It happens a lot here at this place. I order one thing and it’s never quite what I imagined. For instance, chicken apple panini doesn’t look a thing like chicken or apples and the spinach salad is always more fruit than spinach.
And I’m not even picky, I promise.
Last night the tears were threatening to spill over and, while I have overactive tear ducts when it comes to loving my friend’s kids or those soldiers coming home from the war videos, rarely do I let myself cry on account of my own life. But I sat there on the couch while my roommate promised me I’d get married someday while simultaneously telling me that perhaps I was a bit too picky.
“Too picky?!” I asked incredulously. I just want him to be smarter that me, really, that’s it. He can be anything else, I don’t really care, he can be bald, he can be old, he can be grey, he can be younger than me, he can have five kids, I don’t care. He just needs to be smarter than me.
She cocks an eyebrow at me and her grin starts slowly until we’re both laughing at me. I’ve been asked out five times in the past week and haven’t gone out yet with one of those guys.
I’m that sort of hopeless.
Here’s the thing: I’m a wordsmith. It’s what I do and it’s what I do best, so it is a rare time that I don’t have the words to win (even if I struggle to articulate them verbally in ways that come easily in writing). So even if a guy were smarter than me, well, he’s already batting a thousand…words, that is.
Not a lot of hope in there is there?
So how do we let guys know that it’s okay to ask us and how do we let them know that even if we turn them down, it was still okay to ask?
Back when I was in high school, virginity was the hot topic among young evangelicals, virginity and kissing. All the young people were reading a book about kissing and dating and you’ve probably read it too. Even if you haven’t read the book, you probably grew up among people who read it.
The thing that book did so well was to teach us to say no. Say no to the boy who wants to kiss you. Say no to the boy who wants to have sex with you. Say no to the boy who wants to date you. Say no because if you say yes there will be little parts of your heart strewn about the world attached to every boy you said yes to.
Here’s the after effect of all the No’s we’ve strewn about: we don’t know how to say yes and we don’t know how to say no in a way that doesn’t crush a guy’s heart.
We’ve turned into No girls, instead of Yes girls.
And I’ll tell you what I know for sure, in marriage, a guy doesn’t want to be married to a No girl. A great fear for many guys is that marriage will tie them down, prevent them from doing amazing things they feel called to in the wildness of their heart. A girl who makes it her whole life’s practice to say no, will not find the switch easy when she enters marriage.
Am I saying to say yes to every guy’s request? No.
I am saying that your response to a godly man’s initiation toward you can make or break the risk factor inherent in his heart.
And this matters because here’s the truth (I have seven brothers so I consider myself something of an expert on males, so listen closely ladies): if a guy asks you out, and you’re not interested, you can craft that experience so beautifully for him the next time he asks a girl out, his risk factor will have lessened a bit. And here’s why that’s important for you: because you might be the second girl in that scenario and not the first.
All too often we tend to walk around like autonomous singles, when in reality, what we really are is deeply connected people. We are parts of a whole, and together we are the sum of our parts. You and you and him and her and you and me, we’re in this together.
You want to know why he won’t ask you out? Because he has a string of caustic No girls behind him.
So I’m picky, I know this, I just want someone who will best me in an argument, in theology, and in spelling, I don’t care if we’re paupers or homeless the whole of our lives, as long as we have books and ideas. But the reality is about 98% of the guys who are working towards marriage can’t remember the last book they read, so that leaves me a measly 2% who know how to pronounce Goethe’s name. The odds be never in my favor.
But I do get asked out and I think the reason is because I’ve learned this: this man may not be my husband someday, but the chances are high that he will be someone’s husband and the wounds inflicted by my response to his request will bear scars no eventual wife should need encounter. I want to bless his future wife because as much as he is my brother in the Lord, she is my sister. I want to be genuine and kind and curious about him and what drives him. He is a person, not just my possible future husband.
And someday, maybe, I’ll be that future wife and I want my yeses to ready and excited to respond to his Godward risks.
*Photo credit: Steve Snodgrass