Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Next Leg

I would like to tell you about graduating from grad school.   I figured that since I was still single, I would take full advantage of it, find a different region of the country and experience some different things.  That did not happen.  Much to my surprise, I found myself back in the state where I grew up.  I didn't know why, but God had a plan.

When I first moved back, I knew a couple people in the area, but I was mostly on my own. I started getting involved in several things right away, but it was still a lonely time.  I really questioned my vocation, but ended up with peace that I was still being called to marriage, even though the prospects were starting to look slimmer and slimmer.

My loneliness, free time, and desire to be married led to me spending time studying more about my faith.  In particular, it led me to studying Theology of the Body.  I cannot believe that I have only started to get familiar with this in the last 3 years.  It's life changing. It started with a DVD presentation at church, then one book here and another there. Once you start, you can't stop.  It's AMAZING.

My reasons for wanting to get married started to change.  I think that the same desires were still there, but more was added to that.  I desired to give myself to a husband and children, to be married not only for what it gave me, but also for what I could bring to it.  I wanted to live out my femininity with life giving love (both physically and spiritually).

I could go on and on about what TOB has meant to me (and I have in other posts!), but suffice it to say that I am so glad that I was single long enough to really have a desire and a hunger to learn what TOB was teaching.  I know you can learn it at any time and stage of life, but this is the time that God used for me.

I Can't Seem to Stop

I shouldn't post today.  If I don't post, I will average one post a day for the last month.  It's a lot, but not as excessive as it could be.  It could be more.  I have recently been struck by an acute case of blogorrhea.  I have so much to say right now.  I have four or five drafts from the last week or so that I could publish, but I had to draw the line somewhere.  I also have another 4 or 5 ideas that I can't wait to write about.  I don't know that it's all that interesting to anyone else, but it's kind of like cheap therapy.   

I don't know why it is. I find some things very easy to talk about, and I probably bore my friends and family to tears with those things, and still have more to say here.  Then there are the other things.  You know.  Things like feelings and brokenness and not being in control. Sometimes I have something inside that I would really like to talk about, but I can't seem to spit it out. I have friends that are ready and willing to be there for me the second I ask, but somehow I find it easier to bottle it up instead.  If I am going to talk instead of bottling it up, the conditions have to be just right.  First, it has to simmer a little.  I can't simply rush into it.  I can't force an opening for it, either, there has to be at least some flow in the conversation that opens it up to that.  My brain will tell my mouth to talk, but my mouth won't go until the conditions are met.  

And then there's blogging.  I can't seem to shut up.  What is my problem?  


Wait. Don't answer that.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Layover

Yes, I'm still on this.  Check back later.  Some day there will be something else, I promise.  

Grad school was interesting, to say the least.  Mostly it was a matter of trying to survive.  I wanted to find someone, but not as much as one of my other roommates.  I was too busy trying not to flunk the group projects, keep track of my rats (research- I didn't have a choice) and spending too much time with my other roommate in our ongoing foosball competition to get too caught up in the state of my singleness.  I know I still wanted to get married, but that was about it.  I was kind of grateful that I wasn't trying to fit a man in around the rest of the insanity.  They were kind of lonely years in a way.  I had some great friends, but I missed the bubble of Christian friends from college.  Most of my friends didn't seem too concerned about God.

There were a number of people, including one of my roomies, that were Catholic, but didn't really go to church or try to follow God.  My former roomie is one of my favorite people, by the way, but though we both classified ourselves as Catholic, we didn't have a ton in common when it came to faith.

I guess if anything it confirmed for me that while I wanted a Catholic husband, I didn't want a husband that grew up with it, but it had very little meaning in his life.

I was also thankful that I wasn't married yet when it came time to go on internships.  I got one in Colorado.  I wouldn't have tried for it if I was leaving someone behind, but it was one of the best two and a half months of my life.  Can you get homesick for a place that you only lived in for a couple of months?  I love the mountains and I still miss them.  Especially this time of year when I could get back to hiking.  I think I belong in a world where you look at the mountains on your way home from work and you go hiking at least 3 out of every 4 weekends in the summer.  And I'm convinced that the only clouds in heaven are the ones hovering around the tops of the mountains there.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Gaining Altitude

As you can see, I like series.  I would write about everything I wanted to say in one post only, but I don't think anyone could handle reading it, so we take it a little at a time.

The next time that I stands out in my single life is my senior year of college.  I'm about 22 at that point, and still single.  There are more and more of my friends that are dating seriously and a few that are starting to get married.  There are about an equal number of people that are preparing weddings and those that are starting grad school.  I was in good company.

My reasons for wanting to be married were still exactly the same as they were 4 years ago, but my qualifications had begun to change a little.  During the time that I was at college, I had made a number of wonderful Christian friends, but met very few fellow Catholics, at least very few Catholics that were sold out for God.  I loved those friends, but I was always a little apart from them.  I'm sure that had nothing whatever to do with my introverted personality! :) But I also think that a large part of it came from a very real separation that we had between us.  They were not Catholic and I was.  This meant that I went to church by myself.  They went to their services together, and would often do stuff together afterwards.  This gave them bonding time that I could not share.  

I will never forget one instance in particular.  There was a retreat for the religious group on campus, and I was a member.  I went, and we had a great time playing games, hanging out, singing praise and worship songs and the whole bit.  Then we came to a communion service.  I had not known that there was going to be one.  Our college chaplain gave a wonderful sermon about the bonds of friendship and the way that the Lord's Supper confirmed and sealed those bonds, signifying our unity.  My heart was like a rock in my chest.  I could not join in communion with these people that had come to mean so much to me.  The pain of disunity in the Body of Christ had never been so immediate for me before.  I know that there are those that would have said that it didn't matter that much and I should have received anyway.  It does matter.  We are not in complete unity, therefore to receive communion would be to lie and add on top of the disunity.  Believe me, I have been praying a lot harder for unity among Christians since that time.

My senior year, I also remember that I was studying something about the Eucharist.  I got really excited, but I didn't have anyone to share it with.  I was bursting so bad that I attempted to tell my roommate (Christian, not Catholic) a little about it.  Of course, I couldn't get in to the full depth of it, since she didn't believe in transubstantiation, but I tried to at least get at the points that we agree on.  She was very sweet, and listened politely, but was clearly not that interested.

All of these things combined to help me form the opinion that I really wanted to find a man that was Catholic.  I hope that it is clear that I don't mean to say that Catholics are better Christians than non-Catholics.  In fact, my experience in college was probably the opposite.  However, I could no longer imagine living out that separation in my own home.  I was also very impressed by a lot of the Christian guys that I met, and I knew that they needed to be the spiritual head of the home.  I could no longer see how that can happen in the case that a man goes to one church and his family goes to another.  Finally, I get so excited about the Church; the history of it, the Church fathers, the Eucharist and the sacraments, the way the teachings and Scripture fit together, Theology of the Body, and on and on.  It is so much a part of me, that I cannot imagine trying to share my life with someone that could not share this part of me.

