Sunday, April 28, 2013

Wanting their Story

I remember reading a book a long time ago about a guy who was oblivious to a girl he worked with who was secretly pining after him. She would weep on her way home from work each day, desperately wishing and praying he would notice her, or that her desires would leave…and he had no idea any of this was going on. In the end, they got married. 

I remember, countless times, wishing that this could be my story (mostly recognizing how I was crushing on guys who never noticed my existence in any romantic capacity). It was a story that gave me hope that it could work out for me like this, because it had worked out for them like this.

Their story isn’t the only story I’ve hoped to claim as my own over the years.
When I fly, I think about meeting the man of my dreams on the plane.
When I get in online chatrooms, I think about You’ve Got Mail becoming my reality (okay, I honestly haven’t done this since middle school...the online chatroom thing, that is).

I hear about, read about, watch via television/movies, and see my friends meet ‘the one’ and I can’t help but anticipate that my story will somehow be similar to someone else's. So much so, that sometimes I can’t help but feel that I'm always looking for that to be the case.  Like, ‘Oh, I'm going to be in this wedding and that’s how Susie met Bobby, so maybe I’ll meet the man I'm going to marry there…’ 

First of all, I wish I had married friends named Susie and Bobby…and second of all, the mindset is ridiculous.

Why would I want someone else’s story?
And why would I spend so much time and energy creating scenarios in my head for how things could play out, which inevitably sets up expectations that will most likely leave me feeling disappointed?

The thing is, I feel like I’ve had so many people say to me: It’ll happen when you least expect it. But, what if I'm always expecting it? Hoping for it? Wanting it? Looking for it? Does that mean it’ll never happen…?

I sound desperate.
I'm not. Not right now, anyway.
But, I think that there are probably quite a few females who are wandering around in this abyss of comparison and unmet expectations… frustrated, disappointed, hopeless, constantly wondering when it’s going to ‘happen’ for them. I get it. Sometimes I'm there, too.

It’s a miserable place to be, though.
A place of dissatisfaction, a place of restlessness, a place of over-analyzing.

What if….
We just lived life and didn’t think about all the possibilities of how we might run into the ‘man of our dreams’? What if we didn’t try to make other people’s stories our stories? What if we just allowed life to play out and enjoyed the adventure of the unknown, living in the dark about who we might meet, where we might meet them, and what relationship might then develop from there?

There’s a lot of release that comes with adopting a new mindset… I know, because I'm currently practicing it. Life doesn’t have to be filled with constant disappointments every time I go somewhere and don’t meet a guy that I’d ever consider dating.

Because there’s a lot more to life.
A lot more to focus on and care about. A lot more to be consumed by.

Let your life happen.
It can be a good life… despite your singleness.
And who knows…? Maybe it really will happen when you least expect it.
So, stop expecting it.
And stop comparing your life to someone else’s (in every capacity).

Let your story be great… because it’s your story. Unique and deeply meant for you.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Boyfriends and Girl Friends

(Below is a written dialogue between myself and blogger/friend, Bryn Clark...he's a he, in case there's any confusion. Check out his blog when you get a moment!) 

So I just started writing for this blog run by a girl named Debbie. She's pretty cool. Furthermore, it's been great to discuss topics with her, swap insight and generally work together. Throughout this process she's become what you might call... a friend. At least to me. She might still want to keep me on the outskirts of her social circles. But to me she's a friend.

The thing is, I have a girlfriend, a very, very, awesome girlfriend. This presents itself with a number of questions: what is the appropriate manner in which I pursue friendships with other girls? Can we hang out one-one? What about doing homework together? Is that inappropriate? Are there rules across the board or is it specific to each person? 

My primary concern in this situation must be honoring, preserving and strengthening my relationship with my girlfriend. Especially if we end up getting married; my relationship with her is the most important I have. This does not, however, require that all other relationships end. Furthermore, while our relationships with significant others/spouses are the most important, there is still importance in friendships with those of the opposite gender; they are, in fact, a necessity. I mean, I could work out of my house in my pajamas, become a recluse, read old novels, and watch sitcoms for the rest of my life  but my girlfriend told me that wasn't really an option. So then I must realize that I will always be dealing with girls other than my girlfriend/spouse, and I must know how to do so in a healthy and honoring manner.

I don't know... Sean Connery in Finding Forrester seemed to manage the 'ol hermit approach pretty well. I felt inspired. 

