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My wedding day was a day of hope for all the single ladies of the world. All the single ladies. ALL the single ladies.

I do not wish even one day of my broken-hearted, continual-wounding, lying-cheating, on again-off again, decade-of-disastrous-dating, on anybody! I have enough stories of stupidity to write the sequel to the book, He’s just not that into you. It would be titled, In Case You Didnt Hear Me The First TimeHe Really Is – Not That Into You.

You want examples? Ok.

Let’s see, I dated a guy who stole my Vicodin prescription after I had gotten a root canal (Theif). I dated a guy who “took me out” for my 21st birthday and let me pay for my own drinks all night (Cheapskate). I dated a guy who made a compelling case as to why he had rose petals on the floor of his car, yet I did not receive said roses (Cheater). I dated a guy who thought it was funny to pull the keys out from the ignition while I was driving (Lunatic). I dated a guy who stole registration tags off other cars to put on his own (Criminal). Oh, and I also dated a guy who wished me good luck in finding the perfect guy, simply because I had expected him to tell the truth (Liar).

I wish I could tell you these were all deal breakers and I kicked them to the curb. But they weren’t and I didnt. And I really wish I wasnt telling you that some of these guys were actually the same guy. Dude. I know.

Dating seemed so full of chance, like a fortune cookie, where you never really knew how the inside was going to read. And then, when I would open my heart too quickly, I found myself with the standard fortune of fighting for communication, reading between the lines for honesty and then squinting to find any integrity.

I don’t even like fortune cookies, yet I nibble away while I read my fortune, every time. Maybe I’m just a snacky reader? Or maybe I unknowingly consume whatever dangles a mystery in front of me.

Men had always been a puzzle to figure out. I grew up with all sisters and worked in a salon full of women. I knew women. Men, however, intrigued me. In fact, I had awakened to the notion that they had intrigued me entirely far more than I intrigued myself.

Not ok.

Immediately, the adventurer in me took off, searching for buried treasure. This time it was my own I was digging for. What I discovered was a beauty that was worth defending, a value worth standing up for and a precious spirit that needed great care and tenderness. I started to treat myself with respect and dignity, raising standards and tightening security.

Storms have a way of doing that in our life, where we must shout out to the starboard crew of our inner workings, pleading “batten down the hatches!”

I think perhaps I had been secretly waiting for someone like Monica from Friends or Miranda from Sex and The City, to call out my inner beauty and lay it in front of me and say, “You see, here it is! Stop settling!”. Well, they never called. But my brother-in-law did. He asked me why I was going to dinner with the guy I just broke up with. He asked me to take better care of myself, because I was worth it.

From that day on, I ditched the fortune cookies. Not only did it turn out that I was a bit gluten intolerant, I began desiring healthier company. I listened to my heart and checked labels, discerning what was good for me. There was ownership and responsibility; there was sifting and appropriate timings. There was caution near the heat and there were times for cooling off. Then, there was feasting.

I married a man who saw my inner beauty and cupped his hands around my heart, promising to cherish it. This man affirms every strength in me and encourages my potential in every weakness. This is the love I had been looking for all along. This treasure, this heart of gold, that I had hoped even existed, was now hand in hand with mine.

What I’ve learned: ingredients matter. And the treasure within me is a very large purse, so I can absolutely afford quality elements.

I may not make a mean casserole, but these are the recipes I hope to pass down from generation to generation; the recipes that make good relationships and strong communities.

I might not be able to save my teenage daughter from every heartbreak, but I believe that in telling my stories, bless it, I can at least protect her from a few deep and scathing wounds.

When she begins interviewing for jobs, I will share stories of glass ceilings and stories of thriving leadership, so she will ask the questions that reveal the integrity and direction of the institution.

When she struggles with friends, I will share stories of jealousy and rivalry as well as stories of fierce sisterhood, so she can avoid the traps of competition and carefully examine the hearts of those she aligns herself with.

When she struggles with her faith, I will share the stories of hopelessness and division as well as the stories of living amidst hope-filled unity, so she is able to identify the evidence of healthy community.

Guideposts.

My stories will be guideposts; not locking her in, but giving her a compass of true north. The prickly brush that once obscured the truth for me, has painstakingly been cleared back a bit, providing my daughter, my most precious treasure, a much safer passage.

And for that cause, I am Ok with taking a few blows.

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