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.

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.

Strange Days, Rest, and Decision Making

Well, I’ve spent the entire day sitting in a medical facility with a blood catheter in my arm. This is all part and parcel with the drug trial that I mentioned yesterday, but it’s still been a strange kind of day. Both odd, because I’ll have 27 vials of blood drawn by the end of the day (which is a freakin lot of blood), and oddly familiar, because I’ve been sitting in the facility doing my job all day long. I have to admit that I truly love the ability to take my job with me pretty much anywhere. However, it’s both a blessing and a curse because this ability also means that it is very hard to stop doing my job. For a long time (and still every now and then) I found myself working at all hours. I would be up at 3 am grading papers, I would work seven days a week and just never stop. Obviously, this isn’t the healthiest thing in the world. However, I got over a quarter of my week’s grading done today, which is great. Both yesterday and today have been extremely productive, which I am very, thoroughly glad about. I’m hoping to get everything done by Thursday so that I can take most of this weekend off to spend some time with my nephews.

Rest is extremely important in our lives, and I usually take Tuesdays off, so I haven’t had a really thorough day of rest in a while. I think that in America, and even more so in Japan and Korea, we don’t recognize the importance of rest enough. I know that I was raised to assume that taking time to rest was simply being lazy. It was wrong to relax, to just sit down and do nothing important, because in that moment I wasn’t being productive. Now I make sure to take time to rest (time that seems sufficient to me) and I still have a lot of friends who think that I’m working myself to death.

Here’s the thing that I’ve learned. No matter what I believe or choose to do, someone will think that I’m wrong, and somebody will be disappointed. This part sucks. Some people are going to tell me that I need to slow down, to relax, to rest more, and let myself heal, but others are going to tell me that I’m a lazy bum and that’s why I’m poor. What I’ve learned the hard way is that no matter what you do, someone is going to think that you’re wrong. This is always true. However, this is why Kipling encouraged us to trust ourselves even when everyone doubts us. The key is to not simply trust ourselves, but to be willing to listen seriously to the doubts of others. When it comes to rest, jobs, marriage… anything really, we have to be willing to listen to the advice of others, and then make our own decisions. If I simply do what everyone else tells me to do (which is all to often the case with me when it comes to women), then I will be lost in a maze of conflicting opinions and advice from which there is no escape.

I have to trust myself, and really I can only trust myself if I am willing to trust God. My goal, my quest, my responsibility, is to seek God in everything, and rely on him to guide me through my life. So, what I have to do is discern, trust, and follow. Which winds up being a whole lot harder than it sounds. Still, I think it’s worth the effort.

Why? Just Why?

Even though I’ve avowed a desire to not pursue a relationship at the moment, I still find that a couple of women stand out to me. The girl that God has been pushing me to ask to lunch is not one of them. This is still no end of frustrating, but I’ve finally stopped fighting with him about it. I’m still hoping that lunch will be just that, lunch. Nothing more and nothing less than a good meal together and some spiritual conversation. That’s all I want from her, and I hope that’s all that God has planned. I’ve asked four people to be praying about this for me, and one of them actually knows her. He promised to pray, but also gave me the advice that I’ve been wanting to hear: she’s immature and selfish, it’s probably not a good idea to try to date her.

I thanked him rather profusely for that, and considered one of the women who is standing out to me at the moment. I would call her Smiley. It would fit, but I know someone by that name already… it doesn’t fit very well. So, let’s call her T’Amber. It’s… an unusual name. Anyway, T’Amber is mid-twenties, beautiful, very kind, and she seems both intelligent and quite invested in her spirituality. I rather like T’Amber, and am fairly positive that she’s available (I have a friend who lives with a guy who recently broke-up with her).

So, I find myself asking God: Why would you push me to ask Sally to lunch and not T’Amber? Seriously, what’s up with that? Then I remember the year that I spent working at Walmart. Right after I got out of seminary I was unemployed for several months. Paying rent, electric, car insurance, food, etc with no actual income will sap your resources fairly quickly, and so after a few months I was more than a little desperate to find a job. I can remember watching my bank account dwindle from several thousand dollars to a few hundred, and begging God to give me a job, any job.

Finally, within two days actually, I had two job offers. One was from a Chinese restaurant here in town working 14-16 hours a week for about $6.60/hour. The other offer was from Walmart, working 30-32 hours a week for about $8/hour. The choice seemed obvious to me, and yet I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God wanted me to accept the restaurant offer. It made no sense, it didn’t pay enough, it got in the way of my life. It was a stupid idea, and so I didn’t do it.

The following year was one of the most miserable years of my life. Walmart paid the bills (well, most of them), but it was a horrible place to work, and what was worse: I knew I wasn’t supposed to be there. I wanted to quit from the moment I walked in the door on my first day of work, but God told me not to. Much like the Israelites after they refused to invade the promised land, I had made my choice, and God was going to teach me a lesson. And he did. It was long, painful, incredibly frustrating, and undeniably effective. When God tells you what to do, you do it.

I have to relate this to a student who’s currently in one of my classes. She and I haven’t been on the same wavelength through the entire class. She doesn’t turn in quality work, and often the work she does turn in has little to do with the assignment. She asks me for help and advice, but when I give it her response is either: ‘I can’t do that’ or ‘That’s stupid, I won’t do that’. Needless to say, the comparisons are both obvious to me, and less than flattering.

