I Was Blind (Dating), But Now I See: My Misadventures In Dating, Waiting, And Stumbling Into Love, by Stephanie Rische
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Tyndale Montemum in exchange for an honest review.]
Although this book, like many that I read , is written by and clearly aimed at an audience of women, it has a degree of relevance to my own life that is rather frightening. There is a great and unpleasant truth at the heart of this particular book. One the one hand, this book is written about the author’s immensely awkward experiences in blind dating over the course of several years in the mid-to-late twenties and early thirties, and it is awkward enough that it would not be difficult to imagine a romantic comedy being made out of this material in the not very distant future, as it makes for the perfect material for a true-life Christian romance comedy on the order of Bridget Jones’ Diary. On the other hand, this book was written not while the author was in the midst of the immensely awkward era of trying to live a godly and decent life despite the frustration of being interminably single and the subject of the misguided matchmaking of her friends and coworkers, a problem that not only women can identify with, but after she had found her husband. It is therefore a book aimed at comforting those who are still in the process of waiting, with the implied promise that if one holds on long enough and learns how to live wisely enough, that this too shall pass and the reader will presumably find their prince, since this book seems to assume that the only people who read this kind of book are women. In that light, it is a bit awkward that the book has so much material that is of alarming personal relevance to my own life .
The author is one of the editors of Tyndale Press, a publisher I often read and review books for, and is not only a good editor, but is also a very solid writer as well, writing a memoir of awkward single life that is also a book of faith. In terms of its structure, the book is organized around 8 blind dates, where the names have been hidden to protect the guilty. The author uses humorous nicknames for the various blind dates, from “blond guy” to “linebacker” to “Mr. Very,” and those men are surely not going to be pleased about what is written about most of them. The eight sections of the book are divided as follows: waiting, faithfulness, community, hope, prayer, gratitude, joy, and journey, ending with an epilogue about the blind date where she met her husband. At nearly 300 pages long, this book has time for a lot of awkwardness, and manages to find it in prayer meetings, a detailed inventory of her bridesmaid dresses, which seems to be a thing among singleton women, and a discussion of how she became the spinster older sister when both of her younger siblings married before she did.
This book is an extended reflection on prolonged singlehood as a dark night of the soul, something that many people can relate to. It examines the ways that churches, in their assumption that most people are married, tend to be places where singles often feel less than fully appreciated. It examines the way that it is hard to get perspective, and that one feels happier when one is devoted to service and to praying on behalf of other people, except when their own struggles are unsuccessful too. It examines the way that people who are single try to avoid the problem of loneliness, how it is hard to recognize God’s presence in hard times, and how one needs both kindness as well as accountability. It is the struggle of an educated and somewhat shy woman to find a good man, and to become an even better woman in the time spent single. Of course, it is written as a happy story in large part because the author is looking back on the past, not looking at the present, and in that it reminds us that singlehood is a time best appreciated, like most parts of life, when it is already gone.
 See, for example:
 Here are some quotes to provide examples:
“Is it just me or does the term blind date make you want to curl up in the fetal position due to post-traumatic stress? Anyone who has ever experienced that particular brand of awkwardness won’t soon forget it. And if any subject is worthy of a book, this is it. Especially when most blind dates are set up by well-meaning married people who happen to know two single people and decide they should be totally compatible simply because they’re both single. What could possibly go wrong (xv)?”
“Whenever my rationalizations crept in, I’d remind myself that my role model in this hospitality gig wasn’t Martha Stewart. It was Jesus. If a thirtysomething bachelor with no fine china and no dining room could live a life of hospitality, I figured I had no more excuses. I’d have to do the best I could with what I had during this season, even if it looked different from what I’d imagined. And even if it meant I’d have to break out a store-bought pie for dessert (91).”
“One typical Monday morning I went to my work mailbox and found an interoffice envelope with another envelope inside it, the smaller one clearly having been opened and resealed with tape several times, as if the sender had been second-guessing whether to send it.
My stomach went sour the minute I opened it. It was from one of my coworkers, a seasoned and respected man who I knew was married with several children. The note was filled with unsolicited praise for me…but not about my work. It gushed about my personality, my talents, my appearance. It didn’t quality as sexual harassment, but it felt completely out of line. It made me feel like I was getting dragged into something shameful and ugly. Yes, I wanted to be told I was beautiful–but not by a married man.
My first reaction was a mixture of horror and guilt. Had I done something to indicate that this kind of communication would be welcome? I was sure I’d done nothing to solicit attention like this. I felt angry, exposed, vulnerable (152-153).”
“Over my lunch break that day, I checked my e-mail and found an invitation to join a group from my church on a two-week trip to Thailand. The purpose of the trip was to work alongside an organization in Bangkok that assisted women trapped in the sex industry. The group would be going to the red-light district and offering hope to the women there–connecting girls on the streets with an established organization and teaching English and practical skills to women who had gotten out of the industry and were looking to rebuild their lives (194).”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer  said that the defining characteristic of followers of Christ is that they bear one another’s burdens. “It is only when he is a burden that another person is really a brother…God took men upon Himself and they weighted Him to the ground, but God remained with them and they with God. In bearing with men God maintained fellowship with them (221).”
 See, for example: