Tuesday, January 29, 2008

beginning to end the prolonged singleness blame game?

novagirl commented on my last post that she, like me, is stumped when it comes to what to do to work out some of this prolonged singleness stuff: "But what I would like to see is more energy going into prayer and seeking God's guidance on what to do rather than attacking those we disagree with."

her sentiments echo some things that have been bouncing around in my head lately. one of those bouncy things in my head is corporate prayer. i admit, i suck at it. i mean, i can pray out loud, i can initiate praying out loud with my small group, or my family or anyone else. and a few times i've thought, hey i should call up some people or send out an email and get everyone together to pray for/about stuff. i just never actually do it. it's been on my mind more and more lately, especially after reading this post about women praying and this post about praying in general (and listening to the linked message) on carolyn mcculley's blog.

i'm pretty sure that prayer is always a good thing, and i'm even more sure that corporate prayer is music to god's ears. and i think that in this situation prayer would work wonders because it would take the focus off of me (or whoever was praying).

most of us singles are ready to admit we can be pretty selfish. but on top of that i think a lot of us carry around this weird self-focus. when it comes to dating and trying to move towards marriage, we crank up the self focus. i hear it in myself and from a lot of my friends. we ask ourselves what we're doing wrong. we read different dating books. we try different dating websites. we date for awhile, then stop then climb back up and date some more.

i have read almost every dating book i could get my hands on. i've been on match and eharmony a combined total of four or five times. i've gone to therapy, i've gone on several dates that i knew i didn't want to go on just because i felt like i should 'be open' and 'give it a chance' because, well, 'you never know!' now, after the reading and the internet dating and the real dating and the talking to random guys through myspace and facebook and the wondering what i've done wrong and how i can do it better, i'm just tired of thinking about and looking into myself. i'm not done growing and changing and learning, i'm just done fixing myself in regards to the dating realm.

the thought of praying for other single women, or praying for single men just sounds so appealing and helpful and just awesome. i don't know why, but it makes me feel good to think that i could really help other people this way! there is so much good that could come out of it! good for the men and women i (and others) would pray for, good for us as we prayed and shared together, good for us because prayer generally draws us closer to god, and other good that i'm sure i'm not going to think of.

and i don't think that we all have to sit around and pray for our future spouses. i admit, that weirds me out sometimes. i feel like just praying for single men and women in my church or who i hang out with, or praying that more single men would come back to church, that churches would become places they want to be, etc, etc. just lifting all of those desires we have up to Him....

what would happen if we all started doing that? if we could round up a few people? if this time, instead of just thinking (and now writing) about it, i actually step out and do it?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

the prolonged singleness blame game

(warning: RANT! i've been reading several other blogs and sites lately, and there seems to be a common thread: blaming the church and/or the opposite sex for prolonged singleness amongst christians. it's pissing me off. all of this blame and name calling and whining isn't helping anyone. prayer, compassion, and action to change will help, not virtual whining.)

being single for an extended period of time can be really tough. it can cause you to question a lot of things (your sanity, your values, your spirituality, your past, your friends, your future, etc, etc...). plus it often feels like there's a lack of compassion for prolonged singleness in most christian circles. many married people just don't seem to understand how lonely and repetitive it can be. and most non-christians (and even some christians) don't get the whole 'waiting' (or attempting to wait) thing.

but does it really help to blame? does it really help to go on and on about how prolonged singleness is the church's fault because they only minister to women, or how all women only want over-effeminate submissive men, or how christian men only want petite submissive women, or how women will date loser-y non-christian men instead of solid christian guys, or how men should leave the church because it's ruining them?

what happened to love? what happened to giving people the benefit of the doubt? what happened to making a difference? what happened to listening to people's stories so you can understand their hurts and see why they sometimes make stupid decisions? should we not be praying for our single brothers and sisters? should we not be seeking out ways to minister to them so that they can grow stronger and become more christ-like, and some day be wonderful husbands and wives?

maybe i'm wrong. maybe i should leave my church in disgust. there aren't enough godly single men there, so obviously it's a terrible place with ungodly motives and selfish people. obviously they aren't trying to reach men, and they have their eyes closed to current state of christianity in our country.

