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Do You Ever Miss Having A Man Around?

29 Jan

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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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Am I A Bad Friend?

2 Dec

This past weekend I offended a friend. 

Job and His False Comforters, Jean Fouquet c. 1460

We made a plan to pray together, and before we did, I discussed with her how difficult Thanksgiving had been for me.  Dinner was just right, just what I needed, but the lead up to the family gathering had me in a state of severe woe.  I’m ready for a different kind of family gathering already, you know? I want to have my own place, with my own china, with my own food selections, and my own choice of guests.

So my friend listened and commiserated.  Then told me that, like mine, her own Thanksgiving was quite difficult.  It capped a particularly difficult week for her.  Her car broke down on the highway at 10 o’clock at night and she’d felt scared and alone.  Though she was immensely grateful to God for the impressive rescue that He maneuvered out of the situation, she was tired.  She wanted to have a husband to call who would come to her rescue.  So later that week, during a 2 hour sojourn by bus and train, alone, to her Thanksgiving dinner, she was depressed and lonely.  My friend begged God that this be her last Thanksgiving as an unmarried woman.

Unlike her commiseration with me, I offered her insensitivity.  I responded with something along the lines of, “How could you not be completely satisfied with the Lord seeing the amazing way that He took care of you that night on the highway?”  When she defended herself, and her feelings, I realized what an idiot I was.  She is entitled to feel how she feels. “You are right and I am wrong,” I apologized.  But when we prayed, I did not pray that God would hasten the arrival of her husband. I prayed that He would bring her peace and a friend, or something like that.  Afterwards, I got the impression that my prayer was not appreciated very much.  There wasn’t exactly hearty agreement.  Which made me feel bad. Had my prayer been laced with judgment?  The next day I texted another apology.  And my friend did not respond.

The thing is, I feel bad because I couldn’t pray a more supportive prayer. But I couldn’t pray a more supportive prayer because I honestly do not support my friend’s point of view. I emphatically do not believe that marriage is the answer to what ails my friend. 

She thinks, as do a lot of singles, that marriage will make everything better.  If she were married she would not have to deal with a broken down car on the highway alone at night.  But who says so? Having a husband, even a godly husband, does not guarantee that you will get the exact kind of support that you need exactly when you need it. This kind of expectation is a paving stone on the road to divorce, even in Christendom.   Maybe your only-too-human husband would come to the scene and make things worse instead of better.  Maybe he would be so nervous and worried, about the car, about you, about the money, that you would regret even telling him that you had a problem.  Maybe he would be so tired or busy or saddled with childcare that he decides not to come out to meet you, but maybe to stay on the line with you if you want.

My friend thinks that if she were married she would not have to feel angst on Thanksgiving about being alone.  But what about the angst that she might feel because she has a family and is not alone?  Marriage is not a magic elixir that instantly takes the emotional edge off. Marriage might even add an additional emotional edge. In-laws anyone? What about having to host Thanksgiving for your family and his, doing the shopping, cleaning, cooking, and baking, while still going to work and being Mommy to the kids? What about Thanksgiving road trips with a car full of tired, cranky, or bored kids? What about the added financial strain associated with said Thanksgiving travel?

The point is that marriage is not the answer to every problem that the single woman faces.  The unpleasant emotions that surface in all of our lives, married or single, are a cue to listen to what is happening in our souls.  And then to bring our real issues or concerns to the Lord.  Sadness about breaking down on the highway at night, could be an indication that your soul is longing for intimate relationship with someone, not necessarily a husband. Maybe your soul is wondering if anyone really, truly, cares and needs to be connected to a friend or a relative who will remind you of their care and concern when you are in a bind.  Or perhaps feeling sadness signals worry about the cost of car repairs and a fear of inadequate resources.  Maybe the feeling of sadness is an indication of sheer fatigue and worry about being able to get done everything that had to be gotten done that night, and then also in the morning despite being doubly tired.  Each of these unspoken thoughts, though, because they remained unspoken, could not be addressed or refuted by the Lord.  Instead my friend’s true needs, to know that she is loved, that God will provide, and that God will give her strength and grace besides, were transformed into a fantasy wish for a husband who would make all things better. 

God help me not to be like one of Job’s comforters.  And God help my friend to know You like Job came to know you.

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How Does It Feel to Have an Engaged Friend?

16 Nov

My friend is engaged. She met her future husband on eharmony a little over one year ago. He is not what she expected (pastor-type and father of two) but everything she hoped for (too much to list).

It’s wonderful to see marriage happening for one of my close friends who is 35-plus. At this point, which is the very beginning of the engagement, it feels pretty much the same as it feels whenever someone close to me marries. Bittersweet. (I’m sure I don’t have to explain.) But a few other things come to mind as well.

