Patient People

Two years ago a friend and I grabbed one of the last tables at 3rd and Lindsley. We ordered fried pickles and the hot salt perfectly melded with cool ranch dressing. A few feet away, Andrew Ripp belted out an a capella rendition of Joy to the World and the whole crowd clapped along. Christmas spirit descended in to our midst and there was no containing our joy.

Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors took the stage and it should have been enough but there my thoughts went wandering. All over a boy. Not much else would take my mind off of music. A few weeks prior, a much anticipated second date transpired. The kind of evening where you sense a third date will emerge. Only one hadn’t. We’d fallen back in to the “will he or won’t he” dance that permeated our interactions for months.

Sure, I became frustrated when it seemed the banter was going nowhere. But then he’d reference something obscure I’d told him and something told me to be patient. Patience isn’t my strong suit, despite its recurring theme in my life.

I rationalized his caution. I so rarely meet intriguing single men that I had a hard time sticking to the conflicting dating advice I received. If he’s into you, he’ll pursue you. Don’t say yes if he asks you out over text message. Ask him where it’s going. Let him set the tone. And on and on it went.

I was confused but mostly accepted that a third date looked unlikely. I didn’t want to wait for him to make up his mind. This unknowing had gone on long enough. (If you only knew how long.)

However, it didn’t keep me from wondering about him as Drew and Ellie sang. The room teemed with reminders of my singleness- song lyrics, Drew and Ellie’s chemistry, couples at surrounding tables. It was bittersweet to have experienced the promise of a relationship so close to Christmas. It may only been a couple of dates but that first date was unlike others I’d been on.

It made me think this guy would be different, that this could be my bright light in a year marked with uncertainty and loss. When the inevitable question arose at holiday gatherings, I could practically picture myself leaning in to tell an aunt, “well, there is this one guy…” But it apparently wasn’t meant to be.

It was a great show, despite my distracted thoughts. My friend and I agreed it should be a yearly tradition. Once home, I puttered around, my thoughts racing back toward him. The “what if’s?” had their say and then the “why me’s?”, followed by “I’m going to be alone forever.”

I surveyed the wreckage of my dating life and could only come to that conclusion. A couple of dates dashed my contentment to pieces. With Christmas around the corner, I felt alone. Not lonely, mind you. But alone.

A few weeks prior, my younger brother married. A few weeks before that our grandmother died unexpectedly. The landscape of our family would look markedly different this holiday season but I stayed the same. No boyfriend or fiance to speak of. Just me.

All these thoughts flooded my mind until I bowed low on the floor of my bedroom and prayed. Prayed for the man who did not want to date me, prayed for how I would survive another solo Christmas, prayed that no one would pour salt in to this wound.

I didn’t want to be single for another Christmas. Not because singleness is awful- I’ll fight anyone who says that- but because I want to share my life with someone. I want to hold my husband’s hand as we sit around the tree at my parent’s house. I want to experience the magic of the season in a whole new way.

It hadn’t happened two years ago and it hasn’t happened now. A good man is hard to find and it only seems more difficult at Christmas.

I’m used to navigating life by myself. Most days I scarcely notice I’m alone because this is simply life and a glorious one at that. But there are moments when my aloneness screams at me: church, Christmas, weddings, funerals, family gatherings.

I know I’m not truly alone. I am connected to all manner of family and friends. They ground me. I may wish to share my life with the man of my dreams but I am already sharing my life with people who love me as I am.

The other day I read Henri Nouwen’s words on waiting in the Advent book Watch for the Light. He says, “patient people dare to stay where they are.” Hopeful waiting is patient and open-ended and oh is this my struggle when it comes to dating and so many other things.

So I circle back to the lesson I’ve been learning the last few years: I’m tethering my hopes and dreams to the present. I’m daring to see what else is left to learn about being alone.

