There are a lot of movies out there with a desperately single female protagonist. The woman is usually in her late 20’s and gorgeous, with few real issues, but several endearing quirks. That, or she’s got super ridiculous issues, but she’s so gorgeous that some guy would do anything to be with her.
One of my favorite movies dealing with the aging single woman is called Broken English. It’s more realistic than most, about a woman who is painfully single. She has a string of terrible dates and becomes leery of anyone showing interest, such that she finds it difficult even to be hit on because she feels this deep distrust of men who would be interested in her. It’s quite amazing to want someone to want you, but then distrust anyone who actually does. What’s wrong with them that they’re interested in me? And how quickly are they going to decide I’m not worth their effort?
It’s a mess. At some point the idea of being in a relationship starts to sound like the possibility of becoming an astronaut. You already know how much I fear outer space, but somehow I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s a whole imaginary life that I can’t crumple up and throw away. It’s tattooed all over me with invisible ink. I know you think those are freckles covering my nearly-middle-aged skin, but they are actually hopes, and disappointed hopes. Sun kisses, or scars, or maybe notches to record imagined scenarios… Continue reading “Underneath”
I have read several articles on the when and the where of using, and not using, Christian jargon (this one being the funniest), but I would like to propose that it has no place at all in the communication of faith.
In a post about words, an “official” definition seems appropriate:
Jargon = special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand.
Probably the most slanted definition I found was this:
Jargon = a form of language regarded as barbarous, debased, or hybrid.
There are several places where verbal short hand and specialized phrases are handy. They make work and study more efficient if the jargon exchange is between two people “in the know.”
Unfortunately, because people love to sound smart, they will often use their specialized language with people who are not “in the know” either as a way of detecting such fools, or to impress newbies or outsiders… Continue reading “Just To Be Clear”
I may be in the minority here, but I see confusion as a useful tool.
Every group has its own slang. They have stories they retell, behavior they agree is The Thing. I was with some friends recently who are part of what I would call The Party Scene. I haven’t been a part of that scene for over 20 years, so there were several things they all did that were new to me. I found myself curious about the history behind things like everyone tapping their shot glass on the table/bar simultaneously before drinking those shots in unison.
Why do they do that?
It’s not that I need to fit in, but also I don’t want to offend people out of my ignorance. I’m both curious about the “why” behind all of the things people “just do,” and interested in who people are behind their behavior.
These “norms” can be found all over the world. When I’ve had extended visits to Germany, for example, I discovered that instead of drinking 7-UP when someone is sick (as people did when I was growing up in the USA), they drink Coca Cola. Also when sick, Germans don scarves. Now that I understand the reasons behind these rituals, they make sense to me and although I’ve never been one to drink soda, I do find myself sporting a scarf now when I feel under the weather.
If you’re a Christian you hopefully recognize these cultural idiosyncrasies also apply to you and your family or church….
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A year ago I was keenly longing for my own place- a kitchen in which to bake, a living room to invite people into, wall space to hang my prints.
Three months ago I was making detailed plans for getting an RV to live in so that I could have my own home while still being able to travel.
I’m pretty happy staying in guest rooms and sleeping on couches, but at the same time, I find myself mentally decorating some imaginary home of my own. I spend a little time here and there “shopping” for things like area rugs and arm chairs. My dream house is the coolest thing you’ve never seen.
Maybe I talk about this a lot?
If it seems like I’m repeating myself, it’s probably because I’ve been in this flexible state for the last 4 years- not at all what I expected from life so near to 40. While I’m waiting and waiting to find out where “home” is, I learn more and more deeply how comfortable it can be to be homeless…
Continue reading “Splendid Spinsterhood”
Most of us want to be Good People. We tend to think that, just as a child grows from infancy to adulthood, everyone is at some stage of “growing up” toward maturity and greater independence.
A few months ago I posted something a friend of mine wrote where she mentioned a pastor who had committed suicide. Weeks later, another friend asked me about this- disturbed to consider a pastor doing such a horrible, desperate thing. Because of this idea we have that spiritual growth is a steep climb up a mountain made increasingly on your own, it is horrifying when someone “ahead” of us on the path gives up or slides dramatically backward.
We ask ourselves, “What is the point of my climbing if someone like that can fall?”
The bad news is that being a pastor or a missionary or a nun will not safeguard us from being Bad People, from getting depressed, from having broken relationships, from sin or from tragedy (a fact that is noticed easily by people who keep their distance from Christianity). Although we gain maturity and we learn lessons, we’re always light years away from being grown up… Continue reading “Getting it Right”
Life is on the verge of transition. I’m not speaking existentially for all, but specifically for myself. This coming week will be the end of a long and full season with the School of Biblical Studies. All of the celebrations will occur, students will graduate, millions of photos will be taken with strings of people side hugging and smiling, epic recap videos will be cried over, mini speeches will be made.
