Honestly, I don’t even know if you would call it dating. I would but, in today’s culture, people don’t seem to take that as seriously as I do. I met Mark through some mutual friends. He was a few years older, mature, smart, funny, and good looking. He worked in the medical field and because of our lines of work, our paths ended up crossing over the course of about a year. While working on various projects, it was always me, Mark and two other guys. One of the other guys was around our age and engaged with 4 kids. The other guy was much older in a happy marriage. It was always us four going out and doing things- mostly work related or grabbing food. I absolutely loved our times together. They were always so fun and light-hearted. The most tedious tasks we had to do were always more exciting with them. While Mark and I did do things one on one sometimes, it wasn’t that often. So maybe, in his defense, this justified are non-relationship, relationship for him.
He’d always pay for my food when we’d go out, either one-on-one or while we were in our wolf pack. Can I be a part of a wolf pack? I don’t know but I need a nickname for the four of us so it’ll work. We’d flirt, bicker, laugh, and talk about our goals and dreams. We both had extremely busy schedules so I never really questioned the fact that we didn’t go out more than we already did. Well that and part of me didn’t want to. Honestly, while I was attracted to him and I felt like I was dating him in so many ways, I never pushed our “relationship” because I didn’t want it to go there. Why? Because I knew it wouldn’t work long term. Part of our talks were about God and he didn’t believe in God really. I think he just wasn’t sure or hadn’t really thought about it before. In some ways that did attract me to him; it wasn’t that he was against it so much as he never really knew someone that believed and loved God like I did. You know how people always say that girls never go after the good guys? Well, I think because I grew up around a lot of “church guys” and know that many of them don’t really love God as they profess, I’ve felt in the past that I’d have better luck with people that were more open to learning about Christianity and it being real for them. To me, that was more appealing than a fake Christian. I think in some ways it gives me hope. But deep down, I think part of me knew something wasn’t right. Anyone can have fun with anybody depending on what you are doing; but real love is when you can strip away all the fluff and at the core of your being can share the most important thing to you. For me, that is my relationship with God. And since God is love, He enables me to love deeper. So no matter how much fun I had with Mark, something was still missing. And I knew it. This is one of the best things I love about God. Sometimes we might not understand why God has certain rules- don’t be unequally yoked, don’t have sex before marriage, etc.- but we always understand later. And sometimes we have to learn the hard way. It’s comforting knowing that God wants what is best for me, especially when I don’t even know what that is!
So as the year was wrapping up, Mark and the guys were getting awards at the annual award ceremony. We had all agreed to go to dinner afterwards. I was excited to meet some of their families. I still remember earlier that day when we were setting up for the ceremony, the guys joking that Mark and I should just hurry up and get married because of how we interacted with each other. It was a bittersweet day as we were setting up. Our paths would no longer be crossing as often. However, it became mainly bitter later on that night. At the end of the ceremony, a pregnant woman came up and kissed Mark on the cheek. His sister, it had to be his sister. I looked down at her wedding finger- we all do this- and there was a beautiful diamond engagement ring. His engaged sister, his engaged pregnant sister. Yeah right. How could I have been so dumb, so naïve. I find myself asking that a lot lately. But I have learned from all these experiences and that’s part of the reason I started this blog. Maybe, hopefully, others can learn from my mistakes instead of having to make their own. It was soon apparent that this was Mark’s fiancé. I debated whether or not I should still go to dinner with them. However, I’m always a fan of awkward situations and not letting others control me. The guys were really encouraging me to go and I did. Mark sat across from me and his fiancé sat next to him. He was like a blank wall all throughout dinner. I can only imagine what was going on through his head. Sidenote: It really bothered me that the other two guys never mentioned his fiancé either over the course of the year AND encouraged a relationship between the two of us. Weird. Anyway, as we were leaving the restaurant, Mark tried to put his arm around me as we were at the end of the line. What?! Mark and I never spoke about the situation. There was no reason to bring it up as we both knew I wouldn’t have dated him anyway. We saw each other a few times over the course of the following years. Random texts. Part of me was sad. I knew he wasn’t happy. I knew they weren’t in love. They had a good partnership. That was apparent. To me at least. Outwardly, they looked like a great couple/family. He told me they went through a rough patch recently and almost got divorced but they were able to work through it. I’m really glad. But I’m also really sad. I hope that one day they get to experience marriage the way God intended it to be. That they fall in love with Him and with each other. I’m always hopeful. Oh, and always trust your gut instincts.