i think we all get it. i think all of us single people who would dearly love to be married sometime soon agree that this world is fallen and messy and mistakes have been made, even by people with good intentions. can we stop whining and blaming and start praying and changing? yes, women are dumb sometimes! we often make bad decisions and date non-christian losers! it's true! we're weak in that area. our dumb decisions usually stem from hurts and wounds and insecurities. and yes, men aren't exactly running to church these days. but what can we DO about it? surely more than rant and rave and blame each other? more than walk away from church and dating altogether?

ok. end rant.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

work or wait: living in the tension

remember my work or wait struggle? i still think about it. i'm pretty sure i'm in the right place by just chilling out and trying to continually do new things and meet new people. just because i'm not on 2 or 3 internet dating sites or going out with every possible guy i meet, doesn't mean i'll be single forever. and that doesn't mean i'm not listening to and being challenged by god and other people.

i think my struggle represents something that a lot of us deal with. recently i was talking to my single friend david about relationships. he's been in several, but none of them have worked out (ie lead to marriage) and he's frustrated. after listening to him for a while, i said i thought maybe he needed to turn the dating part of his life over to god. he said he thought he already had, and i sensed that the unspoken thought was 'i have, and he's not delivering!' he went on to say that he was confused about what he was supposed to do and what god was supposed to do. and yeah, i agree; that's often really hard to figure out.

it's also really hard, as rob bell said when i saw him speak, to 'live with the tension'. most of us want to know the answer. we want to know what to do, how to make things right. but it seems like with god (and people and relationships) the point is to live with the tension. for example; i have to figure out how to continually give god control of my dating life, yet be able to step up and do what needs to be done. i guess an example might be the hockey guy. i'm pretty sure a date with him would be a waste of time for both of us. if he called or texted me, it might be easier for me to just go out with him. but i'm pretty sure god's quietly asking me not to do that. so i listen to him and then i act. and i try to enjoy the tension that there are things i can't do on my own and things i have to do on my own, all while living under the direction of god.

i've been reading how people grow by drs henry cloud and john townsend. it's a fantastic book, and i recommend it to anyone interested in how the bible and personal growth (all forms of it) are connected. even if you're just interested how you can grow more or help others grow more, check it out. it can be a bit dry sometimes, but it's worth it.

this morning, i came across this passage which summed up the idea of loving (or at least living in) the tension. in the passage, dr. cloud talks about explaining to a guy in a training session the idea of giving control of things to god while still making choices and setting goals and working.

We cannot do the things we need to do on our own. We are unable to make choices on our own. We have to face our inability and depend on God. We have to depend on others. We have to reach out and be empowered. I emphasized we could not do it on our ow. There is no 'self-help.'

I thought we were on the same page, but then he showed me we were not by saying: "Oh, I see. We can't do it so we just depend on the Holy Spirit to do it. We give it all to him."

"No," I said. "We don't just give it all to him. We can't do it, and we don't just give it all to him. We must 'work out our salvation,' but we also have to be asking him to help us to do all of it. It is both not one or the other."

Humans tend to be unable to hold opposite ideas in dynamic tension. But this is a tension we will always need to hold: God has a part and we have a part. Beware of dichotomizing between your tasks and God's.

living in the tension. difficult, but i'm starting to think it's worth it. of course, it's also a lot easier if you know god's character and completely trust him, even when circumstances make you not want to trust him. but i think that's another topic for another post.

not dating just to date

i haven't texted hockey guy for several days now, and he hasn't texted me, either. so far so good. hopefully he gets the message.

i'm not saying it'd be totally awful to go out with him, but i think i'm just at the point where going out with a guy who doesn't exhibit love for christ is a waste of time for me and a waste of money (and time) for him. i mean, hockey dude seemed like a nice guy, but after talking to him for most of the game, and mentioning the church i go to regularly and the one i went to portland to check out, i could tell we weren't on the same page. i've done the missionary dating thing before; i'm not a fan, and i don't want to do it again.

