Sunday, September 27, 2015

5 Things Single People Don't Like to Hear

One of the challenges of being single, but looking forward to a relationship, is all the advice and comments you get from your well-meaning friends who ARE in relationships. But I have to say, whether true or not, they’re not always very appreciated – and for some reason, always seem to have hidden meanings.

1. Be glad you have this time to yourself.

Well, I guess so. But God created us to be “in relationship” both with Him and others. And not just significant others, but friends. So whether I’m dating or not, my time is never really for me alone. And I really don’t have any desire to be unto myself. That just sounds lonely, to be honest – and life isn’t about me anyways.

and just as a comment… now that you’re in a relationship, do you miss being on your own? This almost seems to reflect more on you than me. I’m almost more concerned for YOUR relationship than my single status.

2. God must be working on you right now.

Sigh… this is actually my least favorite one. I think it comes from the idea that maybe said single person has a problem they would otherwise bring into a relationship. And honestly, that kinda hurts, mostly because it’s like a subtle way of saying, “there’s something wrong with you.” But somehow it’s okay to say because I’m pretty sure that God is always working on us.

I’d like to think that whether you’re in a relationship or not, you’re always submitting yourself to God’s work. But honestly, when someone says this, it makes me want to ask, “As my friend, I want you to hold me accountable, would you just come out and say what you’re seeing that I should be aware of?”

3. You deserve better or He/She’s not good enough for you

This normally comes when things aren’t working out with a crush. And it’s meant to be a compliment to build you up and make you feel good about yourself. But at the same time, It’s also a “bash” on him/her, which, when you like someone, reflects on your taste. Kind of a bittersweet comment.

And really, when your heart is on the line, it’s no fun to hear people bash the person you have feelings for.

4. Juggling a relationship and school/a job is hard.

This one… I understand that they’re trying to make you feel better… like you’re maybe saving yourself some stress. I mean really, the person who normally says this is the busy girl/guy who has that supper flexible, go-with-the-flow significant other. And in all their busyness, it seems that they still think it’s worth it. So… from the outside looking in, it seems like for whatever hardships come, forming a relationship is more like a worthwhile investment. So it’s hard to really take this statement in and think, “I’m content.”

5. God must be saving you for someone really special.

Ugh… this is the one we tell ourselves all the time and I don’t know, I sure that in His omnipotence, God has a great plan, but… well… normally this one ends the whole, “why are you still single” conversation. It’s that end note placate. And well, it just… okay, it’s not the worst one… but you hear it one too many times and it sort of looses its potency. It starts feeling a little flat.

Sometimes I wonder if people in relationships are trying to tell single people all the things they wish they knew beforehand, but I think they’re missing a very important point. Most single people don’t want relationship advice, or validation of “singleness.” Most of them are waiting for a new stage in life. It's not about "all they great things you can do as a single person," it's more about something that hasn't been done yet. Or even better, wanting someone to be support you in all you do (Besides God, they always seem to bring that one up)

A new season.

Really, I guess… I think most single people just want a chance to TRY.

That’s it. All the placations kind just feel like we’re being smothered. Like our frustrations aren’t valid, or you’re hinting at something.

So REGARDLESS of the merits of singlehood… just pat your single friend on the back when they’re feeling discouraged. Let them vent. And really, they’re just anxious for their chance to try.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

What on Earth is a "Good Thing?"

I always thought I was a romantic. But I guess I've come to find that sentimental is not quite the same as romantic. And on top of that... I really don't believe in Soul Mates.

And really, I don't think most of my friends believe in Soul Mates either, but every time I get a "poor you" pity glance, I start to wonder if maybe they do... they just don't want to use the word, "Soul Mate." Instead, they slap around words like, "don't settle." Which, I agree with, but if I had a nickel for every time I've had to explain my thoughts on the matter, well, you know.

Soul Mates is such a funny concept. But I think, at its essence, someone who embraces the idea holds to the notion that there is someone out there who complements you better than anyone else, who will adore you the same way you adore them, and in sickness and in health, life will be roses. And I don't know... as much as I love romance and sentiment, that sounds like a bunch of hooey.

And forgive me... but I just can't find it in the Bible. Most of what I see about finding a spouse in the Bible tends to be cultural. (I'll give a few examples)

I mean: Abraham married his sister... Isaac was basically handed a wife... then Jacob worked for 14 years for a girl he thought was pretty. Ruth married Boaz because he was responsible. And then there's Mary, we really don't know overly much about what her relationship with Joseph looked like in terms of romance.

