Sunday, September 30, 2007

who needs friends like Job's?

one thing that continually bothers me about the whole marriage mandate movement is how much like Job's friends they sound when arguing their point. i mean, correct me if i'm wrong, but aren't debbie maken and friends basically telling me that if i'm of a certain age and not married, then i'm doing something wrong? maybe they're not. maybe i'm taking their argument too far. i'll have to dig up that book again.

that thought pattern makes me think of Job's friends telling him to just confess whatever sin he hasn't confessed so that god will start blessing him again. right, guys. i don't think that's how it works. i'm pretty sure i'm not single because god's punishing me. i'm glad i don't have any 'friends' like that.

i'm pretty sure that i am right where i'm supposed to be, living inside of god's will, and clinging to his promises. i'm also pretty sure that there are a lot of people who don't get what they want, but discover other equally amazing things. different, but still amazing.

yes, there's a problem in that the secular world is still making empty to promises that some of us young christians fall prey to when we know we shouldn't. but stuff like that has been happening since the fall. the current iteration of empty promises tells us we should live for ourselves and put off marriage so we can sleep with whoever and spend our money on whatever.

and yes, there's a problem in the way the church often responds to singles with a lack of compassion and understanding. many of us have had our requests for help in finding a spouse met with coldness or disbelief.

but none of that changes the fact that sometimes god allows us to live without things that we desperately want. and it's for our own good. i don't know why he's letting me be single and 28 while most of my close girlfriends get to be married and 28. but i know that i have to trust. and i have to choose to walk with the sadness and yet not let it turn to bitterness.

i trust you god. i don't always like what you're giving me, but i trust that it is my daily bread. today, i was single. tomorrow, i'll probably still be single. and that's all i'm going to think about.

grateful and content

through a myriad of ways, god's been working on my heart this week, and continuing to help me want him, not just his gifts. for the first time in a while, i feel like i'm coming back to the place where i'm ok with being single.

this weekend i found myself going to the symphony with seth, my friend marie, and her friend kelly. it was a last minute thing, and we bought the cheapest tickets we could, but still; the symphony! it was a fantastic performance; a full men's and women's choir, a children's choir, and several soloists. afterward we met friends out for a drink and some food.

today, several of us met for breakfast and then went to church. my friend james picked me up on his motorcycle, which was awesome. i readily admit that i am one of those girls who loves a guy with a cool car or motorcycle or whatever. after church, james and i went on a long ride, just out. i had no idea where we were a lot of the time, and i know my city pretty well. we drove west a ways, and then wound our way back into town. it was the perfect day; sunny and warm with that bit of fall in the air, and the sky was just so blue. i was so content. there's no other way to describe it. it was this small slice of heaven; today, there was no where else i would have rather been that speeding on the back of that bike.

somewhere between the symphony last night and clinging to james as we sped across the backroads today, i started to tell god how grateful i am for all of these things. sure, a boyfriend would be great, but right now i have seth and his little convertible and james and his motorcycle and my other friend dave and his motorcycle, not to mention all of my girlfriends and what fun i have with them.

sure, sometimes all those things seem to pale in comparison to coming home and curling up with someone. but right now, this is what i have. right now, i am choosing to be grateful for what god is giving me. and it is so much easier and more fun to be grateful for the fun things than to cry and worry about what i am missing.

Friday, September 21, 2007

me and tula

so it's friday night, and i'm home. my roommate is at her boyfriend's. most of my friends are out of town or just otherwise occupied. and anyway, it's nice to be by myself. i needed a night alone. well, alone unless you count the cat and my large glass of red wine.

i'm watching 'my big fat greek wedding,' and wishing i were tula, the main character. at least then i would have something to change. something to work on. something to blame my singleness on. at the beginning of the movie, her hair and make up are a little lacking. then she goes to community college and magically gets it all together.

but i think my hair and make up are pretty awesome already. i have a BS in design, so i don't know that community college would change much of anything. i've read almost every christian dating book out there. i have prayed. i have internet dated (on and eharmony). i have gone on dates with a lot of guys i knew i didn't want, just to 'be open.' and because i have a hard time saying no.

i have nothing left to work on. no more excuses. i've plateaued, really. it's kind of frustrating. i have to be one of the few people who cries while watching 'my big fat greek wedding.' i just hope somebody notices me soon, somebody like ian miller.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

when a friend is just a friend

so i posted once before about my friend seth, and how one night as he drove me home i thought he was going to tell me he liked me as more than a friend. he didn't say anything even remotely like that though. and i felt a little silly.

since then we've continued to hang out a lot. this past weekend we went out to sing some karaoke with friends and drove together. the next day he invited me to work on some website stuff i'd mentioned at a coffee shop near his house (he was there doing homework). he also invited me to watch him race this weekend, paid for my drinks on friday night, and a few other things.

add to that the fact that some of my friends are all 'you and seth hang out a lot! do you like him? i think he likes you!' and suddenly i'm wondering if i should stop accepting his invitations, or in the very least have one of those 'are we on the same page?' conversations.

monday night i sat down and wrote him an email. in the simplest, kindest words i could think of, i basically told him that i really enjoyed his friendship and didn't want to mess it up, and i just wanted to make sure we were on the same page. i told him i thought i had been picking up some 'more than friendly' vibes and was hoping that i hadn't been leading him on. then i hit send, crossed my fingers, and said a quick prayer.

i got a response the next day that totally put my fears at ease. he said that he'd been a bit taken aback at my email, but when he thought about it he could see why his actions could have been taken a little bit out of context. he assured me everything was cool, and i hadn't been leading him on at all. we're just friends.

giant sigh of relief! i was soooo glad. and even though it was awkward and a hard thing to bring up, i'm glad i did it. now we can hang out and i don't have to worry about messages i may or may not be sending.

plus, it feels good that i took a risk to make sure things were right. i can't help but feel proud of myself that i risked our friendship turning wierd, seth being angry or annoyed that i would think something like that, or even seth pulling away, by trying to clarify the situation. and i feel like my risk was rewarded; the friendship is solid and now i'm more sure of our status than ever. of course, i also feel a little silly, but the good feelings definitely outweigh the silly ones. besides, better safe than sorry. or in this case, safe and silly than sorry.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

the hope of our faith

i'm a big fan of rick mckinley and what god is doing through him and his church, imago dei, in portland, oregon. i read his book, this beautiful mess, and thought it was fantastic. i highly recommend it.

i also frequently listen to his sermons via podcast. one that really impacted me is called Abraham, the Hope of Our Faith, from 9/2/07.

often i hear people talking about the how 'marriage (and/or sex) is the idol of the single person.' i have to agree with that. i think it's really easy for us to bank all of our hope in the idea that one day we'll be 'fulfilled .' as a woman, i have been looking forward to my wedding day since at least junior high. many of my girlfriends spent their childhood years dressing up as a 'bride' and then 'walking down the aisle.' (i was kind of a tomboy, so i don't really remember ever doing that).

even over the last few years, i have found myself thinking, man, i can't WAIT till i am married, only to have that thought followed by and then... what? as in, ok, then what do i have to look forward to?

of course there is nothing really wrong with looking forward to being married. i still do, very much. but after listening to rick's message, i started to wonder if too much of my hope was on that one earthly, temporal thing. is my hope in marriage eclipsing the hope of my faith? what is the hope of my faith, anyway?

i want the hope of my faith to be god and his promises. i want him to be my security. i want to say 'i can't wait to get to heaven.' i want that to be the most exciting thing; the thing that sends shudders down my spine when i think about it. i'm definitely not there yet.

rick asks the pointed question, what do you do when the promise isn't fulfilled? he points out that all the amazing people named in hebrews 11 and notes that the author of hebrews says that those people lived by faith without the fulfillment of the promise. that was huge for me. if god doesn't provide me a husband, or doesn't provide one for the next 10 to 20 years, what will i do? how will that affect my faith? is my faith in my preferred future or in god?

the people in hebrews 11 had faith in god. their hope was vested in eternal promises, not promises that the world was making. god brought them ultimate security. they could see and welcome god's promises in the future, even though they couldn't touch them.

i could go on, but rick says it better. listen to his sermon. then ask yourself what your hope (your security) is in. and how does your faith engage your hope?

i hope to be married someday. but i don't want to put my security there.