Dating at Christmas

31 Responses to “Dating at Christmas”

  1. the Blah Blah Blahger December 6, 2013 at 8:23 am #

    “Patient people dare to stay where they are.” – WOW. I’ve never heard that before and certainly have never considered it. It’s not an easy one to swallow…but it’s something I’ll certainly be milling over all day.

    Great post. I get it. I understand. I’m with you.

    • Leigh Kramer December 6, 2013 at 10:04 am #

      That line stopped me in my tracks when I read it. I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.

      Glad we’re in this together, friend.

  2. Katie @ cakes, tea and dreams December 6, 2013 at 8:41 am #

    Waiting for anything we want badly is SO hard. I wish I knew what to say, but mostly I’m proud of you for sitting in the discomfort. Hugs from New England.

    • Leigh Kramer December 6, 2013 at 10:05 am #

      I don’t think there’s a better response than that. Thank you, Katie!

  3. Carrie December 6, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    Love this. Thanks for sharing and being so honest. It’s funny because I write this as I wait for a text/email/phone call after date #2. And I am starting to think there won’t be one. You articulated my feelings exactly!

    • Leigh Kramer December 6, 2013 at 10:05 am #

      Oh, gosh! What timing. Wishing you well as you wait, Carrie.

  4. Mark Allman December 6, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    Waiting is hard work and work it is. To wait without taking action also takes a lot of discipline. I know I feel like I want to “help” God move something along that I am waiting on. At times when I have done that I have created disasters. It takes wisdom to know when to sit with something without taking action. All difficult things to do.
    I wish you well in your waiting.

    • Leigh Kramer December 6, 2013 at 10:06 am #

      So difficult to do but I know in this case, it’s necessary. Thank you, Mark.

  5. AmberC Haines December 6, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    I’m circling back to some lessons, too. Love you, friend.

  6. Kelly Sauer December 6, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Christmas was always the hardest time for me after I got my heart ripped up by my first love. Everything seemed to be built around family and tradition and romance and togetherness that I simply did not have on so many levels. I think everybody is so wrapped up in the way *they* want to spend Christmas, they sometimes forget that others who don’t have what they have are hurting and alone, for all the busyness of the season.

    God and I had some seriously hard conversations about it, and the Christmas I fell in love with the guy I married, I almost chose not to. There was a lot of risk for me to open my heart up, especially at Christmas, especially since we were already surrounded by a lot of disapproval for our very real friendship.

    But something I’d learned to believe after my heart got broken, and something I kept believing enough then – time is the breeding ground for love, especially for us humans. I said yes to not growing bitter about Christmases after I got hurt, and yes to trying to love and accept that I was loved, and every day now for almost ten years, I’ve continued to say yes and stay where I am as God moves pieces I didn’t know existed back when I got hurt and sat hard in that patient place.

    This is good – honest, and very, very good. I pray that you, and other single girls I love, won’t feel so alone this year.

  7. Keri December 6, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    This is beautifully written. And, I love that Nouwen quote. I’m in a different kind of waiting period myself. It’s so easy for me to grow discouraged and frustrated. I try to focus in on the lessons God has for me, but I lose sight of that on the daily. I’m so grateful, like you, for a community of friends who support me and encourage me in this time. Stay strong, friend.

    • Leigh Kramer December 6, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

      It’s so hard to stay focused and hopeful when we’re in the middle of a time of waiting. Glad you have people surrounding you, Keri.

  8. Emily December 6, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this, Leigh. Life is weird and this season is filled with so much longing. I’m sorry this didn’t pan out the way you’d hoped and I’m really glad you shared this vulnerability with us.

    • Leigh Kramer December 6, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

      It is filled with so much longing, isn’t it? In hindsight, I can say it’s best this particular relationship didn’t work out. And yet it’s hard to remember when Mr. Wonderful still hasn’t come along.

  9. Annie Barnett December 6, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    I love that Nouwen quote, and I’m grateful for your honest words, and your hope here. I’m so glad you write.

