Don’t let others frame your life questions

When I was in high school, people were always asking me

“Where are you going to go to college?”

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Like any high school student knows what to do with their life! and if they do, no one likes them!

Once in college, they asked

“What’s your major? How are you going to use that?”

Once in grad school, it was

“When are you going to graduate?”

This Is Awkward Alice In Wonderland GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Once graduated, people became bored with my career trajectory and began an assault of inquiries about my relationship status.

“Who are you dating right now?”

“Why aren’t you dating anyone?”

Rude Tituss Burgess GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

“What are you doing to snag a man?” *

Now that I’ve been dating an amazin-raisin feller for a few months, I’m starting to get the

“So do you think you two are going to get married?”

Faint Fainting GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Anddddd I’m not there yet, but I’ve heard married people complain they get hounded with

“When are y’all going to have kids?”

And from there , who knows – probably constant badgering about when you’re going to buy a house, make a star athlete out of your kid, retire, etc etc etc

Ayiyiyi! Too many nosy presumptive questions!

Just imagine if every time a soccer mom asked me when I was getting married, I said “I don’t know — when are you getting your PhD?” Of course that would be mighty rude,  because that’s obviously not their priority right now.. and getting a PhD likely does not fit into their life goals at all. Their question was of course just as rude because getting married *obviously* wasn’t my top priority in my 20s, and who’s to say it fits into my life goals at all.**  But I wouldn’t be that snarky because I choose to take the high road! #holy

*anyway*

Regardless of the intent of the questioners, it’s distressing to answer over and over and over again “I don’t know,” or “not anytime soon,” or “when I receive a direct word from the Almighty.”

If you’re constantly hounded by any one or more of these questions, I encourage you to pump the brakes, be still, and actively reject the latent assumptions built into these questions. They are

1) you *must* finish / do / choose the activity in question and

2) you are “falling behind” or a failure of a human being if you don’t tick off the running list of normal human activities in the order and time frame that suits all your friends and family.

So take heart! Your life is not anyone else’s life. Sure, you want to check in with trusted people who love you to make sure you’re not doing anything obviously destructive (e.g. staying in a toxic relationship), but other than that… you have so much freedom!  Even if the questioners are simply trying to be friendly and interested in your life, don’t let them get to ya!

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I want this to be you, not caring when other people are uncomfortable when you deviate too much from their own life path

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

*Writing this blog, obvs *snorts*

**Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. You’ll never know until I’m deadz bwahaha

For the love of Chick Fil A, please no more Christian dating books

I   C A N N O T   T A K E   A N Y M O R E  C H R I S T I A N   B O O K S   A B O U T   D A T I N G.

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It’s too much y’all. (pixabay image, edited by moi) Also note that I didn’t include the Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller because that book is FIRE

Is it because my heart is hardened?

 

Is it because I’m living in sin and want to avoid conviction?

 

Is it because I am resistant to wisdom? 

 

No. It is for this simple reason — in no other area of Christian life have I seen Christian wisdom take such a phariseeical turn so quickly.

The authors are not necessarily to blame for this, but I think this is what happens — a Christian man/woman/couple figures out a way to date that seems in-line with the Christian faith. They then share their insights and wisdom from their own personal experiences. Christians read these books, and instead of seeing them for what they are –  musings by good but still-being-sanctified people – they see them as RULES that we all must follow, lest we be pegged as pagos. #pagopegged #ouch

But let’s all take a step back and get a little perspective — in biblio times, dating didn’t exist. You were a child, then boom you go through puberty, then boom you are married. This doesn’t mean that the Christian faith is irrelevant to how we date, but it does mean that pretty much any *specific* dating advice is just that – advice from humans – not the Word of God.

So let’s not perpetuate self-righteousness and phariseeism by acting as if the compilation of some Christian dude’s musings on dating is The Way the Truth and the Life. There is probably wisdom in many Christian books on dating, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that if you don’t follow that author’s recommendations you are rebelling against the God of the universe. For example – In Single, Dating, Engaged, Married,* Ben Stuart talks about how he would always tell his now-wife Donna the next time he was going to contact her. He saw this as a sweet way to reduce her stress – she didn’t have to worry about if / when he was going to contact her, she already knew – “I’ll call you tomorrow.” I agree, that is sweet. Does that mean that if a guy doesn’t communicate like that to you, you should kick him to the curb? No! It’s a nice specific example of how Christian faith can play out IRL, but it is by no means a rule.

