Tag Archives: love

Falling in Love

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I’ve been hearing about that little phrase an awful lot lately. Emphasis on awful. Hear me out on this. I do not have anything against love. It’s the “falling into it” thing that bothers me.

I'm not the only one who thought of it...

I’m not the only one who thought of it…

Multiple people have asked me lately how I would feel if I fell in love and [had to tell everyone I was getting married, decided to move, gave up my cat lady blog, whatever – complete the sentence however you would like]. My verbal response differs, depending on who I am speaking to and how well that person knows me. But my inward response stays the same every time: I don’t fall in love.

“Falling in Love” carries with it an attitude of romance and euphoria for most. Unfortunately, in my experience, it doesn’t live up to its glamorous reputation.

I usually hear the term used to excuse responsibility for making stupid decisions. You know, the usual stuff:

  • I’m moving across the country to live with [that weirdo creeper] I met online. I’ve fallen in love.
  • We didn’t need to wait to get married. By the end of two weeks we knew we had fallen in love!
  • It didn’t matter that he had no job, no savings, no home, and no car. [It didn’t matter that his mother kicked him out for being a lazy slob.] I fell in love.
  • I knew he had a drinking problem and some anger issues. But I never thought he would hit me! I fell in love.
  • I wanted to be a good mother. I never planned on leaving my husband. But I fell in love with someone else.

I could continue. But I won’t. It drives me crazy. When people tell me that a couple fell in love, and that is why they are acting the foolish way that they are, I kind of want to mutter under my breath, “Well if they were paying any attention to where they were going – they wouldn’t have fallen… Morons.”

It’s not that I don’t like romance. It’s not that I can’t be influenced by sweet gestures or charming words. It’s just that love is a very powerful four-letter word. It’s not something that I want to just fall into. I prefer to gingerly step or perhaps cautiously slide into it. I feel as if a relationship should be entered with wisdom. Where there is not an abundance of wisdom, there is typically an abundance of foolishness.  As I’ve made clear, falling into love too often ends poorly. After all, if a person falls in love, completely by chance or by accident, that person can just as easily fall out of love. If they couldn’t help themselves on the way into the relationship, it stands to reason that they won’t be able to help themselves on the way out of the relationship. Hence, the divorce rate in America.

On the other hand, if one carefully plants a foot into love, and then steps more fully into it with the other foot, that same person must knowingly step out of love in the future if s/he ever wants to leave the relationship. The silly excuses disappear. When a choice to love is made, the person who made that choice accepts responsibility in that relationship. It’s no longer a coin flip as to whether or not the relationship will last. A relationship entered by practical choice still has room for butterflies and warm fuzzies. The wonderful feeling that most associate with “falling in love” can still be found when two people “step into love” instead. How do I know? Although my expertise is in singleness, I have been in love. And I didn’t fall into it. I hesitantly stepped in. And although things didn’t work out as I hoped they might, I would not trade the experience for any of my friends’ “falling in love” experiences. In fact, I find that conscious choice leads to a far more romantic situation. It’s nice to feel loved by someone who is temporarily blinded with giddy enthusiasm to all my flaws and weaknesses. But it’s absolutely fabulous when someone who can clearly see my flaws shows love to me. You mean, even after you’ve discovered all of these horrible things about me – you STILL want to be with me? WOW!

In fact, it kind of reminds me of Jesus and His love for humankind even after we rejected Him and crucified Him… Doesn’t the Bible suggest a husband should love his wife in that same manner? Hmmmm….

If you find yourself falling in love, please consider my words. Stop, catch your footing, and come to a decision. Is this relationship truly worth stepping into? Are you ready to be selfless? Are you capable of putting another person’s hopes, feelings, dreams, needs ahead of your own? Are you prepared to commit yourself to that one individual for the rest of your life no matter what hardships you encounter? Can you clearly see this person’s flaws and have you considered them? Has this person been given opportunity to see YOUR flaws and make the same consideration? If so, blessings in your relationship. If you’re not even close to that point, grab a hold of something and pull yourself out of whatever you’ve fallen into. It’s better to get those things over with now than it will be later.

