Saturday, December 3, 2016

Fresh Start

I admit it. I went through a few years hating Advent. It feels like my whole life is Advent, so I wasn't that interested in a liturgical season of waiting. There's something about it though... Somehow, lately, hope has crept back into Advent. Not necessarily hope that the major life circumstances will change (like marriage and children), though that hope is sometimes there as well. Maybe it's more about the transformation of waiting.

The other day, I was talking to someone about how our Thanksgiving went and I was telling her that I got to see my super sweet niece and nephew (one year old twins, and seriously, ridiculously cute!) Her response was, "Does that give you any ideas?" She knows I'm single. She knows that I would not want kids on my own. What she apparently does not know is that the lack of spouse and kids in my life is not by choice. That I would like nothing more than that and one of the most painful, crushing things in my life that wears me down day after day and year after year is the fact that none of that seems to come together for me. Mostly I can brush stuff like that off in the moment, but I don't know if she caught that time that there was a pause before the shrug. The shrug was supposed to indicate some sort of socially appropriate "what will be, will be" attitude. It would go along with the assumption that I apparently just haven't decided to settle down yet, and if I ever do, it will happen. Because that's a lot less pathetic for public consumption than the fact that I have failed at making that happen in my life. I'm not sure if the truth cracked open for a moment in my eyes, but I know that I was frozen for a second by reality crashing down before I could pull off the public charade.

(Super hopeful, right? It's going somewhere else, I promise!)

The thing is, I don't even know what it is that I'm waiting for anymore. The desire to share my life is something that I don't think will ever go away (as evidenced by the fact that it gets harder in some ways each year, never easier). Yet, there are no guarantees that it will ever happen for me. That is the reality of life. My point being that I can hope for that to change, but waiting for it like it's just a matter of time is a little absurd.

One little glimpse that I am starting to get into Advent is the actual liturgical meaning of the wait. (I know! Who would have seen that coming?!) There is the wait for the birth of the Christ child. The recognition that God became man for us to be redeemed. Whatever suffering we have, big and small, is redeemed. Whatever parts of us that we can't fix, can't heal, can't seem to change, He can redeem.  Our past, the ways that we have been broken and the things that we have broken, He redeems. When we wait, we wait for Him. When we need healing and meaning for our lives, it is coming and has come. Certainly we have certain prayers and dreams and desires that we hold most dear and wait for more than any others, but whether or not we see the fulfillment of those the way we would like, we will see redemption in them. That is the joy of Christmas.*

This also refers to the next coming of Christ, whether in a general way at the end of the world, or at our own deaths. While God does bring a lot of redemption and healing into this life, it is all partial until we fully experience eternal life. It is a reminder to me that even if I do someday get to live out the fulness of my vocation, it won't be perfect. There will still be more that I ache and long for. That is the reality of the fact that we are created for heaven, but live right now on earth.

The night that I came home after my acquaintance's innocent question, I was broken. I had a lot to do, but I honestly cried on the couch instead, because all the wounds were exposed, and there wasn't much to be done. It was one of those dark nights, but. It was also one of the first few days of Advent. The reminder that the "dawn from on high" is coming. The idea that I don't know what it will look like, but there is healing for all brokenness for every single one of us. The next morning was the perfect day to start fresh. For me, waiting in this moment is understanding that the darkness of our struggles and uncertainties is going to be followed by morning, when the dawn from on high will break upon us. Someday it will all make sense. Someday, I will once again know what it is that I am waiting for.  Today I will do my best to do the little things that I can.

*Joy at Christmas is something that is available to all. Joy, I think, being trustful confidence in the Redeemer, gratitude in all things. This is not the same as happiness; Christmas is one of the most painful as well as the most joyous times of the year for people. Such is the way of this life.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

It's Coming for Real Now!

Somehow, the holidays started early for me this year, with All Saints' Day. Obviously, it's going to get real in the next week. I made the mistake of trying to do a quick stop at the grocery store after church today... Dang! Turkey Day preparation is underway!

