Dumped Every Time
So Andrew and I were on a group date this past weekend and ended up in a conversation about exes. If I’m remembering correctly, it was Zaina who brought up the subject. Our spontaneous walk down memory lane brought to mind several stories I hadn’t thought about in years. I ended up having a sort of epiphany while I was listening to everyone: I realized I was dumped by almost every single guy I ever “went out with” before Andrew. None of these were real relationships and definitely fall into the puppy love category…but still, what a lightbulb! And how funny it is to look back on it all now.
Grab a chair. My pitiful romantic past might be just the pick-me-up you need.
Flashback to my kindergarten year: The first crush I ever had was when I was five years old [no, I didn’t waste any time]. This was a church boy that all the girls liked, and amazingly, he ended up liking me back. He even got me chocolates on Valentine’s Day, which really sealed the deal. Unfortunately, this euphoric romance was short-lived. It wasn’t two weeks until I noticed he was no longer paying me any attention. Then I saw him giving another girl gifts. She was older – must have been 8 or so – and stole him right out from under me.
First through third grade was a pretty dry season. I did have a huge crush on one of my classmates, but he was infatuated with another girl in our grade and didn’t even know that I existed. [See the picture below, and you’ll understand why the crush wasn’t reciprocated. Oh the infamous, hideous, third grade haircut. It was all my dad’s fault. He got the bright idea that we should go to Hair Plus at West Gate Mall and get me a new, “shaggy” style. The cut in this picture was the sad result. I looked like the boy from Home Alone 3 for about a year…and still couldn’t understand why boys didn’t like me! A sad, but true story…]
Then in fourth grade I ended up “going out” with one of my classmates. We were both PERK leaders, which meant we each led our respective classes in a morning dance routine. [Gotta love awkward elementary school clubs.] It was at PERK practice one day that everyone talked him into officially asking me out. He finally asked me in front of everyone, and I said ‘yes.’ This ended up lasting for about a year, which is like a decade in elementary school years, right?? We even went on triple dates to the skating rink with two of my friends and two of his. We might have even held hands. It was quite the romance. But then things started to fall apart. My family moved to Roebuck, which meant that I was no longer a student at Fairforest. One day after the move I got a call from him and after a few minutes of conversation, he gave the phone to his older brother who began explaining to me that his younger brother just didn’t think things with him and me were going to work out – I was at Roebuck now, he was at Fairforest…it just wasn’t going to work. I was shocked and disappointed. It was on a Wednesday, and I was about to leave for hand bell practice at church when this shocking and very sad phone call happened. Off to church I went. I remember being so sad while I was playing hand bells that night. I put up a strong front though – chiming away.
[What makes me laugh is how vividly I remember all of these things. It’s as if they happened yesterday. And I bet none of these guys remember any of this stuff.]
So after that sad breakup around the beginning of fifth grade, I just laid low for the rest of the year. Then something just happened in sixth grade. I was on fire. I can’t remember the precise order, but I think Tyler was first. He was this hotshot sixth grader [at a church we attended for a while] who ended up liking me [always such a shock]. We started “going out,” and I was on cloud nine. Then lo and behold, he shows up to Sunday School one day with another girl! Her name was Stephanie – ugh. Tyler and I never really talked again.
Soon after that, though, I rebounded and started “going out” with another church boy, Brandon. I remember him telling me at Wednesday night AWANA that we were “never breaking up.” That one lasted all of a week. Later that same year I went on the sixth grade beach retreat with church. I ended up hitting it off with this boy named Cody on the bus ride down. We laughed together for the entire ride, and by the time we got down to Myrtle Beach, we were officially “going out.” I was so excited! That same night, our group went to the Myrtle Beach Pavilion. Cody wanted to ride everything, but I was afraid of roller coasters and wouldn’t ride anything scary. This other girl started doing the rides with him, and I could see sparks flying between them. I was furious. By the end of that night, they were going out, and I had once again been dumped. It made for a rough retreat, at least for the first few days. I was rooming with the other girl! Such deep agony.
In the midst of all the church romances, my real infatuation was with a boy at school. For all of sixth grade and most of seventh, I was completely obsessed with him. It was ridiculous – just ask my long time friends Shannon and Kayla. They were there for every pathetic second of it. I was a big list-maker for the longest time. I used to make lists for practically everything. And this sad crush was no exception. I would list “signs” (as I called them when explaining them to Kayla and Shannon) he had given me that he liked me back. I guess I thought that if I wrote them down, they would somehow build momentum and make something happen between the two of us. The list sounded something like this: “He joked with me in band today. He played with the keychain on my bookbag last week. He stood near me in line on the way to lunch yesterday. He looked at me when he walked by my lunch table.” [You can see we had LOTS of chemistry.] Bless my poor, middle school heart. All the while, he had his eye on “the pretty girl” in our grade. She was the one all the guys liked in middle school. There always seemed to be someone pretty that kept crushes out of my reach, dang it!