i think i'm in a place where i don't need to date just to date anymore. i know myself really well. while i might not know exactly what i want, i trust that god knows what i need, and i definitely know what i don't want. my time of dating served me pretty well. at this point in my life i think i have better things to do with my time. if it's obvious after one interaction that a guy doesn't have a strong, growing relationship with christ then i don't need to go on a date with him. besides, generally once i know a guy doesn't have a solid faith, any attraction i have for him starts to fade.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

misc stuff and about that date

this past weekend my friend bev and i took a trip to portland, oregon. we went because we're both big fans of don miller (author/speaker, known for blue like jazz and other books), rick mckinley, and the church rick started called imago dei. plus we both like wine a lot, and portland is not far from wine country.

we had a great time. i think we basically ate and drank as much of the city and the surrounding wine country as we could in three days. it was great. if you have the chance, get to portland. it's a cool town. and imago dei is a cool church.

the plane rides gave me a lot of time to think and journal and pray about a lot of things. i'm thinking some of those things will turn into posts here.

i got home around eleven last night, worked a half day today, then went to the grocery store. and i still haven't texted or called the guy from the hockey game. as an anonymous commenter noted on the previous post, the fact that he's 6'9" doesn't erase the fact that he gave me his number instead of asking me for mine. nor does it erase the fact that he asked me out via text message. i know i may sound harsh, but come on. he's a big boy, he can take a risk or two. add to that the fact that i'm about 95% sure he doesn't love jesus, and well, i'm not all that interested.

so i'm hoping he doesn't text me anymore, but i'm guessing i won't be that lucky. i'll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

girls night, hockey, getting asked out...

these are a few of my favorite things...

last night i went to a hockey game with 6 of my girlfriends. i figured it would be a good time, but i had no idea it would be AWESOME. seriously. first of all, everyone was super excited to go, and that always makes me excited. second of all, i had 6 ticket vouchers (thanks k!) i got for christmas.

it just kept getting better; we sat 2 rows up from the ice; it was dollar beer night; there were these hilarious 19 year-olds sitting in front of us who banged on the glass and shouted at the players and referees all night. all of the on-ice entertainment between periods involved college-age guys chugging beers and trying to hit the empty cans into the nets. quality! plus, instead of kiss-cam, they had chug-cam. guess who got on chug cam!? yup, me and my 6 girlfriends. i can now say that i made it onto the big screen at an ECHL hockey game.

the game was really good. our team won, i got to see my favorite player almost score a goal (almost is good; he's a defensemen), and there was a fight.

and i saved the best for last. there was another group of guys sitting a row down and to the right. halfway through the game, one of them sits on the end closest to me, and says hi. i smiled back, and before long we were chatting. he seemed nice, and he was pretty cute. and then, he stood up.

this guy was six foot nine. i kid you not. i asked him. i was like, woah, dude, you are ridiculous tall. we talked some more, and at the end of the night, he asks for a hug and gives me his phone number. i was a little annoyed he didn't ask me for mine, and i was little weirded out by the hug, but hey.... hold on... i just got picked up at a hockey game by a cute guy who's 6'9"!!!

i texted him after we left, so he'd have my number and i could put the ball in his court for him to call me. he texted me back almost immediately, and a few texts later, i got 'so are you going to let me take you to dinner next week.' asked out via text message... definitely not my preference, but i texted back 'yup.'

so... i have a date next week. finally, the girl writing about relationships and singleness and dating has an actual date to write about. i'll keep you posted....

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

i'd rather get out and meet some new people

i've thought a lot about the whole 'work or wait' dilemma lately. i think i've found a solution that i really like. and it fits in with my theme for 2008: the year of quality.

as i've said before, i'm so not about changing my life drastically so i can meet guys. i'm also not about internet dating. i've tried it several times before, and i just don't like it. plus it just makes me feel like a judgmental jerk, and like i'm wasting my money. i'll sign up, and then a week later i realize i'm paying like thirty bucks a month to close out or ignore a bunch of guys i think are really skeezy. i know it really works for a lot of people; i just can't do it.

one thing i want to be about is trying new things. this past summer i started playing volleyball with friends on sunday nights, and that lead to me playing in a fall league where i met volleyball dude. sure, nothing happened with him, but he was an added bonus to the whole volleyball experience. i learned something new, overcame some insecurities i had, had a great time, and i met a tall, good-looking, quality guy.

i haven't thought of any specific things yet, but i'm keeping my eyes and ears open. i might give the volleyball league another shot; i had a lot of fun with it and it kept me in shape. but i want to try other things too. that whole 'well-rounded' thing really appeals to me. and sometimes i can get really sedentary and just kind of roll with whoever is around and whatever is happening. that's not a bad thing, but it's what i've been doing for several years now, so i know how it works out.

personal growth is always a good thing. and if god brings some great guy my way in the midst of it, i definitely won't complain.

