Had to be the summer of ’93… I was eleven years old and promptly budding all over with my big ol’ glasses and bigger gapped teeth. The boys in my neighborhood were starting puberty too, so while they were finally aware that girls didn’t have cooties, they still threw rocks and vile words at us whenever we walked by. I forget her name, but she’s my cousin’s cousin, and she lived in a bright teal green house one block south from where I lived. This house was so darn fluorescent, you’d have to look at the ground until you made it to the porch. I’m sure by now the chemicals in that paint have turned the house into a primordial soup. Ain’t no way it’s still standing.
On one particular day– let’s call her Tia– we ran to Tia’s house because the boys were launching rocks and water balloons at us. We sat in the sweltering sunroom and chatted about the usual eleven-year old topics. Then the phone rang. Tia froze and a look of trepidation crossed her face. Tia’s granny answered the call and all I heard was “Who is this? You calling for who? What you wanna talk to her for? Tia ain’t coatin’ no boys!” And she slammed the phone.
My heart started racing. Tia… age ten… got a phone call…. from a boy. And Tia’s grandma answer the phone. Ultimate fail, Tia. Granny stormed into the sun room and went off! She kept shouting over and over…
TIA, YOU AIN’T COATIN’ NO BOYS! YA HEAR ME?! YOU AIN’T COATIN’ NO BOYS!
Granny then proceeded to beat Tia’s hein poss (that’s hind parts in Granny speak) mercilessly while Tia retorted that the phone call was for homework. Granny wasn’t buying it, and since I was in the line of fire I ran home past the rock-throwing boys and past Tia’s wails and past Granny’s shouts because, yes, I could hear them up the block. Tia won’t coatin’ no boys.
I had to be all of 26 and married with two kids before I figured out what the heck coatin’ was, and even then, I only learned that the word was courting. After several failed attempts at coatin’ and “there-has-to-be-a-better way” cathartic cries, I get it! At least I think I get what it’s supposed to be in comparison to dating. Let’s give these meager bones some flesh, shall we?
In courtship, commitment precedes intimacy. That means before you start having those deep conversations about past hurts and future hopes and dreams, a decision has been made between the two parties to only develop a relationship with each other and Christ. In this way the couple can determine the purpose and timing for the marriage as God ordained. Why so much so soon? Because you only court a person that you would marry based on what God has shown you. Ideally, God will have already given the holy head nod for you to proceed into a courtship, but two people who are equally yoked and interested in each other may choose to enter a courtship with Godly counsel. Still a courtship is only as good as the people who are in it. Having said that, the standard is high and most bottom-dwellers won’t even pretend to take this on because it immediately exposes who you are. Easy peas-y… we weeded out the bad and the unprepared just that fast.
I’ve conjured up a few comparisons to give you a better idea of the benefits of courtship…
While dating says “I don’t know where this is going because I can’t see into the future”
courtship says “Let’s build our future together.”
While dating says “You don’t own me” courtship says “I’m here to serve you.”
While dating uproots the blooming flower to keep and hold until it dies,
courtship leaves the flower planted and watches it bloom.
While dating says “Let’s be together forever for tonight,”
courtship says “Let’s pace and plan our interactions so we can make this thing last.”
While dating demands trust without test,
courtship provides a safe place for testing and allows trust to develop over time.
While dating says “I’m a gift to you” courtship says “You’re a gift to me.”
While dating invites you to a person’s genitals but keeps you away from their phone,
courtship assigns value correctly and appropriately.
Dating works for some, but for the vast majority of us, this reckless approach to relationship-building has rendered us broken-hearted and underwhelmed. Players, predators, and commitment-phobes dwell in the nether regions of dating, and that is no place for a child of God. There HAS to be a better way, and I believe courting is it. I don’t know many men who would ascribe to this method, but that tells me I need some new friends because I am certain that this is God’s path to marriage for me.
Deep in the recesses of my mind I have a mental image of a tall man wearing a fine Italian cut suit and a long wool coat. He’s got one of those 007 hats tipped over his left eye, and as he approaches me he whips off his coat, throws it over my head, and shouts “You’re mine, girl!” Yes, ladies and gentleman. This is how I imagined coatin’ as a kid. Listen… even THIS is better than dating for me. If you wanna toss your coat over my head just make sure it smells good, and you put some bass in your voice.
My last plea for courtship….
