Thinking out loud while "changing my thinking"

in Him


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What’s the purpose of marriage?

For the first time, I am able to understand the “no desire to get married” perspective. So many of my non-Christian friends have expressed this attitude for years and I just never got it. To me, you love each other… clearly want to build a life together… so why not?

What I failed to realize, is that beyond my cultural beliefs… my spiritual/religious beliefs are what truly nurture my views on marriage.

Prior to my salvation, I witnessed what my parents shared, and admired every aspect of it. They fostered a relationship of mutual friendship… knew each other inside out…actively yielded to one another in disagreements, jovially played and had intimate discussions with each other. They were an ideal example and I loved it!

Some early mornings, my brother and I would ease drop at their bedroom door and routinely heard them getting on the same page about any and everything. There was a peace about how they related with one another…it was simply beautiful.

I have no doubt that it took years for them to get to that place. Years of working through trials… years of learning each other and adapting… years for a selfless, unconditional love to develop. But from my 3 decades of observation, I am grateful I have had such a positive example to influence my views.

(Especially after seeing the casualties of the abusive marriage my biological mother endured for 8 years.)

However, my view on marriage got 106 fold enhanced, after coming to know Him.

It is not that I became more unrealistic about what marriage entails. I just saw it through a new set of lenses.

It was no longer just a perfect union of two people… it was a union in God and a powerful expression of His love manifested for us.

Marriage was made for the same purpose we are…for His glory… but what makes it even more amazing, is that in the midst of it…the potential for growth is exponential.

Based on current divorce rates (in the US), it is clear that it takes way more than some puppy love-infatuation-sexual connection-financial security- and wavering happiness to maintain a marriage. The initial giggles and coos from over romanticized fantasies eventually fade to standard daily living. Sometimes physical appearances change… or the act of communicating begins to suffocate rather than liberate.

So what is the purpose?

This was the question posed by a lab mate of mine who is currently in a new relationship. Though culturally, her parents (traditional Chinese) would expect her to tie the knot… she has more “modern” ideologies of how things should go. She believes there is no point… you can live with each other, have sex, enjoy each other for a lifetime or not. Essentially, she sarcastically questioned whether she should do it for tax benefits…and expressed how she sees no purpose in it. In her perspective, if he wants to leave her, she wants him to be able to do so, without feeling obligated…without the messiness of having to separate acquired material goods and finances through a legal system.

It was like, WOW… I get it. There would be no purpose if I did not believe marriage was a deliberate choice to unconditionally love another person… to serve them, regardless of it being reciprocated… to stand faithfully by their side, even if they failed to meet your emotional, physical, or even intellectual needs. There would be no purpose if I did not see it as a testimony of His redemption. So how can I expect “modern” society to view it the same way? I really can’t. Culture, mindsets and beliefs are continuously evolving. So I certainly can’t think that even within a society where people are pushing for same-sex marriage… that “traditionally” accepted marriage between man and woman can’t fade into companionships that either work out for a lifetime or end in a simple break up (though not so simple when years are invested).

Don’t get me wrong. I do believe that levels of maturing can occur within companionships…after all, various close relationships can show our deepest character hiccups as well. But as a Christian, I believe there is something that happens in the spiritual when that union is made. All that being said, I finally understand why some people do not see the purpose of getting married.

 

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Don’t quench the fire

Just as I was finally calming the scatterbrain, beginning to read my bible in the midst of talking to Him…I started thinking about the camping trip I will be missing out on…because I am attending the Rocky Mountain Magnetic Resonance Conference in Denver.

I thought of the missed opportunities to connect with people and to observe them in a different setting… Boy do I LOVE seeing people in a variety of experiences… so much to learn! Then somehow, my brain went into how I would want to be known as well, in a different setting…

I started thinking about, how the only way to share who you are, is by letting people see who you are in a variety of environments… the only way for someone to truly, find some level of attraction to you…that is beyond the physical… is by them experiencing your fire burn…the warmth that they enjoy being around, the radiance of personality, the pain that comes from being scorched by your anger (maybe a little reach with word choices here LOL)… etc…

I thought of the this guy, who is going on this camping trip, and how I consider him decent physically, but have found his personality attractive for a while… and some of his challenges in pursuing women…I thought of how he is successful career wise and financially… etc… yet single. And in the maze of thoughts, fast pictures  of a number of my single female friends… especially the ones who have never even dated…and how they see themselves because they have gone “unnoticed” for so many years of their lives. I thought of the convo I shared with another friend where she emphasized the importance of preparing yourself for marriage etc.. Again a topic most married couples seem to elude to, saying they didn’t realize how different marriage actually is.

