Not-Single Insight No. 2: Be Open to the Unexpected

Not-Single Insight No. 2: Be Open to the Unexpected

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Some of you who read "Thoughts of a Newly Not-Single" about how I met my boyfriend Kevin, may have noticed a puzzling time lapse: Met perfect-for-me, evangelism-bracelet-recognizing-guy in June; became not-single in March.

It was perfect and it was not perfect.

Two weeks after our initial meeting, I discovered that Kevin was significantly younger than me. We both decided at that moment (though of course unspoken) that the age difference was a deal breaker.

And so, life returned to normal and all thoughts of anything between us were forgotten. Kind of. The thing was, Kevin just kept popping up in my life. A month after we met, he was hired as a children's ministry coordinator at my church, so I saw him each Sunday. Then I organized a fundraising comedy improv show in the fall, and the woman in charge of finding actors recruited Kevin to act in the show.

Our interactions through those months, though completely platonic, revealed to each of us the character and vision of the other. Because I served fifth graders at our church, Kevin would hear about what I was doing from members of the children's ministry staff. I would watch his leadership in the children's area as well as among our peers.

In his sermon series on Song of Solomon, Tommy Nelson talks about Paul's analogy of a race for the Christian life. Nelson points out that as Christian singles "run the race" God has set before them, they should be looking to see who is to their right and left as they run. Who is keeping pace, running nearby, heading the same direction? "Ask that person to run a few laps," he says (speaking to the men). "That's dating or courtship."

That was Kevin's and my experience. As we were running (metaphorically), we would keep glancing over and seeing the other person. The final straw was when he asked me to co-lead a young adult Bible study at the beginning of this year. I accepted, still in a platonic state of mind, but the connection and cooperation we experienced as we began to do ministry together was too great to ignore. Eventually, we prayed through the age difference issue and felt peace about proceeding in spite of it.

Some dating and married friends of mine have described similar barriers that had to be overcome in their relationships. My sister had to accept her now-husband's speech impediment. Another friend had to come to terms with her boyfriend's diabetes. A third worked through being more highly educated than her intended. The violation of one's expectations can come in many forms.

In "Seven Myths Single Women Believe" I wrote:

Just as my junior high mind projected who I would recognize as "the one," my grown-up self entertains expectations of how I'll feel when my "soul mate" arrives on the scene. The truth is, God knows best the kind of man who will inspire me to greater devotion to Him. As I seek the Lord, I can trust Him to reveal that person to me in whatever way He sees fit.

The benefit of a not-perfect element to the relationship is that when God overcomes the barrier, you feel even more confidence in what He is doing. It also forces you away from your "checklist" for "the one" and opens the door for God to give you something you wouldn't have known to pick for yourself. In my experience, that something is better than you would have expected.

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  • Comment by  farmerTom:

    I'm very curious about this age difference thing, Suzanne. From your picture you appear to be about 18 maybe 21 max, what is this guy, 13 or something?

  • Comment by  MikeTheemling:

    I believe that I heard Nelson's series on Song of Solomon on CD some time ago.  It was pretty good and gave some insights that I've never considered before.

    Congratulations on your "newly not-single" status Suzanne.

  • Comment by  Carrietheoriginal:

    LOL @ farmer Tom . . . this is a good guessing game! :)

    Since Suzanne seems to be a somewhat-accomplished journalist, I'm going to say she is about 27. My guess is that Kevin is 23.

    With the guy being younger, I can totally understand why that could be a potential deal-breaker.

  • Comment by  Kellie:

    So you haven't followed the Boundless "rule" of meeting and getting married within a year. :-)  

    I think what you wrote is very true and important.  It seems that the singles I know who have been single are holding out for an ideal mate who doesn't exist.  I'm not exactly saying one has to settle, but there is no perfect person.

  • Comment by  Jo:

    Hahaha! I think Suzanne is older than she looks. :)  Which I'm guessing works out okay because she and Kevin probably don't look massively different in age, right?  (I look young too, I could probably date a teenager and get away with it from the looks perspective - not that I'm planning to...)

    Anyway, I met a couple on holiday last year where the wife was about 5 years older than the husband (34 and 29 I think).  Never would have guessed it in a million years, either from their looks or their personalities / behaviour.  They were a great match and a lovely couple.

