Water, Water Everywhere

I was going to give this post another title, but if you actually know the poem it would have wound up being fairly dirty. I’ve had two full nights of sleep, which have been magnificently wonderful in every way, and I’m looking forward to sleeping again tonight. A friend of mine actually prayed over me yesterday concerning my sleep problems, which was completely appreciated. As much as I talk about the power of prayer, sometimes I’m honestly not sure that I believe it. Only sometimes though. I absolutely believe in talking to God, and in listening to him, but there are times when I wonder if my prayers have an actual effect on my life. Needless to say, I prayed often for ease in sleeping over the past few days, and yet I still went three days with almost no sleep. That is always unpleasant at best (though I have to admit that it’s good to know that I can still go that long without sleep and function).

Saturday morning I went for a hike (Yay! my knee’s better and I can hike!) and I had a long talk with God. We talked about many things, but one of the things that we talked about was marriage and women. I cannot say that I have prayed for the woman that I will marry everyday since I was saved. However, I can say that I have been praying for her since I was saved. I have prayed for her for the past thirteen years. Sometimes that God would teach her, sometimes that he would bless her, sometimes that he would give her joy and happiness, and sometimes that he would bring her to me. Often my prayers are fairly general. I trust God to know what is best. Sometimes though, whether because he has laid something specific on my heart, or because I have a specific desire, they are not general at all. Saturday, I asked God to let me be in a relationship with my wife before the end of the year. His response? It’s not time yet.

Honestly, I’ve had this response many times over the years. Marriage and relationship is a desire that I struggle with (obviously). It’s a desire that I’ve given to God multiple times, that I’ve asked him to take from me, that I’ve wrestled with, and that I’ve submitted to. There have been times when I put that desire before my relationship with God (the last girl I dated God flat out told me that she wasn’t good for me). There have been times when I set it aside in order to pursue God. There have been times when I trust him with it, and there have been times when I don’t.

Last Tuesday I had coffee with a young women. It was fairly fun. Not stellar as far as dates go, but certainly not bad by any means either. She expressed some interest in doing it again, or perhaps going out with a group of people. So I called her and asked if she’d like to see a movie with some friends and I a few days later. She didn’t return my call until my friends and I were walking out of the theater. Normally I would accept her excuse of business, and optimistically keep trying. I would hold on to the thread of a possibility that she was actually interested, or that she might be, even though she didn’t seem interested. I decided not to do that this time. It might be a missed opportunity, I honestly don’t know if this is the right decision, but she doesn’t appear interested, so I’m going to assume she’s not.

Honestly, I’m considering simply taking till December and telling God that if I’m not going to pursue anyone unless he specifically tells me to. When it comes to women I’m still fairly lost. That being said, I actually know what it means to be loved. I can point to multiple people and say ‘I have no doubt that he/she loves me’. Their love might not be romantic, but I know that this is what I want in a relationship. I want someone who loves me, completely and with a whole heart. So, I think I’m pretty much done until I find that. Honestly, I might change my mind tomorrow… it happens often enough, but I might not.

Never Been Kissed

I realize that being 30-something years old and never having kissed a woman makes me odd. I mean really, most people have their first kiss around what, 13 or 14? Most people lose their virginity before they are legally considered adults. However, the majority of the time I don’t really notice this. It just isn’t something that commonly has a major effect on my life. There are times, though, that it becomes oh so readily apparent in my mind, and I feel like… so many things. Sometimes I feel like I’m missing out on something important in life. Sometimes I feel like I’m less of a man (really, sexual experience is a major basis for manhood in our culture). Sometimes I just feel like I’m less… like God just forgot about that part of my life… that part of who I am, maybe?

Since I started following Christ I haven’t had an easy time with singleness. I’ve been looking for a wife, praying for a wife, preparing for a wife for the past thirteen years. I tried taking a few years (six actually) to just focus on God and hope that he would bring me a wife in his time. Then I started looking again. Women seem to have an easy time rejecting me as well, and that hasn’t helped at all. Constant rejection can easily get under your skin. Make you feel like there’s something wrong with you, and I have to admit that I’ve felt this way many times. A friend of mine just posted a picture on facebook, a meme that read: even if I had a million reasons to leave you, I’d try to find one reason to stay.

My experience tends to be the opposite. Even if I give a woman a million reasons to stay with me, she always finds one reason to leave. When I started this blog, and for the past month or so, I’ve actually been doing fairly well with this. I haven’t been focusing on the flaws. When I asked out not-Sarah, I really thought she was interested. Honestly, she surprised me with her rejection, and that’s a first. I’d gotten to a point where I didn’t automatically expect to be rejected, and  I think that was a very healthy place to be. I don’t think I’m there anymore. I realized this last night when I was talking with some friends. It’s not that I’m focused on any particular woman or rejection, but I realized that I’ve come back to a place of bitterness where I’m struggling to see any kind of virtue in women in general, and I don’t like being there. It’s not a fair place, and it’s not a happy place, and it’s not a particularly lovable place, or a particularly loving place.

