Prone to share: Getting to know you

There’s so much I still have to learn about this blogging thing (like staying consistent with content delivery, for starters!). Until my friend, Karin, tagged me last week, I didn’t even know what a “blog hop” was. I’m sure it has some noble origins, but for me, it was a much-needed prompt to write. It’s a pretty simple concept: answer four questions about your self. So here we go…

  1. What am I writing or working on? Funny you should ask! I’m actually working on one of the biggest “projects” of my life, but I’m not quite ready to spill the beans here on the interwebs. When I am, you can bet I’ll be writing about it…
  2. How does my work differ from others in this genre? See, this question is proof that the person who started this little Blog Hop charade likely meant it for real bloggers, as opposed to random people with questionable grammar and no particular genre. Truth is, I don’t even know what my genre is (though I do know that my color season is “autumn”). I like to think that I provide commentary on life, which is why you should all be thankful that I rarely blog at airports. Those places are like the Super Bowl of people-watching.
  3. Why do I write what I do? Hmmm. Methinks an honest answer of this question would require that I actually write on some minimal frequency. I write about events around me that make me think. I write about conversations. I write about things that have impacted me because I sometimes have a hunch they might impact others, as well.
  4. How does my writing process work? In this particular case, I didn’t have a choice. Though I have schedules and outlines and plans a’plenty, those rarely materialize like I intend them to. Sometimes I mull over a blog post for a few days, maybe even bouncing the idea off someone. Other times, the shame of inactivity drives me to the keyboard and I plow through a string of somewhat coherent thoughts. Then there are the rare occasions that I go all Hemingway, down a fifth of Jack Daniels and let the chips fall where they may! (Totally joking on this last one, mostly.)
In case you haven’t met her, you should hop on over to Karin’s blog. I met her through a mutual friend at work (who has YET to finish her Blog Hop assignment), and our collective adventures have included a day trip up to St. Augustine and a hangry stroll around Disney’s Boardwalk.
And for the next Blog Hop victims, let me introduce you to
Tag, you’re it.

Prone to rant: 4 confessions of a 30 something single Christian

I had an “interesting” and mercifully brief conversation over the weekend with a stranger who warned me about my childless state and my ticking biological clock on the happy occasion of Father’s Day. In the moment, I could think of nothing logical or humorous with which to flip a very awkward interaction, so I did what any sane person would do these days and posted the synopsis on Facebook.

The post generated far more feedback than I anticipated, which led me to believe that this was a topic ripe for discussion. So in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve complied this helpful list of four confessions of a 30-something single Christian.

lonely

Editor’s note: I feel as though I need to add the “Christian” disclaimer because I find that the situations which elicit these confessions to be more prevalent in, though not exclusive to, Christian circles, so take that for what it’s worth. Additionally, I can only speak from my perspective and the interactions I have with close single friends. This isn’t meant to paint a wide, stereotypical brush for all single people; it’s just real and personal observations…

1. Many (though not all) single people desire to be married or in relationship. That desire often falls on a spectrum, ranging anywhere from despair that love will never find you to near-delight at the notion that you have absolutely no one to dictate your time, money, or interests (like taking a week-long vacation to visit friends in Brazil just because you can). Rarely is anyone static for long on one spot of that spectrum, so don’t assume that someone is at one extreme or the other.

2. Even if a single person has wondered, legitimately, whether they have Paul’s “gift of singleness”, it’s rarely up to you to ask or assume this (if this Christian colloquialism is confusing, check out 1 Corinthians 7:7-8 for Paul’s own explanation on his state of singleness). I can count on two hands the number of people with the relational capital between the two of us to ask or imply any sort of question this deep. If we’re not close enough to discuss, say, what medications you’re on, we’re probably not close enough for any serious conversation about relationships and singleness issues beyond the Christian-ese pleasantries.

3. Honestly, sometimes Paul’s “gift of singleness” truly feels like a gift. I’ll admit it: there’s a big selfish part of me that looks at the sacrifices and compromises required of a good, God-honoring marriage, and I wonder whether I’m up for it (sorry, mom and dad*). I recognize this is a quasi-heretical statement to some people, even some single friends, but hear me out. I’m in a season of life where I have wide latitude to serve God in a lot of different ways, and LOTS of single people I know recognize this as a gift and serve God faithfully in lots of ministries. But that also means I can book tickets to Seattle to visit a friend without a second thought. I can arrange my budget how I like. I get to pick the movies I watch. And a lot of the times, this freedom is fantastic. (But not all of the time; see #1 above.)