Eighth grade brought another church romance. Gotta love “going out” with someone when neither person can drive and the only chance you ever have to see each other is at church services and Sunday School. But it was a thrill for me as an eighth grader, nonetheless. So things were going good, and then I got a call about a week before Valentine’s Day. We were talking as usual, and then he got his friend, Zach, on the line. Zach lowered the boom on me much the way my fourth grade boyfriend’s brother had. Wow, this was awkward. And how convenient- a week before Valentine’s Day.
But I moved on to bigger and better things that next summer…or so I thought. A Dawkins boy had spotted me at this Junior Scholar event at the end of eighth grade. [My XL men’s denim button-up did him in.]
We ended up “talking” [still don’t quite understand what “talking” meant] that summer and even went on a real date, with his parents driving us to the restaurant and movie theatre of course. Somehow things fizzled quickly though – for one, he was a fast mover and unbeknownst to me, already had a sexual history and more than likely had expectations for our relationship that I clearly was not going to meet. He even moved in for a kiss DURING A SEX SCENE in the movie we went to see. I could see it coming before it even happened. What a stupid move. What a dork. Thankfully, that whole thing was over quickly.
Besides a few almost-romances, there was only one guy that I “talked” to in ninth grade. I don’t know what in the world I was thinking. I had no business talking to him. He was a lot like the Dawkins boy from the summer before. He had already been smoking weed and having sex [at least, it seemed pretty certain that he had]. This was not at all the kind of guy that was in my heart. But somewhere along the way between middle school and starting high school, I had begun to think that I may have to lower my standards if I was going to find someone. It seemed that guys who didn’t drink and didn’t have a sexual history were nonexistent. So I was talking to this guy and could have easily drifted to a place of compromise…
Then God swooped in.
I had my first real conversation with him in the spring of ninth grade. I had known who he was almost the entire year, but it wasn’t until the end of the year at Relay for Life that I actually talked with him at length. My friend, Becca, had been using a wheelchair for a few weeks because of a bad injury she got at Blue Belle tryouts. She was at Relay for Life that night with her wheelchair in tow. She wasn’t a fan of it, though, and it was left sitting vacant around the time that Andrew came around our gathering. He sat down in the wheelchair and asked me to take him for a ride around the track. I obliged, of course. I was no fool.
So we went around the tracks and began to talk. And we talked…. and talked…. and talked…. and talked. I could have stayed in that conversation all night. It wasn’t long after we rejoined the group that I had to head home. I left that night with something awakened in me. The guy that was in my heart actually existed! Suddenly I knew I had to end whatever was going on with that other guy. At the time, the idea that something might actually happen with Andrew and me was unfathomable. There’s no way a guy like that [handsome, all-star-athlete-type, upperclassman] would notice a girl like me. But at least now I knew that guys like that were out there, and that was enough to get me out of that would-be relationship and back to the place of my rightful standards.
That first conversation with Andrew was on a Friday night, and I broke things off with that other guy on Monday. [He got a Dear John letter.] Over the next few weeks, it seemed like something might be happening with Andrew and me… but because I had such doubts about myself, I figured it was probably just wishful thinking. But I prayed that a miracle would happen. On the last day of the school year [my ninth, his eleventh], I got my miracle. Much to my shock and delight, Andrew asked me our on our first date. It was surreal. And as they say, the rest is history…
God has used Andrew in unbelievable ways to speak His heart to me. He is an awesome husband, and being on this journey with him has been a dream come true… But beyond being such a gift in my life in general, God has used him in a tremendous way to reveal His heart for me, His pursuit of me, His delight in me. And Andrew has also helped me to see myself in a better, more truthful light. He has helped me to see beauty in myself that I didn’t believe was there. Comparing myself to other people had left me with a continual feeling that I didn’t measure up. But his constant, life-giving words over these years have begun to take root, and I’m learning to believe them more and more. His affirmation always points me back to God’s unfailing love and to the value and beauty He sees in me.
When I look back, I laugh hysterically at the randomness of my past attempts at romance. But I also have to thank God for ordering my steps and protecting me from things that could have easily come into my life and hurt me. All of the awkwardness and perceived rejections led me to the place I am today. And what my third grade, ugly-duckling heart was oblivious to I now see clearly: God isn’t waiting for us to fit into some artificial mold to see us as beautiful. We’re beautiful now – because we’re His.
Fairy tales do exist. And they were in God’s heart before they were ever in ours.