Friday, August 21, 2015

Rejecting Ishmael

I've been living in the Atlanta area for two months now, and it's been awesome.  It definitely took some getting used to because I'd been living in Florida for the last five years, and Florida and Georgia are very different in many ways.  One noticeable difference is race.  The city I live in is predominantly black, so I've gotten "hit on" a lot more than I did when I was in Florida.  I could say that's a good thing, but it's not because I understand that God has chosen one man for me.  Everyone else is just a distraction.  Nevertheless, I did exchange numbers with a guy recently and the experience itself was a teachable moment.

My new apartment has a washing machine and dryer hookup, unlike my place in Florida, so, it goes without saying that I don't have a washing machine or dryer just yet.  The community I live in has a laundromat, so I've been doing the bulk of my washing there, but I had to find another laundromat for my comforters since they are king sized.  I found a laundromat a few blocks from my apartment and I'd gone there the other day to wash my comforters, sheets and other bedding.  I was on the phone (bluetooth) with a friend of mine as I carried my laundry into the laundromat.  As I was approaching the entrance, a guy got up and opened the door for me. I thanked him and proceeded into the building, and that's when he asked if he could help me with my laundry.  "No, thanks," I said.  "I got it."  I could tell that I'd offended him by refusing his help because he walked off citing that he was just trying to help.  "No problem," I said to him.  "It's not a big deal.  I can carry it.  I'm used to it."  Of course, that was the WRONG choice of words.

I left the laundromat because the machine had thirty minutes to complete its cycle.  When I returned, I was still on the phone with my friend, and as usual, we were talking about the Lord.  I peeked in at the machine and saw that I had eight minutes left, and I saw that the Good Samaritan was still in the laundromat, so I stood outside until the machine stopped.  I went in the building, loaded my bedspreads in the bags I'd brought, and was about to head to my car when the guy suddenly stood to his feet and approached me.  "I'm not gonna ask if I can help you this time," he said jokingly as he reached for my laundry. "I got it," I said, but he had already grabbed one of the bags and was reaching for the other.  "I'm used to it," I said again, thinking to myself once more: Wrong choice of words!  "That must mean you don't have a man," he said.  Honestly, I knew he wasn't the one so I didn't want to waste his time or mine, but I answered him anyway.  "No, I'm divorced....twice."  Secretly, I'd hoped those words would scare him off, but they didn't.  He appeared to be a nice guy, but I just didn't sense God in him.  I didn't feel any Godly affirmation.  "Twice?" he asked.  "You've been married twice?"  I nodded in affirmation, wondering why he hadn't run yet.  He loaded the laundry into my car, and then, proceeded to talk with me.  I told him that I am a minister and I answered a few of his questions about my divorces.  I was hoping my straightforwardness would scare him off, but it didn't.  Instead, he told me that he liked my personality and wanted to get to know me more.  He asked if he could get my number to call me sometimes.  Here is our exchange:
"I would love to get to know you better.  I think you're a really interesting woman and I love your personality.  You definitely ain't scared to say what's on your mind.  Can I have your number so I can call you sometimes?"
"Give me your number.  I don't like to give my number out."
"Uh-oh.  I know what that means.  You don't plan on calling me."
(Buzzer goes off in my head and I'm thinking how right he is).
"Did I say that?  Just give me your number so I can plug it in my phone."
(He proceeds to give me his number.)
"Can you call me now so I can plug your number in my phone?"
"Oh, I get it.  You don't trust that I'll call you so you want to test me on the spot."
"No, that's not it.  I just want to plug your number in."
"Yeah, right.  I'm calling you now."

Honestly, I told myself that there was no harm in exchanging numbers with him.  We'd have a few conversations, and if he was the man I sensed he was, I'd simply end all communications with him.  I thought I had it figured out, but I'd made so many foolish mistakes in that one exchange that I told myself I'd have to rethink my strategy.  After all, Georgian men aren't shy at all.

