Will the Real Ideal Please Stand Up?

I grew up to look like Mary Lou Who’s grandmother without ever becoming one. People who don’t see that as a problem have never had that problem, obvs.

Dating and mating in middle age. Hmm.

Because I am a never-married 68-year-old woman who has always wanted to be married, because I am not dead yet, because I believe that (as Christian author Timothy Keller has said in one of his books) marriage is God’s gift to most people, and because (when I have had enough sleep) I am what you call a handsome woman as well as a fairly optimistic one, I recently signed up for two “dating and mating” websites. This was because of the encouragement of younger married friends who met through such a website.

I am still unmarried after living my entire life for a variety of reasons. Some of them are not my fault, and some of them are.

I find, after a life in which the prelude to marriage for some has been the entire piano recital for me, that I am still eager to find a life partner, but at this point, I am entirely pessimistic–after numerous failed casting calls and auditions–that I will ever be chosen for a starring role in a kind of life that is entirely suppositional in my mind.

That is because I am not a fresh young thing who has never tasted the delights of the marriage bed and whose dreams of that experience are totally unrealistic. I am, you will excuse the expression, an old bag who has never tasted the delights of the marriage bed, yet as time has gone on, I have become more and more fearful that the next attempt I make to find love, get hitched, and have sex with a loving, supportive lifetime “partner in crime” will end in ridicule and rejection.

Admitting that fear up front is supposedly a no-no in the dating and mating world, a sure turn-off. Supposedly I need to to emulate “real-time” dating and present a flawless picture of myself, one which will disappear the moment my theoretical wedding is over and my theoretical honeymoon starts.

Because then, as a flawed human being committed for life to living with another flawed human being, I will no longer be able to gloss over the eccentricities, fears, prejudices, sins, etc. that are as much a part of who I am as my chipped front tooth.

At this point in my life, thanks to my particular genetic heritage, and thanks to the vagaries of three years living in a COVID mask and sitting slumped over a computer and searching the Internet for “real news,” I literally have to remind myself to smile. And I literally cannot hold my head straight up thanks to a condition called upper cross-posture syndrome. If it were not for the YMCA which is a ten-minute walk from my house, I would still look like a walking skeleton thanks to losing significant muscle mass from the inaction forced on everyone by New York state’s version of pandemic lockdown.

In short, I have a lot going for me. Intelligence, creativity, love of people, love of nature, love of family, love of learning.

Yet the reality is this:

  • I currently look unhealthy, debilitated, dull. Not healthy, lively, sparkly.
  • I will never again look again as I did when I was twenty, forty, or sixty-two.
  • I exist in a world where, generally speaking, men of every age and conditon are highly attracted to women who are visually pleasing to them.

If my church truly believed, as it claims to, in supporting singles and marrieds, divorced and widowed, children and adults in living lives that beautifully and accurately reflect God’s love of his Bride the Church, I would not have to resort to online dating and mating. I would have a whole church working, as the Messianic Jewish congregation where I live works, to find real-time, live, actual people to come together in holy matrimony.

But that has never happened. Never. Which is why the younger couple who met online met online.

I’m not dead yet, and I want to be married, and I want marry a good man who shares my values. But time is short, and if (as they say in the South where I’m from) Jesus tarries, I have maybe twenty-five years left on planet Earth (at least based on family history). So I rally cannot afford to spend a lot of time spouting BS and playing games and putting on a non-lockdown front.

And yet if I don’t, there is, realistically speaking, little chance that the visually oriented good man I seek will (from only a photo and messages) intuit that I am the one he has been aching to meet, the one he HAS to make his!

I keep thinking that it would be better for Jesus to come back tomorrow than for me to have to go through one more round of disappointment.

That, I guess, continues to be where prayer is so important. The Black church has a saying (at least that’s where I learned it from) that prayer changes things.

I want to be married for real reasons, not fake ones. So I say things about myself that I’m not supposed to say, admit things I’m not supposed to admit, and remind myself of another Black church saying, “God can make a way where there is no way.”

Published by willowgirl

Lover of beef stew, cats, old movies, C. S. Lewis, and men who know how to wear kilts.

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