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.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

After 12 Weeks...

Been a while! I'm honestly not sure that anyone will read this, but I'm going to write it. Minimizing this blog for a few weeks was really helpful to me. It helped me to see that this little space still has a part for me. This is just a good place for me to think through certain things that I can't really bring up in other places. I am not promising regular posts or anything crazy like that, but I am not ready to give up this space.

I will say, however, that I was reminded immediately one of the reasons that I had trouble writing posts even before taking a break. I don't know if it's Blogger, or my internet or my computer or what, but getting on here can be a ridiculous undertaking sometimes! It'll take forever to load, if it ever does. It doesn't like to save my draft if I finally do get on here, and it's very difficult to get pictures loaded. In general, sometimes it will take so long that if I have a few minutes to type out a few thoughts, those minutes will be rapidly eaten by glitches in the system.

Anyway, if the silly site will let me, I will still try to blog occasionally. I'm still going to keep my hiking blog (which would also be updated more if Blogger wasn't such a pain in the butt!). I did like switching to my email being forwarded and following blogs through my other email. It means that I only have to log into this one if I actually want to blog. And it allowed me to weed out blogs that I am no longer following. I would be better about following and reading, but see above for issues with Blogger loading! Hopefully, I will be able to do a little catch up soon.

Other than that, I am just sitting here trying to recover from a crazy backpacking trip. My mosquito bites are making me crazy! I have a topical cream to help with the itching and it kind of does, but then they just start itching all over again. I hate it!  Okay, more later. Just because I am behind, what am I missing? What have you been up to?

***
Grr! Just to cement my frustrations, after clicking "publish" 10+ times, it refuses to actually publish! This is why I rarely blog anymore!

Friday, April 22, 2016

7 Quick Takes

1) It's been a LONG time since I've done one of these, but I've tried writing several posts in the last few weeks and then I get into too many tangents. Therefore it seemed like a post that is basically tangents was the perfect format for today! I don't have a lot of time at this moment, but hopefully will have a chance to come back and link up properly later.

2) There are things about adulting that I am not a fan of, but today I decided to have seasoned sweet potato waffle fries for breakfast because I wanted to and I found a kombucha that tastes like Dr. Pe.pper. Adulting has its moments!

3) I am getting really excited for this minimalist course that I'm taking. De-cluttering, simplifying, whatever you want to say. This interview (with the person that has designed the course) has a quote that sums it up perfectly:  I want people to know that they were designed to accomplish more significant things than filling a big house with a lot of stuff.

I have to admit that there are times that I have felt like a bit of a failure because how is it that I've been in the "real world" so long and am still so far from some of the trappings that we seem to see as necessary. I know it's ridiculous, but I feel that way sometimes. This whole idea is just freedom not to worry about any of that and define my life by what fits for me.

4) In other news, here's how simplifying worked out for me yesterday. I had a plumber coming over to the house in the morning. First, I did some reading. One book sucked me in, so I read more than I intended to. Then I made myself a nice breakfast, while leisurely watching a show. Then I finally got around to cleaning the house. It took about 40 minutes, including doing my dishes and putting away my laundry (which I use as a way of increasing the amount of movement in my life, so it took me a while as I put things away one at a time and included ducking under a barrier- yes, I'm a huge nerd.) Then my house was cleaner than it used to be after an hour and a half of cleaning, and I made lunch and then went for a walk. I was going to go for an hour, but it was a beautiful day and I couldn't make the argument that my other things on the to do list where THAT important, so I went for 3 instead.

No, my life is not nearly this relaxed all the time, but I'm noticing a few more hours and days where I feel able to make some of those decisions. I know it looks differently when you have a family and especially with kids, but I think extra time for playing with kids instead of dealing with the accumulation of stuff is even more of a benefit.

5) Okay, I really have to hurry now. In case I haven't said it enough on here, BAREFOOT IS AWESOME!! I'm working on doing that more and more outside and I LOVE it. I stick to trails, though. Dirt, mud, rocks are pretty nice. Asphalt is much less exciting.

6) Joining in the Mary, Undoer of Knots novena (starts today if you're interested). I am praying about work and living situations for myself, as well as continued learning to surrender it all and trust in God (need to do a post about everything I've been learning there!), but also for all those feeling alone and not part of a family. Pope Francis had an awesome tweet about that:

To form a family is to be a part of God’s dream, to join him in building a world where no one will feel alone.