Most of you already know how I feel about the holidays. I love them. And I hate them. They scare the crap out of me. Talk about emotions all over the map at any given moment! Even things like FB's current profile picture frame "Thankful for us" is a little cringe-inducing for me. Not that people shouldn't celebrate and rejoice in their families! I think it's a good thing. It's just not an easy thing for me.

Then, this weekend, just before I left work, I found out that I may be losing a lot of hours at work. It may not be long term, but I have limited ability to hold out with a small paycheck for even the short term. It's scary and uncomfortable because I like where I work, and I love the people that I work with, and I don't want to change any of that. The reasons behind it also make it feel like my one boss doesn't appreciate the current people. I know that's not it, but it feels that way.

In a few days, I get to go spend time with my family, and there's some tension and drama, not to mention politics. Should be an interesting weekend!

However, this is not really a "woe is me" post. (It would have been on Friday night, but this is Sunday, so we're good.) So far this month and these holidays have been peaceful. While it will be a day by day thing, I have hopes that this may continue. In terms of the family, things haven't been easy, but it has made me do some learning, particularly in regards to listening. I've been reading a book about it, and I hope I can continue to keep learning and applying things! I have been trying to start to apply this, and while I have a long way to go, I am realizing some common shortcomings that I have and continue to perpetuate. It's exciting to try to change some of them and how people respond to my imperfect attempts to be a better listener.

With that in mind, it helped me to see where my boss might be coming from in making some of her decisions. It does not mean that I agree with her decisions. I may still have to do something different, as I do have bills to pay. But it does help me to see how I can have a more respectful conversation and response to her in the moment.

I'm a little nervous for the family gathering, but also excited to perhaps begin to change some of our same old conversations that lead to the same old hurts building up further and further. I'm excited to see if I can listen in a situation where it seems that most of the tensions are coming from not being heard. I know this is a situation that needs a lot of prayer, but I really do feel like it is an opportunity as much as it is a bit of a cross right now.

Then there's this trust thing. I really love the way that God asks for our trust. We want control, even if that just means that we need to know what's coming next so that we can prepare ourselves. In reality, He seems to be asking for us to accept enough for today and let tomorrow take care of itself. (Sound familiar? I know we hear it in the Bible, but I guess I don't always listen very well!) I was a little worried about my hours earlier this year, and then I have had better hours than  I have had in a long time. It may go down really soon, but I have at least another good week or two before that happens. In the meantime, there are some things that I can do outside of my comfort zone to try to work on things to increase my hours. Some of these are things I've been wanting to do but haven't had the time for, so this is also an opportunity. If, in the end, none of that pans out, we'll see where God leads next. Whether things change or things stay the same, it really doesn't matter as long as I am doing what I can, and leaning into Him for the rest. Just one step at a time. It may keep going straight or take a turn on another road, but either may be a great opportunity.

Not only that, but I may get to do a little more climbing in the next month or so!! I am so excited that I can't even tell you. It's a part of my life that I have really missed over the last couple of years, and I have been praying for a way to get back into it. It'll be all indoors this time of year, but I don't care. I'll take what I can get! Not that that really has anything to do with the previous parts of the post, but it is just a part of my current feelings of contentment.

There it is. Here come the holidays, and I am currently excited and optimistic for them. I don't really care that that could change shortly, because if I am only going to take one step at a time, all I have to do now is rejoice in this moment of contentment. I do have two prayer requests, if you think of it. One is for my family to be able to sort some things out, and the other is that I wouldn't have to go to another Mass alone on a high holy day (so, Christmas). As we head into Advent, please let me know in the comments or email (catholicmutt@gmail.com) if there's anything that you would like me to pray about for you!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Sleep!

Okay, I have to type quickly, which is going to be hard because I have so many different things that I would love to talk about, but so little time. Maybe I should think about getting on here a little more often, eh? Of course you're right.

The reason that I have to hurry is sleep. Yes, it's only 6:22. But I don't care. I will be off the computer (and all the other screens I have) by 7:00. Because sleep is amazing. I love it so much I can't even tell you. I have always loved sleep. I never pulled all nighters, even in college, because SLEEP! I have tried for a long time to make sure that I tried to leave a good 7-8 hours for sleep. But, y'all, seriously! My sleep game has leveled up and I can't even tell you how freaking awesome it is! You know me, I'll try to explain how great it is, but it's really one of those things that you have to experience. I didn't know it could be this great!

