It is safe to say that this year has been a year full of hard lessons. This story that I am about to share is just one of many hard lessons I have learned within the last few months.
A few months ago, I noticed a friend request from a woman I had never met. Normally, I am extra cautious about these sorts of things. After all, a lot of spammers create profiles using female profile pics in an effort to fool thirsty men into friending them only to end up being tagged in a bunch of nonsensical advertisements. However, this one seemed harmless enough so I responded to her friend request. Within days we were messaging back and forth about graduate school, politics, and ministry. Facebook messages became texts, which later became phone calls. Soon we were planning to meet.
I will admit that this chain of events was completely out of the ordinary for me. I am typically the guy who observes a woman up close for a long period of time before making the decision to pursue. Still, I prayed about it and there was something different about her. I felt that God was directing me to learn more. After talking to a few friends about it, I decided that it was time for me to push myself further out of my comfort zone and allow myself to be open to getting to know her. Besides, meeting her in person was the only way that I would really know for sure if there was any sort of future there. Unfortunately, things did not go according to my plan.
The first meeting between us was alright, but I felt like something was missing. I had actually enjoyed hearing her pastor at Bible Study. It was dense and quick, but I appreciated the challenge. The restaurant she had chosen was nice too. I didn’t mind the company of her younger sisters. We had just met. In all honesty, I was sort of wishing I had brought a friend along too. The main problem was that I didn’t feel a connection to her that could go anywhere beyond a friendship.
Needless to say, I was confused. This had never happened to me before. It normally did not take much for me to begin daydreaming about the possibility that I was sitting across the table from my future wife. Although I do not act like it, I am a bit of a hopeless romantic. Therefore, I was surprised that I was unable to see her as anything other than a little sister. I began to wonder if I was feeling sick. Maybe I was overworked and too tired to feel anything serious. Whatever the cause, I was concerned.
A few weeks later, I found the courage to let her know that I felt that she should be with someone more “traditional” and that we would be better suited for a brother-sister relationship. She tried to make me feel better by explaining that she liked the fact that I wasn’t all that traditional and that the fact that I followed God was most important. I left the conversation feeling even worse because she completely missed what I was trying to tell her. Thankfully, God always manages to send one of my friends to town when I am in need.
After a long day full of barbecue hopping, my best friend and I ended up getting into one of those extra deep conversations that tend to occur when you are extremely tired, but you have too much on your mind to fall asleep. At some point, the topic drifted to her.
“I guess that’s my problem,” I confessed, “It’s like she’s a sure thing.” What I didn’t want to say was that my insecurities were making me wonder if I would ever find an interested woman who was better suited for me.
“She is a sure thing, but is that what you want?” my friend agreed. After so many years of friendship, he was good at reading between the lines.
“A part of me isn’t sure if I should keep trying to push her away,” I continued, “But I’m not sure if she actually knows me. I know she likes my appearance and who I am on paper, but I’m not sure if she knows me as a person. It’s like I’m a pretty shell.” That wasn’t the first time I had said that. In recent years, I have begun to wonder if my appearance and my accomplishments make it difficult for people to get to know me as a person.
“To some extent, everyone is a pretty shell,” he added. It was true. Relationships generally start because people are interested in the exterior first. The challenge is finding someone who is willing to look past that. I wasn’t sure if she could. In her defense, I probably didn’t open up enough to give her the chance. And with that, the conversation drifted away from her and I fully understand what I had to do.
A week later, she and I went out again. It was after my mom’s 70th birthday party. I decided to try one last time to see if anything was there. She enjoyed herself and for a moment, I wondered if I had been wrong all along. Within a few days, I remembered my conversation with my friend and started preparing myself for the process of telling her once and for all how I felt about our growing relationship. I had hoped things would go well since we were still getting to know each other and had never had the awkward “defining the relationship” conversation. Besides, we had only known each other for about two months.
When I finally told her, it didn’t go well. She informed me that she didn’t need any other “big brothers” in her life and chastised me for wasting her time. It escalated from there to the point where we are no longer on speaking terms. Still, I think it is for the best. As bad as it has been, it would have been much worse if we had progressed to a committed relationship or gotten married before I acknowledged what was in my heart. In the aftermath, I saw a completely different side of her that confirmed our incompatibility.
In the end, the lesson was clear. I had to learn to trust in God enough to give up a “sure thing” even though it wasn’t clear if or when I would meet another woman who would be interested in me in that way. It wasn’t easy, but someday I will be able to look back on this and know that I did the right thing.