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Archive for April, 2009

In one of my many moments of being distracted at work, I came upon this article on WebMD about 11 secrets that men keep. Always interested in learning more about the opposite sex, I clicked the link and read it. When I was done—well, actually, when I was about halfway through—I thought, “Are they kidding with this?”

Not because I didn’t believe it, but because I already knew most of it! I thought it was, in fact, common knowledge. I hope this one article was a fluke, as I’d hate to think that WebMD is now about as informative as the average grocery-store-checkout magazine. (Coupons help save money? Really?) I would also hate to think that there are women out there who are actually surprised by all 11 of these things.

Such as:

Secret #2: We actually do play golf to get away from you.

Excuse my immature reaction, but: No duh. Isn’t that the same reason we women go shopping with the girls, or go on women’s church retreats? Isn’t time away from each other part of a healthy relationship? Same with:

Secret #11: Give us an inch and we’ll give you a lifetime.

… This is the most important thing a man never told you: If you let us be dumb guys, if you embrace our stupid poker night, if you encourage us to go surfing — by ourselves — our silly little hearts, with their manly warts and all, will embrace you forever for it.

Again, signs of a healthy relationship. And heck, I’d expect it to be reciprocated. “Go, please. Go visit your friends in Europe for a few days.” “Go hunting with the boys.” “Go to that lecture with your sister.” Not only do I not expect to have everything in common (with the exception of some given essentials) with my future mate—if there is such a man—but I hope to high heaven that we don’t do everything together. *shudder* Anyway, then there’s:

Secret #10: We’ll always wish we were 25 again.

Oh. Shocker. Hang on, let me grab a chair to sink into while I clutch a handkerchief of smelling salts to my nose, because I am just that astonished by this new knowledge. Of course, I must confess that technically I have not actually reached the age of 25 yet (yeah, I know, I’m so young, what right have I to ever complain about being single, what have I to teach someone else about life, etc.), so I can’t pass too much judgment on this particular “secret.” But I would assume this about guys anyway, and although I could see it being more of a predominantly male trait, I think it’s also not exclusive to males. Hey, I may sympathize in 10, 20, 30+ years and dream of being 25 again. I could see it happening.

Secret #4: Earning money makes us feel important.

Secret #5: The pope is Catholic. All right, all right, I speak in jest. But the article’s author goes on to say that men don’t really like it when their wives make more money than they do. Well … yeah. In response, my less-than-ambitious self throws up her hands and says, “Thank God!!” Well, I suppose that wanting to 1) become a famous blogger, 2) become a famous novelist (or just finish a blasted novel), 3) travel a lot, 4) make money on the side from my photography, 5) tutor my cousin’s children in economics and history, and 6) touch many, many lives, are all very ambitious goals. Just not the traditional I-want-to-be-a-CEO-and-raise-three-children ambitious. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But I would expect a husband, in the tradition of men-want-respect-women-want-love that they teach in many couples’ Bible studies these days, to want to make more money than his wife. There are just some things that feminism can’t beat out of guys—and this is from someone who has quite a few feminist tendencies. And I’m fine with that. But still … it’s just … not really a secret. It’s more, “Well, yeah, I figured.” And I am relieved, being the person who has to force herself to budget, not because she is financially irresponsible, but because she despises all things numeric and financial.

Anyway, I didn’t go into detail of all 11 “secrets,” obviously. You should go read it yourself and then report back here with your two cents’ worth. (Or is it two bits’ worth? Better make it a dollar, adjusted for inflation.) This article is just one of those things that makes me really confused with thoughts of, “How am I still single when I seem to know so much about men already?” I guess I’m not so much curious about the things men do and think, but why they do and think them. I always like to know the “why” of things. But then, many of these things aren’t even exclusive to men. So … are they really OMG SCANDALOUS secrets that men keep? Or should they instead be called, “11 Tendencies of Human Nature That All Responsible Adults Should Be Aware of Before Entering Into a Committed Relationship”?

Thoughts? Men? Ladies? Anyone?

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       This is what my fortune cookie recently told me. And though perhaps entertainingly over-literal, I’m inclined to agree with it. (How could you argue, really?)

       I tend to plan my future, however, as if I could have it all. I didn’t realize my propensity to do this until reading Lucy Swindoll’s book Wide My World, Narrow My Bed, which actually has little to do with bedroom furnishings and much to do with leading a full, joyful and creative single life.

       In one chapter, Lucy Swindoll writes about a friend who was deciding whether or not to accept her beau’s proposal of marriage. Though eventually deciding in favor of marriage, the friend went through an interesting process to reach this decision: that of realizing that saying “yes” to marriage meant saying “no” to a good number of other things. I say “well thought” to Lucy Swindoll’s friend. The idea that “yes” carries with it an implied “no” has so many applications to life planning, to decision making, and even to the practice of being content here and now. Since reading this thought, I have started to think of many things in these terms.