Entangled in my web of thoughts, was the article I just read about Tina Turner (73) getting married to german music producer, Erwin Bach, in switzerland yesterday… after 27 years of dating. 27!!! I can only imagine  what caused that delay…between her past experiences and maybe wondering if there was any real reason to get married… who knows…

But what I noticed from one of the photos of her and the new hubbie, is that she was just radiant…absolutely gorgeous. And He looked enamored with the sight of her. After 27 years, of which they probably lived in their house for at least a decade, if not more… he simply looked like the doting husband.. who was happy to finally put a ring on it.

And I could not help but think about how we should NOT let our fire die out! More than learning to keep house… to cook… to dress for various occasions… and manage money (PLEASE DO… very important considering its one of the leading causes of problems in marriages… I pray I get better at this myself)…and getting physically healthy for yourself and your family (Extremely important, hence I started slowly working out a few days a week, 2 weeks ago)…

Besides these practical preparation steps… I think during these times, rather than become disheartened…losing hope… or even having such a low self-image… for example, thinking you must not have anything to offer.. or are unattractive… BURN EVEN BRIGHTER

Become more confident in being yourself in every circumstance…

I saw an ad on Facebook, which used an old George Elliot quote “It’s never too late to become what you might have been” …showing the legs of a runner.. I believe it was for Zephyrhills… and I was like YEA! (mainly because my goal is to one day be a runner! lol)

Bottom line, be who YOU are created to be… FULLY… and let the God given relational experiences teach you how to be even better!

Dive into those friendships, no matter the risk of judgement, hurt, loss, etc… and be the best friend you can be… and let those experiences reveal your selfishness, childishness, wrong thoughts… and allow yourself to experience the grace of being sharpened!

You can only become more radiant.. more attractive…and more secure!

At this stage in the game… what will hiding in a corner, holding back who you are and feeling inadequate really accomplish? Absolutely nothing!

So if you are single… at least enjoy who you are and let the people you come in contact with be left with a mark from the encounter!

 


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Dating Standards

Tonight, I decided to skim through Clutch Magazine online since multiple pages of the website were left up (on my computer) by a friend of mine, who seems to love reading their articles. Though I have never seen the purpose of reading this mag (for reasons I will not expound upon here), I decided to give it a shot and dive in.

As expected, articles ranged from struggles with “transitioning” from relaxed to natural hair; to debates on whether some young black boys were either sexually abused, gay, or just influenced by some of the horrendous “music” that is put out in today’s culture; to people’s blatant opinion on why black women should ditch college and get married… essentially, its like the soap opera of whatever seems relevant to the “black community” at the present moment.

Though I will choose not to focus on the overall magazine, there was one article in particular that seemed worth commenting on.. mainly because I have had a number of discussions and/or debates with people about the general topic.

“My Panties Are Staying On If…” dealt with some of the challenges faced by the writer as she decided to return to the dating scene following a 2 year hiatus from her “insecure and possessive lush of an ex-boyfriend.” But what intrigues me about the article, really has nothing to do with the title… but more so with some of the commentary made by readers supporting the notion of a man not being worthy if he does not have a job and at least a bachelors degree.

Of all the comments, one woman mentioned how she passed up multiple good men in her lifetime due to being “selective”… aka having standards…

Good points but be careful ladies, you get my age and you realize these are just rules. I passed on so many great men and now in mid age, I know that all I want is a man who loves and respects me. I wish the guy I loved had money but he doesn’t. I am ok with that because no one can love me like he.

Somehow, present culture has taught us that meeting standards are what make us worth something. We are groomed that we must be educated to attain decent jobs, to be respectable, to be of value in society… and nowadays, it appears to even be worthy of love.

But why?

When did it become a crime to just be a good hearted, decent human being, who works hard and is supportive? Who says that everyone who has achieved “success” in manners we can measure (ex. income, degrees, etc) are truly the ones worth considering?

But most of all, do WE want to be held to those standards? Do WE want to be judged based on our merits?

I personally think someones character is what will dictate the future of a relationship. Their character will greatly influence the values instilled in the family hoped for. And I surely, do not want someone looking at my track record… though I may be educated, my net worth is definitely in the red.

Don’t get me wrong, if you happen to meet that guy who is “successful” according to whatever standards there are… and is truly of upstanding character… a blissful future I bid you.

But do I personally think elimination based on a list makes sense? No. And chances are, if you are miserable in your singleness because of this… you might want to loosen the grip just a little bit, see beyond the list, and evaluate them on something that counts for more.


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Why is that the be all and end all?

 

A little while back, while in the midst of a conversation, I saw the “nugget” look…something that could either be lost in a barrel of thoughts forever (slight exaggeration) or could be shared to invoke more thoughts… a worthy conversational piece…

Why is that the be all and end all?