I pan out that way to invite you in to the universal themes of hard won victories and deeply forged friendships.
On a more personal level, I hate goodbyes.
Let’s be clear, many stages of life and relationship are difficult. I was talking with a friend earlier today and she expressed how much easier it is to be in our mid 30’s than it was to be in our 20’s, and yet emotions never seem to lose their vivid colors. We are much more likely to laugh together over a mistake than to cry alone, but mistakes still require the getting back up part. I’m not quite an old lady yet, but getting back up requires a bit more effort now than at 21… Continue reading “Like It Or Not”
A Father’s Love: Father to the Fatherless
Guest Post by Thad Nelson
I was on a construction jobsite a few years back listening to a conversation between two of my co-workers about how terrible their fathers were and I interjected quite insensitively how awesome my own father was. This stopped the conversation and Charlie says to me, “Hey stop it. You’re spoiling our pity party!” It was at this point in my life that I really stopped and took stock of who my father is and what I had learned from him. Peacemaking, patience, joy, sticktuitiveness, self control, frugality, gentleness.
My dad never had an opinion when it came to eating out. He is generally not a picky person but it’s not like he doesn’t have favorite things:
Lasagna, 1000 island dressing, and carrot cake, to name a few, but I realized in retrospect that what he really wanted for dinner was for us to be happy and not to fight. When I was young I wanted a certain wood toy and so he set out to build it for me. I was so distraught by the noise of the saw that he stopped and never made it. I think about myself in a similar situation and I think I would say, “If you don’t like it, then go in the house” Turns out, I am not my father. I began to recognize that he had consistently modeled the art of peacemaking by setting aside his own wants and desires for the wants and desires of others.
I would say that I learned patience from my father from countless hunting and fishing trips, but it would not quite be accurate. At least not in the sense that I typically think of his patience. He is patient with people. He was patient with me and my sister and my mother and our stray cats and all our shortcomings… Continue reading “A Father’s Love”
People have told me many times that I have a unique view of the world. Sometimes this means I’m the only one laughing at my own jokes. Other times it leads to misunderstanding, when I don’t notice or I don’t understand commonly held expectations or viewpoints.
For that reason, something that’s pretty important to me is viewing people as individuals.
Although I certainly fall into several categories, the thing that will be most offensive (and possibly hurtful) to me is if someone shoves me into a category as a way of dealing with me.
I seek, as much as I can, to let people be who they are. I do not always do this well. Sometimes I fail miserably.
Lately I’ve had several encounters which cause me to notice one of my categories with the eyes of our culture.
That category is, The Single Woman.
I’m going to share a list of ways that I do not fit what is commonly believed concerning this category. I know other women who do fit these expectations. There are also ways that I fit into the category that other women do not.
In no particular order… Continue reading “All the Single Ladies”
That title is a bit of a misnomer. Let’s be honest- I can’t tell you what divorce is like for everyone who experiences that sad undertaking. I do, however, think it could be helpful to hear some of my experience. I only have a little advice which I’ll tell you now in case you get bored with my story:
1. Learn as much as you can about the reality of marriage and the faults of the person you want to marry before you get married. Make a conscious choice and not an emotional leap.
2. If it’s too late and the divorce has happened (is happening) make forgiveness your priority. Forgive yourself and your spouse completely. Unless you don’t really want to enjoy your life. If that’s the case, skip forgiving.
In the midst of it, divorce is like having a limb chopped off. It’s likely that for many, that feeling of disastrous separation from a part of yourself does not go away. Even if the limb were riddled with disease and barely operating in its intended function, it is still horrible to have it removed. It was, after all, yours. The empty space serves as a constant reminder of what could have been.
I get too metaphorical, I’ll now go narrative.
It was July 7th (some years ago) the day that my former husband told me all of his news- the most central was his choosing to walk away from God, whom he could no longer believe existed. The divorce part was almost an afterthought of his realizations and decisions. I don’t blame him for not seeing things the way I saw them. To him, I believe (and he may read this and correct me) we had become like roommates and our separation seemed a matter of course. It was not so for me. For me, he was my husband and unmarrying was a matter of purposeful destruction… Continue reading “Divorce: Crash Course”
When I was young I had a pretty bad temper. “Seeing red” was a figure of speech that I understood completely.
Back then, we also did our family fighting with really loud voices. When it went on between others and myself, it was cathartic, when it was other members of my family with each other, it tipped over into stressful. I remember one time going into my room, slamming the door and plugging my ears so tightly that I hurt myself, all because of an argument in which I was not involved.
