Monday, April 16, 2018

A to Z Blogging Challenge: N is for Never Living Up to Expectations #singlenessmyth#14

My A to Z Challenge is a blog about singleness.  Some myths, some thoughts, some of the things I have been learning as a 30 something year old single American woman, in a culture that sees this as something that is less than... join me on this journey! 

N is for Never Living up to Expectations.   #14:  Single people never live up to the expectations of their family. 

I'm taking this blog from the perspective of someone who doesn't necessarily feel this way, but has friends that do.  I have heard more than once from people that I love.... "Oh I can't wait till my son/daughter makes me a grandma one day." 

I cringe EVERY SINGLE TIME I hear this.  I cringe because I have parents that know what it is like to not be grandparents.  Sometimes things don't always go as planned.  Sometimes your kids don't have kids.  Sometimes your kids don't get married.  Is it okay to teach kids how to be mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles? Of course it is!  But is it okay to make that their only role in life?  Like if you never become a grandparent are they going to wonder if they have let you down? 

I hesitate to even write this post, because I think that sometimes we want to make excuses for our expectations.  It is cultural, or whatever excuse we have to make expectations of others. 

I am going to tell you this though.  Your kids... they may never get married, they may never have kids.  What are you going to do if they don't?  How would that change the way you parent them now, or would have parented them when they were younger? 

We put enough expectations on ourselves without having to live up to the expectations that others put on us too. 

How can expectations change your relationships with others? 

This post.... I think I just want to leave it there... something to think about.....  do we allow our kids to grow up knowing that they are worthy even without ever getting married or having kids? 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A to Z Blogging Challenge: M is for Moving Past the Friend Zone #singlenessmyth#14

My A to Z Challenge is a blog about singleness.  Some myths, some thoughts, some of the things I have been learning as a 30 something year old single American woman, in a culture that sees this as something that is less than...join me on this journey! 

M is for Moving Past the Friend Zone.  Singleness Thoughts #14:  How do you live in the friend zone? 

Okay, so in my lifetime I have had a handful of men that I have come to know as good friends.  Not just acquaintances, but the kind of guys that I could go to and I knew that they would be there for me no matter what.  I knew that they were there to help me through life.  You know what though....  I don't know that I have them any longer.  Something always happens to create this wall between us.  Either it is me that has stronger feelings for them, and they don't reciprocate, or they have stronger feelings for me, and I can't see them as anything more than friends. 

So, when feelings are involved that go beyond friendship on only one side, is there a way to still be good friends?  I have had to think about this a lot lately, because I recently had this situation come up.  Without going into too much detail, I had to ask myself how I was going to protect my heart.  How was I going to make sure that I kept the friendship, but didn't lose myself in the process.  It is so easy to let our feelings get the best of us. 

As a single person I feel like I have to be extra careful with the boundaries that I have.  I am not sure that I was ever taught how to guard my heart.  The safest friendships that I have had have been friendships that have ended up hurting me so much because I let my guard down and then I got damaged. 

So, do we live in the friend zone well?  Maybe some people are better at it than I am.  For me it is a learning process.  I believe in being vulnerable, but I also believe in protecting my heart. 

I guess I will continue to try to live in the friend zone with those that mean a lot to me, but I have to set boundaries, right?  Or else I am just going to keep getting a broken heart. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

A to Z Blogging Challenge: L is for Loving Community #singlenessmyth#13

My A to Z Challenge is a blog about singleness.  Some myths, some thoughts, some of the things I have been learning as 30 something year old single American woman, in a culture that sees this as something that is less than... join me on this journey! 

L is for Loving Community.  Singleness Myth #13:  You can only have community with other singles if you are single. 

Here's the thing.... this may seem like the stupidest thing you have ever heard, but I have actually seen it happen before my very eyes.  I have seen single people not get invited to places, and become this little secret society of only single people.  Everyone is at fault here in my opinion.  We as single people, and the married people as well.  We have to branch out of our boxes. 

Yes, it is easy to call that friend that has kids the same age as you, and drink lemonade while your kids play at the park.  You know what though, your single friend that doesn't have any kids would also like to be invited to that conversation.  I bet she would be there in a heartbeat if you invited her. 

Same goes with single people.  Why do we think that our married friends don't want to be friends with us anymore.  Probably because they keep saying they are busy.  Here's the deal though, eventually they will say yes.  Everyone does.  Don't give up on them, keep calling, keep asking.  They really do care, we just sometimes get in our own heads, and create false stories about how other people feel. 