It's a weird topic, and honestly, I find it much easier at times to befriend guys who have girlfriends/wives than I do single guys. Why? Because they're 'safe'. If a guy in a relationship is friendly and appears interested in communicating with me (you'd be surprised at the number of Christians guys I encounter who are in relationships where it seems like they are not allowed to communicate with the other gender), I usually thoroughly enjoy my friendships with them. I enjoy them because they aren't complicated. I know they don't think I'm trying to hit on them and I clearly know they aren't trying to hit on me. But, there also needs to be some sort of boundary. 

I'd venture to say that boundaries need to be specific to each person. Each girlfriend/wife is probably going to have different things that she feels comfortable with her significant other doing with other females. I actually had a girl present in our class the other day about the cultural complexities she encountered in America when it came to gender issues. A guy had been helping transport an international student to church, but when he started dating someone else, he felt like he could not spend that one on one time alone with the girl and so she was no longer able to go to church. It seemed ridiculous...but, on some level, I get it. I just don't know if I agree with it. Or maybe I'm just ticked that that's how it has to be sometimes. Maybe I just wish we lived in a world where we could trust each other so much, where we could be trusted so much... that boundaries wouldn't be necessary. 

So I guess I think there's got to be a lot of open communication in a relationship about what each party feels comfortable with. And then, you have to be willing to see things from each other's perspectives...and even if you can't always understand, you have to recognize that if someone feels a certain way, there's validity to it. There's also just a need for trust. I've discovered the hard way that a relationship without trust isn't going to work. 

Be friends with girls, but do it in a way that's honoring to your girlfriend. Do it in a way that still makes her feel valued, cherished, cared for and that she is your priority. But, she'll also have to understand (and be okay with the fact) that you will have other friendships with other girls. I think the moment you start confiding in another girl about things you are unwilling to talk to your significant other about, that's when the trouble starts. Open communication. I think it's key.

To echo what Debbie said, communication is key but it's not nearly as easy as it sounds, especially in these kinds of situations. It goes way beyond just words. Complications, hurt feelings, and, often times, great pain arise when more attention and energy is dedicated to a relationship with someone else. As a general rule, you shouldn't regularly spend more time with someone of the opposite sex than you do with your significant other. Thus, if my girlfriend and I haven't had a chance to talk all day, especially if I'm "too busy", I shouldn't turn around and invest an hour in talking with another girl; that doesn't communicate respect or priority to my girlfriend. These are important habits that must be built early on, otherwise, I would imagine, marriage will be a difficult adjustment. 

Furthermore, if you think your girlfriend/boyfriend is being overly jealous or restrictive, the first question you should ask yourself is "what might she think I'm seeking in this relationship with soandso that she wishes I was finding with her?". In other words, from their perspective, am I seeking some sort of fulfillment somewhere else that I should be finding in my relationship? Am I hanging out with this person because we share a common interest that my girlfriend would like us to share? Is it because she thinks I'm funny and I don't think my girlfriend does? Is it because she compliments me? Often times, addressing these kinds of question can lead to better communication and result in less jealousy and or hurt. 

And from the single perspective, I think we have to be willing to see things from the other side. I've often gotten frustrated when I've feel like I've 'lost' my male friendships once they started dating/getting married. It made me not want to invest in guys anymore because everything felt so temporary. 

In reality, there's just been a shift. Things had to change, and that's okay. I think the more we can accept that and honor the need for a romantic relationship to take priority over our friendship, the more our friendship has room to flourish and not be so complicated. I think we also need to recognize that we would probably have to do the same if we were the ones in a relationship or starting a new relationship. 

So, single folk. Be understanding. Be gracious. Relationships are messy and communication is challenging enough as it is. We don't need to be an added burden for them to have to sort through. Have discernment on when it's time to step back, be respectful of boundaries, don't bring up inside jokes with old friends in front of their new significant other. Be a friend who encourages and supports the relationships your friend is in.... not the 'Debbie Downer' of all relationships because you're still single. 

I'm thankful for my guy friends, both single and in relationships. I think it's what the Body of Believers is all about. There aren't really tons of boundaries there...and I don't want to live in such a way that we take away the fruit, the goodness, the insight that those friendships can provide us with. 

Let's be a people who are trusting, trustworthy, open, communicative, gracious... and brimming with love... whether we are single, boyfriends, girlfriends of boyfriends who have friends that are girls... or any other combination of things you can think of. 

