‘I’ve got exciting news, HopefulGirl – I met an amazing woman on holiday,’ my pal told me over a drink. ‘We both think this could be the “big one”. There’s just one problem… she lives in the States.’ Oh, boy. Of course, I’ll be delighted if my friend has met Ms Right – he’s desperate to settle down and he’s been unlucky in love. But 4,000 miles is an awfully long way. I don’t envy him one bit.
“Please only contact me if you live within striking distance of my home city,” I wrote on my dating profile. I’d decided I wasn’t suited to long-distance relationships, and I wanted to weed out anyone who didn’t live reasonably close. It didn’t work – I still heard from people across the pond and beyond, who thought a few thousand miles was nothing between friends and “a flight to the UK is a small price to pay to find out if you’re the one”. Maybe they were right… maybe not.
Most of us hope that our future will include love and marriage. After all, that’s why we’re on a dating website: to meet a life partner! But the church’s focus on married couples and families means that many of us grow up believing we won’t be fully-fledged adults until we manage to secure a spouse. It’s easy to pick up the idea that life doesn’t really begin until we get hitched.
‘I feel God has called me to a specific ministry in the future,’ said the Facebook post. ‘But my girlfriend says it’s not something she’s called to. I love her and want to marry her, but I’ve always imagined myself and my future wife working together for the Lord. Should I break up with her and look for someone who shares my calling?’
‘My boyfriend has hinted that he’s planning to propose,’ said the email. ‘I’ve always wanted children and, at 32, I probably shouldn’t leave it much later. My friends at church are all getting married and I’m worried I’ll be left on the shelf. Yet something’s holding me back…’
‘My girlfriend and I recently split up,’ said the Facebook message. ‘She’s keen to stay friends, but I’m not so sure. I don’t want to lose her from my life, but I’m still hurting from the break-up and find it painful to be around her. What do you think, HopefulGirl – can you really stay friends with an ex?’
‘This guy and I are interested in each other romantically,’ said the email. ‘However, he has a history of drugs, gambling, crime and even a spell in prison. He became a Christian during his sentence, which he says gave him the motivation to change his life. He seems to have turned over a new leaf, but should I be concerned about his past?’
‘I find Mothering Sunday really tough,’ confided my friend. ‘I’m happy for those who’ve been blessed with children, but I’ve spent my whole life yearning to be a mum, and a service celebrating motherhood is just a painful reminder of my grief.’