4. People are single for lots of different reasons. For the most part, I’m around people who simply haven’t found the right person yet. But I know plenty of people recovering from divorce, broken hearts, broken marriages, or the death of a spouse. Unless you know someone’s story, it’s a bit dangerous to assume anything about it. To the (again, well-meaning) woman who warned about the fading hours of my child-producing years: what if I had lost a child? What if I had health issues that made biological kids impossible? While I have little problem discussing these things with people interested in real conversation, not everyone shares this level of vulnerability (see #2 above). Be careful that you’re not pouring salt on a wound.

I’d love for relationship and family to be in my future, but since they haven’t happened yet, I’m content in this space and time and place right now. And I’m absolutely OK with that. But based on personal experience (and about 40 comments on that original Facebook thread), the most helpful thing for me and my tribe (stay strong, fellow singles) probably isn’t to warn us of impending infertility or ask “why the heck aren’t you married yet?!” Because if I could answer that question, I probably wouldn’t be single.

If I haven’t alienated every blessed reader yet: what about you? What do you wish more people knew about singleness? What were some of your best or worst memories of singleness if you’ve moved out of that season of life? What do you wish you had done while you were single that would be hard or impossible to do now? This is a safe space, friend, so comment away…

*–For the record, I don’t count myself among the people that are truly and honestly OK w/ life-long singleness, in case anyone was confused (read: mom and dad).

Prone to reflect: A year on the list

30 before 30I celebrated the end of my 20s a week and a half ago, and consequently, the formal end of my “30 before 30″ pursuit.

Though I didn’t complete everything I set out to accomplish, there were some lessons learned along the way. Here are my three main takeaways, followed by a run-down of the completed items.

  • People want to help you reach your goals, which is good, since one of the reasons I put the list together in the first place was to bring others along with me and spending intentional, quality time with people.
  • I’m OK with incomplete items, as much as I love checking off everything on any particular list.
  • My ambitions often outweigh my abilities, and this list was no exception. But you would think I would have learned that by now.

Now, here’s a recap of this past year…

Completed items

St. Augustine “You didn’t visit that while you were in grade school?!” No, gentle reader, I didn’t, and that’s why I put it on the list in the first place. Evidently my plucky little elementary school was one of the few that didn’t take an obligatory trip to the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement and port in the continental United States, and as a Florida native, I had never been there. Even still, it was a great day spent with friends!

sunrise It wasn’t until after spending a few hours on the road making our pilgrimage from Cocoa Beach to Clearwater Beach that someone had the bright idea to do this in the Florida Keys next time, only requiring a jaunt across the island and not the entire width of the state. You know what they say about hindsight…

HP Count me among the Harry Potter nerds. I really enjoyed these books, and it was a great fiction distraction for someone who always prefers nonfiction.

Grand Canyon Unlike the hike in Colorado that wasn’t meant to be, this one actually happened, and it was fantastic!

#15–Do something generous for someone
I did this one, but saying anything more about it makes me feel like a tool, so we’ll let this one be.

Disneyland A weekend trip to the original happiest place on earth in early April with my best friend from college was an awesome way to start the birthday festivities!

Amadeus Interesting movie. I watched this one with my friend, Mariah, as she was healing from foot surgery. She got some company, I got an item on the list marked off. I love being efficient.

#22–Teach a class or speak somewhere
I’m counting this as my time spent with my seventh grade guys this year at church.

Bucket List #24 It doesn’t get much better than Sir Paul McCartney, even if the air was a bit thinner from way up top.

#25–Volunteer for 30 hours
Like #22 above, this one is covered by my time with these special snowflakes called middle school boys. I honestly don’t care of you disagree with my decision on these two completed items. It’s my list and I’ll do what I want!

2014-04-21 22.26.28 Did this one with my friend, Mariah, as well last fall. While the education and the sessions were excellent, my biggest takeaway from the event was all the great FOOD.

