The Untouchables

I have grown up in church all of my life.  Every Sunday morning and evening, every Wednesday night, and any other times that my parents entered those doors, so did I.  All of my friends growing up were from the church, many of my childhood memories were made in the church.

My schooling was done at home until 6th grade.  Because of this, my family has a very unusual strength to it.  We have spent so much time in homeschool we had no choice but to like each other.  This was my childhood.

In the midst of that strong love I learned to have and hold, was a life sheltered and protected from the outside world.

There are many wonderful things to learn from this lifestyle though.  Drugs and getting drunk on alcohol don’t really appeal to me.  My relationship with God has remained firm despite the difficulties of life.  I am who I am because of the strength of my family, and the relationship with God I found in church.  These two institutions, family and church, have played a crucial role in forming my positive outlook in life.

There are other things though, things that have been very difficult for me, personal issues that I am still trying to overcome.  Homeschooling and church didn’t cause them directly.  Indirectly though, a mindset of protection and shelter was implied.  I have been struggling with this mindset even into my adulthood.  I don’t believe that church and homeschool are a wrong way to raise your kids, but nothing is perfect.

Thankfully, Jesus is.

In the early to late 90s there was a movement in the protestant churches to do away with dating.  Joshua Harris’ book I kissed Dating Goodbye was popular fair at the time.  Many youth pastors took up his flag of “don’t date but wait” and ran with it.  The concept was simple, beautiful, and fatefully romantic.  Do away with dating and pursue God. If the right girl enters your life, court her—that is, date her with the intent of marriage—and allow God to bring it to pass.

Sounds like the perfect movie premise.  A man does away with romance until fate brings along the perfect woman.

Despite the problems with this premise, my young mind ate it up.  It fit right along with the sheltered mindset I had.  Protect yourself from the wily ways of dating and give it over to God.  I treated God as a fateful cupid with an arrow of love waiting to pierce my bosom.

I have always been a hopeless romantic you see.  Even before the hormones hit, I dreamt of the perfect fairytale marriage to that certain special someone.  Watching love stories in movies was a window to these dreams, an archetype that spoke deeply to my longing romantic heart.

Disney’s Robin Hood was a favorite of mine.

Every time my family entered the video store I went to the children’s section and grabbed it.  My brother’s groaned as mother rented it yet again, hiding a smile.

After watching, countless times, the fox save the princess and then marry her, I remember wondering to myself, much like the rabbit in the beginning, what happens next?

As the carriage drove away with the sign “Just Married!” tied to the back, I saw the two newlyweds kissing in the window.  It seemed like something special and wonderful was in store for them.  I wanted it with all my heart.

Fast-forward through my awkward tween years and into high school, and you have a very nervous teenager who has finally “arrived” ready to make such romantic dreams a reality.

I was a sophomore when it happened…  not speaking of dreams fulfilled now, but rather delayed for more than then a decade (and hopefully no longer).  It was my brother who introduced me to the book, I kissed Dating Goodbye.  He was of that pious sort that stuck to an idea and ran with it to its very end, no matter what.  I was much the same and I strongly looked up to his simplistic ideals.  I had seen the pain dating had caused to my older brothers.  I didn’t want that.

When he spoke of a college group he attended called Bachelors ‘Till the Rapture, I was all ears.  It seemed so smart, so wise.  Chase after God and let him bring her into your life.  I made myself an unofficial member.

That night, I made a very solemn promise to Jesus, sealing the deal.  “I won’t date anyone until You show me the girl I’m supposed to marry.”

My brother eventually gave up these ideals.  Now he is married with three beautiful children.  I, on the other hand, was a bit more stubborn.

Fast-forward, once again, twelve years later.  I’m 28, unmarried, single, and have no idea how to relate to women in a dating situation.  It isn’t for lack of trying.  I’ve long since given up the stubborn promise I unwittingly made to Jesus.

