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Taylor Swift Thinks We Should Fall Into Love. Without Being A Cynic, I Disagree

25 Oct

Goofy picture. Really goofy. My idea. Good one? I look ridiculous.

I recently became a high school leader at my church’s youth group on Wednesdays.  Last night, I had the distinct privilege of getting to hear thoughts on love from a group of smart, in-tune, and vocal 14 year old girls while they discussed our culture’s idea of romantic love.

I’m not an ageist but the girls’ remarks were surprisingly self-aware and wise!

What I learned from this conversation, took me years of counseling and several dead-end relationships with unrealistic expectations (on my part) to discover and they are only 14. I was impressed.

While I don’t remember the exact quote, I do remember the girls excitedly talking over each other about how popular culture tells them that love means ball gowns, princesses, and “forever”. One girl reminded me that Sleeping Beauty got married after one kiss.

“ONE KISS!” she cried. “And she was asleep!”

Another girl assured me that she’s been through “all of that” (love) and believe it or not, it’s not the way it turns out. What?! What the heck was I doing at 14? Oh yeah, still playing house.

While I was intrigued by the girls’ realization about romantic love in this day and age, I realize that knowing something in your head and then following it through in your actions are two different things.

These same young girls who seem to know that Disney princesshood is not real also read Twilight and scream when a Taylor Swift song comes on.  And who could blame them? I have an annual pass to Disneyland and I like TSwift just as much as the next girl. I sing her songs at the top of my lungs in the car with my roommate. I’ll probably sing some tonight since my roommate just bought “Red.”

But I have to call TSwift out.  Taylor’s philosophy on “love” is a little off the mark:

“The way I look at love is you have to follow it, and fall hard, if you fall hard. You have to forget about what everyone else thinks,” she said in a Rolling Stone interview.  “It has to be an us-against-the-world mentality. You have to make it work by prioritizing it, and by falling in love really fast, without thinking too hard. If I think too hard about a relationship I’ll talk myself out of it. …I have rules for a lot of areas of my life. Love is not going to be one of them.” –Taylor Swift

Oh Taylor, Taylor, Taylor…you’ve done so well to make millions off of these beliefs. I give you credit for being someone who has profited more off of failed relationships than just about anyone I can think of. You’re only 22. I felt like you did when I was 22 but I’m not sure you realize what you’re doing to your soul when you buy into that methodology. Or what you’re doing to the souls of your followers, 14 year olds worldwide who may not be as wise as my young friends.

I’m all about giving yourself to something you believe in, but going into love blindly is just stupid. I say this because I’ve done it. My  friends have done it.

You can’t just check your brain at the door when it comes to love, or you’ll end up hurt and embarrassed quite possibly making decisions you regret for the rest of your life.  

If Taylor doesn’t believe me, then why does she get so freaked out when Ellen parades her ex’s pictures in front of her?

If anything, you need to start thinking MORE when you decide to get in a relationship. I’m not talking about neurotic insecure overthinking that women especially can sometimes tend to do.  I’ve also been that kind of girlfriend.

You need  to think about the kind of relationship you’re getting into before you fall into it. Is it wise? Do you have friends and family keeping you accountable to staying grounded? Are you a better person when you’re with the person or without them?  Does this person treat you well? How do you treat them? Are you even ready to be in a relationship or do you need to maybe take a break and try to determine what patterns you have when it comes to dating? Are you making being in a relationship an idol, believing that a guy/girl will make all of your dreams come true?  A song about these questions might be boring but most of us are looking for healthy relationships, not a serial dating history.

I just found out that Taylor and Conor Kennedy are kaput. Am I surprised? He was a high school senior, only 18. She was jetsetting around the world making a ton of money on songs about her ex-boyfriends. It wasn’t really going to work out anyway, was it?

Friends and Taylor (if by some crazy chance you’re reading this). Take stock. Sit with some of these questions. You need to ask the hard questions if you want to have a healthy, lasting, and mature relationship.  That’s part of becoming and being an adult.  You have to think about your decisions and ask yourself, “Is this wise?” If it’s not, don’t even go there.