       For example, I could choose to live in my home-town: grow up, work, go to church, die, and be buried there. Or, I could live far away – maybe in the Irish countryside, maybe on the east coast, maybe moving around every few years to another locale, always on the go. Both of these possibilities appeal to me but they are mutually exclusive. Traveling or living far away would mean new sights, new friends, getting used to another culture, having opportunities I could never have in Appalachian Ohio. But it would also mean saying no: saying no to living near childhood friends, to seeing my eleventh-grade history teacher at the grocery store, to being near my parents and long-time church family, to walking the familiar-but-delightful walks of my hometown. On both sides, there are things I would enjoy and those that would be drawbacks, and I simply cannot have both (though there certainly is some middle ground between the two options). Before I decide where to spend my life, I need to consider both what I’m saying yes to and what my “yes” is precluding.

       The simple realization that “yes” implies “no” has also helped me to better enjoy what I have right now.  Much like making lists, it’s helped me to see that, for example, my single life has the benefit of unlimited (well, practically) possiblities, whereas marriage or even a serious dating relationship begins to limit the possiblities, because one’s future begins to impact and be impacted by another’s. And I think that’s good, but it’s also good to enjoy the benefits of now, well, now, rather than regretfully in retrospect.  

       So enjoy your Monday, and whatever possibilites and realities your present holds.  Aren’t fortune cookies great?

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Today, Dr. Awesome (see side links) wrote a guest post for Stuff Christians like. Although supposedly targeted for men, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. And I’ve been a fan of Dr. Awesome’s for a while now, especially since he took the time to “manswer” one of my questions, even though I’m a woman. (Single gals, you better click that last link! Actually, guys too, really … ) Anyway, the authors of both blogs might not be completely pleased that I’m linking to them on a “frivolous” post, but it was too hilarious to resist. And it’s Friday. I think we’re all a little brain-dead by now, right?

My favorite part of the SCL post was the mention of Mr. T. Except when people refer to Mr. T, I have someone completely different in mind.

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A friend of mine posted this link on his blog, and I have to share it with you all: “A Few Like You”: Will the Church be the Church for Homosexual Christians? Reading it brought a few tears to my eyes. Although I am not a homosexual Christian, and I’m guessing that most of our readers aren’t, either (but if you are, hey! welcome!), I think this article is important for a few reasons.

It helped me gain a better understanding of what my friend, as a Christian urgently seeking God’s will and coming to terms with his same-sex desires, deals with as a part of his life. I pray that the article does the same for others. I’d always kind of avoided the issue, not wanting to offend anyone, and not really understanding the struggles of Christian homosexuals, but this has had to change, and I’m grateful for that. My previous attitude of avoidance/willful ignorance/revulsion remains, unfortunately, very prevalent in the Christian church overall, and the majority of believers have not done well in demonstrating Christ’s love and mercy when it comes to this particular issue.

Another reason that I thought this article was particularly important is its emphasis on human relationships in general. I think it makes several very good points that apply to all Christians, and especially singles of whatever sexual orientation. I can only quote the following paragraph:

I know well-meaning Christians who often remind me, “God’s love for you is better than any love you might find in a human relationship.” While I believe this is true in an ultimate and profound sense, putting it this way seems to set up a false dichotomy. A statement more in sync with the drift of the New Testament might go something like this: “God’s love for us is expressed and experienced mainly through the medium of human relationships.” [emphasis original]

This is where I have to say that, while I don’t know what it is like to struggle as a Christian with same-sex attraction, I can definitely sympathize with general loneliness. I have dealt with it in the past, and I know I will face it in the future, as many, many other singles do. So often in the past, when I found myself dealing with loneliness and hating being single, I would berate myself for wanting relief from it, thinking that I should be subsisting only on God’s love and His presence in my life. Thankfully, this mindset is changing.

Deuteronomy 8:3 says, “man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” I think that could be reversed to say that man does not live on the word of God alone, either. We are humans with limited human bodies and human minds, and need sustenance. In the same way, wanting relationships with other people is not wrong. We are designed to need them. In Genesis 2:18, after creating light, the earth, the animals, and man, after declaring it all to be good, what did God say? “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”

God created us, and he created our way of thinking and our needs, and ways for them to be fulfilled. He created our bodies to crave water, so should we feel guilty to be thirsty? No, and as He created us to crave human relationships, it is not sinful to want that, either. (And I’m speaking of relationships intellectually and emotionally, as well as a sexually, just to clarify.)

I believe that when we allow those needs to lead us into sin, when we make them the central focus and goal of our lives and do not trust God to provide them for us, that is when they get us into trouble.

