Tag Archives: Relationships

Woman Amen – a lesson in humility

I am a hopeless romantic. When I listen to Dierks Bentley’s “Woman, Amen” for the first time my heart jumps a bit. I dream of the day when I meet the woman who gives “this drifters heart a home”.

Friends always at some point always seem to drift away. As careers, school, and spouses begin to take up time it becomes more difficult to keep up on consistent daily or weekly schedule. I myself have difficulty deciding what to do with my time: guitar, piano, voice, mountain biking, sailing, kiteboarding, writing, hiking, dancing, cooking, martial arts, lifting, and reading are just a few of my hobbies and interests. I want that day when I will have someone to stick with and who becomes the first one to say, “yes to” and the reason to say, ‘no’ to everything else.

Words matter and I cannot listen to songs without careful analyses. The song is not a cute romantic song about a mans love for a woman, but a ballad representing my sinful obsession with marriage.

The Christians call is to seek first the Kingdom of God and love the Lord your God with all your heart. As C.S Lewis teaches, we are to become little Christs. Our relationships and marriages are intended to make us more like Christ and help us seek His Kingdom. They are not an end in themselves. Kingdom first, then your spouse. If you miss this order you become as Solomon who was led astray by the women he married.

“She gives me faith, she gives me grace, she gives me hope… … strength … … love … love without end” “Thanks for the moon and the stars up above, Forgiveness’ a sin and your undying love, every twist every turn for the way you made sure, all my roads led to her” each verse focuses on the woman, with a nod to Christ.

I live the same priorities. In grade school I wanted to be good at everything  in preparation to seek the Kingdom in all things. After two heartbreaks and difficulty dealing with a revolving door of friends and friend groups, I started obsessing over the stability of a spouse to always be there.

Everything I chose revolved around a future spouse, even to the detriment of my own soul. I have given up new cars, motorcycles, trips, vacations, and my own hobbies (including writing) in an obsession with being able to provide my wife with whatever she wanted.

Did I have conflict with my family? It was practice bearing with someone difficult. Nothing involving doing good for the Kingdom of God in the present or the future, or about being more like Christ. (We will skip over the terrible marriage picture I had that bearing up under ‘relational suffering’ was a primary virtue of a good marriage relationship).

“This world has a way of shaking your faith / I’ve been broken again and again / But I need all the cracks in my shattered heart / ‘Cause that’s where her love gets in” The cracks in my life is where Christ’ love gets in. It is also through the brokenness that God worked to show me how I had replaced a desire to be a man after God’s own heart with a desire to be a husband after some fictitious future spouse. Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven, and all these things will be added unto you.

Epilogue:

I wrote the above piece in April of 2018. I am humbled that I learned nothing from what I wrote with my own hands. More than a year later and I found a girl that was everything I wanted on paper. From physical appearance to personality quirks and her relationship with God. Ironically what attracted me to her most was her very clear knowledge of her calling in all things to help those who need just a little bit of extra help in life. Something I had completely lost. Regardless of the lack of a ‘spark’ I became obsessed. Here was the kind, hospitable, spunky, slightly wild girl that I could go through life with.

Graciously God ended that relationship. It is the most painful breakup I have been through. I was breaking up with not just her but all my hopes for a spouse and family. God was cutting away the obsession that crowded out all desire for the kingdom of heaven. Cutting out part of ourselves even when good for us is painful. It is part of me learning to say ‘yes’ to the call of God to serve his Kingdom and ‘no’ to everything else.


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.


Spirals, Doors, and Feelings

Have you ever noticed that every time you hold a door for someone who is more than four feet away? They always smile, look at you, look down and rush the open door avoiding any awkward human contact. Or when you stop in the car and wave someone across the street: smile, look down, and then run.

I do the same thing when someone holds the door open for me or when I cross the street. I do not want to make them wait. Which, is silly and insulting. I feel insulted when I am holding the door and others rush. Excuse me, but do you really think that my kindness and charm is so petty that I would not be willing to wait? I did offer. At the same time I feel bad that I caused them to rush.

Am I the only one thinks this way? That there is a slow downward spiraling trend towards bad feelings? The door opening recievee, (the walker? Wait… no.) feels bad that someone has taken the time to hold the door and must wait. The person holding the door feels bad for the one who ran. Both feel they did a good deed. The one holding the door knows they held the door. The runner feels they saved the door opener from having to wait longer. But for why?

Why cannot we, or I, graciously except the offer of an open door just as we are? Walking whatever speed we are at. Do we not believe they are gracious enough? They may have offered yet still are burdened? As though their lives are so poor that waiting a few minutes longer would mean a mental breakdown later that evening.

But it is the same thing most anything we are offered. When parched and given water we suffice with one glass when we could have four. When fed we eat a meager portion when we could eat the whole pig.

If you ask me a question for which I have a ten-minute energetic answer, I shorten and deprecate my own answer. I do not have faith in the other person’s patience. I do not want to be a burden. I am afraid that if I talk to much I will not be liked. Living through fear and belittling my own voice I am depriving them from an experience of life, listening. I am depriving both of us the relationship developed from experiencing me more fully. I sink myself into a deeper isolation.

I am not a hero when I do this, and even if I was I am not the Hulk. I am not endless in my patience and long suffering. I am human and need a friend to speak with, share with, to be free to talk for five hours strait with (I have done this when I was little). I will take the risk. If you ask I will answer, and if I wear your patience thin I learned more about you and we are both better off.