A few months ago, I saw a title of a podcast that was talking about how good sleep starts in the morning. I don't love listening to podcasts, but I do love sleep, so I was intrigued. The podcast was with the author of "Sleep Smarter" (absolutely recommend the book, but unfortunately I can't remember his name right now!) He was talking about how in order to get our cortisol levels going in the morning, we needed to get up and do some activity or movement fairly early, as well as expose ourselves to natural light as soon as we can. (Sheesh! Not like that. Just get outside if you can, or be where there is natural light in the room.) Cortisol, of course, sounds bad to us, because we have chronically high levels of it. However, in the natural circadian rhythm, it is important and necessary at certain times in the day. Morning is one of them. Having cortisol then makes us more ready to produce melatonin in the evening.

That was just one of many things that he talked about. Another thing was the sleep routine. I started a routine and it really does help a lot. I turn off my screens at least 2 hours before I go to bed (and I go to bed early because I get up freakishly early). That means no TV, no internet, no noise (besides my rather loud refrigerator; I better clean the coils soon). I admit that was a little scary to me. TV and/or internet was my way to wind down! I wasn't quite sure what I would do without it. It turns out that there ARE options. My routine involves starting with the dishes, then picking up, then doing some reading (fun stuff only), stretching and the teeth brushing and all of that. As I get to the reading, I start to turn down the overhead lights and read by lamp. Then when I do a little stretching, I usually just have a candle. The gradual darkness also helps. I usually only get a few stretches in before I'm sleepy enough that I go to bed. I'm not so tired I can't move, it's just that my body is ready for sleep. So I listen and go to bed.

My brain winds down better without lots of outside stimulus right before bed. Who would've thought? I do not sleep very many more hours than I did before (except that I wake up a lot less and go back to sleep a lot faster if I do wake up), but the quality of sleep I get! I didn't know it was possible to feel that refreshed after sleeping. And to spend most of the day wide awake and ready to go, until about 30-40 minutes before I go to bed, because my body knows what's coming.

Hmm, I guess it was easy to type quickly. Initially, I thought I had a lot of different stuff to say. I do, but I didn't realize that I was going to talk about this for so long. I guess all I can say is that you should read the book! Your ways of finding routines will likely be different than mine, and some people are like, "that's nice, but I have kids." It's okay. What is good for you will be specific to you. As for the kids, they can benefit from all of this, too. I'm not saying that it will make bedtime perfectly easy (or easy at all), but it's really nice stuff to be aware of, because whatever you can incorporate into your life can potentially make a big difference.

6:44. Not bad. I guess I can stop for now. SLEEP IS AMAZING!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

I Got Angry at Mass Today

Raise your hand if you are beyond worn out and fatigued with the farce that is this election cycle. (Both hands HIGH, over here.) I just don't even know what to say right now. I don't know how to discern the truth of the various claims anymore. Let me tell you this, though. This election has yielded some interesting insights for me personally. Things I have never noticed quite this much. It's like everything being stretched out to such an exaggerated point of ridiculousness has made it so that I can see some things about myself and my thought processes that I was unable to see before. And I am grateful for that. It is also part of the reason that I got angry at Mass today.

This election is the first time that I have been able to agree in many ways with almost EVERYone to at least some degree when it comes to politics. I could find some common ground most of the time when it was brought up. Sure, it was mostly because we were agreeing about how terrible the options were, but it was kind of nice not to feel like there was "my side" and "their side". Now, what we were all choosing to do about that was different, and I certainly didn't go in depth with that, but it led to some interesting conversations and to me being in a different place to hear it than I have been at other times.

This it the first time that my political affiliations (or lack thereof) have come to have a much greater meaning in my life. I have not registered with a party for years, because I couldn't truly stand behind either one. Because of my background, I identified more strongly with one than the other, but now I reject both of them with about equal fervor!