I know many mixed marriages that have gone very well (my parents and my brother to name two, though my dad became Catholic around the time that I was born).  I would also far prefer a non-Catholic that was on fire for God than a lukewarm Catholic any day.  However, when I was a freshman I didn't think that it mattered a great deal.  By the time I was a senior, I knew otherwise.

Departure

I recently went to an awards ceremony for a group of high school seniors, and I was surprised to realize that it has been 10 years since I graduated.  Many things have gone as I planned, the big ones being going to college and finishing, followed by going to grad school and finishing.  On the other hand, I also thought that I would be married by now, have a few kids, be working on a mortgage payment by now.  You know, the white picket fence and whatnot.

Anyway, I sat at that ceremony and wondered what these kids were hoping for and dreaming about.  I wondered where they would be in 10 years, and what life had in store for each of them.  That also made me think about where I was 10 years ago, and how the desires of my heart had changed while they stayed the same.

I thought about when I was 18 and graduating from high school and headed into college.  I was there for school, but I certainly thought about the meat market.  My parents had met in college, so I assumed that all I had to do was go to college, and I would eventually meet The One.  At that time, I would say that I had a more balanced view of marriage than a lot of people did. I had a lot of great examples in my life; my parents were married 20 years at the time, and my grandparents over 40.  I thought I had it all figured out, because I knew that relationships were hard work and commitment, so I was prepared.

I wanted to meet someone that would love me, that would provide companionship, that I could laugh and cry with, that would go on dates and do fun stuff with me.  My faith was very important, so the main requirement was that he had a strong faith in God.  I preferred a Catholic, but I didn't really care, as long as he loved God.  I did want someone that would not have a problem with me being Catholic, or the kids being Catholic.

At the time, I thought I really needed someone, but I was also distracted by all the fun that is college life and meeting new people.  I wished for a boyfriend, but I knew I wasn't ready to be married yet anyway so it wasn't too bad to wait.  Let's not mention that to the 18-year-old me.  She probably won't listen or agree.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Note About Pain Scales

Here's a little education, free of charge.  You're welcome. If a healthcare provider asks you to rate your pain on a 0-10 scale DO NOT say "12".  I used to tell people to rate their pain 0-10, if zero means no pain at all, and 10 is the "worst pain you can imagine."  Turns out that people have no imagination whatsoever.  I got lots of 10's, and more 12's and 15's than you could shake a stick at.

Given that they can't imagine even the pain that they have, I have started asking it differently.  I now tell them that 10 means "you need to go to the emergency room right now."  Since most people are nowhere near needing the emergency room, this slows them down and I get more realistic answers most of the time.  Yet, some people insist on telling me that their current pain is 10.  I have a very hard time believing them when they are sitting fairly comfortably in the chair in front of me.

And there are some people that still think that they need to impress on me the immediacy and magnitude of their pain, and they insist on telling me that their pain is "12/10".  So far, I have managed to resist the urge to slam down my chart, roll my eyes, and sarcastically excuse myself to go call the ambulance for them.  All they end up impressing on me is their fantastically low pain tolerance. 

 If you want me to take you seriously, give me a 6-7/10 and I might believe you.  Especially if I can start to see it in your eyes.  That's a lot of pain.  In order to be a credible 8-9/10, you probably are not able to sit comfortably in your chair or walk in normally.  And some people legitimately are a 10/10, and I have sent a person or two from my clinic to the hospital, though we don't typically have to call the ambulance.  So if you really need to go to the hospital I want to hear it.

By the way, I hope you never have to see the inside of an ambulance.  But if you do, you need to remember the pain scale changes.  Then 10 is the worst pain that you can imagine, and you better kick the imagination into gear.  If you complain of 7/10 pain and you are not writhing and pale, they will roll their eyes while they strap you down and take you in.  Luckily, I don't have first hand experience of this. But an EMT and I did get into a discussion on this once, and he didn't have any more tolerance for it than I do.

The Other Passengers

Sadly, the idea of a holding pattern, along with some nostalgia about the fact that it has been 10 years since my graduation has led to a cheezy metaphor that you will now have to suffer through for the next several days.  Umm, assuming you keep reading!

I was going to wait to tell you about my friends.  I have a chronological sequence that I want to go through, but I can't wait to mention them.  The reason is that today is anniversary of sorts.  Four years ago today, I was one of three roommates living out in Colorado.  All of us were cradle Catholics, but I went to church by myself each week.  They did a lot of stuff together, but I often did my own thing.  I wasn't trying to be anti-social, but they wanted to go bar hopping in Denver and I wanted to go hiking in the mountains.  I don't always have to have my own way, but there is no possible way that I am giving up hiking so that I can hang around the bars.

Anyway, a couple of months ago I found a random journal entry at a time that I wrote journal entries very sporadically (years between entries).  In it, I was talking about how I was on the outside of this group of roomies, and that I didn't really have anyone that I was really close to.  That entry was dated 05/27/05. By January, God had answered my unspoken prayer for close friends.  He answered with an abundance that I still can't believe some days.

I really, really don't have the words to tell you what they mean to me.*  All I can say is that I am so grateful for them.  They were worth the wait.  I appreciate having so many Christian friends that were not Catholic and so many Catholic friends that were not particularly Christian and friends with no particular faith in anything.  Yet, those differences in our beliefs make me appreciate these friends even more. (Again, not that Catholics are better than anyone else, but because there was finally someone that understood where I was coming from.)

I wouldn't have come to know them so well if I hadn't been single.  In this case, the singleness thing was well worth it!

*I tried to put it in words once, before I had a blog.  A friend posted it here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Too Cool for Skool

Today I went to work in dark brown shoes and white dress socks.  Now, I know you think that's a bit nerdy, but that's only because you aren't thinking like us trendsetters.  I'm so cool that the fact that I wore that today will mean that it's cool for everyone to wear it.

Or it means that I should do laundry.  Take your pick.

Holding Pattern

I was reading something this morning about how sometimes life gets put on a holding pattern.  You've traveled however many hours on the plane, you're cramped and ready to burst off the plane after sitting in one position for so long.  The tray table is up, your activities are stowed beneath the seat in front of you.  You're there.  You are at your destination.  

And you start flying in circles.  Often for no apparent reason.  Sometimes you are informed of the reason for the delay, but often you are not.  There is nothing more frustrating than that seemingly inexplicable wait.  The logical part of you knows that you would much rather wait for other planes to take off or land or the runway to be cleared, or whatever else needs to happen.  You do want to arrive safely, and you know that air traffic control is not making you wait for the fun of it.  Unfortunately, logic doesn't always drive our emotion.  In my case, logic rarely drives my emotion.  So even when I know that there is a reason that I can't see, I don't care.  I want the holding pattern to stop, and I want off the plane.  Now, please.

My life feels like it's in a holding pattern.  It's not really a matter of being single or dating or married, though that is certainly a part of it.  I feel like I'm circling something, but just hanging out waiting, not able to take the next step until the plane lands.