Imagine how much easier it would be to open up if you knew that person was only interested in and committed to you. Imagine how freeing it would be to know that the purpose of your relationship was to seek God’s plan for you as a couple rather than to “just see what happens.” Imagine what it’s like to walk a path that’s already been laid out for you with red carpet. Imagine what it’s like to part ways with someone but still have full respect for them because they treated you with the utmost Christlike love and respect.
Come throw your coat on me, Boo. Alana is ready for coatin’.
With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,
I first signed up for Facebook after my former husband and I separated. He had secretly acquired an account, and since everything was going downhill between us anyway, I decided to get an account of my own. Not for the purposes of meeting people or anything… I just wanted to see what the hype was about. I wasn’t very tech savvy at the time, and all I knew was that I could reconnect with folks from high school and college.
So I created my little account, plugged in all the requisite information, and looked it over. My life in boxes on white and blue background. The only other speck of color on that page was the red heart with “Married” beside it.
Oh. Heck. To. The. Nah.
I didn’t want to change it to “Single” and definitely not “It’s complicated.” So I deleted it.
And what slides down my meager News Feed?
Alana is no longer listed as “married.”
Before I even saw the damage I’d done, my phone starts to buzz and ring with the kind of tune we only give to our mothers. She was on “Team Soon-To-Be-Ex-Husband” and was livid that I’d post such a thing. I explained as best I could that I had no idea it was there or what I needed to do to fix it. I managed to delete that little tidbit from my news feed before anyone commented.
Since then my relationship status has either read “Single” or hasn’t been visible at all. Why? Because inadvertently, I’m an over-sharer. And this was one area in which I KNEW I could not lack discretion.
So this post is for those who feel that you should update your statuses every time there’s a change in your romantic status. It’s silly to think people won’t judge you based on what you post, and you may not care. But you should… After all, you will need job references, character references, friends in the future. Being a recovering judgmentalist (that’s a word now), this is what I try not to think when I see your updates. And it’s not all negative…
And there’s that “Interested in…” box which tells us you view FB as a viable dating site. Nothing wrong with being resourceful!!! If you want people to know you’re ready to mingle, then you might as well advertise. When I’ve had “single” posted, I found I was hit on more often by men who were not on my friend’s list. I can do without the inappropriate comments about my features, so I don’ t even have my single status visible on FB. Anything posted welcomes discussion, and it’s no one’s business but mine until I’m ready to share it.
What exactly is an open relationship? Dating? If this is the case, then why is this worthy to share with your circle of people? When you truly understand the process of dating and courtship, you know that when you’re dating everyone doesn’t need to know. You’re getting to know that person, and that process takes time. Assuming he or she is a great person, you don’t want to invite others in to ruin what you’re developing. Assuming he or she is less than stellar (i.e. shiesty, trifling), you’ve damaged your own reputation through association. This is one status that should never be posted.
I’m happy for you… really I am (even though you just told me last week that you wanted to hang out). I would not be comfortable sharing this tidbit until 3-6 months into the relationship. I know some of you fellas get sucked into because your lady absolutely insists, but let’s be wise. And if you have that “with….” phrase going on, you know we’re checking. It’s funny how some folks stream of boyfriends/girlfriends have the same look and demeanor. But y’all don’t wanna learn! Ah well! Should the relationship regress, get rid of the “with…” phrase first, then delete your relationship status altogether. Wait a month or so before posting “single.” A break-up is a dagger on its own. No need having your thousand or so friends comment on it… You might have lost a love, but keep your dignity.
I could cuss every time I see this. Why is it complicated? Are you in or out? I’ve resolved to have peace in every aspect of my life, and I’ll be doggoned if I let a man come in and complicate things then tell FB about. You know how you fix a complicated relationship? Get out of it! Relationships are supposed to make our lives better, not worse. Alas, there is a host of folk who love drama. Carry on while the rest of us snicker at your indiscretion.
I love seeing these, but I have one request here. Please make this status visible to EVERYONE, not just those on your friend’s list. Love, in its true form, needs to be celebrated more!
The intent of this post is not to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do on “your” FB page, but to give you an idea of what message you’re sending about yourself.
One final note… should your status change multiple times within six months, just stop posting. Seriously… stop it. Your significant other should honor your need for discretion until a more appropriate time. After all, you’re going to post those subliminal updates about how much fun you had the night before anyway… We’ll know you’re taken.
With love, sincerity, and hope for tasteful social networking,
Ladies, if I asked you for the top three qualities you need in your future husband, you would probably say something like this:
Well, that number 3 is wide open depending on preferences, but the first two are pretty rock solid for single Christ-following women. We realize that almost every good quality we want in a man is embedded (hopefully) in number 1, but number 2 has to be stated just for our security. No one wants to be in an unloving marriage after all. But I’m not here to talk about (my disdain for) lists, but moreso what should be found in YOU.
