Love. And Faith. And Real Real Life.

We don’t agree on very much. He was raised differently than me. His step dad didn’t like how the Catholic church put their heads in the sand when they realized they had a chronic and pervasive rape culture. So they stopped going. He doesn’t really “think about religion at all really”. He believes “there’s a God, but i’ve done everything on my own. I don’t regret anything. I’m here now and living and seeking out all of these new things”.

I get all of that. Truly.

Except I don’t believe him. He’s constantly seeking the approval of his dad, and step dad, and male mentors. Father figures weren’t really present. He’s reaching out and getting rejected. Pretending it doesn’t sting.

He’s constantly seeking the next thing. The next high. The next night. He still “parties”. He says the word “party” as though its still a verb. He’s always wanting adventure. Acts like the settled, wholesome things are boring. And then he does them…and he adores it. The constancy, the safety.

Me? I’m no better. I worry. Constantly. I overthink and I doubt and I get frustrated and my temper is pretty nuts. I’m not easy.

But I do know that I have the perfect Father. Constant, omniscient, everlasting, never changing. I know there is freedom in my identity in God. It’s not bondage, its everlasting love and grace. It’s all encompassing. It’s life-giving! It’s not a set of rules, it’s beautiful beautiful love. It’s understanding that our current cultural zeitgeist of “whatever feels right to you!” is fleeting and inherently selfish. There’s no love in solely living for yourself. Eventually, all that is, is madness.

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

C.S. Lewis

So, I’m worried. How will we move forward? Will he be able to respect that I truly mean what I say when I say I’m a believer? When I told him that I’ve dated men who didn’t go to church with me, that didn’t want to learn that side of me and that it was awful, did he hear me? That it was awful for both of us. Will he get that? Will he try?

Because I get him. How can we know for sure? Why would bad things continue to happen? Why do people who profess to know Him do the things they do?

But. All of that darkness. It indicates that there is light. There’s hope in the need for someone bigger than us. A personal relationship. A nothing-we-can-do-to-earn-it gift of pure, life-giving, love.

So, I’ll have faith. And I will love.

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My Concerns With Love

Things I’m Worried About

He believes in God but doesn’t know what that means for him.
Uh, nope. Been there, done that. It’s one of my very few deal breakers. I dated someone previously who wasn’t open to it at all. I hated not going to church with someone. I hated that he didn’t/couldn’t try to see why it was so important to me. If you can’t love God/know God, how can you love and know His daughter? I base my entire life off of the bible and God’s promises and directions. I told him as much.
Responds with: Well, I’d still like to try. I hear that you’re wanting someone that sees at least the same shade of blue. Could I come see you in (your hometown) and go to church with you?

Well, ok.

He parties a lot. Drunk eyes, forgetting that he sent snapchats, partying partying. Still calls it “partying”. Who does that at his age? Show restraint and caring for your body and also for others around you. For other peoples’ perceptions. For your safety. For respect. Seriously, so many reasons.
I don’t laugh when he is giggling and telling me that part of his weekend. I ignore the behavior and respond positively to the other good parts.
Responds with: telling me all of the nice things he said about me to his friends and them saying how much they’d like to meet me and would I want to go camping with them all. In two months.

That’s it. Those are my concerns.

Oh yea, and he thinks I’m going to change with.
My response: Hell yeah. Love changes people. Welcome to life, friend.

Involved Naivety

“Have you thought about ________?” or “Oh! I think you would like my friend _______.” are common phrases I hear whenever I meet anyone new or with casual friends. The friends you worked at David’s Bridal with 4 years ago in your undergraduate career or the friend of the friend you recently met at church. Somehow, in your new (or renewed) connection, your singleness gets brought up. Most people seem to have a way to fix that, so insert the phrases above. I don’t mind too terribly much as it’s a nice idea to entertain the notion of meeting someone organically and not having to tell my parents that I met my future husband on Tinder. Or OKCupid. Or Coffee Meets Bagel.

Several months ago, an acquaintance that knew me when I was 18 and the girlfriend of The First One and again when he worked for me on the university’s campus and again when he is good friends with one of my coworkers, suggested on our work’s version of GChat that I should meet his friend JT. He basically set us up to chat, JT quickly asked me to lunch, it went well, but he never asked me out again. He would chat with me consistently on Gchat, sending me hipster music and talking about Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. He was funny and weird and helped the days to pass by faster. Eventually, our acquaintance played telephone with me and “his friend” because “his friend” wanted to ask out one of my friends, R, from church. R is a beautiful blonde haired, blue eyed, lovely person. She has a bubbly sassy personality; she also talks about God consistently. Which is great until it begins to ostracize people around her and start to feel condemning. “His friend” turned out to be JT. JT then decided to own up to liking her then asked me things like her favorite color and flower and were there any red flags. “Take her on a date and see!” was my answer though I knew that she would not like how uncool he is. Smart, funny, handsome-in-an-awkward-way, but not suave, relaxed, and cool which is much more of R’s type.