We need each other.  We need community around us, of all kinds.  We need people that are going to call us or message us to ask us how we are doing.  We need that as humans.  We need to know that we are loved and cared for.  If we are only surrounding ourselves with one type of person, then we are missing out on some pretty epic conversations and friendships.  We are missing out on the kind of community that we are supposed to have. 

So, stop just surrounding yourself with people like you... branch out... invite someone to dinner, or to hang out with your group of married friends.  Ask people to join  you even if it is hard, even if you think they might say no.  Because you never know your best friend might just be waiting for you around the corner, and wouldn't it stink if you never got the chance to connect because you were too afraid of what you don't know or don't remember? 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

A to Z Blogging Challenge: K is for Kindness Wins #singlenessmyth#11

My A to Z Challenge is a blog about singleness.  Some myths, some thoughts, some of the things that I have been learning as a 30 something year old single American woman, in a culture that sees this as something that is less than.... join me on this journey! 

K is for Kindness Wins.  Singleness thought #11:  Kindness for all would help our culture to be more inclusive, and less judgmental. 

I am probably not your typical Christian woman. You see most people automatically judge me when they hear that I believe in Jesus, that I go to church every Sunday, and that I try my hardest to start my morning praying, and focusing on God.  Most people that I come in contact with want nothing to do with God, because they are sick and tired of those that claim to love God, being so harsh to them and those around them.  So, I get a look of surprise when I start talking, because I believe in kindness.  I don't believe that my American heritage comes before my love for God.  I don't actually even believe that America is the best country (cue the shocked faces here).  Some of you are going to freak out at that, and it might even cause you to quit reading.  I am actually okay with that. 

I have found in my conversations, and travels that people want and long for kindness.  Not the kindness that we are prone to. You know the "I'll scratch your back if you will scratch mine" kind.  No, the genuine I care for you, and am so glad you are on earth kindness.  The kindness that says I don't care what you have done or what your background is, I would do anything for you. 

You see that's the kindness that I believe in.  That's the kindness that Jesus believed in and walked out.  You don't have to follow him to know that he was kind.  He was genuine.  He wouldn't have cast out those that we deem as not belonging.  He would have welcomed them, fed them, and found them a place to sleep. 

We all could use a little more kindness.  If we were kind to those around us, then we would be able to accept those of all different backgrounds, whether single, married, or hopping from one relationship to the next.  We wouldn't isolate anyone, because everyone would have a place.  Kindness it's what could change this world, if we allowed it to penetrate deep into our hearts, and change us from the inside out. 

I find though, that we hang on to our inhibitions.  We question whether we want to be kind to someone else, because they might be using us, or they might not be telling the truth about their need.  Guess what?  It isn't for us to question someone's need.  If someone looks like they are in need, then they are probably in need of something.  Maybe they just need to know that there are kind people in the world.  Maybe they just need to know that someone genuinely loves them.  Even if that is all it is, your life will never be worse because you were kind.  I promise you that! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A to Z Blogging Challenge: J is for Just Friends #singlenessmyth#10

My A to Z Challenge is a blog about singleness.  Some myths, some thoughts, some of the things that I have been learning as a 30 something year old single American woman, in a culture that sees this as something that is less than.....  join me on this journey!

J is for Just Friends.  Singleness Myth #10:  Once you have been friend zoned that's it, there's no hope.  

I know that there are going to be some very different opinions on this one.  I for one have had multiple different opinions over the past 5 years especially.  I don't even know that I am 100% sold on what I am about to write, but I think I want to believe it is true enough that I am willing to believe it.  

Not too long ago I realized just how real this "friend zoned" thing is.  I was talking to a guy that I speak to pretty regularly and he was telling me about this girl that he has always liked.  There was one night when she suggested it go beyond friends, but it wasn't the right timing for him, and it didn't happen.  He still to this day likes her, but he doesn't want to ruin the friendship, so he is never going to do anything about it.  He says that he has suggested it since then and she has shut him down every time.  

In my experience when two people are really good friends, like in the scenario above there is always at least one that has feelings even if the other doesn't.  Yet it seems like there is always that fear in friendships that it will ruin the friendship.  So, is there really such a thing as being friend zoned?  Are there are lot of single people out there that could be in relationships with their best friends, but they are too scared that it will ruin the friendship?  

I don't buy it. I think that if something is really there, then it would be worth that risk, it would be worth it, right?  It would be worth it to learn and grow in that friendship as a couple.  Isn't life about taking risks?  

I don't believe that going through life scared of losing people is any way to live.  If we aren't willing to be vulnerable and put ourselves out there, then what is the point?  Aren't we called to a life that stretches us and grows us, a life that causes us to step outside our box, and be open to new things.  

