Trudging Through the Dating Scene

Carina Tarpenning

I was seventeen when I met him. His face was still soft with curves of youth. I remember those brown eyes—cold and hard. They say that the eyes are windows to the soul but being young, I did not know to discern trouble. We dated for two and a half years—less time than it would take me to recover from his abuse. However, it wasn’t until we had ended things that I really began to see my relationship with him more clearly. Maybe he had been hurt in the past after all THEY say that hurt people, hurt people, but this was deeper than hurt, he was just mean. Whatever the reasons behind it, that boy had taken the uncertain, needy, and vulnerable child that I was at seventeen and broken her beyond recognition. I was walled up, trapped inside a maze of bitterness. I hated men. Every. Last. One. After years of healing and learning to forgiveness, countless hours of therapy, and coming closer to God, I began to again feel hopeful that maybe I could find someone decent and kind to spend the rest of my life with. During those years of healing, I had spent countless nights on my knees praying, no, begging God to help me find a man with a good heart who would treat me gently, respectfully, and with honor.

 

After three years, I tentatively entered my first relationship. I felt strong, sucure in who I was and ready. He was interesting, intelligent, and mysterious—and I was smitten. I began to pray and ask God if this was the guy for me, hoping to receive His blessing. I was as shocked as I was disappointed, however, when I felt the answer: a resounding “no”. Brushing off the lack of peace I felt, I continued my courtship. Later, I prayed again—this time attempting to convince the Lord that I should marry him. Still, He sent no peace. I felt frustrated. Didn’t God understand that I really, really liked this guy? My prayers morphed into child-like pouting as I continued telling the Father to give me what I wanted. He never sent me peace, but I do believe He opened my eyes to the truth. Slowly, very slowly, I began to feel that something was not quite right in my current relationship. Concerned friends and family members began confirming my suspicions. After four months, I understood—this was a nauseating repeat of my previous relationship. Instead of feeling gratitude for the reality-check, I felt angry with the Lord for allowing me to be in this situation again. I was furious, both with God (Had I not spent years praying to find someone gentle? Was this some kind of sick joke?), and with myself (What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I see it sooner?). I broke things off and vowed to be single and carefree for the rest of eternity. As far as I was concerned, my initial assessment—“all men are pigs”—was correct.

On my first date with James, I was stiff and awkward. He seemed pleasant and kind enough, but I knew better than to be taken in so easily. I couldn’t, however, shake the peace that seemed to fill his car as we drove. When he asked to see me again, I couldn’t help but want to see him again as well. Things just seemed to flow; it was all so easy—too easy. It made me nervous. I kept my eyes anxiously open and fearfully waited for that soul-crushing moment when he would turn out to be just like everyone else. It never came. What did come was a positive confirmation when I prayed to know if I should marry him. It was the answer I had been seeking, but I still continued to ask—turning to God again and again for comfort regarding such a big decision. Each time, He responded by sending me peace and reassurance. It wasn’t until after we were married, however, that I began to really understand just how perfect James was for me. Each month, I adored him more and my anxiety seeped away. I stopped straining to find the boys from my past in the man I had married. I began healing in ways I never thought possible and even started to forget the pain had ever occurred. Every once in a while, I will be reminded of the heartache I endured. Instead of harboring anger that I had such experiences, I feel gratitude for the wonderful man God brought into my life. My advice to those still trudging through the dating field: pray to find that similar peace as though your life depends on it—your future certainly does.

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