That was it.  His phone rang and he had my number, and then, it dawned on me.  Why haven't I asked him the most important question of all?  After he finished speaking, I interjected, "What's your relationship like with Jesus Christ?"  He was definitely caught off guard.  He took his eyes off me and looked into the air for a few seconds.
"Wellllll...I believe in God.  I go to church sometimes.  I don't go a lot, but I do go sometimes."
"You're not the guy for me."
"What?  How could you say that I'm not the guy for you...just because I don't go to church a lot?"
"That's not it.  I can tell by your words that you don't have a committed relationship with Him and I've been down that road, twice.  As a matter of fact, I teach other women not to go down that road.  It wouldn't work between you and me."
"You don't know that. is a ladder.  I may be the man you need to help you get to the next step and you may be the woman I need to help me get to the next step."
"It doesn't work like that.  You have to have a relationship with Christ on your own.  I'm a woman.  I'm not designed to lead you.  It would be a struggle for me to maintain respect for you because you wouldn't be able to lead me."
"You don't know that.  I've been in the military for a long time and I'm pretty sure I could lead you."

He went on to tell me his military history because he didn't understand what I meant by "leading me."  Nevertheless, he had my number, and if I could step outside of my body for just a few seconds, I would've kicked my own butt.  Again, he was a nice guy, but my confidence is not in me anymore.  I met and married two unsaved men when I wasn't mature in the Lord because I thought I could lead them to Christ.  I learned my lesson through experience, and while married the second time, I'd committed to God that I would never fornicate again and I'd never marry an unsaved man again.  I told the Lord that I would wait for the one He has for me if He'd only let me out of that marriage.  I don't trust me to choose my own husband anymore because I'm flawed.  I've learned to trust the Lord.

The guy called me a couple of times, but after listening to him try to reason with me against many of my beliefs, I decided to tell him once more that he wasn't the guy for me and I wasn't the girl for him.  I told him that it was better if we didn't talk anymore, and to my surprise, he was nice about it.