Here's what we do have:
"He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord." Proverbs 18:22
Gosh... I don't even know if that's very satisfying. I'd love to see this great blueprint for God's design for this whole ambiguous, "who's right for me?" question. (Besides the don't yoke yourself with unbelievers bit... that's a nonnegotiable 2 Cor. 6:14).

And that's what I'm talking about... "who's right for me?" Because the whole world keeps screaming, "don't settle." So who is the "I settled for you," guy and the "I'm glad I picked you," guy?

If only we knew.

Instead, the Bible offers a plethora of afterthoughts about how to BE a good spouse. And of course, that tells us a bit about who to look for. We hope that a dedicated follower of Christ will be working on developing those traits.

But instead of storing up all these dreams of what my husband will be like, I find myself in a much more practical place.

And you know what? There's something rather special about practicality. Because, believe me, I do want a family... and here's why I don't think settling is the means to that end. I think settling and giving up are used synonymously. When really... he who finds a wife finds a good thing.  It's not about giving up - it's a victory finding someone to go through life with.

Here's why "settling" bugs me so much.

1. There's NO SUCH THING as a perfect person.

Let's face facts, every person you meet will have some quirk, some problem, some issue (Romans 3:10, 3:23). And these issues can range from extreme to minor... like a propensity to not wash dishes. But I suppose that what I've found after living with 8 other girls, is that there are some issues that bother me that DON'T bother someone else.

I really can't explain it, but a dirty bathroom drives me crazy. Whereas piles here and there really aren't a problem as long as the floor is clear and vacuumed. Still, there are bigger issues... issues of politics, home life and sin struggles that might pose a more obvious problem. These will vary from person to person and come in various degrees of severity. And trust me, every person has their closet.

2. Getting along with someone, ANYONE, requires some work

As Christians, we are called to follow Ephesians 4:1-2, "I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Because really, even your best friends aren't always fun to be around. But with your best friends, you love them even when they're a dork, because the relationship matters to you. Life isn't all roses, but we hold out for the rosey moments because it's worth it. I can only imagine that choosing to live with someone won't be any different, except maybe magnified by 10.


While I totally hold to the two statements above, I believe in love wholeheartedly. I believe in attraction, both of the mind and heart. There are people you gravitate towards and crave being around. And love overlooks a multitude of flaws. We call it the rose-colored glass and it's a beautiful thing. I think we would run in the opposite direction if there weren't such a thing - every human you meet would look rather ugly otherwise.

But don't let the words of people in the middle of love, or on the other side of love discourage you. People in love, still think their significant other is perfect. People out of love can be cynical and out of hope. But I'd like to think that hope and commitment are what's truly valuable when it dawns on you that no one is perfect.

No matter what comes my way, I'd like to think it's possible to embrace someone, warts and all. To care even when its hard.

Now, I would caution that since "hang-ups" come in such a large variety, not everyone's hang-ups are necessarily right for every person to walk through. But doesn't it seem beautiful when you find someone, who's just a bit messy, but their mess doesn't scare you, even when it scares others? You look at that person and think, "Well, somebody's got to love them, and I think I could." And really, you hope that someone out there looks at you and think the same thing.

You see, it's a GRACE thing.

We've all sinned and fallen short but as Christians, we're supposed to bear with one another. To love one another the way Christ first loved us (1 John 4:7)

I once heard that God didn't design marriage with your happiness in mind, but holiness. To teach and grow you in your walk. Maybe love and happiness are just the bait that ropes us in? Or a cherry on top? The thing that makes all the hardship worth while?

I don't know for certain, but long story short, these are the things that keep me awake at night.

Don't get me wrong... I'm no cynic. But I think that marriage and family are two of the most incredible things one can aspire to. At least, that's my dream.

I would like to think I'll know God's plan when I see it. That it will stick out like a sore thumb - really obvious. But in the mean time, I think we can magnify God's glory in any relationship with any person by loving one another with Christ-like, grace-giving, love and accountability. Though some make it easier than others. Maybe infatuation and love are two very different things?

