Feeling Down

Sometimes you don’t even have words to explain how you feel. There are times when this is due to the extremity of the emotion. It is certainly possible to feel love, joy, pain, fear, or despair to such an extreme degree that all words fail. To the point where you actually do simply stop trying to explain how you feel. I can say this because I’ve been at that point for each of these emotions. I can’t explain how terrifying it was to be chased through the woods with someone trying to shoot me. I can’t describe how much I loved a certain young woman who broke my heart several years ago (I’ve written about this before). I think this is probably true for any emotion. We are capable of feeling things that we simply can’t describe in any meaningful way, and this is not surprising. Much as we revere them, words are really an incredibly weak medium. However, sometimes it isn’t the extremity or intensity of an emotion that makes it difficult to explain. Sometimes it is the sheer complexity and variety of interacting emotions that become difficult to parse.

Lately I’ve been feeling rather unwanted and unappreciated. Some of this has to do with a difficult class that I’ve just finished. Some of it has to do with deciding to give up on flowergirl. Some of it has to do with being continually turned down by women in general. Some of it has to do with my spiritual life, which has been rather dry lately. Some of it has to do with the simple day to day drudgery of my life. Ultimately, I’m feeling joyful, depressed, stoic, sad, frustrated, excited, fearful, relieved, and hopeless all at the same time. A while back I started talking to a lady over eHarmony (I mentioned that I paid for a year long account this summer). Today she and I decided that, while we both liked the other, there wasn’t anything more than friendship in our future. This is one of the few times that I’ve had this actually be a mutual decision. She and I were both honestly relieved and we both look forward to talking again. I also asked another lady… let’s call her Paula… for her number today… well, yesterday technically. That is, I asked for her number yesterday, put her name into my phone, and then tried to text her with a name only and no number. I ran into her again today and got her number. However, I’m not really one to wait… that’s not entirely true. Perhaps its better to say that I’m interested in this woman and I don’t particularly want to play games, so I texted her earlier tonight. So far, there’s been no response.

I don’t know that I’m honestly surprised about this, and it is certainly a part of the ‘unwanted, unappreciated’ feeling that I mentioned above. However, it certainly isn’t the entirety of it. In general, I talk to people. I reach out. I call. I text. I walk over to say hello. It’s relatively rare for someone to reach out to me, and the past few months it’s been even rarer than normal. Honestly, I rather feel like I could disappear off of the face of the earth and no one would be significantly affected. This feeling is generally exacerbated by the kind of tacit rejections that are all to common in my life. Personally, I much prefer it when a woman tells me, ‘I think you’re a really great person, but I’m just not interested’. This is significantly better than the tacit, silent rejections that seem to be the norm among… well, women in general. Honestly, what makes it harder is to then watch these women find someone that they are interested in, and again I get left behind.

In a lot of ways I feel like the cliche little boy, standing cold and alone in the dark and snow with his face pressed against some families window, watching everyone else enjoy what he can never have. At the same time, I honestly am happy for my friends and acquaintances who have found love and who are doing well in life. Sometimes I just want to cry, but then I haven’t been able to express pain through tears for… well, longer than I can remember. Even when that young lady gave me a heart attack I couldn’t cry. I tried, and I almost did. I could feels the tears, but I couldn’t manage to coax them out.

I care about people. I do my best to show this, and I don’t want to ask for things in return. Like with Flowergirl, I try to do for others without thinking about myself. I want to do for others without thinking about myself. I want to be able to love God first and to love others completely and not worry about myself. To be honest though, I’m a little pansy wimp. Much as I want to be strong and take care of others… I think I need some people in my life who are interested in taking care of me. Problem is… I’m pretty sure everyone forgets that I exist when I’m not actually there in front of them.

Rain

I was going to write another entry on my thoughts about manhood today, but it’s just not coming to me right now. Today has been a rainy day. Unlike the short, sudden downpours that we’ve been having all summer (the ones that I can only describe as God pissing on Lynchburg), today has been wet, dreary, and rainy all day long. Yet this somehow seems appropriate. Water is cleansing, and at the moment my mind and heart could certainly use a cleansing. I made dinner for flowergirl and her roommates last night, and I think it went fairly well. We all ate, and everyone enjoyed the meal, and then one roommate left for a concert and the other went to bed, leaving flowergirl and I alone. We cleaned up and talked for about two hours. I think it was a wonderful conversation about philosophy, politics, and life… I have no idea if she would agree with me. Much as I think the dinner went well, I am now more convinced than ever that she has absolutely no romantic interest in me. Still, God hasn’t told me to date her, or to romance her, or to pursue a relationship with her. He’s told me to love her well, and to expect nothing in return. This, I think, is thoroughly annoying.

