And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him.
A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
~ Ecclesiastes 4:12
For all but the first four months of high school, I had a boyfriend.
It was a tumultuous thing, this teenage romance, full of all the drama and conflict of an 80s John Hughes film. Break-ups. Make-ups. Cheatin’ hearts. Both of us.
I remember practice-writing my married name a thousand times – my first and his last – and I even set our wedding date for September 17, 1985 (I liked that date for no particular reason at all). As fate and young love would have it, we went our separate ways by college and eventually lost touch altogether.
Years later, when I heard “our song” begin to play at our ten-year class reunion – The Commodores’ Three Times a Lady – I asked my husband of then eight years if he minded if I asked my old beau to dance. He was fine with it, but my friend declined–his wife didn’t approve.
It was the last time I saw him.
* * * * * ** *
The way I see it there are two ways to live with regret:
1) To be bound by it, anchored to your past, where your history informs your present and you’re too paralyzed to move forward (negative and unproductive).
2) When you recognize if you were given the chance to go back in time and make different decisions, understanding then what you know now, you likely would. It doesn’t mean you’re continuously beating yourself up over it; you simply have the benefit of knowing the consequences of your past decisions and realizing there was a better choice you could have made.
Unless you happen to end up marrying your high school sweetheart, maintaining a close friendship with him after marriage probably isn’t the best idea. Conversely, your relationships with your girlfriends are something you can hold onto always and forever.
This, among several reasons, is why we encouraged our children to pursue friendship with members of the opposite sex when they reached high school. While we didn’t forbid dating, we discouraged it by encouraging group outtings and spending time with their friends.
Our oldest made this easy; early on she made the decision not to date/have a boyfriend in high school.
My daughter was so different from the girl I was in high school and I admired her for so many reasons:
reserved and resolved, she was a young woman with strong convictions. Her faith was growing, evidences noticeable in part by her concern for others. She was determined and compassionate and spoke truth into the lives around her. And her inner beauty magnified her outer.
For those reasons and so many more, I thought all the boys in her school were dirt dumb and bat blind not to be chasing after her regardless of her decision not to have a boyfriend (it’s not like she broadcast it).
Her two best friends made the same decision regarding dating anyone seriously in high school. Rather than dealing with the kind of relational drama common to many (and to myself during that same season), they invested in their friendship.
Those three cords were strong and beautiful.
Observing their friendship I realized something special I had missed out on by the choices I had made.
* * * * * * * * * *
One day this summer the three girls were home from college spending the night at our house. It was during a conversation with them that I realized they were questioning some of their choices back in high school — did their decision not to date anyone even matter? Had it all been for nothing, assuring a naïveté about the opposite sex that didn’t really serve them?
And so with the strongest conviction I could muster, I told them no! It was not for nothing!
Making a counter-culture decision and sticking with it is one of most mature, challenging and protective choices you can make for yourself.
Not getting seriously involved with a guy…
spared them the teenage drama and heartache typically associated with on-again/off-again relationships.
protected them from temptations that are so difficult to resist, sometimes you give in to what you never thought you would.
fortified their friendships with one another and strengthened their friendships in general.
I wanted them to understand how rare that decision is and that it set them apart in a beautiful way. That what they may lack in experience with the opposite sex is really no set back at all and that the right guy will not only understand but will value that choice.
I told them if I could go back to high school knowing then what I know now, I would never have dated a guy all four years; I would have invested my time and energy and affections into friendships that could last a lifetime.
* * * * * * * * *
My in-laws were babies when they fell in love at 14 and 15. High school sweethearts who married in college, over 50 years later their affections still sizzle. I adore that kind of love story. I also have friends who have remained in touch with the fella they dated in high school.
In other words, I recognize not everyone’s choices and circumstances align neatly with what I’m suggesting, and that’s just fine! I would never presume a “one size fits all” approach to personal conviction.
My prayer, my purpose, is simply to encourage.
This is a love letter to the girls who’ve never dated; to those who have never been asked out and to those who were asked and declined. To the wallflowers or late bloomers or girls who made intentional choices.
Whatever your case, this is a gift.
Choice and circumstance has protected your heart and maybe even your body, and allowed you time to invest in other relationships and interests. It’s given you time to grow up and mature in your faith.
It’s not something ever to regret.
Q. I bet opinions are all over the place with this one; care to share yours? Or your wisdom, encouragement or experience? I’d love to hear.