This is an ongoing, ever-evolving piece of fiction. When you’ve read this, read part two Jane’s story.
John* is your average Coptic guy. He’s in his late 20s. Has a job. Has an apartment. He’s looking for a wife. And, believe it or not, he’s looking for a love story. He isn’t going to just pick someone off the street. She has to get him. More than that she has to have some depths to her, some mystery.
John knows every girl in his youth group. He loves them all–as sisters. He knows his better half isn’t in this crowd. And there’s no mystery there. He knows them too well. Maybe he’s even dated a few.
He’s had his share of heartache. Some girls come on too strong, and the almost-right girls never seem to get him. More than once they’ve walked away, and he’s still wondering what he did wrong.
He writes to me and asks: how can I keep from looking desperate to the girls I pursue? Because let’s be honest, John is desperate. It hasn’t worked out one too many times, and his shattered heart is held together with duct tape. He’s starting to worry about himself.
Maybe, in his teens or early 20s, he was a red-blooded American male. If he couldn’t find love, he could easily find some lovin’ and call it love and he did. He crawled smoky bars and frat parties with his college buddies and led them to believe his exploits were up to par (they weren’t).
He matured. He walked away from all that. He walked back into the church. He put his tunia on again. He knows he wants and needs something more.
Or maybe he’s held on tight for dear life to God and His promises all this time and, trust me, he will have his reward.
But if this keeps up much longer? Well, how long is God really expecting him to keep it together? Where is she? Where is the one he was promised?
Ask John what he’s looking for. Well, it’s a list a mile long. But the truth is he’ll know her when he sees her. At least that’s what they all tell him.
“She walked into youth group, and I just knew.”
At this rate, will he ever find her? And by the time she finds him, will there be any heart left to love?
It’s Valentine’s Day. John is alone again.
Why am I telling you about John? Because next week I’m going to tell you about Jane, and I don’t want you for one second to think John is an after thought.
We spend so much time telling Jane this or that about an imagined future spouse.
But John is not an idea. John is a person. John isn’t a mythical knight. He’s a man–with weaknesses and needs and hopes and dreams and a desire for God just as strong as any God-fearing Jane.
In the end, he’ll follow his “Jane” off a cliff if he isn’t careful. He’ll eat the apple. He’ll spill the secrets. He knows it. It’s why his wife has to be just right. He wants the girl who’ll walk with him to higher ground, who’ll help him stick closer to God. He needs a partner he can trust. That is, if the John on your mind is as smart as the ones I know.
When John asked me how to keep from looking desperate, I surveyed a bunch of girls. I got serious, practical advice.
I wrote him this whole elaborate post to explain the things that turn us women off (specifically, Coptic-American women who are at least 50% Americanized and who attend church regularly).
But when I imagined writing a similar post for women, my feminazi side spasmed violently. All the things I was writing to him fell into two categories: “Courtship Rules” (that can vary widely in the Coptic community) or “Change Yourself Rules” (that seem to ask the man to deny himself/adjust his personality).
The first category is an out of control problem that might be the topic of a future post. The second goes against my number one rule for courtship success for men OR women which is BE YOURSELF. Because it’s okay if the courtship fails. Better the courtship than the marriage.
What I really want to say to cut through all the noise is that the right woman at the right time won’t mind any of the stupid things you do that the rest of them reject you for. Even if you make a huge courtship rule error (in her mind/system), if you are what she needs, she will see right through to that.
The exact same act seen through the eyes of the right woman will be endearing instead of offensive. If you go through and like every single one of her social media posts the day after you meet, she can either marry you immediately (because she sees through that) or she can dismiss you as a stalker (because you weren’t what she was looking for). If you message the girl and tell her the American culture is crap, she can either agree and marry you immediately or she can feel personally affronted because HELLO I AM AN AMERICAN.
So be yourself. Say what you mean to say. Learn from past relationships–yes–but don’t try to fit into the box of what that other girl wanted or expected; that’s a futile endeavor.
God is building you into someone for a purpose–and maybe for a person. So, John, have courage. Leave your duct-taped heart open to God’s plan and seek Him and the purpose He has for you.
Even as I write that I feel terrible. What a cliche! I’ve spent a week trying to find a better ending. Here’s the deal, John:
“Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you” (John 16:22).
I know some days you read that verse above and you think: “That’s not me. No way He’s talking about me. There’s no way He’s talking about now.”
Truly, John, I have no idea what your story is going to look like. I have no idea what God has planned for you. I can’t guarantee the pretty girl you have in mind. I don’t know how much longer it’s going to take.
I can tell you about God. God is faithful. God is all powerful. God desires joy in your life as surely as you do. God desires to give you more than what you hope in your heart.
I can see you looking back. Wasn’t the other way easier? But you and I both know it wasn’t fulfilling or you wouldn’t have walked back this way in the first place. And I know it’s tearing you to pieces the pull of the world and the call of God. You and I both know how the other story ends.
God is tired of watching you fall into one empty pit after another. But He will never, never, never tire of reaching His hand down to lift you up.
And He feels the same way about Jane. But that’s next time.
*John is a fictional character.
(To be continued… Read part two Jane’s story.)
Would you like to be notified when new posts go up? Click here to sign-up.