I am left with the feeling that no woman will ever truly love me. I don’t honestly believe that this is true, and yet at the same time I do. As much as God has grown me this summer, as much as he’s taught me about joy and satisfaction in him, the idea that a woman would ever put my needs and desires before her own seems anathema to me. Yet, now more than ever, I know that the most significant thing that I am looking for in a romantic partner (among an array of desires) is a woman who will make me a high priority in her life. Actually, I’m looking for a woman who will make me the second priority in her life, right after her relationship with God. I think that this is personal growth, at least growth of a sort. In the past I’ve always pursued women who needed me or women who would let me love them, and I’ve always been hurt.

Earlier this week (…I might have written this down, not sure) a friend of mine, in an off-hand comment, told me that I should be picky. I honestly don’t know what he intended when he said that (though, given the context of the conversation is was clearly about my dating life), but the comment has stayed with me, and it’s meant a lot to me. Honestly, I’ve always felt like the bottom of the barrel romantically. A part of me wants to say that I’ve always been made to feel like the bottom of the barrel, and I’m not entirely sure that statement would be untrue, but it feels like a lack of responsibility. Regardless of how others treat me, I decide how I see myself. That being said, I have generally been treated like the bottom of the romantic barrel by the majority of the women in my life. However, the key here is that I’ve always felt like the bottom of the barrel.

Regardless of how people have treated me, I’ve looked at myself and seen someone that no woman would want. I’ve seen someone who’s place is to give love, but not receive it. I’m not completely sure that I’m past this. I still look at myself and can’t imagine a woman ever wanting to love me. I still see someone who is fundamentally undesirable in some indefinable way, and at the moment I’m still not sure how to change this. However, I think actively looking for someone who is willing to love me as much as I love her, instead of looking for someone who simply needs love but won’t give it. I also realized a couple of weeks ago (and I’m pretty sure I did mention this) that it actually wouldn’t matter to me if flower-girl wasn’t a virgin. This is the first time I’ve been attracted to a woman and not truly and deeply worried about this.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly hope she is, even if only for her sake. I also still hope that I wind up marrying a virgin. However, in the past I have been afraid that I’d wind up with a woman who wasn’t a virgin. I’ve been afraid of being judged, or of not measuring up, or of… whatever. Of something going horribly wrong and my new wife, whoever she may be, finding herself completely sexually dissatisfied with me. I have not had this issue with flowergirl. It really just hasn’t been an issue. At the moment I’m not entirely sure whether to attribute this to some personal growth in myself (conceivably possible) or to something about her (…also possible…) or to something particular about my feelings for her (also possible… perhaps the most likely, not sure though).

Ultimately, I think I still have some growing to do. Probably a lot of growing to do. Its entirely possible that I’ll spend my life alone, and I think that’s something that I’m still afraid of. However, I also think that this summer has brought a lot of spiritual and personal growth in me, and that is most definitely a good thing.

And Advice to Men

Being that I am a man, not a woman (or at least I keep telling myself that), I figured that it was only right for me to follow up my advice to women with some advice to men. Some of my advice for both groups is the same, but a lot of it isn’t.

1) Read Rudyard Kipling’s If: I’ve referred to this poem several times in the past, and I honestly think that it is one of the best short guides to manhood ever written. Kipling’s poem strikes at the core of existence, and of what it means to actually be a man, instead of being a boy pretending he’s a man. Read the poem, memorize the poem, live the poem. This is also good advice for Psalm 1.

2) Stop Looking for Easy Fixes: We all want to find the easy way out. Water follows the path of least resistance and people tend to do the same. However, the easy option often isn’t the best option. Roll of your sleeves and get yourself ready for some hard work, because life is a dirty business and it doesn’t play fair. For that matter, stop worrying about what’s fair and start worrying about what is. In the long run it really doesn’t matter why you didn’t get the job or why the girl turned you down, it happened. Learn what you can from it, get back on your feet, and start moving forwards.

