Tag Archives: church

How Do I Stop Being Awkward Around The Person I Used To Date Or Around The Person They Are Dating Now Part 2

14 Mar

A sign saying "awkward"

Awkward has become a word that people like to throw around. “That’s awkward” is used for all kinds of situations ranging from a wardrobe malfunction to something blurted out at the wrong time. But I can say this from experience. Very few things are more awkward than having to stay in community with someone you’ve dated and then watching them date again.

As I mentioned in Part One, I’ve had this experience several times and it’s never been pleasant. But I’m at the point where I have to accept it for what it is and trust that it’s not always going to feel like this.

There will be a point when most of the awkwardness passes. 

A friend of mine has literally watched her first love date and get married while she remained single after they’ve broken up. I’ve seen her go through the grief and then actually welcome her ex-boyfriend’s fiance into our community through a difficult but loving conversation. It was insanely hard but that one conversation has shaped her character in so many ways and changed the advice she gives about this topic. My friend had to pray a lot before this conversation. And when she felt the nudge to go and talk to the fiance, she didn’t ignore it. She could have. But she chose to step into the awkwardness.

So that’s what I do. I step into my awkwardness every week at church. It’s just a given. The guy I dated has a new girlfriend. Do I run away? Sometimes, I have, honestly, when I’m having a less than stellar moment. It’s just been too much and I get all Prodigal Son’s brother and start asking the “Why not me? I’ve done everything right” questions. As a result, I’ve avoided parties that they were going to likely be at. And then I stopped doing that because especially in the case where it’s my good friends hosting the party, I don’t want to miss it! I’m a social person. What if I meet someone new at one of these parties? It’s not my job to own the awkwardness and slink away from it. It’s my job to acknowledge it and step into it.

My friend, Merlin, does the best "awkward" face of anyone I know!

Stepping into the awkwardness means a lot of things which I’ve narrowed down to three for the time being.

  1. Giving yourself a pep talk before you might encounter the awkward situation.  For me this has to involve prayer. Even if it’s a quick one just saying that I need strength and courage, I pray. I’ve found peace in these prayers and probably grown more in my faith when I choose to go into situations with people I’ve dated that many would think I was crazy for walking into.

The pep talk can also be done in a mirror, in the front seat of your car, with a friend, and as a reminder that the relationship wasn’t right. My ex dating again doesn’t say anything about my value. And then I tell myself the truth about who I am according to God, not according to the automatic negative thoughts that are swirling in my head at that moment. Without badmouthing the guy I’ve dated and the girl he’s dating now, I’m able to walk into the situation more confident than I might have been. When I forget to do this, all bets are off and I’m a victim of my own awkwardness with sputtered words, strange looks, and hurt feelings.

2. Grace for yourself. This is important! Sometimes you’ve just had a bad week and the last thing you want to do is see the person you’ve dated again just when you’re wound is starting to heal. Then you happen to see them and something inside of you is triggered and you forget why you broke up in the first place. Or you have a case of “sideways glancing” and you start to do a little romantic revisionist history and suddenly your relationship seems amazing to you again. This is when it’s time for a reality check. As one of my favorite books says, “It’s called a breakup because it’s broken.” Some days it will be easier to deal with his/her new relationship than others. Have grace for yourself but don’t lash out in anger or revenge in the process.

(Mostly tips for girls in this section) If you find yourself doing that, go hang out with a friend in the church bathroom for a few minutes. Or write down your issues in a journal. Or do some yoga or high impact aerobics.

Take a breather.

One time months after my breakup was long over, something was triggered. At church a song was played that just wrecked me. I was a crying mess. I had to run outside to just let it out, which I did. Luckily a friend followed me and just stayed with me there. This is permissible. When the guy I dated started to date someone else, I made sure to surround myself with good people who can give me a reality check and the love that I need to co-exist in community with him on a weekly basis.

3. Grace for him and her. 

This one is difficult. It’s hard when the person you’ve dated is now on cloud 9 and you’re trying to figure out how to love, honor, and respect them from a distance while being single and wondering why you’re not dating, too. In my worst moments, I cry about it. In my best, I smile at him and especially her when she passes. Once I introduced myself because we have many of the same friends. Another time  I was friends with a girl a guy I dated  decided to date and so we figured out a way to walk out how the whole thing was supposed to work.

Suppose I’m not friends with the new girl, why would I not be friendly to a woman who I consider my sister in Christ? Aren’t we supposed to all love each other? Despite the fact that our culture says that the woman who dates “our man” is a backstabbing-choose-a-degrading-term-for-a-woman,

Jesus says something different.

