When dating and church have common ground…

At the time that things at the small church became unhinged at the end of last summer, things between me and the nice boy I’d been dating also became unhinged.  And at the time, it felt incredibly unfair.  Because I’m within spitting distance of my thirtieth birthday and I’d finally met someone I liked and who liked me too, and then he got sick.  Like, really sick.  Like, almost died sick.  And you can put any kind of spin on it that you want, but in the end the result is the same — it wasn’t fair.

And what I know now is that there are really only a couple of things you can do when you catch a deal that raw.

You pray. And you hope.

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And if you’re anything like me, you also get crazy reflective.

When things got churned up at the small church, I started examining what had me feeling so uncomfortable about being there.  And when the nice boy got sick, I started examining what I liked about him and about us, and why I found it so hard to let go.

In my crazy, I found that the answers overlapped and left me confronting issues about what it means to be a woman, especially a woman striving to honor God.

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'8/3/11 67/365' photo (c) 2011, Fiona Henderson - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I loved my time at the small church, don’t get me wrong.  But, there were messages that were taught that left me spending my life as a single, young, educated adult woman feeling small and misplaced.  I was encouraged to embrace my singleness because it offered me time to devote to ministry, but that’s where that message stopped.  Marriage, I was told, is the most important relationship I will ever have.  Being a mom, I was told, is my highest calling.  Going to school and writing and being a therapist were all good time fillers, but, I was told, I’d better be ready to give all that up when I got married and had a family – because my husband would be head, and I would have to defer to his call.

The thing that it seemed I could never get people to hear is that none of those things are just time fillers.  Those are the heartbeats of my life, and serving in ministry and going to school and being a therapist and writing are the things that make me…me.

And the nice boy got that.

He wanted to know what I thought, and he smiled any time my passions got the best of me and I started talking really fast about my book or my friends or my students.  He told me I was beautiful, and he told me I was smart.  And I liked him because he never made me feel small or misplaced.

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The nice boy and I are talking again. And while I don’t know what will come of it, I know that I’m doing things differently this time.  Because I’ve confronted some of the bad messages of my past, and am embracing the woman God has created me to be.

I’m an educated, young, single woman, and I’m talking to a nice boy who respects me.

And I’m still praying.  And I’m still hoping.  And that’s not a bad place to be.

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