Waiting, Still

I hope that you caught the play on words in the title of this post. I finally told flowergirl that I have feelings for her. This wasn’t a romantic confession and I didn’t ask her out, it was just something that came up in a conversation. We had a nice little chat about the fact that she thinks I’m really great, but just not what she’s looking for, which wasn’t in any way a surprise. I have to admit that, even though I’ve know this for a while and generally come to terms with it, I’m still a little disappointed. Nonetheless, I am still striving to reach a place in which I can simultaneously strive for those things that I desire, and those desires that I believe God has put on my heart, and trust in him for their timing. I’m generally good at doing one or the other, but I’m really not good at doing both.

That being said, flowergirl said something to me that I’ve heard all too often. Something that I find is very common in women, and increasingly common in men. When I asked her what she was looking for her response was: ‘I don’t know, a feeling I guess’. She didn’t elaborate much, and I didn’t ask her to. However, I’m guessing that I know what that feeling is, even though she doesn’t. American culture has built a view of ‘love’ that is focused entirely on romance, or on feelings of passion. I hear people commonly say that ‘you know you love someone when you get those butterflies in your stomach’ or ‘I want to just be swept away by love’. Here’s the problem with these ideas: while they are commonly portrayed in the media, and while ‘love at first sight’ is a real thing (I can say this from experience) it is also incredibly stupid. I’m not saying that it’s stupid to believe in love at first sight, or that its stupid to follow those feelings (though I will argue that it generally is), but that this form of love is, in and of itself, stupid. To be swept away by feelings of passion for someone is a good thing… when that someone is a person who you can be confident cares for you, values you, respects you, and will put your best interests first. To be swept away by feelings of passion for someone you’ve known for five and a half minutes is a very bad idea. ‘Love at first sight’ is based entirely on an initial feeling of passion that cannot take into account the kind of person the passion is focused on. It can’t take this into account because it can’t know the person in any real or meaningful way.

The thing that the movies repeatedly leave out is that healthy passion is something that you build in a relationship. It comes from time invested with the person. It comes from repeatedly seeing that person actively care for you and put you first. To follow passion is an act of absolute trust in the person towards who that passion is directed, and to be healthy that trust must be both given freely and given carefully. If this following of passion is forced on you by another person, whether through emotional manipulation, charismatic charm, etc, it is not freely given and extremely unhealthy. Similarly, if this following of passion is not given carefully, then it is unhealthy because it cannot take into account the nature and personality of the other person. This passion is similar to handing over everything you own to a stranger. He might be a philanthropist, but he might also be a thief. You have no way of knowing.

Similarly, healthy passion is something that you create and something that you control. By choosing to repeatedly to act towards another in love, you create that passion for them in your own heart. Love is, first and foremost, something that you choose to do towards others, not something that you feel. Honestly, I think that many of use know quite well how to say this, but have no actual concept concerning how to do it. Something that flowergirl told me yesterday, and that I’ve heard before, is that I work harder to love others than anyone she’s ever met. This didn’t used to be true, but it is something that I have put a lot of effort into developing. God loved me through some very difficult times, and now I try to always choose to love others, even when it is difficult. Sometimes I have to work hard not to be swept away with passion for the people (well… the women) that I work hard to love because I know that they do not love me in return. However, this is how I know that repeatedly choosing to love someone creates a passion for that person.

What I am trying to say here is that chasing after passion as the foundation of a relationship is similar to buying a bachelors degree and assuming that you’ll do the work to build a necessary knowledge base later. 1) You haven’t done anything to earn it, 2) since you already have it, you aren’t going to bother putting in the effort to earn it, and 3) just like the bought degree, this passion is meaningless and fickle. As soon as any real pressure is put upon it the passion will fall apart, and shortly after the relationship will also fall apart. There was a young woman several years ago who broke my heart (gave me a heart attack actually). I’ve mentioned this before. While I am not seeking after a romantic relationship with her (primarily because of some things that she did during the years when she wasn’t speaking to me), I still love her with all of my heart. My love for her was not built on a feeling, it was built on a series of choices, and the passion with which I feel that love may have changed its focus, but it has not dimmed in any way. This is what we should be looking for, but I’m afraid that the majority of us have forgotten that.

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I Hate That Movie… Why am I Living It

I’ve never liked the movie Sleepless in Seattle. Nonetheless, the title (if not the plot) is probably the best possible description of my summer.  Needless to say, it’s been a rough twenty-four hours. However, this is only partially because of the sleeplessness. Yesterday was just hard in general. I mentioned Proverbs 13:12 a little while ago (Hope deferred makes the heart sick and all), and that is an apt description of my day yesterday. God has been teaching me to turn to him for my joy and satisfaction, but for some reason yesterday, as hard as I tried, I completely failed. At one point I even found myself in the bathroom trying desperately to cry. I failed at that to. For whatever reason, and can’t cry when I’m in pain. Inspiring moments and speeches will move me to tears very quickly, but pain, heartbreak… I can’t cry even when I need to.

So, yesterday moved from random heartache, to rejection (accompanied by a truly stupid excuse), to insomnia, and finally to pornography. I’ve mentioned before how much I hate pornography. It is a consistent thorn in my side… or in my heart. That being said, I don’t really have that much to say about it. I looked. I felt deeply sucky. I repented. I hope that I’ll never look again, but know that’s not realistic, so I hope that it’s at least a few months before I struggle with it again, and the next time I struggle with it, I plan to win. That being said, insomnia has made my summer both very long and very hard, and I don’t see any sign of it ending soon. I probably need to go to a doctor, but lack of money combined with lack of medical insurance makes that quite difficult. So instead I’m doing my best, taking sleep aids, and sometimes going without. I probably need to get some herbal teas, it’s something that I haven’t tried yet.