This is the first election in my life that I voted FOR someone. That was weird. Yes, I know all the arguments about third party votes. When considering things from all angles, it felt like the only option that I could make in good conscience. That does not mean that everyone should make that decision. This is truly a vote where you need to educate yourself about what is important (and from a Catholic standpoint, that means informing your conscience about what the Church teaches and why), and make the best decision you can. To me, there is no obvious choice this year. I could see the argument from a number of different directions, and none of them end up with us in a great spot. I know that my decision was made with a lot of thought, with prayer, and with peace that I did what I had to do. I do not say this with a relativistic mindset. There IS right and wrong, but since none of us know how all of this is going to turn out, I don't think that you can argue that there is only one choice.

I feel like this has been instructive about history. I always wondered how Hitler and the like got elected into office. I feel like I'm watching it happen. Stir up fear, stir up anger, get people beyond the point of seeing reason. (You want to know which candidate I'm referring to? In this climate, it really doesn't matter. I would say both.)

I feel on the outside. I disagree so completely with supporters of either major party candidate.* But the outside looking in can also be very instructive.  Do you realize how much both groups sound alike? You could just about switch the names interchangeably, and I'm pretty sure you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Bullying, corruption, wrongdoing seem to be rampant. It's not just the candidates, it's ALL OF US. We are doing it to each other right now!

One of the weird things is that I finally saw some of the arguments against what I believe... And realized they were right. Not that I think their answers to the problem are right, but that they're completely correct in they're criticisms of my way of seeing certain things. Let's take the pro-life issue. To me, that is always the most important one. In no way am I trying to argue that we need to lessen our work to protect the most innocent and most vulnerable. However, in the exaggeration of seeing someone who claims to be pro life, but is so disrespectful of the lives of anyone outside themselves, I am offended when someone tries to say that behavior is pro life. That is the epitome of being anti-abortion only. Now, I will take someone that is anti-abotion over someone that is pro-abortion and also devalues certain other lives, but don't call it pro-life! It is decidedly not!

This is probably what made me angry at Mass today. We call ourselves pro-life, and yet the deacon was telling us how we convince women that it was not just a clump of cells or tissue. That's right, as far as it goes, but it doesn't go nearly far enough. If we are truly pro-life, we have to find a way to help support that woman; her life, the life of her child. If we truly value life, we need to care about her and not assume that she is simply selfishly trying to rid herself of a mess that she got herself into. You want my opinion? (Probably not, but I'm not forcing you to read this post!) I think that there are so many complex factors that go into these decisions. Yes, some of it is certainly selfishness and a lack of understanding that that baby really is a person. But I also think that some of those rationalizations resonate so well with people because they really don't feel they have any options. They feel they are doing what they must, so those rationalizations help them make a decision. I'm not saying that's right. It's not. I'm saying that there are deeper issues going on. I feel that pro choice folks are misaddressing the issue by saying that abortion is okay. I feel that people that are pro life are sometimes simply ignoring that part of the issue.

Please keep in mind, there are lots of people that are truly pro-life in every sense. They have been working tirelessly both to do the needed education that the child IS a child, but also trying to help and support the mother and support life in all its phases. But I think that it has helped me take an even closer look at the fact that I myself have probably mostly only performed actions that are anti-abortion. It has made me look at the fact that while voting is important, what else am I actually doing to respect life in the best way that I can?

Sorry for the long, rambling post. Just know that if you have taken the time to educate yourself, tried in some way to cut through the thick biases in all directions, have voted or will vote, whatever that vote is, I respect you and I respect you trying to make the best of this situation. If you have not yet voted, I would say, do not be afraid! This is what JPII taught us, and he came from a regime of political repression unlike anything we have known (at least not yet). Voting is important. But no matter who ends up in office, it is not the president who can make America great again. Nor can the president make us stronger together. If we want to be strong together, WE have to stop bullying each other. If we want our country to be great again, WE have to have the courage to look at what we are doing as individuals that is not supporting that and move forward from there. Yes, I know there are a lot of things that stand in the way. Yes, some of it will have to come down from the government. But the government can't fix it. Until we are willing to see each other as people, equals deserving of respect, even those that disagree with us (and all "sides" tend to only listen to their own people and not others, so no need to point fingers), then this problem will continue. I'm not suggesting that we start to be relativistic. That has not helped us at all. I'm saying that when I take the time to listen, I usually hear some truth in the passionate voices all around. It may be obscured by emotion, it may not turn into a useful or appropriate direction, but until we can hear the good and realize that most people really do want what's best,** we are not going to stop trying to destroy each other and in the process, destroy our country.

