Hear This-For King & Country

So… *Rebecca St. James’ little brothers recently released a new album-Burn The Ships. My favorite song is “Amen”.

Most pop songs live in the 4/4 meter. (Think 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4…).  But this one, is in 6/8 time (Think 1-2-3-4-5-6, 1-2-3-4-5-6…), which makes it stand out from other songs, especially the ones on CCM radio.  And it does a great job of building momentum from the quiet simplicity of the verse to the crescendo* and peak of the chorus that includes a choir and a multitude of instruments. *Crescendo means going from soft to loud.  (Conversely decrescendo means going from loud to soft.)

For certain, the message is a great one.  But the artists did a great job of pairing the musical expression of the song to the message.  And it sounds really cool.

Another song that stands out to me (especially the video) is “God Only Knows”.  We all go through some dark times.  So, it’s reassuring to remember that God see’s what we are going through even if other people don’t. And I think that it’s important that the video tackles the issue of depression and the importance of community.

If you have access to one of the many music subscription services, you should check out For King & Country.  But in the meantime, you can satisfy your curiosity with the music videos below.

*Rebecca St. James used to be a very popular Christian singer back in the 90’s.  I’m not sure if she is still making records today, but it looks like her siblings are following in her footsteps. 🙂

-CS Woman

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The Importance of Self-Care

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Marriage and children are often the hallmarks of adulthood.  Many people see this rite of passage as a transition from childhood to true maturity.  But what happens when that transition doesn’t happen to you?

It can leave you out of step with your peers and at times give others the impression that your life is an endless state of bliss, freedom, and energy. After all, you have all the time and resources that your peers who are married and/or have children don’t have.

But is this true? For certain, my life is uncomplicated in a way that some of my peers may envy, but it is not free from complications, stressors, or difficulties. And because my “difficulties” are not as obvious, it may be difficult to elicit empathy or understanding from people who have a different kind of life.

So, for the singles in the room who need to hear this, I would say…

  • If you are tired, take a break, and get some rest.
  • If you have health problems, try to find a doctor you trust.
  • If you have physical pain, especially of the chronic variety, you are not alone. And yes, it sucks.  But if you can, try to find what makes it better and what makes it worse and see if there is a way to cope with it, so that it doesn’t consume your life.
  • Figure out your boundaries at work, school, church, etc.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
  • Being single doesn’t mean that you have super powers.  So, your life may feel more ordinary than extraordinary. And that’s okay.
  • And don’t be afraid to see a counselor, if you feel overwhelmed by life and need hope in a dark spot.

-CS Woman

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

Dating Is For Extroverts?

Friends_Jump

extrovert: noun
1. Outgoing, gregarious person.
2. Psychology. a person characterized by extroversion; a person concerned primarily with the physical and social environment (opposed to introvert).

Characteristics
Extroverts tend to enjoy social settings, don’t like or need a lot of alone time, tend to thrive around people, and more.


Singles get a lot of advice.

One of the most common pieces of advice is that “you need to put yourself out there”.  Whether it’s…

  • Bars/clubs
  • Speed dating
  • Online dating
  • Going on a blind date, etc.

These activities are heavily slanted toward an extroverted personality.  Meaning, if you are shy and/or find it hard to meet new people, it may feel like a herculean effort to go to a coffee shop and make small talk with a stranger you met online.

In addition to that, if your past experiences with dating have felt less than successful, a quiet Friday night watching Netflix may be more appealing than going to another awkward single’s event.

I recently came across an article, Why Finding A Life Partner Isn’t That Simpleby Dr. Carolyn Kaufman. It was nice to be affirmed in the idea that dating is much harder than it looks.  Not to mention, she had some good ideas about how married/partnered people can help their single friends.  For example, a friend could offer to go to a social event with their single friends or simply just listen to their friend’s experiences without judgement.

If you’ve been discouraged by the dating scene, I would encourage you to read the article.  Sometimes it can help to know that you are not the only one struggling with singleness.

