Steve Schappell-My Blog

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Unatanium—make room on the periodic table for it

It almost sounds like a new element, doesn’t it?

Sometimes, it feels like a state of being for me.  Working at something, but never quite attaining it, but still working on it daily in hopes of one day reaching it.  My Christian walk is like that.  Not unattainable, but Unatanium.  Almost there...but not quite.

The reality is, I fail everyday.  I make mistakes, and from my perspective, have a God who forgives me and loves me unconditionally.  He helps me learn from my mistakes and move forward. 

And other than God, we know ourselves better than anyone else does.  For example, I know all my faults and shortcomings, but also all the things I am good at and excel in.  We all have secrets we don’t want anyone to know about.  Things we don’t want held up in a mirror so we either confront them or run away from them.  We all have strengths and weaknesses, and try to keep them in balance. 

So, let’s look with some traits where I have room for improvement.

-I’m can be an intense person
-I can talk a lot
-I can be emotional—wear my emotions on my sleeve
-I can get people out of their comfort zones
-I don’t always listen to what others are saying

Now, here are some things that I do well, or traits that I am good at.

-I am a nice person by nature—someone who is kind and honest
-I have a lot of love to give
-I am an active parent and father to my kids
-I want to take care of others
-I accept others as they are
-I don’t need a lot or expect too much

I have dated some while going through my divorce and in the almost 2 years since it was finalized.  There was one “fling” early on, and one and two dates here and there, but nothing of real substance until recently, when Unatanium almost happened.   And for 4.5 months, maybe I did.

We met online though a Christian dating website in late summer last year.  She winked first, and after some emails, I gave out my number and we talked.  Then we agreed to meet on a hiking date halfway since our distance was about one-and-a-half hours apart.  It went well and we went out again the next day.

From that point on, we talked every day and began growing as friends, then dating, and then into a relationship.  We worked through the distance and started spending weekends together.  First spending time with each other and then integrating both our kids into the mix.     

Parents and relatives got pulled in, as did ex-spouses on both sides (meaning I met hers and she mine).  The holidays came along and so did more time together.  The relationship became a focus for me, in fact too much as it turns out. 

Everything was going along great and for the first time since going through the divorce I was genuinely happy.  Happier then I had been in a long time.  I was in love and it felt fantastic.

Then came a weekend in January that started things going in Reverse.  And believe me, Reverse is not by best speed.  Without too much detail, she came down on a Saturday and we talked about slowing down.  It was getting close to burnout for her and hard to sustain the pace we were in.  Then on Sunday when I visited her, we talked more.  When I left the next day, I did not realize it would be the last time I would visit.  Slowly, a relationship became dating (We met for one date out), dating became boyfriend and girlfriend, and then became friends.  And on a lonely Sunday night at home, it came to an end on the phone…

A good friend told me that in some ways a breakup like this can be harder than a divorce.  And she was right.  That night on the phone, I told her that I would always love her, and I meant it.  There were other things said too…good things, kind things from two people at two different places in their life.  And two people who are sure what God has in store.

Remember the list of traits from above?  Well, they were all part of the relationship I just mentioned.  And I learned that when you take the time to really think about what happened and take a good look in the mirror, it’s amazing how it all comes into focus.

Had I listened more, I would have understood that I was too intense at times.  Realized that I took her out of her comfort zone at times.  That sometimes I got too emotional.  Had I gone slower and taken things more “casual,” we might still be together.  All the “good” traits I mentioned were there too and helped to offset the other ones.  I realized that for a time it was all about me and what I wanted, what made me happy.  Some of the relationship was on my terms and since the breakup, it has been on her terms.

They say time heals all wounds, and time certainly does help.  We keep in touch and I still care deeply for her and her kids.  I have done my best and am moving forward.

I believe that you learn something from every dating relationship that you can bring to the next one.  Learn how to correct things you did previously and how to maintain the things that you did right.  In this case, striving to be a better balanced person, a better boyfriend, and maybe one day again, a better husband.  There is one thing she gave me that I will be forever grateful for--she taught me to love again and made me feel loved.  I will never forget that.

Unatanium.  Almost had it once.  Maybe I will again someday…         

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