3) Do Something!: In a fight the worst thing you can possibly do is stand there and think. If you are doing something, then you’re losing the fight. Life is the same way. What you do might not be the best thing, it might not even be the second best thing, but its not the worst thing. The worst thing you can do is absolutely nothing.

4) Be Willing to Wait: This isn’t actually contradictory to the last point. You should be doing something, but know when you need to go and do something else. Sometimes there is nothing you can do in a given situation. This means that you have to wait, so you need to wait. Go do something else for a while. Apply to a school, get a job, write a novel, whatever, but fill your time waiting with something, even if it’s just relaxing.

5) Be a Gentleman: I know that it gets you nowhere. I know that women don’t appreciate it, and some of them even get mad at you for it. I understand that being kind, courteous, respectful, and thoughtful isn’t the way to get laid or to get rich. Do it anyway. Do it because it’s right. Do it because, even if she doesn’t thank you for it, you will make her feel better about herself by treating her with gentility and respect. Do it because you want to make her happy, not because you want to get something from her. This is a big part of being a man: stop thinking about yourself.

6) Get Your Priorities Straight: We live in a culture that doesn’t value men. We are taught day in and day out that men are either pathetic wimps or mindless thugs. We’re taught that men are evil and need to be civilized. We’re taught that what makes you a man is the size of your dick, the scope of your fame, of the contents of your wallet. None of this is true. Real men aren’t brutes. They are gentle, kind, and care about others. However, they aren’t wimps either. They will stand up for the people they care about, even when they wouldn’t stand up for themselves. Real men are defined by their understanding of themselves. They aren’t goaded, don’t need to prove themselves, and think highly of others. Focus less of what you have and more on what you are.

7) Commit: I don’t care if its to the girl you’re dating, the career you’re pursuing, the church you’re attending, etc. Commit to something, and make a habit of commitment throughout your life. Don’t be afraid to leave if you have to, but don’t leave just because you want to, or because you’re afraid. Commit to something in life, and keep committing to things.

8) Stop Looking for Perfect: Chances are you’re not going to marry a supermodel. Stop looking for the perfect girl and start looking for the girl who is there. This isn’t to say that you should date/marry someone you don’t like or aren’t attracted to. I’ve done that, it doesn’t end well. However, stop obsessing over little things that don’t matter. Find that women in your life who you do get along with and who are attractive and pay attention to them. Give them a chance before you go back to mooning over… whoever, I don’t really follow modeling. Heidi Klum… she’s still hot, right? Stop mooning over Heidi Klum. She’s probably married anyway.

9) Deal with Porn: You probably look at porn. If you don’t yet, then don’t start. Run far, run fast, and never look back. If you do, you might be struggling with porn or you might just enjoy porn, either way you’re not doing yourself any favors. Understand that it’s wrong, just like any other sin. Don’t defend it, don’t excuse it: hate it. Hate porn with everything that’s in you and fight to get away from it. However, understand that it is a struggle, just like any other struggle. It’s not okay to fall, but you probably will. When you do, get back up, ask forgiveness from whoever you need it from, and start the fight all over again.

10) Treat Her Well: If you have a special lady in your life, then treat her well. Treat her like she’s the queen of the world. Heck, either treat her like you love her, or break up with her so she can find someone who will. I don’t care if you don’t see much reciprocation from her. Do it anyway.

11) Turn Off You’re Damn iPod: This goes for everyone. The world is filled with more lonely, hurting people than at any point in history. Turn off your iPod, take out your headphones, close up your computer, and say hi to a stranger. We tell children not to talk to strangers, but you’re not a child anymore. Grow up and act like a human being instead of a cyborg. Introduce yourself, talk to people, make friends, and act like you give a fuck about someone else.

12) If She Runs, Don’t Chase Her: There’s a difference between a girl who’s letting you chase her, and a girl who’s trying to get away. Learn that difference, it’s really important. If a girl’s letting you chase her, then chase her until you catch her. However, if a girl’s running away, then let her run and don’t expect her to come back.

13) Hygiene: Take a shower. Wear deodorant. Change your underwear. Don’t spend an hour fixing your hair. Stop getting mani-pedis. Clip your nails. Get some exercise. This isn’t hard people. Wearing a suit everyday doesn’t make you a man. However, neither does being a stinky brute covered in animal skins. Take care of yourself and do you best to present a pleasing appearance.

Again, that’s it for now. Hopefully some of this will sink in.

