This past December I was going through a rough time...maybe my roughest yet. All of the spiritual issues I was obsessing over converged into one massive blow to the face and I spent the holiday season just barely able to pretend I was ok. When things get rough spiritually, everything else gets rough too. I start nitpicking myself- WHY did I not wear my retainer after I had braces? Will I NEVER have skinny ankles? Will anyone EVER ask me on a date? It's not pretty, not by a long shot. With spiritual unrest, there inevitably comes loneliness. So, in a moment of weakness I signed up for three months of online dating- GASP! I know, only a select few of my friends know about my dirty little secret and I sure as heck wasn't going to get over my own pride long enough to tell my mom about it, seeing as I've sworn I would never ever try it.
As soon as I was signed up I realized pretty quickly what I already knew- the ratio of awesome Christian girls to awesome Christian guys is huge. Boys, we outnumber you 5 to 1. In the first month, I was pretty active on the site. I knew as soon as I was matched with a halfway decent guy that I would have to snatch him up quick before the other
vultures girls got to him. I couldn't afford to wait around and be pursued. But most of the time I was just trying to make things fit where they didn't fit. "Ohhhh, this guy says he wants to work in international law, that kinda fits with what I want to do, I could make that work. Maybe while he's travelling around I could have my own ministry on the side in those countries." Or "Hey! This one is passionate about faberge eggs. I'm not really into that but who knows? Maybe they're really awesome!" Graciously, God preserved what little bit of self respect I had for my own dreams and callings and I never actually pursued many of these guys.
Over time, I stopped logging in except for every few weeks to purge all the (mis)matches from my inbox. And of course, in the last week before my subscription expired, there he was- online dating gold. He answered the profile questions in all the right ways, he liked all the same things I liked, he loved Jesus, loved to talk theology and philosophy, he was handsome, and the cherry on top- he liked and could quote Arrested Development with the best of them. I immediately emailed him and we started talking. Not just me gushing and asking him questions with short, civil responses from him...we actually talked. He asked me questions about my life, fancy that, and we made plans to get together over chocolate milk. About half way through our correspondence though, I started to get a little uneasy. This next part is going to sound terrible and self-pitying and I know that it's stupid, but it's the truth. I started wondering why is this guy talking to me? He is really handsome and educated and successful, what does he see in me? And then the awful realization- that of all the vultures who date online, I can't be the only one he's talking to. I felt this horrible compulsion to up my game, to make sure I said the right things, that my grammar was perfect, that I was witty and hilarious, that I asked good questions. Alas, it wasn't enough. Only a few days after my horrible realization, what I knew was inevitable came to pass. He emailed me for the last time saying he was sorry, but he was "going to pursue someone else exclusively now. Maybe I'll see you around Austin." I knew it was coming but it still felt like someone had punched me. And it wasn't about him. We had only been talking for a couple weeks. It was about not being good enough. I felt like a contestant on the Bachelor, minus all the hot tub dates and hot air balloon rides. I had lost.
I'm so exhausted from trying to earn people's love. I do it with God and in reading over what I've written here, I realize I do it with people too. If there's anything I've learned about myself, or rather re-learned, it's that I want to be pursued. What girl, or person doesn't? I don't want to get into a serious relationship and look back at our beginning and say, "I won. I beat out all the other girls"...it's not very romantic.
On Easter Sunday my pastor gave a sermon about how Jesus is a reconciler and how He pursues us. He gave the example of the disgraced Peter, who had denied Jesus three times, even after he was so cocksure he would never do it. Peter is remorseful and worried that he's finally blown it for good so he runs off to go fishing and clear his mind. In the morning, as the sun is rising, he sees Jesus standing on the beach, inviting him to breakfast. In his relief and excitement Peter literally lobs himself out of the boat into the water like a crazy person, even though they weren't very far from the shore. This has got to be my favorite passage in Scripture for so many personal reasons. It may not directly relate to my experiences with online dating but I love it because Jesus pursued Peter and Peter was smitten.
I do not need to, nor can I earn love from anyone. Not boys and not God. Jesus knows my story and He knows how much I want and need to know that I'm worth pursuing. If I get married, I will be pursued first. And if not, if the only one that ever pursues me is Jesus, then so much the better. He's a pretty good pursuer.