Tag Archives: sacrificial love

The Dirty Little Secret That Engaged People Don’t Talk About: How I Realized I Needed More Grace Than Ever!

2 Sep
While our photographer captures beautiful moments, no one knows the story of how Mark repainted my nails right before this or how we were totally stressed out driving to Newport Beach that day, or the fact that parking was a nightmare...the truth behind the engagement pics! :)

While our photographer captures beautiful moments, no one knows the story of how Mark repainted my nails right before this or how we were totally stressed out driving to Newport Beach that day, or the fact that parking was a nightmare…the truth behind the engagement pics! 🙂

I recently read a blog from a friend, Stephanie May, where she made a terrific point about relationships that then turn into engagements. No one talks about how hard it is. I’m not complaining and saying “Oh whoa is me, I’m about to be married.” I’m just wanting to publicly recognize that being engaged and making no less than three major life changes at once is really tough. At times, trying to figure it all out, trust God, keep my physical, emotional, and spiritual needs in check, and enjoy the process is not nearly as easy as everyone makes it out to be.

 

When I was single watching others do this, I heard some horror stories and saw a few knowing looks exchanged between recently married couples that I really didn’t quite understand until now. But I’m starting to realize that engagement doesn’t equal immediate bliss, happily ever after, fun and games. It’s hard. It’s work. It’s trying at times. There are tears and frustrations, words that can’t be taken back, tension headaches, and at times I just want to elope to avoid all of these decisions!

 

I love Mark very much and I can’t wait to be his wife, his teammate, and the person closest to him who gets to witness first-hand who God is creating him to be. I seriously can’t wait! But the part where I have to plan a wedding living 100 miles away from him, figure out finances, and apartment shop with him has been trying. I’m not going to lie.

 

Before we were engaged, Mark and I would squabble about little things like where to eat or logistics of navigating a long distance relationship but mostly, we just enjoyed hanging out and being together. We had new adventures every weekend and while it was annoying trying to figure out the 100 mile distance, it wasn’t impossible. Now that we’re engaged, we fight about the usual stuff and everything else in between. Our words are sharper. We are more on edge. And although we’ve always both been very genuine about who we were from the beginning and we’ve been dating for 16 months, we’ve both wondered at times during this engagement process if this person we’re marrying is actually a total stranger!

Sometimes the word “bridezilla” takes on a whole new meaning to me, even though it’s really not as much about the wedding as it is about all of the emotions that go into quitting my job, moving 100 miles south away from my amazing community and friends, and moving in with a BOY! I seriously had a nightmare the other night about learning how to share a bed…

But before you swear off marriage all together or dismiss me as ungrateful, let me explain what good is coming out of this process.

I’m realizing how much I have to grow.

Every time I say something harsh to Mark, I feel it. I know it like you just know when you’ve done something wrong. It sticks with me, like a little pin. After awhile, the pins have built up and it becomes really uncomfortable. I realize how wrong I am, and how much I’m hurting the person that I’m marrying in less than 50 days. It’s completely crazy.

 

I think: “Why am I doing this? Did I REALLY just say that? When did I become so mean? Why am I so defensive? Mark’s not the bad guy! “(I’m so thankful that I was in counseling for so long so that I could learn some of these techniques). So when I find myself engaging in this process, I try to stop, take stock of the situation, ask myself what I’m really upset about, and breathe. Sometimes, it actually works. Especially when we’re face to face. Other times, we hurt each other, there are tears and then forgiveness, and I’m reminded again how much grace I need and how much I need to extend.

In these moments, Tim Keller’s book, “The Meaning of Marriage” comes alive and I recognize it when he says,

“Here is why you can say to your spouse who has wronged you, “I see your sin, but I can cover it with forgiveness because Jesus saw my sin and covered it.” It is because the Lord of the universe came into the world in disguise, in the person of Jesus Christ, and he looked into our hearts and saw the worst.  And it wasn’t an abstract exercise for Jesus– our sins put him to death.  When Jesus was up there, nailed to the cross, he looked down and saw us, some denying him, some betraying him, and all forsaking him.  He saw our sin and covered it.”