There are several glaring problems to the premise of the book.  How can you kiss dating goodbye, after all, and still “date” in your courtship?  Perhaps the title should have been, Dating Responsibly. Even still, how do you find out who the “right one” is to court, how do you get to know her without dating her first?  With a mature mind I have realized my mistake in trusting my decisions to a brother and a book.  Still what is left is a mature adult with an adolescent understanding of relationships.

Any girl I meet is going to automatically assume that I’ve done this before countless times.  I’m 28 after all and rather handsome if I do say so myself.

When women see that a connection isn’t being made, they move on, secure in the knowledge that he’s a good guy but isn’t the right one. Little do they know, I haven’t been playing this game for very long and the reason any connections might be missing is because I have no idea what I’m doing.

A few frustrating days later it hits me though, my maturity catches up and smacks me square in the forehead.  I get it.  When she said she had no one to talk to about such and such, she was testing me.  She wanted to see if I would be that person the she could talk to. I could have given her that response in spades if given the time to figure it out and make it happen, but I’m 28 years old.  I should know better by now right?

It was all for romance that I made such a harmful promise of waiting instead of dating.  I wanted the best that God had for me, the only one girl worthy to receive my affections.  I also had an extreme fear of being hurt.  Skip the whole dating thing and get on to the courtship part seemed an easy way to also skip my fear of rejection.  Ironically, this one little promise has caused me worlds of pain, more so, I wager, then simply opening my heart to a good girl.

Instead of giving me that romance I desperately long for, the ideals of my lofty promise has squandered it, making me a dunce on the subject.  Women from affair may see me in a rather handsome way, but up close they find a distant man.  I’ve been protecting my heart for so long, it’s very hard to open up to them in that way.

What was I protecting my hear form though?  What monsters where out to get me?  It was all an illusion, fabricated by Joshua Harris and those youth pastors who themselves dated in order to marry.  I heard so many stories by them, stories of men that had fallen victim to their lusts.  I didn’t trust myself to make it, so I abstained from dating entirely.  I protected and sheltered myself from it.  Out of fear I said no!

To put it bluntly what I had really meant with the promise was, “God I am afraid that if I date I will have sex with women.  So instead of dating I’m going to pursue after you.”

The result?  I have been coming to God out of fear for twelve years, putting his views of romance in a box of my own creation.  Only when he pointed and said, “Pursue her” would I then go and pursue her.  But what if God wished for me to meet a girl through different means, like perhaps actually dating some?

There were many great young women that came across my path, many wonderful matches that I turned my heart from because it didn’t fit the fearful promise I had made to God.

Instead of making me a godly person, these ideals made me picky and hard to please.  Instead of helping me love others, it made me selfish in an “I want” mentality.  Instead of drawing me closer to God it drew me further away.  When he didn’t answer my prayers in the way that I wanted them, I became frighteningly angry at him.  Behind my pious outlook and façade of godliness was a demanding brutal resolve, “I want a women exactly like this God.  This way and no other.”

I am eating my own words now.  Even after being free from that strange sheltered mindset, there are women I have met with the same ideals I had entertained for so long.  Instead of giving me a chance to love, they turn their backs when I don’t meet up to their picky standards.  I want to shake them out of it, tell them and warn them, that they will regret this.  I too walked the fearful path they now tread.

I can’t tell them though, and I can’t take those twelve lonesome years back.  It’s gone like the wind, past memories of regret.  All I can do is blog about it in the fervent hope that someone out there will listen and take my warnings to heart.

Even today there are teenagers who see things as I did, they protect and shelter their hearts and minds too closely, running away from any chance of a relationship.  You should be protective of what God has blessed you with, but not so much that you never take any chances, not so much that you live in fear.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.   2Timothy 1:7

Come to Jesus out of love not fear.  Trust him to help you grow.  Be free to live your lives in pursuit of the opposite sex.  Be touchable and open to commitment, you never know what can happen.

Check out I Have Two Question’s for Romance.

9 thoughts on “The Untouchables

  1. People need to realize that what works for one person is not necessarily good for another. As you have shown, sometimes advice can actually work against another person.