Advice to Women

Not that I figure that any of you are likely to listen to me. Honestly, I’m not really sure that any of this advice is actually worth listening to in the first place, but some things that I’ve noticed in the women that I’ve dated, and women that I know well.

1) Be Courageous: relationships, good ones, are about commitment, and commitment is scary. Women today, just like men, often pursue things that are easier, safer, and less panic inducing. I can’t count the number of women I know who have pushed off one great guy after another in order to focus on a job, a move, something that they thought was fun and exciting. A friend of mine tried to tell me today that extended adolescence is a male issue. I had to correct him. Many of these women are single, living with their families or with roommates, and saying they want families as they push off relationships into their thirties. This isn’t to say that there’s never a good reason to walk away from a guy, but plans a year down the road aren’t a good one. Stop making excuses, take a risk, and commit to building a life with someone.

2) Stop looking for Mr. Perfect, Mr. Right, Mr. Right Now, etc: You are never going to be the ideal woman and you are never going to find the ideal man. These people don’t exist. People are messy. Relationships are messy. A good relationship isn’t about being perfect for one another, it’s about being there for one another. It’s about accepting the other person’s flaws, and helping them to see what they need to work on. If you think that you can fix the guy you want to date, then you’re wrong. However, you can help him see where he needs to strive to be closer to God. In line with this, and guys generally need this advice too, stop mooning over that guy that doesn’t give you a second look or the one that treats you like crap and start looking around at the guys that are showing interest in you. If you don’t share that interest, fine, but give them a chance before you write them off. You might be surprised how much you’re missing.

3) Domineering and Passive are Two Sides of the Same Problem: Both types of women are extremely attractive for the first couple of dates. Domineering women are attractive because they’re obviously interested. They make everything easy and a guy doesn’t have to do much work. However, if you’re trying to make all the decisions, do all the pursuing, and control the relationship then he won’t ever have the chance to lead and you’ll either wind up with a wuss who you don’t want, or he’ll get fed up and walk away. Passive women are attractive because they project the need to be protected. They make a guy feel strong and manly, and they encourage his natural instinct to pursue and protect. However, if you don’t do anything, then the man pursuing you is either going to get bored, or he’s going to realize that you’re asking for everything and offering nothing. This leads into the next point.

4) A Great Relationship is about Mutual Pursuit: If either partner is doing all the pursuing then the relationship is doomed to failure. Let him lead, follow him, keep up with him, etc. However, if he isn’t pursuing you, then move on. Similarly, you need to be pursuing him just as hard as he’s pursuing you. If you can’t keep up with him then let him know (see my next point), but if you can, then do. You want someone to make you feel special, and if he’s a decent guy then he wants to make you feel special (if he doesn’t then run away). However, he wants you to make him feel special just as deeply. Find ways to do that and do it often.

5) Communicate!: If he asks, great, but if there’s something you need him to know don’t just expect him to ask about it. Men are not telepathic. We cannot read your mind. If you need him to slow down, then tell him that. If you think he could maybe pick things up a little, tell him that to. Don’t try to take over the relationship (remember the whole domineering thing), but let him know what’s going on in your head. We do not think the way you do, and most men aren’t that good at reading signals. You actually have to talk to us about things. Women are supposed to be the one’s that talk more, you should try using that skill. Also, if you want something, tell him. This goes back to point 1. Yes, if you tell him your fantasy and he doesn’t do it that will suck. However, I promise that he’s more likely to do it if you tell him what it is. You want to wake up to breakfast in bed every now and then, let him know. The first time it happens you might not be surprised, but it’ll still be special, and I promise that by the third or fourth time he does it you won’t even remember that you had to tell him in the first place.

6) Accept a Compliment: If I walk up to you and tell you that you’re a lovely woman I might be hitting on you or I might not. In fact, whether I am might depend on how you react. Either way, the correct response is not to suddenly assume that I’m a predator. When someone gives you a compliment say ‘Oh my, thank you so much’ or ‘Hey, thanks, that really made my day’. Don’t assume that what I mean is ‘I want you in my bed tonight’, because even if I am hitting on you, this isn’t what I mean. Also, don’t assume that I’m lying. If I’ve taken the time to compliment you then I’m not lying to you. I know American culture makes men out to be either pathetic wimps or vicious beasts, but American culture is full of crap. Men are not the enemy. It would be nice if you would stop treating us like we are.