First, I feel gratified to be a part of this love story. It makes me only too happy to believe, whether or not it’s completely true, that my crusade in favor of getting myself and the 30-somethings around me married has not been in vain. It is happening. At less than one wedding per year it is happening at a trickle currently, true, but I am hopeful that this trickle will turn into much, much more in the future as I continue to beat my drum.

In the beginning I wanted to sound some kind of an alarm and shout from the rooftops, “This state of marriagelessness all around me is unacceptable! Do something! Anybody!” My friends were in inertia thinking “If I’m a good Christian and I wait patiently my husband will come.” Church leaders were either silent or 25 years behind on the issue.

Like a woman crazed at times I urged whoever I could to take a different point of view. I gave books to read. I talked, and prayed, together with others and alone (I do not minimize the impact of my prayers), and I went outside-the-box and took risks that my friends were as yet not willing to take. “See, you CAN talk to strangers,” my actions said.

And things changed. My friends– nearly every single dateless one–began dating. Some married.

And now this friend is marrying. This friend who was a sounding board for a few of my incubating theories concerning Why We Are Still Single. Her reactions to my more unorthodox points of view still bring a smile to my face. “But we really do want to be married! It is not our fault that we aren’t. It’s circumstances, or God, or men, or all thee!”, insisted this friend. Ultimately, though, it wasn’t circumstances, or God, or men that changed during the time between our discussion and her engagement. She changed. She took steps to intentionally bring about change in her mind and heart. In the course of her transformation she met her Boaz.

So in addition to bittersweet, I feel proud. Satisfied. Like a momma bird whose baby bird is flying from the nest.

Are Wives Still Supposed to Submit?

11 Nov

Excuse me while I mount my soapbox.

I went out with my girlfriends recently and my engaged friend (yeeaaaahhhh!!—more about that later) was discussing moving to a new city and a new church after she marries.  Her church-leader fiancé asked her if she was sure that she would be able to make the adjustment to the new, and very different, church.  What would happen, he wondered, if in three years she decided that she wasn’t comfortable at this new church and that she wanted to change churches?

One of my girlfriends responded that, in the event that she wasn’t happy, her husband would have to take her wishes into consideration and, with prayer, they would have to find a new church together.  He could be a church leader anywhere after all.  My response was that, happy or not, ultimately she would just have to stick it out with him at that church if that is where he believes God wants them to be.  The wife is called to follow her husband after all.  I did not agree with my girlfriend’s assessment and she did not agree with mine.  My friend’s comment about a husband yielding to his wife’s complaints, is not a point of view that is limited to her. 

It is common for women to want to marry and be assured that if they become unhappy their husbands will change–their minds, their ways, or their plans–and do what the woman wants so that she is not made unhappy. And so the marriage relationship has been converted in our minds from one of authority and submission, to one of egalitarian consent.  There is no more demarcation of man and wife; instead we are partners or we are mates.  But there is no egalitarian model of the Christian family.  There is a hierarchy—God, man, wife–no matter what our culture may tell us to the contrary.

If a husband does not take full authority, but instead allows himself to be swayed or manipulated by his wife’s logic and/or emotions, not only is he responsible before God for his own abdication of his role as leader, but he might also be responsible for his wife’s failure to develop into the kind of wife that God expects her to be.  Namely, a wife who does not look to her husband to make perfect decisions at all times, but a wife who trusts God that, regardless of what decisions her husband makes, God will work things out for their family.  Likewise, if a wife does not yield to her husband’s leadership, not only is she responsible before God for her own rebellion against authority, but she might also be responsible for her husband’s failure to develop into the kind of husband that God expects him to be.  Namely, the kind of husband who does not look to make perfect decisions at all time, but who leads his family by example, in seeking God and in trusting God, so that regardless of the course the he takes, the family can rest assured that God will work things out.

Maybe the privilege of the wife is simply to prevail in prayer.  These days it is regarded as a lowly calling, compared to having final authority or signing the checks, but I ask you, is it?

Does prayer work?  Is God interested and concerned with the direction that the family is heading?  Is God able to change the heart of a husband (or wife)?  Does God want wives (in particular, I might ask) to know of His faithfulness, provision, protection, and providence?  Will not God cause all things to work together for good in each of our lives?  Is not God sovereign? Is not God worthy of praise with thanksgiving, whatever He allows to occur in our lives?

Yes, a husband should be considerate of and kind to his wife; he should talk with her, seek her opinions, and value her input, both the intellectual and the intuitive.  But he must then decide what’s best and do it.  Now because the Holy Spirit leads the husband as well as the wife, typically the husband will be led the same way that the wife is led.  Or a husband will graciously allow a wife her preference.  He will.  Most of the time.

