Two years ago on Valentine’s Day, I was washing my hands in the bathroom when I heard my RA come into my suitemate’s room.
“Ooooooooo!” she squealed when she saw a vase of flowers on my suitemate’s desk. “Who are those for?!”
“I don’t know,” my suitemate mumbled in that JU apathy kind of way.
“Are they yours?”
“Are they Sarah’s?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Are they Renee’s?”
There was no response. I dried my hands.
“Well, they can’t be Gabi’s.”
My heart sank. When my suitemate came in my room shortly after, she knew that I had heard. I forced a smile and shrugged my shoulders. In this feminist generation that “doesn’t need men,” I didn’t want to be seen as petty or self-focused, so I pretended that it didn’t bother me that people still saw me as someone who wasn’t worth a $20 vase of flowers.
Carvel Cake and the Greatest Man Alive
I wish y’all knew me as a child. Oh, how I had the world. My super-hero parents filled our house with books and laughter. I didn’t care that I was shy or that I stayed inside while the kids played because I thought the fireworks were too loud. I didn’t care how many flowers I was worth because all I wanted to do was dance and read and laugh.
When I was ten, I went with my parents to a friend’s house. I remember this day so well. It was Annette and Luis, and we were celebrating their anniversary. We bought them a Carvel ice cream cake because that was their favorite. We sang the “Happy Anniversary” song and clapped. Luis put a lime in my dad’s sweet tea and he hasn’t gone back since. Toward the end, Annette showed my dad a picture of their son. It was a prom photo. His date was wearing a beautiful floor length aqua satin dress, and their son was wearing a tie that matched. She went on about how proud she was of him. My dad, being the hopeless romantic that he is, described prom to me. His eyes lit up.
“I have to teach you how to dance! Someday a guy is going to ask you to dance, and I want you to know what to do.”
Weeks after that party, my dad would teach me how to waltz. I know. My dad is greatest man alive.
That day opened up a new concept to me that I never thought about before. This world that had Carvel ice cream cake and lime sweet tea also had romance. From all of the stories I was told about it, I knew that the world wouldn’t give it up too freely.
A Call to Persevere
I tried for weeks to tell myself that this wasn’t worth writing about. For seven years, people have told me that the pain that comes with they can’t be Gabi’s moments is petty and a poor excuse to lose momentum in life. They’ve told me that longing for that type of connection is embarrassing and desperate. They’ve snapped their fingers in Z formation and told me that craving a man is exactly like needing one. Find happiness in yourself, darling, they would say as they primp in the mirror for their date. Vulnerability shows weakness. It’s just not a good look, honey.
Now, when I have a crush, I feel ashamed. When I want to know what it’s like to go on a date, I feel ridiculous. When I dream about having a family someday, I mock myself. Because nobody told me that it’s okay to want the glow that I saw in Annette and Luis’ eyes.
And as I sit in a chair that I reserve for time with God, I feel uncomfortable letting Him love me. The world has taught me two things: 1.) It’s not okay to desire love, and 2.) It can’t be yours anyway. So whenever I feel this deep longing to get closer with God, my natural response is to shut it down. I can’t pursue God because I won’t let God pursue me. I tell Him, “I’ll serve You, just don’t make me love you. I’ll do ministry for you and read about you, but don’t make me search for an everlasting love.”
As we move into a season of what Derrick likes to call “spiritual intensity” and what I like to call “Welcome to everything I’m afraid of,” I hold on to a section that is titled in my Bible as “A call to persevere.” The beautiful text reads this:
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:19-23)
I feel as though A.W. Tozer and I must have had tea or something when he says in his book The Pursuit of God, “we have ceased to love Him, and in guilt and fear have fled as far as possible from His Presence. Yet who can flee from his Presence when the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him?”
If you, like me, are restless about the journey ahead and don’t know if this spiritual climb of drawing near is something you can confidently move forward in, I encourage you to read the section in Tozer’s book titled Removing the Veil.
And if you ever doubt in your heart that God loves you, your restless heart is proof that He does.
Praying that you accept God’s love this week.