It was a rainy September afternoon as I sat in a cafe window seat in Salt Lake City. The droplets on the window to my right were dainty and bright as I scribed a letter to a man I’d met a couple weeks prior.
My heart thudded against its cage as words spilled onto the page in front of me. What I was doing was next to absurd. Girls don’t make the first move.
Or so they say.
Later that night, I told a practical stranger there were ten things I hated about him.
I said that I’d been caught off guard by an unknown feeling in my core, that I’d never felt that way about someone before.
I said I’d tried to make it stop, tried to subdue my affections and the warmth that I had for him.
I said that I was scared.
Because I often feel too much, and that it’s only ever ended in pain.
The things I said I hated included (but were not limited to):
The way he made my abs and face hurt because he made me laugh. And laugh. And laugh.
The confidence of his shoulders and the long strides he takes when he walks.
I hated the way he made me want to be chased and cherished and celebrated by someone like him.
I hated that he wasn’t another shallow guy for me to use and run from.
I said, “and if that’s not enough, I hate that you’re brilliant and witty and practical and that you make me feel safe.”
In all the years before I’d met him I always thought I was fine.
And then all of the sudden reality became better than my dreams, and it all seemed too good to be true.
I wrote that, “I [was] convinced the only way it could get better would be the day I’m told that I don’t have to leave. This is what redemption looks like. I’m convinced this is God’s grace seeping through the fabrics of our lives.”
And then I told him I wanted all those things I’d said I hated about him.
See, I’d reached the point of knowing what I wanted a while ago, and I always thought it would take years to find. But instead of years it took two shorts weeks.
By the time I was done reading the letter to him, we’d both begun to cry, and I told him to take a breath before he responded.
“Because I don’t expect anything. I don’t need you to perfectly craft a response or for you to reciprocate anything I just said. I just need you to know there’s at least ten things I hate about you.”
Four months later we were married on a snowy Colorado afternoon.
Classic case of waiting for the guy to make the first move, huh?
I write this because recent conversations with a couple of close friends have sounded a bit like this:
Friend- “Corinne, he’s amazing. He loves Jesus, treats the people around him with respect and dignity, and he makes me feel safe and the most like myself.”
Me- “Well have you told him how you feel?”
M- “Why not?!”
F- “I just don’t want to scare him away, or to make things awkward. He’s the guy anyway, shouldn’t he be the one to say something?”
And that’s when I’ve reminded them of Ruth.
If you read her story in the Bible, perhaps she had an entirely different scenario on her hands than just delighting in a man and wondering if he felt the same about her.
Either way her communication with Boaz lacked the fear and flimsiness a lot of communication between men and women seem to have today.
Rather than waiting around at home for some “spiritual” feeling, or assuming that the man would make the first move, Ruth knew her worth and trusted the Lord’s providence as she conveyed to Boaz her respect and trust for him.
In essence, she was putting her heart in his proverbial court and saying, “my fate is in your hands.”
Why don’t we do this anymore?
Instead, culture tells us:
“Just be careful,
Love ain’t simple,
Promise me no promises.”
Because playing it safe is always easier, and contracts hold less risk than covenants.
I think Sebastian from the Little Mermaid was onto something when he sang,
There you see her sitting there across the way. She don’t got a lot to say, but there’s something about her and you don’t know why, but you’re dying to try. You wanna kiss the girl. Yes, you want her. Look at her, you know you do. Possible she wants you too. There is one way to ask her: it don’t take a word, not a single word. Go on and kiss the girl.
Now I’m not suggesting we go around kissing people we find attractive in our first interactions with them.
But what if we lived in a world where people weren’t afraid to say how they feel, or who didn’t fear rejection?
I think a lot of our interactions with friends, even strangers would look a lot different if we became people who spoke the truth without fear, who looked each other in the eyes and confirmed the other’s worth?
Too many people hide behind their phones and easy, surface-level questions these days.
How different would our relationships with friends, romantic interests, and strangers be if we weren’t afraid to be seen, to let our words speak louder than passivity?
Brene Brown hits the nail on the head for those of us women who have been told to wait for the guy to make the first move: “Even to me the issue of ‘stay small, sweet, quiet, and modest’ sounds like an outdated problem, but the truth is that women still run into those demands whenever we find and use our voices.”
She says, “Nothing has transformed my life more than realizing that it’s a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reaction of the people [around me].”
Withholding your feelings for fear of risking a friendship is a lame excuse in my book. Your friends are either true ones who see your vulnerability as courage, or they are sources of shame, in which case they deserve to be rooted out and confronted.
Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare. -B. Brown
So to the girl who likes the boy (or vice-versa), will you fight passivity with me and let your voice be heard? Will you stand for vulnerability and the courage to be seen?
If no one has told you yet, let me be the first to say: love is always worth the gamble. And I don’t just say so because it’s worked in my favor.
I say so because even the relationships that haven’t lasted, but that I’ve risked love for, they have all been worth the exercise of my courage to engage and hope and be vulnerable.
And I’m convinced if we don’t practice courage and candor in the here and now, we’ll be weak and inexperienced when the future offers us a reality that’s better than our dreams.