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I liked Bianca the first time I met her, but she blew me away when I recently spent more time at Catalyst watching her in her element. Getting to be interviewed by her as well as having the privilege of being on a panel with her and Mr. Leonce Crump was a blast and an incredible learning moment.
Interviewing is no easy task, and the way Bianca channeled “Baba WaWa” in a seemingly effortless way caused me to have some awkward staring moments. I would listen to her and forget that I, too, was supposed to talk. I just wanted to listen. She’s a gifted woman who I am honored to call a friend, and I hope that I can continue to learn from her.
Plus, we were both home-schooled.
Yes, we know. “That explains a lot.”
I remember the first time it hit me. It was like a lightbulb went off above my head like they do in cartoons, including the yellow illumination from the heated center. Yup. Just like the cartoons.
His exact phrase was: “OK, but it’s just coffee.”
I’ll rewind a bit to provide some context for my lightbulb moment. For starters, I was 28 years-old, completely single, and the only thing keeping me warm at night were my two friends Ben & Jerry.
I wasn’t the girl who cried about singleness and bemoaned when friends started dating or got married.
In all honesty, I was more afraid of dating than I was of being single. Hence my safety-net friendship with Chunky Monkey and Phish Food ice cream.
It had been
months years since I had formally been asked on a date, so perhaps I was a wee bit rusty in the proverbial dating department. Throw me a bone! I was a home-schooled pastor’s kid who couldn’t date until I was 18. No lie.
But I digress.
When Matt—the cute boy with blue eyes and fair skin—asked me to coffee, I said yes because it was the natural progression after two months of email correspondence. But after I accepted, I immediately called my BFF and blurted out, “Uh muh gawd, HE ASKED ME TO COFFEE?!”
To which she sighed and reminded me that a coffee date isn’t a marriage proposal. I told her she was right. She said she knew she was. And I hung up the phone.
Left to my own devices, however, I concocted all the reasons why I shouldn’t accept and why it was weird and I really didn’t know what a coffee date meant (for someone who hadn’t dated since George Bush Sr. was in office, this was serious stuff!)
After reading a litany of books about dating/courting/dourting, I’d “Kissed Dating Goodbye” and waited for “The One” so I can have “Smart Love.” Yes, Dr. Phil and Joshua Harris would be proud of my studying habits.
But Dr. Phil didn’t educate me on, oh you know, being normal!
Let’s get real, people. When Matt asked me to coffee, the possibility of ending up dead in a ditch really did cross my mind because I really didn’t know him. As a dramatic Latina, I will always think of the WCS (worst-case scenario), so it was on the top of my list. After successfully plotting my storyline death for Dateline’s “To Catch a Predator,” I wrote a three-screen email to Matt explaining how:
1. Everything was moving too fast (LIE 1).
2. I’m not looking for a serious relationship (LIE 2).
3. My involvement in ministry and serving Jesus precluded me from having a relationship (LIE 3).
4. He seemed like a really nice guy, but I wasn’t looking for a boyfriend (And then I sprouted a long, Pinocchio nose).
I hit “send” and sighed a sigh of relief. My life was normal again and the cosmos could go back to centering solely on me and my loneliness . . .
Until he replied: “OK, but it was just coffee.”
(Insert lightbulb here.)
It was like the heavens parted and celestial light illuminated upon me. In one quick moment I realized, THIS—THIS RIGHT HERE—IS WHY I’M SINGLE!
I had put so much pressure on Matt, on myself, and on a coffee date that I lost the simplicity of just getting to know someone without the pressure of marriage, dating definitions, or what people would think.
I know, I know, alone time is intimate, and you never want to lead anyone on, and of course you need good judgment when going out with someone…
… but I realized that grabbing coffee with someone of the opposite sex doesn’t throw you into the Proverbs 31 wifey category, much like sitting in a garage doesn’t make you a car.
There were so many voices telling me how dating should be done, what it’ll look like, or whose rib we will be taken from.
But what if the sovereign God Almighty has destined a path for us that is unique and unlike how Joshua Harris, Dr. Phil, or the local Yenta would suggest?
Everybody has a different story:
Eve was taken from Adam’s rib.
Isaac had a match-maker find Rebekah for him.
Jacob worked 14 years for the opportunity to marry Rachel.
Sarah met Abraham in a desert.
Boaz met Ruth in a field.
King Xerxes met Esther in a beauty pageant.
Moses met Zipporah as a fugitive.
And I met Matt at Starbucks.
Paul urges the early church to work out their salvation. I’m advocating we learn from that spiritual discipline when it comes to our relationships as well.
