Category Archives: love

The Problem with being single : The things people say (and what I did with it)

They said marriage and children are really hard.  No, like really hard… Seriously.  And this is good – honesty is good.  But, if you’re hoping to get married, make sure it is to The Right Person.  And, actually, while you’re at it, make sure you are The Right Person.

They posted endless Facebook articles : 8 ways to find a godly marriage partner, 10 things Christian men should look for in a bride, 15 things godly women need in a husband, 20 characteristics of a God-honouring marriage…

They said to find someone who would lead me spiritually, someone who would encourage me in all my gifts, someone who would push me to be the very I best I could be.

They said that if it were right, I would ‘just know’; that if it were real, it wouldn’t be so hard.

They said to seek out a man of character and to stay away from anyone with ‘issues’.

They said to make sure I was ready; my issues  prayed away, my patience perfected.

Later, they added things like ‘financial security’, ‘more than sexual attraction’, ‘shared values’.  Think about who’ll die first, who might get sick, where you might live, how you’ll spend your money, raise your kids, paint the bathroom, cook your pasta, scratch your… Well. You get the idea.

So, I packed up all these thoughts and questions and traits and hoisted them onto my back.

 I didn’t notice the weight at first, because I wanted marriage, I wanted to choose well, I had to choose well.  And now that I carried this stuff with me, when it came to being in a relationship, I knew what it would look like, how it would feel, what I would do, what he would do, what we would be together : a lean, mean, godly marriage machine. And it would last, I’d be sure it would last.

I, particularly I, would need to be sure it would last.

Then I fell in love.

No-one said I would come face to face with my fears as I accidentally fell for someone so completely unexpected. Someone so completely… Human.

 No-one said (or I didn’t hear it well) that life tends to be a little less tidy than my backpack of relationship expectation.  They didn’t post Facebook articles offering 8 ways to stop being Shit-Scared of marriage when your parents are divorced, 10 ways to loosen your vice-like grip on what you perceive to be control, 20 characteristics of two screwed up human beings trying to build a life together while trusting grace.

So I find myself in a relationship with someone whose complete human-ness is irritatingly out of my control (this is tongue-in-cheek, but – seriously?!? No-one said I would need to surrender control!). But in all his uncontrollable human glory, he is funny and gentle and GOOD. And I love him.

Those things they said I should look for, should do, should be… They haunt me sometimes. Sometimes they haunt me often. There tends to be plinky-plinky Disney-like music and chirupping birds echoing somewhere in the background. There is always fear.

I am not afraid of his imperfection – though sometimes The Lists would have me think so. (Then I can blame it on someone else.) I am not afraid of infidelity and drama. I’m afraid of me.

This is my fearful shame :

After all these years of praying for someone who wouldn’t give up on me, my biggest fear is that it will be me who gives up because marriage and kids is really hard.  No, like really hard… Seriously.  Like, maybe too hard for anyone other than The Right Person.

And if there’s anything I’ve learnt over the past few years, it is that I am not The Right Person.

I am only me.  He is only him.  And that load on my back is only Heavy.

Stuff the lists.

2 Comments

Filed under dating, fear, heart, love, relationships, risk, singleness

Goodbye Death

Its hard to say definitively that I’ve said more goodbyes than your average 30 year old, but I suspect I may at least be above average in these stakes.

The more I say it, the more it feels like death, even if I know it is not a forever-farewell.  Maybe it is the very fact that I’ve turned 30 that makes this process harder?  Something to do with my biological clock perhaps???  Or maybe just that, as a spring reaches the point of no return, I’ve said so many in such a short space of time that I’m fast approaching the “I’m-done-with-this-can’t-do-it-anymore” point.

Whatever it is, it sucks.

And yet…

The pain of goodbyes and changes is in direct correlation with the joy of love.  It hurts only because we love.  Okay, so I’m sure that it is not always purely altruistic – I might cry when you leave because I’m lonely and don’t want to be – but a large part of it is because of love and our pain serves to help us see and appreciate that we love and are loved.

If we allow ourselves to ignore the pain of goodbye, we are in denial of love.  If we focus only on the pain of goodbye, we miss the joy of love.  To engage fully with the relationship between love and the pain of farewells, is to celebrate the power of resurrection life.  Jesus did not merely ‘come back from the dead’, he passed through death, he went beyond it and broke its power over us.

We need no longer fear.

Leave a comment

Filed under fear, love, perspective, suffering

On being not single.

Image

Ah, Valentine’s Day… The day on which we (I?) make jokes about how difficult it was to open our front door with all the cards and flowers in the way.  Otherwise could be known as “Marmite Day”… You either love it or hate it.

Facebook testifies to this fact.