So I commend you, when someone opens the door for you do not rush. Walk at the same pace through, smile, and look up. Look them in the eye with all the time it takes you to get to the door. Make it a real connection, and say thank you.


Living in the Noise

Previously I wrote about the danger of busyness. I hope it was impressed upon you that busyness can become an idol. However, there are times when we really are just justifiably busy. Similarly, there are times when we just get lost in the never ending options of how to spend our time. We can fill our time with more work or play or badminton, bad kittens, remote controlled cars, television, cat videos, and almost anything you can imagine.

The never ending options is more than just options of doing, it is also options of relating. our One can spend time with family, friends, significant others or acquaintances through in person encounters, telephone, texting, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, or any other medium.

The question I see is, how do we serve God in the middle of all of the noise? One answer is to simply remove a lot of the noise. I support anyone who wishes to do this act. I find it helpful and refreshing to remove oneself from our current isolation in ‘social’ media or remove activities to ease the stress on our life. It is a healthy practice to replace the cyber with the real communication.

However, there are also those that have no desire to depart from such activities. And as I am a firm believer that we should serve God wherever we are at, that means there must be a solution for how we are to serve God in the middle of the noise. In my current situation I am afraid that I am justifiably busy with a more than full time job and a master’s program.

I can go all week from waking, work, gym, homework to bed without a single ‘ministry’ receiving my time or energy. So I ask, God, what shall I do? Currently I travel for work so do not have a home church to serve in. Most all of my friend are just as busy themselves and so finding time to regularly communicate is a difficult process.

I have not landed on a satisfactory answer at all. However, I have come to realize a few little pieces by watching the world around me and asking God for wisdom. In recent personal situations I ask repeatedly, “God, please help me respond and work through this with grace” granted I have failed more than I have seen grace work. But, I can still focus on responding how Christ would with patience, kindness, self control and humility among others.

In my professional life, there is a disease of gossip and negativity at work. I can live counter to this with encouragement in Christ. So though most of the hours of my day I cannot directly account for or tie to a specific heavenly focus and affect, I can humbly walk knowing that God has a way for me to present my life as a sacrifice to Him.

 


Gay Marraige

I was at a LGBT workshop put on by the Flood church this last Sunday. It was a very well done conversation that highlighted several key points that should be considered when talking about the Church, Christ, and those with varying gender identities.

I seek to only highlight one thought from the discussion. Identity. The individual who shared, who himself was a man who was attracted to other men, and is also a brother in Christ emphasized one very important point. Ones attraction to one sex or another, heterosexual, homosexual, or bi sexual, or ones identifying as male or female is secondary to ones identity in Christ.

As a Christian, it is our relationship with Christ that defines us first, everything else comes from that.

For those that do not know Christ, lifting Him up and leading them to Him is the first step. For if they do not believe or know my Christ Jesus, why should I expect them to live as He calls me to?

I am very guilty in letting titles or identifying traits define me; male, adult, employee at such and such a company, boyfriend to so and so, brother, sensei, extrovert, etc. But first, my identity is in Christ, and I must live like Him.

For those that are not Christians reading this, please, don’t be shy about reminding my brothers and sisters where their identity is, gently of course. 🙂


A Moment of Courage, I don’t usually have: Open

I used to think that close friendship with another person meant that I knew everything about them. I asked them questions. I feel their pain. I tell them what I am excited about for the future. That is it. The closeness meter is determined by how much I see them cry.

It finally occurred to me that being close to someone means that they need to see you to. As you are. Hurts, pains, and failings. It can’t be them finding out, it needs to be you telling them. Otherwise, when the dark days come, and they do come, you won’t have anyone that knows how to help you, and you won’t tell anyone.

I am deciding that the, “others need to see you” is going to become, “I am going to show myself to others.” Unfortunately the timing of it goes that when I am ready to share something, something interrupts. Or I mentally just tell them as though I am teaching a lecture. More emotionally draining is the realization that I may not be around my most committed friends, whom I believe deserve to see me, when I am ready to share. This is usually why I refrain from sharing in these moments when I so desire to be known, “This should wait for my best friend.” So I bottle it up and forget.

Today, I decide that I must speak.

I must be found.

And I pray to God that it goes well, because my other fear is that talking about my mental demons will open up for others the same chasm I fall into.


Listening Part 2

I love hanging out with people who are blunt and simply call things out the way they are. I have several close friends that happily inform me, at the moment of observation regardless of whether it fits the current context or not, that, “your balding,” “you swim slow,” “you laugh really loud,” or, “you talk too much.”

Although some may find this offensive, I find this rather comforting. I always know where I stand with them. There is no guess or wondering if I am doing something right or something horribly wrong. Unfortunately this stems more from a lack of desire to listen closely to those who are not so forward.

I have many friends that are rather quite. They will inform you of everything you need to know, they just are not forward, firm, or loud about it. If I am tired, distracted, or not really paying that close of attention I usually always miss what they are communicating. This usually leads to friction, mis understandings and the need for scheduled conversations.

When it comes to listening, I feel that it is my job to listen in the language that the other communications, just as much as it is their job to realize the times when I may need them to spell it out in a bright neon sign instead of quite whispers.

The only issue, is that for those that are more quite or imply, I can also have the opposite tendency to pick up on things that they never intended. The whole picture needs to be in view. How do we learn? Only through experience.

Do you have any insights or stories of listening well to those who are more reserved?