I hope if that time comes for me, I will be willing to let down my guard, and give it a chance.  Even if it becomes like this Cole Swindell song.  

Cole Swindell- Break up in the End

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A to Z Blogging Challenge: I is for Ignoring Lies #singlenessmyth#9

My A to Z Challenge is a blog about singleness.  Some myths, some thoughts, some of the things that I have been learning as a 30 something year old single American woman, in a culture that sees this as something that is less than.....  join me on this journey

I is for Ignoring Lies.  Singleness Myth #9:  You are single because you are not good enough to find someone there is something wrong with you.  

I am going to warn you this post is going to get a little emotional.  It is going to be raw, and personal.  So, if that isn't what you are wanting from this challenge... then maybe skip to one of the other posts.  

I have never been the girl that men fell head over heels for.  I am not the prettiest person in the world.  My eyes they are probably the one part of me that I have been complimented on the most.  I am not skinny, I think I was for awhile in elementary school, and junior high if I am honest.  But then something happened and it became a struggle.  Then it became the thing that caused me to think that I would never find someone.  It caused me to question my beauty.  It caused me to question my worth, and it allowed me to put myself in a category that I just never have gotten myself out of.  

Not too long ago I had to question a few choices that I had made, and the reasons that I had allowed men at different points in my dating experience to treat me the way that they did.  I had to ask myself why I was allowing giving in to men that weren't even trying to win me over.  Why was I just giving in to say yes when they treated me like crap. I had to ask myself why.  

It is because I believed the lies that I had heard, that I had seen when I watched different shows.  I believed that you were only worthy of love if you were skinny, pretty, kind and someone's idea of a perfect woman.  How many of us have believed these lies?  How many of us still do?  We allow words that have been said to us play over and over again in our mind, and create in us this awful feeling of self hate and disappointment.  

I've had people tell me that I'm wrong.  Here's the thing though, those same people after they tell me that there is nothing wrong with me having never been married or had kids at the age of 36 are the same people that look at me with pity in their eyes.  You see I really did care more about living overseas, and sharing love with people in another country than I did finding a husband right out of college.  Because of that though I feel like I have lost my chance.  It is hard for me to believe that I am single, but it has nothing to do with the way I look, or how I am.  

It is hard for me to believe that I am the only one that feels this way.  

So I take time to look at the lies.  The negative thoughts that want to distract me from living the best life that God has for me.  If I let those lies get to me.  If I allow myself to think about the guys that have been best friends with me, and then told me I wasn't dating or marriage material.  If I allow those words too penetrate my heart, then I will never be able to live this life and give of myself for others.  I will allow the hurt and pain to be too much.  That's not what I want.  I don't want to live anything but the best journey I can.  So, when those lies spring up, I replace them with truths.  

These truths:  

I was created for a purpose.

I am loved.  

I don't have to be married to make a difference in this world.  

I have a family that cares about me and would do anything for me.  

I am worthy of love.  

Everyone is weird.  

I am not too damaged to be loved.  

I was made for community, and to serve those around me.  

These truths help me to let go of those lies, and focus on what's important.  

Monday, April 9, 2018

A to Z Blogging Challenge: H is for How to #singlenessmyth#8

My A to Z Challenge is a blog about singleness.  Some myths, some thoughts, some of the things that I have been learning as a 30 something year old single American woman, in a culture that sees this as something that is less than.....  join me on this journey.

H is for How to not be defined by singleness.  Singleness Myth #8:  I will always be defined by my singleness, there is no way to get out of it.  

It is true that our marital status is a huge part of our culture.  Just like our race, national heritage, economic level, etc is.  We are defined by all of these things.  Here lately though I have felt like across the board our culture has decided that the way we are defined is more negative than positive.  I believe that we are all trying to change this, but I think that there is still a long ways to go.  

So how do I get away from being defined by my singleness?  What do I do?  

First I have to recognize for myself that being single is not something that is holding me back.  I am not missing out on life because I am single.  Sure I am missing out on the aspect of married life, but that also frees me up for a lot of things.  This past winter I was able to volunteer at a homeless shelter once or twice a week.  I wouldn't have been able to do that if I had other obligations at home.  It kept me out till 11:30pm, something that I just wouldn't have been able to do or felt comfortable doing if I had a family at home.  I'm not saying I wouldn't have done it at all, I just probably wouldn't have done it as much.  

I think that how I view my singleness definitely affects how others view it.  If I am constantly posting about wishing I had a husband and kids, then I am not going to be content, right.  I am not going to be content with any part of my life, and people are going to see that.  