Okay, that's enough rambling and enough politics. I am not naive enough to think that there are easy answers to any of this and that we don't have a long hard road, regardless of what happens. What I am saying is, I don't see any improvement unless we start to change how we interact with the problem. And by "we", I mean primarily "me".

*This is not the same as the people that feel that they have to make the impossible choice of one or the other, but actually support neither.
**I do believe that a lot of people do want what's best, even though there is a lot of error out there. Consider someone treating an illness with bloodletting back in the day. They truly wanted to help cure the person, even though they may have been killing them in the process. Unfortunately, I think we sometimes have the tendency to go around trying to spend all our time educating bloodletting is wrong, without recognizing or addressing the actual illness and pain that led to the treatment. Someone who is desperate will turn to whatever might be available, if no one else is offering any other options. I want to keep strongly opposing the bloodletting AND start to find other answers and solutions for people, rather than saying "bloodletting will kill you, but good luck with that fever."

Okay, seriously, if you made it this far, thank you for the attention. Not sure this rambling deserved it, but know that I appreciate you!!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Entitled

Following is the bulleted list of things that I am entitled to:














That's it. That's the entire list. I roll my eyes at our culture of entitlement sometimes, but I forget just how deeply I am embedded in it myself. I sometimes get angry that I don't get to experience some of the things that "everyone" gets to experience. Yes, it hurts. No, it is not good to be alone. And yet I am still entitled to nothing.

I used to feel like if I did everything that God asked of me, OF COURSE He would finally answer my prayers. OF COURSE it would all work out and it would be so much better because of all the waiting and it would be as perfect as anything in this world could be. And everyone could see why you work through the hard stuff: because if you do it right, it all works out in the end.

The thing is, it isn't so. Sometimes it does work out, but heartbreak of one sort may give way to heartbreak of another sort. Sometimes you do it all right, and you check all the boxes, and it still doesn't work and it still won't happen. Sometimes it doesn't work out because you are intent about doing things a certain way (think trying to date in a hook up culture when you don't hook up, or trying to get pregnant but you won't use artificial technologies). You know why you're doing what you're doing, you know why it's worth it to you, but you also have to fully acknowledge that the very fact of doing it may cost you your shot at what you want.

We are not entitled to something because we went about all of the "right" ways of getting it. Entitlement, prosperity gospel, whatever you want to call it, I do it sometimes without realizing what I'm doing.  I can be called to a certain vocation (marriage) but I am not entitled to that fulfillment.  I really do hope that singleness will not always be my story, but if it changes, it is not because I deserved it or earned it. There are many who deserved it every bit as much as I did, but it never happened for them. Each day, and each breath is a gift. Even the things that feel unfair are a gift. I think surrender is often realizing that nothing belongs on the list above. I don't think it's wrong to desire good things, I just think sometimes we put them on that list where they don't belong.

Following is a bulleted list of just a few of the gifts that I have received that I am thankful for:

  • For an outspoken priest whose homily was a good reminder today that I am not entitled to anything.
  • For a great talk with my sister today.
  • For a job that I love that challenges me to stretch, whether I like it or not.
  • For an opportunity to become more aware of how I spend my money, so that I can make more deliberate choices.
  • For wonderful people in my life.
  • For all your wonderful responses on my last post; thank you, it really meant a lot to me.
  • For an opportunity to visit an amazing place this weekend.
  • For each new day that gives us the opportunity to do better and start over as needed.
  • For the joy of riding my bike.
  • For the joy of beautiful September days.
  • For honesty and authenticity opening doors in friendships.
  • For a relaxing weekend.
  • For books that give me a glimpse outside my own little world.
  • For the fact that this list could go on and on.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Grace

Okay, as I have said before, one of the things that has slowed down my writing on this blog is the fact that I keep re-hashing the same old things related to singleness. You have to be sick of it. I know that I am. In other words, feel free to skip the heck past this and move on. I sometimes have to write about it, as tired as I am of it, because it is my life and it helps me to figure some things out.