Monday, September 17, 2007

logic according to debbie maken & friends

i recently read this post over at 'the gift of singleness,' a blog written by some singles in the UK. they bring up some good points in their posts, in general, but they are sometimes a little too 'disciples of all things debbie maken' for me.

in the aforementioned post, they use this passage from maken's book:

"...think about what happened in Nazi Germany. One could say that those events were God's will. In a technical sense, those events did happen while God was ruling. But for us to say that God wills the murder of six million innocent people completely contradicts what he has revealed in Scripture and inaccurately reflects his desires."
then captain sensible draws the same 'obvious' conclusion that maken does; it's not god's will for us to be single. leaving aside the pretty ludicrous comparison of the murder of millions of innocent people to the current state of single christians, i have to question the statement.

i admit that i may have done something not exactly christlike. i submitted a comment on captain sensible's post in which i asked, ok, so why am i still single? (though, it doesn't really matter; they don't seem to be too fond of publishing my comments)

and this is the question that i feel that maken and all of her followers don't address. they don't speak enough to the fact that whether or not god caused this to happen, this is how it is for a lot of people. i have done everything in my power to change my situation. i have to now believe that god has me here for a reason.

i am not missing a date or a husband. i am not living outside of god's will because i don't have one. i am not less loveable or holy than debbie maken or any other happily (or not so happily) married christian. it is obvious to me that god has me here in a place of singleness for a reason.

it's not obvious in that i know why i am still single. it's more of an obviousness that comes from having tried everything humanly possible to get out of my situation. i very much want companionship, and all that comes with it. but god has been telling me to stop seeking. to concentrate on him instead of his gifts. is it hard? holy CRAP yes. sometimes i am so sad and lonely and frustrated i just have to cry for awhile. and not just a few tears, no, the crying with the ugly sobs and loud gasping for air. the kind of crying where you have to put your pillow over your face so you won't wake up your roommate, and the next morning your eyes are all puffy.

i wish that more christians would speak to this. so many single christians need compassion and encouragement, not someone telling them that life's not supposed to be this way. we know that already. it's a fallen world. of course it's not supposed to be this way! our sadness and loneliness and longing tell us that already.

i'm encouraging anyone else in my shoes to continue to seek god. seek a date, too, if you don't feel him telling you not to. by all means, seek a date! but make sure you are seeking to know and love and live like Him before all else. then all the rest will be given unto you.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

that lonely time

i just got back from an evening out with friends; we celebrated a birthday. my friend bev is 24. several of us went out to dinner and then to a nice bar with an outdoor courtyard. it was cool. they're a good group of people.

i rode with my friend evan, who's just started to hang out with a girl he really likes (so far). he talked about her and about dating and about dating her quite a bit. i didn't mind; i'm excited for him. i hope this works out. i'd much rather lose a friend to a relationship than keep him and have to go through breakup drama. besides, i can live vicariously through him for a while. it's nice to see someone getting jittery about a potential date.

toward the end of the evening, one of the guys i don't know so well sat down next to me. we made some small talk about dating, and then he asked my why i wasn't dating anyone. who did you want me to date? i asked him. he couldn't really come up with an answer.

i came home to my empty apartment. the cat had pooped on the living room rug. i cleaned it up, since my roommate probably won't be back until tomorrow or sunday. as soon as i sat down to write a little, the cat started to cough up a hairball. i shooed her into the kitchen so at least she wouldn't do it on the carpet.

sometimes, coming home from a night of small talk and dishing out advice to your closest guy friend to a dark apartment that smells like cat poop is just soo..... empty. how many more times? i want you god, but i want this to end soon, too. i know it could be years (or never) before it does, but, please... let it end soon.

the brave face will be back on tomorrow, folks.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

when a pause is just a... pause

i've been spending a fair amount of time with a great guy named seth lately. we met at church several months ago through a mutual friend. we sort of (long story) went on a date, after which i promptly emailed him (i know, i know) and basically said, seth, you're a great guy, an you're a total catch, you're just not my total catch. he responded with a fantastic email saying, hey no problem, yes, we can be friends, no worries at all.