Can't the brain and heart learn to work together?

Can’t the brain and heart learn to work together?

One last thing: if you ever see me “falling”, please scream these words back at me – or just beat me with a stick until I come to my senses. I’m sure I will appreciate the gesture someday. Just make sure you don’t confuse my “consciously stepping” for “falling”. Because if I’m consciously stepping, I might turn around and beat you back. 😉

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Song of the Single (Paradise Uganda)

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Isaiah 54:1Ugandan children 3

“Sing, O barren,

You who have not borne!

Break forth into singing, and cry aloud,

You who have not labored with child!

For more are the children of the desolate

Than the children of the married woman,”

says the Lord.

During a visit with my pastor’s family on Monday, a familiar longing stirred within me. Pastor’s three year-old cuddled into my side and asked me to look through a book with her. I miss children.

Earlier that evening her seven year-old brother handed me pages torn from a coloring book. He had colored them especially for me, eager both to earn my recognition and to share his affection. Just a few days prior I had glanced sadly at my refrigerator, noting the absence of artwork from children who love me. Although it is covered with photographs and magnets, it seemed strangely bare. I smiled proudly at his artwork, thrilled to accept his decorative gifts. Who needs museums? Who needs professionals? I much prefer a child’s masterpiece.

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Tonight I discovered some podcasts about a project involving children from Uganda. My friend and a few other dedicated musicians are working to create change in the lives of these children and in the world by recognizing their beautiful voices. These children are talented, and they’ve gone too long unrecognized. They have incredible stories to tell, but they’ve been widely ignored. They have songs to sing; it’s about time somebody listened. Could there be any sweeter sound than that of a child rejoicing?

http://www.fln.org/fln-news/podcasts/detail/news-paradise-uganda-part-i/

http://www.fln.org/fln-news/podcasts/detail/news-paradise-uganda-part-ii/

As I listened to clips of these children singing during the podcasts, tears formed in my eyes. I want to be with the children. I want to be where the children are, do what the children do. I want to sing with the children.

I’ve never even met these children, but my heart longs for them. I’m not musical – not even slightly. The lady in the podcast mentions the rhythm that comes so naturally to those little ones and memories flood back to me. I laugh as I recall dancing with the deaf children in Jamaica. Dancing goes hand in hand with music. Both require rhythm. I was told all Jamaican women could dance. I soon learned that the beautiful teenaged girls at the deaf school – who couldn’t even hear the music they were dancing to – had more rhythm than I did… I suddenly believed the statements were true. All Jamaican women can dance. And I became all the more aware of my own fallibilities.

Ugandan children 2

Why do I yearn to be with these talented young ones? What do I have to offer them? The musicians who’ve taken an interest in these children’s lives can provide them with guidance, training, and opportunities to share their songs. But I’m no musician. What could I possibly give?

I have a mommy’s heart. And as a single woman with no children of my own, that mommy’s heart has an abundance of love eager to flow into these kids’ lives. I cannot count the number of times others have asked me about a desire for children when they hear that I enjoy being single. They are shocked to hear that I don’t really long for children of my own. Sometimes they refuse to believe me. But it’s true! There are so many children in this world already who are hungry for love! I want to love the children who are already here.

Ugandan children

In my travels, I have discovered that children often put me on a pedestal – simply because I am an adult, I am American, I am white. What happens when a small child who has been devalued stands next to woman she idolizes? “Sing, O barren woman!” What happens when that same child realizes that she is more talented than that woman? I may fall off my pedestal, but more importantly that child begins to recognize her own gifting. She feels a touch more self-confident. She feels special. And she often laughs at me. These moments – these awkward, embarrassing displays of my own inadequacies, produce some of the most wonderful memories.

I do not need to be married or birth children. I just need to be around children who need to be loved. I want to love them. I want to appreciate them. I want to delight in the talents of my children – not the children who bear my name, but the children all over this world that God intends for me to mother. I’m just a single girl, thrilled to be a mommy. And although it won’t sound pretty, I will lift my voice to sing about it!

me and the philippino kids

Commitment-Phobe? Moi?