From schmushy declarations of love, to boastful photographs of “oh-gosh-I’m-sooo-surprised-by-this-bouquet-of-flowers-aren’t-I-sooo-blessed?”, to bible verses about love and to downright “fnuh”, the 14 February has got people status-updating to the max.

*     *     *

One of my life’s most creative and romantic gestures (thus far, I hasten to add!) was to make a handmade story book of high school friends who became college sweethearts.  I poured my heart into it and it took weeks.  After the then-current-day page of our love story, I marked “To be continued…”.  When I gave the gift, my sweetheart thumbed through the pages after “To be continued…”, smiled and said “Oh good, there are lots of pages still to come.”  *Sigh*  Perfect!

Except two months later it was all over.

Love is a risk.

*     *     *

Not so long ago, I lived in a house with two other girls.  A little while after we moved in together, one housemate began a dating relationship.  What struck me about the dynamic of that this time round, was that while we two single housemates were feeling left out of the “couples”, my newly “dating-someone” housemate was feeling left out of being single.

Over the next months, she and her boyfriend went through millions of ups and downs and ins and outs on the journey of working out if they could build a life together.  They eventually tied the knot and are now facing the rest of life’s challenging adventures together as husband and wife.  We got to be part of that as the three of us housemates honestly walked the path of our changing circumstances together.

Love is a risk.

*     *     *

I never thought I’d be one to advocate for the American way of things, but if my friend and colleague is a good example of the American take on all this, then do it their way…

She made “Valentines” for the members of her choir : little red boxes containing lots of little items each related to some aspect of love.  I can’t remember exactly, but like “a poem, to read and share”, “a piece of ribbon to bring together the ones you love”, “a plaster, to remind you that broken hearts heal” things like that.  She’s determined to help them think differently about Valentine’s Day today.

She also invited me around to share in their new family tradition of Valentine’s Chocolate Fondue complete with red napkins and heart-embellished fondue forks.  When its shared with family and friends, there’s no need to be single when you can be together.

*     *     *

Love is a risk and if Valentine’s Day can be a way to celebrate the fact that the risk is worth taking and that we are not alone in any part of that, then I’m up for that.

And chocolate fondue.

But perhaps there’s no need to boast about your PERFECT life on Facebook…??

Leave a comment

Filed under dating, friends, heart, love, perspective, relationships, singleness

Who’s in charge here?

You’ll not be surprised that this small corner should link to a blogpost like this about submission in marriage…

http://www.emergingmummy.com/2012/01/in-which-love-looks-like-real-marriage.html

Leave a comment

Filed under beauty, bible, grace, heart, love, men, perfect love, relationships, women

French Kissing and other cultural reflections on love.

French kissing.  I’ve done it a lot.  Its very nice and I have to say I like it.  But, it can get a little awkward…  Turning this way and that, bumping glasses, not knowing what is acceptable to do with your hands, wondering if I have to kiss EVERY person in the room even though it takes an awful long time to get around everyone.  It gets tiring, all this kissing.

For those of you who aren’t sure what I’m talking about, here’s a little instructional video…

See?

I think even the French get confused.

In other cultural reflection news… I’ve been thinking about how the presence of or lack of words to describe a concept in a certain language has a profound affect on a culture.  The French word/concept that I’ve been thinking about is ‘love’.  Another slightly awkward one for an anglophone.

So, you make a new friend of the opposite sex.  You don’t fancy them, but you do greatly appreciate their friendship and would like to communicate this.  Problem : the verb you would most likely use (‘aimer’) means both like and love.  Awkward.

Or, you make a new friend of the opposite sex.  You are attracted to them and would like to communicate this.  Problem : the verb you would most likely use does not exist.  Your only option is to use ‘aimer’ – I love you.  Immediately you find yourself confessing to be in love with this person.  Awkward?

Now, for an anglophone (at least in my culture), the phrase ‘I love you’ takes a relationship to a whoooooooole other level – think how many films/tv series include that awkward moment where one person says ‘I love you’ and the other person freaks out because they’re not ready to say it so says something silly like ‘thank you’ and so ensues a whole episode of angst until the second person plucks up the courage and decides its okay to say it but now the other person doesn’t want to hear it etc etc etc.  Awkward.

But anyway.  I digress.

Now imagine yourself French (no rude comments, please).  This is how it works as far as I can tell… You meet someone of the opposite sex and start going out.  How do you express the fact that you like that?  Je t’aime.  I love you.  But that’s okay, because you’re French and you speak French, and that’s what you say.

Incroyable.