Instead if I see my singleness as a gift, then that is going to be how other people view it.  I won't get as many looks of pity as I would otherwise.  

Another thing that I do is fill my life up.  I fill it up with people that are like me, aren't like me, and people that I genuinely just have fun with.  They are my family.  Some nights I do spend at home, but I have come to believe that those nights are for filling my cup back up, so that I am able to go out into the world and serve my community in a greater way.  

The third is that I have an answer for those that ask why I am single.  I don't just say the "I don't know, I wish I could find someone."  I have an answer. I am single because there is something that I need to be doing right now, that I couldn't do married or in a relationship .  That's my answer.  Some days I don't wish it was, but it is. 

Finally how to not let singleness define you is to be who you are.  Don't get stuck on having to go places with people, don't look at every couple holding hands or with kids and let it pierce you like an arrow to your heart.  Know that you are living life the best way you can.  Our culture has programmed up to think that being single is a curse, when in reality being single is sometimes the best way to really understand who you are and the role that you have in this amazing world.  

Saturday, April 7, 2018

A to Z Blogging Challenge: G is for Grace #singlenessmyth#7

My A to Z Challenge is a blog about singleness.  Some myths, some thoughts, some of the things that I have been learning as a 30 something year old single American woman, in a culture that sees this as something that is less than.....  join me on this journey!

G is for Grace.  Singleness Myth #7:  Grace is something given to everyone but ourselves.

For a minute I want to step away from the sole focus of singleness and just talk a little bit about grace.  I find that I am hardest on myself.  The mistakes that I have made, I allow them to keep replaying in my head like a movie that never stops.  I over-analyze them.  I think what if I had done that, or this.  I take every possible scenario that I can until I run myself ragged with the what-ifs.   I forget to give myself grace, and let things go. 

We all do this... every single one of us forgets to give ourselves grace for not being perfect.  We aren't perfect, we will never be perfect.  In every relationship, every interaction, every moment that we have throughout the day there are things that we could have done better.  There are ways that we could have created love instead of hate.  Yet, we have to give ourselves grace.  We have to understand that our view is this limited view.  We see things from our own perspective most of the time, without even bothering to take a look at what other people might be viewing it as.  It is okay to give ourselves grace.  It is okay to understand our limitations and weaknesses.  It is okay to give ourselves the same kind of grace that we give others. 

Don't put judgements and limitations on ourselves that we wouldn't put on other people.  Allow mistakes to be times of learning and growth, instead of times of heartache, and destruction.  Don't let that quiet voice keep replaying those moments over and over again.  Instead allow the light to shine through to see the good, and put aside the bad. 

Friday, April 6, 2018

A to Z Challenge: F is for Fear of Never Finding Someone #singlenessmyth#6

My A to Z Challenge is a blog about singleness.  Some myths, some thoughts, some of the things that I have been learning as a 30 something year old single American woman, in a culture that sees this as something that is less than.....  join me on this journey!

F is for Fear of Never Finding Someone    Myth #6:  There is only one person for everyone, and if I have never been married by 36 then I probably won't get married.

Fear grips each of us.  Fear of rejection, fear of truth at times, fear of the unknown.  I found myself about 2 months ago gripped in this fear.  The fear that I would die never having known what it was to be married and have kids.  At the time I didn't realize just how much of a hold that fear was having on me.  I didn't realize that it was causing me to make choices that in my younger years I wouldn't have even considered to be choices.  I was dating people that I would have never looked twice at, I was waiting around for certain people to notice me.  I have never been that girl.  So, why was I turning into that girl?

Then it occurred to me... I was living out my fear.  The fear that alone, I was not good enough for this society.  Alone meant that I wasn't living up to my potential.  Not having a partner to share this life with meant that there was something wrong with me.  Was I unloveable?  Was I not pretty enough?  Was I too much "the girl next door?"

I wouldn't say I am over these fears.  Not by a long shot.  I still have them, because honestly I have always been that girl.  The one that you can bring home, because your parents will love me.  I fit all the boxes, Christian, kind, compassionate, sarcastic, not afraid to call you on your  stuff, and ready to live wherever I am called.  But there is something about me when it comes down to it that I hear EVERY SINGLE FREAKING time.  "I don't want to lose you as a friend."  Which I think is a big cop-out.  Because honestly if you really did see potential in me, you would know that if something didn't work out, you wouldn't lose me as a friend anyway.  It's always something along those lines.  I always just fit into the "girl next door," zone....

