Sigh. Another coffee-date finished. Nice enough guy, good conversation, but no sparks. Not gonna happen. Cross that one off the prospective husband list. Next!
Sometimes this whole dating thing is exhausting. It’s draining, breaking the ice initially, generating conversation, then the meet-up. Emotions jump into play at some point along the way. Excitement builds, anticipation. Even expectation. Dreams of what the future might look like. A few dates later as the masks come off and the buzz dies down: reality. Cold, hard, disappointing reality.
Okay. Not always. Sometimes it does work out. Sometimes you do meet the man of your dreams, and — amazingly enough — you’re also the man of his dreams.
But not today. And I’m thinking about throwing in the towel. At least for a while. Seems like everyone I know keeps telling me “it’ll happen when you stop looking for it.” Boy, if I had a nickel for every time …
But is that really true? Does divine, mystical power suddenly explode when we step out of the way? I can see that could be the case in some situations, but is that really a good way to live your life? Just waiting for God to do something?
I sat there chewing on this thought while my coffee date was expounding at length about his ex-boyfriend. Yeah: I’m a great date.
Is that how life really works: things happen when you stop trying?
When I got laid off from my last job (excuse me, “down-sized”), I didn’t just sit around waiting for another job to land in my lap. I did what you gotta do. I networked. I talked to colleagues, friends, friends of friends. I got online, looked at job sites, looked at company HR pages. Of course I also prayed. Like crazy. But I hit the pavement (well, if you consider the internet “pavement”). And it paid off. It took a while, to be sure, but after several interviews, some good, some bad, some dead ends, some tantalizingly promising, I crossed the finish line at a nice little company who actually wanted my talent.
When a farmer wants crops in his field, does he “get out of the way” and let them just grow naturally? Does God do the work for him, while he sits back in his rocking chair on his porch, leisurely smoking his pipe? Hmm. I imagine he’s out there plowing up the ground, sowing seed, watering, fertilizing. And since he’s not organic, he’s pumping pesticides on them. Day after day, checking, tending, coaxing life from the ground. And then finally, harvest! Even then it’s back-breaking work. “By the sweat of your brow, you will eat your food until you return to the ground …” says God in the creation story.
And speaking of eating, when you’re hungry, do you just sit down at the table and expect food to appear? Maybe if you’re at P.F. Chang’s. But God doesn’t just serve it up on an oversized plate while you sit with hands folded.
So why would dating and spouse-finding be any different?
Well, yeah, God did bring Eve to Adam. He didn’t even know it was happening. So it is within the realm of possibility that it could happen. But even the famous guys in the bible had to go out looking for wives. Abraham sent his servant back to the homeland to get a wife for Isaac. Jacob jumped on a camel and drove to the old country to pick up Rachel. Sometimes you gotta hoof it a bit to find The One. (Oh, word to my lazy brothers who think dating out of town is too much work. When’s the last time you spent two weeks on a camel in the desert? The 3-hour road trip to Dallas isn’t gonna kill you. Maybe you don’t want it bad enough.)
Sorry. I just don’t see it. It’s perfectly fine to see God as your wingman when you’re cruising for love. (Cue theme music from Top Gun.) In fact, we should. If you’re a person of faith and you expect God’s blessing on the relationship, it’s probably a good idea to bring him in on it from the get-go. But we probably shouldn’t expect him to do all the work.
I had to jump on the internet to find a job. I had to network with friends. Finding a quality date works the same way. And yes, you can find love on Grindr. It’s rare, true, but I have a friend who met his boyfriend on Grindr. They’ve been together for over a year, and are talking about marriage. Better than that, they are actually happy. They enjoy each other’s company, they laugh a lot, they make me smile just seeing them together — and they’re both over 50 years old. (“Grindr: not just for the youngins”.) They give me hope.
So yeah, jump on Grindr. Use match.com, pof, phone apps, whatever. Talk to your friends: they know you, and they know other singles. Maybe they can play matchmaker. Try someplace new. Get out there. Do what it takes. Don’t give up, and don’t get all religious and spiritual-sounding about “leaving it in God’s hands.” God gave you hands and feet; I think he expects you to use them.
So maybe this nice guy, sipping his mocha latte with the interesting story about his former boyfriend, isn’t going to be my Mr Right. But I’ve still got plenty of apps on my phone.
STEVE SCHMIDT serves on the pastoral staff of Expressions Church in Oklahoma City. He is a graduate of the seminary at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, OK, and holds two masters degrees in Biblical Literature and Divinity. He did his doctoral research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York. He blogs at CafeInspirado.com, and you can always find him skulking on Facebook.