So today I had the challenge of attempting to be patient while my friend described her progressing relationship with a new guy. So if this post feels extra spunky, that might be why.
To get back to the matter at hand, I can tell this guy likes her and they are a good match. I love her as my friend (obviously) and I like this guy too. I just hate modern dating. Sooooo much. It’s like no one ever aged out of middle school. I’m part of this really cool Catholic young adult group (because I’m that kid you guys probably get it by now- and I promise the other kids are cool even if I’m not) It’s like you can’t intentionally enter into a relationship anymore. Even where there is mutual interest you have to subtly slide in casually so as to not spook the other person into running a million miles away from you (because heaven forbid you even think about a word like commitment or interest before you are 100% sure that every day will be full of sunshine and kittens). That’s what bothers me. I’m pretty sure since the beginning of time dating (or marriage negotiations or courtship or whatever) has always had a touch of awkwardness, but real love requires courage. And I think it’s perhaps harder to find today not only because of declining sexual morality, but also because no one has the courage to look foolish. Because I think we have been taught to fear failure and rejection because of the damage it can potentially do to our sense of “self-worth.” After all most fear has to do with potentials rather than reality. But here’s the thing, if our self-worth comes from being nothing but a child of God, then we can literally become fearless. Everything is simply an opportunity for learning and growth, to move closer to God or to resist Him. Because I never knew humility until I knew failure, because it was by facing failure, and the nastiness it brought out in me, that I first started to seek real forgiveness. And even though there was so much to forgive at the time, by learning to accept and receive it (in spite of the fact that I in no way deserved it) I grew in humility. And by the grace of God I am a much happier and much more peaceful person (in spite of the fact that I will shortly be moving to a new state- SOOO HECTIC!). But more importantly, it was learning humility that opened the door for the greatest adventure I’ve ever embarked on: learning how to love.
And I’m rooting for these two friends of mine because they’re learning too. The first time I met the boy who wants to date my friend, I was trying to get him to come with a group that was contra dancing and it was so far out of his comfort zone (in spite of the fact that he’s cool and coordinated enough to go snowboarding) he made eyes like a deer in headlights and immediately turned it down. However, I later saw him again at a friend’s wedding, after he and my friend started dating, where we discovered that one of the group dances about to come up was one called “the cotton eyed Joe.” It’s pretty simple and it’s a ton of fun. And he was about to back out again, but instead he decided to go all in with a “let’s do it.” Granted we all knew each other better by this time (and we had taken a shot or two) but he, my friend, my own self, and another amazing friend who helped re-teach him and I the dance steps headed up to the floor and we nailed it. And it was great, not only because real dancing is the best, but because I like to think this particular gentleman found his courage- just the kind I was talking about earlier. He overcame his fear of looking foolish from a selfless desire to please my friend. And that, readers, is what changed him in my mind from a boy who is dating my friend into a man who is dating my friend. Because it takes a man to do something sweet like that without expecting anything in return, for no other reason than the fact that he likes her (maybe even is growing to love her) and although I’m not supposed to say so it’s downright cute and I consider myself lucky to watch this unfold. Because the type of commitment I always idealize on this blog only really takes three things: a desire to love, a selflessness in giving, and faithfulness. It’s echoed and lived out in the vows of marriage and religious life. And as hard as it is it’s so beautiful too, learning how to live out a vow, sticking to them when times get tough. It’s like the strokes in a Monet painting where every little dab seems simple and insignificant, but then you take a step back and suddenly you see this whole beautiful landscape. Maybe I’ll buy them a reproduction of one for their wedding! Just kidding I’ll probably get them something cliche from Bed, Bath & Beyond.