I thought that I was out of this for good, that I had dealt with the pain and the bitterness and let them go… given them to God. However, one rejection and I’m right back there again. I’m not ok with that.

One of the most important reasons that I want to find a wife is the spiritual growth that I know comes from being a husband. I see it in all of my married friends, and this is something that I want. Of course, I also want to make out with someone. I want to have sex. I want someone to spend lonely evenings with. Someone to love and take care of, and someone who will love and take care of me. However, spiritual growth is more important than all of these. While I still want it, and I still struggle with lust, and with pornography from time to time, sex has become steadily less important to me as I get older. I don’t know if this is something that comes naturally with age, or if this is something that comes from consistent self-denial. At the same time, the spiritual growth and relational aspects of marriage are things that I want more and more as I get older, and things that I feel myself missing more.

Ultimately, as much as I don’t really believe it, I have to admit that I’m back in a place where I wonder if perhaps God doesn’t have someone for me. If perhaps I’m meant to be alone, or if there is something about me that simply makes me impossible to love. Cognitively I know that I don’t actually believe these things, but right now I feel like they’re true, and as I’ve said before, feelings are incredibly powerful things.

The Great Green Beast Bites Again

I want to be a better person. Honestly, I wish I was a better person, but that’s going to take more work I think. A friend of mine just posted on facebook that he was excited about his ex-girlfriend’s wedding. This is a place that I would like to be at. Well, honestly… I’d like to be able to actually be friends with my exs… not that most of them would call themselves my exs in the first place. I was just that guy they hung out with when they were getting over something. Which honestly is probably a part of why we aren’t still friends in the first place.

I’m honestly note sure whether its more because of me and my inability to let go, or more because they just stopped caring about me that we aren’t friends anymore. It’s a pretty mixed bag I think. There are a couple where I cut off the friendship because of something, and a few where they cut off the friendship because of something, but the friendship always gets cut off. It’s not that I don’t want to be friends with the girls that reject me, I usually do. I like them as people… that’s generally why I wanted to date them in the first place. I don’t stop caring about them. Heck, I still pray for girls that rejected me 5 years ago, and not that they’d come back. I think a part of it is that I tend to date immature women, and I think a part of it is that I’m easily hurt, and a part of it is probably due to my pride, but I’m honestly not sure that the reason matters. The simple fact is that I don’t stay friends with the girls I go out with, and I’d honestly like to be a person who does.

That might not ever happen. Maybe that simply isn’t who God made me to be, and maybe I need to learn to be content with who I am, instead of wanting to be someone that I think is somehow better. I’m positive that, whatever the case, I need to let God work in his own way and in his own time in me, instead of trying to convince him that  he’s screwed up somewhere along the way and I should be someone that I’m not.

So, apparently I’m fasting sometime next week. I don’t have any details yet, God just sprung this on me in the woods this afternoon. Well, I shouldn’t say ‘sprung’ given what he’s asking me to give up I kind of saw it coming. I think for times like this ritual becomes important, and I think God knows that I need a ritual to actually give up something that’s so much a part of me (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, look back a couple of posts). Rituals are important in our lives, whether we like it or not, even if it’s just our morning shower and cup of coffee.

However, in times of stress, times of hardship, times of anger, and times of fear… any strong emotion really, ritual takes on a new level of importance. It allows us to process the depth of what we are doing and feeling, the gravity and the power of it all, and make no mistake, this is a time of stress for me. Honestly, I think that the reason I haven’t been sleeping well the past couple of weeks is because God has been bringing me to this… this release.

I’m not going to lie. I am utterly and completely terrified of giving up my pain. Honestly, it sounds stupid when I say it like that, but it’s true nonetheless. This core of pain has been one of the most significant and lasting parts of my life and identity. It has motivated a lot of my behavior, good and bad, and it has helped me survive some very difficult times. Honestly, I am very much afraid that if I give this up I won’t be me anymore. At the same time, I shouldn’t. God has never called me to ‘just be me’. He has called me to be like Christ, and actually, actively becoming more like Christ will inevitably mean becoming less like me.

Still, I’m terrified. I don’t want to lose myself, and as much as I do want to give it up, I also don’t. So, I sit here watching facebook and trying not to be jealous of people who seem like they have it more together than I do. Not that they do have it more together. They might, they might not, and I’ll probably never know, but they seem like they have it more together. Once again, I find myself needing desperately to turn to God and plead for his aid in my time of idiocy. I’m learning, even if it is slowly, to always turn to him for my needs. It works so much better.