Monday, May 13, 2013

Idealistic Views on Christianity and Marriage

I have a pretty idealistic view of marriage and I think I’m learning there’s no such thing. Similarly, I have a pretty idealistic view of Christianity too, and there’s also no such thing. Of course, both of these ideals play into my interactions with the opposite sex and my quick-to-judge, keep people at arm’s length, defense mechanism that seems to keep me in this lonely zone. I do want to get married and experience a level of connection and intimacy that is a foreign concept to me right now…but at the same time, I question whether my ideal Christian marriage even exists?  Even more concerning are my idealistic views on Christianity and marriage possibly contributing to keeping me single?  Right now, the only place I’m “meeting” guys is on-line. And actually I wouldn’t even really call that “meeting,” it’s probably more on the stalking spectrum. I look at him, then he looks at me, then I wait to see if he’s going to make a move…crickets chirp…I might look at him again, no meeting or talking or interaction of any kind is actually happening.

So how do you start to navigate the pages and pages of men also looking for a Christian wife?  Well, I scan profile after profile, letting my strong beliefs about what would make someone spiritually compatible for me (idealistic Christianity) guide me.  My personal trainer just calls it “being judgmental” but since spiritual beliefs don’t matter to her, I’m not sure I trust her input on this one. I want someone who can separate “growing up in a Christian family” from “making a decision to accept Jesus’ sacrifice and offer of eternal life.” So many of the profiles I read answer the question of “How long have you been a Christian?” with “my whole life.” I want to write them back and say “you may have lived in a Christian household and gone to Sunday school and youth group your whole life, but that’s not what makes you a Christian”. I also see lots of profiles listing “being a Christian means…doing good and caring about others (or some similar version of that).” Hopefully those actions are an outpouring from a heart that is surrendered to Christ and His sacrificial love, but “doing good and caring about others” is not a byproduct of Christianity only, there are plenty of people who know nothing of Christianity who are still “doing good and caring about others.” I want someone who believes in the God ordained purpose of the local church and is already committed to regular attendance and serving there. There are likely very good reasons why someone only goes to church on special occasions or a couple times a month but they often don’t get the opportunity to explain any of those reasons because I’ve already moved on. And maybe those are the things that make me judgmental. I’m not saying that I’m perfect. I know that I am far from it and I’m not saying that because I have these strong views on Christianity and the Church that that somehow makes me a better Christian but maybe that’s still the impression I give off, and it’s seen as judgmental.

Then there’s my idealistic view of marriage, to quote The Princess Bride: “Mawage is wot bwings us togeder,” but it has nothing to do with what keeps us together. So many, many people have gotten divorced from the one they promised to love and honor for the rest of their life and many of them have been divorced more than once. Divorce has now become as prevalent in the Church as in secular society, and that is definitely reflected on Christian dating sites. So, what’s a single person to do who thought she would experience a world of firsts with her husband (because they would be his firsts too) only to find that whether he’s divorced or never been married, he still may not have waited for her. It sort knocks the wind out of ya, crushes the dream, it’s probably what’s made me a bit cynical and wouldn’t you know, judgmental. Obviously I do not have firsthand experience with the challenges of marriage or the challenges of staying married to spite a world against you. And I can do all the dreamin’ I want to right now but how would I handle things if my husband chose to cut off communication with me and sleep with someone else and do a sort of 180 turn into someone I didn’t even know anymore? I have no idea. I do sort of “judge” those with divorced as their relationship status but maybe I’m not divorced because I haven’t had a chance to be. I’m saddened at the state of marriage, especially in light of God’s example to us of Jesus coming for his Bride, the Church, the Body of Christ. I don’t think the current state of marriage is what God meant it to be but marriage is one of the easiest things for Satan to attack and thus an astronomical percentage of divorces and disillusioned people wondering “is it worth it?” Myself included.

But how do I adjust my ideals to better fit reality (and should I even)? And how do I distinguish between keeping my standards high (another suggestion from my personal trainer) and being judgmental? Will my idealistic views actually produce what I’m hoping for or will it just contribute to my prolonged singleness? If only I knew…

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Is Loving Jesus Enough?

I'm single, I've tried the on-line thing from time to time and this last time there was a fella who showed some interest, was intentional and kind (and patient).  We texted for a bit and then set a time for a phone conversation.  I wasn't completely sure I was interested in him but decided to give it a chance.  The phone conversation went okay but there were several comments he made that didn't sit well with me and didn't entice me to want to continue exploring the relationship.  A few days later, I texted him to let him know I didn't feel a connection but that I thought he was a very nice guy and wished him well (I know texting is a cop out but I wasn't interested in talking to him on the phone again).