We’ve all heard the messages that we should be getting into shape, buying houses, starting businesses, etc., while waiting on our proverbial Boaz. I’ve written previously that not every man is a Boaz and not every woman is a Ruth. But regardless of your personal experience, EVERY single Christ-following, kingdom-minded, wife-seeking man desires a woman with a certain set of qualities.
I’ll dig into those qualities in a bit, but first, the Word.
THESE are the qualities that Apostle Pete expected wives to exhibit. So if your future Christ-loving, wife-seeking boo could write you a letter (or send you a series of romantic text messages), he’d say…
Baby, I need you to be gentle. God gave you the grace to nurture and to heal with your hands and your words. Even when I’m wrong and you have to check me, please remember that I do have feelings. Use your words to build me up. Don’t ever tear me down.
Sweetheart, few things are more attractive to me than meekness. I need you to have strength under control. Life will try to break us apart, but if you rule your soul and I rule mine, then we can overcome together. Because I know you exercise self-control, I can tell you anything and know you won’t overreact.
Sugar Lump, I need you to trust me as head of our home. Are you willing to adapt to my needs as I lead you in love and understanding? You’re safe to submit to me because I will submit to Christ first and you second.
Pillow Fluff, I need you to be devoted to Christ, to me, and to our family. I’m not asking you to be perfect, but I am asking you to be a woman of your word.
Darling, please treat others with kindness… and not the phony kind. I want to see the love of Christ exhibited in everything you do. You can be kind and still get the job done, but if you’re nasty to people, then I know that one day you’ll direct that nastiness to me.
Babydoll, stay fly! I know that as time passes we’ll both grow gray and saggy, but know that I’ll love you still because you will be so good to me and no other woman can satisfy me as you have.
Wouldn’t it be nice to read that on Issey Miyake scented paper? I’m swooning even now…
Ladies, our world is inundated with physically attractive women who lack substance and every inkling of self-control. It only takes a few channel changes to find that these women attract the sheistiest, scummiest, sluttiest, Stevie J-ist men of all time. If we conform to that model, we, too, subject ourselves to control, manipulation, and all types of abuse. Our relationships with men are NOT supposed to be filled with havoc and turmoil. But we can only have security when we root ourselves in Christ and allow Him to bring us total healing. If you exhibit these qualities, you will attract MUCH better quality men AND you’ll be able to manage yourself in a way that protects you from becoming hurt again and again.
One final note… While it is extremely important that we keep up with our physical appearance, we need not worry about conforming to others’ ideas of beauty. Who I am in Christ is constituted by my heart condition and walk with Him. And somewhere out there is a man who likes a brown-skinned woman with thick hair and thick thighs. There’s someone out there who will be attracted to you too. And if you feel changes need to be made, then by all means, DO IT! Just work from the inside out… Keep in mind that you should still look healthy, pretty and feminine.
Which of these qualities do you already possess?
Which do you need to further develop?
With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,
I’m sixty-something days into my dating sabbatical, and I am far from bored. Truth be told, I didn’t do a lot of dating before so I really haven’t felt the impact THAT much except for Sundays after church. (That’s designated boo time in my mind…) Just the same, men have approached me… one really good, and others who are not even worthy of a telephone conversation.
But what I’ve learned (besides the fact that I need not give everyone my number) is that some people are predators when it comes to dating. They have marked a target on my fat bottom, seemingly sizeable bank account, or apparent niceness. These men have set an objective outside of getting to know me, and they’ve told me what they want as if it were honorable to tell the truth about something so shameful.
Women do the same… and in my humble opinion, worse. Lonely ladies everywhere list the attributes they expect a man to have just to take her on a date. These women are predators… not the type worthy of a true gentleman’s time. Don’t entertain her no matter how gorgeous she may be. (What are you gonna do? Whip out your Superman cape and save her from her delusion? Not gonna happen…)
I knew a guy… Biblically-speaking. (Don’t judge me.) This was years ago… but this fella was tall, a beautiful shade of dark brown and muscle-y. Ladies, if you could see a picture of this man, you’d blush. Think tall Greek God wrapped in Godiva’s finest. We played that “friends with benefits” game, and honestly speaking, it worked for some time. We had great conversation and great “conversation”… so great that God himself had to deliver me from the soul tie I had with this guy. Few things are more dangerous than good sex…
But this fella was a predator. And I was easy prey… down on myself, emotionally unstable, disappointed at life, and eager to please anyone who showed me attention. Make no mistake about my position on this. The prey is JUST as wrong as the predator. He wasn’t all bad, and I wasn’t all good. But when I decided to end the sexual nature of our relationship, he had a fit of rage then hunted out new prey.
