Some of you who read “Thoughts of a Newly Not-Single” about how I met my boyfriend Kevin, may have noticed a puzzling time lapse: Met perfect-for-me, evangelism-bracelet-recognizing-guy in June; became not-single in March.
It was perfect and it was not perfect.
Two weeks after our initial meeting, I discovered that Kevin was significantly younger than me. We both decided at that moment (though of course unspoken) that the age difference was a deal breaker.
And so, life returned to normal and all thoughts of anything between us were forgotten. Kind of. The thing was, Kevin just kept popping up in my life. A month after we met, he was hired as a children’s ministry coordinator at my church, so I saw him each Sunday. Then I organized a fundraising comedy improv show in the fall, and the woman in charge of finding actors recruited Kevin to act in the show.
Our interactions through those months, though completely platonic, revealed to each of us the character and vision of the other. Because I served fifth graders at our church, Kevin would hear about what I was doing from members of the children’s ministry staff. I would watch his leadership in the children’s area as well as among our peers.
In his sermon series on Song of Solomon, Tommy Nelson talks about Paul’s analogy of a race for the Christian life. Nelson points out that as Christian singles “run the race” God has set before them, they should be looking to see who is to their right and left as they run. Who is keeping pace, running nearby, heading the same direction? “Ask that person to run a few laps,” he says (speaking to the men). “That’s dating or courtship.”
That was Kevin’s and my experience. As we were running (metaphorically), we would keep glancing over and seeing the other person. The final straw was when he asked me to co-lead a young adult Bible study at the beginning of this year. I accepted, still in a platonic state of mind, but the connection and cooperation we experienced as we began to do ministry together was too great to ignore. Eventually, we prayed through the age difference issue and felt peace about proceeding in spite of it.
Some dating and married friends of mine have described similar barriers that had to be overcome in their relationships. My sister had to accept her now-husband’s speech impediment. Another friend had to come to terms with her boyfriend’s diabetes. A third worked through being more highly educated than her intended. The violation of one’s expectations can come in many forms.
In “Seven Myths Single Women Believe” I wrote:
Just as my junior high mind projected who I would recognize as “the one,” my grown-up self entertains expectations of how I’ll feel when my “soul mate” arrives on the scene. The truth is, God knows best the kind of man who will inspire me to greater devotion to Him. As I seek the Lord, I can trust Him to reveal that person to me in whatever way He sees fit.
The benefit of a not-perfect element to the relationship is that when God overcomes the barrier, you feel even more confidence in what He is doing. It also forces you away from your “checklist” for “the one” and opens the door for God to give you something you wouldn’t have known to pick for yourself. In my experience, that something is better than you would have expected.