Sometimes I stand in the front of my classroom and look out at my desk filled room and I imagine what my students will be like in 5 years from now, in 10 years…20 years. When they are quietly and busily working on an assignment, sometimes I force myself to quiet my own mind and get back to the reason I am a teacher. I stop worrying about their test scores, my lesson plans, the discipline code, the meetings, and all the other worries that come with the life of being a teacher. I allow myself two minutes of quiet reflection time and ask questions such as these:
“Am I making a difference in the lives of my students?”
“After they leave my classroom, will they remember me years down the road?”
“What can I do to make them feel loved and cherished during this short time they are with me every day?”
I will be the first to admit that those quiet reflection times seem to happen less and less the more years that I have been in this profession, but it is needed. It is needed for me to keep on doing what I am doing. And so after weeks pass me by, without those self questioning thoughts, I reprimand myself a bit and I stop and quiet my mind.
To the girls in my classroom: I pray that you realize you’re beautiful because you were created by the One Perfect God. Don’t base your beauty on what society tells you. I want you to know that you deserve someone special to one day love you, but that your identity should not be whether you have a man by your side. Please realize that your body is a gift, it is special, make sure you demand that men treat it that way. Don’t settle, don’t give up and keep loving yourself each and every day because you are perfect. just. the. way. you. are.
Anyone else hear Bruno Mars’ voice right now? I just had to take a small intermission and listen to his song for some further inspiration 🙂
To the boys in my classroom: I pray that you realize that your ultimate strength comes from The Mighty God who created you. I want you to grow into manhood where you are recognized for being a gentleman. Gentle meaning strong and brave, not weak and scrawny. Don’t let anger overtake you and realize that when you feel broken, it is okay. I hope that you find a kind woman one day who loves you in just the right way, lets you take care of her, and in turn you treat her like a Princess. Don’t let your self-worth be in how beautiful the world thinks your wife is, how successful the world tells you that you are, instead find your worth in Our Savior.
Why am I getting all sentimental as I open up my story about date 6? Because when I walked into to meet him, I immediately saw some of my students in his face, 20 years from now.
Let me back up. We agreed to meet at a coffee shop downtown at 7:00 and so I had a wonderful day of relaxing in my PJ’s and allowing myself some “me” time. If I can go out on 30 dates and still have some “me” time, it will be a successful journey, I am sure of it. I finally showered and changed around 5 that evening and hopped in my car to meet my date 6.
I had a bit of trouble finding a parking spot, so I had to park on a neighborhood street about a block away from the coffee shop. I finally walked in about 5 minutes late. The first thing I noticed about date number 6 was that he was like a giant teddy bear. He was adorable and I had to stop myself from just going up to him and hugging him right then and there. I shook his hand, told him about my parking issue and we sat down at a table. He asked me if I wanted to go order and I let him in on a secret that I had been keeping. “Ummm I actually don’t drink coffee,” I muttered while looking into his wide, big, brown eyes. I explained that I love hot chocolate though and he guided me towards the counter to order. I ordered a pumpkin hot chocolate, perfect for a cool October day and grabbed my purse. He immediately noticed that and put his hand up and said, “I got it.” He ordered a mocha and we began our evening together.
The coffee shop was a very quaint place, which was cute, but as we were talking I felt like everyone could hear our conversation. I tried to block them out, but I did notice a woman sitting at the end table and a man sitting at a table over from her. It was obvious they were not there together but eventually I saw them strike up a conversation. I don’t know how it happened, but they had my attention. In between conversations with “Teddy,” our words would grow quiet and he would just look at me and stare. I always thought he would begin talking again, but he didn’t. At some points, I couldn’t take his piercing brown eyes on me, so I would look away. This is how I could keep track of what was happening at the tables over from us. Eventually I saw the man ask for the woman’s number and began entering it into his phone, she was smiling the whole time. As she walked out, I watched the man watch her leave and he too had a smile on his face. That was cute. Two people just might have started a relationship in that coffee shop. For a split second I wanted to shout to the man that I was proud of him, but decided against it as I focused back on the smile of my date.
Teddy has a round face with round brown eyes to match. His smile drew me in. As I was watching him talk, or as he was watching me talk, I noticed his eyes had a mix of gentleness and brokenness. I felt my heart move a little bit as I looked into his eyes, because that is when I saw my students in him. All of the things I wish for my male students, I wished for him in that single second. I knew I wasn’t going to be the woman that could give him the love he deserved, but I almost literally ached, I wanted that so badly for him.
