I had no idea as I sat in my folding chair that Sunday morning, slightly disheveled from a late night out, later to church than normal, and distracted by unfamiliar crowds, that I'd hear the words and feel the validation I didn't even know I'd been waiting for.
I'm sure my eyes widened more than was appropriate at seeing his tall, slim figured sliding in to the seat next to me. Black coffee swirled and sloshed in the paper cup he carried. I rushed to move my things from the chair without making a fool of myself – I imagined accidentally covering him in cheap iced coffee or stabbing him with my ever-jingling keys. I'm sure I said something acquiescent, attempting to channel more grace and less nervousness than I actually felt.
He'd never heard me sing, though we'd talked about music several times before and he'd apparently taken me at my word that I could actually sing. This trust created more nervousness in me than was probably necessary, but as the worship began, we stood beside each other and fumbled to hear melodies and each others' harmonies and finally fell into an easy blend as the measures passed.
For me, the sermon passed excruciatingly slowly. Direction from Paul in Ephesians on husbands and wives is always hard for me; it reminds me that I'm not yet married, despite my wish to be, and to sit next to him, our legs crossing in opposite directions and our opposite handedness evident in the way we move, reminded me that I might never be. Because of my uncertain feelings, I'd been somewhat deliberately choosing to avoid showing interest in him because I'd not seen any signs of interest from him. In fact, those words were likely the first ones that I'd heard from him that even hinted at more than just a passing acknowledgment of my existence.
In that, I probably read too much. But nonetheless, my logical brain can see connections where there may not be any yet, and his invitation inspired boldness in me. “It's okay to be transparent about feelings,” I chanted to myself as if I'd heard it in therapy while composing the most succinct email I could create to offer thanks and invite conversation. I've counseled this very mantra to other women struggling to find the balance between modern female empowerment and traditional and Biblical values in dating. More often than not, I'd fallen off one side or other of the fence, and these days, I mostly erred in the cowardly direction. Three sentences and several consultations of a thesaurus later, I sent it, mentally preparing for the worst I could imagine happening.
In truth, the response was neither absent nor disparaging, as my anxiety had projected. It was polite, nonchalant, and an excellent reminder that my existence (and maybe even my talent) was acknowledged and that was all I should expect.
And so, here I sit, basking and over-analyzing in writing a series of events that was likely just a blip on his radar, if even that. Perhaps this will be my own form of therapy as I work to remember that it is okay to be transparent, but that transparency invites the same and can lead to disappointment in much the same way as self-sabotage can, only with less control and more anxiety. Today, I'll have grace for courage and grace for cowardice.