But there will come times when a husband and wife are not led in the same direction, and the husband will not or cannot accommodate the wife’s preference.  In which case, the wife’s posture cannot be, “But I want what I want because I know that I’m right.”  It has to be, “I’m leaving this in Your hands, Lord. Let Your will be done.” 

No, this is not easy.  But He who called her to be a wife is faithful, and He will help her to do it.

Happy Saturday!

30 Oct

Three quick things:

1)  I found a terrific new blog today called Gooseberry Bush.  The blogger is single and in her late 30s.   Her post, “10 Rules About Men That All Women Should Know By the Time We’re 30,” scored a direct hit.  And yesterday’s post, Anecdotal & Statistical Proof That Women Over Forty Are Not Destined To Be Old Maids, was very good too.  Check it out.

2)  I think I’m going back to eharmony.  I tell myself that I don’t really want to meet anybody and am otherwise occupied, that I’m too busy to meet anybody, that I cannot afford the ancillary expenses related to meeting someone, but the bottom line is that I’m scared.  I don’t want to put myself through the emotional paces of dating.  That being the case, I’m going to just do it.  Plus, eharmony is running a $30/3-month special until 10/31/10.  I’ll keep you posted.

3)  The mid-term elections are coming up and I’ve been getting hit by ads from the candidates from every direction–mail, telephone, even Facebook.  Fortunately or unfortunaltely I have adopted the official status of fence-sitter.  I really like and want the government to take a role in helping people (especially since our government has no problem taking a role in deeds that hurt people, see, e.g., Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown which I am currently reading), however…I am a single professional woman with no children.  Meaning that if I ever sat down and factored in all of my various tax liabilities–(Federal, State, FICA, sales, use, etc.)–I am sure I would find that I give about 50 or 60 cents of every dollar that I earn to various government entities. Not good.  And anyway some of the rich and poor take advantage big time when help is offered.  Also Not Good.  So I’m a fence sitter and do not know how to vote in the upcoming elections.

Which brings me to Condolezza Rice.  Did I ever mention that I love Condolezza Rice?  I love her humble beginnings, her accomplishments, her loyalty to her political ideology.  I love that she is still single.  And most espeicially, I love that she is reputed to have had a crush on her boss, which makes her just like the rest of us girls!  I was reminded of her because this past week I heard President Obama on the radio stumping hard to get out the vote.  I do not listen to political-type news generally.  But each time I heard his voice on the radio I turned up the volume.  And it’s not because of the upcoming elections, it’s because I like his voice.  In fact, let me just say it, I like him.  Tall, dark, handsome, brilliant, funny, him.  ***Sigh*** President McDreamy.  It’s probably not acceptable to vote according to who I think is the cutest, though, huh?

The More Things Change…

25 Oct

Why are the 20-somethings on my Facebook page always posting about men? ‘I love him’, ‘I miss him’, ‘I’m mad at him’, ‘I’m over him’, and on and on it goes. Don’t they think about anything else?

This was my thought a couple of days ago. Since I’m a generation ahead of the 20-somethings, their comments seemed a little ridiculous to me.

Of course right after I pondered these things I recalled that my friends and I are exactly the same. ‘I really like him’, ‘I miss him’, ‘I’m upset with him’, ‘I don’t think it’s going to work with him’, are all too common refrains. The only difference between us and them is that we use cell phones instead of Facebook to emote. We’re a generation behind, technologically speaking.

Our ages may change and our technology may change, but the hearts of we women remain the same.

Courthouse Chatter

15 Oct

Talking about the rescue of the Chilean miners a couple of days ago after 69 days trapped underground, a group of married-with-children male lawyers joked that the miners probably got topside, saw their families, remembered, and said, “Send me back. I want to go back down. Just hook up the cable t.v. first.”

Mr. Wrong or Mr. Right?

8 Feb

Ladies, I am in a little bit of trouble where my friend RN is concerned.  Unwittingly I find myself casting him in the role of best friend and confidante.  Which is bad enough considering that what I really, truly want is to open myself up to be a best friend and confidante only to the man who will one day be my husband (whoever he might be).  But what is worse is that I’m starting to consider RN as a potential husband.  Which feels stupid and groupie-like and so very much like a replay of 1999-2000.

RN is unemployed and has been for quite a long time.  I do not think that he is actively looking to be a member of the general work force.  He is clergy.  But he doesn’t earn a salary, only unscheduled “love offerings.”  He basically works for his church in whatever capacity is needed for little or no money.  How he manages to support himself, I do not know.

