Bittersweet

I write in response to a recent discovery. Frequently I contemplate romantic relationships, more so now that I have developed feelings for someone who actually holds potential. In the past I have read books such as, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship, Emotional Purity: An Affair of the Heart, and Guys are Waffles, Girls are Spaghetti. All of these books contributed in two ways to my impressionable middle and high school mind: to encourage guarding my heart and to instill the belief that I must be perfectly prepared to enter a relationship before I would earn one. I say earn intentionally, as this quest became works-based. I would work my way to a relationship by becoming more compassionate, less needy, more communicative, less clingy, more understanding, less pushy, and more stable. I must become the person who the person I am looking for is looking for, which created an ideal of perfection.

During the tumultuous period of adolescence I desperately needed to understand my identity did and does not derive from my romantic potential. I needed to guard my heart from petty crushes and infatuations, which those books clarified for me. All of these encompassed physical and emotional aspects of a relationship, fueling my passion for the perfect courtship. I idealized the concept of a courtship, and it became an idol. It was a subtle idol, an ultimate goal hiding in the roughage of expectations and images of the relationships of loved ones.

While courtship itself is not evil, the connotations and ideals of it may become so. It places infinite pressure on developing individuals to make the singular correct choice, for life. There is no room to breathe, stretch, adventure. I desperately miss an age of dating that I never saw: the fifties, when a guy could take out a girl and simply spend time with her getting to know her without expectation of serious commitment and less disappointment when a relationship did not develop. It was a safe zone to merely hang out with someone of interest. Granted not all situations are idyllic, but juxtaposed with the dating culture of today it surpasses in simplicity and quality. The current culture spans two extremes: friends with benefits or total commitment initially. I long for the balance between the two. I long for an enjoyable, innocent friendship that may lead to more. I do long to marry my best friend, but I realize now I cannot place such weight on finding that person that I disregard potential friendships in favor of the unattainable.

I choose to reject the lie that I must be perfectly prepared for marriage before You will grant me a relationship. I choose the truth that Your timing is perfect, and I choose to trust that completely. Whether it comes soon or not at all, I know Your ways are far above mine. This battle is not easy, as I would rather lock my heart in the vault of my own selfishness to become invincible, yet I refuse to allow the heart You have blessed me with to become irredeemable. So I lay down my guns, my casket of my own selfishness, my expectations, and I leap off of the precipice into the unknown of Your promises.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” ~ Isaiah 55:8-9

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