I feel like that includes both the most obvious way, but also to form family in community as well. No one, single, divorced, widowed, infertile, and all the other things that can tear down the dreams of the "normal" family is excluded. And even when you do have the stereotypical "ideal" family, we are not immune to loneliness when we don't have that family in community as well.

7) Gotta run! Pretty flowers for your weekend! Have a great one!


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Gift of the Moment

I've been a little frustrated with myself and some of my past choices. Why didn't I do better? Why do I keep making mistakes? And what do I do about some current problems? It seems so overwhelming at times.

And yet.


I love sentiments like these.  Cliché as they may be, I can get pulled in every time. Whatever mistakes I've made in the past, they are past. Whatever things I've repeatedly made mistakes doing, they don't define me. I do not need to be concerned that I am not yet where I should be. Of course I'm not, it is not the nature of living on this earth to have it all in order and all figured out. It is a journey that starts here and now. Moving forward from here.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Taking It Too Far...

I realized today that maybe I'm taking minimalism a little too far.


Okay, I didn't really try to minimize the stuff in my fridge, this just happens to me on a semi regular basis (as those of you on FB already know). Being single, and with food issues, I have to try to plan my meals so that I can use everything up within a few days. I have to try to stick with meats and fruits and vegetables, and if I get too much in advance, I throw a LOT out. I can't afford that. Plus, I eat a lot. Food in my house doesn't stick around long, so I make frequent trips to the grocery store. It's always a good opportunity to take two minutes and clean the refrigerator!

Now, just because people get a little worried when I show them what happens sometimes, here it is after my trip to the store:


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

That Day Wherein I Reflect

Admittedly, that title is a little off, because I'm an introvert and reflect on a lot of different days. However, April 5th has become a special wake up call to me to look at where I am and where I am going. (Just like New Year's. And my birthday. Etc.) Most of you have heard it all before, so you can skip if you like.

April 5th six years ago was the day that my life took a sudden and dramatic turn. I woke up with plans to see a friend and hang out. I did not have any notion that I would make significant changes in my life's direction. The plans fell through, and I had a ridiculous reaction to that, which made me consider why. The "why" was that everything in my life that seemed to be working was no longer working.  My job, my friends, my church were all changing with seasons in life, and those were the things that were holding me where I was. There was a sudden dawning that this may be it... This may be the time to consider moving to Colorado.

Looking back, it doesn't sound that dramatic, but in that moment, it felt a little like the world was shifting on its axis. I figured that I would stay where I was, and in my current job indefinitely. That idea occurred to me and I did a quick job search where I found my new job within about 5 minutes (though of course I didn't know that it was my new job at the time). Five minutes that started me in a whole different and unconsidered direction. Five minutes where I turned from the path that seemed straight for the foreseeable future onto a whole new path and I had no idea where it would lead. I seriously didn't. The things that I have experienced, the personal and professional growth in the last 6 years are something that I never could have conceived of in that 5 minutes.

It hasn't been easy. There are certainly drawbacks to living so far from my family. I miss my friends from back there. Things are not perfect out here. I have no regrets, however, to grabbing hold of the crazy train and jumping on board. I didn't know that day where I would end up. I figured I would pursue the idea until it actually happened, or until it became clear that there was a red light. After greens all the way, here I am. I didn't know that there was an adventurer, a climber, a cyclist, a competitor, an outdoor enthusiast, and a photographer wannabe in me, but it turns out that they are essential to who I am. I'm glad I got a chance to discover that! I didn't know that there was such a drive in me to push beyond the constraints of the boxes imposed by insurance and short-thinking healthcare options. I love how I've developed professionally, and I hope that I can still continue to grow in ways that lead to better movement and real healthcare in my little area of the world and beyond.

I can't guess (nor do I want to!) where life will lead from day to day. I do know that I want to take some time and more formally explore what I want from life. I saw an assignment to write a mission statement, and I will probably try to take that on. It's not something that helps you plan out the details in life, because that's impossible. However, having a clear idea of where you'd like to end up, broadly speaking, helps determine how you deal with the many various things that life brings your way.