Asked Out: In a Quandary

My sixteenth summer:  I learned a lot in those three months.  I worked for the first time in a retail environment and it was an eye-opening experience. 

There will always be ‘those guys’, and there were definitely a couple who I quickly learned were not of the mettle to mess with.  For the most part I escaped their attentions, and they gradually ceased with their bombardments, but through it I began to learn that my response was everything.  If I sounded the least bit unsure of myself , that indecisiveness proved to be a huge mistake.  Without being rude, I had to shut them down!  Fortunately for us, most worldly guys are just testing the waters to see if you will give them the attention they want, and a few cool, but nice, “Um, no”s give them a 180 the other direction.

But what about the good ones?

Never had a boy liked me before, and in that summer I met a young man at the greenhouse who I thought was… well, really nice.  He was handsome, and friendly.  One day he took down all the baskets that I had been told to take down… without me even asking.  I didn’t know who he was at the time, but I met him a few days later.  I was working in the range when he came up to me with a delicate blue flower in his hand.  “Your name is Phylicia, isn’t it?”  He asked.  “Yes.” I answered, smiling at him curiously.  “This is a Felecia flower… like your name.”  Yes, it was a simple observation, but it was so sweet!  …Right?

He talked to me.  We laughed together.  He met my extended family and endured an hour-long exposition from my great-uncle.  He brought me chocolate.  And he was a gentleman.  But somehow it still struck me as a complete surprise when we walked into each other among the begonias one day…

“Oh, hi Chad,” I beamed (trying to keep the halo of light from stark illumination).  “Hi,” he smiled. “Where are you headed?”  “To water the hydrangeas.”  “Oh.” “Yeah.” “Mm-hm…”  “So where are you going?”  Chad looked at his feet and then at the ceiling.  “Well, I was going to ask you something…”  I felt my stomach tighten — what?  I swallowed my heart and plastered a grin on my splitting face.  “Go ahead.” “Well…” He swallowed too.  I watched him carefully — was his eyebrow twitching? “I was wondering… if I were… sixteen (which he wasn’t)…”  My ears were ringing… I was rehearsing… what do I say, what DO I SAY?!  “… would you date me?”

No.  Anything but that.  NOT THAT QUESTION PLEASE!!!

All the purity talks and studies and answers and questions went out the window of my brain.  I liked him!  So I stood there with a columbine draped over my head and burned the rubber off the wheels of my mind.  “Well, see, I –” I stammered. “I, um, well… I don’t… actually — date.” His blue eyes were blank.  Score zero for comprehension. So a new tack was attempted:  “See, I am not going to go out with a guy until my husband comes someday.  I am waiting till then.”  That sounded right.

Chad blinked and looked at his feet.  Then he looked back at me and wrinkled his nose in confusion.  “So you… arrange marriages?” Now I looked blank.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  So instead, I muttered, “Um… no.”

There had to be a better way.  Now, three years later, I still cringe to think of how I handled that.  Now I know that there is a better answer!  Chances are if you have male friends, coworkers, friends-of-friends or church goers, you are going to be asked out at one time or another.  We’ve talked about the attitude with which to answer them — in complete kindness and respect — but what do you say?!

I can’t elaborate too much because every situation and guy is different.  Yet there are two different genres of answers to give:  the first is the high school answer, the second is the college answer.  The high school answer will contain the fact that you do not date anyone, and, if the boy is a good one, you will be able to turn him down without it being a personal affront.  The college answer depends on the family, but I will give you my two styles within this genre.

First, the Bad Boy Reply.  He comes rappin’ up to you and shoots a “Whassup?” that you can’t even grace with an intelligent conversation.  “Sooo, you doin’ anythin’ anytime soon?”  (This would not be an “um, no” moment).  You Smile Graciously but not Invitingly, tilt your head slightly to the side, and say Pleasantly with an undercurrent of Cool Preoccupation: “I’m sorry, but I am in a committed relationship.”  He may press for a better excuse, under which pressure your Cool Preoccupation becomes Cold Sophistication, which, with a touch of Civilization and slight Acceleration should end Communication as quickly as deemed possible.

