Hey guys! So a little intro here before I kick it over to Tim and let him take the "mic" as it were... When I decided to post a bit about how we started dating, our experiences, and what the Lord did in my heart to open the door for my relationship with Tim, I asked him if he'd be willing to tell his side because it's pretty cool! And of course, he was all game for it... one of my favorite things about him is how open he is and willing to share what God is working in his life. And he's really good at it... you'll see what I mean. Sit back, grab a cup of coffee (or tea, if you're like me) and enjoy the other side of the story! Be ready to learn something...
The Prequel - His Side of the Story
"Not to make it awkward, but if you decided to ask me out again, the answer would be yes."
The hint was about as subtle as a shotgun at a mime convention, and it was the last statement I expected to hear on a November morning. The sentence sort of hung in the air, and the only emotion that really registered in the moment was humor over the timing of it. But I supposed I'm getting ahead of myself in the story, aren't I? In order for you to really appreciate the humor I was experiencing, I should back up and tell you what was happening in my life prior to the start of my dating relationship with Katherine.
... cue the dramatic flashback music.
Somewhere around two and a half years ago, it all started with my discovery of a candy dish in the middle of Suite 300. While I was fishing a mini Crunch bar out of this dish, I started bantering with the blonde-haired girl next to the filing cabinet. I soon discovered that she was the one who held the God-given responsibility of filling this jar - a duty that I regarded with high honor, as I have an insatiable sweet tooth. Over the next few months, we would banter back and forth every time I would grab some candy, and I'd always walk away chuckling to myself over her with. Somewhere along the way, I realized that I had started going over at least once a day... and then I had the realization that I was no longer going over because I was craving sugar. What I craved was more banter with this chocolate giving muse stationed next to the filling cabinet in Suite 300.
I liked this girl. And I continued to like her for two years before finally working up the nerve to ask her out. I know, some people would ask "Why wouldn't you have just asked her out? Why did you wait so long?" The honest answer to that question is a painful one. I didn't believe I had what it took. And the realization that I liked this girl was paralyzed by the constant fears of who I actually was as a person... or, rather, what I feared I wasn't.
You see, abuse has been a long time mistress I've had the displeasure of knowing in my short life, and I've seen her in her many different forms. Neglect; Emotional Abuse; Spiritual Abuse; Coercion; Verbal Abuse; Power-Posturing; Gas-lighting. They all had varying and profound effects on the developing identity of a young man, and they all had emasculating effects on me as a person. It wasn't really until the age of 31 that I was in completely healthy environments without the undercutting current of abuse trying to drag me away from achieving the healing and wholeness that I was desperate for. But the damage had been done, and along the way I had come to believe a very heavy lie:
"I am not a real man, and I never will be. No one would ever want me because something is wrong with me."
The sad truth, which is all too common in today's men, is that I felt ill-equipped to function confidently as a man. I felt like a boy wandering around in a world of competent men, and it was disheartening. I watched as other guys got married in their early twenties and started shooting out kids, and I felt the crippling depression that my childhood dreams of being a husband and a father would never happen... another sign of how much of a failure I was as a man. The sensation of shame that I had fallen behind all the other men in my life due to a lack of guidance was only matched by the ever-present fear that others would figure it out and judge me for it. I was desperate to feel like I actually was capable, but I had essentially given up all hope of ever feeling like I measured up because I literally believed I couldn't.
And it was this lie that God took two years to address in me. He slowly began fathering me and showing me that His voice is kind and compassionate. He began affirming the parts of me that had been deeply wounded by harsh words and manipulation. He began showing me that He was trustworthy, and He started removing the bitterness. He began making sense of the pain and revealing to me the character that was actually developed in me through the abuse. And slowly He began showing me how much of the character of true manhood He had put in me and how capable He actually made me to be, all the while teaching me to trust my instincts and give more value to my own feelings as a man.
In the midst of these things, the lingering thought about the girl by the candy jar - and the possibility of dating her - floated around in the back of my mind. After two years of working through issues, I finally heard God impress upon me to ask her out. Because we were no longer in the same building and hadn't really talked much, I decided to ask her to coffee a couple of times so that it wouldn't feel so "out of the blue" when I asked her to dinner. I followed my plan and both coffee dates went extremely well! (Or at least they did from my perspective.) So, I asked her out... And she said no. She told me there was someone else she was talking to and she felt that relationship held potential so she felt it was the right thing to say no at this point.
I responded graciously and told her I had no idea she was interested in another person, and that it wasn't a big deal. Later that night, I went home and expressed waiting and gnashing of teeth to epic, biblical proportions. My one prospect to happily-ever-after was gone, and the hope that I had begun growing in my heart toward marriage quickly disappeared into a sea of despair.
My best friend suggested that I sign up for a dating site, and I balked at the idea feeling that it would only seal my fate as a failure. (An irrational thought, I know... but it was my honest thought.) I wrestled with the idea for months until God finally had to tell me "DO THIS." I signed up in October of 2017, and within 24 hours I received a message from a wonderful woman. As I looked at her profile, everything I'd said I ever wanted in a girl was checked. Finally learning to embrace the fear of not knowing what I was doing, I proceeded to go on five dates with her. In doing so, God actually began showing me that I DO know what I'm doing, and that all along I'd told myself I didn't know how to function as a man when it was actually there all along. I simply needed to be put in the situation. I began seeing that He had used all the broken situations from my past to instill a respect and character in me that I never knew was there, and that He had honed my instincts so that I would know how to properly court a woman. But while God was showing me all these things, I was met with a strange problem: I didn't feel a thing for this girl romantically. I knew I needed to let this girl know, and I struggled with why God would have even let this process start with her...
And then, the next day, Katherine muttered the infamous line that still makes me chuckle... "Not to make it awkward, but if you ever asked me out again I would say yes."
Fellas, let me be real with you for a moment... there are a million reasons for us to feel incapable. Many of us were never fathered, and even if we were there is still the underlying pressure to "prove" we are men with any number of ridiculous standards that either don't matter or are gross misrepresentations of what God actually sowed into our nature. And let's be honest: we're facing an enemy who targets us in our youth to convince us that we're not men, and never can be. My fear was that no woman would ever find me desirable, and I would die alone. Until I was willing to even acknowledge that fear and let God father me through it, I had no hope of overcoming that proverbial Everest on my own. But as I've walked this road of challenging the lies I've believed and walking forward into the things I never thought of I could have or ever believed I deserved, I've found time and time again that God has made me more than a conqueror. I am no longer an abused boy who needs to worry about his capability. I am a son of God who is a force to be reckoned with, and He will cover me in the places where I'm weak. Me being honest about that weakness is true strength. Feeling the fear and choosing to walk forward anyway is the very definition of courage, and that courage is the very essence of what it means to be a man. Make that journey, because it's worth it.
And to think... this all started with a candy dish in suite 300.