There are many lessons here and I want to put myself out there publicly and say that I was WRONG in how I handled the matter and the guy.  He was not the man for me, but he still has feelings and I didn't consider those feelings when I gave him my number.  Sure, I did not want to hurt his feelings, and that's why I went ahead and gave him my number, but what I should have considered was that he would get over stranger rejection.  Nevertheless, being rejected by someone who has given you even an inkling of hope that there is a future with him or her isn't so easy to get over.
Below are a list of mistakes I made and the better way to handle those situations:
  1. I told him I was "used" to carrying heavy loads on my own. This was wrong because it probably came off as me saying, "Hey...I don't have a husband!  I'm available!  I know I'm playing hard to get, but just keep on pursuing me cause I like it!"  I should have said, "No thanks" and left it at that.
  2. I shouldn't have stood around and talked with him for anymore than one to two minutes.  The longer you talk with a guy, the more interested he thinks you are.  Sometimes, we play by culture's rules and try to be nice, but it is better to reject a man upfront than it is to drag out the rejection for the sake of sparing his feelings.
  3. I gave him my number.  Never give a man your number if you're sure he's not the one.  The truth is...we live in a time where some men feel "entitled" to a woman's number after they've done what they believe to be a good deed for that woman.  Nevertheless, that's their problem...not yours.  That mindset is only found in men who aren't ready to be husbands because they're broken, unsaved or rebellious.
  4. I asked him about his relationship with Christ AFTER I gave him my number.  Before or when a man asks for your number, you need to ask him about his relationship with Christ.  If he stutters or drags out a "wellllllllllll", he's not the one....guaranteed.  You can be upfront with him and tell him that you're a woman of God and he's not the one for you.  Of course, be discerning.  Some men are broken and don't take rejection well.
  5. I went back and forward with him about why he isn't the one.  This conversation was stupid and pride-filled, to say the least.  Again, I should have never given him my number, and I definitely shouldn't have went back and forth with him.
After the exchange, I was disappointed with myself and how I handled that situation.  I realized then that I didn't have a plan in place to protect myself from any obvious Ishmaels.  My new plan couldn't be about me; it had to be about protecting the feelings of others as well.  Sometimes, in our walks, we may try to guard ourselves, but in the process, we end up hurting someone else and that's not the Godly way to do things.  So, I developed a plan I believe will benefit both Ishmael, you and myself:
  1. Be polite, but watch your words!  Some words scream, "I'm single!"  Be careful not to speak those words, otherwise, you'll give Ishmael an open (but not-so-welcome) invitation to pursue you.
  2.  Answer his questions, thank him for his compliments, but when it's your turn to talk, first and foremost, ask him about his relationship with Christ Jesus.  Now, I know some women may think this will scare the guy off, but if it does, it's because he is an Ishmael; he's not the right one!  You want to run off the wrong guy; that's not a bad thing!  If he doesn't have a relationship with Christ or if his relationship is obviously a religious one, he's a ministry opportunity and not a guy you should give your number to.  You can't give him your number, and then, "friendzone" him.  That's what we do as women, right?  We meet guys we don't like, and if they persistently pursue us, we give them our numbers with every intention to "friendzone" them.  This isn't right, and I have to admit, I took on that mindset for a whole 45 seconds.  If he's a ministry opportunity, still don't give him your number because he's pursuing you romantically.  Just ask him if he'd like a better relationship with the Lord, and then, offer to have one of your brothers in Christ call him.
  3. Ask him if he's married or in a relationship with anyone.  If he says "no", ask him if there is anyone who thinks he's in a relationship with them.  Some guys are adulterers or cheaters, and you definitely don't want them to end up with your number.  You don't want to find yourself trying to explain to some woman why her guy has your number in his phone.  Ask questions; don't be shy.  If he is in a relationship, end the conversation and walk away.  If he says someone thinks they're in a relationship with him, end the conversation and walk away.  
  4. If you run across a persistent, won't take no for an answer type of guy, get in your car and leave if you can.  You should never feel bullied into giving someone your contact information.  If you sense that a man could be dangerous, you can give him an internet number you've set up to go to voicemail.  There are many free numbers on the live net that will automatically send the caller to voicemail, and of course, this voicemail can be customized by you.  Instead of ringing your phone, the app will send the caller's voicemail to your inbox.  Here's a Google search for free numbers that may help you.  If you decide to sign up for a number, make sure it's a local number so you don't raise any eyebrows, and be sure to memorize the number.  If you have to look it up, he will get suspicious.
  5. Never ever give a guy your last name or any identifying information.  Thankfully, I didn't give the guy my surname, but I thought I'd add that one because it can mean the difference between life and death.  Let's face it.  Some people are severely broken and they will look you up with every intention to harm you.
  6. Never go between cars; stay in public view.  Again, some guys don't deal with rejection well, so you've got to be careful where you reject a man. 
Remember, be nice and Christ-like, but keep in mind that you are waiting for the appointed husband to come.  You can't for wait Mr. Right while romantically engaging with another man...even if you're not interested in that man.  If he's interested in you, he's a hindrance!  Your wait isn't about proving yourself to God; after all, He knows the intent and content of your heart.  Your wait is about getting you filled with the wisdom, knowledge and understanding you'll need to not only be a wife, but to be the wife of the man God has chosen for you.  Your wait is vital to the establishment and survival of your marriage and it should not be taken for granted. 


  1. I just faced a similar situation, well 2 a few weeks ago!! WOW! GOD LEAD ME HERE ! I so needed to read this, this helped me to handled these encounters. They threw me off track for a sec. Luckily I'm not communicating with either Ishmael at the present time. I kept trying to figure out why I had to deal with them in the first place, sometimes God wants to test us, have us go thru a test just to show us our weaknesses, help grow us up, train us what not to do, what to do and get us ready for the hubby He has for us. I was bugged out by the experiences at first, now I'm seeing the reasoning behind them, so I can appreciate them more.

  2. me two, had same incidence recently too! in deed...Thank you. This is so helpful

  3. I kept having this experience with younger black men in recent months, them approaching me rather aggressively in my opinion (in their opinion I'm certain they felt they were being gentlemanly) and when I try to turn them down with a smile and a "no, thank you" they all repeat the same formula, which goes something like "I prefer White and Latina women anyway!!!" Have I missed some kind of cultural trend that's got all these insecure men hissing this statement at me, or are they all going to some self-hate class that's being offered for free online? Like I said these guys are usually youngish (in their twenties and early thirties). I'm a brown-skinned black woman and I'm still trying to learn how to get out of these situations without offending anyone...but I'm at loss when I hear that one.

  4. Man haters. Name branding . Cant Wait till that appointed by God sees through your sin religious drama maybe once you are married. If that actually will happen!