He responded with "we have so much in common because we both love Jesus and we've dedicated our lives to him."  But my first thought was that there needs to be more.  There are lots of guys that I know who love Jesus and have dedicated their lives to him and I've never thought that should be the reason they might be "right" for me.  Loving Jesus is definitely at the top of my list of qualities hoped for...but I want more in common than loving Jesus.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Book 9

Some friends of mine found out early in their pregnancy (with baby 4) that this baby was going to be different than the others and they blogged about their journey here.  They have inspired many through this journey and it's only the beginning.  They wrote a post about a book and I decided to read the book as well.  Just like my friends, I think this author has probably inspired quite a number of people.  I couldn't sleep last night so I was able to finish the book:

Double Take:  A Memoir
By:  Kevin Michael Connolly

Despite the difficult circumstances the author, Kevin, faced in his life (a big one being born without legs) he lived, he loved, he traveled and I'm guessing he inspired those around him to do the same.  As the sun started to light the sky outside of my east facing bedroom window this morning, I read the part that inspired me to read the book in the first place as it was shared in my friends' post:

"...I don't think of myself as 'disabled.' As I interpret the word, you are only disabled if you are
incapable of overcoming the challenges presented in any given situation. I might be disabled
when trying to haul a hundred pounds of concrete up a flight of stairs, but to my mind, I'm perfectly
able-bodied when I am skating around New York City. Being disabled is also a matter of choice.
Anything that you try to hide from the world also imposes a limit on you. If you don't want to risk
showing off your wobbly knees or clumsiness on the dance floor and decide to sit on the sidelines,
then you are unable to dance, thus, disabled."

Kevin's memoir is a quick read and worth it!

Book 8

See this post.  I listened to book 7 a second time!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Book 7

So, I didn't actually read book 7, but listened to the audiobook in my car.  It was super funny listening to the author and his mother read the book, much more so than it would have been for me to read it.

By:  Adam Chester
Read By:  Adam Chester and Joan Chester

"The story of a man, his mom, and the thousands of altogether insane letters she's mailed him." 

Picked this audiobook up on a whim at the library.  I almost never laugh out loud in front of other people and rarely when I'm by myself either but I laughed out loud to some of the things in this book.  The author, Adam, tells his stories in a humorous sarcastic way, plus the letters his mom has sent him over the years are Crazy.  The advice she gave him (often out of no-where, and always unsolicited) wasn't even good advice.  Her paranoia came out in every letter, either about death, crazy family members (not including herself) or making sure Adam always knew where her will was and how much  money in insurance policies existed for him to cash in on.  If you've ever had a mother (or grandmother) who said and did things that just didn't make sense, then I think you might relate to this book.  I caution you against listening to it in the presence of children though as the Author does swear on occasion.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Book 6: Through My Eyes

Book 6:  Through My Eyes
By:  Tim Tebow with Nathan Whitaker

I don't really watch any sports on TV but Facebook has helped me keep up on the hype over Tim Tebow the last two years and I did finally watch Denver's final game of the season this year (which wasn't really one they played well).  I've grown to like Tim Tebow's determination to live out his faith and ever since my 2011 summer vacation in Florida, I've been curious about his book.  Tim happened to be on a book signing tour in Florida while we were vacationing there so the morning paper had a big article on him.  All that to say, my friend Melissa loaned me the book.  Overall, I'm glad I read the book but for someone who doesn't really care that much about sports, the play by play by play by play of EVERY football game he's ever played in was too much for me.  I did appreciate seeing "through his eyes" how various experiences (on and off the field) have helped shape him into the man of God that he is (including many influences from his parents and coaches).  Athletically speaking he is talented, but after reading his book I'd say he also worked very hard to get to where he is.

I did quote his book to a small group I was leading to help encourage them to tell their story.  No one likes to talk about themselves and everyone is sure they can't do as good a job as the person before them and I read them this quote from the foreword of Tim's book:

"Here's something else that I haven't always grasped but which in the last few years
I have come to understand in my own life, and which now burns in my heart for others
to also recognize and realize: we all have stories to share.  We all have life experiences
that can bless the lives of others.  Whoever we are.  Wherever we find ourselves. 
Whatever we are involved in, no matter our age or station in life. 
Stories that, when shared with others, can make a positive difference in the world."
I was also encouraged by a specific thought Tim had near the end of his book.  My team at work has been going through transition and it occurred to me that how we reacted and dealt with the changes as a team could really influence the rest of the organization (good or bad) and Tim helped me see that:
"Sometimes, people see more of your witness when you're facing adversity
than when everything is going your way. People expect you to be a good winner,
but they know how agonizing it is to lose. When you are able to reflect God's light during
those times of great disappointment, it can have quite an impact."
I'd recommend the book, to spite the rehash of every football game, and I'll continue being a Tim Tebow fan even though he's not playing for Denver this season.  I did find myself wanting to tell him about Compassion because it aligns very well to some of his own beliefs and passions.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Book 5

Book 5:  The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
by:  Stieg Larsson

I've seen this book (and the movies) talked about so many different places over the past few years but nothing really interested me till the 2011 version of the movie was listed on every "Top 10 Movies of 2011" list.  I received some mixed feedback on the Swedish version of the movies, so decided to start with the book?  The beginning of the book was a little bit slow but it picked up quickly and I was extremely intrigued.  There are definitely some dark things that happen within several of the story lines but I so much appreciated how the writer did not describe things in detail.  He told just enough so I knew what happened but not too much so stuff was stuck in my head (not sure if I'd feel the same way about a movie version).  There are tons of characters in the book but I didn't get lost (to spite some strange names that I couldn't pronounce and just had to sort of skim over-that goes for cities and towns and street names too).  I guess the other part about the "dark spaces" that kept me going was the hope for some redemption.  The stories in this book are not completely fake, well, they might be for the author but so many women and men live them all the time, I guess that's what drove me to keep reading when a certain story line hit something harsh.  I'm glad I read this book and I do think I'd like to read the next book too (I think there might be 3 total) but I haven't decided if I want to watch any of the movies yet.