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Scenario 1

“If we hire you for this position, are you willing to commit for at least one year?”

Wave of terror passes over my face.

“Why is it so important that I stay for a year? Even if I only work here for a short time, I will still be a good worker,” I questioned the man interviewing me. I’m not good at sucking up during interviews. The blunt, confrontational side of me never backs down.

“Sarah, it is a waste of our time to hire and train an employee who will leave the company in less than a year. I need to know if you will commit to at least one year,” he responded. He looked slightly annoyed – but overall he was very patient with me.

I self-talked myself through the decision. Surely I could last a year. I agreed. I may have sounded hesitant; but my word is my word.

Next year will mark my five year anniversary with the same corporation. That interview question, although it threw me into a temporary panic, didn’t turn out to be such a big deal.

 

Scenario 2

Should I do it? Should I not? Should I keep looking? Should I wait? I don’t know. Will I find a better deal? Is this the right place?

On and on the questions soared through my brain. I had a lease to sign. Once again, someone was asking for a year-long commitment. Once again, I was not feeling so hot about the idea.

It’s the right price. Right distance from work. Good parking for my motorcycle. They will let me bring my cat. Why must they insist that I sign a year-long lease? What’s so terrible about month-to-month?

I signed the lease. It’s been a year and a half now.

I don’t really have any intentions to move. Nonetheless, I opted out of renewing my lease. Once I fulfilled the first year they allowed me to rent month-to-month going forward. Why place restrictions upon myself that are not absolutely necessary?

 

Scenario 3

“Hi, I’m Mr. BraveEnoughToAskYouOut. What’s your name?”

This is the kind of guy that automatically goes in for eye contact. I don’t dare call him Mr. CommitmentLover, because he may also be a total commitment-phobe in the typical sense of the term. He may dodge long-term relationships or marriage. He may only be interested in a night of pleasure. But he’s got me beat. Committing to that first date is even too hard for me.

Like I said, he’s brave and he goes in for eye contact. He’s searching: Is she interested? What will she say if I ask her out? Is she checking me out?

I dodge the eye contact.

Yes, I am interested. Yes, I am checking you out. But, don’t even ask that question in between. I dodge the eye contact in an effort to squelch your bravery because your bravery will lead to our dating and our dating will lead to me feeling attached and I don’t want to feel attached. You want me to flirt? Quit acting so interested. (I know I’ve adamantly proclaimed that guys should be brave and pursue. I’m admitting now that I’m a total hypocrite and don’t encourage men to pursue with my actions. Sue me.)

Should Mr. BraveEnoughToAskYouOut happen to continue despite my lack of eye contact… I continue to run. Hang out this weekend? I might be busy this weekend… Not really sure about all my plans yet. Dinner? How about coffee? Coffee doesn’t feel like nearly as big of a commitment as dinner…

 

Okay. In the first two scenarios I was practically forced to commit, despite my reservations. Neither situation turned out too badly. That goes to show that if I actually step out of my comfort zone and go on a real date with a guy I actually like, it may not turn out too badly either. If someone manages to get me past that first step – then maybe it will work out. Like the job and the apartment.

We may end up in a steady dating relationship and I may end up appreciating said relationship.

Or he may cheat on me. Or dump me and leave me desperately heart-broken. Or betray my confidence. Or use me. Or die. Or all of the above.

I think I’d rather dodge eye contact and whine about how men are cowards.

 

Reflections: Love, Respect, and Sex

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http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/voiceofhope/

Okay, I skipped a few weeks on responding to these 700 club episodes. I’ll admit, it is no coincidence that I procrastinated on this specific episode. For one thing, I’ve written a lot about sex recently. I kind of wanted a break. Bur another reason I avoided this one is because I’m simply not sure how to respond.

I agree with parts of the teacher’s philosophy. I’m not so sure about other parts. I agree that sex within marriage is God’s plan and that it is absolutely the best way to go. I don’t suggest sex outside of marriage. However, his words leave me wondering how a couple will readily embrace the sexual union inside of marriage after training themselves to stay so far away from it.