7) Know Yourself: I don’t care who you are, there is something beautiful about you. You beauty might be only skin deep, or it might all be on the inside, but there is a clear beauty in you and if you don’t realize that then you won’t show it. If someone points out something beautiful that they see in you don’t assume that they don’t know you or are just trying to get in your pants. Take some time and give that part of yourself a good long look. Decide for yourself whether its beautiful and why. Also, remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If he sees something beautiful in you that you think is ugly, take some time and ask him why he thinks it’s beautiful.

8) Trust: I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Trusting God means trusting people. It doesn’t mean being stupid. If a guy invites you up to his apartment at midnight and one of you doesn’t normally work night shift, then there’s a good chance that he’s after something. However, trust people. Give them the benefit of the doubt. You don’t like being judged as first glance. Neither does anyone else. Take the time to find out who people really are.

9) Turn Off You’re Damn iPod: This goes for everyone. The world is filled with more lonely, hurting people than at any point in history. Turn off your iPod, take out your headphones, close up your computer, and say hi to a stranger. We tell children not to talk to strangers, but you’re not a child anymore. Grow up and act like a human being instead of a cyborg. Introduce yourself, talk to people, make friends, and act like you give a fuck about someone else.

10) When Someone Likes You, Don’t Run Away: Yes, men want to pursue, but there’s a big difference between letting yourself be chased and bolting because you’re scared. If a decent guy likes you then its a huge compliment, even if you don’t return his affections. Things are only as awkward as the two of you make them, so stop being skiddish, woman up, and tell him what you think of him. Tell him the good, tell him the bad, tell him the unsure and the confused. Treat him like he’s a real, live human being who has feelings. I promise you, he is and they’ve been crushed before. Even if you aren’t interested at first, you might give him a chance. If he actually is a decent guy then he might really surprise you.

11) Choose the Nice Guy: I have yet to figure out why women seem to fall in love with assholes. If you find a guy whose willing to treat you well, love you well, and pursue you well, then do the same in return. Love is a choice, not a feeling. If you’re picking your relationships based on which guys give you the most butterflies then you’re making a mistake. The guy you wind up with might not be the most exciting guy in the world, but he will be the one who keeps loving you over the long haul.

12) Be Good: This is a twofer, but the first is much more important than the second. Just like men aren’t vicious monsters, women are little angels. Actually, an experiment done in the 90s, based off of Stanley Milgram’s famous obedience study, showed that women were significantly more likely to harm others and less likely to show empathy if given leave to do so by an authority figure. You all know that you can be pretty horrible people sometimes. This means that you have to practice virtue. Learn to be good and to do good on a regular basis.

13) Looks Matter: I know they shouldn’t. I know it’s not fair. I know it makes us shallow. However, for guys (even the really good ones) looks matter. The good thing is that there are guys out there that like just about everything. There are guys who like big women, guys who like tiny women, guys who like tomboys. There are guys who like manly women, guys who like prissy women, guys who like goth women. However, looks do matter, so don’t tell yourself they don’t. This doesn’t mean that you need to look like a 90 lb supermodel. Sure there are some guys that like that, but there are others who want a girl with some size to her. However, it does mean that you need to take care of yourself. Go out of your way to look good, and make sure that you go out of your way to look good for the guy you’re with, not for complete strangers.

I’m sure that I’ll have more eventually, but I’m guessing that this is enough for now.

Waiting…

In his poem If Rudyard Kipling expresses what makes a man. The poem as a while is incredibly powerful, and his opening lines are deeply evocative, especially the line ‘If you can wait and not be tired by waiting’. This is something that I’ve never been particularly good at. I’m an impatient man, especially when it comes to interpersonal relationships, and this is something that has caused me many problems, especially since I tend to fall for women who aren’t really ready for a relationship. This year has been all about waiting. It started in the spring when God put returning to school on my heart, but told me to wait until the fall to apply… for the next fall. I would have been perfectly happy to put in an application last spring and be starting now, but that wasn’t the plan. Although, considering that it took me a full month to actually fill out the application in the first place (I started it September 1st and finished it September 30th… haven’t put it in yet), it isn’t really surprising that God told me to wait. He’s also had me in a time of enforced singleness, my own choice up through about June, and after that… well, you’ve all read about my cringe inducing romantic escapades. Today I found out that the young lady to whom I sent flowers (go read a few posts back) simply isn’t ready for a relationship. She didn’t tell me this herself (though I have a feeling she’s recognized my interest, though I haven’t formally acknowledged it and don’t plan to for a while), but a friend of hers told me. I had kind of figured it out for myself though. She’s seemed completely neutral to my approaches so far, blundering as they may be. She hasn’t discouraged me in any way, but she hasn’t encouraged me either. I take this to mean that she has some interest, but doesn’t actually want to be pursued at the moment. So, I’m back to waiting.

