50 First Dates…

I’m not talking about the Adam Sandler movie. 

I’ve been doing a lot of dating since September, in an attempt to “get back in the saddle” after having my best friend and the love of my life walk away from me (to become a religious sister).  I calculated that I’ve actually been on first dates with over 50 girls now (only 1 blind date).  Some people might consider that an accomplishment.  I do not. 

The last few months have made me aware that I can go out any day of the week and get a date, if I wish to do so.  I do not have to be alone, and in my moments of despair I’ve wondered if I shouldn’t take some of the girls up on certain offers.  Not the offers to sleep with me (I value my chastity highly), but I’ve considered seeing if making out would kickstart the feelings that just aren’t there.  

For centuries arranged marriages worked because certain physical actions could evoke biological pleasures and bonding.  Commitment can trump (and eventually bring about) attraction, genuine affection, and love.  And if you consider that God made and loves every human being, then there is something glorious and lovely (love-worthy) in each of us.  If a perfect God can love and die for sinful people, we can certainly learn to love each other. 

But I haven’t succumbed to the yearnings of the flesh.  I cannot bring myself to take that risk with another person’s heart and emotions.  I’ve been “lead on” (and gentlemen, if a girl EVER says to you “I don’t want to lead you on”, she probably is doing just that).  I’ve been used, and I’ve had my heart broken by girls who claimed to care.   I refuse to send messages that are not backed up by a personal commitment.  I refuse to toy with them in the process of “testing my vocation”.   Personal pain is never a valid excuse to use others. 

So, sometimes after 3 dates with a girl–recently after 7 with one–I’ve had to tell them the honest truth that the chemistry isn’t there.  Not like it was with her.   

The damnable thing is we had something that many people only dream of, and most probably never experience.  It was every bit as precious and rare as a religious vocation.  As my friend Kyle has said before, our world is in desperate need of good and loving marriages and families, (and in his view) maybe more than vocations to religious life.  She and I could’ve been incredible spouses and parents.  If it was up to me, we’d be that still. 

But just as I refuse to use other girls, I have to respect her choices. 

I’ve set up first dates with two more girls, and tomorrow I start plodding towards #60, hoping for a glimmer of God’s much vaunted mercy.   I love the Lord, I really do, but God’s time is not the same as ours.   It’s well and good to intellectually know that a human lifetime is a blip when compared to eternity, and a lifetime’s suffering nothing compared to eternal bliss, but we have little by way of experience in this fallen world to fathom that.  Love being one of the only gateways into that eternal kingdom that’s here but not fully fulfilled. 

I’m twenty-eight years old, and God likes the number 40.  Is that how long I’ll have to wait?  And why am I so weak this desert tests me so? 

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