Just a thought.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Never Thought of Today as "Patriot's Day"

It's strange to think that kids born in 2001 are fourteen now. They're in high school. That blows my mind just a bit. But on a day like today, it's a bit sobering. I think of all the other National holidays I don't have first hand experience understanding, and I suppose that so called "Patriot's Day," will be similar. To be honest, I've never even thought of today by that name. It lives in my mind simply by the date, "September Eleventh."

I remember.

Maybe you don't, maybe you do. For goodness sake, I was a little second grader when it happened, but I remember. You don't forget something with the words, "terrorist attack" in it very quickly. I'm sure anyone born in the 1930's feels the same way about Pearl Harbor.

I was born in 1994, so on September 11, 2001, I was just past my seventh birthday and about a month or so into second grade. I had Mrs. Boicourt that year. Winifred Pifer Elementary. What you have to realize about this, however, is that New York is three hours ahead of California. So at 8:45 AM, it was only 5:45 AM here. But I'm pretty sure everyone knew what was on the news.

The towers were leveled at 10:30 AM... that was only 7:30 here. But it was a Tuesday and most families are up and getting ready for school by that time.

When terrorists attack, everything plays on repeat for hours. The news played that clip of the towers falling over and over again, all day.

If I remember correctly... we even watched it in my class.

As a seven year old, I just remember a sinking feeling in my chest. You don't really see something like that coming. And the mere idea of people dying like that is a bit hard to fathom.

There's this surrealism that surrounds the day, if you remember it.

You know, they say that when Pearl Harbor was bombed, everyone in California was convinced we were next. Later on, it was discovered that there was a California-bound plane hijacked on September 11, 2001. We can thank God it never made it.

But you know, it's not just "Patriot's Day." It was a pretty scary day, to tell the truth. And for my family, it's a little strange. You see... it was my grandparents' wedding anniversary, long before it became "September Eleventh." Strange how something so sentimental can take on a whole new context. "The terrorits stole my grandparents anniversary," isn't always a very funny joke.

But I guess its never been "Patriot's Day" to me... and to be honest, this is the first year I realized they actually named it.

So to conclude... God be with everyone who lost a family member that day... comfort them. And bless each man and woman that ran into danger, rather than away from it.

Amen... again and again.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

God won't give you what you want.

I'm going to start off this post by saying something that might scare a lot of you.

Honestly, it scares me at times.

I've grown up with a lot of dreams... visions of the way I've always hoped my life would turn out, and to be frank, my life doesn't look the way I pictured it. Really. I'm not currently doing any of the things I planned, except going to college... that was on the list. But as far as everything else, well... God hasn't given me what I wanted.

Funny... especially when people throw around verses like:

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4 
"If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:11 
"And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us." 1 John 5:14
I guess I always thought those verses meant that if I really prayed hard enough... if my heart was in the right place, if I was humble, if I asked in just the right way, my life would look the way I dreamed, that God would give me good gifts. Funny thing though... it didn't work that way.

For a while, that left me baffled, frustrated and hurt. At first, I started relying on verses about everything being in God's timing, not mine. I figured he would give me my desires someday, just not yet. Then, I started wondering if maybe, like a telephone, there was a bad connection on my end. After all, God is perfect, so the problem couldn't be on his end. So what was wrong?

Well... you probably hear it often enough... but NEVER use a verse out of context.

You want to know something funny about those verses I mentioned above? Context.

Matthew 7:11 comes from the sermon on the mount, following several verses about tangible needs... food, clothes, shelter. Needs, not wants. Darn it. And 1 John 5? Well, there a key word in that verse that's come to mean a lot to me... HIS WILL. God grants requests asked according to his will. And all that hangs on Psalm 37's "delight yourself in the Lord."

I guess what I'm trying to say is that when you focus on your relationship with God, when you really develop that relationship... when you and God are close... you grow to stop caring about the same things. Material comfort isn't such a big deal anymore. Your treasures start becoming of the eternal variety. Crazy huh? And eternal treasures? Well, that's God will. So by delighting in the Lord, my will conforms to his will, and so therefore, when I ask something of God, of course he'll say yes because it's what he wanted anyways.

Never saw that one coming.

Closing thought? I think Paul says it best in Ephesians 3

 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen
My life certainly doesn't look the way I planned, but God's in the middle of it... I trust in that... And honestly, while not perfect, I'm rather content with what God has given me. And surprises are just fine.