Love the One You’re With?


Post Author: Name Withheld


3481606161_a866dbfb00_z (3)I can remember being told by some folks while I was in seminary that my best (and perhaps my only) chances of finding someone to love and marry would be before I was ordained. “Good luck finding a man who will be okay with the idea of being hooked up with a pastor,” they said. “If you ever find someone who doesn’t run at the mention of your profession, hold on to him,” they advised. “You’ll need to be ready to compromise and take what you can get,” they stated.

I’m sure that they meant well, but their “advice” was stifling. God had called me to be a pastor, but my profession (I was told) was a natural man-repellant. I imagined that I would either have to leave the ministry to find the man of my dreams or I would just have to settle for whomever came along and didn’t flinch too much when I told them what I did for a living.

For eight years, the ghost of “you’ll never find someone” haunted me. For eight years, the specter of “you’ll just have to settle” loomed over me. If my dating life had a theme song for those eight years, it would have been some haunting version of “Love the One You’re With,” sung in a sorrowful minor key. I was desperate to find real love, but it always seemed just out of my reach. So, like the song directs, I tried to love the one I was with. I tried. But, it didn’t work. I was miserable. Still, I put on a smile and told myself and others that everything was okay.

For eight years, I had forgotten who I was. I had forgotten about the talkative young woman who loved to laugh; instead, I had become the quiet gal who would cry herself to sleep at night. I had forgotten about the young woman who was proud to know which fork to use at a fancy dinner party; instead, I had become the girl who would ashamedly look the other way when her date would pick at his food with his fingers. I had forgotten about the professional young clergywoman who was happy to be a pastor; instead, I had become an apologetic young woman who resented her call.

That was then.

It is hard to describe my experience of resurrection, but “resurrection” is how I would describe my experience. When the person I had been seeing finally admitted that he was merely following the words of that song written by Stephen Stills, too, something inside me finally broke. I could not simply love the one I was with – and neither could he. The soundtrack to my dating life that had started playing while I was in seminary had been a lie. I was done with settling. I was done with thinking that I deserved less than others because of my profession. I was done with being someone I wasn’t.

I was reborn.

Since letting all of those false expectations and assumptions about dating and relationships be laid to rest, I have discovered a greater sense of peace. I know what I want in a relationship, and I have no desire to merely “settle.” I am better than that. God created me to be worth more than that. I deserve to be wanted. I deserve to be respected. I deserve to be genuinely loved. And that will mean that my future partner will have to want me and respect me and love me for who I am – including the fact (not in spite of the fact) that God called me to be a pastor. It may not happen overnight, but I have faith that someday I will not simply love the one I’m with – I will be with the one I truly love; and he will love me the same way.


Name Withheld

Image by: Jane Rahman, Yevy Photography
Used with permission
4 replies
  1. Heather
    Heather says:

    I’m pretty sure this is why I chose to marry my ex-husband right after I finished Div School & spent the next 8 years trying to make it work. Spoiler alert: it didn’t and I was miserable.

    Reply
  2. Stacy
    Stacy says:

    Yes, yes, and amen!! I got the same advice, and I’m sorry to say it has turned out to be true to some extent. There are men who are terrified by the notion of dating a minister. It does limit my dating options, no doubt. But I’m through being embarrassed of my calling, because the truth is, I love what I do. And it’s a huge part of what makes me who I am. I’m still waiting for the guy who can see the beauty in that, and I just recently got out of a two-month relationship that was very much a case of me saying, “Well, he’s not what I want, but at least he wants to be with me.” No!! I want better, and I can’t imagine that settling would make me happy (although it would probably make my mother ecstatic to finally get me married off). I’d rather be alone than be with someone I can barely have a conversation with, and who squirms at the mere mention of my calling. Thanks for this post.

    Reply
  3. Keri
    Keri says:

    Thank you for this post. I was also burdened by similar myths. I moved to a new city a year after graduating from seminary. When I finally felt ready to start dating after a long term/long distance relationship did not work out, I decided to try a dating website. My first profile did a really good job of being vague about my vocation. I mentioned that I am Christian and that my faith is important to me but thought: “As soon as a guy sees that I’m a minister he’ll flip to the next woman’s profile.” So I didn’t mention it. If you’ve ever tried online dating or known anyone who does, you know that people join them with all sorts of different intentions and are likely to petition you in reference to any of those intentions. I felt discouraged. Although it sometimes felt nice to get the attention, I wasn’t hearing from very many men with whom I was actually interested. Plus the men I did talk to weren’t too excited to hear that I had withheld a very significant part of who I am. I realized I was functioning out of a place of shame, that wasn’t even my own. I wasn’t ashamed to be a minister, but somehow I learned that I needed to be ashamed of it as a single woman. Plus I was assuming that all single men are shallow and uninterested in a woman of faith and commitment. So, I significantly changed my profile. I was open and confident about my vocation. As a result I started receiving messages from men who were interested in all of who I am (not just that I like ice cream and hiking). There were fewer messages, but they were people I actually wanted to meet. I’ve been dating one of these men for about 10 months now. He and I are both grateful I let go of the misplaced shame. We were unlikely to meet otherwise.

    Reply

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