My young friends don’t need more examples of fairytale endings that aren’t realistic or breakups that could have been prevented. They need examples of good, solid, low-drama relationships full of love, acceptance and grace.  But that might not sell records. And I’m okay with that.

Reader’s Choice: Which Of These Topics Do You Want To Read About?

19 Apr

I’m thinking so much I can’t really write it all down. It’s frenetic thinking. Too fast. I can’t just focus on one thing tonight. So instead of writing one blog about one thing, I’m going to let you vote on which topic you want me to write about. Leave a comment below and I’ll write a blog this weekend about it.
The Role of Kissing In Casual Dating : Some guy asked me about casual dating the other day and what I thought about it. I can share my thoughts about it here.

How to Deal with A Breakup Right After It Happens: I’ve covered this some but can go into more detail if anyone is interested.

What Jury Duty Taught Me About Chance Encounters, Tenant’s Rights, and Myself

Why I Think Texting Hinders Good Dating Practices

How Titanic Taught Me In My Search For Home And Why I’m Convinced It’s A Good Movie

My Thoughts On The 3 Day Fast I Just Completed.

 

What My Car Breaking Down Has Taught Me About God.

What the return of the boy band means for the Mayans predictions that the world will end this year. (okay that one is mostly a joke).

(Insert your own topic here and I’ll consider it).  This is the best I can do at 1AM.

 

True Confessions of an Online Dater

22 Mar

Online dating is like this.

My parents met at a mixer. It was in the middle of an apartment complex in 1974. Apparently there was dancing and drinks and my mom went up to my dad and said something like, “Aren’t you dancing tonight?” to which my dad replied, “I haven’t found anyone to dance with.’ Despite a few bumps in the road, they were married 9 months later on a farm (the same farm where Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall got married) at a potluck where my dad wore a T-shirt. I’m pretty sure because they weren’t rich, it was a nice but really low key event, like most events in my family have been celebrated ever since.

Seems like a pretty cut and dry story. I’ve started to wonder why it’s not that easy in Los Angeles to meet people.

I suppose I have pretty high standards these days. I tell my friends that I could probably easily go to a bar and find some random guy to hook up with if that was my style and not against my entire belief system. But that’s different than finding a relationship that will last. A person you want to do life with through the good and the bad. Someone who shares the same faith and dedication to God. Someone who I can respect. Someone who treats me well and thinks I’m the bees knees.

Someone who hasn’t been in jail.

But considering how difficult it’s become to meet new people in this city, I’m sort of starting to half-wonder if arranged marriage is really the worst idea in the world. (I tell my married friends to set me up, and I hope they will!) But meanwhile, I’ve taken matters into my own hands.

Confession: In the past few years on and off, I entered into the world of online dating. There are good and bad things about this realm.

The bad things first: Forrest Gump’s mom was right: you never know what you’re going to get.

I’ve been on dates with everyone from pastors to former prisoners (I found out on the date after emailing and talking on the phone with this guy for two weeks). I’ve had amazing email conversations followed by dates that were less than stellar. I’ve done long distance only to find out that he didn’t want to move after all. I’ve gotten invested too quickly and been saddened when it didn’t work out. I went out with one guy only to have him not talk to me the entire lunch. I’ve met some duds. It’s been quite a journey. Hard at times. It’s important to be safe and tell people where you’re going. And several times I swore I would never go back to this world.

But then something happens and I remember the good:

I’ve also met some amazing guys who have taught me a lot about myself and encouraged me in my faith. I’ve learned to risk. I know how to have fun with strangers now! Not a lot surprises me (especially after the prison confession). Yet, I have hope for online dating. Why?

Because one of my good friends who was incredible met an equally incredible man through online dating and now they have twins and a baby on the way. I’ve seen success stories! I know that in a city like Los Angeles when I get stuck in the “Pasadena bubble” as I like to call it, there are a whole bunch of good, kind, amazing men wanting to date. And it only takes one. So the odds are in my favor!