It's hard to describe the mix of feelings/experiences lately. It's pretty pathetic to list some of it out, but as pathetic as the list is, it doesn't fully cover the feelings that go along with all of this. Then there's some amazing grace that has been present in the last months, that doesn't sound all that amazing in words, but the difference that I notice in the reality is, well, amazing. (I can see that this post is going to be REALLY outstanding grammatically and otherwise.) I guess I should try to explain what I mean instead of speaking in vague generalities. That will be difficult, but here's a quote from St. Francis de Sales that might help.

Make sickness itself a prayer.
Desire to be cured that you may serve Him,
but do not refuse to continue to be sick,
that you may obey Him.

Thankfully, I am not actually sick (unless you count the allergies kicking up my asthma- come back, oxygen, I miss you!),  but it's a nice shortened version of a way to describe the state of being in my life. In a little conversation with a fellow blogger, we were discussing the states of singleness and infertility and how that worked with the call or vocation of marriage. My opinion is that much of the time singleness is not a vocation, and virtually all of the time infertility is not a vocation per se within marriage. Lemme 'splain. While I do think that it's possible and does happen that God may call some people to consecrated single life, for the most part I think singleness is not a particular vocation. I believe that I am called to marriage. I fully understand that I may never get married, but that doesn't negate what my calling is. I think that within marriage there is the call to fruitfulness, specifically through new life and children. I understand for some couples that will never happen, and that in no way negates their calling to marriage in general, to each other in particular, nor does it lessen the importance of their family unit as the two of them. 

The fact that I have asthma does not mean that I am a sick person; in fact, I am one of the healthier people that I know (again with the grammar!). However, it does mean that in this imperfect world, I have some limitations. It means that I have to make choices sometimes that annoy me sometimes in their necessity. Do I take medication for it? When do the side effects outweigh the benefits and vice versa? Yes, I want to open my windows or do an extra long hike, but is that the best choice in this moment? Okay, sure work out, but maybe I need to modify my workout for that limitation, etc. It is a part of my life that I have to deal with. Being single while called to marriage is another one of those things that happen in an imperfect world that we don't fully understand. 

Here's the the thing: It is not good for man to be alone. Those are words at one point that I didn't fully understand, but it becomes more and more apparent to me. I think I have talked before about the ways that being single in this current world does not just mean that I lack a partner in life (though that seems the greatest part of the tragedy to me). It also means that there is the loss of community in so many ways. I have barely rock climbed lately and I miss it like crazy. One of the reasons for this is that a lot of the people that I used to climb with are now climbing with their significant others, and sometimes they'll go in groups of couples, but I have been gradually forgotten. Not on purpose, and there are some other factors there, too, but it has happened. Not only have I missed the company of these people, and the joy of rock climbing, but I rarely get to join them on other excursions either. Also, I am not in the Mom's Club. Some people are fantastic about recognizing that even though I cannot fully understand what it is to be a mom (no one can without the experience) that I still have some capacity for empathy and understanding (and those of you that read this blog definitely fit that category!) However, many- and I would say most- that are in the Mom/Parent Club* will not always tell me about their experiences, or they will say things in dismissive ways like I could never possibly begin to understand. It's a million little slights that are hard to explain or understand if you haven't experienced them, but I would bet that almost anyone who has experienced it knows exactly what I'm talking about. 

Then there's this hyper sexualized world that makes any great friendship something suspect. In my case, I feel the pressure to not do much reaching out to my guy friends once they are in relationships and of course they're guys, so they sure as heck don't try to keep in touch! So there's another loss. Not having a boyfriend or a husband, I miss out a lot on simple male companionship as well. Though one thing that helps with that is that when I am with girlfriends and their significant others, I do get a little more balance. Still, it makes it hard to go out and meet others in a friendship way as well. Now, hyper sexualized or not, I do think it's really important to have some good boundaries with friends of the opposite sex who are in relationships with others. I think it's only right to respect that and to make those efforts, so it's not all external pressure, some of it is making proper boundaries that respect the relationship. I don't begrudge that, but I do recognize how it interferes at times with friendships. 

