|Publisher:||Tyndale House Publishers|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)|
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I Was Blind (Dating), But Now I See
My Misadventures in Dating, Waiting, and Stumbling into Love
By Stephanie Rische
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2016 Stephanie Rische
All rights reserved.
"Have fun on your blond date," Nhu told me as she headed out the door.
Clearly there had been a communication breakdown somewhere along the way.
Nhu had been an even giddier version of her usual eighth-grade self when she found out about my date scheduled for the next day. I'd met Nhu at the church youth group, where I mentored her and a handful of other junior high girls. That day she'd come over to work on an essay for her English class since she and her mom didn't have a computer and she was still catching on to the nuances of the English language.
But once she got wind of my "blond date" — and when she discovered it was my first one, at that — all thoughts of homework quickly vaporized. She started peppering me with questions and offering advice about everything dating related — where we should go, what I should wear, and what she predicted this guy would look like (beyond the obvious blond hair).
We eventually got the definition worked out — that this guy was not necessarily blond, nor blind, for that matter. And then, to my surprise, Nhu blurted out, "What do you hope he's like?" She said it like it was the first time it had occurred to her that I might get some say in the matter. I suppose that's how you roll when you're thirteen.
I seized the teachable moment, telling her what was important to me when it came to someone I'd want to date. I was looking for a man with integrity, I said. Someone who loved God and did the right thing, even when it hurt. Someone who was serious enough to work hard but could also laugh himself silly. A man who would honor me and love me at my best and my worst.
At some point I looked over at Nhu and realized her eyes were glazing over. Sure enough, I'd surpassed the thirty-second teenager- accessibility window.
"One more thing," I added. "I guess I always pictured myself with a brown-haired guy."
* * *
As it turned out, Blond Date did, indeed, have blond streaks in his hair. Unfortunately, that was where the highlights ended. So to speak.
I arrived at Jamba Juice a few minutes early, so I wasn't surprised Blond Date hadn't arrived yet. Truth be told, I was a bit relieved, as it would buy me time to dry my sweaty palms and figure out what drink I should order to convey that I was neither a glutton nor a calorie counter. Perfectly natural, of course.
Five minutes ticked by. I had my order down by now. Ten minutes. I was eyeing every male who approached the door, alternately hoping it would be him and praying it wouldn't, based on whether his car looked like a candidate for the scrap metal yard, whether his shoes clashed with his pants, and other such deep inner qualities.
Fifteen minutes. The girl behind the counter was now giving me pitying looks. Twenty minutes. I wished I'd done more research on blind-date etiquette. How long do you wait before conceding you've been stood up?
And another thing: What role did the matchmaker play once the ball had gotten rolling? I'd feel like the worst kind of snitch to call her with a report about my date's AWOL status, and I couldn't think of a way to pull off a casual check-in, where I'd nonchalantly fish for hints as to whether he'd lost interest somewhere between Tuesday and the nearest Jamba Juice.
The truth was, I didn't even know Debbie, the matchmaker, all that well. My brother and sister had played sports with her kids in high school, so we often found ourselves cheering together on the bleachers at basketball and softball games. Several years had passed since then, but Debbie thought of me one day when she was talking to her friend (Blond Date's mom), who was fretting over her son's bachelordom. As they were lamenting over how "all he needed was to meet a nice girl," my name popped into Debbie's mind.
I'm not entirely sure why I agreed to the setup, since for me, even answering a call from an unknown number felt like an act of daredevilesque courage. I'd always assumed blind dates fell into the category of Things I Just Don't Do, right up there with cliff diving and juggling knives. I wasn't sure I could sit and make small talk with a stranger for an hour, let alone do said scary activity with a date. As I tried to figure out how to respond to her voice mail, I thought through the booby traps of saying yes: (1) I'd have to navigate the tricky, alien world of dating, with its unwritten codes and expectations; (2) in a short window of time, I'd have to try to represent myself accurately yet winsomely enough that this person would go out of his way to see me again; and (3) I'd have to try to eat something while looking cute and preferably not getting anything stuck between my teeth.
All the tallies seemed to be lining up in the "con" column, but there was one potential pro that had the power to outweigh them all: the what-if. This probably wouldn't go anywhere ... but what if it did? This guy probably wasn't my soul mate ... but what if he was?