You never know where you'll find love...

Part of this is an encouragement to all of my friends who are either online or who want to be. It’s tough but it can be great. It’s risky but it can be fun! I’ve been to the beach, miniature golfing, to some restaurants I would have never gone to, to the Gamble House, to movies I ended up loving, to “Wicked”, I went to Disneyland with a guy I met online, and I’ve met men that I’m not sorry to have met. I’ve made connections, found guys who were serious about their faith and living it out, and had some deep conversations. Online dating, while not the most ideal/easy way to meet someone, can actually give us a lot of perspective, wisdom, and hope. And best of all, new experiences and great/hilarious stories for parties if things don’t work out. 🙂

Caveat: Online dating is kind of like a part time job. If you’re not dedicated to checking your profile and replying and emailing people, it’s sort of a waste of money and time. If you’re too picky, you’ll never find out what you do and don’t like. If you judge too quickly or aren’t able to discern what you want, it can be a problem.

I still go to mixers/parties in hopes that maybe I’ll meet the guy that I have enough guts to ask why he’s not dancing tonight. But in order to be actively available, sometimes I have to put aside my hopes to meet the man of my dreams at church (although I’m still hoping for that) and log in to my online dating profile and remember, this isn’t my parents’ story. And putting myself out there while risky might just help me find an amazing guy to share life with. And isn’t that worthwhile? My friend with the twins and the Iron Man husband  she met online would say “YES!”

 

What I Noticed On A Saturday in Santa Monica in February

25 Feb

Flying, flying

The seagulls call to one another silently and in a swift, fluid motion, they join together one after the other gliding over the Santa Monica horizon.

Where ocean meets sky, where sand meets water, the seagulls fly.

Over the crowd of Road Runner LA marathoners clad in orange shirts, each with their neon green water bottles tucked neatly into the back of their equipment belts.

They fly over the band of surfers in wetsuits, waiting patiently in the easy waves for their next jolt of life.

Over the kids in helmets learning to ride bikes and their exhausted but excited parents in pursuit.

Over the guy on his cell phone half running after his giggling baby playing gleefully in the sand.

Over the shirtless lifeguard removing the locks from his tower’s windows, opening up for his daily shift.

Over the paparazzi yelling out names of celebrities exiting limos as they arrive for the Independent Spirit Awards.

Over fans, also yelling names of their favorite stars, while stuffing the morning’s left over bagel into their mouths and wiping away the crumbs.

They fly over the two women jogging on the beach catching each other up on the happenings of their week.

Over the carnival rides at the Santa Monica Pier where distant screams of glee fill the air.

Over memories. New ones being made, old ones being forgotten.

Over volleyball games just beginning. Sons learning from fathers how to spike a ball.

Over unruly dogs trying to steal the leash from their owners.

Over problems and the people who cause them.  Over fights. Over parking mishaps. Over police directing traffic. Over smiling kids. Over tourists. Over empty beach in this February off season.

Over me, laying here observing it all, watching their flight and wondering if anyone else has taken the time to see how magnificent it all is.

Post-Valentine’s Day Thoughts From A Guest Blogger!

17 Feb

During a conversation about Valentine’s Day, I joked with my neighbor and friend, Michael Gilley, that he had a lot of thoughts on the matter. I told him to write a blog about it. So here it is, Michael’s thoughts on Valentine’s Day:

The V-Day Invasion

A few days ago we celebrated Valentine’s Day and I have just one question: Why do we suffer this holiday year after year?

Who likes Valentine’s Day? Really? Who voted for it? I don’t know one person who really enjoys or looks forward to Valentine’s Day. As I prepared to write this post I thought about all the ways I disliked the holiday and all the ways my friends have been frustrated by it. Then, I began thinking about all the ways that married and dating couples also dislike the holiday. I finally arrived at a new realization: I don’t need to sell my annoyance to anyone.