I also don't know what destination the airport is, and I won't until I land. Can't wait to find out, I guess.

Monday, May 25, 2009

More on TOB

When Christopher West did his interview I posted the link to it.  I will say again as I did before that I think that it was a good interview.  However, there were a couple of things that were said that were technically true but out of context due to the short period of time and the possibility that ABC was sensationalizing things a bit.  (They skewed it a bit.  It's radically more sensational than what they were saying, they just interpreted through the current world view.  If you truly want to understand the sensation, you have to flip that world view on its head and look at things in a whole new way.)  Here are a couple of clarifications and points of reference to broaden the view and bring things back into better context.

Memorial Day

Dear Grandpa,
I don't know just what to say or exactly where to start, so I'll start with this. I miss you. It's been 15 years since you died, and I miss you more now than I did then. When you died, I was only 11. We didn't live very close, so I only got to see you around Christmas and the summer, usually. I don't remember much about those trips, other than playing in the park, or with my cousins in the church basement. I remember that you were there, but that's about all. I don't remember any conversations that we may have had or things that you said. I wasn't old enough to really appreciate your sense of humor, but everyone says you were full of it...uh, humor, that is.  

Therefore, most of what I know is not what I remember, but what I have learned about you from others. The stories that I have heard are too few and far between, but they are enough to know some of the important things about who you are. I know that you are quiet and soft-spoken and that when you told a joke, it was often delivered in such a way that it took a moment for it to register. I know that you suffered from a devastating illness, but you rarely complained. And I know that your faith was the most important thing in your life, and then your family. 

I know certain facts about you. I know that you lived most of your life in a small town in the Midwest. I know that you fought in World War II in the Pacific. I know that your mother had a stroke and was bedfast for several years before she died, but that like you, she didn't complain. I know that you and Grandma got to know each other mostly through letters. If I remember correctly, a mutual friend passed on your respective addresses to each other. You were married out West, and came home to raise three kids. I know that you lived on the family farm, and raised cows. You also worked in the factory at Centerville making church furniture. You never had much money, but everyone was always fed and clothed. I also know that you enjoyed taking everyone on family vacations. Dad has mentioned trips to the Rockies, to Yellowstone and the Black Hills. I think that he said you didn't plan much, because then you could stop and see whatever point of interest presented itself. Every year you went to the "Biblesta" Parade in a nearby town, and really enjoyed seeing the Bible celebrated and honored in that way. I also know that every Memorial Day you were a big part of the town's celebration to honor and remember the veterans. 

I know a couple of family anecdotes. There is a favorite story in the family about the time that someone called the house looking for Grandma. The caller asked for the the second in command. You replied, 'Speaking.' I have also heard a story that when you were little, some sparks came out of the chimney and landed on the roof of the house. You walked out to where your parents were in the barn and calmly mentioned that the house was on fire, sending them in a panicked dash for the house. When you were working at the furniture factory, a church once asked for a cross to be made, but they wanted one that was rough, like what Jesus had. You put a lot of time into that one, carefully scarring it and chipping at the wood. I wish I knew where that church was that has that cross, because I know that you considered it one of the most important things that you made. The quote that I have heard is that you said 'My most important work of construction was a work of destruction.' Those are the stories that I remember hearing. I don't know if I have all the facts straight, but that's as close as I can come.  

There are some things that I don't know. I don't know exactly what your response was when my aunt joined the Church of the Latter Day Saints or when Dad became a Catholic. I don't know, but I have a guess. My guess is that your main concern was that your family grow closer to God, whatever church they may join. I think this, because it is what I have witnessed at all of our family gatherings. We know that our beliefs aren't exactly the same, but when we get together, that isn't what matters. What matters is our faith in God and the love of each other.  

Most of what I know is through the stories of others, but I do have two particular memories of you to call my own. One is a trip where you and Grandma came up to Iowa to visit, probably when one of my sisters was born. I remember running into the dining room and seeing you sitting at the table reading the Bible. I don't remember if either of us said anything at the time, but I know that it made a huge impression on me. I was so impressed that the Bible was so important that you would make a special point to read it every day, and that you would even pack it and bring it with you on trips to read it. I have come to treasure God's Word, and that memory plays such a large role in what the Bible has come to mean to me. I think of you every time I pack my Bible when I'm going on a trip. 

The other thing that I remember is one Christmas at the Community Center in Centerville. Again, I don't specifically remember any words that were said, but I know that I was coming up to give you a hug in greeting. I just remember the look on your face and the love in your eyes. At the time, I think that I ran off to go play with my cousins; I don't think that I really recognized what I saw, but I still remember it.  

I wish that I could talk with you now. I want to have a conversation with you and get to know you myself. I wish I could experience your particular brand of humor first hand. Still, if I could only have two brief memories, I don't think that I could pick a better legacy. It's so fitting that I don't remember any spoken words when everyone said that you were such a quiet man, and what I do remember about you is your love of God and of family. I thank God for you, Grandpa, and I love you.

Three Day Weekend!

I'm almost delirious with this extra day off!  It was so wonderful to wake up this morning (late!) and not have to go to work.  It is true that I have to go back to work tomorrow, but then there will only be 4 days before the next weekend.

There are so many possibilities of what to do today: clean, cook some real food, work out, maybe see some friends later, read.  Of course, I'm on the couch in my computer in my pj's getting nowhere fast.  Gotta love the day off.

Friday, May 22, 2009

And Now for Something Completely Different

One day in my kinesiology (body mechanics) class, my rather stoic professor told us that he had some more gait patterns for us to analyze.  Then, with a straight face, he played this:


I'm Tired

This is not the best post to start a holiday weekend with.  So really it wouldn't hurt you to skip it, at least until Tuesday.  It should go well with the extra hard case of the "Mondays" that follows a three day weekend.  Actually, unless you find Eeyore uplifting and enjoyable, you should just skip it all together.  It's not something that you really need to read.  It's something that I need to write.  Maybe if I get it all out there, then I can stop carrying it around with me.

I'm tired.
I'm tired of eating alone.
I'm tired of going stag.
I'm tired of slapping my face to stay awake on long drives because I have no one to talk to.
I'm tired of complaining all the time (sorry, friends!).
I'm tired of facing weekend after weekend alone.
I'm tired of getting annoyed with people who complain about how hard it is to plan a wedding, buy a house, or be pregnant. (Sorry folks!  I know those things are stressful and difficult, but you're getting married, buying a home for your family, and having children.  I can't muster up much sympathy right now.)
I'm tired of seemingly innocuous words, phrases and gestures hitting with the force of a physical blow.  And I'm very tired of the way that makes me cry on my way home from an otherwise very good time more often than I would like to admit.
I'm tired of trying to convince myself that it'll be okay.
I'm tired of other people trying to convince me that it'll be okay (though I appreciate the thought behind it.)
I'm tired of the way that I like to drown myself in self pity, when there are so many people with much bigger problems.
I'm tired of the way my heart aches, and it never goes away.  Some things take the edge off for a little while, but that's it.
I want so much to be the single person that makes the most of this time in my life, but I'm tired of making the most of every moment.  I don't want to anymore.
Please, God, make it stop. Please.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

In the Presence of Love

I went to adoration last night (prayer in front of the Eucharist).