It puts such an interesting spin on it all because ‘I love you’ is therefore a somewhat smaller thing to say because it is employed from a very early period in defining a relationship.  It is made even smaller, then, when you break up with someone after a few weeks because you don’t feel like its working – the words ‘Je t’aime’ are therefore as easily revoked as they are employed.  Do you see what I mean?  The words somehow don’t have the same binding power…

But whilst it is a smaller thing to say, it can also be a majassive thing to say, you know?  For example, in the French Christian world, love is, on principal, not bandied around (which is a Good Thing), but at the same time the amount of pressure that is put on a couple to Know from the beginning is huge.  Like, where is that period between friendship and ‘in love’?  Surely that’s an important stage to pass through before committing yourself for a lifetime to a person?  Its sort of an all-or-nothing situation.

Hmmm…. Makes for a more dramatic life I guess.  Perhaps Alicia was in France when she wrote this

1 Comment

Filed under culture, dating, France/French, love

Perhaps

He hadn’t always been like this.

She tried to get up from the floor, but he pushed her down again, swearing and barely able to focus both eyes on her face.  His breath was foul as he pleaded with her to forgive him.

“I can’t let you up til you forgive me” he slurred. “It was an accident, I’m sorry!  You have to…”

He trailed off, slumping onto his knees then sidewards to lean against the wall.

“I didn’t mean to…”

He hadn’t always been like this, but this time wasn’t the first.

He reached out an impotent hand towards her as she pulled herself up on the kitchen chair, mumbling incoherently as she made her way out of the kitchen towards the hall cupboard.  By the time she got back to where he was with the blanket, he was already asleep.

She won’t leave him this time either.

They had grown up together, become best friends and later married – every girl’s boy-next-door fairytale.  She wasn’t interested at first, but as they grew up she discovered that the loyalty, passion and gentleness he possessed was not easily found in any other person she’d met.  His capacity to love and care for the ‘unloveable’ was astonishing, his ambition and compassion for others startlingly beautiful.

But something somewhere went wrong.

She wonders if it would be quite so hard if she didn’t believe he was made of greater stuff, for greater things.  If she’d never known him before, she would have no idea how to hope for the future.  If she didn’t know who he really was, who he could really be, would it hurt so much to see him so far from that?

He gurgled and shuffled in his sleep.  Instinctively she reached out to him in case he should slide onto his side, but he stayed put, his hair matted and mussed on one side like a child’s after a good night’s sleep.  He would make a great father, if only…

That’s why she stays.  The picture of him as he was, as he could be – that exquisite bittersweet morsel of hope in face of his bad choices, in face of his persistent rejection of her and the life they once had together, in face of his inability to say no to the voice that wants ‘just one drink’.

To stay and hope is as painful as to give up and go, but perhaps this way she can be the one to try and win him back with her love and care.

One day it’ll be over.  Either he will be won over by her love, her efforts, the truth… or he will go too far and she’ll be forced to leave.  If she has to leave, all concerned will still bear the consequences.  She too, in her love for him, in her hope for him, already suffers the consequences – she may be removed, but she will not be absent.  Maybe if she leaves he will be forced to face his own consequences.  Perhaps he’ll feel the loneliness, the futility of doing life for himself alone, the pain of what he has brought about.  Perhaps then he will change.

But perhaps he will get used to the absence of her light – his eyes will become accustomed to the darkness he has chosen and soon the memory of light will be nothing but shadow, nothing but the absence of light, nothing.

No! Love always hopes.

One day she does leave, though.  Perhaps there are children involved, perhaps she can no longer bear to see them suffer the consequences of his bad choices, perhaps he starts to hurt them.  But she herself cannot carry him any more – she cannot hope alone.

Perhaps someone else, something else will shine.  A candle lit somewhere on his behalf – a hope, a wish, a prayer.

Love always hopes.  She will always hope.

Leave a comment

Filed under hope, love, story, suffering

Rambling (but not so random) reflections on the way things might be

Darkness is the absence of light.  Evil is the absence of good – or rather of God.

In giving his creatures love, creator God gave his creatures the choice of not-love.  In plucking that fruit from that tree, the creatures sought Me-ness which is, indeed, not-love.  In the way that love is light, not-love is the absence of that light and in the way that love leads to light, to the Light, not-love leads to darkness, to not-light.

Where there is light, there is no room for darkness; where there is love, there can ultimately be no not-love.

Creator God promises to one day reveal the fullness of Light to those who choose Love.  Not only will those who chose not-love not be able to support that Light, neither will that light be able to support its darkness – there will simply be no room.  Darkness is nothingness, light is fullness.  Where there is fullness there can be no nothingness, no not-fullness.

For those who live in Love, who live in Light, they will no longer know not-love or not-light.  Where there is fullness, there can be no nothingness, no not-fullness.  If not-love and not-light are allowed entry, there is not fullness – Love and Light are not full.

One day not-love, not-light and not-fullness will be put away and Love and Light will reign in all His fullness.  And we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

(Oh yeah, oh yeaaahhh)

6 Comments

Filed under beauty, God, gospel, grace, happiness is, home, Jesus, love, perfect love, perspective, sin