But as usual, I have my own two cents to add.

First, I want to reiterate…. dating is hard.  It’s often awkward and stressful. And it’s particularly difficult, the older you find yourself un-partnered.  It’s hard to not feel discouraged as the years go by.

And singles, especially Christian singles, don’t get a lot of good advice. Meaning, we don’t get a lot of practical advice.  How do you flirt? Who makes the first move? When do you define the relationship?  How do you vet/practice discernment? How do you embrace your sexuality in a God honoring way?

Too many times, we are told that God will just “work everything out” in His time.  What does that mean? What does that look like?  It kind of feels like a copout or wishful thinking. Few good things in life happen by happenstance. They are often won with a lot of “blood, sweat, and tears”.  And I don’t think relationships are the exceptions.

As far as the introverts, quasi-introverts, or discouraged people in the room, what can you do about the dating scene?

  • Do the same things, but do them differently
  • Consider strength in numbers
  • Look for low risk/rejection opportunities
  • Be open

Disclaimer: I realize that some of my suggestions may fall closer to the extrovert side of the personality scale.  However, on some level, dating involves getting to know new people.  So, although there may be ways to minimize discomfort, it’s impossible to take it away completely.

Doing The Same Thing
What are you currently doing in your life? Do you like to go to the movies, exercise, take classes, etc.? Could you change your environment? For example, if you go to the movies, could you go to a theater in the part of town where single, professionals are known to hang out? If you like to exercise, can you find a gym or workout group that has your age/educational demographic?

Strength In Numbers
If you find an activity that you want to do (e.g. dance, movie, etc.) can you ask some friends to go along with you (married or single)?  Are there singles groups that have regularly scheduled events in your area that you can go to?  For example, I recently joined a group that has weekly/monthly events.  Periodically, I can check to see what’s going on in my area and go to the event that I’m most interested in.

Low Risk/Rejection
If you are at a place in your life where you feel rejected by people, it may be helpful to try low risk events/social activities.  Perhaps you can volunteer in your community.  Most facilities will be grateful to have the help and will be welcoming.  Plus, it may enable you to meet like-minded individuals.

In addition, there are social events where you have to interact with people, such as dancing.  I used to swing dance.  The first hour would be spent learning the moves and the rest of the time would be used for dancing.  As far as the low risk/rejection, there’s a center, in my area, that has a policy that you should be willing to dance with anyone who asks. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, but the intention is to provide an environment where people are friendly, open, and less likely to experience unwarranted rejection.

Be Open
You don’t have to be perfect (or socialize perfectly), but you may need to be open. You may need to be open to advice, doing things differently, having a change in perspective, trying something new, or etc.

All of us  have blindspots and may not see how we are “getting in our own way”. So, it may be helpful to hear the thoughts and opinions of friends and family from time to time. And it may be helpful to not lose hope (which can be easier said than done).

So, those are my thoughts. What are yours?

CS Woman

Photo by Artem Bali from pexels.com.

Real Talk-Abstinence Is Impossible

Kiss

I recently had lunch with a non-Christian friend who was sharing the dating adventures of her nephew. As with most young adults, he is sexually active.

My friend, who has “seen some things” in her fifty plus years of life, was willing to concede that sex has “life-altering powers”. So much so, she cautioned her nephew to choose his bedmates wisely, since you [never know if that person could be the mother of your child].

Unfortunately, for him, he did not choose wisely.  And unfortunately, he is now tethered to a woman that he doesn’t really like because she is his baby mamma.

As the conversation went on, she stressed the importance of sexual discretion for him and other young people.  However, she felt that abstinence was completely off the table.

I thought it was interesting that she felt that he would have the ability to exert self-control regarding his partners. But she felt that forgoing sex until marriage was/is impossible.  Which  got me thinking…

It wasn’t that long ago that singles were expected to save sex for marriage or at least for engagement.  And believe it or not, there are still some cultures/communities that expect singles to abstain from sex.

