Tag Archives: heart

The Dating Disease

No one knows when the epidemic started. But it spread rapidly and was discovered all at once all over the world. It infected young and old and crossed international borders. The devastation broke up families, caused best friends to abandon each other, and un-measurable heartache. The dating game is now a disease and wrecks emotional havoc on the human heart.

This phenomenon is not unique to America. I have friends in Germany, Latin America, France, Japan, and even neutral Switzerland that all attest that dating is horrible. Symptoms include ghosting, bread crumming, one date willies, long drawn out breakups, repeated makeups, and more time spent analyzing symptoms than living.

Articles are starting to pop up with cures for the above list of dating symptoms. Most articles deal with avoiding the symptoms. These are not cures if you want fulfilling lifelong relationship. The only way to cure dating rather than avoid symptoms is with healthy platonic friendships. If you can find un-infected ones. The worst part is that the cure itself has its own issues.

Platonic friendships are infected by the transient delusional realities of social media and a consumer driven culture. Most communication happens through electronics. Interpersonal communication has mutated from an in-person eye to eye communication of events that requires intention and care, to the upload of a simple photo / or status share with no particular ‘friend’ in mind as the recipient. Without a specific intent, the communication becomes insignificant to a relationship.

Friends become commodities. A seemingly endless supply exists through dating apps / friendship apps, and the ease of adding someone on social media. One can try on friends like one tries on clothes. Don’t like how they respond to your complaints? There is that one acquaintance you had in high school you can meet again. Do they expect you to grow up and occasionally disagree with you? There is that other person you met at the bar last week. No permanence. No humility. No self-sacrifice to stick by your friends.

Friendships should be for life, at least a few of them. You should have a few friends that know everything, you intentionally make time for, plan trips with, bring up the difficult conversations, allow to call you out, and call them out. These types of relationships are difficult, time consuming and require you to sacrifice your own wants and needs for theirs.

The lack of these tightly connected relationships allows the infection of romantic relationships with the feelings and desire for support that should be held by lifetime friends. This emotional attachment is more than a dating relationship, or any romantic relationship, should bear on its own. The emotional attachment to an innately unstable relationship is what causes most of the pain in dating.

Each relationship needs to have an emotional, physical, and time commitment that is equal to its permanency. If the relationship has no permanency or commitment, don’t give up the emotional parts of yourself that are important. Is the friendship permanent? Then you should actively seek them out to share in person the important parts of your life.

A dating relationship is not permanent. When it is given the same amount of emotional and energy input as a permanent relationship, it causes the pain and sickness. The only way to make dating less painful, is to treat it like dating, and treat your best friends like best friends, with energy, intention, and dedicated love.

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How to Fight Brokenness, Do Good

The world hurts. All around I see things that are broken, divorces, yelling matches, ongoing jaded arguments, affairs, violence, controlling behavior, bigotry etc. I see things that are not necessarily broken but just ugly, a mean word, negative assumptions, miscommunication, obsession, unhealthy habits, pushing work on to others and more. It all comes down to relationships. Broken and ugly relationships between family members, among friends, students and teachers, politicians and their constituents.

I know friends struggling with a divorce, another an eating disorder, another that feels lonely and neglected, another wasting their life on a career they don’t love. People matter a great deal to me and all of these hurts and pain can be overwhelming. I immaturely can default to just keeping busy in my own world to distract from everything I see. Not only those people I know personally but the eyes and weary faces of those at the grocery store can weigh on my heart.

Even more so I am burdened when it is through my hand that the ugliness comes. From obvious things like saying unkind things to those that are close, being mean to my mother, failing to respect boundaries, or most recently the subtlety of planning to be able to deal with a bad marriage rather than working towards being ready for a great one.

That last one, that subtle move from focusing on negative to positive is very helpful. In a world with the media spewing all of the things gone wrong with the world from violence, to political systems, to laws, child kidnappings, sex trade, etc. Where can we even begin? What really helps? There are those that have a voice and an audience with several million views. Me? I had seven views of my blog yesterday. Mostly from Canada. Where I am pretty sure even thieves say they are sorry.

Do good. Do right. Have compassion. When someone is posting inflammatory language on Facebook, siding with one person or another, listen to their heart. They are probably hurting. Coming back with the other extreme probably won’t help. Even if kind words won’t change their view, they will contribute to beauty in the world and not an ugly argument.

