That Little Chip the Size of the Moon

I’m the guy who’ll do your shopping for you. I’m the guy who’ll give you a massage when you’re tired. I’m the guy who’ll catch you when you fall, and I’m the guy who’ll make sure he’s on the bottom if we both fall. I’m the guy who opens doors, let’s you go first, and pays whenever he has the money. I’m the guy who will hold you when you cry, respect you even when he doesn’t want to, fight for you even when he thinks you’re wrong, but let you know what he thinks to. I’m the guy who’ll make dinner and clean up afterwards. I’m the guy who’ll wait ’til your ready for a first touch and a first kiss. I’m the guy who’ll buy flowers for no reason. I’m the guy who’ll text you in the morning to let you know I’m thinking of you. I’m the guy who’ll take the lead when everyone else is lost. I’m the guy who’ll apologize when I’ve screwed up, and the guy who’ll ask for your forgiveness when I’ve hurt you, even if I don’t think I should need to. I’m the guy who’ll forgive you when you ask, usually before. I’m the guy who won’t hold the past against you. I’m the guy who’ll love you even when you don’t deserve it. You say I’m not what you’re looking for? What’s wrong with you?

… Yeah, I know, it sounds pretty arrogant, doesn’t it? This popped into my head and it’s true… well, most of the time at least. I am all of those things and more. I was thinking about posting this on my facebook page, but my goodness it sounds so stuck-up. Proof that I’m also a jackass I guess. That being said, I think I’m fairly solid evidence for the saying that nice guys finish last. I am a genuinely nice and I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a girl tell me that I’m ‘just not what she’s looking for’.

I probably have a chip on my shoulder. Honestly, I think that’s what happens whenever someone has a repeated pain in their life. I’ve known lots of people with chips on their shoulders, and I have yet to find one who got rid of it on their own. We are all weak people and we all have pains that we can’t deal with on our own. It’s easy to assume that this pain is valid, that other people have done this to you, or that it represents the way the world ‘really is’. It’s easy to not even notice that the chip is there, and even when you do notice it, it’s very difficult to get rid of.

The chips that people carry around generally have a good reason, and they generally take a mixture of love, patience, and truth to heal. Until a person realizes their carrying around this thing that looks ridiculous to everyone else, there really isn’t anything that they can do about it. And even when they do realize it, changing the way you look at the world is incredibly hard, even when you have help. It’s that much harder when you’re trying to do it alone. It takes people, sometimes lots of people, of the right type and temperament to help lift that chip off of your shoulder and help you see the world the way it really is.

So, I am a genuinely nice guy, but I think I have a chip on my shoulder about it. I’m frustrated, even angry sometimes, especially when I see women choosing not-nice guys over me. Guys that treat them poorly, guys that are controlling, emotionally and physically abusive, or that demand sex at the earliest opportunity. Yeah, it makes me really mad, not just at the guys, but at the girls who choose them over me. I’m also simply frustrated with the consistent rejection that I’ve received from women. It’s hurtful, it’s frustrating, and it has created quite a chip on my shoulder. It’s also tempted me, many times, not to be a nice guy. Honestly, I’m happy that I haven’t done that. I’ve been a confused guy who didn’t know what I wanted, but I’ve never used a woman to make myself feel better. I hope I never do.

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Lies, All Lies!

This afternoon I was overwhelmed by the crushing certainty that I am always going to be alone. I am old (well, comparatively to many of my friends) and still somewhat overweight, even though I exercise regularly and work hard not to overeat. I don’t make much money, and a lot of the time I still feel like I don’t have much to offer. I understand that it’s unlikely that I will ever marry a young, beautiful woman. Sometimes that hurts, and sometimes I’m honestly not sure that I want to. However, this emotional certainty that I would always be alone filled a part of my day with pain. It passed quickly enough, much like the majority of such lies, but left behind desires that I would rather not entertain, also much like the majority of such lies.

Life is often painful. We all have lies that we’ve built up over the years, lies that are buried deep in our psyche and help to form our fundamental self-image. These lies might come from old pains, from rejections, from childhood traumas… whatever. The lies that we believe can spring from any number of sources and none of them make those lies valid or true (they are two different things). I’ve often believed the lie that I have nothing to offer women, that I’m just not what women want, by citing the many rejections that I have under my belt. Honestly, this often seems like a valid defense for this lie, but sometimes I have to wonder. There have been times that this challenged my trust… honestly there are still times that it challenges my trust. Rejection can be very difficult to deal with. It can tear you apart quickly and easily, and sometimes that leaves you with little to hold on to. Enough rejection and it’s easy to start assuming that you will be rejected. This isn’t just true with women, but with every aspect of life. It’s easy to assume that you’ll be rejected at everything you do.

Honestly, I can count the number of times someone has tried to set me up on one hand. Heh, I used to ask some of my closer friends to set me up. I had one friend who used to tell me repeatedly that she ‘didn’t know anyone good enough for me’… I quickly took this to mean ‘I don’t know anyone on whom I’d inflict you’. The thing is this has more to do with me than it ever did with her… well, a little… honestly I’ve never been very sure that this particular friend likes me very much. I know that she loves me, but I’m not sure that she actually likes me. Still, it’s probably likely that this is more me than her also.