    Too bad time only moves foward…

  2. From a guy who has been married 40 years, I feel for people searching for a mate, especially for young people in transition from childhood to adulthood (not just sex, but all of the other potential speed bumps). My advice is to try something. It may be wrong, but doing nothing is definitely wrong! Sure mistakes happen, but life is a succession of do-overs. That is what forgiveness is for. Get burned, revise the plan and move on.

    The one and only match is fiction better fitted to romance paperbacks than to real life. The reality is that success in a relationship fundamentally depends on a small number of things none of which require an exact fit. As long as a couple of basic characteristics are right and all parties are completely committed to a good outcome for the other person and the relationship, it will work out. My opinion is that probably about 10% of potential matches would work out. The reason I say this is the things that people use to make the initial choice will not even exist 20-30 years later. In the end, all you have are the character/personality traits, commitment and a genuine love (not talking about lust here). And, when those few basics are right, it isn’t hard. It flows as easily as water moving down a river.

    • Man it’s been a while since I’ve been here to reply to this. Very good advice from someone whose been there and back again. Thanks for the wise words.

  3. Hello,

    I am new to the site and have been reading through some of your blogs. I find you a very deep and thoughtful individual, and I am sincerely sorry that you are hurting so badly in this aspect. All I can say for you, is that I hope you don’t ever give up faith and hope that you’ll find the one who is right for you. She is out there somewhere, I firmly believe that.

    Sincerely,
    Mariah Mae

    • Thanks for the encouraging words! In a world full of 6 billion people… one of them HAS to become my wife one of these days:)

  4. hmmm… interesting blog. I’ll pass a link to my daughter who is a word nerd English major and science fiction fan (not that I’m trying to set you up, mind you, but I think she’ll enjoy it 🙂 )

    I homeschool my kids. My youngest is 15. Anyway, congratulations being freshly pressed!

  5. Man, you are so right. I married the first girl that took (and kept) a serious interest in me. I wasn’t home-schooled, but I was certainly sheltered and raised with similar ‘christian’ values to what you described in that book. The marriage started to fall apart in less than a year. Wow, was I stupid. I now have a 16 year old step-daughter, and I see how socially inept and maladjusted teenagers can be. I also have a glimpse of how immature I was, and I continued to be until I started dating.

    My first few dating experiences were a real flop, and most of them in my late 20’s. I married at 21, and divorced quickly after. I had to come to the self-realization that dating wasn’t wrong, or immoral, or hurtful, or damaging. It is a learning process. You’ll never know what you like until you learn what you don’t like too.

    I’m a dedicated Christian, and I’m certainly not knocking Christianity. I was a late bloomer, mostly because of being raised with these ‘values’ espoused by christian youth leaders of my day.

    I remarried at 33, it’s been 10 years now. I met my wife at 29, and we dated for a while. Fortunately God knew what I needed, and prepared someone for me.

    He will do the same for you, don’t lose heart. There will be mis-steps. God is not ever surprised, he’s always ready. If you’re willing to trust him, he will have the right person for you, when you’re ready.

    Unfortunately, you’re just having to work out teen awkwardness in your 20’s. At least you’re on the path. I’ve seen too many people never break out of the ‘values’ they were taught.

    Good luck, and God Bless.

    • I am coming to grips with how learning from failure is a necessary step towards maturity and finding the right person. A few months ago I was trying to date a girl. We went out for coffee one time and she never called back. It was really hard for me to understand what I had done wrong to cause such a response from her. Finally I gave up trying and went my way with a new understanding of life. I hate to admit it but there really are plenty of fish in the pond, many possibilities out there for me to explore.

      Funny, as a piano teacher I always tell my students, “it is okay to fail in playing a note or passage. As long as your recognize that failure and move on, everything will be fine, for such are the ways of piano and life.” Guess I need to practice what I teach.

      Great reply! May God richly bless your marriage and family.

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