I don’t often get very personal here at Paul’s Ponderings. That is mostly due to the fact that I feel uncomfortable talking about myself. Even though I know that sharing personal stories is a way to build a connection with others.
Today I am going to break that mold a little bit. On May 31, 2007 (we broke up in July 2008, but I still think these are good things to remember), three months ago, I was introduced to an amazing woman, a woman I am able today to call my girlfriend. Alyssa and I have had an amazing journey these past three months as we have gotten to know each other. It has required a lot of time on the phone (she lives in New Mexico, a long ways from where I live in Iowa), prayer, and patience. I am constantly floored by how God has worked through this relationship to bring us closer to Him.
I want to take a few paragraphs and share with you what I have learned about being a good boyfriend through my relationship with Alyssa.
1. Be a leader.
I did not say, “be a dictator.” A leader doesn’t have to have things his way, but rather seeks to do what is best for all parties involved. One of the ways this has shown up in our relationship is that early on in our phone conversations I asked if we could pray together before hanging up for the night. This has become one of the best parts of our relationship becomes it has helped us keep our focus on God. He is the source of life and love and He will guide us to where we need to be.
Another way this has played itself out is the establishing boundaries. Now we have established boundaries together, but at different points in the relationship each of us have spoken up and said, “I think we need to talk about this...” This is hard to do because we have no idea how the other person will react, but it is absolutely vital. A leader will do what is right, even if it makes him uncomfortable.
2. Be yourself.
One of the struggles I have had in previous relationships has been the feeling like I had to be someone else. I felt inadequate and that if I was going to impress the girl I had act a certain way so she would like. Since day one Alyssa has always made me feel like who I am is good enough.
We can’t go changing all the time to meet the expectations of others. God has created us with a certain personality, brought us through different circumstances, and blessed us with an unique set of talents to make us who we are. We are special and we don’t need to change who we are or pretend to be someone else to get the approval of someone else. If we stay true to God’s design He will bring us to the place, the person, and the situation He wants us to be. Trust God with your life.
3. Be a listener.
One of the things that impressed Alyssa right away about me was the fact that I listened to what she had to say. I remembered the names of her friends, different events from her childhood, and other small details. Remembering this details helps build intimacy because it shows the other person that you care about them.
The very first step in remembering is listening. So many of us have never been taught good listening skills. We are more concerned with what we are going to say that we don’t hear the other person or we are so distracted because we are watching TV at the same time was we try to carry on a conversation and the result is that we don’t catch everything the other person is saying. We get the gist of it, but the important details escape us. Taking time to listen pays huge dividends in the end.
4. Be creative.
It is so easy to buy things to give to your girlfriend, but often times they don’t carry a great amount of sentiment. When we are creative it sends the message that we have put thought into the gifts that we give.
One way this creativity is seen is buying gifts that have a special meaning for both of you. Alyssa told me a story about her first day at the Christian High School she attended and how nervous she was about it. A rainbow caught her attention before she went to school and it gave her a sense of peace and hope. Rainbows have always held a special meaning for me, and so when I was in Walmart one day buying gifts for my nieces and nephews I saw Cheer Bear (a Care Bear), a pink bear with a rainbow on its chest, and immediately thought of Alyssa.
Creativity is also seen in making special one of a kind gifts. Each of us have special abilities we can use to create something special. Though I don’t consider myself much of a poet I have written two poems for Alyssa. My creativity will be expressed, most of the time, through writing, but there are so many other ways it can be expressed. Be creative and don’t just settle for the same type of gifts everyone else gives.
5. Be a talker.
Though I am usually very quiet, especially when you first meet me, having a relationship that has been built on phone conversations has forced me to talk, and has helped me see the value of it. Talking is vital in building relationships, and is so often overlooked in our society that teaches that relationships are built on physical chemistry.
Intimacy is built when you are able to talk about dreams, expectations (for the future and also in a relationship), opinions, and problems. We have talked at length about each one of these and it has brought us closer. We are encouraged by the fact that God has given us similar dreams, that we have common expectations, and that we feel that we are able share problems with each other. Don’t be distracted by the physical, but instead take time to really get to know each other by talking with one another.
I could go on and on with this list, but I will not bore you any further. I do what to share with you one last lesson I have learned and that is this: pray. One of the things we have prayed about from the very beginning of this relationship is that God would keep us both on the same page, and time and time again God has proven faithful. It is a common experience for us to say: “I was thinking today...” and the other to laugh and say, “I was thinking the same thing.” From expectations to problems God has kept us on the same page and that is the result from our desire that God guide this relationship.
I get to go see my beautiful girlfriend on Sunday and I am very excited about it. What makes me even more excited is to see how God uses this relationship to grow us into the people He created us to be.
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