I have no words.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

In the Spirit of Mac vs. PC

There are more of these at YouTube.  I liked them a lot.  And yes, I've had another very productive weekend, thanks for asking.


My Venture into Morels

It is that time of year again: mushroom hunting season.  I've never been mushroom hunting, but I vaguely know some people get pretty worked up about it. The only two mushroom types that exist in my head are "regular" and "portobello".  I was reminded that this is not reality when I was reminded by some 'shroomers that there are also morels.  One even showed me his mushroom stick with a morel carved on it, and laughed when I didn't know what it was.

It's a good thing he showed me, though. When I went to the Farmer's Market this weekend, I immediately recognized the strange, spongy looking fungus that was selling for its weight in gold. One of the sellers laughed and said the price was to compensate for all the time they spent picking off ticks afterwards.  Umm, yuck

Well, by this time, my curiosity was climbing.  What is so special about these stinking mushrooms?  So I found the smallest portion that they were selling and bought myself some morels. I got home and went straight to the internet to try to figure out what the heck to do with them.

One recipe mentioned that you should cut the mushroom in quarters lengthwise and soak them in cold saltwater for a while to kill any critters.  Another place said that the morels will soak up the salt and kill some of the natural flavors, so you should just rinse them with water.  I glanced at them, and I didn't see anything that concerned me, but I prepared some salt water anyway.  I like my food critter free.

I cut the first one in fourths and plopped it in the water.  I grabbed the second one, cut it open, and an entire colony of ants hit the counter! They went everywhere!  My thoughts also went everywhere: "Holy lot of ants!" "Make 'em stop! Make 'em stop!"  "Whaddo I do now?!" "Whoa those boogers are fast!" "Oh. My. Goodness."  But all that came out as I hopped up and down was: "EwEwEwEw".  Oh, stop judging me.  It was highly unexpected, since I figured "critters" might involve one or two insects that I may or may not see.  

After killing as many of the ants as I could and sending the rest down the drain, I finished my cutting (checking inside a little more carefully).  No more surprises besides one tiny spider about the size of a dust speck.  I got them all in the water and added a little more salt, just to be sure.

This evening I fried them up with eggs according to a simple recipe I found.  They were pretty tasty, but I can't say that they were so good as to generate all the fuss. Maybe after you've had them a few times you develop are real taste for them?  That, or maybe I need to skip the salt water next time.




Gotcha! I crack myself up. If there is a next time, brine will be involved.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Dear World: You Don't Value Sex Enough

I know this seems like a contradiction with my previous post's title, but I'm going to stick to my guns and say that this title is every bit as accurate as that one. Welcome to paradox!

We have been desperately trying to make sex the answer to the desires of our heart, to fill the gaping wound in us that is crying out for healing, for meaning, for purpose.  Yet, it doesn't work.  So we decide that the reason it doesn't work is that it isn't free enough or available enough, so we rip it loose from its context and start stretching it thinner and thinner to cover all the bases.  If one definition doesn't work, we widen the definition.  Then we tear sex into little pieces so that we can distribute it to everyone. If sex defines worth, then everyone needs to be able to get some. 

Therefore, in making sex the answer, we devalue it greatly. When we mash the mess back into our equation as a variable, the equation still doesn't balance to give us love. We have distorted sex so badly and devalued it so much that we no longer know what it is.  A very concrete example of this was a friend of mine who had a lengthy discussion trying to determine the definition of sex. They were unable to pin down any conclusions.

I hated algebra.  Not as much as I hated calculus, but still not my favorite.  (If math is the language of science, then I got my biology degree by making a lot of exaggerated hand gestures and smiling and nodding.)  However, algebra has a helpful tip for us here.  If there is an unknown variable in an equation, you can work backwards from the answer to try to figure out the identity of "x". 

If the answer is love, then let's look at love.  As a single person longing for love, here is what I want:  I want the love of someone that is willing to commit himself to me completely, not holding anything back.  And I want that commitment to last a lifetime.  I don't want him to be coerced into loving me, I want him to be there because there is no place he would rather be.  I want him to be faithful, forsaking all others.  And I don't want our love to become stagnant and die.  I want it to continue to grow and flower and become stronger.

Sex is an expression of love.  Of all the human expressions of love, it is the most eloquent, the most revealing of the Love that we long for.  Sex has to express these characteristics of love in order maintain its true value.

True love is committed. Without commitment, you are holding a part of yourself back.  Maybe you don't fully trust the other person, or maybe you don't commit in case something better comes along.  Therefore, sex expresses love only in the context of commitment.  Not "committed" as in "we're really serious" or "we're engaged", but committed as in marriage. 

Love has to be freely given.  Sex can't be used to gain love, companionship, or mere pleasure, and still be an expression of love.

To express love, sex must be faithful.

Finally, no one wants love that is wilting and stagnant.  We all want love that is flourishing and flowering and growing.  Sex must reflect this as well.  You know what flowers lead to, right?  Fruit. New life.  

Sex is good, beautiful, holy, sacred.  It is not the answer we crave, but if it is valued correctly it will lead us straight to that answer.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Dear World: You Value Sex Too Highly

Listen to some of the messages that the world has to tell us about sex:

Dear Young Girl: You need to be cute, blemish-free and thin, but you want curves in the right spots. When you get dressed, be sure that it attracts attention to all the right places.  Don't be afraid to show what you've got.  After all, your value comes from your sexiness.  If you are feeling unsure and vulnerable, sex will fill that deep desire for love that you have. And, frankly, you're kind of an unhealthy freak if you don't have sex.

Dear Young Man: If you have made it to your teens, you should be having sex.  Seriously, you will not become man if you don't. The only way that you can prove to the world that you have what it takes is if you have a lot of sex.  The more women you can have, the more beautiful they are, the more worth you have. And, frankly, you're kind of an unhealthy freak if you don't have sex.

Dear Woman: You should be empowered to have sex all the time if you so please.  You should be able to have sex without having the responsibility of having a child, unless, of course, you want to.  After all, no one should be forced to go through pregnancy.  It will make you less sexy and less desirable. Ergo, your worth will be less. You will have less sex. And, frankly, you're kind of an unhealthy freak if you don't have sex.

Dear Man: Sex is where it's at.  If you are not getting good enough (or just enough) sex with the woman you have, you should probably move on.  In order to prove your strength, your prowess, your manhood, you need to be having sex. Frankly, you're kind of an unhealthy freak if you don't have sex.

Dear Older Woman:  You can be sexy (i.e. have worth), too.  Just buy these products, do these exercises, eat these foods, and have these surgeries, and you can be sexy for well into your sixties, at least!  No need to worry about losing your value and worth to wrinkles, bulges and gray and/or thinning hair. After all, you're kind of an unhealthy freak if you don't have sex.

