The other day I was sharing the following story with some friends, and their reaction prompted me to share it on here. I thought this was one of those stories that would stay a little bit underwraps, but my heart’s desire is to be transparent, so why not tell it like it is? And no, this story is definitely not made up-this is “real life.”
A couple of years ago, I was preparing to head overseas for the summer and was at a leadership retreat for training. It finished on a Sunday afternoon, and that evening I had plans to meet a guy for coffee. Simultaneously, I was also helping lead a youth group (perhaps we’ll talk about that experience one day…) and had naturally developed close bonds with my students. At the end of the retreat, I checked my phone as it received several text messages at once, as it had been without service in the middle of nowhere. The majority of them were from my youth, along with some others from different church members. To my shock and horror, I read the words in the messages I received:
“Dang. Your dad really threw you under the bus this time.”
“YOU HAVE A DATE TONIGHT? DETAILS NOW!”
“So um, that coffee shop at 8? See you there?”
“We are SO coming to see you tonight at 8!”
You get the picture. Not only had my dad “illustrated” me, he had given the details of my whereabouts that evening, conveying that I was meeting with a young man. Um, what? And without me there to even answer the questions face to face that were soon to follow?
Panic ensued as I prepared mentally for that little coffee “date.” I never told the poor guy that the police cars driving by were very likely to be some of my dad’s personal friends. Or that when I kept saying I just enjoy looking around in the evening, I was actually scanning the parking lot for familiar cars and mentally thinking through an escape plan. Fortunately for this poor guy, noone ever actually approached us, though some have come forward as being conductors of “drive-by’s.”
Did other young girls in our church family get so much attention from simply having coffee with a guy? Didn’t think so.
In case anyone is wondering, nothing ever went beyond that coffee chat, but as the Lord would have it, I did do some learning through the experience.
1) If I ever do feel uncomfortable meeting someone for the first time, I know that I can have police officers scouting out the area for me.
2) I will never be quick to share information about my personal life with certain people when it comes to relationships, as rumors will fly and it’s only a matter of time before the search party is out.
3) The root of the problem: Why did it bother me so much, other than being slightly embarrassed?
To elaborate on #3, I was faced with the reality that I had once again fallen into the trap of living for people’s expectations and pleasing others, as opposed to living for an audience of only one: my heavenly Father. I am an extrovert, with a few introverted qualities, but it wasn’t being out in the open so much that bothered me in that moment. I wanted people’s approval- will they think “she did good?” Will they think my outfit is okay? Will they think I’m too flirty? Will they think I’m awkward? What is appropriate for a PK in this situation?
I think all PK’s can probably relate to these thoughts in some form or fashion, regardless of the situation. While others have unfortunately contributed to these circumstances, at the end of the day a decision must be made: Who do I please? I’m reminded of Galatians 1:10, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” What a tragedy and shame it is if we fail to strive for obedience and submission to the One who created us?