I was wondering… if I’ve ruined everything
Fact: there is only one way to find love. It’s a simple formula, from which no deviation is tolerated. Who should pursue, how the pursued should respond, a smooth series of appropriate interactions unto the point of happy ever after and fade out amid bluebird song (bluebirds trained to sing ‘Shine, Jesus, Shine’, obviously). Books have been written on the perfect (ahem) method of playing the age-old game of persuading that special someone into your life as the indisputable God-ordained fulfillment of your destiny.
If only everyone could stick to the rules. Who should call (does anyone call anymore? Wasn’t this why the internet was invented?) and when. What should be said and left to the imagination. Who does what, when and how, in a perfectly aligned process brought down from a mountain with the 10 Commandments by Moses himself, to which every single person signs up upon stepping into Christian culture. With it comes the potential for depths of joyful paranoia you didn’t know existed.
Let’s call it the Avalanche Effect. The first whisper of an atom of a thought that grows with terrifying speed to become an out-of-control, tumultuous disaster ruining any chance you ever had of finding romantic love. Ever. And all because you said hello to someone you might not want to marry. Or texted back too soon. Or first. Or waved across cyberspace like a brazen hussy. Or panicked and looked like you weren’t bothered when you desperately were and now it’s too late and Rosie will never know you cared / Jeremiah will know you cared too much and you must repair without delay to a Miss (or Mr) Havisham-type existence, doomed to a diet of cobwebs, regret and despair.
I’ll admit, it sounds like fun. Tormented angst can be so… invigorating but, just maybe, there’s a better way than over-thinking as a way of life. One that doesn’t demand menfolk only make eye contact with one of those female-types if they’re “intentionally targeting a potential wife-to-be” as one Christian dating guide suggests (the sheer romance of being zoned in on like a limping deer is making me weak with womanly delight) and allows for the possibility of conversation without a dowry negotiation. Or suggest that “cleaning his kitchen a few times” (same dating guide…) could show him you’re keen to be his Mrs Heavenly. Could it be that we could whizz past the weird, old role-play we’re told is normal and just get to know people without freaking out if things don’t fit exactly within the time-worn notions of who does what?
Maybe if we think more of loving well – the old ‘do unto others’ thing that first trended a few thousand years ago – and less about loving to a formula we might be on to something. Give breathing space to evolving situations. Not cut off something promising if someone ends a message ‘see you soon’ having jumped to the (natural) conclusion they’ve booked the church and ordered the flowers. Or redraft a reply to a friendly opening message twenty times to get the right mix of fun-yet-serious, slightly flirtatious and you-like-bibles-too-god-definitely-wants-us-to-be-together-amen-ness.
Give yourself a break. Don’t switch off your brain but don’t let it run wild through an assault course of nightmare possibilities just because someone waved or seemed keener than you. Breathe out, take your time and see what happens.