So perhaps the real issue is not that abstinence is impossible. Perhaps, the real issue is that it’s hard and most of us don’t think it’s a route worth pursuing.  After all, it’s hard to commit to an ideal that you don’t really believe in, especially in a culture where sex is the norm for any “healthy adult relationship”.

But to prove a point, abstinence is not impossible.  Me and others like me, prove every day that it’s possible.

I’m not a saint.  I’m not repressed. And I’d like to believe that I’m not hopelessly, socially awkward.  I’m just a woman who believes that sex is meant for a committed, marital relationship. And since I’m not married, I don’t have sex.

Real talk…What does it mean to be a normal, healthy Christian single who chooses to not have sex? It’s hard. And at times it feels unfair.

There are men that I dated, in the past, where I knew that the “price of admission” would mean being sexually active.  So, I chose to end things.

As the years have gone by, I would be lying to say that there haven’t been times where I’ve wondered if I could have been married by now had I chosen to stay in those relationships.  I could have been someone’s wife and perhaps someone’s mom. But, that didn’t happen.

For certain, I don’t have a crystal ball, so I will never know what could have been. But when it comes to being a mom, it’s hard to feel like the “choice” to become a parent is slowly being taken away from me. (I say choice because there are many couples who struggle with infertility. And yes, there is adoption, but I do not wish to consciously become a single parent.)

To that end, others could argue that the quality of my marriage to these hypothetical husbands could have been poor.  Maybe, but maybe not. We have all heard of stories of Christian singles who didn’t do things “God’s way” and now have happy marriages and families.

But that’s not my point.

If you want to give older Christian singles an incentive to “do the right thing”, there has to be a more nuanced conversation about sexuality.

I think on some level, it boils down to “what is the meaning of life”. 🙂

Meaning, is there a God?  Is there structure/order? And if so, what does that mean?

I can give you knee- jerk Bible responses, but everyone has to come to their own conclusions about who God is and what role He plays in our lives.

If God is the author of sex and if the Bible is the rule book, am I willing to surrender all areas of my life to Him even if the road isn’t easy?

And for those of us who choose to wait (whether as virgins or not), what does it mean to be a sexual being? (Sexuality is a part of who we are even if the act is something that we choose to not do.) Perhaps acknowledging our sexual desires is a step in the right direction, as opposed to pretending that they don’t exist. And perhaps part of the journey is reaching out to God and trusted friends/family to encourage and guide us in our times of weakness.

I do not have all the answers.  I don’t know how my story will end.

I hope that I will get married someday and perhaps have a family. But for now, I wait.

Some days I am frustrated, angry, and bitter. But thankfully, I don’t feel that way all of the time. So, for now I live in the tension of what I hope for in the midst of accepting my present reality as I seek to honor God with my body (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

What about you? Do you think abstinence is possible, worth striving for? Why or why not?

-CS Woman

Photo by Rosie Ann from  pexels.com

 

RESPECT

gentleman

So the pizza guy

About a month ago, I gave my number to a guy that I wasn’t interested in. (I did it because I was caught off guard when he asked me for it.) I figured, I’d exchange a few awkward, polite attempts at conversation and then wait for the opportune time to let him know that I wasn’t interested.

But, there was no need.

This potential “potential” came to a close very fast. Turns out his go to move, on getting to know strangers, is to send “hotline bling” texts in the middle of the night.

Perhaps I’m getting old and this is what “the kids are doing these days”.  But that was completely unexpected.  Our conversations up to that point were centered around pizza toppings and Doctor Who. So, I’m not sure where he got the idea that I was open to a one-night stand. But I guess you don’t know, if you don’t ask?

So, like I said in my “Just Say No” post, everyone who expresses an interest in you, does not deserve a chance. If you have reasons to believe that someone isn’t a romantic fit, don’t be afraid or guilty to go with your gut and decline the offer.

It’s okay to have standards. And it’s okay to have expectations of what you are looking for in a relationship.