Of course, in my prayers, God has been confirming this for some time. Every time that I’ve prayed about this woman God has told me ‘just love her well’. Of course, I want him to tell me ‘yes, she’s the one for you’ or ‘she’s going to fall hard for you’ or ‘you’re already in her heart’, but what he tells me instead is ‘just love her well’. So, this is exactly what I plan to do. I am going to love her as well as I possibly can, and trust God with whatever the outcome might be. At the moment I am coming to terms with the idea that it is very possible that nothing will ever happen, and that this is alright. My job, my only job, is to be her friend and make her smile as much as I can. At the moment I’m actually pursuing other women, although this is (at least in part) to keep myself from pursuing her. I know myself, and I know that if I ‘wait’ for her then I won’t be waiting at all, I’ll be pushing. I don’t honestly expect anything to happen with any of the other women that I’m talking to, but if something does I’m certainly not opposed to it.

I’ve asked her roommate to help keep me accountable in this as well. Hopefully she’ll be able to keep me in line and to keep me from doing anything stupid. However, I suppose we’ll see what happens. Today I was asked to briefly describe my ideal woman by one of the other women I’m talking to. The following was my response:

My ideal woman? Honestly I’m not sure I believe in ideal people at this point. She would have to be spiritually and emotionally mature; confident and strong, but vulnerable and actively wanting to submit; desiring to love, support, and cherish me as thoroughly as I will her; willing to initiate things (I don’t mean ask me out or propose here, but once I’ve made the first step she would have to be willing and able to pursue me); intelligent and nerdy (capable of holding her own in conversation); kind; gentle; beautiful (this includes physical appearance, but I think that beautiful refers to the entire person, not just looks); caring for others and someone who will sharpen me spiritually; and probably has a fairly good income and benefits (my career path, unfortunately, is not the most lucrative) though this last would really just be a nice plus if it was the case.

Honestly, I think this is a solid description of the core of what I’m looking for. I’m just not convinced that she exists… We’ll see though. I know that God has a plan, and I trust that he’ll bring the right woman into my life at the right time. I just wish that time was right now.

Lacking Certainty

I like to be sure about things. In most ways I’m not a control freak (though I absolutely used to be), but in this way I still very much am. I like to be certain of the outcome before I do something major… like ask out a friend. The flowers I sent the other day met, according to my inside source, with a mixed reaction. They were viewed as sweet, but also a little odd and possibly kind of creepy. This isn’t the reaction that I expected, and to make matters worse I had a wonderful conversation with the young lady in question that very evening (though flowers were never mentioned). This conversation made me want to pursue her even more, but at the moment the only thing that I’m even remotely confident of is that she is completely oblivious to my interest.

This does not jive (yes, I just used the word jive) well with my need for certainty. I want to know how things are going to turn out, not guess. Of course, this desire isn’t limited to my romantic endeavors. I want to know many things. This has been a consistent struggle between myself and God. When he asks me to do something my first question is always ‘why?’ I have to know, and I fight him on it like mad until I do know. I’m sure some of you remember the occasion a couple of months ago when God asked me to invite a young woman to lunch. I fought with him about that for days simply because I didn’t understand why. The question ‘why’ is often my obsession. I always want to know why, and it is excruciating for me to be kept in the dark.

Of course, this obsession is often antithetical to actually trusting God in things. The absolute need to know ‘why’ contravenes the willingness to actually trust his wisdom. It is, needless to say (or at least I hope you could come to this conclusion on your own), quite frustrating. God has taken a lot of time to teach me how to trust, and still I am often very bad at it. Instead of simply trusting him and following, I obsess over the why questions and tear them apart. I will play out scenes in my head a thousand different ways trying to understand the whys and predict the outcomes. I’m usually wrong.