and that was that. believe it or not, we actually have stayed good friends. but, as many of my guy friends like to remind me, it's generally not that black and white. without getting into it, let's just say that recently i've been thinking i need to tread carefully with seth, because he seems to still have a few more-than-friendly feelings for me. we've been hanging out a lot, and two or three of my friends have even noted that hey, he really lights up when you're around, sc!

sunday night, seth gave me a ride home after we'd been hanging out with some friends. (another friend of mine and i had carpooled, but she had gone home earlier because she was feeling sick).

we're riding along, enjoying the awesome night and his awesome car, which is a totally cool, old and restored little convertible two-seater. we start talking about our personalities. we both agree that a lot of things are generally more enjoyable when you have someone to enjoy them with. he starts to describe how his car is something like that; he enjoys it so much more when he has someone to enjoy it with him.

and then he stops. he pauses for a second and says hmm, how do i want to say this? another long, long pause. i mean, like, 10 to 20 seconds. and my stomach felt like it had dropped out of my body. my pulse started to race. oh no, i thought. here we go. i knew i should have had another status-check conversation with him! he's going to tell me how much he likes being with me and i'm going to have to break his heart! why did i let things get this far!?

but when he finally finds his words, it's nothing like that at all. he's just still trying to describe how great it is to share something with someone who appreciates it. i was so close to laughing out loud! and i felt really stupid. as soon as he dropped me off and i was safely inside my door, i did laugh out loud. sheesh. guilty conscience, anyone? ha.

Monday, September 03, 2007

believing god's truth about myself

one thing i still struggle with (though i've come very far in this area) is self-confidence. because i am so extroverted, i don't think a lot of people realize it. but i do struggle. it stems from a lot of things, but two things that didn't help much were being too tall and too skinny and awkward growing up, and having a father who was never very good at saying 'i love you' or 'you are beautiful and special and smart.' (though he is a wonderful man whom i love dearly, and he did a great job with what he was given).

i made a comment to a good friend recently that even though i'm an adult, i still often feel like a junior high kid. like i'm stuck somewhere between the cool kids and the outcasts. i want to play with the cool kids, but i cannot bring myself to do anything that would leave out or alienate my 'less cool' friends. it breaks my heart to leave people out. i just want everyone to play together and get along and have fun. as i told all this to my friend, his name's tom, he looked at me funny, and sort of nodded, and that was that.

a few nights ago, a bunch of us were at an AVP tournament (professional volleyball). after the match was over, we stood talking as players walked by and signed autographs. tom was hoping to see his hero, karch kiraly. as we waited, phil dalhausser, who had won the tournament with his partner, walked by and stared right at tom and me as we were talking. i was kind of oblivious, probably because i was too busy staring back at this amazingly tall and handsome professional volleyball player. then, tom poked me and said, hey, dalhausser's checking you out!

my initial reaction was to go yeah, right, tom. but once he said it, it was obvious, even to me. dalhausser was checking me out. and inside, i soared. i probably did outside, too, as since then i've told like 10 people about it. had i been thinking more clearly, i might have wandered over and said 'great game' or something equally brilliant. but instead i just stared, and smiled. and it hit me: there, at the AVP, i was beautiful. all around me, there were tall men and tall women, and i fit in. i looked like one of them!

tom and i were talking on the phone the day after the tournament, making plans for labor day and things like that. we talked about the tournament some, and he mentioned that there was something he wanted to tell me. he said, you know, sc, you're there. you've arrived. you're not that awkward kid on the playground anymore. you're cool, and you're awesome, and you need to start acting like it. of course dallhauser would check you out. you need to be saying, why wouldn't he check me out!? so please, stop feeling like you're not cool. you're not that kid anymore. stop believing the lies and believe god's truth about yourself. that's a paraphrase, but that was the gist of what he said. and it brought tears to my eyes. he was right. and to hear it from someone like tom who loves god and is tall and talented and just a wonderful, manly man; well, that was a real, meaningful burst of truth i needed to hear.

and since then i've been thinking more about what my life would look like if i really believed the truth about myself. if i didn't sometimes let myself get kicked in the pants by comparison and low self esteem. i think i could just shine, all the time, if i really lived on god's promises. he would be able to do so much through me. his kingdom would become so much more real to people around me if i could just forget about myself and know, i mean, really know, in my heart and soul that i am fearfully and wonderfully made.