Will and Anna are my friends. Those are not their real names because of client confidentiality — but close enough. They’ve been married four years now and have two children. As a former client, Will owes me his firstborn, but I have not, to date, swooped in to collect.
My “client consultations” (always, I should note, stated with air quotes) started in a roundabout way. Five years ago, I published a book for single women and started on the speaking circuit. Soon I added a blog for women. It didn’t take long before I realized that I could definitely do a lot more for single women if I also found a way to encourage single men to pursue them. I didn’t have to think about this very long, however — eventually a number of the younger single men I knew started to come to me for feminine advice. They nicknamed themselves the “clients” and my adjunct ministry was off and running.
(Full disclosure: This was not a formal, teaching ministry. This was a lend-me-your-sympathetic-ear-and-tell-me-what-she-means ministry. In other words, I became a walking advice columnist and cheerleader for my brothers in Christ.)
My advice to clients consisted of three key pieces of counsel:
- Men trust God by risking rejection while women trust God by waiting on men
- Don’t allow the passivity of our culture to shape your masculinity
- Initiate communication and clarify your intentions early on
But why just hand out advice when you can also be a Crush Catalyst? That’s my professional, po-mo title for the old-school term, “matchmaker.” See, in this litigious world, I can’t guarantee any outcomes. Who knows from whence comes the spark for a match? Ah, but I definitely can create context where I might become a catalyst for change.
This brings me back to Will. He had a bad crush on Anna. Every time she laughed, he melted. He loved her laugh. But he had a hard time figuring out how to get to know her better. So I, the Crush Catalyst, volunteered to throw a birthday dinner party for him — and invite her, of course.
The fact that I didn’t know Anna very well didn’t matter. I rounded up her girlfriends and some other randomly connected people and shoehorned 17 people in my house for dinner. I asked one of the guys to lead a time of honoring Will, during which we went around the table and said complimentary things about Will. (Building up the rep is a crucial part of the Crush Catalyst’s job.)
When Anna’s turn came, Will began to breathe very loudly. I thought no one else noticed how his heart raced when Anna spoke to him, but two of our mutual friends cornered me in the kitchen afterward and demanded to know if this was a set-up dinner party.
“Why would you ever think that?” I asked, all innocence.
“For one, it’s one of the most random collections of people I’ve ever seen at a dinner party,” said one of my friends with a knowing laugh. “Plus I couldn’t help but notice how Will reacted when Anna was speaking.”
Busted! But for a good cause. I went to their wedding nine months later.
These days, I don’t have many clients left. Nearly all are married, and the remaining few are in serious relationships. So now I must franchise.
I’ve made it my personal mission to go around encouraging married people to introduce their single friends to each other. (Singles can do this, too — obviously — but I’ve noticed a far greater success rate when the married man has a timely suggestion for the single man!) My motto is: “It’s only an introduction, people!”
I’m being serious here. If the church would help singles meet and marry, we wouldn’t have big business rushing in to profit off of our desire to meet one another.
So, here’s my advice to future Crush Catalysts.
First, please note the difference between being a busybody with a self-appointed agenda to “fix” every single person and being a friend who truly believes God can use you to network on behalf of your single friends. The difference often lies in how much prayer you put into the situation and how discerning you are. Do not force two otherwise-incompatible people to meet simply because they are single, of the opposite gender, and they show up in church occasionally. Do consider mutual interests, energies, temperaments, and shared outlooks. You aren’t in charge of creating the spark, but you can at least foster a good friendship — and that means the two being introduced shouldn’t have to wonder why you thought they could be friends!
Second, remember the importance of context. Invite your “clients” and some other people to your home or other outing for a group event. Don’t tell the woman what you are doing. Just let her be herself. There’s no point in stirring up her hopes if the man is not going to initiate. But feel free to tell the man that you’ve invited a woman he might enjoy meeting. Talk her up a bit, but not too much. Don’t make him feel pressured — just get him thinking about it. Whatever you do, try your hardest not to make everyone revert back to middle school awkwardness. And avoid the blind date at all costs, unless your clients think blind dates are preferable. (You should know their opinions here). Your goal as a Crush Catalyst is simply to introduce friends, that’s all. So keep it chill.
Now, some advice for my fellow singletons.
Of course, you know that you never have to accept such invitations. However, I would urge all of us to examine our hearts before we respond. What are our motives for accepting or declining such invitations? Are we thinking too highly of ourselves and too poorly of others? Are we unwilling to invest a few hours in meeting another person(s) rescued and loved by Christ? Do we have an unyielding expectation of how God should provide a mate for us?
And for my sisters in Christ, have we possibly contorted the feminine role of joyful response into a lethargic passivity? I paint that with a broad brush, but I do want to caution us from swinging to extremes. When it comes to relationships, we have to show up. And more than show up, we have to be willing to make an investment and participate.
Second, we should reserve judgment until we have enough facts to merit a decision. That speaks to both those who jump off the deep end into romantic fantasy before the introduction and those who fear getting hurt and so they reject the introduction. Neither response is grounded in reality.
Get the facts. Ask good questions. Go with a smile and an open mind. Remember that it’s not just about you, so seek to be a blessing to the other person. Never forget that even if you don’t spend another moment in this person’s presence on this earth, if he/she is truly a believer in Christ you will be forever together in heaven. Let the eternal perspective rule your conduct and thoughts now.
There’s definitely an art to being a Crush Catalyst, but it’s one with a deeply appreciative audience. I’m pushing for a global franchise! I hope you’ll join me.
As for Will’s firstborn, now that he’s potty-trained, I think I’ll come collecting.
Copyright 2009 Carolyn McCulley. All rights.