Foundations of Stone
I was upset when I found out that Brian was going to start dating you. This was not because I liked you. I didn’t like you. I didn’t even know you. In fact, the only thing that I knew about you so far was that you liked Brian. This, to me, was at the time the defining characteristic of the image of “Megan” in my head. So why would it upset me that Brian would reciprocate your feelings? I’m not a cruel person; even not knowing you, I would want you to be as happy as possible.
Yet my reaction was one of complete sadness. I was disappointed in Brian, because I knew that while he liked you, what he would build with you would not be real. It would be superficial. He had just broken up with a girl because their relationship was too much based on sex. How could he offer a virtuous Christian girl the kind of relationship she deserved without waiting even a week between the two relationships? I couldn’t see how he could, and I wished that he wouldn’t try until he could find a way to do that. And the reason I felt this way is because I knew exactly how much you liked him. I knew exactly how much it would hurt you when he or his relationship did not turn out to be what you expected or wanted.
Most college and high school relationships are straw houses. They are not made to last. They are based on fleeting feelings, adolescent hormones, and temporal rather than permanent values. They are based on feeling good. I don’t just mean feeling good kissing and hugging and holding hands, though that is a part of it. I mean feeling good about yourself and your world. I mean all of the warm fuzzy feelings that go with a relationship, all rolled together.
Brian’s relationship with you was built out of straw. I didn’t see him do anything to prepare to make it last. I saw him do the same thing with Amberly before you, and I see him ready to do it again with another girl already. You, at least, are giving the relationship scene a rest; that much of straw houses, I think you understand.
The thing about these types of relationships is that they are easy. They are easy to get into, easy to get out of, easy to enjoy, and easy to leave behind. Granted they may not seem easy to leave behind, but you will long have forgotten your emotions for Brian in less time than it took me to even begin to understand how much Carrie had hurt me.
I will never build a relationship that is no more permanent than straw. I refuse to offer a woman I respect a house of straw. I put my heart and soul into the relationships I build; I put myself into them. It’s challenging and it’s terrifying, and I absolutely refuse to do any less. When I build a relationship with a girl, it’s not going to be a house of cards or straw; it’s going to be solid rock. And it’s going to be huge. It’s going to be the most beautiful, artistic and solid creation I have accomplished.
I’ve done this before. Sometimes the girls I become involved with see my work for what it is. Others do not. I offer them a royal palace, but they are too used to houses of straw. My heart has too many rooms and they get lost easily. My heart is too big and they feel they have too much room to roam. And they leave, expecting my palace to have collapsed on their heads just as early and easily as the houses of straw they’ve lived in before. I thought maybe you were one person who was capable of seeing what I was trying to do.
In your last voicemail to me, you said that you don’t know why you don’t like me. I will tell you why: Because building a palace takes time and work. I could build a house of straw and girls would come running. I’m handsome enough. God knows I’m talented enough—I don’t know a single other person who writes poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and music with even a fraction of the praise that I’ve gotten for all four at my age. But I’m not willing to set myself up to be liked superficially. I want real love, and real love takes time. It takes work. It takes God. It takes so many elements that it would waste paper to list them all, and most of them have to be felt rather than merely said. I’m not willing to sacrifice all of that work for the quick fix. In other words, I’m not willing to be a player.
This puts me at odds with every woman on earth. Women will not admit it, but they like players far better than they like nice guys. What they like about a player is not the fact that he is a player, but the fact that he’s confident. And who is going to be more confident: The guy who has had a string of three girlfriends in less than two months, or the guy who hasn’t dated anybody in three years? Actually, I used to have girlfriends all the time. My time-in-relationships to time-being-single ratio was outrageous for a young man my age. I easily jumped from girl to girl, because as long as a girl can see that you’ll be ok without her, she is willing to like you. As long as she sees your confidence, you can win her over.
I refuse to feign that kind of confidence—for you, or for anybody. If I’m going to have a relationship, I want it to be real, and I want it to be with the real me; not with a façade I’m only using to help me get girls.
