I’ve gotten tons of questions about why I’m taking a six-month sabbatical from dating, and I’ve given just little answers.
I think it’s time for all the parts and pieces of that answer to be fleshed out.
I’ve got a lot of questions, and I’ve got a lot to say.
And as I get ready to put this out there, I’m reminded of a writing quote I read a while back: “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, then they should have behaved better.”
Confession Number One: Modern Dating Feels Like a Sick Joke
What even is this thing we’re calling dating? It’s like some kind of game where both people try to pin the smile on the plastered face, find the needle-sized truth in the haystack of phone number exchanges and three day calling rules. The lack of authenticity I have found in this dating world is shocking.
Why are we training young men and women that the best way to catch attention is to tell pretty lies? We tell them all the things not to do, all the ways to be unattractive, like “don’t appear too attached,” “don’t be difficult, make it easy for them,” and “pull down your shirt a little lower, darling, you don’t want to look like a prude.” Why aren’t we looking into the brace-bearing bespeckled faces of our youth and saying words like “only laugh if the joke is really funny in the kind of way that makes your ribs ache,” and “ask hard questions that make people reach down into their bones,” and “be the kind of honest that hurts.” We are becoming a society of liars, makeup spackled over broken parts of ourselves, cologne covering up the stench of desperation for something that feels like truth.
I can’t deal with it. I cannot go out to one more restaurant and make meaningless comments to convince someone of my worth, make them believe that I could be a lovely fixture in the painting that is their life, only to be written off as just another credit card bill.
Confession Number Two: Christian Dating Feels Like the Punchline
This is the one that hurts the most. As a Christian girl, you’re taught to look for a man who’s in love with God.
You’re taught to save yourself for marriage.
To seek a man who is involved in church.
So you do those things, and you find a “good Christian man,” and he tells you that he loves God, and you think that means he loves people. But he casts disparaging looks at those around him because they are so sin-filled that it might make him look bad to share dinner with them in a Mexican restaurant by the mall. He hangs his head in embarrassment towards his chimichanga plate. You cry on the drive home.
Or he says he’s saving himself too, but asks just how far you’re willing to go. He’s disappointed and persistent when you give him the honest answer. He tries anyway. He says he doesn’t think this will work out, because you’re too stingy with sex. You feel ashamed of your purity, like its something you should scrape off the bottom of your shoe.
Or he is so very holy that tells you that it’s obvious you aren’t meant for ministry. That he cannot love you because you are too controversial, too wild, too humanly imperfect for him. You, the virgin, the girl who prays at 4:45 a.m. for God to grow her into a good future wife.
I have never in my life felt as if I were not enough for love as when I have been interested in a “good, Christian man.”
Why is this, men of God? Why are we holding women up to impossibility? What do you want from us? You want us to be pure, but not so pure that we’ll object when you try to cop a feel. You want us to be perfect girls who sit still in church and nod when you give instructions, but you break up with us because we’re not exciting enough.
I’ll tell you something, men of God. Women are what God made us to be. And he did not make us to be silent vessels for all of your requests. He made us to be your companion, your helpmate, your confidante, your love. I implore you, men of God, seek what it means to be a good man to a woman, the way God intended you to be. You are destroying the hearts of so many young girls, so many women, by being some kind of man that is a perversion of the gospel, a faded and twisted reflection of Jesus. Before you start cradling the very essence of a woman in the palm of your hand, seek God’s purpose for you in a position of power over her. You have so much power. To heal her, or to plant seeds of doubt in her heart. To love her in all of her imperfections, or to make a list of her brokennesses and smear it across her face on your brown suede couch.
Women of God, find your strength. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and God has a purpose for you in love. I will tell you that I do not believe that it is to shamed, to be silent, or to be robbed of the essence of your womanhood. You don’t have to give that up to a man. And if a man, even a man of God, is trying to shush you, to make you ashamed of your womanly heart, then God has plans for him that do not involve you.
These men I have described above, these very different, and somehow all the same, men, are not the only kind of man of God. I know this. I have seen good, gentle, compassionate men of God who look you in the face and speak words of generosity to you.
Like the dear friend of mine who spoke healing words to my soul, “I think he was trying to put you in a box and you just didn’t fit there. Which I don’t understand, because I think, ‘if she didn’t fit in your box, then what the heck is wrong with your box?’ You make the box. You are the box.”
Like the loving father who clasps his children’s hands together and prays into the new year with them, who folds his wife into his big arms and protects her with his force and gentility.
I don’t want to act as if I have not seen you, quiet men of God, because I have. I do not devalue you. I honor you. But I lament that I do not see more of you. I pray for more of you.
I pray for one of you.
Confession Number Three: I don’t know how to fix this. But I’m beginning to consider what I want.
One of the essential parts of this six months is to examine what my heart needs, what I am truly seeking in a partner in this life. Here are a few things I have already determined.
I want a faithful man, who will take the position of authority God has given him, who will step up as a spiritual leader in my life.
I want a kind man, who will treat me with grace in all my imperfect mess, who will see my brokenness and love all my parts and pieces.
I want a driven man, who will do what it takes to succeed in whatever path he has chosen, who will work with me and for me to pursue a good future.
And I want to be some things for that man.
I want to be his confidante, his support, and stalwart companion.
I want to seek and create truth and peace and joy with him.
I want to be so much for this man.
I want to wait for him.
And so I shall.