Do good for the world in front of you. You may be able to go out and serve at a homeless shelter or spend hours a week mentoring children at risk. But if you don’t, then simply do good to all of those around you and what touches your heart. Do at risk youth touch your heart? Then play with kids you know. Share words of advice. Encourage them and tell them nice things. Share stories of your life that teach a lesson.

Do divorces pain your heart? Then listen to those struggling in their marriage. Have compassion on the divorced, and do good in your own relationships. Listen, understand, communicate, encourage, write letters, leave notes for others, especially a significant other. Kindly speak up when you see ugly behavior in others that are single or taken.

For me, most of all, I just feel for those that are sad, stressed, burdened or confused. So, I smile. I smile in public, I smile at the gym. I may not change their life, but for a moment I share something meaningful. I am trying to add being as encouraging and uplifting as possible. I believe in the potential of all my friends whether they see it or not. I want to remind them of who they are, because we all forget who we are at times.

The best way to combat wrong is to do right. Actively. That may be actively targeting a specific wrong, or it may just be doing the right thing in your own life. Spread beauty.


Doubt, and Faith

I doubt God. I have difficulty, very often, believing in his goodness. Although I know all of the theological answers, the sin in the world around me forces me to ask, why? What purpose? The sin that affects my heart causes me to ask, why? Where are you?
I don’t see him in events surrounding sin, and the ripple affect that it has on my life. MY LIFE. I have a hole in my heart from hurt and pain. I want it filled. I want it answered. Rather than see answers, I see more pain. I am too focused on that current pain to look forward to what God has. I want my answer now, I say as a true instant gratification American. Justice, now.
I want to see God. I want to see him act and change the world around me. Not just tell me in a book it will happen some day.
So I turn to people. They are here, they are present. But then, the hurt in my heart doesn’t just ask for a shoulder to lean on, or someone to walk with. It demands to be filled, and to have an answer. So rather than relate with another I find myself taking from them. Their energy, their emotional stability, just to satisfy my need. This obviously causes problems.
I blame myself for these problems. But I am God’s creation, and he has supposedly guided my life? So I ask why, and I do, as I have always done, the same thing to him as I do to everyone else. I demand an answer and I demand a healing to my soul. I don’t relate, I don’t listen. I don’t just tell him and watch.
Watching. Listening. Waiting. I do not do that very well. So I doubt. I don’t see God as present. He must be aloof. Watching from above. Waiting to see if I ask enough. Then, then he will come to me in a voice. Then I read a book, have a realization that I am not being grateful, so I begin thanking God for what I have. Of course, it wasn’t God who taught me that, I read it in a book. So I keep waiting for him to speak.
Of course, he doesn’t.
I get hurt.
I want healing.
The cycle continues.
My arguments get more and more idiotic. I remember telling a friend once, “The worst part about my argument with God, is that right now, I think I am winning”. Never a good place to be.
I even admit and often joke that it is hard to tell whether what I am feeling is something I ate, or the voice of God. I recently was at a bible study, left early because I get up for work early, but then went back for the prayer portion. When asked why I was back I said, “Well, I think that God told me to come back. That or I just wanted more attention. I really can’t tell which”
I don’t know what did it. What changed my thought. But I suddenly caught myself in this bitter trap of disrespect and ungratefulness. So I finally began to thank God for things. Then I had an emotionally devastating event occur. I called out to God. But for some unexplainable reason, it was different this time. It finally clicked, the connection between God and my world. I asked God, “Please refine me and purify me, guide me in your paths by any means necessary, people, nature, dogs” I was running, and passed a peacock. It was beautiful.
In asking this way, I am living in faith that God will answer. And I am removing from myself the excuse of, “that was just a coincidence” God can work through anything. I must be thankful to him for all good things, for his hand is in all things we do that are good, for that is part of his image.
In reality, I do know where this clarity came from. It was a gift, from God. And that is something that I do not doubt.


Stories of a Broken World

                I had particularly good morning (which for me starts at 3 AM) made toasty by my overly affective heater and filled with contemplation on the way to work. I passed a billboard for the California Lotto. The stakes over 100 million dollars.

Later that evening, past my bed time of 7 PM I was on my way home from an event and decided to stop and buy two lotto tickets. I had debated whether or not to stop for about five minutes beforehand in my head. I needed to get to bed. I don’t plan on winning, but the excitement of waiting to see if any numbers line up is worth the occasional pocket change to me, and apparently losing a few minutes of sleep as well.

