Phase 1

There are all these annoying little posters and inspirational quotes about enjoying the present because it’s a gift. But it’s so hard to put into practice. Specifically in dating. We all are often in a hurry for the next phase. Girl meets boy and there’s an attraction, so she pushes to find out if it’s mutual. Then she wants him to hurry up and ask her out or pursue her. But God forbid she actually let him chase her because she’s dying to have him call her his girlfriend and put a label on it. Soon she’s anxiously waiting for the ring and a proposal. Then all of her efforts are poured into setting a date and planning the wedding and honeymoon. As soon as they return from the honeymoon, she’s pushing to buy a house and have a baby. And maybe another and another. It’s as though it’s a race for more, more, more!

It’s after all these major milestones that many women start complaining that he’s not romantic anymore or helpful enough. Or worse, she wakes up one day and realizes he’s a total jerk! How did she miss the signs? Maybe if we all relaxed and enjoyed the ride in the early stages, we’d actually get to know the man along the way. We could even evaluate the relationship, periodically making adjustments and taking the time to really get to know him as a person before rushing into the next level. Or even stop the relationship altogether if it’s not healthy and fixable. It’s a novel idea, I know.

I’ve been the rusher before. It was painful when I got to that coveted “finish line” and discovered that although I made record time, I was in the wrong event altogether. Relationships are supposed to be more like a triathlon than a sprint. I sprinted for years! I realize now that like a triathlon, each leg of the journey serves a purpose and should be enjoyed (torturous as it may be at times). Rather than acting like an impatient child that is never satisfied, I’m learning to live in the now. I’m actually forcing myself to enjoy this phase rather than looking to the next hurdle.

 

Patience is probably one of my biggest struggles. In this microwave era, who doesn’t struggle with patience? We all want what we want right NOW! We want the next promotion, financial success and bigger, better toys handed to us. We don’t want to actually have to work, qualify, save money and earn things. We try to apply this same flawed thinking to human relations and are shocked and devastated when it backfires.

James 1:2 says to let patience have its perfect work in you so that you may be complete, lacking nothing. God wants us to have the best, just like any good parent, but He wants us to be patient and wait for Him. Sure, during the process, patience sucks. We don’t know if it’ll take one, two, five or even ten years to meet our mate, get a promotion or buy a house. I’ve learned this one the really hard way. It’s better to wait for God’s timing than to force something in your hurried timetable. I jumped ahead of God and raced through the process only to marry an abuser that demolished my world, taking everything from me: friends, family, home, car, career, safety, money, etc. It was through that horrible experience that I learned that God’s ways truly are higher than my ways. Also my lack of patience demonstrated a lack of trust in Him. BURN!

Currently, I have a crush. Yep. A crush. Phase 1. There’s a guy that has my attention. I think he’s the bee’s knees. He may or may not feel the same way. Heck, he may not even have a clue that I think he’s spectacular. But for the first time in my life, I’m enjoying the masochistic torture of being attracted to someone without knowing all the answers.

A couple of my girlfriends, well-intentioned as they may be have encouraged me to ask him to coffee or send a text. Harmless, right? “Give him a nudge. Throw him a bone,” they say. But honestly, I’m getting to know him from the sidelines right now. I want to watch and see how he treats others and talks to strangers, friends and family before he’s in hot pursuit and trying to impress me. I want to observe his authentic character. It’s not creepy stalker stuff, more like Crocodile Hunter stuff: “Watch the male wallaby in his natural habitat. See how he carefully searches for his mate. He has no idea we’re here rolling film!” You know you just read that with an Australian accent!

Furthermore, I’m savoring this moment of exploring my attraction and my own motives before I feel obligated to him. I want to be sure I’m not romanticizing him and having vain imaginations! I wouldn’t be able to do any of that if I was obsessing over when he’s going to ask me out. Admittedly, I do wonder from time to time… I’m not getting any younger. But the point is I’m not forcing anything. I’m going with the flow. And maybe midstream, I’ll realize that we’re incompatible or he’ll see a flaw in me that he can’t live with and we’ll just be friends. And right now, that’s okay. No harm, no foul. There’s no pressure.

The thing of it is in time I may no longer feel butterflies when he smiles at me. Or hear my heart thump overwhelmingly in my ears when he accidentally brushes my hand. There may be a time when Fourth of July fireworks don’t go off when I unexpectedly see him at the store. So I’d like to collect as many of those moments as I can. So one day way down the road if he makes me angry I can recall the heavenly way he smells and realize maybe I wasn’t so mad after all.

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