I think that I am slowly learning how to obsess less over things. Still, this morning (when I found out about this woman’s reaction to my gift) was particularly bad. I wound up pushing a friend (my source) for information (that she didn’t have in the first place) much harder than the situation warranted, precisely because I wanted to know. I have argued in a number of places that it is fundamentally impossible to know anything about the world that we live in. Knowledge=creative authority, and man does not have creative authority over the world. We interact with the world through our perceptions, and form beliefs based on those perceptions. Then we develop those beliefs into certainties, and act on them (not necessarily in that order). However, at no point in this process do we actually know anything about the world.

Nonetheless, even though I believe that it is fundamentally impossible, I want to know! This has caused me plenty of trouble in the past, and I have no doubt that it will continue to cause me trouble in the future. Nonetheless… while I can work on this issue, as I do often, I can’t simply wave it away until and unless God decides to intervene on my behalf. So, instead I focus on doing my best to be the best person that I can be, and to love others (this woman included) as best I can. I focus on glorifying God as much as I am able, and be his forgiveness, and the forgiveness of others for my failures (as I must do of my friend tomorrow).

I also do my best to do the best. Which means that I am going to stop agonizing over certainty and just ask this woman out. I’m going to try to keep it simple. I’m not going to make a great confession of love or anything. I’m just going to ask her on a date and see what she says. Hopefully it won’t blow up in my face.

Humbled Like Christ

I’ve always loved the beginning of the second chapter of Philippians. Christ humbled himself for us because, though he was equal with God (i.e. he was a co-equal member of the Godhead, of which no member has primacy), he did not view that equality as a thing to be taken, but instead he gave it up to become a man. Not only did he become a man, but he became a poor carpenter’s son who, thirty-three years later, was crucified by the Romans to pacify the Jewish religious aristocracy. This picture of complete humility, from all-powerful creator of the cosmos to condemned man, is the ultimate example of Paul’s charge in the same chapter to view others as higher than ourselves, and of his charge in Romans to view ourselves with right minds. Christ, though he was the second person of the living God, did not view himself so highly that he refrained from becoming a man that would be shamefully hung on a cross (for in Jewish culture this was a shameful way to die). Why then do I think so highly of myself that I believe others should gather around my feet to be taught, or that women should love me, or that I am, in any way, deserving of respect or love.

Today we are enamored of the concept of human rights. I blame this largely on the enlightenment, culminating in the Declaration of Independence – the first wholesale statement of rights rather than responsibilities. We focus on what we deserve as individuals: I should be loved, I should be respected, I should be given work, I should be happy, I should be…, I should…, I…, I…, I…. In this obsession with selfishness we lose one of the most fundamental aspects of the Christian faith: life is not about me. If Christ can put aside his rights as the creator of all things and subject himself willingly to torment and execution, then can’t I put aside a few of my rights? I’ve been up all night, vacillating between prayer, watching Lindsey Stirling videos (the young lady I’ve mentioned introduced her to me in a facebook conversation last night), and looking at porn. In this case, two of the three have the same impetus: I am afraid. I am afraid of getting hurt, afraid that putting myself out there will lead me to another heartbreak, and all God keeps saying is to ‘trust him’, which generally isn’t helpful when I want emotional reassurance. So, after a night’s worth of struggle, sin, repentance, and pleading, my devotions this morning were Philippians 2.

Christ, in all his deific glory, found himself worthy to be born as a man and die a painful and humiliating death so that God could be glorified through our salvation. And here I am gnashing my teeth over the prospect of getting my heart broken again. Honestly, it really is incredibly ridiculous. If it is God’s will that my heart be broken again, and I truly hope that it isn’t, then I should rejoice in that as it glorifies him, and he will use it in my life to make me better. This is a part of what it means to be humbled. To give myself entirely over to the calling of God in my life, no matter what that calling might be, and allow him to shape me as he wills.

So, now (finally… you’d think I’d catch on sooner) I find myself praying that God give me peace, whatever he leads me to. Instead of begging him for someone’s love, or pleading with him to protect my heart, or raging at him for putting it in danger yet again, or fleeing into sinful comforts, I am simply asking for his peace through everything. The truth is that I hate the beginning of things when it isn’t clear which way a relationship will go. I want to be in a comfortable, committed relationship that is going to turn into marriage, and I’d honestly rather skip the ‘getting to know you’ phase entirely. However, in this also, I will ask for peace.