 

I start to understand my own sin. My own fallenness. And I remember that God loved me first, and out of that place, I can choose. Do I hold tight to my conviction that I am right or do I let go and love Mark where he is at? Do I say what’s on the tip of my tongue or stop and let that little jab stay where it should until I’m reminded that I shouldn’t say that to my future-husband who I love and am about to pledge my life to?

 

Ah the days when dropping my ice cream was my biggest concern! :)

Ah the days when dropping my ice cream was my biggest concern! 🙂

How did engagement do this? Is it the refining process? Is it a way that we’re tested before we make the biggest committment we’ll ever make to one person? I don’t really know, but I do hope and pray that on the other side of this when Mark and I are hanging out in our apartment after the wedding gifts are opened, the champagne has lost it’s bubbles, the dress is sold on Craigslist, and we are just us trying to figure out how to love each other well that we’ll look back on this time of testing and know that we are stronger because of it.

 

Until then, it’s time to find wedding bands, pick the DJ list, plan a move, get me a new job, and do our best to work together to navigate these uncertain waters. We will both have harder choices than these in the next 47 days. Will we choose sacrificial love? Grace? Words that will build up and not destroy? I hope to. I really do.

 

Using Social Media Passive Aggressively To Veil Our True Emotions, My Foot In The Mouth Disease, or Part 2: Love is Kind

27 Jul

Love is kind.

Try it! You won’t be sorry.

It seems obvious, doesn’t it? Love is kind? Of course it is. But it’s much harder to live it out, especially when you suffer from foot-in-the-mouth disease like I so often do. Sometimes I think my emotions have more of a reign on my tongue than they ought, and I want to stop myself from blurting out something that comes straight from my frustration or texting my confusion or emailing my pain.  Instead I act before I think and in turn have to go back to the person and apologize. It’s painful. It’s humbling. I’ve had to do it a lot lately. I’m not done yet.

Love is kind.  If I love people, than why can’t I be kind?

Love is kind. Even when I don’t feel like it.

 Love is kind when I’m not.  

When I screw up, because love is kind, I know my friends won’t ever get to the point where they won’t talk to me again.  I know that apologizing for the ways in which I wasn’t kind will likely be in my future and grace will need to be given to me due to the fact that I have a short term memory about what love is.

Love is kind but not on Facebook this week. I don’t know what is going on but a bunch of people are on the rampage. I’m not sure why everyone is getting so upset.  For a place that’s supposed to be about social connection, it’s more like social destruction. People are spouting political and ideological opinions and even those I agree with are starting to get a little vocal it’s definitely starting to get old.

 

Is it ever a good idea to have a political debate on Facebook? Is it ever loving to tell people you’re “friends” with that they are totally wrong, crazy, and off-base via the cowardly veil of social media? If we really want to have a political debate and talk about the issues rather than agreeing to digital finger pointing, why not do it in person? Are we too lazy to be kind?

It’s not kind to hate people, but it may be easier than loving them.

 

No where in 1 Corinthians does it say “Love is easy. It’s painless. It’s going to make you feel good all of the time. Most of the time when you love, you’re going to think that it’s so simple and fabulous that you’ll want to do it all of the time. Love is the road more traveled. It’s what everyone chooses all of the time.” Um, no. I wish it said that sometimes but it doesn’t. Kindness comes with a price.

People sometimes think I’m crazy when I say that loving people is harder than hating them. I think it’s easy to shift blame, let anger sit until it becomes bitterness, displace it, and let it grow until it manifests itself into  full-fledged yelling and pictures of your support or boycott of a fast food restaurant on your Facebook page. Or maybe it looks like a smear campaign of your least favorite political candidate. Or name calling. Or something worse.