So, honestly I don't share my feelings a lot.  I hardly ever let someone in close enough to go beyond friendship, and when I do most of the time it is because I know that it would never really lead to something real.  I as well would rather keep friends then lose them because of a love that didn't work out.  But it sucks.  It sucks a lot and it creates this fear in me that I will never find anyone who sees me as anything more than just a good friend.

I'm learning to let go of that fear, and embrace singleness.  I may never be seen as more than a good friend, and I am becoming more and more okay with that.  Because at least I have what it takes to be a friend.  At least that is a role that I can fill.  I can listen to you, I can be there for you, and I can make sure that no matter what you feel loved.  Because the truth is that I don't find my worth and value in having a life partner.  Sure, I would love that... but ultimately if I am finding my worth and value in that I will be disappointed every single time.

So, I let go of the fear.  Some days I have to let go of it a billion and one times, but the more I let go of it, the more I am able to see just how many people I have in my life that fill that void of finding "the one."  I would rather be surrounded by good friends and family, then be stuck with something that wasn't meant to be all along.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

A to Z Challenge: E is for Expectations #singlenessmyth#5

My A to Z Challenge is a blog about singleness.  Some myths, some thoughts, some of the things that I have been learning as a 30 something year old single American woman, in a culture that sees this as something that is less than.....  join me on this journey!

E is for Expectations.  Myth #5:  You will find the one, if you just pray hard enough, and stop looking. 

This is my LEAST favorite phrase maybe in the history of things that have been said to me.  Although another one that comes to mind is "you know you have to settle down and get married sometime."  That one was said to me right before I left the country for Thailand. 

These phrases make it seem like there is nothing else to achieve in life besides marriage.  They also make it seem like it is the single person's fault if they aren't finding "the one."  You aren't praying hard enough, or you are looking too hard.  Do you see how that could make someone feel like it is their fault that they are still single?  It could totally turn a person's view of God and the way He works completely upside down. 

We have to stop saying these things to people.  We have to stop because it is giving people a since of false hope, and it is putting all of our value in being married, and that's just not where our value should be. 

Not everyone will get married.  Not everyone will have kids, and that is okay.  There is no law in this world or even in the Bible that says every single person must get married, and have kids.  It's not there, trust me I've looked.  We aren't guaranteed to find a match.  In many cases, it would probably be worse if we did, because it would not be a good match.  It would be someone that we had just settled for.  Is that what you want of your single friends and relatives?  For them to settle for something less than? 

Not to long ago I was talking to someone about this, and I went through my whole speech, and talked about how I wasn't going to wait around.  I was going to live my life, pursue going back overseas and not put my worth and value in finding "the one."  Do you know what happened next.... they said... "yes and you never know, you just might find him in the next country you go to."  Ugh.  Do you see how this goes against everything that I am talking about.  That's not the point.  The point is not to hop from one country to the next trying to find my "husband."  Because what if I never get married?  What if that is my journey?  Then I have wasted a lot of time looking for someone that doesn't exist.  Instead of putting that time and energy into loving others. 

I have to change my expectations.  We as a culture have to change our expectations. We have to stop trying to fix everything.  We have to start looking at people and seeing them.  Seeing their stories, as individual journeys.  Not comparing them to our own.  Realizing that singleness or marriage, or co-habituating... each of those have positives and negatives.  But please, for the sake of your single friends... stop putting the expectation on them that they just need to pray harder or stop looking.  Once you stop putting expectations on people, you find that they stop putting expectations on you, too. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A to Z Challenge: D is for Diapers, Diapers, Diapers! #singlenessmyth#4

My A to Z Challenge is a blog about singleness.  Some myths, some thoughts, some of the things that I have been learning as a 30 something year old single American woman, in a culture that sees this as something that is less than.....  join me on this journey!

D is for Diapers, Diapers, Diapers!  Myth #4:  Single people don't have as much stress or worry, because they don't have any kids.  They are free to do whatever they want, whenever they want. 

When I was living in Thailand, for a little while I was helping out a mom every Saturday for a few hours.  It was a way for me to see how she did life with a husband and for kids, and honestly I feel like it was a way for her to get free help.  It taught me a lot though.  It taught me a lot about being a mom, but it also taught me a lot about how single people should be treated.  I never once thought I was less than around this woman.  She never once made me feel like because I wasn't raising 4 girls I wasn't living life.  But I don't always feel that way. 

I think that sometimes we can't help but look at other people's situations and think that we have it way worse than they do, right?  So when we comment about someone else's life being more exciting, or when we say to our single friend, well just be thankful that you aren't at home changing dirty diapers... well that can kind of sting sometimes to the single person that would love to be doing just that.