Dear Older Man:  There are constantly new products on the line to improve your performance.  Not to worry, your worth and quality of life is preserved! Because, frankly, you're kind of an unhealthy freak if you don't have sex.

Dear Priest/Nun/Religious: You're crazy.  You must be abnormal somehow.  Unless you are normal, but the Catholic Church's celibacy requirement is repressing you by making you choose between your noble vocation of serving others and your value and worth as a person.  The Catholic Church should be ashamed.  Unless you're okay with being celibate.  Then I go back to my original assessment: frankly, you're kind of an unhealthy freak.

Dear Person with homosexual orientation: You have every bit as much worth as everyone else, and to prove it, you should be able to have sex with whomever you please. Frankly, you're kind of an unhealthy freak if you don't have sex.

Dear Single Person: Lucky you, you can have sex with whomever strikes your fancy!  Your life is good.  If you can't find someone to hook up with tonight, you still deserve to have pleasure and worth, so there's always other ways of getting said pleasure. Because, frankly, you're kind of an unhealthy freak if you don't have sex.

~~~

You get the picture.  Here's what I have to say about that:

Dear World: According to what you are saying, the more sex the better.  That would mean that prostitutes must be living the best life.

They're not?  Oh.  Well, it must be because they are just being used and paid.  Still, the most sex equals the winner, so rock stars must be the happiest, most well-adjusted people on the planet.  Not a smidgen of angst anywhere on the horizon.

Hmm, that's not working for them, either?  Well, maybe it only applies to committed people, like those in marriages.  They must be the ones that are getting all the happiness.

Huh.  Only 33% of married people make it to their 25th anniversary? Well, it must be because they're not having enough sex.  The most sex wins, so prostitutes must be the happiest people...

Get a grip, World!  That's what we call circular reasoning.  Something is out of balance, and here's what it is: in the equation of life, sex is not the answer.  It is only one of the variables.  A very good variable, I grant you, but a variable nonetheless.  What gives us our worth, what gives us our meaning to exist, is not sex, but love.  Love is the answer that we are looking for.   Not merely the love of humans, though that love is a part of the answer.

The answer, the living Love that we long for, is God.


Theology of the Body

I love Theology of the Body.  It is amazing.  A brief talk about some of it can be found here with a video clip of Christopher West on Nightline.  There was one thing that I wasn't sure that the reporter got quite right.  The funny thing is, it sounds almost sensationalized, but it's kind of not.  If you've ever heard one of Christopher's talks, you've heard a lot of what was said there.  Seriously.  But of course, there is very little of the depth or the reason why Christopher says what he says. Learn more:  


Good books that are easy reads:


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Day I Got My Butt Kicked by a Deck of Cards

I'm not going to lie.  I like to watch the Biggest Loser.  There's just something awesome about the way these people turn their lives around.  No shortcuts, just hard work.  There's also something great about sitting on my hind end and watching other people exercise.  Then I think, "I can get off my rear and work out, too."  Tomorrow.

Anyway, one week one of the trainers was giving a tip about how to work out when you're one the road and you can't get to the gym.  It goes something like this:

You take a deck of cards.

You assign each suit an exercise.

So,

Spades= push ups
Hearts= crunches
Clubs= squats
Diamonds= lunges.

One by one, you flip the cards and do the number of repetitions that's on the card.  Face cards are 11 reps and Aces are rests.

Here's my story.  I am not overweight.  Even the BMI calculator agrees with that.  I am a little soft around the edges.  My overall fitness level is probably not exactly what it should be.  But still, I figured I could do this workout, no problem.

Problem.

I did it, but it wasn't pretty.  I really wanted to stop about halfway through, but if you watch enough of the show, you end up with Jillian's voice in your head yelling, "WHAT is your problem? Keep GOING!"

Really?  Where's Bob when you need him: "Good job!  I knew you had it in you!  I knew you could do it!"

What I learned from this experience:

A) I watch too much TV.
B) I need to work out more often.
C) That I have wasted hundreds of dollars on gym memberships, and all the while my cards were collecting dust.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Please Pray for Priests

I've been thinking a lot about priests today.  The media has found another priest scandal (of a different sort) to bring up and throw around.  

I don't want to go into detail on the story.  In fact, I purposely did NOT look this one up, because I think that this is a case better served in generalities than specifics.  I have no desire to dissect the actions of a priest and what he may have done wrong or right.  I simply would love for people to pray for priests right now.  What little I know: there is a man who received the Sacrament of Holy Orders.  He is going through a very tough time right now and he needs our prayers. Here's the thing, that could be said of a lot of our priests.  They do not need our judgement, our scrutiny of their actions for good or ill.  They need our prayers and our support.

Here's five things that you can do:

1) Pray for priests, especially those that you may know or that are serving your parishes.

2) Read this post about some of the special challenges facing priests today.

3) Pray for priests, especially those that may be going through particularly difficult struggles today.  You don't need to know who they all are.  God knows.

4)Write a quick thank you to your priest.  Simply tell him thank you for responding to God's call in his life and serving as a priest.

5) Pray for priests.  All priests.  We need them, and they need us.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Karate Kid, Part II

This is not about Part II, the movie.  This is part II of my own personal musings on the original Karate Kid.  Yes, I have spent time and brain waves thinking about the movie "Karate Kid" and how it relates to my life as a follower of God.  I do a lot of driving for work.  Also, I spend too much time daydreaming while I ignore things that I should be doing, like dishes.  One of these days maybe I will learn to daydream while I do dishes, since it is a relatively mindless task.  Then I could think profound thoughts and decrease potential mold habitats. I don't think I currently have any mold, but let's just say I need to get on it.  Soon.

Right.  Where was I?  Okay, so one of the things that I have been thinking about a lot is atheism.  I'm talking about the good kind, the kind where these people have thought it through and have made their decisions based on the evidence as they see it.  This is opposed to the bad kind, the kind where atheism seems easiest or seems smartest, so they go with it, actually spending very little time thinking about the why of it all.

Recently, I read some discussions back and forth between atheists* and Christians.  There were some really good points on both sides, and there were some really heated points, but what struck me is that what one wanted to use as "proof," the other would turn around and use essentially the same "proof" about their own position.  Confused? I was. (I think the conversation I am referring to was at theravingtheist's site.) As I composed my own brilliant replies in my head, I realized that I didn't have much to say:

Harry the Atheist: Prove to me there's a god.
Me: I can't.
Harry the Atheist: This conversation is over.

But it led down a side path in my train of thought. (Do you start to see how often my train of thought gets derailed?  The sheer numbers of parenthesis and side notes and afterthoughts on this site should be a hint.)  I realized that the reason that Harry and I can't have a conversation about God is because our approach to karate is different.  Harry wants proof.  He wants it now. He goes to Kreese's dojo, strike first, strike hard, show no mercy. (I am not saying that atheists are bullies.  Harry is a figment of my imagination, and because I feel inadequate to explain myself, I feel as overpowered as Daniel looks in the movie.)

