Remember your first date with a guy you really liked? If you were like me, you spent days trying to figure out how to shape your eyebrows properly, how to make your hair hang just right, how to match the right clothes, and even practiced how to hold a decent conversation. I even purchased books about keeping a conversation going, and kept one in my purse the first few times I went out with Mel, because I sensed he was extremely shy, and wanted to be able to draw him out, since I was also extremely shy.
After your first date you probably returned home plagued with doubts about what you might have said or done wrong. Would he ever ask you out again? Did he like you as much as you liked him? Did he see the wart on the back of your neck? Did your breath make him sick to his stomach? Should you call him and tell him what a great time you had?
I know the feeling. Not the sick to the stomach feeling, but the lump in the pit of the stomach that agonizes over whether or not you said the right thing at the right time to entice him to ask you out again. And of course, with Mel, I was head-over-heels after our first real, planned date–not counting the multitude of dates my church staff sprang on us for three months to get us jumpstarted. (I did mention we were shy, right?)
From the time my friends (including my beloved pastor and his wife) began pushing Mel and me together, I started reading books on dating. They didn’t work well for me since I just happened to be in my late thirties, not my teens. I already knew about purity and mutual respect because I’d dated men who didn’t believe in those things. What I didn’t know was how to decide if this man was right for me. After all, I’d chosen unwisely so many times before.
The morning Mel was scheduled to pick me up for our first date (we went to the zoo and saw the dinosaur exhibit, my choice, visited friends of Mel’s in the hospital, his choice, went to see Forrest Gump, our pastor’s choice, and went hiking, my choice. Plus we ate out twice. And I insisted on paying half) I settled in my mind that this time, for the first time in my life, I was going to show my underbelly. (NO, not literally!) I was going to insist on hearing his personal experience with Christ. I was also going to address the age difference. He seemed so much younger than I.
When he finally picked me up (his wart, he’s always late for everything, but that morning it was because he was nervous, forgot if he’d closed the garage door, had to drive twenty minutes back to his house to check, ran out of gas…and on and on) I was immediately impressed because he had a four-wheel-drive Pathfinder, the kind of ride my friends told me I needed since I tend to drive to far out into the wilderness to hike. I’m hard on cars. Pretty much the first thing I told him was, “I hope this doesn’t put a damper on things, but I think I’m a whole lot older than you.”
He looked at me in surprised. “Really? You’re forty-three? Wow, you sure don’t look it.” (We actually used this scene in our book, Sacred Trust, because I based my main male character on Mel.)
“NO! I just turned 38.” And so I discovered Mel’s second wart. He was cursed with the inability to read ages correctly. But at least he was much older than I thought. My age didn’t bother him, and though he was so much like a kid that he occasionally wore me out with his energy, his age didn’t bother me.
Later during our date, I told him that I’d made a vow to God that I would never again have a close relationship with a man unless he was a rabid Christian. When I explained what I meant by that, Mel said, “Isn’t that what every Christian is supposed to be?”
Hurdle cleared, I’ve spent many hours, days, months, years with Mel, and the more willing we are to show one another our underbellies–warts and all–the more our marriage deepens.
I have a friend who found her husband on e-bay. Hmmm…no, wait, I meant eharmony. Not a huge difference, because you’ll find as many liars on eharmony as you will on e-bay, and just as many scam artists. My friend beat the system, though. She not only showed warts and all, but she weeded out the bad seed by asking them to answer questions most men out for something besides a godly relationship wouldn’t take the time to deal with. The man who did take the time was the man who was serious about the same things she was. He’s a precious treasure, and their marriage has been truly blessed, because she took the time to skim the dross, no matter how many she scared away, and go for the gold.
If I were to walk a friend through the dating process right now, I’d tell her to do the same thing. Skim the dross, weed the crop, scare them off if you can. If they’re serious about a relationship blessed by God, she’ll dig deeply enough to find the real man God intends for her.
So…got that? First date, show the warts. Show the real you. Be outspoken about what you need and will and will not do, remain pure so sex doesn’t mess up the growth of a lifelong friendship. I guarantee this will take you a long way toward finding the right kind of man in your life.