Your entries will remain anonymous

Monday, April 22, 2013

Being Beautiful

'...I felt--no, not beautiful. Even on such a romantic day as this I could not persuade myself of that. I knew that my jaw was too square, my legs too long, my hands too large. But I earnestly believed--and all the books agreed--that I would look beautiful to the man who loved me.' -Corrie Ten Boom

I get to read a lot in graduate school. Did you read that right? Get to? Yes. Yes you did. While sometimes the reading is agonizing, sometimes you get to read something beautiful, insightful, challenging, eye-opening...sometimes you even learn something new. Weird, right?

The Hiding Place was my most recent conquest, and while my heart ached (and at one point, after women in a prison count the shots fired that ultimately killed 700 men one-by-one, I had throw the book across the table)...I was entranced by the beauty of the story. A story about the Holocaust. A story about death, despair and unimaginable living conditions... but it's a story about hope.

Anyway-- I'm not going to post about the Holocaust, or even really Corrie Ten Boom... but there's my plug for that book. You should read it.

I am, however, going to talk about that quote above.
I think there's a lot of freedom for us women in that quote.
Here's why: even if we might be able to convince ourselves sometimes that we're beautiful, it doesn't ever seem to last for any amount of time. It's a fleeting thought, a brief emotion, a 'truth' that we are 'supposed' to believe about ourselves and so we do everything we can to make what we think about ourselves line up with what we say we should think about ourselves. It's really quite complicated...

I know that I can leave my house in the morning feeling quite confident in my appearance and then catch a glimpse of myself in the reflection of a window an hour later and be baffled that I ever left the house wearing that. Or, how come the mirror in my bathroom lied to me? My review mirror seems to be a much more accurate reflection of all the flaws on my face.

We 'fix' the things we can fix about ourselves, and we try to fix a whole lot more things less successfully. We spend hours maintaining our image...but at the end of the day, we're sometimes left with jaws that are too square, legs that are too long, hands that are too large.

There's only so much we can 'fix' about our appearance.
So at what point do we just accept that we are who we are? At what point do we say, 'This is just what I look like and it's going to have to do.'... and at what point can we be confident in that?

'But I earnestly believed--and all the books agreed--that I would look beautiful to the man who loved me.'

It's only a little ironic that Corrie Ten Boom never got married.... but that doesn't make what she wrote any less true. And isn't there this flood of freedom that comes in that?
Maybe it's just me.
But it's a simple reminder that I can be exactly who I am and someday, somehow, for some unknown reasons... I earnestly believe that some man will choose me, that I will look beautiful to the man who chooses to love me for the rest of life (even on those 'ugly' days).

It dives in deeper than appearances, too. Sometimes, at the peak of my 'weird' moments, I think, 'I wonder if I will ever be able to act like this around my husband someday...'. Because... I can be weird.

I earnestly believe that I will look and be beautiful to the man who loves me... even in my weird moods, even with no make-up, even with grey hair, even with wrinkles, even with flabby thighs and a triple chin. It's gonna be awesome.

So, even if finding a man were the most important thing in your life... (because, it's not...)?
I hope you recognize that you don't have to be someone that you're not. You don't have to 'fix' yourself before anyone will ever think you're desirable. It'll happen. And for all those guys who seem to be passing you by right now? Just be thankful. Be thankful that God's good in this, that He's protecting you, that even when you don't understand and you feel like you're never going to be good enough, smart enough, pretty enough..... that He's got this. He has your back.

Trust Him.
And trust Him that He's going to provide someone for you who thinks you're beautiful, no matter what you look like.

And, that's actually a more beautiful thing to me than us altering ourselves and 'fixing' ourselves for men to want to be with us.

It'll happen.
Be You.
In every way.
The fullness of who you were created to be.
May we find true joy there.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Feeling Down

The comment:
I'm extremely blessed and lucky and have so much to be thankful for BUT sometimes it's hard to not be down and want more. How can I live life to fullest and be thankful for my blessings while also knowing its ok to be down sometimes or how can I get out of that "down" feeling?
As easy as it is for me to spout off verses and quotes and great ideas for how to be content no matter your circumstances, it's always a bit trickier than that. Because, you're right. Sometimes, even when life seems to be going really well, it's possible to just feel 'down'. 

I think there's this unsatisfied feeling that we're occasionally going to enter into simply by existing here on earth. A feeling that, 'This isn't how it's supposed to be.'... and maybe a few days later, you'll feel the exact opposite. It's the nature of our fallen world mixed with our crazy emotions, and sometimes our crazy hormones (yes ladies, unfortunately, I do believe that they can play a pretty big part on the 'down' feelings we encounter every month or so). 