#27 from the 30 list The first completed item way back in April 2013!

Partially completed items

San Sebastian This one may be a stretch. I had high hopes of making it out to Napa Valley sometime during the year of the list, but alas, that wasn’t in the cards. So, on our day trip to St. Augustine, we stopped into a winery. There are no grapes grown at this facility, so I guess it doesn’t technically count as a vineyard, but they do make wine here, so that counts for something.

Canning While I watched my friend do this (and she makes some GREAT stuff), I didn’t actually participate. Even still, I could probably make a decent go of it just from my crash course with her, so if they gave out “partially completed” ribbons, this one would be a winner!

Honorable mention

Hike It literally took an act of God to keep this one from happening, so I’m counting this one as “E for effort.”

Counting the “partially completed items” and the “honorable mention,” I accomplished half of what I set out to do over the year. Considering all the places that this took me and the people I got to bring along, I’m calling this a success.

Thanks for sticking with me through this year.

Prone to shout: The ultimate groupthink

As I’ve been reading up in preparation for Resurrection Sunday, there’s a line from the book of Luke that has stuck me more than anytime before. I’m certain I’ve read it plenty of times, but never has it stood out like it has these last few weeks.

At this particular juncture of the story, Jesus has been betrayed, beaten, and brought before Pilate: a prefect of the Roman empire overseeing Judea. Pilate can find no fault to warrant death, but the crowd kept shouting for Jesus’ crucifixion.

Pilate offers to release Jesus in light of the Passover tradition of releasing a prisoner chosen by the people, but the people preferred the release of Barabbas–a man known to have been responsible for insurrection and murder.

crowd“Protest in Paris” by Antonin Remond is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Imagine this for a moment: the crowd had rather a known murderer walk the streets than for the Christ to go free. He literally took the place of a murderer.

And they continued shouting.

Luke tells us that Pilate asked a third time “‘Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish him and release him’,” (Luke 23:22, ESV).

“But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed,” (v. 23, ESV).

This is the line that continues to haunt me: Their voices prevailed.

The insistence and urgency of the crowd changed the mind of a ruler of Rome: “So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted…” (v. 24, ESV) Just a short time after this tragic scene, Christ died.

While this death and subsequent resurrection were always the plan, I can’t help but notice what part fallen and flawed humans played. But I think there’s an application beyond the theoretical that I’m continuing to process: To what am I lending my voice?

Throughout history, crowds have changed laws and fought wars and toppled governments. Today, there are still wrongs to be corrected and justice to seek.

A crowd was used by God to change the mind of Pilate and send Christ to death, and their voices prevailed.

Will ours?

Prone to wait: When we get impatient…

I know I’ve been on radio silence here on the blog for far too long. I clearly haven’t been keeping up with my goals. Quite honestly, I haven’t really felt like I’ve had anything to say.

My mom used to say “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” though I have a feeling she might have gotten that from the movie Bambi. Even still, I think the same sentiment can easily be applied to social media, and maybe even expanded: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything!”

I still question whether I have anything of value to say, but I do have some thoughts I’ve been processing this evening.

Sunset

I seem to have arrived at a season of waiting.

Waiting on my trip with my best friend from college.
Waiting on my birthday.
Waiting to celebrate Easter.
Waiting to see friends who stubbornly moved overseas last year.
Waiting on direction for a BIG thing to think BIG about.

Often, our immediate-gratification seeking culture considerings waiting to be a negative thing. But in this case, I disagree. In fact, I’m rather elated during this season of waiting, because I know the things I’m waiting on are freakin fantastic!

But we don’t always know that, do we? Sometimes, waiting can be hard. Especially when we don’t know the outcome of what we’re waiting on.

I believe our discomfort in waiting is less about impatience and more about uncertainty.

Sometimes we have to wait on hard things: the test results from the doctor’s office; the phone call after the job interview you had; lunch.

In those moments, my hardest struggle isn’t impatience, though it might masquerade as such. In those moments, my hardest struggle is trust: trusting that God knows what He’s doing; trusting that I really believe His words enough to put them into practice; trusting that He knows the outcome I can’t yet see.

The next time you’re feeling impatient in a season of waiting, check your certainty of the outcome. You may find you’re actually great at waiting! But terrible at trusting.