That is always my issue when I look at the church’s approach to sex. I feel like this “Bad, bad, bad, stay away!” approach immediately followed by “You’re married now! Everything goes!” is just a disaster waiting to happen. I’m not necessarily sure what else to suggest, however.

Purity isn’t the part I struggle with. Single purity that leads into married purity is the issue I struggle with – if that makes sense. I think the sky high divorce rates within the church are a decent indication that whatever the church is teaching about sex and marriage right now isn’t very effective. I still feel as if the church uses the words “lust” and “attraction” synonymously. And I don’t think they should be interchangeable. I believe there is an important line that separates the two. I’m just not sure if I could point out that line.

Your thoughts?

Translate Love

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A group I meet with weekly is currently studying Gary Chapman’s book, “The 5 Love Languages”. In case you’ve never heard of it, the author teaches that people express and respond to love in 5 basic ways 0r understand love in “5 languages”. He explains that in order to express love to someone effectively, you need to communicate through that person’s primary love language. Quick breakdown of the 5:

 

  1. Quality Time: undivided attention or special moments set aside for me prove that  you love me/distractions during conversation, standing me up, or postponing a date hurt me deeply
  2. Words of Affirmation: tell me I’m beautiful, tell me you appreciate me, openly compliment me in front of others and  recognize your love for me/don’t thank me or compliment me when I do things or make fun of me and I feel devalued
  3. Receiving Gifts: give me a gift “just because” or go out of your way to find me that “perfect something” for my birthday and I realize that you treasure me/forget me or pick up something dumb because you feel you have to and I don’t believe you care about me
  4. Physical Touch: hug me, hold me, pat me on the arm, and I sense your love for me/your aloofness or discomfort at my touch devastates me
  5. Acts of Service: do me a favor, help me with some chores, ease my burdens somehow and I can see that you love me/break a promise, neglect to finish that project you told me you’d do around the house, or shuffle your responsibilities into my lap – those things really bother me

That’s the rundown. If you want to see which love languages apply most in your own life I encourage you to take an assessment here: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/assessments/love/

Anyway, as we discussed some of these principles last night, I found my mind wandering back to Jamaica… again. There was one man, in particular, that I became attached to while I was down there. As a girl who is not easily wooed by the opposite sex, I kept wondering why this man left such a strong impact on me after just two days together. (They weren’t even two consecutive days together – we saw each other the first Friday my friend and I were there and again the last Sunday.) During our meeting last night, it dawned on me. In the two short days I spent with him, Raul (as my friend fondly nicknamed this guy) expressed love to me through four of the five love languages!

Raul was braiding my hair within the first twenty minutes of meeting. 🙂

His friendly introduction started the process. My friend and I passed a restaurant and he called down to us from the balcony, inviting us to stop. We passed by, but returned a short while later to eat lunch. He approached us with a smile and asked if he could join us. Within seconds he not only welcomed us to Jamaica, but he was talking openly with us about our trip and about his culture. Quality time.

This restaurant had a couple of water slides and water trampolines. We went for the slide into the ocean. After exploding out the slide into salt water, we climbed up onto a trampoline to lay down for a while and catch our breaths. More time to talk. He began to emphasize how much he liked me. He exalted my smile. He told me I was beautiful. He went on and on about how nice I seemed to be – which he could not always expect from tourists. In contrast, he claimed that many tourists are rude to Jamaicans. Words of affirmation.

After some more play in the water, we climbed onto the dock to relax. Raul left me for a few moments as I laid down in a lawn chair. A lifeguard came and put the rest of the lawnchairs away. When Raul returned, he sat at the end of the chair by my feet. It didn’t take long before he pulled my legs into his lap so he could rub my feet. I watched him in awe as he caressed my feet so tenderly. I thought about stopping him – how could I accept such an act from an almost-stranger? Was I using him? But I never could say “no” to a good foot massage. I decided to delight in the special treatment and he continued. Physical touch.