You add some of these factors plus the fact that some of my closest friends here have moved away in the last few years, and even things like blogging not being what it was, and these last couple of years have been a season of intense loneliness. Not just as a single person, but as a person who can't seem to find community. Now, for those of you who would like to comment on how I can fix things, please don't. If you're convinced that you obviously know how to do things better because things are working out for you, know that I am happy you don't have to deal with this, but I can about promise that kind of "help" will not be helpful in the slightest. Of course I have activities in church and in the community that I try to be involved in, of course I go to things where I can meet new people, of course I've tried the online dating thing at different times and on different platforms. Of course I try to reach out to other people in need. Could I do better? Sure. I'll keep working on that. But while I respect and appreciate your desire to help, I don't need you to help. Believe me, I know it's work for everyone and not just single people. Having gone through seasons where I have had great community, I do know how to build that, but it is partly about what you do and partly about how the circumstances are working out at the time. If you want to help, just listen. That's all I ask. Listen by reading this post, sure. Listen to people in your life that are hurting and just need someone to be with them where they are.

Anyway. The point being is that this whole thing about singleness has just gotten worse. I am no longer at a point where I try to say, "here's what my life is, let me try to get the best I can out of my circumstances". I have no strength left for that. I'm tired. I can't do it alone. We aren't meant to be alone. (Again, not strictly meaning that marriage is the only answer for this; community and family- broadly speaking, not just blood relatives- are a huge part of the answer. I will go so far as to say that even if I met the perfect guy this weekend, that without that kind of community and family, I would still have some of the same problems. Know how I know? Because a lot of married people do have some of those same problems with loneliness.)

In my desire to not be pathetic, I avoid the uncomfortable topic of how awful it is at times to be single; to come home to an empty house, to sometimes spend holidays or parts of holidays alone when family is too far away, to be sick and have to balance whether it's safe to drive to get food when you don't have any, and on and on. (Okay, I don't avoid that here. Here I talk about it ad nauseum. So sorry! When I avoid it in most parts of my life it comes spilling out somewhere.) I don't want to be seen with pity and have people start asking me how many cats I plan to get. On the other hand, I think that bottling it all up is what makes the crazy cat ladies crazy! My opinion is that singleness sucks, in an objective sense. Obviously, my views are not objective, but returning to the statement: It is not good for man to be alone, I think that we have to acknowledge the truth of that. 

Now, what does that mean when there is this God, who is supposedly all good. Supposedly all powerful. Supposedly all loving. How would He call someone to marriage or children (or fill in the blank to any other of the bad things that happen- death, disease, tragedy) and let it not turn out. Seriously, we all have something of a prosperity gospel view, because we all assume that eventually it will somehow work out. If nothing else, we will eventually accept our fate and find the good in it. Right? Well, I can't speak to the eventualities of the coming decades, but I can tell you this. I am not used to being single. I think I hate it more every day. I think it gets harder every year. And I know that does not necessarily mean that God will swoop in and grant me the perfect life partner tomorrow. And I know that God is all good, all powerful, and all loving. This is the grace in the last few months that I barely know how to explain. How can I describe how I seriously just can't even; plodding through the days and the nights are difficult and sometimes seem impossible. Going to Mass is not exactly a joy. It's work to get myself to confession, and I'm failing on the Adoration front. I do pray, but I can't speak to the quality of said prayer. I go through my days, and there is good and there is hard. There is numb, which I hate, and pain that is at least better than numb. Yet, under it all there is no question that God is good, powerful, loving.

I do feel that if God were to allow my vocation to marriage to be fulfilled, I would perhaps be able to serve Him better. I feel that without someone close in my life I become sometimes more selfish and less loving. I feel that I need someone to challenge me and help me; and I need to have someone in my life that I can help. I would like so much to get more involved with other people around me, but some of it is not only not easy to do as a single woman, some would be inadvisable and not particularly safe. Perhaps that's all pie in the sky, but I ask those of you in a relationship; how much of what you do, do you think you could do without the support of your spouse? 