The problem is, approaching God is a lot more like approaching Mr. Miyagi. First off, you don't meet Mr. Miyagi as a karate instructor.  He's the fix-it man.  When Daniel first asks him to fix the faucet, there's barely any acknowledgement.  Daniel then asks when Miyagi will come.  The response is "After".  

Daniel: "After what?" 
Miyagi: "After! After!" 

 I feel your pain, Daniel.  Me: "God, did you hear me?  Are you going to fix this? When?"  
God (not in so many words): "After!"          
Me: "???"

Okay.  My point for the day, really, was just going to be that when we picture and all powerful God, we often have this picture that is something like Kreese, the dojo instructor.  Strong, powerful, smashing through things that get in the way.  The reality is more subtle and confusing, but powerful in a way that Kreese and his students can't even imagine.  

That's all I was going to say about that.  But then I had to do research.  As you know, it's all about quality research.  So I watched the movie again.  As a result, I so much more that I want to say about the Karate Kid.  You lucky ducks you.


*Question.  Why are atheists called "atheists"? It defines them as people that don't believe in a god.  If there is no god, why would a god define them, even in a negative way? If atheists have knowledge that we theists do not, then why would they not be defined by that?  I'm okay with the term "atheist", because, as a theist, I feel that it is a meaningful term.  I feel like if I were atheist I would want to be defined as a gnostic, one with knowledge.  I would ignore previous heretical Christian sects that were defined by that term, because what do I care about old Christian sects in my hypothetical atheist construct?  Wow.  I can really ramble when there's no one in front of me falling asleep, or looking bored, or speaking to interrupt the flow of brilliance (i.e. drivel).

Shopping

Last week I went to the Farmer's market and spent less than $5 on a few vegetables.  Today I was on my way to the Farmer's market, but realized that it was freezing outside and I was wearing short sleeves.  So I went to the mall instead.  Yes, I am a pansy.

Now, those that know me know that the mall is not actually my favorite place.  Unless I'm going to the bookstore or the movies, I would actually prefer to avoid the place.  I think it has been 6 months since I have last shopped for clothes, so it was getting high time.  I'm telling you, I tend to wear pants until they have no hope left.  I've actually had 2 pair in the last couple of months finally wear through while I was wearing them.  It just so happens that I am a professional, and I've been told I look younger than I am.  It doesn't boost patient's confidence a lot when I wear faded polos and fraying pants. It's time for new clothes.

I spent a lot more than $5.  A lot.  But there were some good deals and I was happy.  I found Ann Taylor pants on sale for $30 each.  GAP jeans for about the same.  I spent about $100 at one store and got 3 shirts, 1 cami, 1 pair of shorts and 2 pairs of cropped pants (dress code doesn't allow capris, so that's the best I could do).  If I'm going to drop $100 at a store, I want at least that many items to show for it!  I also got shoes.  I am not a huge shoe person, but I needed some new ones.  Now I have some that I can wear with a lot of different things.  And, after 4 years, I finally got a new pair of work out shoes.  Any good PT will tell you that you should really replace your work out shoes about once a year.  I'm glad to be able to tell you that I follow my own advice so well.

I'm actually excited for work on Monday. (Not that I want it to come sooner, please don't come sooner.)  And, I don't have to do laundry today.  This shopping stuff is awesome.

Friday, May 8, 2009

What Is Going On?

I am so confused.  Those that know me know that this doesn't take much.  There is currently a lot of outrage going on about S.909 and HR1913, having to do with hate crimes prevention.  To be perfectly clear, those people that I know that are outraged by these bills are also outraged by hate crimes.  They are not objecting to the prevention and prosecution of hate crimes.

The problem, from what I can gather from limited resources at this time, is the fact that there is a very broad definition of the protected behavior.  This leads to a danger that someone that is being tried for some kinds of sexual assault could potentially use this bill as a defense.

At this point, that's all I can say that I know about it.  I have heard (and, I have to admit, spread) some more sensational rumors about these bills.  I certainly have some more concerns about it, but so far have nothing to back things up.  Even having read the bills*, that's all I can say.  For a non-lawyer type like myself, I have a hard time discerning anything more about the legal implications therein contained. (Why do lawyers and only lawyers use words like "whereas" and "heretofore" and "therein"? I don't even know if those are all real words!  They just fit my legal language stereotypes. Wherefore, it slightly amused me to use some of these made up words in a sentence.  Yeah, it doesn't take much to amuse me, either.)

I want to go try to learn some more about it.  And by "go", I mean sit on my couch and let the internet take me places.  I would love to hear what the congress people were getting as they prepared to vote.  Maybe I'll have to actually take a look at what was presented as pros and cons for the bill as they were preparing to vote on it.  Hmm, sounds good, but a little ambitious for a lazy bum like myself.  I don't even know where I would look for such a thing.  I am also reminded very strongly about how vague my knowledge of government is.  It's like the making of sausage.  I'm not sure how much I want to know.  Anyway, I'll let you know what I find out (if I get that far).  It's Friday night.  I guarantee I will make it no farther than that on the subject tonight.

*Yes, I actually went to the Library of Congress site and read the bills!  Are you impressed?  Because I sure am.  I know that it's not cool to be that impressed with myself, but I'm not going to lie.  I'm impressed. Tell me, when was the last time you actually read a bill??  (I am speaking to the general population, not anyone whose job involves reading bills in some way.)  I feel a little more educated now, so I can go back to other important business... for example, have you seen the latest episode of Lost? Whoa!  So much going on, I don't know if I can handle it!  And how many episodes are left this year?  Because there are a lot of story threads that I can see that they are going to leave hanging, AND THAT IS NOT OKAY!!  Alright. I've said my piece.  Over and out.

Theology of the Body of Christ

If you ever want to know what you and your friends are talking about, keep a small child handy.  Those little squirts will appear to be entirely in their own little world, look like they are entirely blocking out anything you say or do (unless you offer them food), and later parrot back pieces of your conversation.  My friend has an almost 2 year old, and he will do this.  Luckily, it seems that we are keeping to fairly decent conversations.  We are known to frequently talk about "Theology of the Body" (if you don't know what I'm talking about, CHECK IT OUT).  Also this child has been to Mass a time or two in his life, so he has certainly heard the phrase "Body of Christ" at communion a lot.  Last night, he was running around saying "Theology of the body of Christ."  How very Wheel of Fortune of him.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Wax On. Wax Off.


Woohoo, friends!  Welcome to the weird space inside my head.  It is stuff that I probably shouldn't allow out, but I've been reading blogs pretty hardcore for the last couple of months, and I have nothing on you fruitcakes.  Here is a little sampling of what is going on in my head as I get ready for work, drive around all day to the different places that I work, and when I'm hanging out at home alone.

In the last several months, I have really been having a hard time getting motivated for work.  Part of the time, it has been because of some burn out.  Not this week, though.  This week has been pretty laid back, but I still have to drag myself out of bed and out the door.  I don't know why.  It's not like I have anything here that I'm dying to do.  It's true that I have a lot to do, but I don't want to do it and I ignore it most of the time when I am home.

