Last year, around this time, I was Christmas shopping in Target and came across this book: Never Have I Ever, My Life (SO FAR) Without a Date by Katie Heaney. Of course, I snapped a quick photo of it and sent it to Berta, jokingly saying “Hey look, it’s a book about ME!”
Well, I was mostly joking, but part of me was actually a little excited because that meant there was someone else out there like me (for the most part – the dating ship sailed a long time ago). No longer was I some mythical, sparkly unicorn alone in a world full of stallions and asses (yes, I said asses…after trying online dating and the slim pickings that are left over once you reach a certain age, that’s the only word that adequately describes some men you will encounter). But right there in front of me, in print, was someone else who had the guts to actually share her real self with the world. This blog is about as close as I’ll ever likely to get to her courageousness in putting something so personal out there.
It’s been two full decades since I sat in a Wednesday chapel service in 7th grade listening to someone talk about Godly and ungodly relationships. We were each handed two hearts; a blue heart and a pink heart glued together. At the end of the message, the speaker then asked us to remove the pink heart from the blue heart without leaving anything behind. After much trying, it was evident that the task before us was impossible. The two hearts could not be removed from one another without tearing and leaving pieces behind on the other heart. Once those hearts separated, they would never be whole again.
This example, of hearts intertwining in a relationship, really stuck with me, and obviously two decades later still does. I wish this analogy could be used with every young person before they reach the age of dating. Will it save everyone from heartache? No. My heart was still broken in high school. But it only took one painful time to know that wasn’t something I wanted to do again. I knew I only had one heart to give and I wanted to give as much of that as is possible to the man God has for me. I just wish I could yell it from the rooftops to today’s youth that the old adage of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’ is a lie straight from hell.
I’ve been listening to my favorite ministry tape series this week on my lunch breaks. It’s amazing how much they still minister to me. For 13 years these tapes about Godly friendships, relationships, and marriages have spoken to me, at different points in my life, new rhema words from God every time.
In 2001, a precious pastor from Australia did a marriage seminar at our church. At that time I was just coming out of a nasty breakup – my only real breakup to this day. I was young, and completely naïve. I had spent two years dating on and off again with ‘D’, but more importantly, I was head over heels in love with him. Well, I was in what I thought at that time in my life was “love” – it was anything but love.
Now, at 32, I look back to my 17-19yr old self and thank God for His protection on me at that point in my life. When I broke up with ‘D’ for the last time in 2001, using a few choice words, I was devastated and my self-worth was non-existent. He knew I had made a decision to save sex for marriage. But somehow, by God’s grace and mercy, he never once pushed me to change my mind. It was absolutely a God thing, because at that age, and as in love as I thought I was, I would have probably caved quickly. Sounds like a great guy, right? I mean he wasn’t pushing me to sleep with him or anything. Well, that’s what I thought too until Christmas vacation when he went to visit his dad. It didn’t take long, once he was back, for the rumors to make their go around. He wasn’t pressuring me for sex because he was getting it elsewhere. Over his vacation, his father had bought him a prostitute.
Feeling absolutely worthless and undesirable, with the rug yanked from under my feet, I turned to those ministry tapes. I turned to God. I truly believe, with every fiber of my being, that not only did God completely protect me in that situation, but He then hid me away to save me from any further heartache, to save me for my husband one day (FYI God, I’m ok if You are ready to unhide me).
I hear stories now from other friends of things that were happening in our circles at that time, and in the years to follow, and know that God kept me from all of that to protect my heart. Our hearts are far too fragile to be spreading them out, leaving pieces of them behind with each failed relationship.
Listening to the tape series this time (the millionth time), I heard something this week with a new revelation. Dating and breaking up over and over again is nothing but practicing for divorce. Practicing for divorce!
Frankly, I used to be ashamed to admit my inexperience in the dating world; my inexperience in all things really. My good friends can testify to me being the most awkward flirter ever – I either come across as super friendly or a bitch. But you know what? I’m ok with the inexperience (and trust me it’s taken a long time to own up to that – it’s a conscious, daily effort at times). Practice might make perfect when it comes to learning a new instrument or playing a sport, but practicing relationships with the wrong people will never amount to anything perfect by God’s standards!
I think deep down this is why I knew from the start with ‘T’ a couple of years ago that things weren’t right and he wasn’t the ONE. Oh, but “you should still go on a date with him, it never hurts getting in a little dating practice”. I think I can hear God laughing now. I knew then that I didn’t want to ‘date around’, but it took an abscess and a root canal (literally) to get my mind focused on staying the course, WITHOUT practice. God, if you’re reading:
If I ever end up in that boat again (which I never plan to), would you mind giving me a sign that isn’t so costly to my bank account? I’d be forever grateful.
Yours Truly, Gertie
So, here God, take my heart. It’s yours till you see fit to give it to the husband you have for me. No more practicing for failure and practicing for divorce. I’m setting my sights on You and on Your perfect plan. Experience or not, I’d rather fumble my way through life with the right ONE man God has for me than be some expert at it all with a lot of torn up hearts left behind. My ‘Never Have I Ever’ list might be really (REALLY) long, but that’s ok. It’s time to stand up, be proud, and take ownership of that list.