“Jonathan’s not ready to date,” was my immediate response. Jonathan and I went to college together so we’ve known each other a long time. We’ve been friends through lots of ups and downs; we’re both single now after tough divorces. But Jonathan’s sister was ready to play matchmaker, “He’s been divorced 3 months, we need to find him a girl.”
I agreed with her that Jonathan should be getting out of the house and meeting new people, but in my opinion, he isn’t ready yet for a serious relationship. It’s not that I don’t want my friend to find someone to spend time with or eventually fall in love with, but he’s still wounded, stung by the divorce, still trying to figure out what went wrong and what he needed to change so that it wouldn’t happen again with another woman whom he loved.
“Janie, give him more time. He needs close friends and family that he can trust to care for him. He shouldn’t start a relationship now; he’s broken and lonely and just longs for female companionship. That is no way to start out a new romance. He needs time to heal and feel God’s love again.”
If you’ve read other posts on my blog, you know that I am an avid reader of Henri Nouwen, who I feel is an outstanding author. I grew up in Upstate New York about 5 miles from the Abbey of the Genesee where Nouwen wrote two of his books. Henri talks about reaching out in loneliness in Bread for the Journey:
“When we feel lonely we keep looking for a person or persons who can take our loneliness away. Our lonely hearts cry out, "Please hold me, touch me, speak to me, pay attention to me." But soon we discover that the person we expect to take our loneliness away cannot give us what we ask for. Often that person feels oppressed by our demands and runs away, leaving us in despair. As long as we approach another person from our loneliness, no mature human relationship can develop. Clinging to one another in loneliness is suffocating and eventually becomes destructive. For love to be possible we need the courage to create space between us and to trust that this space allows us to dance together.”
Nouwen is right on. I don’t want to be clinging and desperate, wanting a man to save me from my loneliness. I want courage, and I want to dance, again.
My prayer is for Jonathan to want the same.