So what is my problem?  I think that I'm suffering a from Treadmill Syndrome.  This is the dreaded disease that strikes when everything is dull and boring and your life is blah variations on the same theme for the forseeable future: Get up. Get ready for work. Go to work. Come home from work. Get dinner. Ignore Do the chores that need to be done. Go to bed. Get up. Get ready for work... You get the picture.  I would like to blame this lovely little lassitude (how do you like that alliteration action?) on singleness, as singleness is a great thing to blame all my multitude of issues on, but I have to admit treadmill syndrome strikes us all.  As my desire is to be married and have children, I have to remember that mothers of small children are especially susceptible to Treadmill Syndrome, given diaper changes, messes, breaking up fights, and laundry day after day.

I had a conversation with God about it that went something like this:

"So. Really?  This is it?  Don't you want me to go out and change the world now?  Isn't there some big task I could do? What is the purpose of my life right now?  It seems rather meaningless as it is.  Insignificant. Ridiculous. I'm not doing anything good or worthwhile right now.  I just show up to work and go home and show up to work again.  Why?"

That's when a scene from Karate Kid came to mind.  You know the one I mean.  If not, look at the title of this post.  If you still don't know, you are a loser and you need to go back and watch the movie.  Here is a kid that wants to learn karate so he can defend himself.  All this crazy old guy will tell him to do is to wax the cars.  Over and over.  Lots and lots of cars.  Pointless, meaningless repetition.  What does it have to do with anything? Mr. Miyagi sure didn't explain any of it.  Just told the kid what to do and got out of the way. Those that have watched the movie know how it all comes together.  Those who haven't... well, I've got nothing for you. Go see the movie.

I still don't have any answers, but I do believe that God is wiser than me.  Wiser even than Mr. Miyagi.  While I don't think that anything that I am doing will magically teach me karate, I'm thinking that maybe there's a purpose to these day to day activities that I don't see right now. And so I will get up and go to work tomorrow.  

Wax on.  Wax off.

Note: I really don't think you are a loser if you haven't watched the Karate Kid, but I'm still not going to tell you what happened, because it is a vital part of your education that needs to be completed and you have to watch it.  Well, maybe I think you are a little bit of a loser, but that's okay, because I love losers and you're in good company.  I probably shouldn't admit this in public, but I haven't seen the Goonies.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

All About Movement

Really, the things that get me interested in a day.  Some things are way better than others. Give me a total knee.  Snooze.  How about a low back pain.  Well, depends.  Some are really interesting, and others...aren't.  Rotator cuff tear.  Nothing like trying to move someone through a range of motion, with them fighting you the whole way, 'cuz it hurts, all the while trying not to damage the work that the surgeon just did.

I like the flat out movement problems.  You have pain because you're just not moving quite right?  Come see me.  That's the really fun stuff.  Today I was fascinated by an ankle.  The pain was in the foot, but the problem was in the ankle.  Two years ago there was a break in one of the small bones of the foot, and now there's pain further down the line.  I wish you could have seen it.  A small, but noticeable difference in how far the foot could move on one side compared to the other.  If you get less motion in one place, another place has to make up for it, and that was the spot that was hurting this person.  Better yet was trying to figure out some specific exercises that would get the right part of the foot moving without getting compensation from the part that was moving too much.

That probably made no sense to anyone.  If you're medical and I said "cuboid" and "midfoot" and "metatarsal", it might have made more sense.  If you're not medical and you're my sister, you are totally rolling your eyes and bored right now, if you haven't left all together.

Whatever.  I don't care.  The ankle moved better at the end than at the beginning.  That's what I'm talking about.

Monday, May 4, 2009

I Cooked Tonight

I actually did more than unwrap the hot pocket, place it in the crisper sleeve, and microwave it for two minutes.

I put rice on to boil.  Brown rice, mind you, not that wimpy minute or even the long grain stuff.

I diced up my bell pepper and a few of the green onions from the farmers' market.

Sauteed them.

Browned some chicken, combined it with the pepper and onion, and added pineapple.

Now, this was no pineapple from a can.  It was my first ever pineapple that I actually cut up and everything.  I think I wasted half of it.  What's the best way to get the inside separated from the outside?

Then I added some ginger, black pepper, a few splashes of soy sauce, and a drizzle of honey.  I mixed it with the rice, and there was dinner!  There were a few tense moments when I was afraid that I got a little too splash-happy with the soy sauce, but I think the honey took care of it.

Not too shabby for no recipe!  Now if I can only figure out what to do with the rest of the tomato that I have left, maybe I'll manage to avoid any waste from my shopping spree at the farmers' market.
 


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Shorts

1.  Today was a weird hair day.  It went beyond the realm of simply bad and into strange.  It was kind of limp and also kind of stiff all at the same time.  I don't know how it can do that.  Thank goodness for flat irons.  Otherwise it would've moved past weird to flat-out scary!

2. I wish I would have had my camera today.  I went mini golfing with a friend of mine.  It was a great day to be outside and a fun activity for something different. On one hole, right in the middle of a flower bed obstacle, there was this duck nesting.  The poor thing looked a little panicked already, and there hadn't been any kids past it yet.  There was water close by from the water obstacles, but it was all chlorinated.  I'm thinking the duck could have used a little better judgement.  I wish I had a picture to share.

3. My friend and I also went to Macaroni Grill.  I decided to go on the healthier side of things and found some grilled chicken with roasted vegetables.  So good!  I even ate some of my veggies.  Of course, I also ate my share of the amazing bread with olive oil.  That might have undone any healthiness that I managed to do.

4.  The first Farmer's Market of the season was yesterday.  There was a really good turnout.  I'm not much of a vegetable eater, but I want to do better, so I picked up some stuff while I was there.  Here's what I found: 1 small tomato, 1 green pepper, 1 bunch of green onions.  That's all I thought I would manage to make it through without having to throw out rotting food.  I was going to get some green beans, but they were sold out by the time I found an ATM and got back to that stand.  I also found some sad looking ears of corn, but the person in front of me bought the last ones.  I'm looking forward to going back.

5.  I think that's all I have to say today.  But who knows?  I have plenty of time today, so if the mood strikes, I might have a lot more to say!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

I Have an Addiction

It's true, and the first step is admitting it.  I have enjoyed reading Stuff Christians Like for several months now, but I am starting to get addicted.  I really enjoy Jon's writing, and that's certainly part of the reason that I've started to get addicted.  But there are a lot of blogs that I enjoy reading and wouldn't say that I'm getting addicted to them.  The thing about SCL that I'm getting addicted to is the people that read it and the comments that they make.  In a recent post about suffering, there were so many great perspectives.  One commenter mentioned that it all sounded like we went to the same church.  That's what I love.  There are many people commenting from many different faith perspectives, but it is clear that we all know and love the same God.  I love the opportunity for community outside denominational lines.

Of course, as a Catholic, there are some things there that I don't understand.  Pastoral search committees?  Yeah, I wouldn't know anything about that.  Our bishops pass out the assignments to the various parishes.  Then there's the #1 favorite post about understanding how metrosexual your worship leader is. Right.  The music at the Mass that I go to is usually a cantor and the older lady that plays the organ.  Alma is great, definitely the spunky kind of a lady that I hope to grow up to be someday (minus the organ playing), but she doesn't lend me any kind of perspective on that topic.