I'm not aiming for a pity party.  I am just trying to help people see the way that single people, especially single 30 and 40 year olds without kids, never been married are treated at times.  Even by their closest friends. 

I don't have kids, so I am not going to fit in every circle.  I get that.  But what I don't get is why my friendships now have to revolve around my friend's kids.  Yes, I want to get to know their kids.  I want to love on them, and they are a part of my community.  Sometimes though it is okay to make time for your single friends outside of asking them to babysit, or expecting them to be the entertainment while you do what you need to do.  Sometimes I think that we get so wrapped up in ourselves (me included) that we forget to stop and put ourselves in the other person's position. 

Everyone has stress and worry.  Everyone needs time to just breathe and relax.  I get that I don't know what it is like to be a mom.  I get that changing diapers everyday, and hardly talking to another adult can be tough.  I haven't lived that, but I get it.  What I don't get is judging someone because they are not walking in your shoes.  Don't judge my life because I am not staying at home changing diapers.  That isn't my story right now, it may never be, but that doesn't make my life less worth something... just like it doesn't make someone who chooses to be a mom less than either. 

Our journeys and roles are unique.  Sometimes it is okay to take a step back, stop talking about diaper changes, and get to know each other as adults without the kids around.  Then after that time is over, you spend all the time, focus, and energy on those darling kids.  Community and friendships are worth it, even if it takes a little bit of sacrifice. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A to Z Challlenge: C is for Christian Singleness #singlenessmyth#3

My A to Z Challenge is a blog about singleness.  Some myths, some thoughts, some of the things that I have been learning as a 30 something year old single American woman, in a culture that sees this as something that is less than.....  join me on this journey!

C is for Christian Singleness.  Myth #3:  Christian Singles belong in the church.  There is no reason for them to feel any different. 

This post is probably not going to be relevant to you if you are not in some kind of Christian circle.  But maybe it will be because the reason you are not in some kind of Christian circle is due to not feeling like you belong there. 

I have grown up in church circles my whole life.  I went to a private Christian college, where pretty much everyone was there to get married and have babies.  I would be kidding myself if I thought any differently.  I grew up in a family where if you weren't married by 21 you got less money for Christmas (not my immediate family).  I grew up knowing that marriage was important.  It was ordained by God.  He created family.  I grew up knowing that one day I would get married, I just didn't want it to be right after high school, or college for that matter. 

Here's what I didn't grow up hearing though.  I didn't grow up hearing that it is okay if you never get married.  Now I want to be clear I am not talking about my family.  In fact I feel like my parents are some of the most supportive parents a person could ever have.  Our family has had its moments, but really we all love and care, and support each other way more than some of my friend's families do. 

What I am talking about is the church.  The church itself.  The church that makes a big deal out of families, and people needing to be with someone.  The church that basically says if you aren't married and don't have kids by a certain date, then you don't have anywhere to belong.  The church would never say this out loud.  The church would never on purpose hurt people, but it is just those comments like, "well you have so much free time,"  or "you don't understand because you don't have a husband, or children," or the inevitable, "just wait for God's timing," my favorite one is, "when you are not looking, that is when you will meet someone."  Or the.... "to be single again," statement.  Most of the time these statements aren't meant to cause harm.  But to the single person that has been praying, and living life the best they can single these statements can be heart-wrenching, crushing statements. 

I serve in my current church because I want to.  For the longest time though I didn't.  I have a gift with kids.  I get them, I love hanging out with them, and I truly know that I am able to reach them on a level some adults can't.  I want that to be the reason that I serve with the kids, not just because I am single, and people deem me as having nothing better to do with my time. 

I actually had a former boss talk about her sister-in-law, and basically say that she didn't know what stress was because she didn't have kids, and that their family was just so much busier and more stressed out, etc. 

I will never claim that my life is comparable to someone with kids, or a husband.  That's just the thing though, it isn't comparable.  We can't compare what we have been handed against someone else.  We all were created for a reason, and purpose that is individual and unique to the gifts that we have been given.

What we can do though is stop excluding people because of their marital status, or how many kids they do or don't have.  We can engage in community with those that are different from us.  We can teach each other what it means to be walking down a path that we didn't imagine for ourselves.  We can stop acting like God only blesses people that are married, and have the traditional family unit.  We can stop bringing our kids up to in environments where they will feel less than if they do not get married and have kids.  We can show our kids, our communities that serving God single, is just as important as serving him as a couple.  We can teach our kids that there only purpose in life is not to give us grandkids.  I don't know how many people I have heard proclaim... "well it's okay we can make it through this phase, because one day they are going to give me grandbabies."  STOP.... what if they don't!  What if  you are never a grandparent.  Will your life still be worth something?  Is their life still worth something? 