He says love those who persecute you, he tells us that we should lay down our lives for our friends. He never says that following Him would be easy. Laying down our lives means sacrificial love and in my context, that means being happy that the guy I dated who I once loved and who I let love me is happy. It’s wanting the best for him and his new girlfriend. I’m not saying this is easy but when is love ever easy?

I’m not saying that I’m ever going to be best friends with the guy I dated or his new girlfriend. That’s unlikely but future interaction considering our overlapping friend groups is inevitable.  Had we the opportunity, it would be nice for us to all acknowledge one another sometime. It would be nice to exchange a few words to know that we’re all still members of the same church. That we all want the best for each other. And for me and him, acknowledgment that I’m not just some face in the crowd. But that we spent time together learning and growing and discovering what it meant to love both within the context of our relationship and beyond it.

Final thoughts: I don’t think that love ends when a relationship ends. Rather it’s the opposite. I’ve found that when a relationship ends, that’s when the test begins.

Will I love this person well even though we’re not together? Will I treat them with dignity and respect? Will I refrain from talking trash about them to my friends? Will I decide to not welcome and actually discourage comments from my friends about her?

Because the reality is, those comments could be said about me or any of my friends. And we’re not backstabbing. We’re just girls who want the chance to date in our community, just like the girl that the guy I used to date is currently dating. We want the opportunity to see if one of the guys in our church could be a good match with us.

By giving him and her grace, I’m giving the entire community permission to date and breakup without judgement. I’m allowing for love to reign over my fears that I’m going to be single forever. I’m allowing for God to intervene in the hard places. I’m choosing, once again, to trust.  And that’s not only good for me, but for all of us involved in this crazy, messy, amazing thing we call community.


Sweet Home, Chicago

29 Feb

(Part of the writing practice I did today)

Buckingham Fountain with my friend, Vanessa, back years ago


I called it home once.

The Metra would, without my parents’ knowledge, whisk me away from stark suburbia to The City where magical adventures awaited.

With my friends, I’d skate on State or press my face against the ornate Marshall Fields Christmas window displays, wondering to my teeange self if they might hold the key to happiness.

Often, I would find my way to North Avenue Beach after lingering at the Hancock’s 95th floor to sneak a peak at life above the Lake Effect.

Through Navy Pier I once walked with white platform sandals on Prom night to the Odyssey, the boat where my senior year boyfriend sweetly but naively promised me forever with a $95 purple amethyst from JC Penny.

The lions guarding the Art Institute would welcome me with their protective scowls to discover George Seurat’s version of Sunday in a Parisian park or “American Gothic” and I’d gaze into a window of Edward Hopper’s soul otherwise known as “Nighthawks.”

Chicago means Buckingham Fountain during a summer sunset right before I had to sprint to the 5PM train to make it back in time for dinner without my mother knowing. It is fireworks at the Taste of Chicago and sweaty humid afternoons spent wandering.

It’s me as a production assistant for a commercial at Charlie Trotter’s posh restaurant where I first learned what was really in fois gras.

It is Shakespeare and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, cultural experiences I discovered for the first time on awkward middle school field trips that left an indelible imprint in my memory.

Chicago was my cousin’s church cathedral wedding at the same venue where Cameron Diaz married Dermot Mulrooney in “My Best Friend’s Wedding.”

It is Giordano’s pizza and Chicago Pizza and Ovengrinder where I discovered heaven as a food.

The piece of heaven I'm referring to

It is ornate bridges and a green river on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s shopping on Michigan Avenue and driving down Lakeshore Drive by myself the first day I got my driver’s license.

It is smokestacks and breath that freezes in your lungs before you can catch it. Buildings so tall I lay down on the pavement just to see them scrape the sky.

It’s the El train and shiny lights at night. Taxis everywhere. Buses rumored to be homes for rats. The financial district deserted by dusk.

Admittedly I have never been an adult while living in Chicago. I’ve become a California girl and replaced a lake with an ocean, bitter bleak winters that build character and frostbite tolerance with February short sleeved mornings with windows down and sunscreen streaks across my arms.

Yet Chicago whispers to me. When I let myself think of it, it beckons. And slowly I let myself remember driving down 290 under the Post Office building into a real City where people work and bustle and toil and become. And in that moment, I go home.

