I’d quit and be a nun if I were Catholic. I could worship Jesus, sing hymns and speak about social injustices while not worrying about the headache that is dating.
I miss the days when I wasn’t allowed to date. My dad told me at age 7 that I was not to date until I graduated from college. Guys had no choice, but to cultivate a friendship. Any other intentions would warrant threats from my police officer father or my overprotective brother.
Now granted, I was a skinny little nerd with thick glasses, awkwardness on fleek, and no idea how to pronounce the words “fashion”, “name brand”, or “coordinating clothing ensemble”. Boys were rarely checking for me. Today, I have my own little style, got some contacts, I’ve come to terms with being petite and my high metabolism, and awkwardness is now somewhat socially acceptable – shoutout to Issa Rae!
But honestly, life and interactions with the opposite sex were much easier when puppy love and playground weddings were forbidden. Don’t act like you never attended a playground wedding – the really cool kids could shut down the entire jungle gym, semi-cool kids could snag a ceremony by the swings….girls like me played jump rope while spectating and shrugging off the fictitious vows of love, knowing that bae (ehem, Usher Raymond) would one day walk into your elementary school in Kansas City, MO ready to take your hand in playground marriage – I dreamed a lot as a kid.
Now 24 years young, my life is like the Tori Kelly song, Dear No One. Someday, God will allow my path to cross with a guy to share life with (…maybe), but until then, all potential suitors should just fall back. Not to sound harsh and not to cast the idea of romance into an abyss, but we almost idolize relationships in the Christian community. We get so excited when friends begin dating or get engaged – as though they’ve reached some sort of pinnacle in life. I got more Facebook likes on my new (now ‘former’) relationship status than I did when I got a job with a state Coalition to work towards ending domestic violence. People asked about that relationship regularly; my job – not so much – at least not as much as the guy. Sucks for those people because that relationship ended as quickly as it began. Life goes on…
I struggle with the gray area between friends and fiancé. I do not understand dating. I could be over analyzing, I usual do. I’m not only bad at it, I just don’t get it. For instance, what exactly takes place in the arbitrary “girlfriend/boyfriend” phase? As Christians? What are we doing that makes us more than friends, but not ready for marriage? If we’re being intentional, focused on pushing each other closer to Christ, and still not sure if we’re ready to move toward marriage, is a girlfriend/boyfriend relationship really necessary? What if it doesn’t work out? I didn’t see the point of the in between, felt like I was wasting time, I was bad at it, and eventually he ended up getting hurt because he was “all in”. Someone almost always gets hurt. People have feelings and sometimes people drown in those feelings….and then there are people like me on the boat, contemplating if I want to throw said people a life jacket. *rows boat away lightly, singing a sweet tune*
I’m not heartless. I just want to go back to being a kid. There was no real dating, but most certainly real friendships. It was a piece of cake: Be friends and decide who you’re going to marry (someday) simply by observing their kickball skills on the playground. If they follow the rules by walking in a straight line from the library back to the classroom. What types of books they check out at the library. How many books they check out at the library. If they placed in the school-wide Spelling Bee. How they eat in the cafeteria. Does he always have money for dessert (I was an observant gold-digger as a kid and paid attention to such details). How much space they take up when they sit next to you on the bus. If they’re “that kid” that thinks it’s funny to pull the emergency handle on the bus. If they’re that kids that always ruins field trips because they decided to get separated from the rest of the group and now the rest of us have to wait patiently on a hot bus as the teachers send out a search party for said kid.
In the words of Lauryn Hill, “It could all be so simple…”
I observed people throughout grade school and, through genuine friendships, discovered more about people that I would have had dating been allowed.
Passion, emotions, butterflies, physical appearance – they’ll fade away. They change day by day, but character remains. A commitment to growing in Christ and pushing one another closer to holiness should be the end goal – whether in a marriage or just being friends. So long as God is most glorified. Intentionality is key every step of the way.
Maybe genuine friendships will be cultivated in the future. Maybe they will lead to marriage – glory to God! Maybe we’ll just remain ‘brother’- and ‘sister’-in-Christ (aka the Christian friend zone) – glory to God!
Maybe I won’t become a nun. Instead, let us all meet on the playground. The annual kickball tournament will commence shortly. Or maybe if you don’t get picked for a team (like me) we can take turns pushing each other on the swings; see who can get the most calluses on the monkey bars; play tag; or take turns singing/rapping our favorite songs. Either way, let’s just be friends – best friends.
Until next time..
Photo courtesy of Brown Sugar (2002)