The other problem is that RN is not a studied preacher.  Not only does he not have any kind of degree, he is not interested, it seems, in self-study concerning doctrine or theology.  I do not know him to be a man who has investigated precisely what he believes and why.  Also, he’s Pentecostal . Which means that he enjoys service where dancing and crying out, etc., are a regular part of worship.

The really big problem, though, is that RN is a commitment-phobic man.  He runs at the thought of committed relationship.  Runs fast and far.

Knowing all this, why am I contemplating a relationship with him?

Partly, it’s that he is a man of God and a worshipper. My only friend who will reason through the scriptures with me for fun. Partly it is that he is kind and good to me.  But also, I know that the openness I feel to RN has a good deal to do with WB getting married. 

There is a kind of man who marries down. Yes, down.  This kind of man is whatever he is and he marries someone who is decidedly less–less educated, less spiritually mature, less financially secure, less intelligent, less ambitious, less attractive–simply lesser, in some meaningful way to him.  It’s not enough that he is a Man.  His chosen love must be intentionally weaker so that he Feels like a man. Women who are his equal, in some meaningful way, are deemed “too” whatever.  So, getting hip to the game, some of these women dumb it down or soften it up.  They show these kinds of men weakness, so that such a man’s need for strength will be appeased.  And the game of love plays on.

I am astonished, and sad to say, that WB falls into this category of men who marry down. From all accounts, WB’s wife is equal to him only in height.  He chose lesser in almost every way. I never thought he would. And his choice redefines him in my eyes.  Maybe all these years later, my exalted memory of him no longer fits the real person.

But more than that, WB’s choice cements forever and for always his rejection and repudiation of me and all that I represent. (His wife is not even born again but Catholic). This is heart wrenching to accept.  Yet in accepting it, and moving forward, I find myself moving alongside RN.  He is the one who is right here with me.  Sharing my heartbreak and sorrow and my questioning without fatiguing.  He is the one who wants to get together with me for dinner, who wants to talk to me on the phone, who wants to hear about my family life struggles, and my work anxieties. He is a man who has not repudiated me, and who does not need to choose a woman who is lesser so that he can feel like more.  RN sees me, the real me, and offers only love and acceptance.

So now, having been invalidated by one man that I respected and loved above all others, now more than ever, I treasure RN’s acceptance and love.  I am seeing him differently, because of how he sees me.

So I’m in trouble here.

What would you say to your upper 30’s female friends who are currently single and who always wanted children and are now lamenting the fact that it may never happen for them?

9 Oct

older momsWell, what would you say?

Leave a comment, why don’t you?   Also, take a read of the comments of others found on this UrbanBaby.com page where someone (not me ) originally posted this question.

I have all kinds of friends, so depending upon the friend I would say:  If you have no moral or religous objections, and you have the money, have a baby.  Get pregnant immediately.   What’s stopping you?  Be a mother.

Actually, though, now that I’ve written the words, I realize that I actually do not agree with this point of view.  I do not adhere to the modern woman’s “you don’t need a man” philosophy of life or parenthood.

So, upon reflection, what I would say is:  if you have no moral or religious objections, and you have the money, adopt a baby.  What’s stopping you?  Be a mother. 

There is a difference, I think.  Adoption being an act of service; pregnancy and childbearing being more self-indulgent.  

This may not be right, though. 

If I am an opponent of the “I don’t need a man”  philosophy, then shouldn’t I also be an opponent of both natural-birth parenting and adoptive parenting by single women since both arguably send the same, “I don’t need a man”, message?

I’ve got more thinking to do.  I’ll get back to you.

Am I A Gold Digger?

2 Oct
THREE LITTLE WORDS
Image by linda yvonne via Flickr

Another thing that I learned this summer in the whirlwind of meeting new men and dating, is how much a man’s means matter to me.  I’ve always considered myself to be egalitarian when it came to a man and his money.  I always thought that women who wanted to marry “on their level” were bourgeois snob types.  I preferred to see past a man’s pocketbook or degree or title and into his character.  How astonishing for me to realize that I, too, am looking for some level of pedigree.  Even worse, I must confess that I have unwittingly set certain numbers in my mind as ideal when it comes to salary levels.  I must also confess that these ideal numbers are quite high.  Quite high.

Does this make me a gold digger? 

Probably if I grew up with a loving father, it would not even occur to me to wonder about a man’s ability to provide for his family.  These kinds of men–family men, responsible men, hardworking men—would be normal for me.  Men who were not in this category would probably not register for me as possible candidates to marry.

It seems to me that this kind of question, “Are you a gold digger?”, ultimately says more about the one who is asking than it does about anyone else.  It says, “I don’t trust women, including you, and I respect and value my money more than I respect and value a relationship with you.”  Maybe I should embrace the moniker.  Maybe I am a gold digger.  But the gold I am seeking is not material, but in the heart.

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