Dating In Community Is Risky Part 2

30 May

Okay so in my last blog, I kept you hanging. So why do I think it’s best for people to date within their own community? Why do I want to date in mine?  I’ll start with two reasons with separate parts, otherwise I might have to make a Part 3 for this blog!

Fear is not a good enough reason to not date in community. In 1 Peter 5:7 it says  “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” As a Christian, I want to trust God with all of my cares. That includes my dating life. Yes, it’s scary to try again and date in community. It might end. I might have to watch someone I once loved date someone else. Possibly even one of my friends because my friends are awesome and why wouldn’t he want to date them? (again, another blog) I’m afraid that I will be left alone and maybe someone will blacklist me because I already dated once. I’m afraid to start from scratch and have to get to know someone all over again after investing so much time and energy on something that didn’t work out.  Are these real fears? They feel real. The reality is, it comes down to trust. I have to trust that I am enough. That God loves me so much that he will be with me through it all. And he has been. When fear gets in my way, I am reminded to go back to the places where he has been there for me before and remember how I trusted and through that I can choose to trust again.  I’m a woman and I process the world through my feelings. But, I followed my feelings all of the time, I would have ended up in several terrible marriages. I would have left my community 7 months ago.  I would have run and hid. I would have been afraid to grieve and still been paralyzed by it. Instead, I chose to stay. I chose to endure. To be fair, there are plenty of times I come home for a serious cry after having to live this out. But I still think that right now it is what I’m being invited to. A higher level of maturity. A deep trust.

Meeting someone in my community is not the only option, but it’s the best option. When there are potentially amazing  people right in front of you, why would you need to look somewhere else? Where else am I going to meet someone who holds true to the same core values that I do?

A bar? Nope. I’ve been to plenty of bars. I’ve met guys in bars before.  I’m not saying that it’s impossible to meet a solid,  Christ-following, mission-minded man in a bar, but it’s the exception, not the rule.  Just like missionary dating. (Been there, done that, wouldn’t recommend it). Rather than spend my time  and money out at a bar on a long shot, wouldn’t it be better for me to invest in the guys who are more similarly aligned with  me which will yield a higher possibility of a successful relationship in the long run?

What about online? Okay, tons of my friends have met and married the man or woman of their dreams online. It happens. It works for many. I’m not ruling this out by any means, but it definitely complicates things when you meet someone online who doesn’t live nearby or attend your church.  Suddenly you’re living for Skype dates and weekend meet ups. Or if the person does live nearby and it does work out, one of you will have to make the hard decision to leave your community and join another.  This is not the worst thing in the world. But wouldn’t it be easier and better (assuming there are people in your community to date) to date in a way where people know both of you and can speak into your relationship? Relationships become insuluar quickly and easily enough without having to introduce more factors that may make it easier for a couple to withdraw further from community.  When two people from two different communities date, it makes it harder for any one community to help keep them accountable. The couple then must make it an even bigger priority to hang out with people in community who can help them determine if their relationship is healthy or not. I’m a big believer, now more than ever before, of dating within the context of community. If we date without having people check in on us, ask us questions, or help us through tough spots, we can easily become myopic, seeing only what we want to see and we will, in effect, potentially waste a lot of time trying to figure out a relationship that should have probably ended much earlier had we allowed others to see it for what it really was. NOTE: There is this phenomenon happening where people who are online dating and who are involved within the same community get matched.  To me, this is indicative of a bigger problem. Why can’t these two people  who get matched up online date each other in real life? Why pay all of this money to find out you’d be a good match when you can just take the risk, ask someone out (or say yes to the person who asks you out), and find out on your own without dropping $50 a month? Seems ridiculous, no?

Set-ups?  I’m ALL for set-ups. I personally think it’s a married person’s business and responsibilty to advocate for marriage and to help set up their unmarried friends. I have a single friend who literally told her married friends that she would pay  them $1000 if they introduced her to her husband.  There is something to be said for married people who have been through it and who know you really well and who want the best for you setting you up with someone who they think is a good match.  Of course, you need to trust the people who set you up and if they are too invested, it can be messy. I have another friend  whose parents try to constantly set her up with every single guy they come across.  That doesn’t work because she sees through their motivations and just gets annoyed at the set-ups. Ideally, I think people should set you up with people you may not know very well who are in your community.  This extra push can help put some relationships that would never otherwise  start due to unrealistic expectations, fear of dating in the same community, and fear of rejection on the right track from early on.

More to come… in Part 3.

A new video I produced!

14 Feb

Go watch it!

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