What may have worked for someone else doesn’t mean it’s how it’ll work out for you. You are uniquely created and your story is your own.
Your love story should be as well.
Contrary to the suggestion of family members and much to the chagrin of leery church friends, I met Matt in 2009 through eHarmony and went a coffee date with the blue-eyed boy with fair skin.
Over a simple cup of coffee, I met a friend.
And that friend turned into a boyfriend. And that boyfriend turned into a fiancé. And that fiancé turned into my husband.
Don’t put a timeline, a plotline, or a storyline on how your relationship will pan out.
Let God write your story.
So before you freak out and analyze how, why, when, and what next, remember:
“It’s just coffee.”
When someone asks you out to coffee, do you immediately think it’s a date?
Are you letting God write your unique story, or are you comparing your relationship journey to someone else’s?
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Love and Respect (Now) is a division of Love and Respect. Please be considerate.
You just told me story! Like…my jaw dropped. I was asked out on a dinner date with a guy friend I’d just met, and turned him down for the exact same reasons you did. In my head dinner = marriage. 3 years and 2 rejections later the guy I’d avoided became my boyfriend, then fiance, and soon to be husband. Aside from the fact that we met at school and not e-harmony…..we share the same story. Thanks for reminding me I’m not the only crazy one.
Also….glad to have a fellow phish food friend <–alliteration intentional
“But what if the sovereign God Almighty has destined a path for us that is unique and unlike how Joshua Harris, Dr. Phil, or the local Yenta would suggest?” I love this. I get it set in my mind way too often how I want my life to go and then it happens completely opposite. Better.
I have come to realise that what works for someone doesn’t necessarily work for others – but that’s what most people believe. how many times have i heard “you just have to ____________, and then it will work/ you will find a boyfriend/ what you want will happen”! but it doens’t work like that and it often leaves a bad taste because I’m disappointed because they make it seem to work for everyone but me.
so thank you for giving me the support in this matter that I needed! 🙂
What encouragement this brings, along with the excellent reminders for the following:
Coffee = Coffee
Dinner = Dinner
Marriage proposal = Marriage proposal
I am determined to enjoy each step as it comes, stick to the truth, and not launch myself a million miles into the future that likely won’t play out at all the way I imagine it anyhow. God is vastly more creative than me anyways – thanks be to HIM!
Thanks Bianca & Joy! 🙂
This is very needed! I feel like Christians have the mindset of if you like someone you have to marry them and any conversation with the opposite sex means a relationship on the horizon… it’s okay to NOT define everything and label everyone and put a timeline to each relationship. Soooo great!
girl u are hilarious! lol. but as a dramatic mehicana myself i totally seen myself getting all hysterical and providing entertainment to my 2 best friends in the midst of my emotional tirades. nonetheless, it IS true and it IS sad at times. but u tell it the way it was for me.
great story <3
Hello, that’s my life you are talking about there. This previously homeschooled, pastor’s kid needed the reminder. “It’s just coffee”- who would have thought?
“What may have worked for someone else doesn’t mean it’s how it’ll work out for you. You are uniquely created and your story is your own.”
Hello lightbulb! It’s so crazy that you wrote this because my BFF met her husband during a 1 yr vow of no dating. During that one year, he became her best friend and the day after her vow ended, he asked her out on their first date and three days later proposed. They were married 4 months later and now have two precious little girls who call my auntie (ok, one of them doesn’t yet because she’s only 3 1/2 months old but you get the idea :)). I’ve so admired their story because up until they became engaged, they always put God first no matter what, but it may have come to a point where I wanted my story to be just. like. theirs. But how could it? We are different people and God has different stories for us to follow even if they are intertwined. So, Thank you for writing this. It definitely has helped this 30-something to put it into perspective. 🙂
I look at coffee or any invitation to a one-on-one activity as potentially being viewed as a date, so I usually just ask something like, “Do you mean as a date or as a couple of buddies hanging out?” I favor awkward conversations over lack of communication.
The last time I went on a first date was in December and it was my first date in eleven years. We met at a conference for college students, not a likely place to meet a single thirty-something. He was handsome but I wasn’t interested because we live more than four hours apart and I was avidly not looking for romance.
We reconnected at a ministry leaders’ retreat in November. A couple weeks later, he asked me out in an email and I prayed first instead of saying no right away. God didn’t tell me how it would play out or tell me no. Instead, He gave me peace so I cheerfully went on the date and we enjoyed getting to know each other over barbecue and bowling and Starbucks drinks. If that had been our only date ever, I still would have been glad I went because it was fun and wouldn’t have hurt either of us if the other person opted out afterward.
