-conscious phone calls, innocuous emails, and one really strange night at the roller skating rink in a sketchy part of town. I fell and slammed my head against the hardwood floor early in the evening. My main recollection of the whole experience is me, sitting on the sidelines and grateful for an excuse out of awkward “couple’s skate time” decisions. While pairs of teens drifted in circles to suggestive R&B songs, the sparkle of a cheap disco ball setting them alight, I pressed a bag of ice against my skull and felt like a failure beside my suddenly quiet date.
And this was how it was with us. He wanted to be a prince, but I was a stubborn, confused, and rather clumsy excuse for a princess.
During this time, our friendship/relationship existed in a perpetual “getting to know you” limbo. I believed we were just learning to navigate the murky waters, that we needed to take our time, so I plunged into my college studies like the bookish nerd I was becoming.
A few nights before Christmas, I checked my email and saw words that stung more than I could have imagined: “I’m sorry. It’s not working out.” My first thought was, “What’s not working out?” Then I knew.
I didn’t tell anyone, not even my mom, until I finally couldn’t stand it any more. I felt too ashamed. For the first time ever, someone wanted to take a chance on me, and I blew it. God only knows when that chance will come again.
A decade has gone by. I got the grades, the degree, and the job. I haven’t, however, gotten the guy.
I watch my friends grow up. I attend weddings and baby showers. And sometimes, though I love this time of my life, I catch myself noticing a dull ache for someone to once again invite me into his story. Occasionally, doubt creeps in, and we all wonder if we’re doing something wrong, don’t we?
I know I never had a reason to be ashamed. Actually, I’m grateful things worked out this way, because now I see there was nothing wrong with either of us. We were two souls pointing in different directions, our compasses leading us to opposite shores. If I tried to go and drag him with me, or the other way around, then only greater heartache could have followed. But at the time, to my young confused heart, I honestly believed there was something wrong with me, that he needed something I couldn’t fill, that I wasn’t enough. But I know something now that took me years to recognize.
A man cannot complete me. Only God can do that. And this same God that said, “it’s not good for man to be alone” prepares our souls to complement each other instead.
Do you know the feeling of being so in tune with someone a sideways glance speaks volumes, or you can have the same weird thought and burst into laughter? I do, with a precious few, and that is what I now know love to be. The proverbial “One” is someone who will help me be holier and more human than I am on my own. Not a white knight to rescue me, but a broken, lonely wanderer to come alongside and teach my pride to die.
Someone not to mold me in his image or make me feel good, but who will love me enough to let me be myself and challenge me to be more than I am.
We are not called to complete each other, because only God can do that. We are not called to rescue each other, or be someone’s personal Jesus.
Instead, we are privileged to carry each other’s burdens on this journey, our ships steering by the same bright star.
Before, I wanted to be rescued, and I wanted to be a savior. I couldn’t then. I can’t now. I’m not enough for that. But I can live a life of beauty — working with excellence, creating, writing, laughing, loving.
And perhaps along the way, my course will align with another’s, and we’ll sail toward home together.
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