After we finished our drinks, we went to go check on my car to make sure that it hadn’t been towed or vandalized for parking on private property. I asked him if he wanted to walk around or go get something to eat. He said we could walk around until we found something. And I let him in on my second secret of the night. I wanted Qdoba ever since I pulled in and saw that it was close by. He had never been there, but of course, the gentleman that he was, agreed with no problems at all. As we stood in line in another order and pay kind of restaurant, I told him he could go first and ushered him ahead of me. He went without a problem. Good job Teddy. Good job. He ordered, I ordered and then he told the college student at the register that our orders were together and he paid. I thanked him for paying and we sat down to our meal.
During our conversation, some aspects of his life were shared and I began to put together why his eyes had a bit of brokenness in them. He didn’t go into too many details but I just felt like I saw inside him a bit. We talked about why I was doing 30 dates and he told me that he understood completely and it was a brave thing for me to do. I wanted him to feel special and not just another number, so I told him that he had an amazing smile. I also told him that I saw such gentleness in his eyes and that I could tell he was a complete gentleman and knew how to treat a lady. He smiled, said thank you and then complimented me back. He told me I was beautiful on the outside, but that he saw great beauty and depth in my heart as well. If I already wasn’t aching enough, that did it even more.
We talked about our families and I shared with him about the recent passing of my grandmother. He looked at me like I was the only person in this world and he told me he could relate, he lost his grandmother two years ago. As he told that story, my eyes began to fill with tears and I told myself I needed to hold it together. It made me feel comfortable to tell him even more details about the last goodbyes with my grandma and again I fought back tears. I wish I could talk to my grandma about these 30 dates, I wish I could tell her that I talked about her to Teddy and that I told him she was one of my favorite women of all time. I wish that she could read these blog posts, she would always tell me that I was such a good writer and I know she would get such a kick out of these dates. I know she would tell me that these guys were such great guys and chastise me about why I didn’t go on a second date with them. I can just hear her saying, “So what was wrong with THAT one?” I miss her a lot and that came out on my date with Teddy. He was so good at listening. I would stop talking, he would stare at me, and again I thought he would eventually say something or change the topic of conversation, but instead he would just stare, until again, I had to look away.
Eventually after sitting there for about 20 minutes after we finished our meals, I got up to use the restroom and came back to clear our table. I asked him if he was ready to go, because he lived a little over an hour away and I didn’t want him to get home too late. He said he would be fine, but offered to walk me back to my car at that time. It was a bit chilly out and he asked if I was cold and put his arm around me to warm me up for like 5 seconds. He told me that he was generally always hot, so one hug from him, should warm me up right away. When we got to my car, I hugged him and he told me, “Just to let you know, I would love to see you again, you have my number and my email address.” I smiled and said okay and got into my car. As I waved goodbye to him and pulled my car out of the parking space, the ache in my core had not left and soon guilt started to replace it. Is what I am doing okay? I know these guys are real people, with real feelings. I would never ever want to be the cause of hurt for them. But isn’t that what dating is all about? Sometimes first dates lead to second dates and sometimes they don’t. I am not sure how he was different than the other dates I had been on, but I left our date wanting Teddy to find someone who loved him for who he was as a man. Such a sweet, gentle, caring man. Someone who could turn those broken eyes into a sparkle.
When I started this journey I prayed that this would not all be about me. I realize that I am the one going on these dates, I am the one writing these blog posts about my thoughts and feelings, but I want my journey to somehow impact others as well. I want my dates to see Jesus in me, see the beauty that can only come from knowing I am loved and saved by an Almighty God. I want to somehow spend an evening with them, make them feel special during our time together and leave feeling a little bit of inspiration. Not because they went on a date with me, but because I truly believe that God is in the midst of all of this. This whole idea simply started as a 29 year old woman, learning how to date, stretching the comfort zone a bit and getting to know men who otherwise would have been complete strangers, but it has turned into so much more. I am learning. And I am growing. If I can be an encouragement to these men and an inspiration to others, then I feel so very humbled that I can be used in a way that I never first expected. Thank you God for directing me and thank you for teaching me. And as always, thank you for reading.
24 dates and counting down. Until tomorrow.