The that in question was basically marriage tagged with the idea of having the standard dream of kids, a house, etc. The idea of truly having it all … success (as long as a stable, comfortable income is generated)… Like once that happens, a light switches on and the deepest needs to love and be loved, to know and be known, to accept and be accepted…are instantly satisfied.

With statistics showing that in the USA, the divorce rate is about 50%, etc… why does this seem to be the last point that will mark our lives being complete?

But even aside from the statistics… what happens beyond the fairy tale ending? After the hero and the princess are united… what next? Is that it?

So much energy is placed in the idea of what that will bring into our lives… wholeness? security? comfort? happiness? a sense of self-worth or significance?

But what about the people who never get married…or got divorced… or are widowed? Where do they stand in this picture?

From my stand point, as much as I believe in marriage and the beauty of what it represents… as much as I hope to one day share in that… to grow through the challenges of the experience.. the commitment to serve another till death… well physical death at least. I would like to NOT get rushed into it… I would like to not be treated like I am less complete…inadequate… and like I am excluded from club elite because I am not there yet. Because the reality I see is that THAT is NOT the be all and end all.

that will not satisfy all my deep needs for love, acceptance, security and significance… that will not define who I am because my relationship status is not what gives me my identity.

I will not walk this path like my one purpose is to finally find THE ONE… like all of a sudden loneliness disappears (which it does not, talk to some married folk) and then I will be content?

The depths of my soul needs something way bigger and more fulfilling than what that can give… so how about we get a little realistic and put our hope in something that is constant and will actually last for an eternity. Desiring it is good…but there is something even greater.

 


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The Cardinal Sin

 

I have been out-of-town for 2 days, with a large group of what I will refer to as my adoptive family (truly love the bunch). But before I expand on other thoughts and experiences I had during the trip…there seems to be a greater sense of urgency for me to uncover a huge error on my part…

As you can imagine, I was tagging along on a family vacation to Universal Orlando…so naturally, this in itself, is a somewhat chaotic venture being that we had 8 adults, 1 teenager, and 2 babies (a 5 and 3-year-old)…all piled in 2 hotel rooms (not suites by any stretch aka SMALL)…and 2 vans.

My little sister and myself, were assigned to ride with the married couple and their 5-year-old for the trips to the theme parks… so during these periods I was able to see, hear, and basically share in the experience of their married life… whether I wanted to or not. And trust me, I am leaning more to the NOT.

It’s one thing to witness my spiritual parents marriage, where a certain level of comfort and understanding has developed over the years of our growing relationship.. it’s a totally different ball game when dealing with people who you feel at home with (definitely give them credit for being warm and welcoming)… but have rarely encountered…aka AWKWARD!

What I came to notice is that the husband appeared to have the same “always right” attitude that I have come to not be a fan of…despite my own friends saying I have the same quality. But it was not so much the attitude that bugged me, as it was the way of speech… the sarcasm, the tone, … all seemed pretty disrespectful… though the transparency is admirable… it struck a chord with me…

As I watched the occasional bickering over minor details such as when and how directions were given… to temper tantrums over being hit a certain way – though there was an attempt to dial it down with justification of how the hit was executed … to criticisms of what was being done… etc…

Now here I have to PAUSE…

Mind you, I identify with these things… I throw tantrums over minor things because I want the other person to acknowledge how what was done to me was in fact significant just because I feel that way

And as much as I don’t like to be constantly corrected aka criticized when I do things, I am also known to be the criticizer…to the T.

But watching these things as an outsider makes you realise all the more why they wrote a book called “putting away childish things”…

So during one of the few distasteful meals we had there, while he was messing with me and just being his typical self… I made the comment, “all I have to say is [your wife] is truly special and very patient”… SMH SMH SMH … oh boy… joke or not…serious or not… real or not… WHAT WAS I THINKING!!!???!!!  WHO DOES THAT!!!???!!!

At the time, I did not think too much on what I said, but when it came back in the midst of another one of those bickering’s.. I thought to myself, you truly over stepped your boundaries…

As he mentioned sarcastically, “why don’t you find something else you can criticize […]”…and said how his wife had a fan (me.. smh)… I was like… man… you surely should learn to just shut up.

I meant no harm by my statement.. but it taught me a real lesson…never commit the cardinal sin of inferring and/or interjecting nada, when it comes to married couples… for at this point, they are one. Whatever is said even suggestively about one half… can be harmful to the other half…even if it seems not to be so offensive.

I sent an apologetic text this morning after I got over the, ugh… how should I rectify this situation… and he graciously let me know they took no offense…

Life lesson learned!