The most crucial part of encountering the 'down' feeling is how we respond to it. It seems there's a lot to be said for recognizing that this feeling doesn't define us, and also not letting it dictate how we live our lives. 

What I mean by that is this: 
When I'm feeling down or can admit that something may not be how I want it to be in my life, regardless of the millions of things that I do have to be thankful for... it's easy to slip into 'pity-party' mode. It's easy to focus on the negative and to allow ourselves to only see what we are missing vs. what we have. Sometimes we allow ourselves to dwell so much in what we don't have, that we begin to see ourselves in terms of what we are missing. Instead of choosing to live a life that's filled with giving, serving, interacting with and loving others we may begin to isolate ourselves, spend time alone feeling sorry for ourselves, believe that other people want to have nothing to do with us. Our opinion of ourselves in the midst of our pity-party can become the lens in which we filter everything else through, often putting distance between ourselves and others. This typically allows room for lies to breed and for us to slip further into feeling sorry for ourselves (often times unnecessarily). 

Don't feel like you have to fake your way out of the 'down' feeling. Actually, I think it's really healthy for us to acknowledge the 'down' acknowledge that they are real and that they have an effect on us. I think it's good for us to admit this to ourselves, the Lord, and to others as we then choose to not live/dwell in that mindset. To be able to say, 'I'm having a bad day, and I'm not even sure why...', but then to persevere through that. There's something really powerful in admitting what's going on and then inviting others into the 'down'-ness with you. Oftentimes surrounding yourself with others is a good way to be reminded that there's much to laugh about and the things you are 'down' about and feel are lacking in your life are really quite trivial. 

Sometimes I think there's also an okay-factor to just being 'pathetic' for a few hours or a night. To step into a comfortable place and to do things that are fairly mindless and purposeless (like chow down on some cookie dough while watching your favorite sit-com by yourself). I think the danger comes when that becomes our norm and seeking out others, being invested and involved in other things becomes the rare occasion. But, sometimes you just need a night alone. Sometimes a day just feels sucky (even in the midst of all the good stuff going on), and you need to veg out. I get it. Just don't dwell there. 

And, I think there's that whole being honest with the Lord factor that's going to be vital here. Those times when you can tell Him all the things that you're truly thankful for, but that you're still just feeling down for whatever reason. The more you talk to Him (like really talk to Him), the more you'll find yourself in a better place....even if sometimes that means in the middle you're weeping and blabbering. When you continue to talk and push through all of that, He's pretty good at reminding you of who He is, what His promises are, what He thinks of you, and what really matters in life. Try it. 

I think it's fairly normal to have a 'down' day every now and again. But, if that's your norm and you find yourself there all the time, even when you can recognize all the good stuff going on... I'd encourage you to seek out some professional help. Well, let's be honest. I'd probably encourage everyone to seek out a counselor just because of how healthy and good it can be to have an unbiased party listening and offering insight into your life (and because I'm going into the field and I want your business......). 

While I said it was easy to throw some verses at you that sometimes don't seem super helpful, I encountered one recently that I found especially insightful. Perhaps you've heard it before: I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Despite what you've maybe heard about this verse (like that somehow in reciting it to yourself you would be able to fly to the moon and back), it has everything to do with finding contentment, no matter our circumstances. It has everything to do with God's provision...that despite our poverty or our wealth....despite what we are lacking or what we have... that with Christ we are able to persevere through anything because of the strength He supplies us. 

I think it's especially applicable as you are thankful for what you have and yet, sometimes, unsatisfied with what you do not have. Through Christ, through what He has already accomplished for us on the cross, we can endure....and because of that, contentment can be found (even if it's not instantaneous). 

Life is hard. 
Truly it is. 
I think it's unfair of us to expect and demand giddiness through the 'down' moments. And, I think that sometimes that as we persevere through the 'down' feelings and seek to live in a way that is honoring to the Lord... that we are learning more of what it means to live life to the fullest, that we are learning more of what it means to be truly thankful for the things that we do have. I think the more we choose to respond in a way that isn't so focused on ourselves and our feelings of want, the more we step into a place of learning a truer meaning of sacrificial love. 

Be honest. 
Be real. 
Be raw. 
Remember that you're a work in progress and allow the refining to happen, recognizing that it's rarely an easy (or quick) process. 

It's okay. 
It's life. At least right now. 