My friend and I left him, but agreed to think about hanging out later that night. We did end up spending more time with him and we met more friends of his later on. After a fun night together, he and his friends offered to walk us back to our hotel. We had been by the beach, so my feet and flip-flops were covered with sand. He looked down and then asked us to wait. He went for the shore and came back with a cup of water to clean the sand off my feet so that it would not irritate my skin as we walked back. My friend stared at him with her mouth wide open as he hurried back and forth from me to the ocean until my feet were completely clean. Acts of service.

Those were four specific instances that Raul expressed love to me in our first day together. I could list countless other gestures if I took the time. I highly doubt this man’s ever read the book. But he is fluent in the languages of love.

Welcome Home!

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Mommy, it’s too early to shine a camera flash in my eyes!

<— I can’t imagine waking up to a cuter face. I was in Jamaica for twelve days. That’s it. My parents pick me and my friend up from the airport and give me a “welcome home” gift from two of my close friends. I drive to my apartment and find my kitty, delighted to see me, evidenced by mass quantities of cuddling and purring. I open up my refrigerator to discover more food than I could ever dream of eating by myself. I gave my brother some money and food to watch my cat and my apartment for me while I was gone and he blessed me with far more groceries than I gave him money to buy. He also shared all the stories of how miserable my cat was while I was gone and how Oreo would not let him sleep because he was not me.

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I’ve been home for four days now, and my cat is still acting ridiculously cuddly compared to usual. This is actually a beautiful thing – Jamaicans are such a warm people compared to Americans. I became accustomed to constant touch throughout the day… Hugs, handshakes, fist bumps, you name it. To have all that healthy touch ripped away from me is difficult. It sounds kind of funny, but my cat helps me cope.

Last night I went to play volleyball with some friends. At the end of the night, one of them apologized to me that everyone seemed to have paired off while I was gone. She mentioned how hard it must be to see that once I returned. She also noted how hard it must have been to go back to work after my trip.

But I don’t really feel that way. I feel pretty awesome actually. I may keep whining that I should have stayed in Jamaica [I do miss the friends I made, but mainly I whine just because I am a whiner baby.] But how many people go on vacation for less than two weeks and come back to welcome home gifts and a thousand “I missed you so much!”s from their friends? How many people return from vacation to find more food in their cupboards than when they left? How many singles come home to an animal eagerly waiting at the door for them because the house sitter just was not mommy? On the flip side, how many singles return home from vacation to an empty house with no pet to smother them with attention? How many women go on vacation and literally feel no reason to return home? How many people return home and wonder if anyone missed them at all?

I always go through a little bit of post-travel depression. I LOVE to travel, and each time I come home I wonder why I have not moved from this country yet. But it wasn’t so bad this time. This time I was too aware of how loved I am. My friends pairing off? It’s nice to see them happy. My job? There are worse jobs. I am blessed to have one that allows me these luxuries in life such as travel. Loneliness? What loneliness? God has surrounded me by people who love me. One of my new friends from Jamaica called me last night and he immediately asked me if I was okay. All I could think was, “Why wouldn’t I be okay?” No problem, Mon – life is good!

Yoke or Burn

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Okay – I don’t talk about sex on this blog very often… or in great detail. Mainly because I find it awkward to write about the subject. But it is important.

DISCLAIMER: Do not take this post as personal dating advice. I am not offering advice. I am simply bringing up a point – a point which may be slightly controversial in the modern church community.

Mr. UnpaidTherapist called me into his office this week.

“Sarah,” he said. “I know that you already know this. But I feel the need to tell you again. Do not marry someone who isn’t Christian…”

He continued by describing the failing marriage of a couple he counsels. Wife is Christian. Hubby’s not. Marriage is falling to pieces. He then listed three women we both know who struggle in marriages with non-Christian men. He doesn’t want to see me face the same trials.

I listened to his lecture and chose not to respond. I’m not terribly comfortable sharing what I am going to post on this blog with a 45 year-old man at work. Nope.

