This piece of writing started out as a Facebook post that I began to create in my mind earlier this week. However, as my thoughts deepened on the subject, I realized that I needed to write a blog post to share more than I had originally intended.
What initially was going to be a few sentences about how much I appreciate my boyfriend turned into something else. And, no, it’s not because we got into another fight and I no longer wanted to tell the world how great he is.;)
I have been thinking a lot about the gift I have in my boyfriend Jonathan. I can’t even begin to express my appreciation for this man.
When he comes to mind, I smile.
God knew what he was doing when he put us into each other’s lives. I count Jonathan as a gift and know that good and perfect gifts are from God (James 1:17).
Over the past couple of days I have been thinking about Wednesday night – how, we were having a nice evening until it happened. The “it” I’m referring to is a meltdown. It’s a common occurrence in the life of Emily Lofgren. Some may often see it (I’m sorry to my family and to Jonathan), others may never believe it, but complete meltdowns are a source of regular struggle for me.
After dinner, Bible study, and a quick stop to visit my family, we were on our way back to my place when Jonathan said the wrong thing. It shouldn’t have been the wrong thing, but because I was tired and already starting to fall apart piece by piece, it pushed me over the edge.
One innocent comment that wasn’t even about me left me feeling insecure about my role in his life. Without explaining unnecessary details of the scenario, essentially, I took something out of context and let my brewing insecurities overtake my thoughts.
When we got back to my apartment, I angrily trudged up the stairs and threw my new box of supplements on the kitchen floor before retreating to my room in tears. I was frustrated and tired of being sick. It felt like nothing in my life was going right.
Instead of telling me I was being irrational and that I needed to calm down, Jonathan quickly prepared my overnight oats for the next morning’s breakfast so that I would have one less thing to worry about. He then wrapped his arms around me and provided comfort as I poured out my frustrations, stuttering and all.
That night, Jonathan didn’t brush me off or return anger with anger. Throughout this journey of illness, he has turned toward instead of away from me and has sought to understand and love me through the hard times.
This week, I was having a severe Herxheimer reaction, which is a die-off reaction when Lyme bacteria dies and the body tries to detox. Symptoms can get worse during that time. My symptoms were flaring strongly on Wednesday when the meltdown happened.
Over the past several months, even with my severe symptoms and Herxheimer reactions, Jonathan has been incredibly gracious to me. Sure, he’s had times when he wanted to retreat, but I have to give him credit for sticking it out. We have not walked an easy road.
I am beyond thankful to have Jonathan in my life and I want others to know how much I love him.
Something I will not claim, though, is that he is is the best boyfriend in the world.
I don’t say this because I don’t think Jonathan is good enough or that I wish he were better. Just like you and me, he has his downfalls, but he’s my guy and I like him a lot.
I say this because I believe we enter dangerous territory in our online lives when we share one-sided versions of ourselves and the people we love. We make claims that they are the “best” spouse or significant other during times when we feel good about things, perhaps after a romantic date or a great vacation. The feelings at the time are genuine, but what about the other 99% of the time?
If I make a claim that my significant other is the “best,” then I’m putting up a measuring stick for others to use for judging their significant other.
Even worse, it’s potentially another reminder to those who are single that they are missing out on something (even though they’re not – please keep reading, I’ll explain more).
Here’s the truth about relationships, dating, and marriage: there’s no “best boyfriend, spouse, or significant other.” We each enter into a relationship as flawed people, trying to make it work. By God’s grace, we’re gradually changing, growing, and becoming people who complement each other.
Because each person is unique, the way they connect with others is unique. This means that relationships are complex and connection matters. Jonathan and I connect well (but that doesn’t always mean we agree). In addition to having a shared faith and way we saw life, we mutually felt drawn together, which is why we entered into a relationship in the first place.
Jonathan and I each experienced many years of singleness because we were waiting for the right person to date.
Is he what I consider to be the the best boyfriend for me? Absolutely – but I don’t think he’s the “best boyfriend in the world” because there is no “best boyfriend in the world” no matter how we frame it.
We should stop trying to find the “best boyfriend in the world” and stop forcing our significant others into the “best” significant other category because it doesn’t exist. What exists are two people who are deeply flawed, but who deeply love because God, in his loving kindness, has given them grace.
Let’s just be genuine, love others well, offer grace, and most importantly trust God to guide us. That’s the recipe for a content life that’s not dependent on our relationship status.
Should we appreciate our significant others? Yes – but I think it’s wise to be mindful of the ways we portray that relationship online.