Monday, January 14, 2008

don't ignore that funny feeling

it's funny how sometimes even though you know a situation you're in probably isn't good for you (or anyone else involved), you stay in it because it feels good and because there's no 'hard evidence' that it's really all that bad. you just have that feeling that something is kind of weird.

i had that 'this isn't quite right' feeling the last few times i hung out with seth. heck, i'd had it on and off the whole time we were friends. i think it got a little more intense at the end because we were talking more and hanging out more. it felt like we were too close. when we'd hang out with our group of friends, i had this weird feeling of being too attached to him. like he wasn't connecting to the others because he didn't need to—he had me. i felt drawn to him because i knew he wanted to be near me, but i also felt the unhealthiness of it. i just didn't do anything about it until it was too late.

and so this is just a reminder to listen to that little voice in your head or your heart. if you even feel a little bit of weirdness or unhealthiness, do something about it. talk to someone, change your behavior, something. just because you can't see the consequences, or you don't think there'll be any, doesn't mean they won't show up. walk the narrow path; it ends up being much much easier.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

happy new year—again!

yup. you heard me right. my 2008 didn't quite get off to the start i wanted. after figuring some stuff out (the hard way) and making some decisions, i've decided i'm hitting the reset button again.

the reason i'm hitting the reset button is the same reason i haven't posted in a while. the week after new year's, i was thinking that my life had been relatively drama-free for while. there were breakups and craziness going on all around me, but i was doing really well. so well that i was starting to worry i wouldn't have anything to write about on here. (ha!)

then, it happened. my selfishness reared it's ugly head, drama followed. and guess who i hurt, again? yup. seth.

it takes two, i know. but i also know that i'm older, have more relational experience than him, and my heart wasn't involved the way his was. i should have been helping him guard his heart, but i wasn't.

seth became single again shortly before new year's (the girl he'd gone a few dates with said she wasn't feeling it, and he admitted he wasn't either). we fell back into our usual pattern of texting, talking on the phone and hanging out. one night we went out with a bunch of our friends, drank more than we should have (remember that bit about not conforming to the patterns of this world? yeah, this is why), and, well.... we ended up making out on my couch. and i ended up breaking his heart. again. we talked after it happened, and i thought we both understood that it was a mistake. but just like last time, i got a phone call a few days later... turns out we weren't on the same page.

apparently neither one of us learned our lessons the first time. as a friend of mine said, seth needed to learn to stop throwing himself in front of the bus. and i needed to learn to stop driving it by his house all the time.

now seth and i aren't talking. after the second 'breakup' we decided that this time it'd be best if we took a break. neither one of us had been doing a very good job of guarding his heart when we were together. i told him i didn't want to hear from him for at least a month or two. (last time he called me the next week, saying he was 'ok.')

the making out part was bad enough. i felt pretty guilty about that. but breaking my friend's heart again because i was selfish and careless? that hit me like a ton of bricks.

it's amazing what crap can happen when i choose things that are outside of god's plans. when i think i can do things my way, and it won't matter. i'm convinced now more than i ever was before that i really want to yield to god in this area of my life, 110%. i think i was yielding the relational area of my life to Him maybe 85%. the 15% i was hanging onto has really wrecked some things in my life (eg my friendship with seth). it turns out that yes, getting needs met in unhealthy ways really is pretty bad and there really are consequences.

so, happy new year, again. for real this time.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

satisfactorily single on new year's eve

single venus and i were at the same new year's eve party. it makes me laugh that two people can be at the same party and have completely different experiences.

i've been struggling through some kind of sinus thing since sunday, so i've had this random annoying headache that comes and goes and seems to be indifferent to any of the medicine i've taken. the headache showed up monday afternoon, a few hours before the party. on top of that, i'm just kind of partied out. normally i'm party girl; i love a big gathering, fun music, etc. but i wasn't really in the mood for any of that monday night. since i was supplying both the party punch and the tunes, i packed up and headed out with my roommate and seth.