As I said, all of this has challenged by trust for God in the past, and it continues to challenge that trust. I still wonder if I’m going to be alone forever. I’m still not comfortable with that thought. I know that God should be sufficient. That I should be joyful in the midst of my doubt and in my loneliness. It’s still a challenge though. I am getting much better at rejoicing in the midst of pain, but this is still something of which I’m terrified. I even pointed out the other day that God told me to wait, that it wasn’t time yet for him to bring the right woman into my life. Of course, this all implies that there is actually reason to hope. Still, there are days when I trust and hope, and then there are days when I’m thoroughly terrified of being eternally alone.

I’m also just afraid of rejection in general. I finally started my application to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (for next fall) and, halfway through, was thoroughly convinced that there is no way they will let me in. I’m too old, I don’t do enough in the church, I don’t read enough, my grades are too low, I’m in too much debt, etc, etc, etc. I think about a hundred reasons why they would reject me ran through my head. Needless to say, I didn’t quite finish the application, though I got through more than half of it. Nonetheless, I knew that starting it would be difficult, this is why I started a full year before I hope to start. My goal is to have the application done my the end of the month, and then go from there. I’m terrified, and fairly certain that I won’t be able to hack it even if, by some miracle, they do let me in.

Here’s the thing though, with both woman and with seminary. I’ve been rejected… a lot… in both areas of my life, but God has grown me in the past seven years. Part of that growth has come through repeated rejections. Nonetheless, I know that if he wants me in seminary, then he will put me there, and I know that when he will put me there. It will probably take a miracle to get me back into school, and it will probably take a miracle for any woman to fall for me. However, God is in the business of miracles. It’s what he does, and he knows when best to perform them. So, all I can do is trust him and wait.

I Have No Idea What the Hell I’m Doing

Seriously! When it comes to life, to women, to goals, to the future… honestly the only thing that I seem to be good at is analyzing things. I’m good at understanding and breaking down complex ideas. I’m a pretty smart guy, and I’m also fairly good at teaching. I can help students understand things that they don’t even begin to grasp, and I’m pretty decent at martial arts. However, when it comes to life… to actual relationships… to money and all the things that really, truly matter I think I’m pretty much hopeless. I was finally introduced to that young woman in my martial arts class this afternoon, and she promptly told me that she isn’t looking to date anyone right now. I’m disappointed, but she also told me that she’d let me know what she was… I don’t know how seriously to take that. I really don’t know whether to think that she was serious or that it was a kind brush-off.

I’m honestly not sure that it really matters. I mean, there’s a reason that I’m 32 and single, but it would have been nice if she’d been interested. Honestly, I’m doing fairly well at the moment. I’m actually feeling good about everything. Focusing on God the last few days has really helped me keep my perspective, and I’m pretty happy with life at the moment. Even though everything’s kind of hard right now. I don’t have much work this week, and I don’t have much money either. Every girl I’ve contacted on eHarmony has ignored me, and every girl I’ve asked out otherwise has turned me down flat. I’ve got a few students who are fairly upset with how difficult I am, and they are being very vocal about it. I’ve also injured myself repeatedly, which is making Aikido that much harder, and most of the exercises that I prefer impossible.

All in all, given everything that’s going on, I’ve had a pretty good weekend and I plan to enjoy the rest of my week as well. God is awesome in all things and I’m going to trust him in all things. That being said, I’m still pretty bad at life. I try to play to my strengths, but that never seems to go very well. Here’s the thing, people keep telling me that it’s not me, that I shouldn’t blame myself, so on and so forth. I read a study recently that said that failing between 5 and 7 times is good for you. It makes the successes more worthwhile and everything that much better. I can’t imagine that years of repeated failure does the same. After a while it becomes difficult to see it as anything but your fault. Still, maybe it isn’t me… maybe it’s something else entirely. The fact remains that I still seem to be pretty bad at life in general.

Well, now I’m all depressed. I’m going to go spend some time with God so that I can get back to having a good week.

P.S. Ultimately, God’s love is greater than I can comprehend. After a little time with him I’m feeling pretty good again. He’s loved me even in my worst times, and he knows all my secrets. Still, he loves me anyway. I don’t think I could ask for more.

Practicing the Presence of God

I think I’ve mentioned before that God took six years to teach me how to trust him. For the last two years he’s been teaching me about hope and joy. I’m a slow learner. Honestly, I wish that I wasn’t. I think that a lot of my life would be easier if I were less stubborn, less prideful, and more teachable. At the same time, I am confident that God made me a slow learner for a reason. I can definitely say that I value the lessons that I learn deeply, though I’ve certainly still got a long way to go.

I’ve been reading Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God, which is an excellent little book. I wrote yesterday about where I’ve been the past few days, and this is true of today as well. I’m pretty much struggling at the moment. Massive doses of rejection will do that to a person. That being said, as I’ve just told a friend of mine, when I put Brother Lawrence’s idea into practice, when I keep my mind focused on God instead of on anything else, then I find that I’m doing really well. I’m upbeat, happy, encouraged and encouraging, and focused on whatever it is that I’m doing.