But I’ve really been pondering this whole dating/marrying non-Christians topic lately. The entire basis for this advice against marrying someone with no faith or a different faith is that verse in 2 Corinthians, chapter 6. Verse 14 declares, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”

Now before anyone who doesn’t follow the Bible gets offended, let me explain that this is not saying that Christians should cut off all contact with people who do not agree with us. I’m pretty sure Jesus Christ’s entire lifestyle would argue that concept. He hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors [who were infamous for cheating people].

“Yoked” essentially means joined, united, or brought together to accomplish a specific task or purpose. A yoke pulls two animals together to push a plow. Harnessed together, they create a more powerful force.

Okay, so when Christians quote this verse, they often continue to the “joining” of a married couple. They say that a believer and unbeliever should not be unequally yoked. Mr. UnpaidTherapist did not quote the verse. But this is the sentiment he was getting at. Believers and unbelievers should not unite in marriage… it will only cause problems…

Here’s my problem: If you read that verse in context, Paul was not writing to the Corinthians about marriage. Instead, he was discussing teachers. He was telling them not to become involved with false prophets and idols. Not once in this chapter does he mention marriage or anything closely related to marriage. If Paul intended to advise believers not to marry unbelievers, why didn’t he bring it up in one of the chapters that actually talked about marriage?

On the other hand, in passages like 1 Corinthians 7, where it would make a lot of sense for Paul to give advice about whether or not Christians should marry non-Christians, Paul gives no such command. Instead verses 12-16 indicate that an unbeliever who remains in such a relationship is sanctified by his or her believing spouse and that their children are made holy rather than unclean. As a whole, I do not believe Paul encourages believers to unite with unbelievers, but I do not see where he actually says it is wrong.

Apparently I like to go backwards… so if we jump back in Chapter 7 to verse 9 we see the reference I made in a different post recently. “But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am, but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

Glance over 1 Corinthians and you will quickly realize that Paul warns these people up and down to flee from sexual immorality because it is so detrimental to their bodies and their spiritual health. Over and over again he tells them to avoid it. If you can’t keep it in your pants, get married!

If you will notice, he did not say that if you are struggling to control your sexual appetite you should wait until you find the godliest person alive and then get married. He did not say that you should only get married to someone who will accentuate and empower your ministry. He did not even say you should at least hold out for someone of the same faith. All Paul said was that if you really want to have sex you should get married. Period.

If a believer marries an unbeliever, they will naturally disagree at times. And yet, every married couple disagrees about some things. Mr. UnpaidTherapist is right, I’m sure, about the trials that come with these types of marriages. However, my question is this: Are those potential trials easier or harder to face than the desire for sex while I am still single?

The church community teaches that Christians should not date or marry non-Christians as a general rule. However, the church community also has a sucky divorce rate and a lot of extramarital sex scandals. I don’t buy this sentiment that all non-Christian men are skunks (and yes, that sentiment is rampant in the church realm). I also don’t buy the idea that all Christian men will make good husbands (don’t even get me started on that one…).

If we place two scenarios side by side, which one wins?

Scenario 1 shows a girl who is holding out for the right Christian man to come sweep her off her feet. This guy is hard to find. Therefore she remains single until she is about 36. Needless to say, a typical woman in her twenties and thirties has some significant sexual hunger. These are her most fertile years; she was created to desire sex. Although she waited to marry until she found Mr. Right at age 36, she was sexually active on a number of occasions prior. From ages 18 to 35 she slept with 9 different men. Each sexual encounter left a mark.

Scenario 2 displays a young lady who married her high school sweetheart at age 19. Although she was always a church-girl, he never showed much interest in the things of God. He gets irritated at how she “lives” at the church and how she always wants to give away their money to those dumb missionaries. But he loves her and he is loyal. They have their struggles, but he would never dream of leaving her. He is her one and only and she has made a choice never to leave him either.

Well? Who appears to be better off? I’m not telling anyone to lower their standards. I’m not advising anyone to marry the next jerk that asks them out just because they’re feeling kind of horny. But I raise the question: Is being “unequally yoked” in marriage really such a big deal? Is the common advice of “wait for Mr. Right – no matter how long it takes” really such a good idea in this sexually charged world? Is this ever-popular Bible lesson about believers only marrying believers actually biblical? What do you think?

