30 minutes in I realized just how long it had been since my friend and I shared a table together. And I also noticed how the discussion had shifted back to me quite frequently. He stayed at the surface of his story about financials and friends. It was obvious he was dodging until I pressed into the personal parts, like relationships and dating.
“The truth is you are a good person and she is a good person and your dinner together was a culmination of two really great people coming to the table with charming souls to share,” I suggest. He is stunned by the honesty in this statement and we stare as these bittersweet morsels sink in.
She told him she wasn’t ready for a relationship. Those words shatter a man’s self-esteem with rejection.
My friend doesn’t want to accept a variable equation where good plus good includes carry overs to help us grow; he expects these exchanges to equal happily ever after.
“Don’t let the lack of her readiness speak rejection over your soul,” my voice whispers through the noise. “Look at me and hear these words, you are worthy. She is worthy, and she is not ready to receive that.”
Before he can salute this sage suggestion, I credit the man who simultaneously broke and mended my heart with these words.
Grasping to accept the brutal and beautiful truth, we stew over our menu. Or at least I was. In the silence, his heart was souring in light of my certainty.
Looking up from the insert of specials, I ask if he knows what he wants.
“What women want is a man who treats them less than they deserve,” he gathers.
It is clear bitterness has barged in offering a menu with some bite.
“Don’t go there,” I say. “Some women settle for less than they deserve. It is a lost battle with self-esteem.”
The taste of a woman’s sabotage is pungent for a goodhearted man to hear, mostly to men like my friend, who have protected purity because of what he believes; she is the beauty and he is the beast.
He stares at his plate and stabs the Caesar salad with his fork, “it doesn’t make sense and now I don’t know what to do.”
Sadly, I’m afraid I stirred up more confusion in this conversation than where his convictions led him before dinner was served.
Buried beneath the bewilderment, I can see he is scared. He spent seven years waiting on a woman he concluded was ‘the one’. And now she’s not. The painful admission of his past associates his responsibility with her integrity; his willingness to stay with her decision to walk away.
We’re on to the main course as he finally cuts into the slice of sirloin and baked potato, “I just don’t know if I can wait on someone like that again.”
Contentment has been the centerpiece of this conversation, with self-esteem and pride dipping and dodging around the table to get a clearer view.
As a woman with more remorse than respect for the way she’s treated a man, I must say to you now, what she couldn’t say then.
The way your heart loves generously is how Christ loved the Church. Your words stir more healing and forgiveness than burden with hurt. Your reflection encourages the hopeless; your hand gives joy to the homeless. Your subtle strength to protect souls over sharing their stories is simply admirable. I see a man still mounted on his horse while blazing through his own battles. Yes, I see you clearly; a man after God’s own heart. I am in awe of you, and I’m scared.
If I accept your love, then I too must acknowledge God’s mercy. But my struggles are still in me and I’m just not ready. I don’t know when the slate of my soul will feel clear, yet having you wait is my greatest fear.
The tone in my voice grates through a generous wedge of his reality and shreds the truth into bite-size helpings he can digest.
Her fight with the former is not meant for his medal of honor in the future. She must find the bravery to face these mistakes in her own timeline.
Though every prince wants the privilege to gallop in on Goliath, every princess must stir up strength to stand and slay her own struggles.
And my friend, well, he must stand guard over his own heart, and silence the voices sizing up a prince’s value with the world’s vision of what it means for a man and woman to be apart.