We are still dating and it has not been like any plotline I expected my life to follow, but I wouldn’t trade this story for any of the ones I imagined.
Thanks for this reminder, Bianca!
I used to take coffee dates as nothing more than meeting up in a coffee shop with a friend. So I met up with lots of friends. But then somewhere in my twenties, I had a string of “coffee dates” that were normal dates…happening in a coffee shop. It happens when you are a coffee snob, of the artistic persuasion, or live in Portland.
As I’m getting older, I think it’s easier to tell. If you have to read into it, call your girlfriends to have them analyze the situation, or take a Cosmo quiz to see if he’s interested in you – he’s not. It’s just coffee. I can’t speak for all women but it’s my experience that when a man is pursuing you, the question will fade. He’ll let you know.
That said, I’m back to coffee dates being just coffee, chatter, and friendship. And I love it.
If you hadn’t met Matt through the “safety” of eHarmony, but he had sent you a message (email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) similar to the following, how would you have answered that? Yes, No, Definite Maybe, Take a flying leap buddy!, or just file a restraining order against the crazy person?
You will notice the “d” word was not used in the letter.
“Let me preface my letter by saying I’m sure you are suspicious of any request you would receive from someone you don’t know or have never met before, especially when it’s from your Facebook, Twitter, or other online accounts.
Hopefully mine will make it through your screening process.
Not knowing where your taste in music lies, I thought I would take a chance – regardless of how slim it might be – and ask if you would consider being my guest to hear (artist’s name) in concert. While the concert isn’t until (3 months away), I did want to ask you far enough in advance in case: 1) I am fortunate enough to convince you to go, and 2) you have a prior engagement for that evening that would need to be rescheduled.
What I’m offering you is dinner, and a concert to hear an excellent singer – an evening that should be well worth your time.
What do I expect in return? Actually nothing, except my hope is that you will consider the time spent as being worth it.
You’re asking, “What’s the catch?” My reply – there is none. No catch. No conditions. Just enjoy yourself.
There is one favor I would ask of you. Whether or not you are available, or even interested in going, I would appreciate a reply from you letting me know, either way. If you accept, I will provide you with more details about the evening (and me). Should you accept, and at a later time you discover that your calendar will require you to cancel, just let me know that also. If you are not interested, a simple “no” will suffice. I’m sure the wound will heal after a period of time.
I would consider it a privilege if you would accept my invitation, and look forward to having the opportunity to treat you to an evening that I hope you will find enjoyable.”
I could have written the first part of this. If a guy I’m not instantly crazy about even approaches me, I go into terrified mental convulsions imagining myself shackled to this person I hardly know. Thank you for this reassurance that God’s not asking us to take it all so seriously. And for helping me feel a little more normal.
This.is.my.life. haha the only difference is that instead of sending three screen email, I send one paragraph long emails. ouch, right? But yes, my fear of dating is definitely stronger than my fear of being single! I don’t even know why!
This.is.my.life. haha the only difference is that instead of sending three screen emails, I send one paragraph long emails. ouch, right? But yes, my fear of dating is definitely stronger than my fear of being single! I don’t even know why!
Funniest thing: coming across this article the night before my own “just coffee” date. Some how we (I guess I mean people like me) always over complicate things like this in our heads. Analyze analyze analyze. We psych ourselves out of enjoying a good conversation with someone and making a new friend for the fear of it going any further than that, or worse, it not. I am just like how you were before you met your husband: way more comfortable just being single and find it incredibly difficult to take a risk. But hearing stories like yours is encouraging & a great reminder of just how creative God is with each of our stories. As you said, we’re unique and therefore our lives will follow suit.
& you know what? That was probably one of the best coffees I have ever shared with someone. What a sweet surprise!
Honestly, when someone asks me to coffee I immediately think its a date. Honestly, I also constantly compare my relationship journey to others. I am aware of these two things and that its not the right way to think and its definitely time to change that about my thought patterns. However, as Dr. Phil and Josh Harris were mentioned, they help with this thinking. As well as a little scenario when a guy friend got down on one-knee and asked me to marry him. I asked him how long we had known each other. He said “About a month. that’s not long enough, we should date first.” I said, “Oh yeah?” And he said, “Yeah, but I kissed dating goodbye, whatever should we do?” I said, “Be friends and get to know each other better?” He said, “Right friends.” Then he got up and left. He later apologized and said he was joking about marriage and serious about dating. Ugh, this Christian culture we are in doesn’t train us to be normal, like this article is talking about! Thank you! (Just to clarify, I still love being a disciple of Jesus Christ even if I have to put up with this haha)