If I’m being honest, I was a little confused at why JT would talk so consistently with me, but never ask me out. Him asking R out made it official that he was not interested. “Cool! I can stop being confused!” I said to myself. Things ended with them being “friends”. All of a sudden he is back on GChat asking what I’m looking for in a man–“you know…if I were to set you up since you helped me out”. Sure, JT, sure. Then he begins to ask me approximately 800 questions about me. Who I am and what I want from life and what is my MBTI (INFJ holla!) and then he compares our personality types to let me know that we are often dubbed “the golden pair” being INTP and INFJ. Eventually this happens:

JT- “Do you like friends who are pretty straightforward with you? Maybe even to the point of bluntness? Or friends who hold back when it might cause tension”

Me- “Are you trying to ask if you can be blunt with me…? Or is this purely hypothetical?”

JT- “the former”

Me- “You can be blunt with me if you need to”

JT- “I probably don’t “need” to be”

Me- “Did I do something to offend you? Now you have me worried”

JT- “hahahaha no. you’re great”

Me- “Then feel free, really.”

JT- “okay

[11:44 AM]So, it’s hard for me to not be interested in you. Like I’m totally cool with slacking like this. But two things happened when you said you had another date. 1. I was really happy for you. Dating is weird and can seem foreign at times, so successful dates are fantastic. 2. “Damn.” Just a normal, jealous (probably sinful) reaction. I know this may be awkward, but I think being completely up front is the best solution for friendships/relationships/whatever

[11:45 AM]now, it’s not like I’m in love and “can’t help myself”. People can always help themselves when it comes to emotions like this. But I don’t want to sneak my emotions around and pretend like I’m not interested in you

[11:47 AM]now, it’d be fine with me if we just stayed friends. I would get over my hissy fit and learn to see you as a friend only. But I want you to know where I stand without any ambiguity”
Me- “I really appreciate you telling me that. I admit, i’ve been quite confused for awhile now. Especially after you asked about R(she’s beautiful and intelligent, so you’d be crazy not to), and then suggested Our Friend (and since y’all are close, i got confused. girls talk about these things and would only suggest the other friend if they knew that friend liked to other one…so i didn’t want to offend. and again, was confused). So, I appreciate you just telling me. And feel less crazy now.”
JT- “I also admit that I kinda felt like an asshole when I asked you about R. Because during that time I was kind of interested in you. So I really do apologize for that.”
Me- “Like I said, I truly don’t know about this guy. And I would really appreciate your friendship right now still. But I don’t believe in the friend zone. Or that relationships are stationary. So…can I let you know if that changes? Not to keep you hanging on or anything! Just saying”
JT- “That’ll work for me. And bless you for not believing in the friendzone. That’s purgatory for guys”
Purgatory, eh? What do you think talking to one girl for months but asking out her friend is?

Boys suck, and then they flatter you with apologies and perfect words. You realize that they are just human. Or you realize that you are just naive and consistently set yourself up to be hurt. Which one is it with JT?

Not That

Ever since we broke up, The Second One and I have seen each other at least twice a week. Once at church on Sunday. Once on Wednesday at our small group. I sit across from him in a circle of people. These people are meant to support each other through daily life, eat meals together, do life things together. So there I am, staring at his handsome bearded face while he reads the discussion questions for that week. While he walks us through the “highs and lows” of our weeks.

We’ve barely talked. I just avoid him and attempt not to get frustrated as he tries to appear vulnerable. He never is though. I knew him really well. I knew his secrets so I would get irritated every time he dipped his ladle into the shallow pool instead of diving in to the deep end. How does one lead a group without being vulnerable? How does one build intimate relationships without sharing of him or herself?

But that’s it. Not too bad. Nothing good either.

An employee of mine, who also goes to our same church, came in to my office a few weeks ago. She told me how she had been having lunch with a friend of hers before the break. He was talking about the new guy he was dating and how cute and nice he was. He showed her an Instagram picture of that had me in it. I get excited, thinking we have a mutual friend, “Robert? Fisher??” I ask. She tells me to think harder and guess again. Ohhhhhh. Oh my. “The Second One”.

Now, I think there’s nothing wrong with being gay. Or bisexual. Or lesbian. Or pan sexual. Or however you want to define yourself. I do, however, think it is polite, kind, and socially accepted practice that you tell the person you are dating (seriously dating for that matter) before, ya know, let’s say BEFORE you look for engagement rings. Or before you meet her parents. Or maybe the second date.