Your entries will remain anonymous

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Girls and Boy Friends

(Below is a written dialogue between myself and blogger/friend, Bryn Clark...he's a he, in case there's any confusion. Check out his blog when you get a moment!) 

I asked a boy to get ice cream. 
What felt like a harmless gesture was immediately misconstrued...
'What? Is ice cream the new coffee...? I'm confused.' 

I laughed. It was funny. A little wit in response to all my blabbing about the complicated nature of the male/female relationship. I deserved it. 

But the thing is, I want to be friends with guys. Friends. I want to care about them as people, first and foremost, before I ever worry about them in a context that may be deeper and more intimate than that. 

I realize it's tricky. I realize it's risky. I realize that sometimes I may also have ulterior motivations. Does this mean I should never pursue friendship with them, though? Is it okay for me to want to know guys on a deeper level, to want to ask them questions, to want to care about their lives and how they're doing...? And is it possible for me to do that without it being perceived as though I'm pursuing a romantic relationship with them? 

I think the question here shouldn't be about your intentions so much as how those intentions are perceived. Unfortunately, perceptions are subjective even though intentions aren't. That being said, there are "controls" that you can insert to ensure friendship is communicated as clearly as possible.

For instance, ask several guys out (okay, bad phrasing) to grab some ice cream. Not necessarily at the same time, but so that it's understood not to be an isolated event. No one will be suspicious if you are known for having good chats over ice cream; they'll just realize you like good chats and ice cream, even if it tends to be with a particular guy. But if you're not known for being someone that pursues those things on a regular basis, then there might be some raised eyebrows. "What, she asked Randall to get ice cream? But she never eats ice cream". Also, just a thought, try not to bat your eyelashes when you ask them.  

Another thing I would say is if you're going to grab ice cream as friends, then talk as friends. C.S. Lewis in his book Four Loves makes the statement that: "Lovers are always talking to one another about their love; Friends hardly ever about their Friendship. Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest." When I get ice cream with friends, I talk about life, sports, ice cream and any girls I got coffee with that week. If you want to pursue a friendship with a guy, then pursue a friendship. I've had excellent conversations with girls who initiated them and didn't think much of them because our conversations evolved around a mutual interest, a shared topic, a friendship. Of course, this isn't to say that these chats can't evolve into something more; everyone knows a lengthy conversations on mutual interests over snicker-doodle ice cream is the perfect spark for a luxuriously passionate (in a pure, abstinent, Christian kinda way, of course) relationship. 

On that note, consider this: you ask a guy to get ice cream (as friends)...  And say it goes super well, you sit, you talk, you have deep theological conversations that are as far as possible from whispering sweet nothings. If you walk away from that conversation and realize "Aw shewt. That was the type of conversation I wanna have when I'm ninety in a rocking chair" (meaning) "he's really cute and definitely don't just want to get to know him as a friend" then you're intentions may have changed but you can't assume his did. Don't be frustrated when the guy you asked out as a friend doesn't realize your intentions switched and then start pursuing you. We don't have radars for these things.  

Whatever you do, don't ask for coffee. I read somewhere once that was a bad idea, though I can't remember where...

Thoughts? Rebuttal? Further insight? 

So, to clarify/sum up what Bryn has just said (and add in a few of my own thoughts, of course)... 
  • If a girl is going to pursue friendships with males, don't make it exclusively one male and make sure it's something you regularly do (as to not give the impression that you're making special allowances for specific guys...unless you are and that's a whole other blog post...). 
  • While hanging out, talk about things you're both interested in/care about and not about the friendship/relationship (because, wouldn't that just be a DTR?). In other words, don't get caught up in all the 'what-if's of what the relationship could be, or the ways that you feel like your 'friend' isn't meeting all your expectations. After many times do we ever have to have those conversations with our same-gendered friends. If you're really considering this guy just a friend, then treat him as such. Beyond deep conversations, be willing to just do things you both enjoy together. I heard/read somewhere (many times, places) that while women typically connect through conversation, men are much more likely to develop relationship through doing things alongside someone. In order to bridge the gap between the male/female differences, it might at times behoove us as females to be willing to do activities alongside men instead of expecting them to want to have deep heart-to-hearts over ice cream all the time.
  • There's a need to be honest with yourself about your motivations and expectations...and to not place them upon the other person. If you recognize that you're interested in the possibility of more, don't expect this guy to (a) catch on or (b) reciprocate. 
In the end it still feels like a risky move, with the chance of getting some labels attached to you as you befriend males. 
BUT, I think I'm okay with it. 
I'm entering a stage in life where while I can recognize the challenges of the male/female relationship, I'm not 100% convinced that creating millions of boundaries and 'shoulds' and 'shouldn'ts' are the way that we are instructed to co-exist. It's good to be aware, but I feel that there's an even greater importance in us females acknowledging that before a man is ever just a prospect for a future mate, that he matters infinitely more as another person. In other words, ladies... he's not just a means to your end goal, but he's very much a person with thoughts, feelings, struggles, weird quirks, passions, hopes, imperfections...(and I think you get the idea). 