But getting back to the point of this…love is supposed to be kind. I know I haven’t been as kind as I want to be this week. I’ve shifted blame, gotten mad, let my anger boil over into words I didn’t mean, passive aggressiveness, conversations I knew should not be had via phone, Facebook, texting, etc.

But guess what? Love is STILL kind.  Do you know how I know this? Because of stories like this where victims of tragedies can forgive people who tried to kill them.

I might not always be kind, but I’m so thankful that Love is.  And I’m thankful that God,  the lover of our souls, our creator and our sustainer invented love and kindness.

Proverbs 18:21 in The Message says: Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.

Can we just remember that before we say something we don’t mean, post our opinion and broadcast it to 500 of our friends, get angry without realizing the deeper emotion behind it?

Are you hurting? Do you feel unheard? Are you lonely, bored, angry, tired, or hungry? I actually started asking myself these questions lately before I react and it’s helped. So I think twice more than I used to before reacting. And in moments I don’t, there is grace.

Thank God, there is grace.

What Veruca Salt, That Guy Who Cut Me Off In Traffic, And My “I Want” Syndrome Have Taught Me About Love

23 Jul

Love is patient.

Wait until the clock strikes 12.

I’ve been reading a lot about love this week. It’s funny because at this prayer series we’re doing at church, we’re studying 1 Corinthians and I was asked to read 1 Corinthians 13 aloud to everyone in the group. I smirked.  This was a week after being inundated with everyone’s opinions about what “love” is everywhere I go. Through a new song from one of my favorite band’s (Stars), I’ve heard “Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It.” Or, from another song introduced to me by Love and Respect Now, I’ve been pondering the question, how do we not idolize romantic love or the thought of feeling known in community? (Another blog to come).

Or, another idea of love from one of my favorite ministries, The Living Room:

“Love is more than words spoken from our mouths. It must be lived out in the patterns and actions of our lives.”

According to the Bible, to love means to be patient. I find that interesting that it’s mentioned as the first characteristic of love. Maybe because patience is so difficult for us?

Patient is: “bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, etc., with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger, or the like.”

Two of my favorite kids wait in anticipation for a wedding ceremony their father is performing to begin.

Wow, I can honestly say I haven’t figured this out yet. At all. I want what I want and I want it now. I want people to know me, I want things to work the way I want, I want my boyfriend to read my mind, I want work to be fulfilling, I want to live happily ever after, I want my friends to think I’m awesome, I … I want, I want, I want. And NOW.  (On bad days, I’m kind of like that girl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory who wants the golden goose.) My “I wants” have become insatiable of late… More food, sleep, time with loved ones, meaningful moments, recognition at work.

Waiting isn’t easy, as I’ve mentioned here before. It’s tough and most of the time, I fail at it. But I’m learning. Last week in traffic I didn’t swear at all when I got cut off! It was a small victory, considering a few weeks ago I actually made my hand into fist and almost raised it yelling something about picking a lane and the fact that driving a Ferarri under 60 on the freeway should be illegal.

Who would want to hang out with this girl? Thus, learning patience is a top priority.

So what about this patience? What does it look like? Here’s what I think:

-It looks like waiting for an unfulfilled dream even if you doubt you can muster even a little seed of hope.

-It looks like being patient with a child that has overwhelmed you, when you’re tired beyond belief.

-It looks like trusting that although you might not be in your dream job, you can keep praying and actively looking without just jumping into something else without cause.

-It is not putting the cart before the horse in romantic love, letting a relationship grow and develop. Trusting that with patience, much will be revealed at the perfect time.

-It’s about not trying to have control, but instead giving ample time to those who might not go as fast whether that be in traffic or in life.

-Patience means hearing someone else out, not interrupting, not needing to be first. Having it not be all about me and instead letting others shine even when I have the bright idea first.

-Patience is sacrificial. It might mean not getting your own way. It could look like delayed gratification (another area I struggle with) or believing that something good could come out of the time spent.

-Patience could mean acceptance that things have not gone the way you’ve planned. Getting back up when you’ve fallen and trying again, knowing that you’re not quite there yet, but you’re getting closer.

