2 Years8:00 AM
|Photographer: Look like you're in a relationship.|
This is our response.
"So are we dating or not?" I asked.
"Sure," he said. He was happy.
I spent the rest of the night on our mosquito-ridden trampoline freaking out about what I just did. What if we can't do this? What if he's not the right one? What if I love him for all the wrong reasons?
|PSA: This guy is so stinkin' cute.|
A few weeks later, we walked on a bluff near clear waters and and an endless blue sky as the sun was thinking about setting. He got a ridiculous grin on his face and pulled me to his side. "Will you date me?" he asked.
Of course I said yes.
Then he tried to throw me off the bluff. See below for example.
|No girlfriends were harmed in the making of this photo.|
I love that memory. And I'm embarrassed by it -- embarrassed that I let other people's opinions and a selfish definition of love cast doubt over our relationship. And I'm reminded that I'm dating a gracious boyfriend who puts up with my expectations.
Dating's been hard for me. It's hard to learn how to trust. It's hard to learn how to wait. It's hard to love a man you're not married to. It's hard to love this man -- an ISTP to my ENFJ, a strong and silent to my loud and emotional, a science major to my humanities. Everybody anywhere always asks, "How on earth do you make this work?"
Patience and love. And occasional Google searches.
Dating has been a crash course in forbearance. It flipped me inside out, hiding the pretty exterior and revealing all this gunk. The Spirit and I have been having a hey-day in sanctification. It's not that I don't know who he is or how to love him. I know when I should keep quiet, how to phrase things, what to say to draw him out and encourage him. He knows all my trigger buttons too. The knowledge of how to love means nothing without the ability to love. We're now in that fun stage where we know how to hurt each other and how to make each other ridiculously happy...and now every day, every moment, becomes a battle between selfishly lashing out or selflessly loving.
People don't get that we're more similar to couples married for a few years than a cutesy dating couple -- i.e. less of the romance, all of the sanctification.
He's worth it. He's a deep, deep soul. Without his perspective, I'm a different girl -- less happy, less wise. He brightens my world in a way few people have. He's iron-clad faithful. He taught me to be independent, to be selfless, to love the sunshine, and to believe like a child -- just to name a few.
It's taken me two years to realize an important thing about us.
God made us different for a reason. People tease us about our alleged incompatibility, our opposites. Those who don't know us well worry about our decision to stay together. We seem to attract criticism. On occasion, people have told him to break up with me. On occasion, people have told me to break up with him. And they don't realize what they're trying to break up --- not only two people who fight to love each other, but primarily God's way of shaping us into more passionate lovers of Him -- at least for right now.
I don't know if we're getting married. I can't say if we'll be dating forever. Who can say those things with certainty? We want to marry each other. We want to keep doing life together. But it's becoming clearer to me that that decision is not ours to make at this moment, and certainly not mine. I only know I'm supposed to love him right here, right now, and that belief, that intuition, has not changed since the day I asked God if I could love him.
I assumed our relationship ought to progress like every other Harry meets Sally story. Get the guy, get engaged, get married. Just last night, sitting alone on my back porch crying over our circumstances this summer, I realized that our love story is not about us together right now. It's about us separately -- individually loving God, individually growing, individually working out our salvation. Right now, I need to love him not to the end of getting married or wrapped up in a little world of us. I need to love him to the end that he loves God whether or not that involves loving me.
This summer, including our two year dating anniversary, he's eight hours away doing his senior chemistry research near a little river with no cell phone or internet service. This summer, I dedicated my time away from home and boyfriend to draw near to God.
And my goal and perspective for our relationship has changed. It's no longer Please please please can we get engaged? or Please please please make this summer without him fly by. It's Please please please inspire him, inspire me, to love You, and to love You in such a way that we love each other only so that we will love You.
Incredibly unromantic? I actually don't think so. Unconventional? Yes. The right thing to do? Absolutely.
And while he's off being an individual and I'm here being an individual, we still love each other, pray for each other, and wait for each other to come home.
P.S. My favorite MUST READ story of how she found the one and how I coped with summer separation last year.
All photos by Elena Marie's Photography.