Cupid got shot! (Melissa's caption)

Everyone already hates the day and everything associated with it. (I heard those little heart candies are actually made from chalk that ossifies in the heart slowly killing you from the inside out.) So why do we allow Valentine’s Day to live? I say we should all rise up as one and slay it!

Valentine’s Day is a day set aside for the remembrance of Saint Valentine. The problem is, nobody knows a thing about the guy! We’re not even sure he ever existed. There’s so little known about ol’ Valentine that the Catholic Church actually removed his feast day from the Christian calendar! On top of this, there wasn’t a romantic twist to his day until the poet Chaucer came along in the fourteenth century, and that’s not that surprising because he spun a romantic twist on everything to win French speakers over to English. It was only two hundred years ago that card producers began commercially selling “mechanical valentines” to men to give to their sweethearts. The rest is, as they say, history.

It cannot be denied that Valentine’s Day, like other holidays, is a commercial juggernaut. There are others who have written off Valentine’s Day simply for this reason. I on the other hand am not as bothered by this. What bothers me about the holiday is the constant, powerful reinforcing of the same story that strangles relationships and wounds individuals all in the name of love.

Valentine’s Day & Faith

 What do we disciples do when it comes to Valentine’s Day, or romantic relationships in general?

I suggest that we begin thinking of our relationships with one another as a story. What kind of story are we embracing? What story are we retelling? Is it the story of the Gospel or is it another kind of story? Does it grow from self-sacrificial love and mutual support or does it feed off of compulsion and expectancy? Does it begin with acceptance of the other as they truly are or does it start off with a messianic version of those we trust to save us?

People get hurt when romantic relationships are co-opted as a salvation from loneliness. (Loneliness, by the way, usually results from complacency more than isolation but that’s for another time and place.) The fact that the pain of divorce directly affects over half of the Western population ought to make this clear.

When we are consistently told the story of how we find our true worthiness and purpose in another person (be it a knight in shining armor or a damsel in distress) we come to rely on our grandiose fantasies of what that person can do for me. Should we be surprised when we wake up disillusioned, hurt, crushed, and with ossified hearts?

It’s usual to hear 1 Corinthians 13 read at a wedding. Unfortunately, that text doesn’t only apply to the love expressed between a husband and a wife. It’s much greater than that. It’s much wider than that. It ought to ask us how our relationships foster love for others.

Does it inspire in others patience, kindness, an end to envy, bragging, and arrogance? Does it seek the good of others and encourage timely forgiveness? Does it live to find out and bring injustices to light? Does it delight in truth telling? Does it tell a story of all things settled in God who sits on the mighty throne?

I must confess, the story I often hear (and too often hear from the church) is one that inspires in me anxiety, a sense of entitlement, victimizing the self. I want to think of myself and my needs. I want to forgive past hurts when I feel ready to release the grudge. I hear the need to think about my own plights before the injustice felt by others. I want to hide for fear that the other might find out who I truly am and end the relationship. I hear in the background the ticking clock of time and death.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a day of torture. Perhaps it can be a day to redeem, a day when we all — singles and couples — can come together to pray. We should pray for help in modeling the kind of relationships in love that is seen in Christ. We should pray that we will continue to resist the urge to place our hopes and worthiness in anyone other than God. We should pray for healing for those who have been hurt in the past. We should pray for forgiveness and hope to move on. But above all, we should pray for love.

Michael Gilley hails from Missouri but now lives in South Pasadena, CA.  He holds a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. He likes coffee, Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Anabaptists,  and playing Cluno, a game that we made up with our friends.  There’s a lot more to him than this hastily put together bio mentions, but I wanted to publish his blog so it is what it is.

