jumbly bumbly post about dating, etc.
For a while I’ve been waiting for my thoughts on this subject to congeal a little bit more before I wrote anything, but I’m beginning to think that’s just never going to happen, so ready yourself for a pile of disconnected, possibly incoherent thoughts about dating, specifically from the perspective of a 22yo single Christian Asian-American girl in Boston.
First, I should expose what my experience was like in college, broadly speaking–most of my closer friends were Christian, and did not really date in the conventional sense. Even my close non-Christian friends, with a few exceptions, were either in long-term relationships or passed from one long-term relationship to another without much of the first-date-second-date-wait-a-few-days-call-back-more-dates-DTR-what?-ok-we’re-official-hi process that I kind of connotate with the word “dating.”
And to be honest, I’ve never done the latter, literally never. I’ve never been on a “date” in the sense that both the other party and I were mutually interested and evaluating the viability of a relationship based on our hang-out. Or something like that. I’ve been on dates with guys I’ve dated and I’ve hung out with guys 1-on-1 but those are all kind of different, aren’t they?
So coming into Boston and being surrounded most of the time by non-international-student-non-Christians (in undergrad the people I spent the most time with were either Christian or international students, occasionally both) and the dating culture that comes along with it has been quite a change for me.
At first I was just kind of surprised. Why do we talk about who’s dating whom in our class so much? Is everyone on OKCupid? Wait, out of one of my friend groups (which numbers ~10) I’m the only one who doesn’t have a boyfriend?
And then, layer onto that the completely contrasting picture I get in the Christian circles I’ve begun to dip my toe into–Harvard Grad Christian Fellowship (once a month Harvard-wide meetings) and Citylife, my church (every Sunday) . I don’t include our school’s Bible study because I consider those folks my classmates and therefore within the same dynamic that I experience with other HMS/HSDM students.
What I mean is: Nothing. Silence. No mention of couples, barely any visible couples unless they’re already engaged or married, no mention of interest in anyone or whether anyone else is interested in anyone, nothing nothing nothing.
Part of this is situational–at our school’s Bible study we see each other once a week and more in class/in our dorm, so there’s a greater level of intimacy I suppose. Maybe you don’t talk about who you like with people you’re slowly getting to know after several meetings, with weeks elapsing between each meeting. But if I were a Martian I would assume that Christians in Boston go from single/asexual straight to engaged/married. There doesn’t look to be a whole ton of in between.
These observations are quite preliminary, of course–maybe my sample size is too small and maybe I’ll revise my observations after a few months in this new habitat.
But how am I feeling in the midst of all this? First and foremost, I promised myself my last quarter of college that I wouldn’t think about dating anyone until I had at least a semester under my belt, because my first priority upon arriving was to find community and build a support system in Boston. Check, ish on the latter.
But as to the former, man, it was hard. I won’t say I was all that successful either. Not in the sense that I did date anyone, but in the sense that I thought about it way way more than I wanted to.
What I honestly want? I want to not be bothered with the thought of dating at all. I want to be able to focus 100% on making Jesus famous and advancing his kingdom on this earth–in my studies and in my friendships and in my career development and my hobbies and all of that. I want to be a fountain of love and rich friendship and mercy and justice for others and for this world.
I just don’t want to worry about a boyfriend along the way. I want to believe that when Jesus said “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you,” that if I need a mate, it’s included in “all these things.”
Is that the right attitude? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s lazy to want God to drop the right man in my lap with minimal effort on my part. But at the moment, all I can do is pursue that extreme, because if I don’t fight with all my strength to swim upstream and love Jesus first, I will love imaginary guys and make-believe love stories and I just don’t think that’s a good use of my time.
Especially since, increasingly, God seems to be letting me know that no amount of worrying on my end can ultimately trump the intentions he has for me. I’ve fallen (hard!) for a couple people already, all ultimately uninterested or unattainable despite my best efforts to win their affections. One would think that kind of rejection would be really tough.
Well, it is. Sort of. But the strange thing is when I expect to feel crushed, sometimes the Holy Spirit tweaks my emotions and instead I feel this wholly otherworldly peace. Maybe what Philippians refers to as “peace which surpasses all understanding,” the kind you get by presenting your needs to God instead of worrying yourself sick over them.
I want that peace forever. I want that peace even when I consider that I might want to be married with all my heart but God may still decide it’s not the best thing for me, ever, and all the preening and charming and flirting and strategizing in the world will not change that. Maybe I’ll have to disappoint my parents, my grandparents, 七大姑八大姨，etc. That’s hard. I feel the fragility of this peace–it is a small thing, prone to shred, I’m afraid. How many engagement posts on facebook can it take?
But for now, it remains. Peace. For those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. And he who did not withhold his precious and only son will not withhold anything else, if it’s really for our good. I believe God is in control, and because of his love, his power is mobilized for my good. So me? I don’t wait anymore, to quote this beloved piece, for romance to find me, for there is no greater love than that God would lay down his life for us his friends. I’m waiting though, to see what He has in store for me, whatever it might be. I know it will be glorious.
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