crying through life and finding grace

I am a very emotional person. As a very emotional person, I cry. A lot. On my phone I have a list of ridiculous things I’ve cried about. It includes things like taking down a Christmas tree without the boxes to put it in and a google plus commercial way back when google plus was a thing.

Since becoming an expert on tears, I’ve discovered that I experience two main types of crying. One is the release of a deeply felt emotion like being wounded or righteous anger. After you cry these tears, you realize that despite the tears and despite the fact that the hurt is still there, you feel better. It’s like taking a cleansing shower after getting covered in mud.

The other kind is indicative of a sorrow or grief deep in your soul. These tears don’t stream down your face like the Niagra Falls of emotional healing; they well up in your eyes, unwelcomed. You try to push them back down or blink them out much. These tears are inconvenient and unwelcome. Unlike the first kind, these aren’t final. When you cry at 2 p.m. and you know you’ll be crying again later whether it’s 2:20 or 5:30 or at 10 p.m. as you try to go to sleep.

We are only five months into 2018 and I have already cried over two boys. It might be a personal record.

The first was hard but good. I cried the first kind of tears. I was hurt but relieved and ready to move on. It was the end of a relationship that had been going nowhere for a while. And in spite of the hurt and the pain, he was doing the best he could and he was respectful of me. He ended it telling me what we both knew was true - that I could and should do better than him.

The second boy brought on the second kind of tears. Not because he meant more to me but because of what he represented. This time I had made a wise decision; he checked all the boxes: Christian, smart, same taste in tv shows as me, planned dates, initiated texts, wanted a family. 

So when he mentioned meeting parents and grandparents on the first date, watching the Game of Thrones season premiere together a year from now on the second date and buying a pet together in a few months, I ignored the voice in my head that said, “This is what your ex did. He said all these grandiose things and when he couldn’t deliver, you were devastated because you believed him.” I ignored my gut and listened to the people who told me not to overthink it and tried to have fun. To be fair, I did have fun. So much fun that I began to hope that maybe I found someone I could build a life with. Someone who would want a family with me. I thought “maybe I’ll have a boyfriend on my birthday this year” and joined him in imagining fun things we could do together.

Then when he unexpectedly said he wasn’t ready for a relationship I fought all these ugly feelings. I was disappointed at what seemed like it had potential being taken away from me. I felt dumb for allowing myself to hope. I was mad that he took away a little bit of my natural trust and is adding to the baggage I will take to the right relationship.

I’ve hesitated writing about dating and singleness for a while, and I’ve always been cautious to share particulars because it is never my story alone. But hopefully, I’ve written it in a way that is vague and nondescript enough that even if someone who knew the second guy came here and read it, they wouldn’t recognize him. More than that, hopefully, I have told my story while allowing grace to the people who play a role in my life.

However, this is more than about me and more than about this one incident. I want to implore my brothers in Christ to be respectful of the women they date and to guard their hearts. I didn’t need to hear about stuff we could do in the future to have fun with this guy. All I needed was to laugh and have good conversation; all that other stuff can come later. I want to ask the single men I know to inspect their thoughts and actions while dating. Are you saying this because you mean it or you want to impress her? Do you mean it in this moment or do you mean it forever? And last, when you feel and think those thoughts, take a minute. Pray on it. Talk about it with wise counselors. Wait. Make sure you really and truly feel it and then when you know the girl’s character and know how you act as a couple and are certain, “I mean this.” Then you can say it.

I am saying this for myself, yes, but I am also saying this for the benefit of my brothers in Christ. If a friend comes to me and says “I dated ‘Tristan’ and he just ended things,” I want to still be able to respect how Tristan treated my friend. And right now I don’t respect the second guy. And I hate it. He is my brother in Christ. I want to respect him. Through prayer, I will respect his position as Christ’s child. But it’s going to take a little while.

That’s one of my reasons for sharing it. While I can’t speak for all women, I want guys to know that I am fine not jumping straight to serious. In the case of dating, there is rarely anything to be lost by using a healthy amount of caution.

One of the reasons, I’ve been hesitant to write about my dating experiences is because I don’t want a guy to find my blog, read it and think “Oh no. She’s just going to use our experiences for this. She’s a low level Taylor Swift and I won’t be able to have any secrets.” First, future guy, if you’re reading this, thank you so much for comparing me to Taylor Swift. Second, I hope you feel that i have been both fair in the telling and vague in the description. Third, well, I am a writer and I can only quash so much of myself down before it explodes into paragraphs.

Right now however, my experience is important enough to share. This particular hurt is hitting harder than it would have at another time of year because it happened around Mother’s Day. And for the first time, I am hurting that I do not know if I will ever be a mother. For a moment, I allowed myself to hope that not only was it a possibility, it was a probability. That’s why the second guy commanded the second kind of tears. It’s why even though I invested less time in the second guy, the tears stung harder.

The hard thing about being single is that I am constantly stuck in this place of “I like the time I have had to be alone and getting to have a super feminine home; I like my freedom” and being drawn by the desire to fall in love and create a family.

I learned a while back that if you talk about being single, people don’t always know how to handle it. They tell me things like “you’re so young!” and I am but that doesn’t negate my longing or address the fact that my mom was married at 18. I always envisioned myself following her path so 24, almost 25, doesn’t feel young in that regard. Another common answer to my desire for marriage is “It’s not easy!” I believe you. And yet singleness is not always easy either and you chose marriage. These are small quibbles but what they amount to is on top of not always being thrilled at the idea of going home alone, again, I rarely feel that I am allowed to express it. I hope that I am doing singleness and dating with class and grace. I hope that I am leaving everyone, even the guy who led me on, better than I found them.

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