It was for that reason that I began looking for “fixes,” or, more appropriately termed, “diffusers.” Jokes are my favorite- ones that make me the fool usually work out the best because there’s no possibility for things to be taken wrong. Every once in a while I found actual wisdom that calmed things. Not so much like Solomon, but more like the time I encouraged my sister to not stay stubbornly in the car at McDonalds because she’d be hungry later when her anger had cooled.
As an adult there is really never any yelling. I still sometimes get the urge to slam doors, but if I notice the urge in time, I can diffuse it by calling myself out as passive aggressive… Continue reading “Let’s Fight”
I hear the phrase “fear of man” pretty often among the people with whom I spend most of my time.
Sometimes, unfortunately, phrases like this begin to lose their meaning for me when they’ve been used too often. I understand them less and less in any practical fashion and they slide past me unnoticed in the daily barrage of words.
Then one day someone will talk about one of these realities without using the common phrase and suddenly I am struck with the truth and given a much needed heart check… Continue reading “Land Mines”
I am inexorably attracted to people who know how much they are loved by God and they allow this knowledge to change them.
This Spring I will have been a Christian for twenty years. In that time I have met all kinds of believers; the bitter but tenacious, the happy naive, the fearfully upright, and the broken beggars who walk around amazed to be so beloved by the creator of the Universe.
“If we know how great is the love of Jesus for us we will never be afraid to go to Him in all our poverty, all our weakness, all our spiritual wretchedness and infirmity. Indeed, when we understand the true nature of His love for us, we will prefer to come to him poor and helpless. We can be glad of our helplessness when we really believe that His power is made perfect in our infirmity.” ~Thomas Merton
Honestly, I still spend much of my time with my forehead wrinkled up, carrying this weight of worry around with me. Every once in a while I look up and realize how truly ludicrous is this posture… Continue reading “What God Says”
I’ve been mentally digesting two important thoughts today that seem to oppose each other.
Thought number 1 came this morning from the Twitter world. It struck me so soundly, that I typed it into a sticky note on my computer. It’s been staring at me all day.
“Hyper-individualism leads to spiritual homelessness.” -Bevin Ginder
This makes so much sense. I have walked that particular road, although I have also seen God pushing me ever toward interdependence with other believers.
Thought number 2 came this afternoon in class. Ron Smith, the founder of SBS is here teaching the Gospel of John to us. Today, in the first four chapters, he touched on several great things about Jesus, but one that got stuck right in my throat. In John chapter 1 Jesus is baptized. John the baptist (who dunked the Lord himself), says that he saw heaven open and the Spirit descend upon Jesus like a dove. He saw the Spirit, and it was like a dove.
Ron pointed out something that makes the dove particularly unique among birds; their flight pattern is unpredictable…. Continue reading “Mental Digestion”
This morning my Facebook update said,
“The morning after your ex husband convinces you to sign up for an online dating service. Like buyers remorse only a lot weirder.”
I realize there are several things about that sentence that are strange.
So yes, I hung out with my ex (or, as I like to call him, my former husband) yesterday for the first time in two years. There is no handbook on the ways to go from married to divorced to friends, but there are probably few who could or should do this. Our situation is special for reasons that I won’t share here, but you’re welcome to ask me about in person.
It was so good to catch up with him, to be like friends again. We live very different lives now, but are still family.
And, like family, we chatted about stuff like jobs, challenges, joys and dating. The last was a short story on my part because I don’t really date. He asked if I’d ever tried online dating and I said it had never occurred to me to even consider. So he gave me the skinny. The down-low. And I thought, “Huh. Why not?”
It was interesting last night to fill out a profile and answer questions.
But then…. Continue reading “Confessions of Single Woman”
I’m that lady who alternately weeps and cracks jokes. It looks like insanity, but it is actually exactly how to stay sane.
Today I met a 70yr old version of myself.
Every week, some of our students and one of our staff go next door to an assisted living home to lead a Bible study. Every week, whoever goes comes back with full hearts and good stories. Those people are amazing. Sometimes only of a few of them show up, sometimes more than 5. Sometimes several people leave in the middle. It’s not just a place for old people, it’s for anyone who needs assistance in living, so there are people as young as 18 and one lady who is 97 and many of them are noticeably “different.”
Today the 97yr old woman came (I’ll call her Beth), as well as two other women (I will call them Cindy and Lily). Cindy left early because her bipolar disorder was making it hard for her to sit with a group of people. She apologized profusely, but exited quickly. Lily was the old version of me and she spent part of the time cracking jokes, noticing random things (“Look out that window! There’s a plane that just flew over the peak!”), and the other part of the time, she wept openly…. Continue reading “Old Acquaintance”