In many ways Thomas Moore, my fav Catholic-monk of late echoes these sentiments,
“A soul mate is someone to whom we feel profoundly connected, as though the communicating and communing that take place between us were not the product of intentional, but rather a divine grace. This kind of relationship is so important to the soul that many have said there is nothing more precious in life (Moore xvii).”
Judge feels like my home. Truly he always felt like my home from the first time we snuggled on our very first date. Whether it was his baggy-sweat pants, good-to-the-core heart, puffy hair or silly jokes I always felt I could be myself with him. Sometimes it scared me how comfortable I was with him. I remember one moment in February of my Junior Year (about eight months since I first met him), I had bought Jessica heals for her birthday and was making fun of her as she was attempting to walk in them in my dorm-room. I was trying to motivate her and was using heavy sarcasm and less-than-sweet ways to get her to strut in them despite her limp and crooked feet. I remember a sudden pang of embarrassment when I looked at Judge on the bottom bunk and realized how myself I had been in front of him. Usually, I wouldn’t be so brash or bold in front of any other guy. Before Judge, I was super quiet and awkward and avoided eye contact and hugs with anyone of the opposite sex. Then all the sudden, here was a man sitting on my bed watching me be a bitch, and it was okay, it was okay to be me, even the less-than-polished me.
On our first date, everything just felt like a more magical Judge and me. It was us, but it was amplified and felt like the way me and him should have been all along. It was completed life, joy made complete.
We went to Copper Creek for dinner and I remember being so relieved it was still just me and Judge. He wasn’t laying down his coat in puddles or anything extravagant. He let me pick the restaurant because for a year and a half I had always picked the restaurant and even the booth we’d sit in. Nothing changed.. Finally, he was able to ask me intimate questions, things he always wanted to know but hadn’t earned yet. He asked me about Afghanistan and Khadija and my relationship with my mom. Then, we drove home on that December 3rd night and turned on It’s A Wonderful Life and actually watched Jimmy Stewart. He led me right into his arms. When I curled up next to him under the blanket, there was nothing to learn. He kept on playing and flicking the hair-tie on my wrist, and I realize how this is what should have been happening all along. In his arms, I was home.
That’s not to say that Judge & I didn’t have to learn how to be boyfriend and girlfriend. Sometimes, it felt like our relationship forced us to take steps-backward . I’ve talked to more than one person lately, who said they recently broke up with their girlfriends because things “got awkward” and she “got quiet.” Three different good guy friends in my life were tempted to end their relationships because they liked how open and fun and flirty and extroverted she was before they started dating, and then they entered into a relationship and she “balled up.” This is ridiculous, and honestly those guys don’t deserve those girls. Even though Judge and I were comfortable with each other and physical closeness instantly felt “right,” there was a lot of awkward nights of silence before we figured us out. It took eight months to really figure out our humor again and really begin to laugh all the time and even longer to discover how we do groups together. Being in a relationship is so fundamentally different than being close-friends. Boys have to be patient and ready to un-ball girls when they shut down.
I remember one night in the first month of us dating Judge was just looking at me in the parking lot of 2 Story Coffee House, enjoying how scared and uncomfortable he could make me. I literally and emotionally balled up and was afraid to make-eye contact with him. Desire is scary as hell, and a huge dose of patience is required for guys to crack girls open.
One of the few Christian books on relationships I would recommend is called Tender Warrior and it’s written as a manuel for husbands. I felt this quote extremely relevant,
“Among the ancient Hebrew words for man is one meaning ‘piercer.’ Its feminine counterpart is ‘pierced one.’ While the anatomical or sexual elements are clear, the force of the words is much larger in scope. The physical is a parable of the spiritual. The visible is a metaphor for the invisible. The tangible speaks for the intangible. At his core a man is an initiator- a piercer, one who penetrates moves forward, advances toward the horizon, leads. At the core of masculinity is initiation – the provision of direction, security, stability and connection […] It’s up to the husband to take the initiative, to open up his wife’s heart, to speak her language, to penetrate her world. He is an initiator and she is a responder […] The responder portion of a woman’s soul is so strong! It seems to take even the feeblest effort of masculine tenderness and reflect it back in a blaze of feminine glory. When I am the lover and initiator and attempt to speak her language and penetrate her world, she is all I’ve ever dreamed of as a woman in response to me. (Weber, 48, 128 & 137).”
After much time and many awkward nights, Judge can finally read when I am scared or shy or hurting and knows that if he just asks “how are you doing?” I am usually just going to respond with, “fine,” and then for whatever reason (not because I am playing games, but because I am female) I wait for him to penetrate me emotionally and figure out why I am being quiet. He has to guess, he has to know and read me, and he does it astoundingly well now. Even when I try and hide the fact I’m hurting, he knows now that when I am silent I am not thinking of NOTHING. I am always mauling on something. He DOES NOT stop until I un-ball or just burst into tears. I am now convinced, by the way, that God invented tears to show men when women are hurting or frustrated. I never use to cry, and this year I have cried in front of Judge SO many times.. Sometimes tangible physical evidence kicks man’s protective sensitive-side into high gear. Thank you, Lord, for tears. Though scary to shed, tears help explain the gravity of emotion clearly to guys.
As men exercise patience for girls to open up emotionally and spiritually (even scarier), girls can be patience realizing this whole intimacy, relationship, communication thing is something guys are currently learning when girls are just born understanding things. As Anastasia Toufexis explains,
“Relationship colors every aspect of a woman’s life… Women use conversation to expand and understand relationships; men use talk to convey solutions, thereby ending conversation. Women tend to see people as mutually dependent; men view them as self-reliant. Women emphasize caring; men value freedom. Women consider actions within a context, linking one to the next; men tend to regard events as isolated.”
So many times when I have grown impatient with Judge, I hear God whisper “grace” in my ear. Grace and patience are pivotal. As men are patient for women to open up and bear their souls they can remember this gem of wisdom,
“It isn’t easy to expose your soul to another, to risk such vulnerability, hoping that the other person will be able to tolerate your own irrationality. It may also be difficult, no matter how open-minded you are, to be receptive as another reveals her soul to you. Yet this mutual vulnerability is one of the great gifts of love: giving the other sufficient emotional space in which to live and express her soul, with its reasonable and unreasonable ways, and then to risk revealing your own soul, complete with its own absurdities (Moore).”
So true. Thank you, Lord, you have given me the greatest guy. Thank you how much I have learned about his heart, my heart and Your heart in all of this. It’s just been so much fun.