God intended us to need each other in this life. Galatians 6:2: “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” A Christian does not walk alone, and God did not intend him or her to do so. Don’t be embarrassed to want a relationship. Life can be lonely sometimes, and the support of loving friends and family are God’s provision for those times.

I must end with another quote from the article: “Will the Church shelter and nourish and humanize those who are deeply lonely and struggling desperately to remain faithful?

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Although I should clarify, one shot is intended, and the other is not.

First, we have the intended hilarity from one of my fav. British sitcoms, The Vicar of Dibley, which I have mentioned before, of course. (I am an unabashed Anglophile, in case you didn’t know. And if you didn’t know, well, many of my posts will make much more sense to you from here on out.)

Warning: There’s the possibility of blinking and missing it, but someone does make a rude hand gesture in this clip. Just to be warned.

And then we have the unintentional humor from—what else?—Christian cinema, in the form of the trailer for a movie called C Me Dance. As has been noted by others more qualified than myself, so much Christian entertainment is just BAD. Not necessarily bad in a moral way, obviously, but just sadly, embarrassingly inept. This trailer for a movie that came out last week is one more event in this sad, sad saga of Christian “culture.” But it is so funny, and I want to see this movie so much, though not for the reasons the makers intended, I am sure. If you have seen this movie, please leave a comment and tell me what you thought of it! If you haven’t seen it, leave a comment anyway, even if it’s, “I am at a loss for words.” Because that’s how I felt when I saw it, after thinking, “What a great spoof! Oh, wait … it’s REAL? NOOO!”

On that note, “happy” Good Friday, all! Be sure to take time this weekend to spend with your Savior and celebrate His victory over sin and death, and our victory in Him! Amen!

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Again, apologies for the horrid, unforgivable lack of posting. Excuses have not changed.

At last, however, I have decided that I need to put up a condensed version of something that’s been bothering me lately. After all, the whole point of this blog is to encourage and bless others who may be experiencing the same setbacks or delights. Now, lest you think I am constantly staring out the window and sighing, pining for the arrival of Prince Charming, I’ll have you know that my moods are rather up-and-down when it comes to such things. Lately, actually, I’ve hated my singleness, and yet hating that hatred of it. You know what I mean? You want to be perfectly content, and yet somehow are incapable of it? Come on, help me out … I know I’m not alone here.

Although I am not usually as heaven/eternity-focused as perhaps I ought to be, in the past week or so, I have been very much looking forward to the next life, when we will be given new bodies, and be without sin, weeping, etc. The male/female dynamic will be gone, and with it all those sexual complications.

So, if I’m terribly excited about this, why do I still hate being single? Why do I still pursue men and their approval? (Note: my version of “pursuing” is … well … very tame, shall we say.) Personally, I find this very frustrating.

First of all, I know that it is not man’s approval that I should be seeking. Galatians 1:10 says: For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

I know that pleasing people (guys, specifically) shouldn’t be a concern of mine. I know this. But I still try to achieve it. WHY??

I think that Paul sums it up best in Romans 7:18-20 when he wrote: And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

Lack of knowledge or awareness is not the problem. The problem is the sinful nature, which is forgiven but not eradicated in this life. Being a woman, this means that I am still vulnerable to the Curse brought about by the Fall: Genesis 3:16 says, To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

How frustrating! And burdensome! Yet how else can we explain a desire for this kind of relationship, in which someone has authority over us, when at heart we are all independent, rebellious people?

As for myself, I believe that part of the problem of focusing on earthly men instead of my Heavenly Father is actually because of my security in Christ. I know that God is the One Who matters! I know that I am forgiven, that I have a place in heaven, that absolutely nothing can take away His love for me. It’s in the bag. He is faithful and good and true and will guide me and get me where He wants me, and when I am there, He’ll provide me with what I need to do what He planned. Even though I know that I myself am not good enough for Him, He loves me (and all of you!) enough to provide a way to overcome that.

With earthly men, well, there’s still the mystery of “What the heck is he thinking? What does he want? What does he think of me? Is he a good person, or someone to stay away from?” I know what God thinks of me, and so I kind of set that aside for the sake of what I don’t know. “Yes, Jesus loves me, but what about THAT guy?”

Yet He is the only One who will never, ever let me down, even when I don’t understand what He’s doing at the time.

As for what to do about this frustrating tendency of mine, I’m not entirely sure. I think that knowledge of Scripture is important, so I have a reference when I need to remind myself of Who my Savior is. As in any other relationship, setting aside quality time is necessary if I’m to grow closer to God and maintain most of my focus on Him. I need to use this time to my advantage. After all, The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. (I Corinthians 7:34)

Because of my sinful nature, I still struggle with all of this. I struggle with contentment. I struggle with focusing on the Lord and things above instead of worldly relationships and things. I struggle with priorities and sinful desires. Fortunately, I am forgiven in Christ, and God isn’t even close to being finished with me!

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