it really was a nice party. single venus noted that she "spent the whole night surrounded by beautiful people - laughing, flirting, eating, and taking wild pictures." i have to agree that a lot of our friends are pretty good looking. i guess i just forget that sometimes because i know all of them relatively well. and with the guys, i know them all well enough to know that i'm not interested.

i wasn't much in the mood for partying or making small talk with a zillion people. i chatted with people i hadn't seen in a while, made the rounds once or twice, then found a wall to hold up with the help of seth and my roommate, both of whom are introverts. it was nice to just chill with them.

and wouldn't you know it, i was in the right place at the right time to help someone who really needed some encouragement. if the headache and my lack of interest in the party were all just to put me where i needed to be to help a friend, they were worth it.

a girl at the party had come with her boyfriend; i know them both, though i know him better than her. rick and michelle have been on again/off again for a while now. but even when they're on, he doesn't treat her like a girlfriend. at some point during the party, she must have decided that she'd had enough of him (flirting with others, drinking, etc), because i saw her sitting out in the cold on the front porch waiting for a cab.

i didn't know what exactly had happened, but i knew enough to know that she probably felt really alone (the party was his friends, not hers) and really upset. so i went outside and sat down next to her. she kept telling me she was fine, and i kept saying, i know, but i'll just sit here with you for a while. and finally i just said look, i know it's none of my business, but, you are beautiful and smart and really fun and you deserve to be with someone who treats you well. rick's not a bad guy, but he doesn't treat you how you deserve to be treated. you could do better. you deserve better.

she just melted. she started to cry and told me about how he'd broken up with her 3 times but she kept taking him back because she was lonely. how she felt so dumb because she knew she didn't love him or even want to be with him, but it was just so hard. we sat outside for a while, just kind of holding each other (me comforting her and trying to keep us both warm). i told her she wasn't dumb, and that i had definitely been there before. we heard everyone count down inside, and toasted each other, kind of smiling at the random situation. eventually i convinced her to come back inside and hang out for a while until i could collect seth and my roommate, and then we'd leave and take her home.

it felt really good to spend new year's eve helping someone out instead of trying to kill time by drinking more punch and holding up walls and flirting with guys i already know i don't want to date.

it also felt really good to be single. single and drama free. i wasn't worried about who would (or wouldn't) be at the party, or who i might miss out on talking to if i sat outside to talk to michelle. i wasn't worried about leaving the party early. i was available and useful and that felt really good.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

happy 2008

hooray! i love the beginning of a new year. why? it's like a giant reset button. even though nothing really dramatic has happened, i like the idea that i'm starting over. i have the whole year ahead of me, and i am refreshed and brand new. there are twelve moths of possibilities stretching ahead of me!

last year one of my new year's resolutions was 'date someone.' ha. i purposely left it kind of vague. the idea behind the resolution was to get out and meet someone worth spending more than one evening with. looking back now, it kind of happened. i spent time with a guy friend who wanted to 'get to know me better' back in the spring. i think i knew before it started that it wouldn't work out, but he was so completely different from people i'd dated in the past that i had to be sure there wasn't any chemistry. besides, whether or not we actually dated is still up for debate. he was kinda wishy-washy about it; we always went dutch or just 'hung out.' looking back i'm kinda surprised i put up with it, but like i said, he was really different, and actually really quality, so i guess it wasn't a big deal.

this year, i have no relationship-related resolutions (say that three times fast). i'm done with those. they just feel so fake. do i hope i date someone? yes, very much. but it's not in my hands. it's completely up to god. i don't mean that in a fatalistic way. i just mean that instead of focusing on what i can do to meet someone and move toward marriage, i'm focusing on god. he has the power, and i am tired of floundering around and freaking out. i guess you could say my goal for this year is to relax—to rest in him and trust that he's taking care of the situation.

even just writing that, i feel more free. free to try new things, or spend time with my married friends and my friends who have kids. free to hope and believe that he'll bring me the best, no matter where i am or how i feel.

do you have any relationship related goals or resolutions for 2008?