This is a really big issue for me... I don't want to write anymore than I have to keep the length in check, but I want you to think about where you see marriage, singleness, and community.  Think about it.  Think about what you would do if your child never got married and had kids.  Yes teach them how to be parents, and aunts and uncles.  Teach them how to care for other human beings, but don't let their worth and value lie in something that may not depend on them. 

Let's let our new Christian culture be one in which people aren't afraid to be single at church.  They feel just as welcomed, just as loved, just as important as the rest of those in the community.  Let's change the conversation, and open up dialogue for belonging, and understanding to reconcile a community that needs healing.   

Monday, April 2, 2018

A to Z Challenge: B is for Brave #singlenessmyth#2

My A to Z Challenge is a blog about singleness.  Some myths, some thoughts, some of the things that I have been learning as a 30 something year old single American woman, in a culture that sees this as something that is less than.....  join me on this journey!

Be is for Brave!  Myth #2:  You are so brave to stay single, and wait for the right person!

Oftentimes I feel like this phrase is said in the sweetest most condescending way.  If you have ever, or thought you might ever say this to someone.... DON'T!

People who are single, and have been single for their whole life, do not know anything different.  It is not that we are brave to not get married.  Bravery has nothing to do with it in my opinion.  Because when I think of bravery, I think of facing something that I have a choice in.  Like I have a choice to hike 10 miles today.  I am brave when I face that 10 miles and do it.  When I think about my singleness, it doesn't feel like I want someone measuring my bravery, because it isn't a choice that I am making in a brave way.  It is not like I am having to face these obstacles in order to stay single, right?

So I would rather people not see me as being brave for being single, I would rather you see me as being brave for being my most authentic self, for loving people even when it is hard, and for being willing to go on spontaneous adventures.  I would rather my singleness not be what defines me, but rather who I am as a person, and what I am doing with this life I have been given.

Maybe other people feel differently.  I think for some there might be a need for bravery.  But it is not something that anyone wants pity for.  Being single is not a curse that needs fixed.  None of us are half of a person walking around until we find that "one."  Maybe that is what the bravery is for?

Bravery to step outside of the box and have conversations with the community.  Whether you are single or not.  Bravery to meet someone that isn't like you, to engage in a conversation that you don't necessarily agree on.  Maybe that is the bravery of humanity.  Looking at someone and not just seeing them for what you can see on the outside, but getting to know their story, and understanding their heart.  So, maybe being human, is grasping being brave.  Maybe we all could use a little more of it, and this world might just start to be a  less scary, less selfish place.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

A to Z Challenge: A is for Alone #singlenessmyth#1

My A to Z Challenge is a blog about singleness.  Some myths, some thoughts, some of the things that I have been learning as a 30 something year old single American woman, in a culture that sees this as something that is less than.....  join me on this journey!

A is for Alone!  Myth #1 Only single people feel alone.

I think that until a couple weeks ago I was determined that married people couldn't possibly understand how alone I feel at times.  It wasn't until I was sitting in a group of women, crying my eyes out at my single state that I realized that this feeling of being alone it isn't just something that I face.  It is a collective feeling.  One that every single person faces at some point in their lives.

But let me say this.... the feeling of being alone... it is very different if you are ALWAYS alone.

For instance I was at dinner with a friend the other night, and this topic actually came up.  She was telling me this story about her married friend.  Her married friend was talking about how her husband had just went on a trip.  The wife was feeling all alone, like she didn't have anyone in the world.  As she was telling this story my friend agreed that is a really bad feeling, but then the wife said that it was so wonderful when she knew that the husband was coming home.  Right?  So.... here's where I am going with this.  A single person never has the hope of that return, right?  That feeling of aloneness is ALWAYS there.

Some singles are just fine with that feeling. They have come to terms with it, or it never bothered them.  Most singles though, they are masking that alone feeling with other things.  Whether that is trying to never be home, or it is drugs, alcohol, companionship, gambling.  In so many forms we try to not feel "alone."  I have a really good guy friend that refuses to ever do anything by himself.  He has never gone to a restaurant by himself, or a movie or anything.  He refuses to do those types of things alone.  Why?  Because he cares about how other people view him.  He thinks that people will judge him for that.  Probably some people do. But really most probably don't even pay any attention.  Sometimes we put way too much stock in what other people think of us, or what we think that other people are thinking of us. 