So, when it comes down to it… I’m going to ask Sally to get lunch with me. Like I said at the beginning, I really hope that lunch is just lunch. I hope that God has no further plans for this, and I hope that he opens a door to ask out T’Amber soon. That’s what I’d prefer or, better yet… that he would take women and relationships off my mind completely and make me a monk. It’s what makes more sense to me, but then… I’m an idiot.

A Good Talking To

It’s always nice when you get a good solid talking to from God. Tonight, I got a doozy of a talking to. I was, admittedly, praying about the thing with that girl at my church. Complaining might be a better word for it than praying, honestly. I’m starting to realize that I really and truly don’t want to date anyone at the moment, and just how scared I am of the entire concept of what he’s asking me to do. Not to say that asking a girl to lunch should really be all that scary, just that it is all that scary.

Well, tonight I’m having trouble sleeping. I even took a sleeping pill and I’m having trouble sleeping. So, as I’m lying in bed praying/complaining/praying God gets my attention and tells me to get on my face. I’ll be honest, I’ve had serious talkings to from God before. I was always a problem kid and I guess that hasn’t changed. I know that I’ve mentioned before that God cusses at me sometimes. He never does this when he’s serious about getting my attention, or when he has something specific to say to me. He does it when it’s what I need to hear to do what he wants me to do.

The serious talkings to are much, much more frighting. They always start with ‘I love you.’ Tonight, God told me that he loved me, and then he told me that I need to show a little trust. He talked to me both about the exorcist I met, and about this girl at church. He pointed out that the exorcist was his servant and I didn’t need to be wary of him. That was the easy part. Then he spent a good ten minutes lecturing me about not trusting him. I believe the phrase was “If I hear ‘this is stupid’ come out of your mouth one more time…”

I’m not really a fan of when God doesn’t finish his sentences. I know that it means that he’s serious about something, but not angry about it. For me, when God doesn’t finish a sentence it’s not a threat (an ‘or else’ kind of thing), it’s a chastisement (a ‘don’t you know better by now’ kind of thing), and that’s when I know that I’ve been seriously stupid. I’ve been so scared, and so convinced that I was going to get hurt that I haven’t trusted him in this. Thing is, I asked him (before the talking to) to take away my fear of this, and at the moment… I’m not afraid anymore. I’m still going to talk to some Godly men about it. Ask for some wisdom and advice, but I think I know what I’m going to hear.

God answers our prayers, but not necessarily in the way we think he will. When I asked him to take away my fear of this, I didn’t expect him to chastise me, but it worked. Sometimes I just have to shake my head in wonder at the God I serve.

Trust Part 2

I am very angry at the moment. Recently my roommates and I discovered that the roommate who was responsible for paying the bills, who we all give money to for bills, hasn’t been paying those bills… at least not regularly. Furthermore he and one of the other roommates are moving out, and it’s fairly unlikely that we’re ever going to see any money from either one of them for the $500+ in back bills that need to be paid this month. Obviously this adds to the financial burdens I recently wrote about, but I’m also just mad about being lied to and stolen from.

I considered simply killing him. I’m not proud of that, and I’m not going to defend it, but I’m also not going to lie about it. Still, that wouldn’t be a right thing to do, and it wouldn’t actually solve any of the problems that he’s created. I doubt I would have, honestly, but I thought about it for a while.

Here’s the thing, and why I’ve titled this post the way I have. Trusting God means trusting people, even when they maybe don’t deserve it. I’m not trying to say that trusting God means we simply turn a blind eye to everything and assume that people won’t hurt us. People will hurt us, they will take advantage, they will lie, cheat, steal, and abuse us, and chances are that at some point we’ll do the same to someone else. This is human nature in all of it’s sinful wonder, aren’t we simply lovely. Trusting God doesn’t mean blinding ourselves to this fact any more than God could blind himself to it. God’s love covers a multitude of sins, but it does so not through blindness, but through Christ.

Instead, trusting God means that we love people. It means that we are always willing to give them the chance to prove themselves trustworthy. For example, trusting God doesn’t mean that I give my former roommate the $100+ dollars to ‘pay’ the electric bill. This would be unwise in every sense of the word. However, it does mean that if he comes back, repents, and says that he’s changed his ways, I give him the chance to show that change, rather than rejecting him outright. Perhaps this means lending him a small sum ($15-$20) to see whether he will return it. Perhaps it means letting him back into my life in some small way to see if this change is actually manifest in his life. Whatever the result, the goal is that I give him the benefit of the doubt and the chance to prove that he actually is better.

The other thing this means is that we always give people the chance to prove rumors wrong. How often do we meet someone with so many preconceptions that we don’t take the time to look at the real person. Trusting God means giving  new people the benefit of the doubt, even when we’ve heard all manner of things. It means believing that perhaps that person is not the person someone else believes him/her to be.

I know that I’ve had plenty of people write me off because of some preconception created by a person who didn’t like me much, or a bad first impression created by awkward circumstances. Trusting God means that we are willing to see people for who they are, not for who we think they are, or for who we’ve been told they are, or even for who we might want them to be. Instead, focus on getting to know the actual person, that’s who God cares about, and that’s who we should care about.

So, I’m trying to deal with my roommate in love, and I’m honestly not expecting much out of him. I’ll be surprised if I see any money towards this bill in all honesty. Still, God provides, and he cares, and this too is for the good. Something I should be thankful for actually… I’m there every now and then. Not consistently yet.