For my dear friend.
She wasn't your average girl. She was spunky. She was SMART. She was sweet, like in the "I'm going to tell it to you how it is, but make you feel good about it" way. And she was LOUD. Somehow, despite being an introvert, her voice could be heard through walls. Multiple walls. Sometimes as far as the cafeteria a block away. It was usually an uncontrollable laugh. Actually, it was ALWAYS a laugh. Laughter followed by a shake of her head.
She lived in the dorm room across the hall from me in college. While I hailed from the West Coast, she hailed from the East Coast, in Amish country, too. But you'd never know it, because she blared Muse and Death Cab for Cutie and Anberlin. The Amish don't listen to that stuff, right? Plus, she dressed like a quirky trendsetter. We'll call it artsy-chic-vintage. And she never went anywhere without her MacBook and keyboard piano.
Like most college-aged girls, she was BOY CRAZY, but in the Bethany-way, which was more like internally boy crazy and totally cool-headed on the outside. You see, when she liked a boy, there was a LOT of internal Bethany dialogue. And where there's internal girl dialogue, there's most certainly SHARING of that dialogue with friends, if only to make sense of it. Or to vent. Mostly to vent.
These are her stories.
Or one story. This is just one story. One. Important. Story. Slightly dramatized for storytelling purposes.
The Setting: An island. A dorm. A linen closet.
The Characters: A girl. A boy. And friends who lived 1,000 miles away.
She was sitting on the floor of the linen closet, bawling her eyes out. Snot dripped from her nose. Her throat stung. She had to take a few deep breaths to prevent herself from hyperventilating. Her hands clutched her cell phone and she sniffled. "I just don't understand boys."
On the other end of the phone, two friends tried to cajole her with "boys are stupid" statements, but she could only hear her own sobs.
She was deeply in like with the boy who lived down the hall. He bickered with her. Poked fun at celebrities. Loved her musical taste. And it seemed like he went out of his way to make her feel noticed and appreciated.
But that's where it ended, and she was driving herself crazy trying to understand why he didn't ask her out? Why didn't he see that she was like putty in his hands?
"I don't understand if he's completely CLUELESS or what," she sniffled. "Is it all in my head? Should I say something? Do I stuff these feelings inside forever? I can't do that. I'll burst. I mean, if he—"
Suddenly, the door to the linen closet burst open!
The phone slipped from her grasp and hit the linoleum floor with a thump! She stared up at him, mouth wide open.
There he was, the BOY, staring at her, one hand outstretched to grab a fresh towel and the other holding a basket of dirty socks. "Oh, hi, uh sorry." Then he backed away and closed the door. She listened as his feet pitter-pattered away.
And that was it.
The absurdity of it all made her want to crawl in a hole and die. Now not only was she more embarrassed than she'd ever been in her life, but she still wanted nothing more than for him to come back, sweep her off her feet and carry her away into the sunset.
So this was her life. The boy she liked found her crying in the linen closet about him and STILL had NO IDEA SHE WOULD GIVE ANYTHING TO BEAR HIS CHILDREN.
Nope. He'd just turned around and walked away, leaving her alone in a linen closet. Crying.
Bethany and I have a lot in common when it comes to dating: Zero experience. We both liked boys that NEVER liked us back. And we both had ridiculously high standards.
One of the things I admire most about Bethany was her resilience. With every rejection, she eventually bounced back. No matter how many times she had to replay her frustrations internally or externally, she didn't let loneliness win the war. And despite those embarrassing moments, she matured into a woman who was confident in God's plans and content with being single.
Please understand, this maturity wasn't easy. IT TOOK YEARS. And I'm sure it came with a lot of praying, venting, crying and failed attempts at surrendering her thoughts and emotions. Nevertheless, she persevered. She was resilient.
So when she met David, I knew all her resilience had paid off.
Enter David, circa 2015.
Now, here was a man of God who pursued her, like TRULY pursued her. Who looked forward to talking with her and listening to her. Who encouraged her and challenged her to be a better person. Who knew more about the Bible than she did. Who made her laugh uncontrollably. Who comforted her when she cried. Who focused on making her happy by posting cute kittens, puppies, mini horses and hedgehogs to her Facebook wall. Who helped her think differently about the world with his calm, easy going personality. Here was a man who obeyed God at just the right moment, or he would have missed his chance with her.
Literally, if he hadn't had the audacity and boldness to ask her to coffee to get to know her more, HE WOULD HAVE MISSED HIS CHANCE. Guys, she was MOVING 500 MILES AWAY. Like the next week. Moving. So he manned up and asked her out. And she had the faith in God's timing and peace of self to simply say YES without expecting anything.
The beauty of their story is seeing how God guided them to each other so that she could find the MAN who would always want to kneel down beside her in that linen closet and HOLD HER. Actually, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't just hold her. He'd bring up pictures of cute hedgehogs on his phone to help her stop crying. He'd pray with her. He'd listen to her. Then he'd tell her she's wonderful and cherished and beautiful and rescue her from that cramped, dark space. And he'd never let her go back.
Looking back, Linen Closet Boy is mostly just a silly story. But he's important, too, because he's symbolic of so many guys out there who "just aren't that into you" and the reason so many girls are heartbroken and lonely. Linen Closet Boy isn't the ONE. Linen Closet Boy isn't the man he needs to be yet. Linen Closet Boy should serve as a reminder that he's just that, some nameless boy who was just a boy who wasn't right for HER. And he's not right for YOU, either.
So stop pining over the Linen Closet Boys of the world. Seek God first and strive for contentment in your singleness SO THAT if God has a Man planned for you, you don't miss him because you're too infatuated with the wrong guy.
Bethany, I am so proud of you. I am so proud of your resilience and the transformation of your heart. Your story is incredible. Share it with as many girls as you can. It's a story of hardship, grief, rejection, silliness, emotional breakdowns, surrender and immeasurable joy.
And this is just the beginning.
Be confident in your relationship. Be confident in your marriage! You already know that it won't always be rainbows and sunshine, but don't forget: This was ordained and orchestrated by our God. Treasure it. Honor it. Never cease maturing in the Lord so that you can be the wife you've been called to be.
You got this.