                I had a nice interchange with the cashier who has worked at that particular corner store for close to 10 years or more. “I am paying my, ‘I am not good at math’ tax to the state.” I quipped and smiled. I returned to and started my car, my obnoxiously bright HID lights slowly warmed up. A young homeless looking couple was huddled between a Redbox and an ice machine and lifted up a cardboard sign to shield their eyes. The sign red, “Please help me shelter my wife”

                I thought to myself, “I need to get to bed, I have to be up early and need to make sure I am awake as not to endanger my possible promotion. Besides, I don’t have cash on me.” The juxtaposition losing a few minutes of sleep and the last of my small change, and then justifying not helping based upon money and time horrified me—the whole way home.

                It is choices like these that show me how far my frozen heart has fallen. I am thankful I even noticed, and noticing is the first step. But oh how many shattered pieces has my heart become? It is my goal to piece it back together broken shard by broken shard, and then to thaw it out.

                But I am fighting the mental fight against something unreal. Television, Hollywood, the news, and a few unfortunate events have taught me, “why bother?” There are no guarantees that one, or many acts of kindness will make a difference. There is only a tiny flicker of a light holding on to, because it is right. I hope it warms up like the lights of my car, so it is something piercing and causes the pains of life to shield themselves. 


Reclaiming My Soul

                When I graduated from Multnomah University, I had a small house party. My closest friends came and we all played a bunch of group games. I wanted to go around and tell everyone how much I appreciated them, but of course they all objected and said they wanted to do the reverse. Two themes stood out to me.

The first was several of my friends mentioning in different words, that they felt like they were the person they were the person they were supposed to be when I was engaged in their lives. I had always tried to build a habit of seeing people as they could become, and not just where they were at. Apparently I succeeded.

The second was a story that I had completely forgotten about, was retold to me by Tamara. At church one Sunday morning we had a homeless man come in. After speaking with him for a while I led him in to have a seat. Partway through the sermon (apparently) I noticed that he could not keep from salivating on himself. So I rose, quietly went to the bathroom and brought him some paper towels to clean himself up with.

I am very grateful to Ray and Tamara for all of their input into my life. I must give much of my educational credit to Ray for all of his teaching. Most of all I am appreciative of him teaching compassion, which is best represented by Tamara’s retelling of this story. Even after all the study and education to acquire my degree, the part of college that really matters is the lives that I have touched. All the people whose futures I have believed in.

Unfortunately in the year or so after graduating that part of me that looked out for even the smallest or most outcast of people has fallen asleep. But Christ is in the process of healing the scars that have hardened my heart.

                It has been a very long time since I have written any stories. As my heart is coming alive again I wish to share the compassion for the world through stories. I hope you enjoy.


Challenging Questions of the Heart: “Are People Worth It?” part ii

                Previously I shared how a friend of mine that I had poured hours of my time and energy into told me that no one showed that they cared. It was as though he did not even see me. I also know that I was not the only one giving him time and energy. But his eyes were blind, he needed to see clearly.

                Seeing people as worth it involves being able to see them as ones made in the image of God, one who if we saw them in their true nature would inspire in us awe that we have not known, which will be the topic of my next post. But for now we must also make sure that we relate with others wholly and not allow our culture to short circuit our ability to love and be loved. My friend wanted something, connection, but had learned to only see it in certain ways. Personally I think he really wanted a romantic relationship, so all other forms of love were missed.

                One of the problems with our relationships is that we have been tempered by our society to, “have it your way,” the hashtag of Burger King. We have been taught since we were little that we were special and unique. Advertising caters to this desire to be special and receive special products. Chicken Soup for the (insert any market that has money and wants to feel special) soul. So when it comes to love, we want it our way.

                As smart Christians, we do this a little bit better than the advertising gurus, or at least that is what we tell ourselves. The Five Love Languages teaches us how to cater how we love to others and how to ask to have love catered to us. This instills in us a desire for life and relationships to be a certain way. If we have something outside of that it is a problem that needs to be fixed with more self-help books. Combine that with no societal trained ideal of “choosing to be content” and a constant desire for more and you have a natural bent to desire to be loved in a very specific way without being content with other alternatives.

                As people who are servants of Christ, we need to be able to reach out to others where they are at. Step into their shoes and do what we can to love others on their terms. However on the same token, we must also be willing to accept love, and choose to be content with it when it doesn’t look the way we want to. I personally am not into stuff. I don’t like stuff. I would be happy if I had almost nothing. However if a friend gets me a gift, I need to be able to see that it says, “I love you” and drink it up even if it isn’t my cup of coffee, but tea instead.