Side note 1 – many dating books are probably somewhat useful for high-schoolers who are still living with their parents, and truly have zero life experience to help them navigate dating with wisdom. But there are some dating practices that are absurd if not impossible when you are living on your own (e.g. the dude asking the Dad’s permission to date). So let’s recognize that not ALL Christians get married when they are 19, and what worked for a man dating his wife in undergrad may not be useful for a 29 year old woman.

Side note 2 – I’m also getting cranky with Christian women who assume they are entitled to impart their sage dating advice. I don’t owe it to you to spill all the beans of my romantic life just because we are both Christians, and frankly many of you haven’t earned the right to tell me what to do or hear the intimate details of my life and heart. If you are concerned about my dating choices, how ’bout you pray for the Spirit to convict me directly instead of appointing yourself as my accountability supervisor. I suggest with all the gentle love I can muster that you are just as likely to turn me into an anxious self-righteous snoot pants than to protect me from harm. Just sayin’. As the modern sage John Crist would say, “check your heart.”

I plan to approach dating with the freedom Christ gained for me, as captured by the idea “Everything is permissible, not everything is beneficial.”** Earlier this year I demoralized a dating decision and thought “I can date this person if I want. We could have wild sex every night and guess what.. I would still be a Christian. Jesus might be grieved, but he would still love me. Now, knowing this, do I want to? What would be the consequences?” And that actually led me to a healthy decision that was MY decision, not a half-hearted, dutiful response to the pressures of others.

Okay.. that’s all! Be free!

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

*At least he talked about this in his Single | Dating | Engaged | Married sermons when he was preaching at Breakaway. I actually never read his book because I heard it was basically the written version of his sermons. 😀

**1 Corinthians 10:23

 

Tear down the damned high places

Whenever I read through the Kings and Chronicles of the old testament, I get frustrated at this statement that’s tacked onto the end of almost every single king’s reign- whether he was evil or righteous –  “… but he didn’t tear down the high places.”

I’m not theologically schooled enough to fully break down what “high places” meant for the ancient Israelites or the full spiritual symbolism, but to me it symbolized an evil stronghold that even the good leaders of that time didn’t have the will or guts to get rid of.

Seeing this phrase annoyed me so much that it stuck with me… and became irritatingly relevant.

Ya see, there was a habit in my life I was holding on to that was not good for me. Eventually, I half-heartedly built a barrier to keep it out of my life. But… my wall had cracks all in it. I kinda sorta maybe left ways for this habit to worm its way back into my thoughts. After a few times of thinking about the habit, it started to seem less harmful.. silly almost. Then I thought “I’m strong enough to handle this,” and started to dabble in it again. Then dabbling turned into regular use, regular use into bingeing… Which of course made me feel especially guilty and terrible, because I knew I was fully re-immersing myself in a behavior that — at my best — I didn’t want.

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Feeble wall building =  lamé

But later in my life, my amazing wise sister came to visit. My sister cannot stand this habit, and especially what this habit did to me. I was explaining to her how my most recent entanglement with this habit had upset me. Although she was sympathetic – dear soul that she is – I could also tell that she was frustrated. And in my heart of hearts I couldn’t blame her! I was choosing to let myself be hurt.

So I set my face like steel, and this time when I cut this habit it out, I pulverized it. 100%.

That same week, I met my next boyfriend.*  While we were dating and sharing about ourselves, this habit came up… as they always seem to do … and he asked me straight up if I was still a regular user, so to speak. I’m telling y’all… it felt amazing to look him in the eye and be able to honestly say “Nope. That is 100% donezos.”

Before, a part of me was unwilling to cut this habit off completely.  Because like almost all habits that enfold you and steal your heart away from wholeness, this habit could be, well, quite enjoyable. But eventually, I did tear down my “high places.” It wasn’t because the habit stopped being appealing, it was because the idea of freedom from this habit become even more appealing.

(Let’s make sure we’re all on the same page; the back channels of access to this habit were my “high places.” Despite all of my other “reforms,” these last strongholds were irksome markers of my own rebellion.)

Do I miss this habit sometimes? Yep. Maybe I always will, at least a little. But at the same time, I’ve never regretted cutting it out, and I have honestly never received so much positive feedback from all the people who *love* me after I built a real wall, with no cracks, no back-entryways into my life.

“For freedom Christ has set us free..” – Apostle Paul (Galations 5:1)

So… tear down the damned high places in your life. Be free 🙂

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Me rn

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

*Granted, that didn’t exactly end well. But THAT’S NOT THE POINT

 

 

It’s not you, it’s Jesus.

Ima be real: I struggle with dating non-Christians. For whatever reason(s), menfolk without the faith love them some Galloswag. And contrary to the dire warnings I heard in my youth, many of them are *not* sleaze bag jerk faces, with “only one thing on their mind.” Au contraire, many men who aren’t Christian have genuinely amazing qualities and seem to sincerely appreciate me.

On the flipside, IT WOULD SEEM many* menfolk with the faith are ‘meh’ or ‘oh holy gosh, no!’ when when it comes to yours truly.** I often get the eerie feeling they are comparing me to some champion-of-the-faith-barbiedoll-yet-somehow-unintimidating-wears-ripped-skinnyjeans-with-artsy-jewelry prototype.***

So yes, I have frequently dated non-Christians. Because.. well.. they saw me. And I liked them.

Even though sometimes I have had tons in common with some of these menz and liked them lotttssss, in the end it never worked out.

When I was in my late teens / early twenties, it didn’t work out because I was ridden with guilt the entire time we dated. I wanted to stay with them, but I shouldn’t.

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^How I’ve often felt (edited pixabay free image)

 

I would break it off regretfully, almost saying “It’s not you, it’s Jesus.” I took my own spiritual and emotional needs out of the equation. I basically conveyed to the spurned pago they were practically perfect, if not for that meanie Apostle Paul. “If only Christianity didn’t have these annoying verses about not being unequally yoked… Otherwise, I would TOTALLY date you.”

More recently, even though parts of me may still want to keep dating an adorbs guy who doesn’t share my faith, a louder, stronger part of me doesn’t wanna.

Why? I believe it has something to do with the ‘transforming your mind’ part of being a Christian. Being a Christian changes the way I view everything — how to handle my own successes and failures, the shortcomings of others, future stressful situations, my purpose on earth, beauty … It’s unsettling when I’m dating a non-Christian who can’t get over some bitterness toward someone who has wronged them, is existentially threatened by a career failure, etc. I know what keeps me out of those pits – praying, reading scripture, the encouragement and exhortation of Christian community, and thoughts like  “Yes, this person hurt me, but my struggle is not against flesh and blood. The more they wrong me, the more of an opportunity it will be to exercise the audacious forgiveness of the cross.” To me, that’s the stuff of freeing truth. To a non-Christian, that’s the stuff of idiotic gibberish.

Plus, I want a certain intimacy in my romantic relationships that involves sharing everything that’s important to me. I’m sure it’s technically possible to never talk about my faith and focus on other shared interests, but that would be … fragmenting. It would be more awkward than dating someone who didn’t think that the disease I research was even a real disease. We might still be able to guffaw over Parks and Rec reruns together, but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have a true partner in life who would encourage and support me in what is most important to me.

 

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Mean ol’ Jesus, always coming coming in-between our hearts and theirs. *snorts* (edited pixabay free image)

But I think it’s worth considering what your decision would be if the bible was completely silent on this subject. If it doesn’t grieve you that they don’t have the same life, joy, peace, purpose that following Jesus has brought you – well then, maybe you aren’t finding life, joy, peace, and purpose in Christianity.

I found it super helpful and enlightening to do a heart investigation / rebellion deconstruction to find the primary source of my struggle. For example, I recently realized I get more joy from flirting/smooching/dating than from my faith. From there, I realized my feels toward God were pretty flat. From there, I read a chapter from Sacred Rhythms that made me realize I wasn’t creating space in my heart and life to find joy in Jesus. At least in my case, my dating strugglez were just as much a symptom of a problem as a problem in of itself.

Focusing on the solution to the root of my probs (feeling ‘meh’ about Jesus) has opened the way to work on “throwing off all that hinders” so I can run in free, obedient joy, instead of planting my feet in dutiful, obedient misery.

I’m not trying to paint myself as some super-Christian, belieeeeeeeeve meeeee. BUT I’ve been encouraged that most recently, the disconnect I had with a non-Christian would-be-boyfriend was genuine, not forced.

So Christian singles – instead of saying “It’s not you, it’s Jesus,” may we all honestly say “It is you, it is me, it is especially you and me together not being particularly helpful in my pursual of Jesus. Peace and grease.”

And then, let us joyfully FIDO.

 

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

* With a few notable exceptions. You know who you are! #awkward

** NOT THAT I AM BITTER 

*** OKAY I’M PRETTY BITTER 

GENERAL COMMENT: The main reason I decided to publish these rambles is because this has been such a huge source of guilt for me for .. 10 years! And there’s practically nothing less Christian than being eaten alive by guilt. So, even if this helps two people, it’s worth the rest of the world rolling their eyes at my over-sharing.