The Hike Where I Almost Died, The Risk That Hurt, Singleness, and Other Mini-Thoughts

29 Dec

Mini-thoughts On My Year – #1

At the end of the year, I often reflect on where I’ve been, hoping to find some commonalities, a story, maybe the imprint of God on my life. This year was no different. An unexpected year, to be sure. A difficult year? Yes, in many ways. But did I grow more? Did I stretch more? Yes. Yes I did. Did I impact lives like I’d hoped to? I’d like to think I did even if it wasn’t in the ways I’d originally thought. Did I love until it hurt? Yes. I can say that for sure I did. Did I come out unscathed? No. I have bruises and scrapes. My heart hurts sometimes from loving this much. Was it awkward? Yes. It is always awkward to love people. When it’s really love, I’ve noticed that it becomes a sacrificial act. And it’s intentional. I had to decide to love even when I didn’t want to. I had to step out. Do things that hurt. Forgive. Grieve. Laugh again. Risk again. Know when I couldn’t participate. Know when I had to push myself forward to take part. I had to trust. I had to examine. I had to let go. I had to spend some time in counseling. I surrounded myself with great people. I realized I have a long way to go. Still do.

Mini- thoughts On Singleness- #2

Note: The following is not a boo-hoo fest on being single. Just a few thoughts I’m processing.

The hardest part about risking and having it not work out is that you sometimes lose a friend in the process. That’s what I’ve noticed about dating. It’s a lot of fun to date and get to know someone else. I highly recommend it and think that it’s necessary and essential if you ever really want to be known. But if you do it right, you’ve gained a real friend when getting to know someone and saying goodbye to that person, no matter how long you’ve been seeing them, is painful.

This is especially the case around the holidays, as I’ve discovered this year. When you see couples and families and get Christmas cards with pictures all over them (which I happen to love, by the way 🙂 ) and you somehow hear every version of “Blue Christmas” ever recorded (the one from Glee is my fave this year!), or when you are just having a sad moment when you remember what it was like to not be alone, it does make it a little difficult for us recently single people.

BEGIN PSA- So this New Year’s Eve or even this next year, if you have someone to kiss or you have kids and a family, remember those of us who don’t and give us a hug. Invite us to hang out with you. I realized the other night when I was hanging out with one of my favorite families and my 5 year old friend was bejeweling my fingers and toes after painting them with hot pink Hello Kitty nail polish, that hanging out with families is so healing for me.  I’m reminded there’s more to the holidays than my blues. I’m thankful for how I’ve seen my married friends and their kids grow.  Hug us. Give us a call. Invite us into your lives. We won’t be sorry and neither will you.  END PSA.  

Mini-thought That Turned Into A Story #3

If I could encapsulate this year in an analogy, I would say it was like this hike that I took in the latter part of this year in Malibu.

The whole point of the hike wasn’t to get to the waterfall at the end, although that was a big part of it. I didn’t know where I was going. At first, it was just a street with a group of majestic mansions on it. It was a beautiful walk but did not resemble a hike quite yet. Little did I know what was coming. After the street, I trekked down through the grass, on a dirt path, through the woods. I got to this point where I literally had to crawl up a steep part of a jagged path. Then after I made it through that, I scaled a couple of boulders and pulled myself up. Finally came the rope. In order to climb up the side of this steep cliff, I had to use a rope and lean back while pulling myself up the side of a mountain. I was parallel with the ground. That took trust. Part of me didn’t want to continue.

After venturing past that and a lot of people, I made it to the waterfall. It was beautiful and tall. Unexpected.

Along the side of the waterfall was this branch that jutted out. Next to that was a slim that one could use, if they were crazy enough, to climb up, shimmying their way across a slippery, thin ledge up into the waterfall. It took a lot of faith, a few swear words, a whole lot of trust, and a few people to help me, but I wanted to climb up into that waterfall and make it back in one piece.

The water was cold even though it was an 80 degree day. It was pelting on my head and I was shaking, getting all of my clothes drenched as I muddied my arms and hands, clawing my way up through moss and slippery rocks until I stood erect in my triumphant arrival .

