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Monday, May 19, 2014

To the Man Who Won't Sleep With Me

It was a habit that started when the two of us would cram into my extra-long twin bed back in college.

We were high school sweethearts. Even my comforter and throw pillows were blue and green: homage to our school colors. We'd stretch our toes and yawn together. And there was something to having him there, at arm's reach, in the middle of our long-term relationship.

Our lives weren't just connected by phone lines and hushed middle-of-the-night phone calls echoing along the walls of the hallway outside my dorm. You were there, a warm presence, a mound of a man I loved.

So many of us good Christian girls would do it. For a while our freshman year, it was like a game of nighttime musical chairs. We prayed, we listened to Christian music, we laughed about the days to come.

And then our boyfriends would come to visit us for the weekend in our four-person dorm. We'd forget that it didn't matter if we were saving the Big Sleep for marriage. We were crossing a serious boundary, we were entering a realm of radical intimacy, whether we were breaking a commandment or not.

This pattern showed up in my relationships after we broke up. It repeated long after freshman year. Long after dormitory life. It echoed into the dynamic of every relationship since, just like the whispering late-night calls with my ex-high-school-honey.

Let me be clear: we know that sex before marriage is wrong. That was an obvious boundary to never cross.

But, every guy I've dated since then had a pillow with my name on it. In every relationship, spending the night, no matter how innocent it seemed, has crept back into the tide of my love life. I fell in love with a few men, and fell into the habit of closing my eyes to a face and waking to it again eight hours later.

It was a consolation for the marriage I didn't have.

It wasn't a big deal. It was just sleeping beside someone.

Until I met you.

We've been dating for a year now. And still, it happens the same way every night we hang out.

There's no pillow in my name. There's no space reserved for me

while you sleep.

On our date nights, you look at the clock and watch the minutes drip down to midnight. Then, when the clock strikes twelve, you stand to your feet and offer me your hand.

"Here, let me walk you to your car," you say. You call this "Cinderella time." It's our nickname for the moment when we say goodnight. When you nestle me safely there and wait for my "got home safe, love you" text.

To be honest, at first it really confused me.

I thought you loved me. I thought you wanted me around all of the time.

Yes, we're the "good Christian boy and girl," but haven't all of the other Christian men I've dated wanted the same thing from me eventually? No matter how devout or respected they were in their communities?

We've learned this, these legally-single women and I. We've learned that we're desired by becoming the prom queen. The Cinderella at the ball. There is something about our face, our frames that make us desirable. It's our faces and frames that get us the free drinks and the phone numbers on cocktail napkins, after all.

And then I realized where my sense of worth was coming from. It was coming from an invitation to spend the night. It was coming from the want of being wanted. It was coming from a ritual that was breaking down my standards. Brick by brick.

You didn't want this from me. And by this small gesture, by this boundary, by this standard, by this reasoning, you do love me.

You desire to see me flourish. You desire to save that for later. You desire to encourage me. And lead me through a healthy relationship.

And even better, you respect me. Which, oddly, looks a whole lot like love. Real love.

Our relationship will not be characterized by sleepovers. This is something sacred that you want to save, because you've learned lessons the hard way, too.

And I'm thankful. Thankful to have someone in my life who doesn't fall for the "it's not a big deal" trick. It's a very big deal, you tell me. You let me know by keeping your word. You let me know by leading me well, and protecting my spirit.

I have to wonder if this is the sign. If this is what makes the difference. If this protection of my heart, this willingness to do things differently than our culture would suggest (even our Christian culture) is what leads to a beautiful life.

So, to the man who won't sleep with me: I don't

want to sleep with you, either.

Because I love you, too.

photo credit: Sinéad McKeown via photopin cc

photo credit: sotiris_k via photopin cc


Laurie Tomlinson said...

Wow, Brett. Wow.

William said...

Wow, is right. I read it thinking, wow this is good. I did not realize until I saw Laurie's comment at the end that it was not merely something you posted on FB, but something you wrote. Nice :)

Amanda said...

Beautiful. What an amazing love story you're telling with your life. Love you so much!

Eileen said...

This is incredible and so well-written. I loved every bit of it!

Kara said...

wow! So powerful and true. In this world we live in, it is very commonplace to sleep over even if you are not having sex. Hang on to that man that respects you enough to make you leave!

Unknown said...

My current situation to a T! I'm experiencing this for the first time in my life as a divorced, 43 year old woman. A very handsome gentleman I met at the age of 15 found me after 28 years, both of us divorced, with children that are one set grown and the babies are 11 and 10. Both of us have been hurt and hurt others but this time we want to get it right. Our friendship is everything and crossing that line will definitely come in a marriage. Excited about life God's way!

Anonymous said...
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ap said...

Thank you i need to go to bible school because this so convicted me. God sees our motives and i realized a young man who id dated i didnt love. This is why God has not blessed me. I care about some pples purity but i didnt care about his and thats not a good thing. I just wanted to sleep with and have a relationship but that has nothing to do with love. Bc the same way i want someone to respect my boundaries and want more from me then sex i need to do the same for this individual i dont love him and reading this just showed me that

Unknown said...

Dear Brett, I'm so happy for you after having read your most recent blog saying you're now engaged! Good for you, and I wish and pray for you a blessed and joyous married life with the man the God has brought into your life.
I wanted to ask you a question about something you wrote in this article. You wrote: 'We were crossing a serious boundary, we were entering a realm of radical intimacy, whether we were breaking a commandment or not.'
I was wondering if you were referring to a Biblical commandment or a church/religious commandment.
Reason I ask is that I know the Bible quite extensively, and I'm not sure I've come across that commandment. Could you clarify please. And if it is a Biblical commandment you're referring to could you please direct me to the reference. I'd like to be able to research it.
Thanks, and once again, congratulations on your engagement and may God bless you!

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