Like many little girls, I grew up fascinated by the idea of one day being a bride.
While most girls’ daydreams are comprised of big white dresses, bridesmaids, and a mystery groom, I grew up wondering about what it would be like to walk down the aisle because I lost my father to cancer at the tender age of five.
When my Daddy died, I could sense my mother’s sadness. With youthful optimism and childlike faith, I told her not to worry – she could find another husband.
April 9, 2010: Through events (both divine and comical) and strong intuition, even before Nick asked, I knew that this was the weekend we would get engaged.
We had started dating the fall before, and when we “made it official” in October, we had an open conversation about our expectations and timeline for the relationship. Nick and I agreed that within six months, we wanted to know whether our relationship would continue towards marriage or end knowing we gave it our best shot. While that may sound too rigid for some, we had dated before in the fall of 2008 without clearly understanding what the hopes of the other person were (Nick wanted something serious, and I basically just wanted to get over my ex). After half a year of growing together as a couple, engagement was inevitable.
In honor of this day of love, here is one from way, way back – nine years ago! This was my heart at nineteen, and it marks a specific point in time when I realized that writing, especially about matters of the heart, really mattered to me. This is a post from my college blog that had friends and strangers on campus stopping me on campus to talk about it. I look back now at this girl, who seems all at once very separate from who I am now, and yet I remember her like an old friend. 2005’s Erika had no idea she would meet her future husband a little more than two years later at the school she transferred to in order to pursue her writing passion, and that as a newlywed of three years in 2014 she would still be trying to grasp the idea of true love.
Valentine’s Day 2005
staying home alone on a friday flat on the floor looking back on old love (or lack thereof) after all the crushes have faded and all my wishful thinking was wrong i’m jaded… i hate it i’m tired of being alone so hurry up and get here so tired of being alone so hurry up and get here you’ll be so good for me. – John Mayer
With Valentine’s Day (or “Singles Awareness Day” for those without a significant other) approaching, I keep hearing my single friends complaining about how much they hate the holiday, how it’s all about ripping people off. Last year I was really proud of myself, because I went out with a bunch of my girls for V-Day, and I can say at that point in time, I was really content in simply being alone. I won’t lie, this year, I’ve joined in the complaining and self-pity a bit. I’m going on 30 months of being single, and honestly? I’m really quite sick of it. I’ve thrown up my hands more than once in the past semester and said “screw this waiting around thing, I’m going to have some fun.” It’s funny though, how every time I do that, I end up feeling emptier and more frustrated than I started out. I’ve found myself repeating the same mistakes I’ve been making all of my life – mistakes I swore I’d never make again.
I was a nanny for two kids this summer, and one of them I talk to online every once in a while. I was looking at her profile today, and it’s filled with quotes about boys and love and how she’s “still waiting for her prince.” I wish I had the power to tell her not to set her heart on the love of a boy. She’s in sixth grade. I know it’s almost pointless to even try to tell middle schooler not to obsess over the idea of a relationship. They’re all so new to this, and they’re in love with having someone to crush on. They think they’re little adults. I know I spent my middle school years flirting as much as possible, and reveling in the attention of the opposite sex. I remember having my little heart bruised when I fell hard for someone and my feelings weren’t reciprocated. I remember falling “in love” for the first time in eighth grade, and how completely horrible I felt when it ended.
The way I was in middle school set me up for an even worse struggle in high school. In every relationship I went into, I wanted that boy to love me for who I was, not for what I could do for his ego or his reputation. I never found that in a relationship, because I didn’t have a clue as to what respect looked like. I had my heart shattered time after time, often by the same boy, because I didn’t know that things weren’t supposed to be like that. I knew to a point – it killed me every time he’d tell me how hot this other girl was, or when he’d curse at me, or when he’d remind me if I didn’t put out, he wouldn’t stay. But I let myself be blinded by the times he’d whisper in my ear how much he loved me, or when he told me I was beautiful to him whether I was in scrubs or the prom queen. That wasn’t enough. That wasn’t real love. Sometimes we all need a reminder of what real love looks like. Real love truly isn’t a feeling. It’s a commitment. It’s so much more than we can really even grasp.
This is real love:
love never gives up. love cares more for others than for self. love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end.
– 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (MSG)
I want to love and be loved like that.
With God’s help, I’m going to try my best to praise Him in my singleness; to be content with right now. My heart longs for a man like David, for my “Prince Charming.” But I’ve still got time. I’ll be 20 in May, and although in my life plan, I’d hoped to have met “the one” by about now, sometimes God plucks our plans right out of our fingers and says, “My child, this is what I want for you. What I have is so much better.” I have no idea what God’s up to, but in the meantime, I’m going to keep pursuing my love relationship with Christ. After all, I know that I won’t be capable of loving like I should unless I’m learning from the author of love Himself.
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Whether you’re single or in a relationship, what are you learning about love?