Whenever I let my focus slip from God to… pretty much anything else right now, then I tumble into a pit of self-pity, rejection, despair, and worthlessness.  It’s not easy, though seeing as how he’s kind of my only bright spot right now it was pretty easy today… respectively speaking. However, I still find myself struggling with questions of why no woman wants me.

I like to figure out which character on a television show I identify with, and I’ve been watching Desperate Housewives recently which, despite being poorly titled, is a show that deals very well with a wide variety of sticky moral and relational issues. The show, unlike some would lead one to believe, doesn’t really present it’s characters as moral or good in any reasonable way. In fact, the vast majority of the characters do very questionable things, but it does present them as real people individually… well, most of them (though not as a real group of people). The individual struggles of each character are definitely real issues. You have the perfectionist who’s legalism destroys her family. The struggling mother trying to keep up with crazy kids, the single mom looking for love, and the cheating wife. Then you have their sex obsessed but caring, hark-working, cheating, and money obsessed husbands/ex-husbands. Again all present real issues that people deal with, but magnified to make them more easily visible. The farther you get into the show, the more real each character becomes. None of the character’s is purely good or purely evil. All of them have high points and low points, just like real people.

Then there’s Ray. Ray is an attractive, but romantically hopeless man who is quite possibly a sociopath. He replaces the medication of Rex (perfectionist’s husband) with potassium pills, which leads to his death, because Ray has convinced himself that he’s in love with the man’s wife. He then goes on to court her, assault her psychotherapist, manipulate her into an engagement, and finally, when she breaks off the engagement, tries to manipulate her into staying with him by attempting suicide. Ray assumes that she’ll save him… she doesn’t. The thing is, I kind of get Ray. He does some terrible things, but he’s also desperate. He’s desperate for someone to love him, and for someone to want him (honestly, a better title for the show might be Desperate People), and I know how that feels. I identify strongly with the backstory that they give to Ray, and that scares me a little bit.

However, I also know myself. I can see the differences between myself and Ray. I think Ray (or worse) is what I might have become if God hadn’t drawn me into a relationship with him. That still scares me a little bit, but not as much as it might. The thing is, like Ray, I don’t understand why I am consistently being rejected. However, unlike Ray, I’m not really sure that I need to. God is drawing me to himself, ever closer, and if this is what that looks like, then it is good. As I just told my friend, the past few days have been good, but rough. Filled with self-doubt and more than a little pain and frustration, but also filled with a longing for God.

Brother Lawrence claims that he found daily joy simply by focusing on God in all things. By always keeping in mind that God was with him, and focusing his thoughts on that God. Even he admitted that this was difficult for him at first, but I think it will get easier with time. If I can keep my focus on God, then I can find everything I need in him, and that’s where I want to be.

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.

Wistful Pangs

I was going to write about sin today. About the difference between sins that are proscribed in scripture (adultery, murder, etc) and sins that are the result of individual convictions (drinking, watching R rated movies, etc), and those sins that seem to fall somewhere in between, and thus are immensely and distractingly confusing. Then I sat down in the only seat available in my favorite coffee shop to see a woman who I rather liked sitting with her new boyfriend.

This isn’t a woman that I dated, not even close actually, but it is a woman that I wanted to date. Honestly, from everything I’ve seen, she’s generally the kind of woman I’d like to marry… except that she wouldn’t give me the time of day. Actually… that was quite literal one time. The one major flaw that I’ve seen in her is that she couldn’t tell me ‘no, thanks’. She simply brushed me off with promises every time I tried to ask her out, and then never followed through on them. This is something that has become one of the things that I generally judge (i.e. discern) a woman’s quality by.

As I’ve said before, honesty is a big thing with me… quite possibly the most important character quality for me to see in someone. So when a woman is incapable of telling me that she’s not interested, when she makes promises with no intention of keeping them, then it really factors into my opinion of her character. This particular woman, we’ll call her Anna, has a very strong character, except for this one important area, which I have to admit rather thoroughly turned me off to her.

That being said, when I first saw them my gut reaction was confused at best. I wasn’t quite angry about her invasion of what I all too often consider ‘my’ place (it is a business after all), and I wasn’t quite hurt that she had chosen someone else when she wouldn’t even give me a chance, and I wasn’t quite happy that she had found someone to share her life, or at least a part of it, with. There was a little of all of these in my first reaction on seeing her, and I think it’s finally settling down into a happiness to see that she’s found someone… I think. Honestly, I think it’s probably something that I need to look more closely at.

The Taoist in me says that my gut reactions show my true self, and that if those gut reactions aren’t pure, then I am not pure and this is something that I need to work on. The Confucianist in me tells me that it is my actions that matter, and so if I treat her with filial love and kindness, then I will become filial in spirit. The Christian in me says that my gut reactions do show my true self (or at least my fleshly self) and that they aren’t pure (duh…). It also tells me that my actions do matter, but that my actions alone cannot change my true self. The Christian in me tells me that I need Christ to change who I am, to make me whole, and to make me better, and that is something that is far too easy to forget.

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.