That being said, I actually don’t have much to say at all at the moment, and I have papers to grade. So, I’m going to read some Isaiah and then go do that.

Sources of Satisfaction

It’s amazing how easily we can shift our focus, our reliance, onto such a wide variety of things. When I first started this blog a few months back I really, truly didn’t want any followers. Seriously, go read some of my early posts. I was honestly and truly angry every time a new person followed the blog. It just plain made me mad, and I expressed that a few times. eHarmony has not been great for my self-esteem. Note that I used the term self-esteem there, not confidence… though I’m not sure that it’s been great for my confidence either. So far, the women who seem interested in me, I have no interest in, and the one’s I’m interested in have no interest in me. That’s often the way it goes though, isn’t it? I also passed on the chance to try asking T’Amber out again this afternoon… I think I had a good reason (she was on her way to a funeral and it just didn’t feel right), but I also have a feeling that there was a little bit of cowardice involved. I’d feel better about it if I was more worried about her feelings, and less worried about being rejected again. In other words, I think it was probably the right choice, but I’m not sure that I made it for the right reasons. I’m also coming down with something… still pretty much physically broken (though I found some yoga that I can do), needing less work for my health, but more work for my wallet, and I can’t bring myself to do a half-job on the assignments my students turn in.

So, all in all, while I’m not completely in the pits, I’m not entirely doing great right now. I’m trying to keep up a good attitude, but things are a little rough. That being said, a few minutes ago (right before I started writing) I found myself looking to see if I had any new likes or followers… trying to make myself feel good. I think this is understandable to a degree. It isn’t exactly a terrible thing to look to things of value or things that you do well to give a little boost, and it doesn’t mean that I’m comparing myself to anyone. I just kind of want to feel wanted at the moment, and I really don’t. I even just completely failed to cheer up a friend who’s having a rough day, something that I’m usually pretty good at. Still, like I said, it’s amazing how easily something can go from ‘just a thing’ to ‘a source of comfort, desire, happiness, confidence, etc’. I don’t know when this blog went from being just a journal to something that I take pride in and want people to see, and I have to wonder if the desire for people to see it has affected how honest I am. I think that I’m still being forthright… at least I’m not consciously trying to present myself in ‘this’ way or in ‘that’ way. Anyone who reads what I’ve written here can tell that I spend a lot of time moaning about my lack of a love life, and I still can’t really figure out why people keep following in the first place.

Nonetheless, it’s been a rough week for me. Everything above is a part of that, and I’m still dealing with some of the struggles that plagued me last Thursday and Friday. Not to nearly as great a degree. I haven’t sought anything out, but there have been a couple of times when my thoughts have gone to less than desirable places and stayed. A while back I wrote a post that started with the phrase ‘sometimes I just want to fuck’, and this is true. However, right now that isn’t my problem. Thinking about it honestly, lately I’ve been putting myself out there a good bit. eHarmony is a part of that, asking out T’Amber is a part of that, there’re a couple of other rejections that I don’t think have made the blog, and then the whole thing with the girl at my martial arts school on Monday… suffice it to say that I’ve been rejected a good bit, and more than anything else, at the moment I want to feel like someone that I might want might actually want me in return. Right now, at my core, I feel profoundly unwanted, and I probably need to have a long conversation with God about that. I think anything else is probably just a temporary fix.

I’m not sure if I’m ready for that yet. As I write this I can see how everything over the past week has worked together to bring me to this point. This point of specific dissatisfaction, frustration, fear, and pain, and I know that what I need to do is run to God and beg him to make it better. However, I’m not actually sure that I can do that at the moment. I know that I should, there’s a part of me that even wants to, but there’s another part of me that is afraid… of losing something… of sacrificing something… that God won’t be there maybe… I’m not even really sure what I’m afraid of. I just know that I’m afraid.

So, I’m going to stop writing about it, and I’m going to take a long, hot shower and take some time to talk to God about all of this. Hopefully he’ll have a solution.

Good Days and Bad

As much as yesterday was a bad day, today was a good day (I really hope you don’t think that each of these posts is written the day it goes up… I wrote this post three or four days ago). Kind of a great day actually, mostly because I spent a very good portion of it with God. After thirteen years of walking with God you’d think I’d be better at it by now. For one, you’d think that I’d understand that when I focus on God I do good, feel good, love well, and enjoy my life, and when I focus on myself I’m listless, depressed, frustrated, and prone to fall to whatever temptation presents itself. See, its not like I didn’t have temptations today, but I didn’t struggle with them nearly as hard because my focus was in the right place.

That being said, it is truly and incredibly easy to let my focus wander, to let my selfishness overwhelm me and this inevitably ends badly. I know I’ve mentioned on here that I tend to wear a lot of masks, and once of those is spirituality. I have no idea what people see when they look at me, but I want them to see a spiritual giant. A man who’s close to God, who’s got everything together spiritually, who fights the battle daily and single-handedly strikes down the spiritual bastions of evil.

That’s not actually me though. If I’m honest, that’s not even close to being me. It’s what I’d like to be, but that’s really just my pride talking. See, it’s not about me, how people see me, or what I do. It’s about God, and the more I focus on how I want to be seen and who I want to be, the less my focus is where it actually needs to be. In fact, it’s safe to say that the more I focus on being seen as a spiritual giant, the more of a spiritual wuss I become.

God is the key to… well… everything! He should be my main focus, my first priority, all the time no matter what. Unfortunately, I still suck at that. However, when I do focus on God, I always have awesome days. Mmmm…. I think I should probably learn from that, huh?