Even though this post is already far too long, I feel like I'm cheating some of the nuances of what I mean, but the gist is this. I think being single when called to marriage is objectively bad. Just like bad health, death, disaster, and a whole host of other things are objectively bad. In a fallen world, they happen. They happen and there is not always an answer, there is not always a cure, even for those that love God the most. I do not think that God actively wills these things for our lives. He could not be all good if He did. But I do think that in the context of a broken world, He does will to permit these things, not because they are good in and of themselves, but because of the good that He can bring out of them. In the last few months, I have realized that I don't have the strength to make the best of this situation. I can't figure out the why of it all, and I certainly don't have a clue how to go on or what will happen in my life. But I also can't quite describe the grace of being helpless and being beyond the ability to persevere or do things the "right way". Because God is still there, and you realize even more how much it was all grace, how this right now is grace, and how whatever comes of this in the future is grace. 

WAY  back up at the top with that quote from St. Francis (which sums it up; you could've stopped reading then if only you had known!), that helped me to see some of that balance today. It's okay to recognize that this is not the optimal thing, but you also have to accept wherever God wants to lead. And, thankfully, (because it is entirely beyond me right now) there is the grace there to pray for the change and to accept the lack there of. And I love that thought of allowing that pain to become part of the prayer.

Blessed be God.

*As a female, I focus on the moms, because that's what I would be if I had children.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

My Two Cents

So, there's an election coming up in a few months. You may have heard something about it, just a few thoughts and opinions. Do vote for this person, don't vote for that person, or my favorite and the one that's most personal to me: don't waste your vote!

Here's my opinion to add to the mix. To me, a wasted vote is a vote that you didn't show up for. It's a vote for Donald Duck or Pedro (though believe me, I've been tempted!) Showing up to vote for a real person, and especially one that's actually on the ballot is NOT a wasted vote! Personally? I can't get behind the platforms of either of the two major parties right now, and let's not even get started on their candidates. I haven't been able to for a while, and this election is bringing that to the forefront even more. I am well aware of some of the reasons that I should think about doing that anyway, but to be honest, I'm not sure that I can. This isn't about personal distaste or dislike, it's about candidates that are fundamentally opposed in various ways to truths that I hold dear.

I have been hearing lately that we HAVE to vote for one particular candidate because the other candidate is so bad. That reasoning is okay by me. Given the situation, I think it's something that we absolutely have to consider. (I'm not leaving out names to be coy, I've heard the arguments in both directions.) What I am not okay with is the fear mongering that is starting to happen along with those arguments. You know the ones, where the opposite candidate is terrible and will destroy the nation. If you haven't noticed, I think either one has a decent potential of doing that. The other thing that will turn me off faster than anything from whatever point you want to make is when you try to justify your particular candidate's misdeeds. NOT okay. Both candidates have done some absolutely inexcusable things. One particular candidate is not merely some "opinionated person that says it like it is." No, no, no. He may say it how he sees it, but that's what scares me. If you tell me, "Yes, this candidate has done this, that and the other that is wrong, and it is a detestable choice, but here's why I may have to consider for voting for them anyway," I will listen to you.  The minute you try to say that some of the things that they have done is okay and even possibly a good thing in some ways, I will stop listening immediately.

What I want to say to all voters is simply that first and foremost, get out there and vote. This is too important not to. Second, do not be afraid! Do not cast a vote based on fear, but based in what you believe to be the right way to vote. Study the issues and ALL the candidates and speak out with your vote. I do think 3rd party votes matter, because if we absolutely have issues with 2 parties, we need to let them know that we are looking for change. However, I also understand that the 3rd party is not likely to win, and that's an important situation to consider as well. (Though this article is FANTASTIC and definitely some important things to think about, especially the last couple of paragraphs.) Those of faith also need to add in some serious prayer. And please be charitable towards others who feel that they absolutely have to vote differently than you are! There is a lot to consider this election and I don't think there's a "good" or obvious option here, so people can only go based on what they feel is best.