The Practice Date

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Kissing is for real dates.

What is a “practice date”? A few weeks back, I read an article on a webzine. A reader sent in a question about “practice dating” and I scoffed. What the heck is a practice date? If two people like each other, they can go on a real date. If they do not like each other, they do not go out on dates. Isn’t that how it is supposed to work? There is no such thing as a practice date. Silly question, reader.

Little did I know that I would be invited to go out on one a few short weeks later. The conversation was nearly over. I had already said “Good night” when the question arrived. Quick response (I think I’d like to date this guy): I agreed with his proposition. Conversation ends. Life goes on.

A few days later, we talk again. All of the sudden I think back to that previous conversation.

What the heck did he mean by “practice” date?

Maybe I am old-fashioned. Or simplistic. But I never realized that dating and rocket science are comparatively complex. As I said before, I thought people who are interested in developing a romantic relationship go on dates and people who are not interested in developing a romantic relationship do not go on dates. Notice, I did not mention people who are ready to commit for life. I said people who are interested. I cannot figure out what kinds of people would fit into this brand new subcategory called “practice dating”. I also cannot figure out what the difference is between a date and a practice date. What is the purpose of this thing called a practice date?

Side hugs are more appropriate for practice dates.

What if two people went on this practice date together and a friend came up to one of them?

“Hey! I haven’t seen you in forever. How have you been? Oh and who’s this cute guy you’re dating? We haven’t met before!”

*Coughcough* “Oh, we aren’t dating. He’s actually just my practice date. Don’t worry, though. You aren’t the first to be confused!”

 

Should money be exchanged? “I haven’t had a date in so long… I just didn’t want to forget how to go about it. So I don’t actually like you or anything, but I was wondering if you might like to practice date me. Just to ‘keep me fresh’. I could pay you! … Unless you think that’s too similar to prostitution…”

 

Then, of course, there is the whole issue of boundaries. In real dating, there are enough questions regarding boundaries. Who should ask who out? When is the first kiss appropriate? How soon should we go formal? When should we meet the family? After how many dates do we become exclusive? The questions go on and on. The answers fluctuate with each and every couple.

What questions need to be answered in “practice dating”? Does it matter who makes the request since it isn’t a real date? Should the family ever even find out about a practice date? Is kissing okay as long as it’s deemed “practice kissing”?

 

Is practice dating intended to perfect that art-form known as actual dating? There is that age-old saying, “Practice makes perfect.” Although, I’ve always preferred a quote I used to hear from one of my basketball coaches. She said, “Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent.”

If I translate that concept over to dating, I could say that I’ve been practicing singleness for quite some time now. If I continue this way, I will likely wind up single permanently. I can deal with that. If I start dating, I will likely wind up in a relationship. But if I start “practice dating”, where will I end up? In an “almost-relationship”? I won’t really be single. I won’t really be in a relationship. I’ll just be frustrated.

 

Is practice dating like a safety net under the tightrope for real dating?

“I want to date this person but I’m not sure if this person wants to date me… I don’t want to face possible rejection.”

“I doubt things would work out between us… I’d rather not work at a real relationship with odds like this.”

“I find this person interesting and I would like to spend more time with her alone… But a date is a big leap.”

 

All of these thoughts bring me back to a guy I used to know. He pursued me almost immediately. I felt attached to him extremely quickly. He asked me out. I said that I would prefer to be his friend. He said that guys and girls cannot be friends. I told him that they could and that I would be his friend whether he liked it or not. After a few months I realized I could not be “just” his friend. As much as I hated to admit it, he was right. Once romantic interest has been established for either person, it is nearly impossible for a healthy friendship to exist. One person will always hope for something more, and ultimately feel disappointed.

 

So when I told Mr. Practice Date that I either want a real date or we need to back away from this close friendship, he said to me, “You realize that you’re doing the very same thing with our friendship as you do with your relationship prospects? You’re doing that same thing where you protect yourself from pain unless you’re unbelievably sure that it will amount to exactly what you want it to.”