Mostly I just want to know if he knew about this leaning/identifier/preference before we were dating or if he figured it out later? He knew it before. I know this because I went over to his house. The house he bought for me after I said I wasn’t ready to receive an engagement ring. It’s an adorable little mid-century house with this weird and huge corner fireplace. It has the biggest, lush backyard perfect for twinkling lights and wine. He wanted a crappy little new build on the outskirts of town. I didn’t mean to pick out a house when I told him I hated the cookie-cutter one he loved, but he signed on the mid-century the next week. Anyways, I asked him if he liked males sitting next to him on his couch. He said he did. That he always knew he had this preference. That “I guess you could say I’m bisexual”. After we broke up he had quite a few partners, finding them on Tinder, introducing them to his roommates as he brought them in to his room and had sex with them. He told me many times how much he wanted to marry me, and he barely touched me. Makes sense.

I told him how hurtful it was. How him doing all of these things appeared to rub off on the rest of his life, especially with our small group at church. It’s a bunch of single “young professionals” who really rely on each other for emotional, spiritual, and familial support. We commit to being there for each other. We show up. Except The Second One. He is the male “leader” of the group but never asks questions, or shows up to events, or stays longer to chat with everyone, or volunteers to help people paint the new houses they purchase. He told me he was mad at me and had no desire to lead our group. Which is terrible because it has affected the morale of our group and chased the boys away. For several months we only had 2 consistently show up.

I told him I think he should stop leading then. Not because he likes guys, but because he doesn’t care about the rest of us. He essentially agreed. He never apologized for knowing that he was gay and not telling me. He didn’t care that he hurt me.

So here I am. Embarrassed that I’m that girl that dated a guy that is clearly gay. Just like my friends told me. Just like my dad implied when he gently and tactfully said “Well, there seems to be a effeminate air about him. You can tell that he was raised around women.” I’m that girl that alienated my friends when The Second One said dumb things like gays and lesbians are “your people” and knew the exact difference between lip gloss, tint, stick, and balm. I’m mortified that my friend’s men hated him. Who wants to date the guy who other guys don’t like? My best friend hated him and we had to go through many intense fights about him and us. I spent 8 months planning my life with him, going on trips, getting to know his flaws and his favorites, trying to figure out why he stopped showing me affection, and cleaning up his piss the night he got too drunk and peed in our room on his work’s summer trip to the lake. I’m a parody of 21st century love stories. I’m a parody of 20 something girl’s and their search to find someone.

But you know what? At least I’m not 38, married to The Second One, with 3 kids and 1 house, and a terrible marriage where I walk in and find him having sex with my coworker’s best friend who he met at my company’s Christmas party. At least it’s not that.

My Middle Name

The Second One was (is) 5′ 11″, big blue eyes, cheekbones that cut sharply above his slightly red hued beard, and lips that were perfect, symmetrical pillows. He wooed me. He chased me. Quite literally…he chased me down in the church parking lot, one month after I thought he was going to do that exact thing. In that one month, I had continued to date Captain, broke it off; I made out hurried and high school style with my best friend’s boyfriend’s Abercrombie model-esque younger brother. Things had happened. I no longer cared if he asked me out or not.

Except I did. And he did. We went out on an art trail in our little city. He had printed off a map with locations and times and events. Most people just stop by the wineries then meander downtown. The Second One never meandered.

The Second One planned. He had plans to reinvent himself:
Step 1) Lose 80 pounds and transform his outward appearance. Check.
Step 2) Quit frat boy binge drinking and start going to church like he meant it. Get involved and portray his goodness to everyone. Check.
Step 3) Find a good Christian girl that does not judge his past and get her to fall in love….No surprise here, but this one also gets checked.

Step 4) Marry her and have a perfect house and possibly 2 kids (but only if they’re perfectly well behaved) and never have anything bad happen and have everyone validate him all of the time and never have to divulge any real parts of himself and never, ever, ever, delve in and connect to the grittiness that is another person.

That one didn’t get checked. At least not by me.

But that first date, we walked around according to his map. I soaked up the glances of jealousy from both men and women. I hung on every non-compliment he gave me. We went to a little bar with huge leather couches and sipped red wine until my cracked lips were stained. His lips didn’t stained. The Second One always reapplied his Burt’s Bees chapstick so as not to be imperfect. Buzzed, he opened up enough to make me want more. He was stable and good and grown up and handsome. Everything The First One was not. I hadn’t been in love in a long time. I fell fast and I fell hard.

Then it stopped. He stopped. He could give no more of himself and didn’t want to know any more about me. In the last week, he didn’t know my middle name. After months together. Does he ever even listen to me? Does he truly care?  were the only thoughts that could run through my brain.

He hasn’t talked to me in almost two months. Then a G-chat today:
“I was searching for art classes to help me build up my portfolio to apply to the architecture department next June and I saw that the [local arts center] offers pottery throwing classes. I remember that you wanted to take a class on that.”

You remembered? You listened to me? And you tell me now? Please don’t. Please stop. It hurts to fall in love with someone who can’t give of themselves to you. I don’t want to know that you know any part of me. I want to forget that there were reasons I fell in love with you.