He, as a person, matters and deserves to be treated like more than a guy who might ask you out on a date. 
I'm advocating for friendship. Friendship in spite of the awkwardness, the painfulness, the miscommunications that are sure to ensue... 

Because I think people matter. And I think that we are called to love... regardless of gender. 

I'm not sure If I'm supposed to tack on anything here at the end or not, mostly because I think you summed it up well. Objectification goes beyond pornography, lust and "thats what she said jokes"; it goes to the core of how we view each other and the perceptions we bring into every relationship. And yes, men have feelings. I promise. 

So girls don't be afraid to pursue friendships with guys. Guys, check yo' egos and realize she's not always that into you. Because I agree with Debbie 100%, people matter.

Also, I like ice cream. Jus' sayin. 

Your entries will remain anonymous

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Response

Last night I nestled down to watch Zero Dark Thirty. About five minutes in, I realized it wasn't exactly a 'nestle-down' kind of movie. The movie is about the hunt for Osama Bin-Laden.

This afternoon I settled into my three-hour class. About five minutes in, I realized it wasn't exactly a 'settle-into' kind of class. The lecture was on the Holocaust.

Halfway through the class, things got even more unsettling as news of the Boston Marathon bombing leaked its way in through text messages, Facebook statuses, and news reports (don't worry, I live about 25 miles north of the city and was well out of harms way).

It's been twenty-four hours of being reminded that there is evil in this world, and it's been twenty-four hours of contemplating what my response needs to be toward such events.

While the past tragedies and horror seem far off and distant, the one today was closer to home. Friends were calling friends who were running in or watching the marathon. Stories slowly began to surface of how people left the spot of the bombing just moments before they went off, or how, for whatever reason, there were decisions to not go to the marathon for the first time in years at the last minute. Little decisions. Little decisions that can change everything.

Our lecturer today asked us to consider how we ought to respond in the face of evil.
I've been thinking a lot about how we do respond and how we should respond.

It's a lot to take in.
And while it's easy to brush off past events because they aren't often slapping us in the face, I think it's vital for us to be aware. It's shocking, it's horrifying, it's unbelievable... but it happened. It's happening. Terror, despair, confusion, mass chaos caused by fear of explosions, raids, lives being taken...

There is evil in this world.

What is our response?
What should our response be?

Think about it.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Expect More

Expect More.

The two simple words pounded on my heart, attempting to permeate through the door that stood strong as I found myself pining after and hoping for the seemingly unattainable.

Here I was, caught up the act of The Chase.
Could I get that guy to want me?
Could that guy choose me over those girls?
He seems too cool, too perfect… too everything to want to date me. But what if he did?
There’s a certain mystery that surrounds him, an unknown facet that lures me in.
I don’t even really know him, but does it matter?

Expect More.

The Chase makes me wait for the slightest insinuation that he might possibly find me interesting. The Chase causes my heart to hope the impossible might be made possible when he smiles at me, when he stops and talks to me, when he initiates any contact with me.

The Chase encourages me to play games. Before I know it, I'm wrapped up in a world where I'm playing ‘hard-to-get’…because what guy wants an easy target (isn’t that what many of us girls have been told for much of our lives?). I intentionally ignore, I delay responses, my words are flirty and ambiguous…leaving room for my own mystery to prevail.

Expect More.

Once I'm caught up in The Chase, I don’t always recognize my reflection in the mirror.

Who have I become?
To what end will I continue to sacrifice elements of who I am because of the possibility that this guy might decide he’s interested in me?
How long will I wait?
What else will I give up?
How much time have I spent on processing through the endless list of ‘what-ifs’?

Expect More.

Too often we associate The Chase with something only men do, failing to realize the effect that it can also have on the female heart. Too often we are not willing to be honest with ourselves when we develop crushes or have significant interest in a guy. Too often we sell ourselves short, allowing our hearts to leap at a casual, meaningless smile from an attractive guy….even occasionally at the expense of the ‘normal-looking’ guy who sincerely cares about the state of our being.

