So here I go...my attempt at a few lessons I'm learning along the way in relationship.
1) Being set up has it's place in our internet, at times consumeristic dating culture. We were set up by my sister and her friend. Something about having an "in the mix" person vie for his character and life with God set him apart.
Now I can't make such a broad sweeping remark about online dating and not come back to it. First off, I am all for "getting out there" in a variety of fashions--going downtown to mingle, online, asking around, etc. but online, distant correspondence cannot be the only thing. Sadly my experience has taught me that online dating can lead to a very pseudo-relationship kind of dating if you don't meet pretty early on. I know everyone has their story, I am just cautioning those who belabor meeting. And folks, I speak as one who has learned from error.
Here's an example. At one time in my early online dating experience, I talked and talked to a guy out of state for weeks. When we got in our first disagreement, it honestly felt like something we'd do once we'd dated a month or so, problem was we hadn't even met! We were talking and revealing parts of ourself in the way you do dating and yet there had been no contact. No pick up. No meet up. No dinner for two. No look me in the eyes and respond to my interaction kind of life-on-life together. It was weird. I tried feebly to meander through this long distance relationship but was left wanting. In the end, he wanted a "friendship." I didn't go online for friends, I went online to find someone to date.
Now, I've had several friends get married to someone they met online and that's cool. The lesson I've learned is not to draw it out. Keep it simple. Meet as soon as you are able. Reveal, but not too much. Make the guy work a little ladies! Trust me here. If he's into you, he's into you. I have never doubted _____'s (Humph! What should I call him here to you? Mr Wonderful's? My Love's?), well for now, Mr. F's affection and commitment to pursuing me. It's been refreshing and built such safety for me as the relationship's developed.
2) Men really do play a significant role in the pace and boundary lines for the relationship, especially in the beginning. Now, don't get me wrong, I am an equal rights, equally gifted, equally valued kind of christian woman in her theology. But now, three months into the relationship I'm especially grateful that he has led out keeping in line with our limits.
For example, early on it became clear he was gonna hold off on kissing me. One month...two months...three months. No kiss. I. die. But boy do I respect. I'm choosing to go along with that decision because I know it's done with our best interest in mind. In a million years I never thought that would be my story! But there is a patient trust and growing admiration building as we live it out. And if I'm honest here, it's just straight up hot! Now I know this is not for everyone, but for us it works in keeping to our value of waiting for sex until marriage.
We are not perfect. He is 48 and I am 38 and we are REALLY attracted to each other so there have been conversations checking-in along the way. And it's still early...but from the get-go we submitted this journey to the Lord. We both realize due to our life stage, individual stories, and life experience we will likely not be the couple who dates for 1.5 years, gets engaged, and then plans their dream wedding over the course of the next year. Nope! Not us.
What is really cool about meeting at this stage in our lives is we have learned a lot of life lessons prior to the relationship. We mostly know who we are, what we want and don't want and what's not healthy for us. There have been some hard knocks for each of us, and I think we'll be a better team for it. I look in now on my life and see the other relationships were"dress rehearsals" for this one. All of them have made me who I am today. Jesus used those experiences and opportunities as a means to grow me in Christ's likeness, balm my wounds, and speak His life-words in a way He and He only could. Which leads to the next lesson....
3) Jesus is jealous for first place and that is an oh-so-good thing! On this side of the mountain I am able to see more clearly Jesus' grace guiding me into the desert-like, parched places of my soul. He used loneliness, fear, anxiety, depression, conflict, weariness, and other life struggles to give me his true, Living Water. He wants to be the one to fill that place first and foremost so that I'm be free to enjoy the gifts he gives. Otherwise I am enslaved to a person, position, or place to tell me I'm enough and not free to truly love. Now this, of course, is a life long process, but I see how necessary the desolate places were and will continue to be to truly love.
4) Mr. Wonderful is wonderful but he is not perfect and will never be enough. Yup! I've said it for years, and now I know without a shadow of a doubt it's true. I love being loved by him. I come alive in his presence. I feel authentic and true around him BUT I could never be those things were it not for the work Christ has done and continues to do in my heart. Nor could I love him in the more difficult places were it not for drawing on God's strength and asking His perspective on things. To love, there must be a source greater than the love between two people to draw on. Jesus is this source, plain and simple. He said it and he means it. Try it. I dare you.
I'm sure there will be more to come, but the post is getting too long and I still have so much to learn. If you have questions, please feel free to pop me a question in the comments section.