    • Leigh Kramer December 7, 2013 at 7:59 am #

      Thank you, friend. And thank you for sensing my hope.

  10. Diana Trautwein December 6, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

    I’m proud of you for sitting with the discomfort, too, Leigh. I think that’s one of the hardest things we are asked to do – to wait, to inhabit the ‘now,’ and the ‘what is,’ when our hearts want to pull us to the ‘what if’s.’ Thank you for your honesty here.

    • Leigh Kramer December 7, 2013 at 8:00 am #

      It is so hard! I kind of think that’s why the lesson keeps circling back around. Because it’s not my natural instinct to stay present, to revel in the Now. But life is so much better when I can.

  11. Shelly December 7, 2013 at 6:40 am #

    I love getting your blog posts in my inbox — so refreshing and authentic. I can resonate with the idea that the landscape of your family would look different this year, but you stayed the same. Loss amplifies all of that, and it is so painful. Thank you for sharing your soul with the world.

  12. Brenda December 7, 2013 at 8:52 am #

    Thank you for sharing this. That quote struck me powerfully too because I find myself fighting impatience from the outside as well as from the inside. It’s hard when people see the waiting as your own fault or inaction instead of an attempt to be at peace with what you currently can’t change. I pray that we’ll both find some joy in the patience this Christmas season.

  13. Cara Strickland December 8, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    Thank you so much for your vulnerability here, Leigh.
    As another single woman at Christmas, I’m resonating with this, and also trying to lean in to the discomfort. Happy to be walking in this alongside you.

  14. Sarah Caldwell December 8, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    Thank you for these incredible words – so real and vulnerable and so beautifully written. I have felt those feelings. I remember 4 years ago when I was single, and my Father unexpectedly died a few weeks before Christmas. Nothing about navigating dating and singleness is easy – especially in the moments you talk about at the holidays. You are so strong and your hope brings tears of happiness and yes to my eyes. Thank you also for sharing Nouwen’s quote. I read that book last Advent, and don’t remember that quote. (Probably b/c I’m the epitome of NOT being patient.) Such profound wisdom from Nouwen, and also from you.

  15. Jemelene December 9, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    This holds so much truth for so many of us wherever we are. It speaks to me about being full in the “in betweens”. Thank you for writing this and for your post about being “the one who got away”. Both pieces hold so my strength and hope right where we are.

  16. katie hampton December 10, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    Somehow I missed this on the day it was posted, but I’d like to say, “I get you. I understand completely.” I’m going to share it with my friend, Steph, too. She gets it as well.

  17. Leelee December 10, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

    Thank you for sharing. One of my best friends got engaged last weekend. While I am quite happy for her, there is a part of me that longs for what I do not yet have. I can see what I almost have, but forget all the blessings that have already been given to me.

  18. Soyjoya December 10, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

    Thanks for sharing. I too am in that place of waiting for #3 with Christmas lights and holiday parties making the longing expand in ways that want to consume me. I loved the line…”A couple of dates dashed my contentment to pieces.” God and I have had many chats about that very thing. How quickly I tossed my contentment and my focus on God out the window as my thoughts were consumed by this ‘boy’. It helps knowing I’m not alone.

  19. Sarah Allen December 12, 2013 at 4:52 am #

    Good word for many I’m different scenarios of waiting. Favorite line:

    “Hopeful waiting is patient and open-ended and oh is this my struggle when it comes to dating and so many other things.”

    Romans 8:25 was my best friend as a single gal before getting married. Hope it brings strength to you while you wait to share your life with someone. :)

  20. Sarah Allen December 12, 2013 at 4:54 am #

    *in different scenarios of waiting

    Blast this auto correct!!!

  21. Patty December 30, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    I think I read this when you originally posted it, but since then have met and went on several dates with a guy… now tomorrow is New Years Eve and I haven’t heard from him! Trying to be patient and like you mentioned sift through all the conflicting dating advice=)

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