There was something else I had going for me: I never bumped into Debbie in the course of normal life. So if things blew up or fizzled out, I'd be able to wallow in anonymity.
Of course, I hadn't counted on Blond Date not showing up at all. Twenty-five minutes. By now I was moving from twinges of disappointment to bouts of indignation. But each time I got angry, I'd picture him in a fiery crash somewhere between his house and Jamba Juice and cut him some slack. I decided to give him thirty minutes, and after that I was out of there.
As my eyes flicked compulsively between the parking lot and my watch, I heard a voice behind me. "Excuse me," the girl behind the counter said. "Are you waiting for someone?" So much for my play-it-cool strategy.
I nodded lamely.
"Well, he just called and said to tell you he's running late."
Forty-three minutes after the prearranged time, Blond Date showed up.
"Did you get the message I'd be late?" he asked. "I was in the middle of a really intense game of soccer."
Soccer? Not a fiery car crash?I took a breath, determined to give him the benefit of the doubt.
"Oh," I said. "Do you play on a team?"
"No, it's just a bunch of guys who play pickup in the park near my house."
At least I was getting a Banana Berry Smoothie with a boost of vitamin C for my efforts. And he had showered, so that showed some effort, if not time-management skills.
As soon as we ordered (to his credit, he paid), it was time to face the dilemma I'd had plenty of time to ponder since arriving. The thing is, this particular Jamba Juice had no seating. And it was a brisk November day in blustery Chicagoland.
I'd scoped out our options and figured our best bet was to sit on a bench just outside the building. I pitched the idea to Blond Date as we walked out of the place, but he countered with the suggestion that we chat in my car instead.
"In my car?" Something about having this person I'd never met (and someone I'd spent the past forty-three minutes being peeved at) in my vehicle felt awkward at best. Maybe even a little creepy.
But he was persistent. "It's too cold out here."
I resisted the urge to say something about it not being too cold for pickup soccer.
And so it was that we ended up sitting in my car and making awkward small talk while drinking our smoothies.
"So, tell me about yourself," he said.
I swallowed, willing myself not to feel like I was at a job interview.
But it was a fair question. We had covered the subjects we knew we had in common (i.e., our matchmaker) in the span of about thirty seconds. When you go on a normal date, you theoretically already have some common ground to start from. But we were starting from scratch. How could it not feel like an interview?
Please don't ask what three adjectives I'd use to describe myself!
I lobbed some questions to Blond Date about soccer, but my knowledge of the game was limited to fourth-grade gym class and how I thought Mia Hamm had a cool name, so that didn't go very far.
Our humor styles were in different orbits too. Despite my best attempts to make him laugh, he remained stoic. Does it only make things worse if I explain that was a joke? Or should I just move on?
I decided it was better to abort and reroute the conversation.
"I'm hosting a birthday party for my friend next weekend," I said. "I'm thinking of having fondue."
And that's when he laughed.
Wait — that wasn't the joke! We passed the joke exit several mile markers ago!I hoped my face didn't betray my indignation.
"I didn't know anyone did that anymore," he said by way of explanation.
Eventually Blond Date looked at his watch. "Well, it's been an hour," he said, "which is my rule for first dates." He reached out his hand for an inelegant side-by-side handshake.
"It was nice meeting you," he said. And that was that.
Well. I'd always pictured myself with a brown-haired guy anyway.
