It was the kind of coffee shop where two people can fall in love: the steam from the vintage coffee machine curling through the still, hipster air; the business people circling around the intimate tables trying to talk about how they are going to change the world; college kids sucking up the wifi so that they can take their practice tests and writing their last papers of the semester (cause praise the Lord, it’s FINAL’S WEEK *insert the hand raising emoji*). And somewhere in the back room sat my old friend, Josh, waiting for me. We sat on old couches and passed a laptop back and forth, bleeding across a blank page, trying to put our thumb on an idea that we’d grown to become not so very fond of: dating in 2014. In a world where “talking” is a thing, where guys say things to girls that they don’t ever actually mean, where words like “forever” have lost their weight, and where the “bad boy” has become America’s heart throb, all we wanted was to try and find stability, God, and love in it all– and how it could look the same in his eyes and mine.
“Christian Dating” – The Myth
I never noticed this before, but the Bible doesn’t even talk about “dating.” Dating wasn’t even a thing back then. So, I don’t believe in “christian dating.” I believe in two people who love Jesus getting to know each other (the “talking stage”) and eventually deciding to make a commitment to date under the Christian moral guidelines. If you are a Christian, and you date a non believer, it’s more than likely not going to workout and/or be good for your faith. If you’re a Christian dating another “Christian,” but you’re relationship doesn’t reflect it all of the values you two say you believe, well then you’re just being a hypocrite. How can you love when you don’t know true love itself??? Marriage, which is what dating is suppose to lead towards, is said to be the best example of the Gospel. Lets not take that lightly.
I don’t date church boys. No. Church boys are my off-limits-don’t-let-their-bible-verse-bumper-sticker-fool-you-heck-no-red-zone. The higher they raise their hands in worship, the more weary I am of them. Because I’ve dated the church boy: he has many faces. I’ve seen behind the curtain, and there’s no speck of God anywhere in how they work. But God knows I can fall hard for the man who hasn’t been to church in weeks; the man who sits in coffee shops or the dim light of his dorm room and makes God his own; the man who people tell me to run from, but when I look behind the curtain, I see God’s face shining. Shouldn’t the dust covered wheels of how a man works add up with the way he walks? When did the way his wheels crank and turn stop steering him in a corresponding step and voice? When did it become so easy to turn it all off and fake it? Don’t give me raised hands in the front row or even the man hiding his heart. Give me Jesus, and I will fall.
Let’s talk about “Talking”
Maybe it’s just me, but I enjoy the talking stage. I think most guys do (even though we are horrible at it). The talking stage is designed to help you get to know someone with whom you are starting to take a liking to before you make a big commitment to them. It gives you a chance to know their heart for Jesus and get there view points on different topics. Plus, it gives you a chance to see if you can have fun with them. Dating a Christian is not all about going to three services a week with them and doing nothing but Bible study; relationships are suppose to be fun. God wants us to have fun. How can you date someone you cant have fun with? Go out with them, meet their family, and see if you can enjoy yourselves. And if you have to fake a personality– that’s not a good sign. If you can’t be you, it wont do! The Bible talks about love being patient. SO BE PATIENT.
There is no part of me that knows how to love the color grey; I only know how to be black and white. “Talking” is just another word for “haze.” It locks us out of being able to love someone, stuck in a spot of being just an option; it’s become a man’s favorite place to put us. And there we both are, me and him, stuck in the grey area of never acknowledging a thing until he decides if he wants me or not. “Talking” is an excuse, not a means-to-an-end. The Bible talks about men being created with bold hearts meant to take initiative and lead, not hide in the grey fog of not having to love a girl well, loving a girl like Christ loves the church. Thank God Jesus didn’t come to test the waters, to see if we were really worth dying for.
“The Heart Wants What it Wants”
I, for the life of me, do not understand why girls think guys like bad girls. Maybe it’s just me, but I have never meet a guy who wanted to date a bad girl. We do not love bad girls; we want to hook up with the bad girls (I’m just being honest). What we want is to date the good girl. Why? Because we all need some good in our lives– a girl to keep us sane, someone to tell us what we’re doing wrong. We all tend to fall for someone we know we shouldn’t. But as the ever so beautiful Selena Gomez puts it: “the heart wants what it wants.” One of our biggest pet peeves is the fact that women complain all the time about “Why are guys so rude and mean? Where are all the good guys???” Well honey, they’re all in this little place we like to call the friend zone. So if you wonder why we act the way we do sometimes, it’s usually because the girl tends to friend zone the nice guy. People say that the way to a girl’s heart is to act like we don’t care so much. But what sense does that make? So you want us to care, but not show it so much? It would be easier to invent a time machine than to figure you women out!
