I was a bit of a late bloomer. A tulip in October. Oh, sure. I could sponge on a good game of blue eyeshadow and had some sweet, tight, curling iron ringlets that I earnestly feathered and sprayed. But was I successful? Not really.
Now that’s not to say I was a stranger to “going” together. Beautiful days filled with passing notes, marking the yes box and then avoiding each other like the plague until a friend was sent to break up with you. I started with Troy and ended with Brian and filled all the years in between with spitty kisses, unrequited expectations and one poor mother’s stolen jewelry that was handed off to me in my coat pocket because I refused to pull my wrinkly, dry hand out of that pocket to clasp his sweaty palm.
Which reminds me, want to know how to keep your children chaste? Give them grandma hands. Or a concave bosom. Or warts or zits or some other hideous disfigurement they’ll be ashamed to parade in front of others and will go to great lengths to hide and never reveal. Just a thought. Anyway…
I finally emerged from the dirt just in time to press on some Lee nails and go on a blind date with a guy who had a heart of gold. He spent most of his attention and money on me and called me, “Beautiful” like it was his job. I loved it, but because I was still a bulb at heart, I didn’t fully understand my part in this relationship. One day I was talking to my friend at work and got a little confident.
“I can get a dozen roses.”
And when my boyfriend called me at work, asking what I was doing, I said, “Oh, just looking at Kristen’s half dozen roses…”
See what I did there?
By the end of the night, I had my dozen roses.
The relationship didn’t last, thank goodness. For both of our sakes. You see, I was a little disgusted with him—how easily I could play him. For years I told the story, always from the point of view of the woman who got what she wanted and lost respect for the man who gave it to her. It wasn’t until much later that I realized how embarrassed I should have been.
A few days ago, my daughter came home from a date.
“There’s something that kind of bugs me about him, Mom. It’s just…I feel like he would do anything for me. Like, anything. You know what I mean?” And I thought for a moment, remembering the boy of 18 who would have done anything for me.
“Yes, I do know what you mean.”
Then I thought about the 54 year old man by my side who was currently on day 763 of an unbroken streak spent scratching my back while we watched TJ Hooker. The man who would do anything for me. One I played. One I married. What was the difference?
The difference was me.
The world would have us believe that “edge” and “cynicism” trump giving hearts and happy eyes. That the guy willing to rub our feet is somehow inferior to the guy who refuses such an act, instead pulling off his own socks and wiggling his toes in our face.
The real question isn’t what is he willing to give…the real question is, what are you expecting to take?
When Heavenly Father wraps up a person who offers you his coat and holds your hand and sends you roses and calls you pretty, do you mock and roll your eyes and lose respect because the present isn’t edgy enough? Because you aren’t torn and bleeding from the sharp angles that hurt your feelings and make you cry? No.
What you do is you lift up that gift like a new baby in church, ooo and ahhh and appreciate every nuance of it, then declare in your LOUDEST spiritual voice how grateful you are to have this gift and that you will never, ever, take advantage of it.
And that you will try really hard not to ruin it.
And will make it homemade bread. And occasionally cheese soup.
And let it go four wheeling. And shoot guns.
And pull the long, gray hairs out of its ears at church so it doesn’t lose credibility.
And be its greatest hype man, loyal and adoring, and buy it great ties.
And will try not to yell when it crashes another really expensive drone.
But most importantly, even if that gift is willing to give his all, you will be unwilling to let him. Because you love him as much as he loves you.
(But you can for sure let him keep scratching your back because it seems like he must really enjoy it and you’re probably blessing his life, so it’s a win/win and everybody is happy.)