When I could finally stand and enjoy it, I realized something. I had to figure out how to get back down. I had made it up so part of me knew I could make it. But sooner or later, I would have to start down the waterfall the same way I’d come up. I was surprised when I was able to climb down. It took more effort than climbing up. A stranger literally had to prop me up. I took steps and then backtracked, not trusting where I was stepping. I almost cried. Part of me wanted to jump off although I surely would hurt myself in the fall. In the end, I made it  down to safe ground and I was proud. Proud that I had risked at all. Exhilarated that I could do something like that and not die.

Ever since that moment, I’ve wondered what else I could do. How else can I let myself be surprised? How else can I trust? How can I go through 2012 with more moments of triumph?

Risking in community

Mini-thought on Risk #4

Going back to my year, I’m surprised. Surprised that loss after risk didn’t do serious damage to me or to my friends. Yes it hurts. So much. But not as much as it would hurt if I hadn’t realized what I do now. I know more of what I want after I risked and it didn’t turn out. I am healed more from a past that sometimes feels like a bag full of rocks that I don’t want to carry anymore. As much as it has hurt and still sometimes hurts, the risk was worth it.

Looking Closer for Love Notes

28 Dec

A “Glee” song played at the exact moment when I want to dance. 

Waking up to the Beatles on the radio. 

Christmas lights. 

The smell of broccoli cheddar soup on the stove. 

An unexpected message from a friend on Facebook. 

A whisper in my heart to turn off the radio and tune into an often missed world underneath the surface of the things I worry about most of the time. 

A sober reminder that we only have 525,600 minutes in a year. 

A love note

What do all of these have in common?

They are love notes. My friend, Jessica, told me about love notes yesterday. She said that they are all around and that she looks for them now that she’s aware that they exist. Some probably call them signs. I’m not sure, but I’m starting to believe that they do in fact exist.

Today I began a process of discernment and observation. I’m attempting to make some major shifts in my life and before just jumping in like I often do, I want to step back and observe to make sure that where I’m about to go, what I’m about to put my time into is worthwhile. To observe means you have to focus. It means stopping. Slowing down. Paying attention to these little things that are all around me. It is not easy because it’s actually a huge discipline. But when I do it, the worry stops. Instead, the beauty emerges.

So far, I’ve seen the above love notes. And the pain that I’ve been feeling, the sadness, the waiting, the loss, the hurt, the heartache, the question of why has become much more subtle. It’s muted because instead I’m seeing possibility. I’m seeing hope and a future. I’m believing that there’s something else happening that maybe I just don’t see or haven’t been able to see lately.

Earlier I was watching the movie, “Soul Surfer” about the young surfer, Bethany Hamilton, who survives a shark attack but loses her arm. In the movie, they discuss this idea about being so close to something that you can’t really see it for what it is. I feel like this about my life recently.  I’m so close that I don’t always have perspective. So I will actively observe. I will watch. See. Observe. And in the process, I’ll hopefully stumble across some of these love notes that my friend keeps talking about.

I want to look closer at my life. At the beauty around me. During all of the moments when I’m worried or anxious or insecure, I easily forget that God has a story for my life. I’m starting to remember. Here’s a little reminder.

From my favorite movie, “American Beauty”:

Ricky: It was one of those days when it’s a minute away from snowing. And there’s this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it, right? And this bag was just… dancing with me. Like a little kid beggin me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. That’s the day I realized there was this entire life behind things, and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid ever.
Video’s a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember… I need to remember. Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world I feel like I can’t take it… and my heart is going to cave in.

 

“Rent” asks the question, how do you measure a year? 

“In truths that she learned,
Or in times that he cried.
In bridges he burned,
Or the way that she died.” 

It was all of the above. I learned truth. I cried a lot. I said goodbye to some people I needed to let go of. I died to myself over and over.

I’m proud of this year. I’m proud of where I’ve been. I’m proud of where I’m going. Right now though, I’m going to look closer and hopefully find some love notes from God that will guide me in the direction I’m going.

A few days left of 2011. Make ‘em count.

 

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