I love to write about the dudes who got it wrong. The bad pick-up lines. The poor grammar. The ill timing (I'm talking about you, Pallbearer Looking For a Date After the Funeral).
If you have no idea what I'm saying, go back and read "How Not to Get a Date With An Unmarried (Female) Pastor" and "Why This Single Clergywoman is Not Your Valentine." For a more recent installment in the dudes I've met but thankfully never known, check out "The Fisherman At Kroger."
One of the reasons I enjoy reflecting on failed attempts at courtship is that they make me laugh. When I wrote those posts, many folks responded to tell me that they also laughed. My heart smiled that words I put together for fun struck you as funny, too. Thank you, beloved readers, for sharing in the joy of real life with me.
Alongside the dudes who could use a crash course in Dating 101 are the guys who got it right. They said or did something that made me see how valuable I am as a child of God. They cared. They paid attention. Here are a few of those moments.
1. The Guy Who Chose the Right Movie
During sophomore year of college, I had a few dates with a guy I met in Differential Equations class. No, fellow ministers, that is not a class you missed in seminary. Once upon a time I got a degree in mathematics, and I had a lot of classes with engineers. One of them sat behind me in Diff EQ (Methodists aren't the only people who overuse acronyms!).
Conveniently, those few dates occurred in February, so he asked me to go to a movie on Valentine's Day. He didn't tell me which movie until we were on our way to the theater. We pulled into the parking lot of the IMAX theater to see Beauty and the Beast.
I said, "I've never been to an IMAX movie, and I wanted to see this!"
He said, "I know. You told me."
"You mentioned it in class a few weeks ago. Everyone was talking about movies they were going to see that weekend, and you said you wanted to save your money to come to this one."
I did save my money as he paid for both of our tickets. Seeing Beauty and the Beast dance around that huge theater was magical, and I loved every minute. Even though the relationship did not last, I am still grateful to that guy from math class because he listened and responded so kindly to my wish.
2. The Guy Who Said the Right Thing
While attending a worship conference in Kansas City, I stopped in a Starbucks near the hotel to read before the morning service. A group of guys came in, all carrying their Bibles. I sat at a nearby table and read C.S. Lewis' book, The Screwtape Letters.
As they left, one of the guys approached me. He said, "Hey, I just wanted to tell you that your shoes are really cool. And it's really cool that you're reading C.S. Lewis. So, um, yeah I guess I'm trying to say you seem really cool, and I hope to see you at the conference." He hurried out the door before I could respond.
So, Guy in Missouri Starbucks Many Years Ago, thank you. Instead of some icky question like, "How come you ain't got no 'rang' on that there left hand?", you paid me a compliment. You affirmed my reading selection. Your words make me smile after all this time. You seemed really cool, too. Would you be interested in teaching a session on Pickup Lines for Dating 101?
3. The Guy Who Asked the Right Question
I never liked wearing makeup, but I always put some on because I believed "that's what girls are supposed to do." The older I got, the less makeup I used -- except for church. I held on to some basic cosmetics to wear on Sundays.
One afternoon after the worship service, I met up with the guy I was dating at the time. He looked startled when he saw me.
"Are you wearing makeup?"
"Yep. I still do sometimes."
I started to answer, then I realized my answer was, "Because I'm supposed to." And I realized how silly that sounded.
He looked me in the eye and said, "You don't need it."
I later discovered that my black eyeliner, applied after I'd had two cups of coffee with apparently shaky hands, made me look like a wannabe linebacker on a football team. Lipstick extended beyond my lips into something clownish. I washed off the makeup and haven't applied any since then.
He only said five words to me in that exchange, but they were the right words at the right time. He encouraged me to be myself, to shake off the diseases of "should" and "supposed to." His question of "why" helped me to look for the answer in my own heart. And he did not say a word about the ridiculousness of my squiggled eyeliner and patchy pink lipstick.
4. The Guys Who Sent The Right Gift(s)
My friend, Meredith, had two admirers when we were college freshmen. As Valentine's Day approached, both of them sent her roses in the mail. Then more roses. By the time February 14 arrived, Meredith had received seven dozen roses from the two guys.
Because our single dorm rooms were only 8 1/2 x 12 feet, Meredith's room quickly resembled a funeral parlor as the flowers filled every inch. She walked into the hallway and declared the roses were no longer hers. They belonged to all the girls on the hall. She broke the bouquets down and handed out the roses to anyone who wanted them. It felt like Oprah giving away cars, but it was Meredith giving away flowers ("You get a rose! And you get a rose! And you get a rose!").
Those two guys gave Meredith a gift that she was able to share. Extravagant. Abundant. And perhaps a little crazy, too. Yet what they got right was a desire to show her how much they cared. When Valentine's Day ended, and we all sat in our tiny rooms with our individual bouquets of roses, the whole hall enjoyed the fruits of their kindness--and the generosity of our Oprah friend.
So, friends, may the guys who got it right remind us of how special each of you are, too. What can you say or do this Valentine's Day to make the heart of your brother or sister in Christ smile? As my favorite singer/songwriter/theologian, Paul Thorn, writes, "We can change the world with a little love / What have you done to lift somebody up?"
Go lift somebody's spirits with kindness. And don't forget to watch out for the dudes.
all good things to each of you,