I’ve been planning my wedding since I was a child. I’ve written out the details from the playlist to the location, occasionally updating it as I’ve gotten older. While all the details of the wedding itself are in my control, there’s one important part that’s out of my control. My husband. Yet, I’ve done what I was taught that every good Christian girl who’s grown up in evangelical Christian cultures who wants to be married does. I wrote a list, I’ve prayed, and I’ve waited. I’ve waited for my Boaz.
I spent over twenty years of my life single (not dating at all) and waiting on my Boaz. When my classmates in high school started dating, I waited, putting all my time and energy into church, school, and extracurriculars. When I got into college, I waited. If I was going to meet my future husband, he would have to come up to me and initiate a conversation. He would have to ‘pursue’ me because that’s how things were supposed to happen. When I graduated from undergrad and began my Master of Divinity program in the fall of 2019, I continued to wait. I watched those around me get into relationships and wondered what was taking God so long. Why wasn’t God sending me my Boaz? When would he arrive on my doorstep? When would he fall in my lap?
I was waiting on my Boaz, but he never came. For those who have not grown up in Christian spaces, this Boaz is basically taught as a Biblical version of prince charming. In the book of Ruth, Ruth and her mother-in-law who are now widows return to her mother-in-law’s hometown. As it’s taught, they’re the damsels in distress, and Boaz steps in to save them. While Ruth is working in the field and waiting for God to move, Boaz seeks her out. He sees her, falls in love with her, and marries her, and they live happily ever after. I was waiting for my happily ever after. I was waiting passively for God to send me this perfect guy that would sweep me off my feet. He would have to be the one to take action and initiate. He would have to be the one to start the conversation. He would have to be the one to find me. All of that changed when I came to seminary. It was in seminary that I learned about the real story of Ruth and Boaz, decided to stop waiting and take action, and began my own unique journey of finding love.
My first semester of seminary, I learned the truth about the story of Ruth and Boaz in my Old Testament course. Their story was not the fairytale story that I was made to believe that it was. Ruth goes into the field hoping to find favor in the eyes of the owner. Boaz comes to the field, notices Ruth, and is told that she has come with Naomi, who he knows is a distant relative through her husband. He takes care of her to some degree as is his duty as a next-of-kin for Naomi. Yet, they need financial security, so Naomi sends Ruth to find him on the threshing floor, telling her to “uncover his feet,” a sexual euphemism. It is Ruth who now initiates and takes things to the next level. In a business conversation in front of the elders, Boaz gets permission from the closest next-of-kin to take control of Naomi’s late husband’s inheritance which means also getting Ruth, as women in those days were considered the property of their husband’s. Ruth is “acquired” by Boaz, and he fulfills his next-of-kin duties by marrying Ruth. The story of Ruth and Boaz is not a romantic love story. The story of Ruth and Boaz is about two widows seeking financial security and their relationship to one another as well as a next-of-kin faithfully and loyally fulfilling his duties as such. Boaz is not the dreamy prince charming, and it is not love that is driving the story. It was this realization that led me to decide that I did not want a Boaz. I would work to define my own journey for love, a journey unique to me.
My journey of finding love, what I like to call ‘Jonese’s Journey to Love,’ began with a conversation with a professor and classmate around the same time as I was enrolled in the Old Testament course. One Sunday after service, this professor and classmate encouraged me and another student to put ourselves out there and start dating, given we had little to no dating experience. We were encouraged to try some dating apps, notably Hinge and Bumble, to meet people. Even if we didn’t find, ‘the one,’ we would gain experience along the way. After letting go of the idea of waiting for my Boaz and the idea that the man always has to take the lead in the relationship, this conversation empowered me to take control of my dating life. I was ready to take a more active role in seeking out the romantic partner that fit my list, that I had prayed about, and that I had been waiting to arrive. I did not want to be “acquired” like a piece of property. I wanted to be chosen and to choose a partner in a way that the story of Ruth and Boaz fails to speak to.
Still, I didn’t dive into the dating pool right away. I had never been on a dating site or dating app before, and I had never been on a date. To be honest, I hadn’t even talked to boys much, let alone flirted. In my waiting, I had done very little to prepare me for this moment. The girl who spent all her life thus far passively waiting would have to initiate some conversations and initiate some dates. I wasn’t sure if I was completely ready, but I was willing to try.
Since I already had a Facebook page, I first started with Facebook dating. I met two nice guys there, and I ended up going on a date with one of them. He wasn’t everything I was looking for, but we could make it work. Or at least that’s what I told myself. It was my friends and family, my community, that helped me learn one of the most important lessons in my journey for love as I was coming to define it for myself. I did not have to settle for the first good guy that I met. I didn’t have to get in a relationship with the first good guy who seemed to be pursuing me. Unlike Ruth, I would assess other options because finding a romantic partner is about more than security.
After that brief experience, I took a break from dating. I decided once again that I would go back to waiting and focus on my schoolwork. I was nervous to dive into the dating pool. What if I picked the wrong person? I realized that one of the reasons I was waiting for God to send me someone was because I was afraid of the potential consequences of my own dating choices. If God sent someone to my doorstep, then surely, he would be the one, without doubt and without question. Maybe waiting for my Boaz wasn’t so bad after all. Maybe all I needed was a man who would be willing to make it work with me.
It would be a year or so later before I would return to dating after growing more personally, emotionally, and spiritually. I was more aware and surer of what I was worthy and deserving of. I deserved someone better than a Boaz. I deserved someone who was the best match for me, and I wouldn’t settle for anything less than that. So, in December of 2020, I decided to dive into the dating pool. I downloaded both Hinge and Bumble. I wanted to see what was out there and was open to the idea of dating again.
Over the course of a few days, I probably matched and had conversations with around forty men. I gradually narrowed down my matches to the few who would be a good match and then the one who was the best match. This one fit everything on my list and seemed to be the answer to my prayers. He was the one I had been waiting for, yet to meet him, I had to be willing to take action. I had to download the dating apps. Since I met him on Bumble, I had to initiate the conversation. I was the one who suggested our first videocall and later suggested that we exchange numbers.
Today, we are still dating, and I am optimistic about it. I share this story because I hope that it can inspire others who may be passively waiting for their Boaz to take control of their dating lives. It wasn’t until I stopped waiting that I met the man who is better than my Boaz. He is not a man who is with me out of duty or obligation. He is not one who has “acquired” me as though I am some sort of property. He chooses to be with me in the same way that I choose to be with him. I have a choice. I can define my journey of love for myself, and I can take an active role in working toward my own beautiful love story. Rather than chasing some misinterpreted ideal, I can write my own story.