Years have passed, and I’m no longer the lovesick woman who will settle. So when men with the same qualities as the aforementioned Adonis-like playboy approach me, I lace up my Asic’s and run like–
So how can you spot a predatory dater and avoid the trouble? They might look something like this…
Proverbs 22:3 says The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.
My pastor often teaches that a person should be qualified before you give them your time. How I wish I had learned this YEARS AGO! But now that I know, and now that I’ve shared it with you… He who has ears to hear let him hear.
Dating Precaution #2: If you feel like dirt after a simple text or phone conversation, you’ve been targeted as prey. Play possum.
With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,
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Oh, how I wish I could post his picture…
Gray suit jacket, deep purple shirt, bright tie. He wore dark shades, and his massive square jaw was proportionately propped on his massive fist. Yes, in the picture the brother posed with the chin shelf. Who does that anymore?
Alas I cannot post this picture for obvious reasons, and for one other very funny reason. I’ll share that in a bit.
So this fella and I dated for a bit in 2010. I’d met him several months before, but he always snarled and gritted his teeth at me. He never, ever smiled. Ever. Didn’t matter to me… I wasn’t interested anyway. I was just trying to be kind.
Then one Sunday he started paying me more attention. And after a while he gave me a business card. I tucked it away knowing he didn’t really do for a living what the card said. VistaPrint makes everyone a professional for a small shipping and handling fee.
But in no way was I interested. But in every way, I was lonely. And someone I hold dear suggested that I go out with him, just for a dinner. So we went on our first date…
When I say I could not cast my gaze upon this brother, I mean I couldn’t look at him without being angry with myself for even being there. Not only was I NOT attracted to his exterior, but his interior was a poor match to my own. Yet, we continued to talk and text, and eventually I got a little attached.
I didn’t love him or anything, but I did like him. So when things started going sour, I was ticked. In short, the brother was bitter about a divorce that took place many years ago. And he was mad at his pastor. And his brother. And his mother. I couldn’t understand how he could be angry with so many people, including me, especially when I’d only been around for 2 months.
And as quickly as it began, it ended. And. I. Was. Hot.
For real, dude?? Are you kidding me?
I’m ten times better looking than you & a hundred times smarter, and you stand ME up?
No, sir. I don’t even want to know why. That’s quite alright. We’re done here.
Now you can be mad at me for a legitimate reason.
I didn’t really say any of that. What I said was probably many times worse because it was an unemotional “Don’t call me anymore”. For some reason, this guy thought I was hooked on him. He thought he could do or say anything to me and I’d be ok with it. And this was without the exchange of cookies, meaning no sex was involved.
Unattractive, unintelligent, and arrogant… What was I thinking?
What I know now that I didn’t know in 2010 was to never force or feign interest for the sake of loneliness or to please someone else. Keeping an open mind is one thing, but going against your gut is another. When you can’t even cast your gaze in his or her direction… gon’ head on somewhere else, honey! Some woman somewhere will think he’s a dime.
Alana’s log. Star-date April 4, 2012…
Driving in my car, I picked up my giant foam cup filled with a sweetened strongly caffeinated beverage. And on my lap drops a photo with heat-curled edges. A giant of a man with a strong, serious gaze and nary a hint of cosmopolitan charm glared back at me through his purple-y tinted shades. What the heck was I thinking?
When I say I hollered, I mean I laughed and screamed at the top of my lungs! What I didn’t tell you was that months after we parted ways I was still praying that God would bring us back together. It was rough, and God, in His infinite wisdom and kindness graciously ignored my request.
I choked a little on my drink that day. Once I caught my breath, I picked up the photo, ripped it in half, then in thirds, and tossed those six squares out of the window onto the grassy shoulder along South Laburnum.
I thanked God and laughed. The Father is hilarious!
You remember when you wanted him? Yeah, you were crying and snotting then…
You still want him? He’s been sending you all those texts lately.
Go ahead and reply. I’ll send him back to you. No???
Oh ok. I didn’t think so.
I didn’t make him for you anyway.
And again– God, I thank you.
Dating precaution #1: Beware, ladies and gents, of dating those that are not appealing to us lest we fall into a place of grief and desperation over someone who was never made for us in the first place.
With love, sincerity, and hope for the future,
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