Expect More.

Wouldn’t you rather a man who is honest, upfront and intentional in his pursuit over you over a guy who is unclear, ambiguous and unwilling to make any type of commitment to you?

Wouldn’t you rather a man who is thoughtful, considerate and careful with his words over a guy who sporadically thinks about you, expects you to cater to his own desires, and rarely offers any kind words toward you?

Wouldn’t you rather a man who inspires you, challenges you, and pushes you toward better over a guy who never asks you questions, never cares about what you’re doing, never expresses concern over your spiritual well-being?

Wouldn’t you rather a man who longs to really know you over a guy who won’t take the time, isn’t willing to ask the questions, and fails to really listen when you choose to open up to him?

Because sometimes what we need isn’t exactly what we think we want.

Expect More.

The Chase isn’t usually worth it.
It isn’t usually what we actually want, and it’s more than likely the opposite of what we need.
The Chase caters to lies that we end up believing about ourselves (and often the men that have become the object of our affections). It caters to division as we compete with other women as we hope (and try) to come out on top. It caters to us often becoming people we don’t like as we have the tendency to act outside of our norm as we play games, manipulate and control.

The Chase makes us settle, it causes us to be satisfied with little when we should be expecting more. It causes us to throw ourselves at men who are not exactly interested in us, and allows for us to become easy targets for them to take advantage of us physically and emotionally (whether they intend to or not). And sometimes these guys whom we chase after are legitimately incredible guys, but they just aren’t the incredible guy for us. He just might not be into us, and our floundering back and forth between playing games and making ourselves convenient to them is just… confusing.

Take an honest look at yourself, ladies.
Are you caught up in The Chase?

Expect More.

Surrender the thoughts, quit the behaviors, and live in a place where you truly allow yourself to believe that the Lord is good…to you…in this. You don't have to chase, you don’t have to settle, you don’t have to try desperately ‘win’ his affections.

Expect More

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Best is Yet to Come

When I eat Lucky Charms, I like to save as many marshmallows as possible until the very end. You see, they're my favorite part of the I want to eat them last.

When I eat a burger, I eat allllllll the way around the edges, saving the middle for the end. You see, the middle is my favorite part of the I want to eat it last.

I do the same thing with sandwiches (subs, included), quesadillas, hot dogs (yes, I love hot dogs), pizza, cake, cookies and any other food that you can possibly save the middle for last. I never eat my dessert first. Sometimes, when I have a really hard time choosing which food I like most, I have to take alternating bites of each food as I try to figure out which one should win the award of, 'Last Bite'. Red and pink Starbursts get eaten last, as do the red Skittles.

If you haven't picked up on the trend yet, I like to save the best for last.

While I could talk about food all day long, that's not exactly what this post is about. I merely think that the way I eat food is an accurate representation of how I want my life to be. I want the best things to happen last...which mostly means I want life to keep getting better and better.

I can't imagine existing in a world where I think that my 'best years are behind me'. I can't imagine finding contentment in believing that things won't ever be better than what I've already experienced. It seems absurd to me.

Don't get me wrong... better doesn't necessarily mean easier. While I can sometimes pine after the days when I never had to care about gas prices, or think twice about what dinner was going to be... there's something better about being older, having independence, and figuring out my way through life. There's something better about learning the good through the pain, through taking risks, through experiencing the depth that often accompanies relationships with others. There's something better about knowing how to ride a bike, even though it might have taken a few falls and bloody noses to get there.

There's something beautiful about learning...and seeing how The Better comes into fruition, even if it's not necessarily painless or easy.

I think it's beautiful because there's always something to hope for, always something to look forward to, always a reminder that this isn't it. And, beyond life here on earth... there's the abundantly better that awaits us in eternity.

It's exciting to me.
I hope it is to you, too.

The best is yet to come. Frank Sinatra was onto something... (even if the song is primarily about a romantic relationship).

Even when it's hard, even when it seems like the best years of your life are in the past, even as the gray hairs emerge, the wrinkles begin to form, and the aches and pains come from the very activities that used to be a breeze.... there's still much to hope for.

Seize the fullness of your present lives, knowing that each day has potential to better than yesterday was.

May our lives keep getting better and better (even if they sometimes feel harder), as we are molded, refined, shaped, and learning the fullness of what it means to be more like Jesus.