We’re actually not that hard to figure out: we want the truth, in every sense of the word; we want the first choice spot; we want clear intentions and raw thoughts; and more often than not, we want the big bad love that we can change. And that’s the part where we stand at fault. We pick the man with the past, the mystery, the hesitation, the man who puts us in the back seat spot of his life in hopes that he’ll reach his big epiphany of love moment along the ride– the moment of magic and hands on cheeks and “I love you” whispered in the dark. So we wait. We accept spot number two because we convince ourselves that the moment where he turns around the sees us– for the first time, really sees us when he looks at us– it will be glorious. We want to be so beautiful that we change someone. But really, when you get to the core of a woman’s heart, you’ll find that she’s really just yearning the moment where the man she loves looks at her like she might be magic. Our messy hearts have just tricked us into believing that falling in love and being fallen-in-love-with is more beautiful when there is relief after pain.
FOMO – “The Fear of Missing Out”
I’m actually on the girl’s side on this one. I have no idea why us guys do this. We always have a “The grass is always greener on the other side” mentality. If we’re in a relationship, then we think we would be happier single. Then when we are single, we think we would be happier in a relationship. So basically, we just want the girl to prove to us that we would be happier with her.
You have to go to all the big parties that the fraternity throws, but you can’t be in the fraternity because if you’re in the fraternity, then you won’t do so well during your basketball games; you can only play basketball for a few years and win all the awards and grab the spotlight interviews in the school newspapers because then you also need time to get the job that will put the gold watch on your wrist and that juicy lobster with the ocean stench into the pretty blonde’s mouth; you can only spend your weeknights working and your Fridays and Saturdays partying if you’re front row, hands raised, head back, going all Sam Smith in church Sunday morning. And at the end of the day, it all comes second to getting the good grades that keeps you on your full ride to school. You can’t blink, you can’t sleep, you can’t love. Because if you blink, you might miss your best friend doing the 47 second keg stand at the party on Saturday night; if you slept, well, you wouldn’t even know what had happened at the party Saturday night; if you loved, you couldn’t do anything because loving her would be all you ever wanted to spend your time doing.
The FOMO Syndrome: the Fear of Missing Out. And I’m so over it.
Even as I write the words Josh is saying over my shoulder, “But isn’t that what life is all about? Experiencing things?” No. Life isn’t about experiencing things, life is about caring about people, about showing up for people, about choosing people. When did it become acceptable to start choosing parties over a person? When did it become acceptable to pick sleep over a straining heart? When did we stop caring so much about people that we no longer feel a massive hole in the place of someone’s absence in our lives? It’s 2014. The world is suffering from the fear of missing out, and we’re missing out on all of the things that will last: caring about people. Experience less, care more. There’s always room to care more.
The “Right Person” Myth
Love is a choice. I don’t think there is one special person out there that you are going to meet no matter what. If we’re being completely honest here, I could see myself spending the rest of my life with a lot of people. But there is eventually only going to be one that I choose to want to spend it with. Love, by my definition, is more than just a feeling– it’s a verb. It’s that feeling you get when you just know that, no matter what, you’re going to do everything you can for the person you choose to love. No matter how crazy they make you, you wouldn’t want to spend your day with anyone else; it’s not about someone who will watch football with you, it’s about someone who you would rather be with instead of watching football.
Guess what: Josh and I actually agree on something!
Love is a choice. I thought I met “the one;” I told him that, too. We said, “This is it, we’re gonna make it,” and I believed him.
The truth: there is no “one.” There are three billion. And out of those three billion men in the world, we pick one.
We look at them dripping in all of the golden things that they are, and we say “I love you” like a promise. Every day, highs and lows, choosing them. Yeah, the idea of finally coming across our missing puzzle piece– the guy God made just for us– is just a safety net that we love to over-romanticize. But isn’t there more beauty in the choice? Yes. Yes, yes, yes.
The truth is, the whole dating thing shouldn’t be rushed. That’s easier said than done, but love is not something that should be taken lightly. Guys, you are the leader, so step up and act like it. Treat her with the respect she deserves. Ladies, you are so worth loving, so don’t settle on a guy who can’t love you to his full potential. Focus on becoming the right person instead of looking for the right person. One day, we’re all just going to laugh about all of those past relationships that didn’t work out, anyways.
I’m nineteen and learning how to be alone; not in the way that most nineteen year olds are learning how to be “alone,” but in the way of being alone with myself, making sure I do the things I want to do and focusing on the things that are important to me even if it means there isn’t a man holding my heart and doing it all with me. I want to care more and experience less things; I want to say “I love you” and back it up with forever. And I want honesty. Pure, untampered with, unashamed, fearless, honesty: a love worth waiting for.