I recently had a conversation with a good friend about dating. Among other things, we talked about how rejection affects men and women on a personal level. He then confessed that because of recent events in his dating life he felt inadequate; he felt like he wasn’t good enough. My friend goes to church every Sunday without fail, he serves faithfully in the priesthood, and he does his home teaching diligently. So why is he struggling to find a good companion?
In the movie, “How to Train your Dragon”, Gobber the blacksmith tells Hiccup, “Now, you’re thinkin’ about this all wrong. It’s not so much what you look like, it’s what’s inside that he can’t stand.” All Scottish accents aside, sometimes this is a true statement! Perhaps one of the most painful forms of rejection is when you know that someone who was attracted to you didn’t want to pursue anything further because of who you are (or who they think you are).
Another form of rejection we face is that of physical appearance. When someone isn’t attracted to us, our self-perception often changes. We look in the mirror and see someone just a little bit less attractive and a little less desirable. We merge our sense of self-worth with what we believe to be the net opinion that the opposite sex has of us, when in reality our true worth is not affected by what others think of us.
When such events occur in our lives, it’s easy to feel dejected, depressed or even despondent. I have spoken with many friends about this subject both male and female and the bottom line is always the same, rejection hurts. From time to time, everyone struggles under this heavy weight. In such trials, a person might ask, “What’s wrong with me? Why am I not good enough?” To those who carry such burdens, remember a few things.
1. If the chemistry isn’t there, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.
I’ve had experiences where I knew a girl was attractive, and she had a great personality, but I could just feel something missing. I still think those girls are great people, but the chemistry just didn’t line up. Remember that love isn’t a simple equation. Sometimes the chemistry isn’t there, and it doesn’t mean that either one of you is a bad person. Don’t feel offended because someone doesn’t think you’re the SINGLE best person for them on Earth.
2. To Him who created worlds without number and filled them with awe-inspiring beauty, you are His most prized creation.
In the popular children’s book, “You Are Special”, Max Lucado wrote about little wooden people called “Wemicks” who go around sticking dots or stars on each other. Stars for beauty, talents or abilities and dots for the lack thereof. The main character, Punchinello, was an awkward and small Wemick who always received dots. He received advice from a Wemick that had no stars or dots to go see the Woodcarver on top of the hill. Punchinello battled within himself wondering, “but will he want to see me?” At length he entered the Woodcarver’s house and as he did, the woodcarver Eli called out his name. Punchinello responded, “You know my name?” — “Of course I do. I made you.”
They discussed the many dots that Punchinello had acquired and Eli told him not to care what the other Wemicks thought, and that He thought Punchinello was pretty special.
“Punchinello laughed. “Me, special? Why? I can’t walk fast. I can’t jump. My paint is peeling. Why do I matter to you?” Eli looked at Punchinello, put his hands on those small wooden shoulders, and spoke very slowly. “Because you’re mine. That’s why you matter to me.” Punchinello had never had anyone look at him like this- much less his maker. He didn’t know what to say.
Eli continued, “The stickers only stick if they matter to you. The more you trust my love, the less you care about their stickers.” “I’m not sure I understand.” Eli smiled, “you will, but it will take time. You’ve got a lot of marks. For now, just come to see me every day and let me remind you how much I care.”
3. The Savior suffered and died so you could be “good enough”.
Preach my Gospel profoundly declares, “[Heavenly Father] weeps with us when we suffer”. Believe that there is no one who understands you better or loves you more than Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. They knew who you were before you came to earth and they know all the good that you will yet accomplish. They do not look at physical flaws and they love you for who you are on the deepest level. For those reasons, Christ paid a divine price so you could be “good enough”. You can always strive to become more Christ like, but don’t discount what you’ve already done.
I like to take an inventory of my life. I look at all the positive things I’ve done and that have happened to me. I remember the special spiritual experiences that built my testimony. I then remember Jacob’s words when he told of “the pleasing word of God, yea the word which healeth the wounded soul.” I read my scriptures, read my patriarchal blessing and pray. Suddenly my problems seem to shrink as I remember who I really am, and not who others tell me I am. Through the atonement, I realize that I am “good enough”.
4. Dating is not a cheap experience because a Celestial marriage is not a cheap experience.
The result of a respectful, loving courtship is a celestial companionship in the bonds of marriage. I’m talking about the kind of loving, happy, mutually respectful marriage that lasts long after death.
I recently had the opportunity to go to General Conference for the first time in my life. As I saw the apostles with their wives, the depth of love they have for each other was reaffirmed to me. They treat their wives like princesses and they are happy together. That is the prize of dating, to one-day look down at a wrinkled hand in yours and feel a depth of love that is now unfathomable to us. Such happiness is not cheap, so it’s no wonder that there can be no shortcuts in dating to achieve a celestial companionship.