I have to admit though I do think that some married people feel more alone than certain single people, because they are in a marriage that is not fulfilling them.  Or they are leaning on their spouse to fill a hole that can't be filled by another person.

Why do we feel so afraid of aloneness?  Why are we so judgemental of people that we see at a restaurant by themselves, or a movie?  Instead of judging each other, why don't we embrace each other.  I know for me, I get tired of always having to be the one to text.  I continue to do it, because it is important to me, but I LOVE the moments when a friend texts me and says... hey I have an extra ticket to this you want to go, or I was really missing time with you and thinking we should go have dinner next week.  To me that fills the void of being "alone."

Maybe when we look around us, and see those that need our friendship, our community, our love, we won't have as many people walking around in this world feeling alone, just maybe?

Lent and Easter 2018

Lent started on February 14, 2018.... it seems like a lifetime ago actually.  This is the first year that I have successfully stayed off of social media for the duration of time I gave it up.  It actually hasn't been as tempting as I thought it would be, and I haven't missed it nearly as much as I have in the past.  I think that is a really good thing.  I have found that I have been able to connect with more people in this last 40 + days  than I really have anytime before now.  I didn't know when I embarked on this journey all that I would go through, learn, and give up.

I started this journey in a very different place than I am ending it.  I started it and shortly after had an experience happen that changed my view of life. In this season I was able to grasp a few of my idols, and let me tell you... it was a hard thing to work through.  If you have been following my blog even while I have been away from social media, then you have been able to journey along with me a little bit.  If not then this is going to be new information for you.  I think I started Lent wanting to give up social media to focus more on God, love, and moments of genuine, authentic conversation with others.

For a couple of weeks I kept the dating apps I had downloaded, and allowed that to be a distraction along with some feelings about a situation that were needing to be dealt with.  Then I just had this moment of clarity.  I really feel like this time away from social media, and everything that it entails has allowed me to listen to my inner voice.  That voice that I sometimes ignore because I am afraid of what it will say.  The voice that sometimes tells me I need to focus up instead of around.  The voice that whispers that I am enough even when I don't necessarily feel like it.  So I deleted the dating apps, and allowed God to work in me to understand that if that happens one day it will be because He brings it in my path.  I don't want to put myself out there for just anyone.  And I won't.  My life doesn't have to be lived waiting on someone to share it with.  For during this season I realized that the people I have been able to spend time with.  The ones that have reached out to me, they are the ones that I am sharing my life with.  They are the ones that I put my effort and time in. They are the ones that are embracing me for who I am, and molding me into who I should be.  

Have you ever had a moment of clarity, and that moment truly follows you for years to come?  I can tell you that I've had a few of those moments during the last 2 months.  Moments that I will look back, and know were meant to help me in the next steps on this journey.

Sometimes life brings you to a place in your journey where you have to choose.  You have to take the right or the left, and not look back.  This is that time for me.  Do I take the right, and have adventure... but the kind of adventure that is waiting for this thing to happen in order to feel like I'm accepted in the culture that surrounds me.  Or do I take the left, and go on an adventure that I don't even understand quite yet?

As I see the sun rising on this Easter morning I know that I am leaving behind some things that I haven't been quite ready to let go of yet.  Expectations of life, and what I wanted to happen in life.  Expectations of how people see me.  I am leaving behind the expectation of marriage, and children, and how that is the only way to feel worthy in our culture.  The expectation that your life has to look exactly the same, and that it has to be this neatly packaged box with a bow around it. The choices that I have made, that are not loving and kind.  The times when I have given in and I shouldn't have.  My selfishness, my pride. I'm letting them die, to be replaced with love, kindness, joy, encouragement, and compassion for those around me.  That I may never sink back in to being held captive by them again.  

I look to the sunrise to be a time when I can celebrate that I am not on this journey alone.  I can celebrate that I have been called to something great.  I can celebrate that through the pain, sadness, anger, bitterness, and brokenness I am alive.  I am alive to live, to love, and to see people for who they are.  There have been times when I have second guessed myself and my interactions with others, but you know what?  I will continue to text people first, and go out of my way to stay connected with those, even if they don't seem to want me.  I will go out of my way to serve my community, and sacrifice time, energy and money for those that don't have the life I do.  I will go out of my way to be a friend, no matter what that looks like.  For this life is about people, loving them, and letting them know that they are here for a reason.  Not just a certain kind of people, but everyone.  If I live my life loving others, no matter where they are from, their sexuality, their race, their religious beliefs, the way they raise their children, what side of town they are from, what political party they adhere to.  If I live my life loving with only the intent of letting them feel God's love, then that will completely be worth it.