While other men are building houses of straw (which for some reason look very attractive) I’m alone over here trying to build a foundation of stone for my palace. And you’re perceptive enough to see that it’s for you. And you come for a moment and stand on this foundation (which isn’t itself finished, nor anything but barely even begun) and you don’t want to be a part of it. There’s no roof. There are no walls. There’s no kitchen, no bedroom, no living room. There’s no television, no videogames. While you stand up there with me, you are exposed to the sun and wind and rain. You can’t see how this will possibly be finished in your lifetime, nor how it could possibly pertain to you. You feel disconnected from it and you feel you have nothing to do with it. And there I am, asking for your help, because there’s not much point in building half a house. And you look at me like I’m crazy. This project is too much, there is too much at risk, and you don’t want to be a part of it.
I don’t buy for a minute your insistence that we have no control over who we like. If this is what you really believe deep in your heart, then you are not the woman I thought you were. Some of my friends think you are “stuck in high school.” That’s a term for girls who come to college and refuse to have more mature relationships than those they had previously. I’m old enough to be frustrated with girls who are “stuck in college.” I don’t want anything whatsoever to do with someone who is stuck in high school—not as a friend, nor anything else. If that describes you, tell me quick, because if it’s true, you’re nothing but continual heartache waiting to happen for every man you touch (except for those who use you and don’t care what you think.)
I’ve said and written this a million times in my lifetime; that I should have to say it again frustrates me: Love is a verb. Affection, adoration, attraction; these are emotions. They can be based on hormones, or purely on physical appearance. Love cannot—it is a verb. Why else would God command us to love Him? How else could God be love? God is surely far more powerful and meaningful than our fleeting crushes.
No, Megan. I didn’t like you because I had no choice in the matter whatsoever. It is true that I found you attractive and interesting. But I find thousands of girls attractive and interesting. There are even (gasp) some girls I find more attractive and more interesting than you—no offense. No, I liked you because I chose to, because I thought that you were the kind of person who was capable of seeing a foundation of stone and comparing it to a house of straw. I thought you were the kind of person who would be strong enough to face wind and rain until the roof is finished, simply because you’d rather have a real and lasting roof than a temporal one.
I still believe that you are the kind of person who is capable of this depth and power and meaning. But I’m not sure that you want it. I think you still find too much comfort in a house of straw. And for as long as you’re only looking for another boyfriend, or a guy to make out with, or just a dance partner, I will never ever be what you’re looking for. I’m simply not capable of allowing myself into relationships that are so shallow.
I’ve seen you dance with me, flirt with me, and interact with me. The chemistry was there, at some point. You’ve admitted as much without really meaning to. But you didn’t want to deal with it. You didn’t want to deal with me. You freely admit that I’m amazing, that I’m a great guy, and that I treat you better than you deserve (given your treatment of me thus far.) And yet no part of you is attracted to me? No, Megan; if you do not like me as I like you, there is only one reason and explanation for it: You simply don’t want to.
You do have a choice, admit it or not. Even if I were ugly, unpopular, untalented, couldn’t dance, couldn’t sing, couldn’t play piano, couldn’t write music, couldn’t write stories, and didn’t do everything in my power to make you happy, you could like me if you wanted to. I’m sure that you have liked other men for whom one or all of these things was true. Even if you couldn’t like me right away, you could still choose to build the kind of friendship that years later is capable of turning into a far more real romance than a college crush ever will.
But if there’s no part of you that wants that, then I must honestly confess: there’s no part of me that wants you. I want like-minded people with me on the journey. I think that you and I could build something that neither of us can have with anybody but each other, whether you find it necessary to say that in terms of romantic relationships or not (I don’t). I still believe that. But maybe I’m wrong. Only you can say. In the meanwhile, though, I’m going to leave this foundation unfinished. It is a work I cannot complete on my own. And it is a work I cannot complete with your help unless all of your heart and soul are in it. I’m not going to waste my time if a real structure isn’t going to go here. But should you be curious enough to see the kind of palace I would have built, and how much work I would have put into it, and how much time I would allow myself and you to make sure every detail was perfect, and how much I’d consult God before each next step, then you can come back at some later date and I’ll work on it some more if you want, with your help. Does that mean that I won’t be friends with you unless you agree to date me at some point in the future? Absolutely not. But the kind of friendship I value is the kind that is capable of growing into romance, because it is simply that real. And if you don’t want a friendship that’s that real, then I don’t see as I have much to offer you.
Yours in Christ,
Jason R. Peters
Tiny URL for this post: