“Why You’re Not Married”–an article from Huffington Post

23 Jul

I find no fault with the author’s assessment.  Her six reasons for a woman’s prolonged singleness:

  • Being too angry and bitter
  • Focusing on a man’s quirks and not on his character
  • Being too free with your body
  • Being dishonest about the level of commitment you expect from the men you date
  • Being overly focused on one’s own self.
  • Believing that you are not good enough just as you are.

So it’s true then?  I’m pretty average in my struggles after all.    While I have no stuggle with casual sex, and little current struggle with focusing on irrelevant traits in a man (like how many languages he speaks), or with being dishonest about my desire for a serious relationship and marriage, I find that I am still fighting a a championship match against anger/bitterness, selfishness/self-centeredness, and believing that today, right-this-very-minute, I am enough and worthy of a good man’s love.

What a helpful piece.

StillSingle is Still Necessary

12 Jul

I thought I was done.  Done trying to hurry love, done trying rush the work the Lord is doing in my heart, done pushing, prodding, questioning, and urging singles away from hopelessness and discouragement.  Done blogging.

But then I went on a Missions trip to Uganda, and I couldn’t seem to stop talking to pretty much everyone about love and marriage.  I had some interesting and insightful conversations with people.  On the trip the thought occurred to me that StillSingle is still really interested in why and how love happens.

It’s been three Sundays since I have returned, having been expanded in all kinds of ways that I could not have foreseen.  I have experienced an inexplicable dimension shift which makes me want to be more of the woman who God made me to be.  I feel myself wanting to take hold of that for which Christ has taken hold of me.  I want to reach for it fearlessly.  I have found myself speaking about the Lord in the secular realm, when previously I would be silent.  I have found myself inviting people to church, when that’s really not something that I do.  I have found myself wanting to continue my pre-trip consecration of no tv, no movies, no fiction, no distractions, when just before leaving on the trip I relished the idea of finally being done with the consecration so I could go to see Bridesmaids.  “Hmmm…,” I think to myself as I notice these occurrences.

This past Sunday at church, in each of our three services babies were dedicated.  During the last service (a service I rarely ever attend  because I sing in the choir for the first two services and am not inclined to stay for a third), the guest artist who was ministering interrupted her singing to prophesy to the congregation something along the lines of, “Someone here is not happy about the baby dedications earlier.  Someone here was looking at those families, and those babies, and saying in her heart, “What about me?  I’ve been waiting and trying and hoping for so long!  Where’s my baby, God?”  Well, know that your time is coming.  It’s not over for you! It’s not over! You are going have your baby.  You’re going to email me next year and tell me that you were the one in this church that I was talking to, and you are going to email me a picture of your new baby!  Turn to your neighbor and say, “It’s not over!””  I dutifully turned to my neighbor and, lo and behold, she was holding back tears.

Now, before the service began this same teary-eyed lady took the seat next to me and began a steady chatter in my direction despite the obvious fact that I was trying to read a book.  I said in my heart, “Lord, why did you put this woman here next to me? I just want to be quiet and read. What is the purpose of her sitting here, Lord?”  But her chatter inspired no response of significance from me.  When I saw her tears, though, instantly I knew.  “You want me to pray for her, Lord!”  Well, at the end of the service , without revealing her need, she allowed me to pray for her. I prayed with all of my heart and she began to weep in earnest as I prayed.  Afterwards she decided to open up and to tell me how her heart longs for a child.  How, before the service began she had been talking to someone over coffee and wondering aloud why others had babies to dedicate and she had none.  She told me with tears that she just did not understand why she had not found a suitable mate so that she, too, could move into motherhood.  She was already over forty, she told me.

Of all the seats, in all the pews, in all the services being held in all the churches in New York, the Lord chose that seat, pew, service and church to connect me and Janice.  He wanted to encourage her, I think.  And He wanted to encourage me, too.  “It’s not over, StillSingle!  There are single souls that need an encouraging word.  Your words.  Your prayers.”

I’ll do my best, Lord.

Too Self-Protective?

21 Feb

Last night, as I was ending a meal with a girlfriend at our favorite diner, an old friend stopped by. The friend was a man with whom I share a bit of a history. My girlfriend knew nothing of this when she invited him to join us. In explaining his and my history, this man said to my girlfriend, “We flirted with dating one another.” True. Also true: At the same time, unbeknownst to me, he was already dating a friend of mine. Ultimately, all was revealed and, by the grace of God, I remained friends with both this man and with my friend whom he was seeing while flirting with me. (Got it?) Each of them moved on from my church, and the woman he was seeing became one of my closest friends. All this happened years ago.

Fast forward to the present. This man is now back at my church. I see him regularly and hold him at arm’s length whenever our paths cross. I tnhe feel bad about my frostiness and resolve to be nice, to greet him warmly, the next time that I see him. But I never seem to do it. And here is the real reason why: I am physically attracted to him. Like, a lot. He is tall and attractive and if I had a “type” it would look like him. This is a problem. Not just because of my friend, his ex, but because he still has the same personality quirks that made things difficult when I knew him years ago. He name is etched in stone on my “definitely not possible” list. Yet I’m still attracted to him physically.

This attraction is frightening for me. It reminds me of the last time I was physically attracted to someone who was “definitely not possible”, who was married. I’m reminded of how I couldn’t seem to resist him, despite his not-possibleness. We became very close emotionally (though not physically, thank God). I ended up being in a bad situation with his wife, being hurt terribly, and of having my integrity compromised. The shadow of this ill-fated attraction still looms large over my life. And this explains why my current attraction to a “definitely not possible” man has me behaving badly. I do not trust this “definitely not possible” man, and more importantly, I do not trust myself where he is concerned.

Last night it became clear that the way that I was responding to this man was hurtful to him. He thinks it must be bad blood from all those years ago. He apologized at length. He hoped I could forgive him. He wants us to turn a new page in our friendship. He was sincere and charming with a hint of flirtation. I said, I am not angry with you. There is no need for you to apologize. I am really sorry that I have been so cold to you. My attitude towards you is really not about you personally. It is about me and my baggage where men are concerned. He prays a beautiful prayer before leaving my girlfriend and me.

I want to learn from my past. I do not want to be held hostage to it. How many other men I have put-off because of my fears and unresolved guilt?

February Week 2 Dating Update

16 Feb

Image via Google Images

I did it!  The eharmony match that I liked the most, Ron, was wrong for me, I realized last week.  So, with great regret but with certainty, I told him au revoir.  I was nice, and so was he, and then he closed the match.  I feel like I passed an important test!  So long Mr. Wrongs of the world!  The other two matches from last week do not seem to be progressing into anything.  Warren, who seemed possible, has stopped emailing altogether.  Newt, the 7th Day Adventist, is playing phone tag with me.  Despite seven days of calling everyday and leaving charming messages and texts, we have not been able to catch each other on the phone.  Seriously.  Could be a sign.  In any case, Round Three of eharmony matches has begun.

On another note, my 13 y.o. niece and I had an interesting exchange. 
Her:  “Auntie, somebody at church told me that in the Bible it says that women are not supposed to look for a husband, but the man is supposed to look for a wife, or something like that.”
Me:  “You’re talking about the scripture that says, “He that finds a wife findeth a good thing…”
Her:  “Yeah, that’s it!  So I don’t think you should be going online looking for a husband.  You should just trust God and wait.” 
Me:   “I know.  I know.”

Which leads me, once again, to wonder if trusting God and online dating are incompatible.  I don’t think so. 

Do I?

Finally, last night I prayed an unusual prayer.  I often complain to God about being single, or mention in passing to God how much I want to be married, or wonder of the Lord if marriage is ever going to happen.  Also, I pray with a girlfriend every week and a part of our prayer time always involves each of us asking God to lead  the other of us into marriage.  What I do not generally do is use my regular prayer time to pray about marriage.  In my regular prayer time I pray about work, or ministry, or my weight, or I pray for others.   Last night, though, I had the thought that I never actually pray about getting married and that maybe I should.  I found myself praying along the lines of “Lord, I want to be married.  But I don’t just want to be married, I want to be a wife.  Lord,  give me the heart of a servant.  Help me to be supportive and loyal.  Change me so that my attitude is yielding and unselfish.”  And so on.  I don’t even know what I prayed.  All I know is that it was definitely different.  Not, “Lord, let me have…,” but “Lord, let me be…”

Wow.  Shifts and changes are happening on the inside it seems.

What about you?  Is this journey through singleness taking you anywhere new?

What Do You Like to Read?

11 Feb

I love to read books that give me a glimpse into the hearts of people living in different times and cultures.  I feel like I’m getting a history or poly sci lesson minus the boring stuff.  Martin Cruz Smith is a master of this kind of writing.  Typically he writes about post-communist Russia.  But in the novel December 6 his setting is Pre-WWII Japan in the days before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  The protagonist is Harry Niles.  Born in Japan to American missionary parents, Harry is American in fact, but Japanese in soul and spirit.  To the Japanese, though, he will only ever be a gaijin, a foreigner.  Here’s one of my favorite passages:

Gaijin were freaks, and Harry’s parents were the biggest freaks of all.  The pair of them preaching the gospel on a street corner was almost mortally embarrassing to Harry.  First was the presumption of preaching at all before being asked.  Second was his father’s total inability to speak Japanese.  Third was his mother’s partial Japanese.  Fourth was the fact that she spoke not women’s but men’s Japanese, full of bluster no decent woman would use.  Fifth was the way she stood beside her husband instead of behind him.  Sixth was their mysterious ignorance about how much and to whom to bow.  Seventh was their loudness.  Eight was their clumsiness.  Ninth was their color.  Tenth was their size.  Those were the Ten Sins of Gaijin, and every day Roger and Harriet Niles were guilty of each one.

–Martin Cruz Smith, December 6 ©2002 by Titanic Productions, ©2003 Simon & Schuster.

This has nothing to do with being single, but the book is marginally related to missions work, and since I will be taking my first missions trip soon, and since good writing is always relevant, December 6 has earned a post.

Happy Friday.

This Week’s Dating Update

10 Feb

Image via Google

As I may have mentioned, I am on the verge of moving to the telephone phase of conversation with my next cohort of eharmony matches.  I have been on the verge of the progression for about a week (which is a whole other blogworthy subject).  There are three potential suitors. 

 Newt I have actually spoken to very briefly on the phone.  He called while he was in transit and couldn’t talk.  His stock was devalued in my eyes when I found out that he was a 7th Day Adventist.  My mind doesn’t want to accommodate this difference.  Not when there are (at least) two other perfectly good matches in the queue. Newt is my third favorite of the three. Warren is my second favorite.  He seems to be mature in the things of God, churchgoing, intelligent, happily employed, divorced, a father, and the list goes on. I like him. I’m slightly suspicious, though, of him regularly saying he will pray about this or that for me, and his use of church-speak.  Me thinkest he doth confess his faith too much.  Though it might just be my skeptical nature that is the problem.  Ron is my number one draft pick.  His profile, comments, and conversation are unnervingly compatible with my own profile, comments, and conversation.  I really, really like him.  And this is a big problem.

When I read Ron’s last email, the scales were removed from my eyes and it became clear to me that Ron is a xerox copy of Mr. X from eharmony two years ago, and of WB from forever ago.   And I was faced with the fact that something inside me is drawn to the same kind of Mr. Wrong over and over again!  Ron is intelligent, attractive, witty, well-traveled, multi-lingual–and he is a Christian who doesn’t go to church, has never been close to committing to anyone, including a child, though he is well past age 35, and who lives alone and spends most of his time alone.  He might as well post a flashing banner that says, “I do not give of myself to others.”   And that is not even the real problem.

The real problem is that a part of me is resisting reality.  A part of me wants to hope and believe that maybe Ron will find a church and maybe everything will work out in that regard and maybe he and I could live happily ever after. “He speaks French, StillSingle!”, that part of me says.  This part of me wants to continue to get to know him better, to get closer to him, despite the odds against my having any kind of future with him.  Yet, wonder of wonders, the very same part of me is skeptical about nice Mr. available, church-going, “I’ll join you in praying about that”, Warren.  This part of me has very little interest in hoping and believing that maybe Warren and I could live happily ever after.

Oh, boy.  StillSingle still has a ways to go it seems.  But, oh, boy!  I caught on to this stinky old pattern!  StillSingle is making progress!

What Is One To Do About Valentine’s Day?

8 Feb

Valentine’s Day is less than one week away ladies!  What shall we do? 

Here is what we are NOT going to do:

We are not going to be depressed, angry, or bitter.
We are not going to rail against the unnecessaryness of Valentine’s Day in general.
We are not going to harbor hostility and/or envy towards coupled people in general or the flowers sent to them.

Here is the one special day of the year devoted to expressing love to one another, and the thought of the day fills many of us with misery.  It reminds us that we are missing romance in our lives.  I get it.  But I also find it curious, and downright strange, that the American Day of Love does not automatically fill us Christians with joy.  Maybe we need to reframe the prevailing view of  Valentine’s Day.  Love is not just for lovers.  Love is for all people, no?

My favorite thing to do for Valentine’s Day is to make a list of all the people who are not likely to receive a token of affection on (this would be a ladies only list, by the way), and then to give them a small gift. Usually it’s Godiva Chocolate. I try to mail my packages. And may I just say, the joy and the delight that my girlfriends express is better even than Christmas!   This costs money.  It takes time.  I definitely have to plan things out just so.  But I feel purposeful, and get a strong reminder of all the love that I have in my life. 

There is no sense in trying to resist the wave of red hearts that is sweeping the nation this week.  We have to swim with the tide.  That may mean buying some red hearts, or finding some red construction paper and making some red hearts, or using some red food dye and baking some red hearts.  But the point is that we should remember that Valentine’s Day is a day to remember the one (or ones) we love, and to tell them.

Do you love your parents?  Do you love your siblings?  Do you love your co-workers?  Do you love your girlfriends?  Do you love your cousin?  Do you love your fellow youth leaders?  Do you love that woman at the dry cleaners who got that stain out of your blouse?  All love counts! 

Christian singles let’s lead the way in the spreading of love on Valentine’s Day!  How will you show some love?

How’s Your Love Life?

3 Feb
Image representing eHarmony as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

The raw data:
o dates in December 2010
0 dates in January 2011

Since joining eharmony I reached the telephone stage with two highly possible matches. Things seemed to drag after we reached the telephone phase though. One of the men was quite reluctant to meet me. He wasn’t ready to commit to actually meeting in person on a specific date at a specific time, he said. (My brow is wrinkled again even as I think of this). Curiously, despite not wanting to meet, he continued to call me to talk. The other man whom I conversed with on the phone seemed distracted. That man lived in Philadelphia. He went home to Georgia for the holidays, where, he told me, his entire family and all his social connections live. On New Year’s Eve we talked. The conversation was pleasant. We were to speak again the next day. I never heard from him. And still haven’t. I have moved on from both of these matches, and am approaching the phone phase with a new set.

It seems to me that some men, particularly those who are over 35, use eharmony because they truly believe that they are open, seeking, and attempting to find a committed relationship, though really they aren’t. These men want to believe this of themselves, maybe, because it is easier to make ill-fated attempts to find a relationship than to actually be in a relationship. It’s easier to hang out online, than to tackle whatever issues that may be keeping them from participating in a committed relationship.

Case in point: a guy a know, who is a long-time eharmony member, told me recently that one woman that he met on the site last year was extremely appealing, and he regrets not moving forward in a relationship with her. He could have married her, he told me, but did not. Alas, one of her other matches proposed after knowing her for 3 months. It is many months later and the guy that I know still has not found anyone that he is willing to move forward with in a relationship. Another case in point: one of my girlfriends met her fiancé on eharmony and within a few months of meeting, her fiancé was ready to commit to her.

In my mind the men I am meeting are either ready, willing, and able to love, or they’re not.

Despite what I’m realizing about the men on this site, I am encouraged by my own responses and reactions, which are different from what they were when I first tried eharmony in 2009. This time around I do not feel so emotionally vulnerable to the process. I find that I am getting much less invested in the 100-word-profiles that I like. I feel much less troubled by acknowledged incompatibility between a match and me. Most importantly, though, I have noticed that this time around, I have shifted my focus with respect to men I want to date. Before, I was open to and willing to “work with” a man as long as he was a “Christian”. Happily, this time around my heart genuinely desires a man who loves the Lord and the church and who shows this love by how he lives. Before, I so wanted a relationship that I tended to downplay my relationship with Christ, allegedly out of sensitivity to my match’s spiritual position. Now, because I am not so afraid of rejection, or of being deemed too weird, I have no problem divulging the fact that my life revolves around the Lord and the church.

This new confidence to be myself, and to love God openly, means I’m growing, right? And if I am becoming healthier and more real, and if I am less willing to get stuck pursuing less healthy or compatible men, then, maybe, hopefully, God-willing, I’m on my way!

But enough about me. How is your dating life going?

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Do You Ever Miss Having A Man Around?

29 Jan

Image via Google Images

Still Single is stressed!  I took a good long break from work over the Christmas holidays and went back to work at the beginning of January feeling fully renewed.  Upon my return a mountain of work awaited me, including the trial of a case that had been transferred to me in my absence.  A David and Goliath of a trial where I am the featured David.  On a conference call to discuss the trial strategy, I got (unfairly) reamed by one of the top dogs in a different part of the company.  [Aside: my co-worker Jackie and I discussed the conference call afterwards and she was incensed on my behalf.  She went home and told her husband about my experience.  Her husband, who is from a different culture, wondered, “How could Mr. Manager talk to her like that?  She’s a LADY.” When Jackie told me this, ridiculously, I felt tears forming.]  So now all eyes are on me with this trial.  All month the start date was pushed back, until finally jury selection for the trial began this week.  Stress, I say!

This situation put me in mind of the last time that I felt so small in the face of such a big career challenge.  At the time I was working in the public sector.  I was with my friend Eric (now in his second marriage), in his car after work one day.  Talking about my day caused me to have a meltdown.  Tears, fears, and anxieties came spilling out in a semi-hysterical rush.  He calmed me.  Encouraged me.  Bolstered my professional esteem.  And then I was OK.

“I want that now,” I told the Lord.  “I really miss having a man in my life.”

For the first time that I can recall, I not only have no love interest on the scene, but also no male who is “just a friend” to me.  I pulled away from all of my “just friends” guy pals.  I want a husband, and my friendships with these men, I was convinced, was keeping me comfortably satisfied with not having a husband.  What pressure was there to date when I could go out with one of them on a Friday night?  And since we were “just friends”, I felt safe.  There was no risk of rejection, no risk of the relationship not working out; no risk of pain.  It was win-win.  Only I’d gotten to the point where I no longer wanted the prize of protracted singleness.  So somehow, one-by-one, I dissolved my ties with these men.

This week, though, dealing with a mountain of work-related stress reminded me of the kind of nurture that I was missing out on that only a man can give.  I find no compartment in my life where I am allowed to be tearful and weak and helpless on occasion–not with my girlfriends, not with my family, not in ministry, certainly not at work.  Also, being a professional woman in modern days, I forget, and never get any memos to remind me, that sometimes I need to be tearful and weak and helpless, if that is the experience that I am having.  But this week I remembered my frailty, and that it was God designed.  I missed having a man to hold me and speak gently to me, to just be strong for me.  And when I remembered I told the Lord about it.

Coincidentally, a couple of days ago, I heard from Eric.  Eric, who saw me through my meltdown in his car all those years ago, who has been my friend since age 11, who knows all my secret shames and is still my friend, Eric sent me an email with his new phone number and said, “This not talking has gone on for long enough.  I miss you. I love you.  Call me.”

I think, maybe, I will.

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What Is It About Bridal Showers?

20 Jan
The marriage (detail of bride and ladies)

“The Marriage (detail of bride and ladies),” by Nicolo da Bologna, circa 1350s. Image via Wikipedia

A friend of mine, who is soon to wed in the Dominican Republic, had her bridal shower a couple of weeks ago.  According to the Evite (it was an impromptu shower since the bride was in town on a short visit), there were to be less than ten guests.  I knew pretty much everyone who would be attending.  Most were senior ministry leaders and not my contemporaries.  Only one woman was expected who is a part of my social circle.  This woman and I are friends, but not close friends.  I was glad that she would be there with me, though, like sort of a ‘single and waiting’ comrade. 

On the day of the shower, when all the guests were gathered, we began to chat and my ‘single-and waiting’ counterpart dropped the bombshell that she was engaged to be married.  The date was set.  The hall was booked.  The wedding gown was purchased.  We were all a bit joyously shocked.  How had this news of her engagement not leaked out?  More pressing for me, though, was the realization that, with this exchange of information, I suddenly became the only single in a room full of happily-coupled Christian women.  Uh-oh.

Sure enough, the conversation, and all eyes, soon turned to me and to what kinds of exciting things were happening in my life (which, of course, is the polite way that one inquires about another person’s love life).  Since I did not have an engagement to talk about, or anything remotely close to an engagement, I talked about hoping to soon buy a house.  This topic, unexpectedly and effectively, got the ladies off the topic of my love life for a good long while.  Except that the woman sitting next to me felt to share with me the memory of how, when she was my age, she too looked to buy a house on her own, a townhouse in fact.  But in the midst of her house-hunting she met her husband, and ended up getting married.  “So you never know,” she concluded.  I dummied up.  My response to her was, “So what happened with the townhouse?”

Later, the hostess asked all the guests to share relationship-words-of-wisdom with the bride.  We went around in a circle.  The others talked about their marriages.  I talked about my sister.

When the gifts were opened, there was sexy lingerie.  The most senior ministry leader in the room encouraged the bride with words along the lines of, “In your relationship with your husband you are going to discover what it really means to be a woman; what your body was designed for.”  I wondered at the implications of this statement. Is a single like me unaware of her womanhood?

Towards the end of the shower we were asked to share a prayer request.  It was to be something strongly desired or greatly needed, and too hard for anyone but God to work out.  Again we went around in a circle.  When it was my turn I sensed the other ladies holding their collective breath in hope that I would ask for prayer about marriage.  I could feel my own breath catch at the mere thought of mentioning my hope for marriage in such a setting as that one.  My prayer request was for a career change.

It was, without question, the most uncomfortable bridal shower that I have ever attended.  Mostly because I felt like I was in hiding.  For the first time in a very, very long time, at that bridal shower, among those married Christian ladies, I felt ashamed that I was still single.

To be continued.

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