“Oh, they’re so cute!” Two young toddlers strolled down the hall smiling for the camera. One was in a tux, the other in a miniature wedding dress. The “I do’s” were said and the eternal commitment made… at five years old. Yep! This happened; but not to me. While some moms were encouraging romance and middle school flings, mine was hunting bear and lighting kerosene lamps at dusk. I grew up in Alaska. My idea of fun was a commercial fishing buoy as a “tire” swing, barefoot races on gravel roads, digging tunnels in 8’ of snow, and the occasional snack of fresh salmon eggs. I was homeschooled so I didn’t even discover flirting until I was twenty. The moment I stepped away from my protective parents, all inhibitions were thrown out the door. It’s almost humorous how fast one can catch on to the art of flirting. By God’s grace, I didn’t perfect it, but I sure adapted the mischievous glint, the half-cocked smile, and the high-rising octave of laughter. The responses I received made me feel powerful. I quickly became addicted to the power, but in so doing, I had to push my conscience far from my heart. It was unbearable at times when I thought about the spiritual repercussions of my decisions and wild ways.
I don’t remember how my friendship started with Jamison, but we became fast friends. I picked up on his romantic interest, but didn’t want to concern myself with the drama. As it goes with many relationships, he was interested in me and I was not interested in him. But instead of considering what might be best for him I had some mixed ideas about how to make people happy. More or less, I kept Jamison on a string. He was anywhere between arms-length and ten feet away. We were always hanging out. If it was a weekend, we were out partying. He would protect me out in public and wrap his arms around me when I needed affection. I couldn’t bring myself to be honest with him. I’m sure I said something along the lines of not wanting to exclusively date him, but if he ever got too far away I would reach out and give him a little hope for a future as a couple. I could do no wrong in his eyes, no matter how many times I hurt him. Once when he came to my rescue yet again, I trampled his chivalry under my selfish feet. A guy continually drove by my place night after night honking, revving his engine, phoning me relentlessly, and driving recklessly all over campus grounds. He stalked me. I told my boy Jamison about it. He decided to fix the situation by meeting up with the guy and beating the tar out of him. The guy called my phone and I handed it off to Jamison. The weasel agreed to meet and fight it out. Jamison, his best friend, and I parked in an empty parking lot and waited. Jamison stepped out of the vehicle, his testosterone escalating for a fight. His eyes were malicious, his face snarling, his iron fists ready to break bones. The cowardly stalker drove by the parking lot numerous times. I’m sure he took one look at Jamison’s muscular football build and peed a bit in his seat. Now, a quick side note, I had a crush on his best friend. As Jamison prepared to defend my honor, I was in the backseat of his car wasting my chapstick on his best friend. There are absolutely no words to describe the regret and deep remorse I have for my actions. Where was my solid and biblical good judgment? I needed Proverbs 4:7 plastered to my eyelids, “Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever you do, develop good judgment.” As upset as Jamison was at me and his best friend, he forgave me almost immediately. He really loved me. And I took him for granted. I wish I could rewind life. I still would not pick him as a spouse, but I would be more honest, caring, and thoughtful with his friendship. Recently, I had the opportunity to deal with a similar ‘Jamison’ in my life. I wanted to do things right this time. I’ve had years to think about what I would do differently and here was my chance. We started off with coffee conversations and adventurous hikes. But quickly our friendship mutated. “Mackenzie, I don’t usually go for blondes, but there’s just something about you.” That was an odd thing to say; obviously, he didn’t have a filter for his thoughts. “You would fit right into my family.” Out popped another one. Was his filter broken or was he purposefully making me uneasy? “How many kids do you want? At what age do you want to get married?” Okay, by this point I was no longer walking beside him. I was three paces ahead, five paces to the left and practically speed walking. Every line that dribbled out of his mouth came with labored breathing. He tried to slow my pace but I simply stated how uncomfortable the situation was and how ill-prepared I was for this type of conversation. “Okay. I am patient. I can wait for you-as long as it takes. I am ready to get engaged, by the way.” If that was his odd attempt to ease my nerves it wasn’t working. Finally, I stated, “I just want to be your friend. You deserve someone who returns your interest and that’s not me.” He was a sweet, caring, infatuated replica of Jamison. I had to shoot straight with him right at the beginning, especially after all the not-so-subtle hints he was throwing my way. As hard as it is to follow through and be completely honest at times, I know what the alternative looks like and I don’t ever want to go back down that road or hurt someone in that way again.
God allows us to go through temptation. When we fail, he is there to forgive us and strengthen us for Round 2. On our journey, I believe God allows us to go through the testing until we are able to pass. I didn’t pass the first time with Jamison, but here in Round 2, God gave me strength and focus to do the right thing. Life is not about how many guys we can string along or how many guys think we are beautiful. It’s about walking this path with the people God puts beside us. During the time they are with us, we should strengthen and encourage them as our brothers. May all our friendships be centered on God, our Creator and Savior. I can never start over with Jamison. His heart was too attached. As much as I wish I could apologize and make amends, it would only stir up old feelings in him.
Closure is not always the answer for us. If we stepped into history to fix every damaged relationship, we would wound our broken-hearted brothers instead of heal them. When we enter their lives once again to apologize for mistakes, we make ourselves shimmering heroines that rekindle a heart rather than set it free. The wisest move is to pray for those infatuated brothers from afar. We can only hope to make smart decisions with future hearts based on those ‘what-not-to-do’ scenarios from our pasts.