Second, the Potential Suitor Reply.  He comes walking up to you and courteously asks, “Do you think — um — that maybe we could…er… possibly… go out sometime?” First, determine that it is not a Hallucination, then show some Appreciation without wedding Anticipation; give a quick Situation Evaluation and check again that it is not Imagination.  Once these steps are complete, do some further Intention Investigation.  Once he has met the Qualifications, give him the Notification that you only go out under your family’ s Verification.  If he is still full of Determination, you should show him some Consideration and relieve his Expectation courteously.

Of course, this leaves plenty of room for flexibility as the need arises.  Just don’t be ambiguous — be clear with what you are answering whether it be yes or no.  You don’t want to leave room for misunderstanding, as in the case of a Bad Boy he may take advantage of that ambiguity and in the case of a Good One he may be confused.  The best thing is to prepare your answer with your parents, for then when you are greeted with you will not be caught muttering “Um… no…”

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Willow Weep for Me

Try to remember the kind of September/When no one wept except the willow…  That’s one of the lines from the song “Try to Remember”.  It’s too bad the willow isn’t the only one that weeps.  There comes a time in life when the tears fall all too easily… usually the product of an aching heart, as we discussed in the last post.  Life doesn’t only bring disappointments, but often stresses, decisions, hopes, wonderments, confusion, anger, frustration… in these times my reaction is to run to somewhere quiet and cry.  Sometimes it helps vent the emotion without making other people endure it.  Yet other times it just makes me feel worse.  If only the willow would weep, and not me!

Emotions are strange in many ways, and too often misunderstood.  One of the funny things about emotions is that they are circular.  I don’t think many girls realize thisOften, we react to our circumstances with an outbreak of emotion, then, because we have this emotion toward our circumstance, we develop a consistent attitude toward it, which in turn causes more outbreaks of emotion… all fueled by our overwhelming consideration of our emotions in the first place.

If there is one thing that bothers me, it’s a moody girl.  You know the kind:  she’s happy one day, and then by some ‘right’ she gets to be huffy the next.  You didn’t do anything — or maybe you did, and you don’t know it, you can never be sure.  I’ve heard people comment before, “Oh, it’s okay, she’s just in one of her moods.”  I couldn’t help but think:  who gave you the right to have ‘moods’?  Our society gives that right.  ‘Feelings’ are everything; we are to consider them first in ourselves and in others.  Our generation of girls has grown up with the idea that their emotions take highest priority, and if you trample on them, you take the consequences.   This is seen just as often in Christian girls.

Somehow Christian girls have slipped through the cracks when it comes to moodiness.  Truth be told, we have no inherent right to vent our emotions on people, especially our families.  I’ve done it, and I learned quickly that ’emotional abuse’ of family members doesn’t last long.  The reason it occurs so often is that moodiness is not seen as a sin.  It’s just a ‘woman thing’.  Did anyone ever think to make it a ‘nobody thing’?  Some girls blame it on hormones.  I could get into a whole speel on PMS and why I think it’s just an excuse for emotional lack of control, but I won’t argue that point here :).  The issue is this: moodiness and venting emotions is a lack of self control, patience, gentleness and kindness, all of which are fruits of God’s Holy Spirit.  If you are walking with the Spirit, it won’t happen.

“So when do I get to be myself?”,  you ask.  As Anne Ortlund said, your self is who you are in Christ.  Thus, your emotions will be controlled by Him.  If you want to live in your sinful self, go ahead and be moody.  That’s not God’s idea of a beautiful woman.

Crying over the pressures of life does not qualify as moodiness, since moodiness is taking out those pressures on others.  But there is a solution to the emotions we feel in life’s trials:  Jesus Christ.  If I hold on to my emotions, either bottling them for later use or dumping them on my family, I am not solving anything.  Peter said, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Pet. 5:6-7, ESV).

How does this have to do with relationships?  Everything.  Whether you are still at home with your family, married with a husband, dating, courting, or just having great friends, your emotions can be kept in control.  I am not saying to bottle them up until you explode, because that will be the result.  By releasing your emotions to Christ, in tears or laughter, whatever you may be feeling — He will take them and make you strong.