-For me right now, patience means knowing that I don’t have all of the answers and that question marks are okay for now. It’s being aware of the fact that I’m in limbo in some areas. It’s not trying to force a false sense of closeness or intimacy with friends, family, community, or in close relationships, but instead letting them play out and being present to a greater reality that I am not in control.

If patience is an action, I may have a lot to learn. So in those moments when I feel the need to control or give up or move too fast or break down, I stop. I ask the question, am I being patient right now? And I remember that I’ve grown in this. There is grace for me. I’m not perfect. I don’t have to somehow master patience. But I can move closer to trust. And to a God who knows me and my impatience and loves me anyway.

What about you? Do you think love is patient? How has this played out in your life recently?  Feel free to leave a comment. 🙂 I’ll be continuing this series on what love is in the coming days.

How Jury Duty Landed Me What Could Possibly Be My Dream Job Or Joy In The Midst Of Trial By Jury

4 May

I’ve often said that God has a funny sense of humor, especially when it comes to the events that play out in my life. For months I’ve gotten very close to some promising job opportunities, almost every time to have the door shut in my face. I’ve been on a quest to try to discover what it is that I’m supposed to do with my talents, gifts, and passions. Meanwhile, I’ve plugged away at work, trying the best that I can with the knowledge that I’m underemployed and could do so much more. So instead, I poured myself into my second job and out into volunteer activities – life group leading, counseling friends on relationships, and, sometimes reluctantly letting God test me in the areas of patience, joy, and trust. Throughout this time, I’ve been through some very hard seasons of growth. I’ve learned to let go of relationships that I had to realize weren’t working the way I’d hoped. I’ve had the rug ripped out from underneath me just when things were starting to get good. I’ve learned what sacrificial love looks like in my life (re-read blogs if you don’t believe me). I’ve learned how to date in Christian community, take risks, love when it hurts, and want the best for the people I’ve dated. And I’ve tried to be a voice in my community when it comes to loving people well, to date, and to breakup well (if it comes to that). It’s been quite a journey and I’m so thankful for those of you who have been on it with me.

But, despite all of these facts, I NEVER in a million years thought when I walked down to Courtroom O to report for jury duty on a civil trial that I would also be walking into my next job. How could I know that less than a month later I would say yes to working for a company that specializes in online dating and wants to specifically grow one of their websites aimed at Christians? Who could have guessed?! But God knew.

I met my Jury Duty Friend (who shall remain nameless for the time being because I haven’t asked her permission to be a part of my blog) the first day. Funnily enough, we got on the topic of online dating. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I had decided to join one of her parent company’s websites merely weeks before for trial (mostly because I realized I hadn’t been following my own advice that I’ve written about being actively available and taking the risk). We talked about that and joked that my one month membership was almost up. I joked about giving her my resume because she said she might know of a position opening up at her company… Little did I know that this conversation would bring me to accepting a job that not only will allow me to have a free membership to her website but will give me crazy opportunity to be influential in the realm of Christian dating and offers me so much beyond all that I would even dream for a job in terms of benefits, time off, perks, and bonus structures.

Now let’s get this straight. I’ve been vacuuming up pee water (the worst aspect of my current job). Now I will be assisting top executives and hopefully have a chance to write some of the ideas I’ve shared here to the Christian subculture at large. Who could have guessed? I’ll tell you who. God.

He knows me so intimately. What I need. What I want. Where I find my joy. Where I don’t. I’m not saying this job is going to be the end all be all, but when your book about sacrificial love and community has been on the back burner, when your blogging about the same topic has slowed, it’s nice to have the mission reinforced by getting a job where you will be paid to think about these things and to interact with people on the forefront of these issues. It’s nice to be reaffirmed. There’s so much more to say about this journey I’ve been on. I’ve been trying to discern where God wants me, agonizing over whether I should take another competing job using other passions of mine, and then watching the deal for this job just keep getting sweeter and sweeter. To have a great company want you is a glorious thing. When not vacuuming pee water, I’ve loved my time at my current job. In some moments, I’ve felt trapped in a web of my own making.