Excerpted from I Was Blind (Dating), But Now I See by Stephanie Rische. Copyright © 2016 Stephanie Rische. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Author's Note xiii
Foreword Melanie Shankle xv
Introduction: Stumbling Blindly toward Grace xvii
Part 1 Waiting
Blond Date 1
In the Waiting Room 7
Tokens of His Love 13
Spiritual Breath Holding 17
Part 2 Faithfulness
The Professor 29
My Own "Dear Abby" 39
The Summer of Weddings 41
The Manna Principle 47
Thrice a Bridesmaid 53
For Sale by Owner 61
The Anti-Loneliness Campaign 67
Part 3 Community
Uber-Fundamentalist Boy 73
A Scattered Shower 77
Are You My Neighbor? 81
The Theology of Huckleberry Pie 87
Mole Checkups and Other Forms of Accountability 93
Where Would God Put His Tattoo? 101
Part 4 Hope
Mr. Very 109
God and the Odds 113
The Red Couch 119
Un Valentine's Day 123
Baby-Step Prayers 127
Feathers and Axes 131
Part 5 Prayer
The Linebacker 141
Breaking Up with Church 145
Fighting My Dragons Alone 151
The Sacred Scar 157
The Promise I Thought God Broke 161
My Quest to Become Annoying 165
Part 6 Gratitude
The Connecticut Yankee 175
Confessions of an Ungrateful Heart 181
Why God Loves a Good Story 187
Forty Days of Uncloistered Life 191
Red-Light Redemption 197
Contentment, Like It or Not 203
Part 7 Joy
Mr. Paper-Perfect 209
A Divine Canvas 215
A Family of One 219
Full of Grace 225
When Joy Comes in Camo 229
Bone-Crushing Happiness 237
Part 8 Journey
Limo Dude 243
Sucking Out the Marrow 247
The Time Dad Pulled a Laban 253
Parachute Prayers 261
In the Desert 267
The Big 3-0 273
Epilogue: Last Blind Dace 277
Discussion Guide 283
About the Author 293
What People are Saying About This
I have known for several years that Stephanie Rische is a gem of an editor, and I’ve known that because she painstakingly and lovingly edited my first two books (which are all the better for her work, by the way). Given that, you can imagine my delight when I found out that she is also a gem of a writer. In I Was Blind (Dating), but Now I See, Stephanie’s funny, tender, and insightful words take the reader on a journey that points to God’s faithfulness and kindness at every stop along the road. You’ll have a blast reading this bookyou’ll laugh, you’ll nod your head, and you may even cringe at some pretty spectacular awkward moments. More than anything, though, you’ll be encouraged by the compassion and the care of our very good God. Well done, sweet Stephanie!
This book has a piece of my heart, and Stephanie now feels like a dear friend who knows my Starbucks order and shows up at my front door in her pajama-pants just to talk because she knows I’ve had a rough day. I laugh-cried through every inch of this book and felt every feeling right along with Stephanie. She has such a gift of bringing each “date” off the page and into full, living color for me to hold and learn from. I adore her vulnerability. And as I leaned into every story, I was once again reminded of the beauty found in life when we allow our relationships to teach us something deeper about ourselves and how we love.
If you’ve ever been brave enough to outright ask God for the desire of your heart only to be met with what feels like stony silence, this book is for you. Whether you’ve prayed for a husband or kids or dream job or healing or hope or home and haven’t heard back, this book is for you. Stephanie asked and God did not answer in any of the ways he could have. Through eight blind dates, God did not change his answer. Instead he changed Stephanie. And if you read her book, I’m pretty certain he’s going to change you, too.
Wise, warm, funny, and deepStephanie Rische writes in a way that will draw you in and keep you reading. Honest about the ache of being single when you long to be married, she has written a story that will deepen your hope and delight your heart. I loved traveling with Stephanie on her journey from one harrowing blind date to another, with loads of surprising experiences along the way.
Bad dates, confusion in faith, real sin, fumbling around for grace: It takes guts to lay bare stories like these. It takes wit and charm to do it in a way that reads so endearingly. This book is a delightful telling of how God, in his kindness, allows himself to be seen.
If you’re struggling to hope that you will ever find “Mr. Right,” Stephanie’s story is proof that God is a good Father who gives good gifts to his children. In her book, Stephanie tells honest and humorous dating stories from her single days and the lessons she learned. An encouraging and thought-provoking read for anyone navigating singleness and dating.
Finally! An honest look at the journey we call dating. With the winsomeness of a “pit bull in a tutu” (her words), Stephanie opens her heart and soul to the twists and turns, the anticipation and disappointment of this daunting endeavor. She has the courage to let us in to the parts of her world that most of us work hard to keep hidden, and that is the best gift of all.
I’ve known Stephanie Rische primarily as a fine editor, but it was fun getting to know her as a skilled and entertaining writer! Not only singles but marrieds will readily identify with this engaging book. Stephanie is refreshingly honest as she addresses, with good humor, life’s awkward moments and unwelcome emotions. Her transparency, charm, and faith in Christ are magnetic. I really enjoyed this book, and highly recommend it!
This is not just a book about dating: It’s about living, about not putting your life on hold. But more important, it’s about surrounding yourself with a spiritual possementors, friends, prayer partners, familywho will walk with you through the valleys and around the blind corners. Stephanie Rische is one of those people: honest, hilarious, and wise. Her book is a treasure!