In essence, I responded by asking why protecting myself is such a bad thing. At least I haven’t asked anyone out on any practice dates… 😉

Reflections: Are You a Leader?

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http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/voiceofhope/

Episode 2 was more primarily aimed toward men. That being said, I’m still going to respond.

First of all, I feel the need to emphasize that more than any other thing – what I want from a man if I am to get married – is godly leadership. I can probably count on one hand the number of men I know that are still single and within my age range whom I can truly view as potential spiritual leaders.

With that in mind, I would like to voice a dilemma. Many of my Christian female friends and I have noticed a devastating truth in the Christian dating scene. Godly men are not pursuing. It’s past the point of “maybe this guy isn’t pursuing me because he simply isn’t interested in me”. It’s quite obvious that these guys aren’t pursuing any women. The ones we find most desirable happen to be the ones who haven’t, to our knowledge, asked a girl out in the last 3 years. The reasoning? They are just “so” into God right now that they don’t want to be distracted by women. I get it. I’ve used the same argument. Here’s the thing: God never said that all dedicated Christians should be single. Yes, there were some very influential singles in the Bible. Yes, Jesus was single. But no where does my Bible say that all the decent Christian men in this world should stop pursuing Christian women. Although I believe the man in the video had the best of intentions, I kind of want to tell him “SHUT UP!!!!!” when he said that men should work harder on “being the right one” than “finding the right one”. He said that becoming the right one will attract Christian women. As a Christian woman who has been “attracted” by these kinds of guys, I want to argue with him and say, “Do one without neglecting the other. Work on becoming the right kind of guy while you find the right kind of girl.” As a Christian girl does not want to have to completely throw herself at you to earn your attention, you are going to have to pursue in order to marry one of us. There is nothing wrong with wanting a wife.  Find one, would you!

Final thought: I kind of didn’t like when he said that non-Christian men will view women as nothing more than trinkets or toys. I think he has a serious point, and that in some cases he may be correct. But I don’t believe that the secular world is completely void of men who value and respect women. That was an overstatement.

Guys, as this video was aimed toward you: What did you think?

Reflections: Are you Dateable?

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A friend of mine steered me toward a new series regarding singleness. http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/voiceofhope/

I believe the first one I watched (Are you Dateable?) made a lot of sense, so I plan to watch and respond to each episode. Feel free to offer your own feedback after viewing.

The expert in the first episode refers back to Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:36-40:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

I have to admit, I have always wondered about these words. Each and every time I read them, I ask the same question: What if you don’t love yourself? That word, “as”, holds a lot of power. I felt like jumping up and down when this man immediately addressed my ever-present question. I loved his point and I agree.

We are all screw-ups. We all make mistakes. We all act viciously at times. We all say things we regret. We all do things we regret. We all look in the mirror and find things we don’t like at times. We all have issues. Issues often make us ultra-aware of how unlovable we are.

Then there is God. The Bible is funny in that a large portion emphasizes mankind’s flaws. In other words, it agrees with all of our self-conscious, regretful, shame-faced feelings and says God is good, but we are not. And then it goes on to show that God deemed us lovable anyway! Although, we aren’t perfect, He proudly declares that we are made in His image! We disobeyed His loving guidance, and He gave us grace. “Try again. I’ll send my son, Jesus Christ, to give you another chance. And I will give you My Holy Spirit to help you along as well. It’s going to cost a lot… My son’s life, in fact. But you are worth it.”

I tear up as I envision my heavenly Father and His love for me. He offered up His only Begotten, in order to adopt me in! I can give Him my lopsided, scribbly picture – my attempt to portray the sunset He created… and rather than point out my mistakes and toss out my artwork, He smiles at that picture and hangs it upon His refrigerator. “That’s what my daughter drew for me!”

The Lord infuses value into His people. When I go to Him, I can pour out  my flaws, my weaknesses, all of my ISSUES, and God turns them all around. He heals me, teaches me, works with me, blesses me, and after all that when I screw up again, He keeps on loving me.

When I see the way He loves me, I cannot help but begin to see things from His perspective, and love myself as well.