Saving the best for last...until the day when the best becomes all we know.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Too Soon?

Have you ever wondered after a break-up, 'How soon is too soon to start dating again...?'

It's an interesting question and usually warrants a million more questions. Some like to stick to some formula that makes them sleep better at night. Something along the lines of 'double the amount of time that you dated, and then you should be ready'....or, maybe it's the opposite: 'take half of the time that you were dating and you should be good to go!'

I've never been one for any sort of specific time frame though. Who am I to tell that person who just got out a long, serious relationship that they shouldn't be dating someone else a few weeks later? What do I know? How many times have I been wrong and watched the most unlikely couples make it, even if they seemed spawned out of a rebound of a situation? A lot, is the answer.

A friend asked me recently if I felt like I was ready to date again, and if I was, how long I had felt that way. Their answer was quite different than mine, as the three year relationship that ended two years ago was still keeping them from really wanting to pursue other relationships. It reminded me that people are people...which means that we're all uniquely wired and our experiences are incredibly different.

While I felt like my break ups had pushed me into a greater understanding of who I am, who the Lord is, and what type of person I should probably be with (which allowed me to feel pretty ready for whatever was next somewhat quickly), there are other instances where relationships inspire and give life to the point where you can't imagine anyone else ever doing the same. Those break ups take more time to recover from. The type of break ups where hearts are broken, where hope is lost and you truly can't imagine life without the other person.

The thing about setting up some sort of time frame for when you should be over someone is this: rarely does anything happen when you want it to...especially matters of the heart. How devastating is it when you reach that point in time when you decided you would be over that person and realize that you actually aren't? What types of emotions set it in? Suddenly the wound has room to grow, and the pain becomes intensely searing again as lies tumble in, reminding you of how big of a loser you are for not yet being over the guy who dumped you for another girl. Or, what if you've established a time frame and the guy/girl you've been hoping for suddenly enters into the equation before you're 'ready'? Shoot... better wait, eh?

Sometimes we just want to be done with the pain that accompanies the break up, so we try to rush through it quickly. I know for me, there's an element of, 'I've done break-ups before' I kind of feel like I know what steps I need to take in order to 'get over someone'. I'm familiar with the pain and so I try to get through that as fast as I can so I can get onto whatever's next.

It's not so easy.
Because even though I can think I'm over someone, sometimes I don't realize how not ready I am to date again until I'm confronted with the possibility of what dating someone else could look like. I wrote the following once when 'moving on' became a reality:

I want healing.
I want to trust again. 
But, I feel broken. 
There's a part of me that thinks that if I just write enough, if I process enough, that I can figure it out...that I can fix myself. There's a part of me that thinks that if I just run away from it all, that it won't come back to haunt me again.
But it does. 
In the quiet places, in the secret rooms of my heart...a storm is brewing. It makes me second-guess people, it makes me assume the worst, it causes me to believe that there is no one good and it is better for me to be alone. 
Open my heart again? 
Open my heart up to someone who isn't the screaming version of perfection that I desire...again? It didn't work last time--why would it work this time? Would I even want it to? 

There's not a 'set time' for when it's 'too soon' to start dating again...but, I think it's vital for us to have an awareness of what we are bringing with us into our next relationship. It's vital for us to know our wounds and our hurts and to have an understanding of how that might affect the way that we communicate with, relate to and trust our next significant other.

I think we kind of know when we're moving on too quickly, when we're moving on to fill the void, when we're moving on to replace the pain with someone who makes us feel wanted and worthy again. Be willing to avoid the temptation of the rebound, to avoid rushing into something because it feels easier to be with someone than to be alone... but don't be scared of entering into a good relationship because it's 'too soon' according to some time frame you've created for yourself (or you feel like others have placed on you).

In the end, we're all messy people bringing in lots of baggage into relationships (even if you've never dated before....sometimes the fact that you've haven't dated causes you to bring in a whole new type of baggage). I think it's only by the grace of God that relationships even have a chance of success...

Just be smart. Know yourself. Pray a lot. Seek wise council.
There's not a right answer to this one.
Sometimes the healing just takes time...and sometimes there's a new person just waiting for you to get out of that relationship and you should seize the opportunity, knowing that healing will come as you journey into a new relationship with them. It's all crazy and all over the place... but there's no formula for it.

You know if it's too soon.
You also know if you're just scared and running from good things and using the 'too soon' as an excuse.

Be honest with yourself.
Your actions don't just affect you anymore...

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