    That said I totally understand the hesitation, I think I'd be the same.  But kudos on not letting it stay a dealbreaker when everything else fits.  :)

  • Comment by  Jo:

    Oh also Suzanne - did you put March and June round the wrong way?  Otherwise you must've started dating two months before you met, which would be quite miraculous...

  • Comment by  brx:

    That's interesting.  Age difference kept popping up in the back of my mind as an issue regarding a couple of wonderful, but older Christian sisters, which led me to back off.  Now I'm intentionally dating a gal who looks 25 and with my early grey, I look 45.  She says she doesn't have a concern with it, but I'm still concerned that some people will think me some kind of lech and/or that she has father-issues; though, our real difference is 7yrs.

    Suzanne, please don't state your age difference with Kevin on the Boundless line; I fear for the number of firm opinions you'd get!

    Grace, peace & adventure!

  • Comment by  LouisefromChicago:

    Comment 1, I always had the impression from Ms. Hadley's posts that she is in her late twenties/early thirties.

    She must just look young to you in her picture.

  • Comment by  CraigM:

    You're still single.  You have a boyfriend, but you're single.  Not trying to be rude, just saying.  

  • Comment by  SuzanneHadley:

    Farmer Tom, you are my new favorite person. Thank you! Yes, he has a rather lot of facial hair for his age.

  • Comment by  Julie:

    Very awesome, Suzanne!  You're so right about being able to be open to what you might not expect.  And I've always LOVED that look to the right, look to the left, and see who's running with you analogy, and didn't know where it came from - Thanks :)

    I had a similar story over the last year - we knew each other in the context of a big small group, then moved up into co-leadership, then started a smaller, deeper small group together, then found ourselves in the same ministry elsewhere, etc. All at a platonic level... but we kept glancing over (metaphorically) and seeing each other, and kept discovering more and more vision and passion in common. I'd dismissed him as a romantic potential for a long time because I made some hasty wrong assumptions, but over time we not only found ourselves working together but got to see each other's character (and his leadership) tested in many situations.

    "the connection and cooperation we experienced as we began to do ministry together was too great to ignore." -- Just so.

    So for a season we awesomely dated and looked toward engagement :) Sad ending (sorry) - he unexpectedly and for a rather stupid reason didn't get into pharmacy school, and once his intended means for provision got all disrupted, he tearfully ended our relationship and disappeared into his textbooks and work so as to get into pharm school this year. I love Boundless's emphasis on marrying wisely but earlier and not getting trapped in the "perfect financial picture" snare, but while he agrees, he can't get from here to there without being on the beginning of the path (accepted to grad school) to financial security. Bummer for me :)

    I've let it go as he's unavailable until further notice and have begun going on dates, but in the back of my mind is a niggling thought wondering what's going to happen in early '10 when he gets his acceptance letter....

  • Comment by  SuzanneHadley:


    Nope. Met June 2008; began dating March 2009.

  • Comment by  Sara:

    Tommy Nelson's series of messages on Song of Solomon are excellent and I would recommend them to anyone.  They are VERY insightful.

    Thanks for the post Suzanne!

  • Comment by  BDB:

    brx (#7) wrote:

    >>Suzanne, please don't state your age difference with Kevin on the Boundless line; I fear for the number of firm opinions you'd get!<<

    Opinion example: if Suzanne is involved with someone significantly younger, a guy here can get involved with a woman significantly younger, and the universal equation remains in balance!

  • Comment by  Andrea:

    I am looking forward to future installments, Suzanne!

    I had to chime in on this insight, because it is one that resonates with me. I'll be 29 this month, and am in a relationship with a wonderful Christian man who, at 27, just happens to be a year and a half younger than me. Now, that's not a "significant" gap by any means, but until last year, when I met him, it was a gap that I had been unwilling to even consider allowing. My "ideal" was someone at least a couple of years older than me.

    It's a real prejudice on our part as women, that we need to overcome. I'm glad God opened my eyes so I could see what a great opportunity I had in front of me.

    I must admit, though, that I still got a kick out of teasing my guy that if we had dated when we were younger he could have brought a college girl to prom (I was a sophomore in college when he was still a senior in high school). He laughed, and insisted that if he had known me then, he definitely would have. It's a fun ongoing joke between us, considering neither actually went to a prom when we were of age.

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