Letter to the Next Guy I Date
When I was in youth group, I was encouraged to write letters to my future husband. In them, I would talk about how lonely I was and how much I was looking forward to meeting him. Sometimes, I would wonder, on paper, if I ever would meet him.
This practice was further perpetuated by the teen Christian romances of the day: The Christy Miller series. 1990’s evangelical culture was encapsulated within those slim novels. Just before Christy marries her angsty, fragile prince (after a courtship that seemed interminable), she packs up her shoebox of letters she’d written to him, before she knew he was “her future husband,” placing the box with her newly purchased lingerie, intending to surprise Todd with all of it on their wedding night. That was the youth group dream.
These days, I’m thinking differently. I no longer have a list that will need to be fulfilled by any potential suitor, I no longer refer to the possibility of getting married with a noun as certain as “future husband,” I stopped writing those letters long ago.
But I’m still a writer, and I find that I most easily process when I’m allowed to get it out on paper (or screen). I still love the idea of writing down who I am and how I feel right now, not just for someone I may meet in the future, but for myself. So today I’m writing a letter, not to my “future husband” but to the next guy that I date. I hope you enjoy it, and, just maybe, you’ll want to write one of your own.
To the next guy that I date,
If you’ve made it this far, you’ll know that I am opinionated. I’ve worked hard to find land mines in this fledgling thing we’re doing. I may have asked you to read When We Were on Fire and Jesus Feminist (you’re welcome). I know what it is to get tangled up in something lovely, only to find that we are opposed about something core and precious. I also know what it is to change my mind. I’m doing my best not to shy away from challenges to my perspective. I’m entering into those conversations with open hands. I’ve done my best to be honest with you about what I think and believe right now. Much of that will stay the same, some of it will change. We are in process, always.
On that note, I am not any of the other girls you’ve dated, and I know that you’re not any of the guys I’ve dated before. I expect that we will both forget that sometimes. I hope that you won’t be afraid to remind me who you are, when I find myself mired in the past (I’ll try to do the same for you). All of the broken and beautiful places I’ve been have converged on this moment, I’m sure that’s true for you, as well. But our contexts will make things messy sometimes, this I know for sure.
Speaking of messy and broken, that’s not all in the past. No matter how long we date, there will be mistakes, heartache, chaos, and talking on eggshells. I wouldn’t be in this with you if I didn’t think that it was still meaningful and worthwhile (in fact, sometimes I wonder if some of the messy things are the most meaningful of all). I don’t want to be afraid to do something because it might end badly (or simply, end). No matter how our relationship looks, I want you to know that you were worth taking a chance.
Things might end. That is always the chance and the question, isn’t it? If they do, and you’re the first to realize it, please remember that this isn’t my first rodeo. I have recovered from heartbreak many times, and I will again. But my heart will break, even if I’m the one pulling the trigger, so please be kind. Can we make a pact? Let’s only say what is needed. We could have a code, something like: “I don’t see a future here.” We can agree to let it go then, without unnecessary wounds.
You’ve probably picked up on the fact that words matter to me. If you say something lovely and kind, it will stay with me, finding a home in my heart. If you write me a note, text, or email I will keep it and return to it. If you say something hurtful, it will be impossible for me to forget or erase, but not to forgive.
I like to process out loud, so I’ll want to talk a lot. I’ll want to talk about how we met and what you thought when you first saw me, I’ll want to talk about where we are and where we’re going. I will want to talk about God and theology and food and friendship and Heaven and anger and the Church and far away places and Pinterest. I even talk in my sleep.
I really like to feel close, emotionally and physically, to the ones I love.
Please don’t ask me to go camping, and realize that when I say “hiking” I mean walking on flat asphalt to a waterfall.
I plan on enjoying our relationship to the fullest. I will be exclaiming about the things that I see and sense. The image of shared meals, glasses of wine, songs we listen to, movies we see, kisses we share, walks we take, all of that will imprint itself onto my brain and make it difficult to breathe sometimes. I have learned that trying to pretend I’m not as happy as I am is frustrating and dishonest.
Speaking of dishonest, I’m planning on being who I am. I haven’t always done this in relationships, so it’s still a little new for me. I may falter a bit on the way. I’m hoping that you and I can practice exuberant grace together, and that you’ll get to know me well, so that you might be able to tell when I’m not quite me and call me out. You can be honest (and yourself) too, I can take it.
Somehow, by God’s choices and ours, we have managed to enter into this relationship. In a sea of people I’m not attracted to (and who are not attracted to me), I’ve found you and you’ve found me. I believe that is, in itself, a miracle, no matter where it leads.
(For more Single Minded Mondays, click here.)