Today I'm excited because there's a post asking what people are reading right now.  That means that I have a whole new list of things to add to the reading list.  You know, because I don't have enough books lying around waiting for my attention.  It is a little hard for me to get in to that discussion, though, because a lot of the really great books I have read have been Catholic.  Not that Catholic books are outlawed from the discussion, but I seriously doubt that the SCL readership is that interested on Scott Hahn's discussion on Mass in the book of Revelation in The Lamb's Supper. Absolutely great read, though, for Catholics and non-Catholics that are interested in learning more about the Mass and how it fits with the Bible.  Also a very interesting take on some things in the book of Revelation.

If you haven't checked out SCL, head on over there.  

The Joys of Being Single

That's right.  You heard me.  I know, I know.  I usually write about the tough stuff about being single.  I like to write about it on here, because it helps me get to the bottom of the things that I'm thinking about.  I don't usually need a place to process the good parts about being single.  Yet, if I'm going to clutter up cyberspace with my woes, I feel the least I can do is offer some clutter about the good things, too.  

I can drop whatever I'm doing in a moment and go do something else if I want to.  I can decide midway to one place that I'd rather go somewhere else.  On a weekend or holidays, I spend time with my friends and family.  I can go to bed early or late, as the mood hits me.  I can get up early or late as the mood hits me.  Of course, I work for a living, so that interferes somewhat, but not too bad.  I can decide what food to make when and I never have to cook if I don't feel like it. (Note to self: buy stock in Lean Cuisine and Hot Pockets.) I like that I can leave my place a mess, and it won't get in anyone's way.  I like that I can clean it up, and it will stay clean until I get back. I can watch a movie at a random time, just because I feel like it.  And I get to pick whatever I'm in the mood for, no compromises.  I have school loans, so I don't have a lot of money to burn, but what I do have, I only have me to spend it on.  For me, that translates to a ridiculous number of books, which I can read because I have the time.

Someday I hope that the singleness will end.  If it does, I will not regret the loss of these things, but there will definitely be times that I miss them.

I had always hoped that I would meet someone and get married right after college.  When I went to grad school, I didn't mind that I was single because it was kind of intense and I didn't have a lot of time for extra stuff anyway.  I am now going on three and a half years after grad school.  Let me tell you about some of the things that have happened in the last three years.

One thing that happened is that I have been going to a church with an incredible priest who is truly lives out the title "Father".  He has been a spiritual director and confessor that has helped me grow and understand the spiritual life on a whole new level.  Actually, more like a series of deeper levels.

I have met a group of friends that are amazing.  You can't even imagine what it's like to have a whole group of friends about your own age that are in love with God and on the same path you are.  Well, maybe some Protestants can, but these are Catholics, and that's hard to find.  I do not think that I would have gotten nearly as close to them if I had not been single.  I needed friends.  If I had not had so great a need, I'm not sure that I would have kept coming to their various get togethers.  I am such an introvert and they knew each other so well, it was definitely outside my comfort zone.  I am so grateful that I needed them so much and that I have gotten to know them so well.

I have had time to study my faith on a whole deeper level.  I remember when grad school started to wind down and I started turning my focus back to my faith.  Lent of my last year of grad school, I started to go to Mass daily when I could.  I also found a Catholic bookstore and went to town.  It kicked off a great start to these last three years and I have gotten to return to truly studying my faith after 7 years of studying college stuff.  I have had so much time to study as a single person and do projects and Bible studies that I never would have gotten to do otherwise.

Theology of the Body.  I had heard of this before the last 3 years, but this was my time to finally study it.  At first it was foreign, but it continues to get more and more familiar.  It has changed me.  It has changed how I view marriage and it has changed how I view other people.  If I do get married, I will be able to bring something to it that I never would have understood before.

Finding true worth. I grant you, this is still very much a journey that I am on, but I can't begin to tell you how much healing I have experienced in the last 4 months.

Finally, discovering that God is enough.  I learned that this doesn't mean that the feelings of pain or loneliness go away.  This doesn't make the desires of my heart any less.  It only means that He is enough right smack in the midst of it.

After these last 3 years, I would now say that He is my Beloved and I am His.  I know that He can and does bring a lot of people through some of these same steps in the journey in and through living out their married vocations, but for me He has chosen this path.  I always tell Him it has been well worth it.  Then, being the human that I am, I always add, "Yep, it was worth it, but we can change it now, right?" :)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Guilty Secret

Haha!  I tricked you!  You thought this was going to be a juicy tell-all, didn't you?  You were wrong.  My guilty secret is this blog.  I have kept it fairly anonymous, which I don't feel guilty about at all.  But I have also not told my friends that I have a blog.  They wouldn't all want to know.  But I have some friends that I tell everything.  At least I thought I told them everything, until I realized that I didn't.  I didn't tell them that I had a blog, and I'm not sure that I want to tell them.  That makes me feel guilty.

It also makes me very curious.  Why wouldn't I want them to know that I blog?  I don't think that I have put anything on the blog that they don't know about.  There's only one thing that I can think of, and I don't know if it's a good reason or a lame excuse.  That is that I am one of the very few single people left in my group of friends.  I try to share my thoughts and feelings with them often enough that they know what's going on, because they are amazing friends that want to share my joy and my sorrow.  Yet, there's only so much that I can say.  It's really awkward to break into all the wedding or baby talk with: "You know, the loneliness of not having that special someone to share the ups and downs of my life with is really getting to me."  Or: "The apartment seems deathly silent sometimes without all the noises and sounds of children."  Talk about a mood killer!  

Also, I am afraid.  I'm afraid that if they know how much it's on my mind, they will hesitate to share their joys and this joyful time of their lives with me.  Sometimes it hurts, but I don't want that hurt to rob me of this great time to rejoice together.  Sometimes people are afraid that their joy will make my pain worse.  Sure it hurts worse, but cutting me off from the sharing of life together would be the worst pain of all.

And I don't want them to try to fix it.  Everyone likes to give some variation of, "Don't worry, your time will come."  There are some people that are single their whole lives.  My time might not come, so that doesn't help.  I would far rather have them simply check in from time to time to see how I'm doing.  Do you know how much of a relief that it would be to be able to talk about some of the things that I am struggling with?  But if I always bring it up, then no one will want to talk to me.  Frankly, I wouldn't want to talk to me.  Yet, this is a constant fact of my life, and when I can't bring it up for fear of coming off as the bitter old maid that no one wants to be around, it makes me feel even more alone.

Anyway, there it is.  There are the reasons that this blog is a guilty secret for me.