So here I go. On to hopefully give my ideas, share my wisdom, and love a whole new group of people. Who could have planned that? A God who knows me, loves me, hears me when I call, and makes the path of life known to me. I am so thankful. Here’s to new journeys, new growth, and to jury duty, a seemingly boring universally known-to-be horrible situation which most people complain about openly even though it is our civic duty and really, privilege , which I actually loved, and which completely changed my life. 🙂

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.

How Do I Stop Being Awkward Around The Person I Used To Date Or Around The Person They Are Dating Now? Part 1

2 Mar

standing out (Photos by Brian Hershey)

Okay here’s the reality. I have in no way mastered not being awkward. I’m not even sure the awkwardness is “supposed to” go away completely. I’m currently in the process of figuring out what it means to co-exist with someone I’ve dated in the same community when they have started dating someone else and I’m single.

I can say this, it is a lot easier when both people who used to date are dating new people.

I know that if I was dating right now, I probably wouldn’t be thinking nearly as much about this topic as I am right now.

Part of me feels really good about my circumstances because something about it feels as if I’m supposed to be here writing this. I’m at the same coffee shop where, a year ago, I was talking about dating in community with a woman in my church who was on the same page as I am. It was just the beginning of this whole process. I was learning how to grieve well, let go, and learn to survive the messyness of sacrificial love. And despite the messyness, my community has grown. I have grown. Maybe you’ve grown? Because of that, I’m not sorry to be sitting here.

being the bigger flower

Let’s backtrack so I can give a little back story.

I was immature and terrible  at breaking up and staying in community. The first time I dated someone in community, he ended up leaving the church where we both went, so I was let off the hook. I was sad about it, but mostly relieved. I felt entitled. I claimed all of our mutual friends for myself. Some of my friends questioned this but I was young and didn’t really understand breakups except for the fact that they sucked and that my pain seemed unbearable which made it the most important thing in my mind.

The next time I broke up in community I was a little older and it happened right before I moved to Washington DC for an awesome internship. I didn’t have to face the reality of the situation until four months later upon my return. That was a huge wake up call. I don’t remember the exact details except that I again tried to claim friends and they felt awkward about it. I didn’t understand that there didn’t have to be sides. It wasn’t me vs him and he wasn’t my enemy. We just both got to a place where we realized that it wasn’t going to work. We weren’t bad people, we were just bad together. But when he started bringing a girl around to all of the community activities we used to do together that all went out the window and I was totally devastated.

I took it VERY personally. I was single, he was moving on. I could not accept it. I tried to be in community with him and his new girlfriend but ultimately, I left the church for a breather and never went back. Not ideal. We later ended up reconciling and I apologized to both of them for my behavior. While we’re not  friends now, it’s not because I don’t want the best for them.  They ended up getting married but before their wedding I emailed him wishing him my best. If I saw them out and about, I probably would say hi and it would be fine. Again though, I had to go through quite a process to get to that place.

The most recent time that I broke up in community has been by far the hardest. But I’ve grown the most. This time leaving the community has not been an option. I have good, solid friends (pretty much family) that I wouldn’t want to leave. He is a leader in our community and won’t leave unless an act of God calls him away.

So I had to make a choice.

I either had to put my big girl britches on and learn how to do this gracefully OR  fight it tooth and nail and repeat my same mistakes. (This blog has been one of the ways that I’ve been able to process this.) And so we come to the awkwardness. I’m not going to sugar-coat this for you. Breaking up in community is probably one of the most painful things I’ve ever had to go through. In fact, I stayed in relationships way too long just to avoid it.

I. Hate. Breakups.

And not just mine but my friends’. My friends of friends. They just aren’t the way things are meant to be. It should be easier. But sometimes it’s just plain hard…and awkward. We’ll get into that in Part 2.

Stay tuned…

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.

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