And for the love of all things holy, don’t cast your pearls before swine-Matthew 7:6. Or said another way, don’t waste your time on people who don’t respect you.

And in keeping with the Meghan Trainor theme from the previous post, I leave you with No Excuses.

Pizza guy-“Why you acting like you never met a lady?…You must’ve confused me with someone else. There ain’t no excuses, babe. Your mamma raised you better than that.”

-CS Woman

Jeremy Lin Is One Cool Dude

(I’m a little late to linsanity, but in my defense I don’t follow sports.)

So, I was perusing the black hole of the internet, a.k.a. YouTube, and I stumbled upon an openly Christian NBA player named Jeremy Lin. His story is both unique and inspiring.  He’s a Chinese American man who’s been able to make a name for himself in the highly competitive world of professional sports.

Just like another man of Asian (part Asian) descent, Tiger Woods, he’s wedged his way into an elite section of society where few have gone before.  The uniqueness of his success has challenged the perception that Asian Americans can’t play ball/do sports to the same level of other ethnic groups.

But regardless of how cool it is that Jeremy Lin challenges stereotypes, what’s even cooler is his willingness to use his platform to share his faith.  He often credits God as his motivation for excellence, while seeking out opportunities to help various communities.

I can’t imagine the level of scrutiny, pressure, and temptation that comes with being in the public eye, but Jeremy seems to handle it with grace.  So, he seems like a pretty cool dude in my book. 😊

So…

The question that may be on your minds is how did I end up in a Jeremy Lin vortex in my “suggested videos” on YouTube? As a minority, I find it interesting to listen to the stories of other ethnic groups and to hear about their experiences in this “melting pot” we call America.

Growing up, I thought that people of Asian descent fit seamlessly into society. (After all, they were considered the “model minority” and the stereotypes surrounding them were way more favorable than the stereotypes surrounding my community-the black community.) However, through friends and acquaintances that I’ve made, I’ve come to realize that this is not always the case.

I’ve come to realize that some of the same frustrations that I’ve experienced, other ethnic groups have experienced them too. And specifically, in the world of romance, it appears that Asian men can get the short end of the stick. In fact, some people feel that Asian men are often emasculated in American society, especially when it comes to how they are portrayed in various forms of media.

For certain, when it comes to attraction, I understand that interracial dating/marriage is not for everyone.  However, I question the idea of dismissing entire groups of people under the guise of preference.

Is it possible that we are excluding potential mates due to preconceived notions and stereotypes? Perhaps there are really cool, attractive, god-fearing people all around us, but we are blind to them because they don’t come in the packaging that we were expecting/ hoping for?

And perhaps when one references “The American Standard of Beauty”, it’s easy to feel that one is attacking Eurocentric phenotypes.  However, is there something to be said for how minorities are portrayed in the media?  Is it possible that consistent undesirable portrayals, of certain groups of people, cause us to unconsciously and consciously feel negatively towards those groups?

Think about it.  It’s kind of hard to be attracted to someone that you’ve been taught to fear, dislike, or think of as “other”.

So as my post comes to an end, I leave you with a few videos.

  • Kevin Kreider-He is a personal trainer who shares his frustrations about the portrayals of Asian people in media.
  • Jeremy Lin- The first video is about his charity work in Hualien. In this video, he shares about the importance of his faith and how it motivates him. The second video is a satirical “how- to” guide of how to fit in with NBA players.

Real Talk-Giving Up

White_Flag

Marriage is a beautiful thing, but is there a point when the hope of marriage becomes a burden?

Is getting married and having children the only acceptable, meaningful path for adult life?

Is that the only “happy ending”?

At what point do you accept that your life looks different from your peers and different from the image of what you thought it was going to be?

At what point do you accept your reality?

When I was in my mid 20’s I wrote a song about waiting for my husband called “Missing You”. I never would have imagined that 15 years would go by and I would still be “missing” that part of my life.

So at what point do you let go of something, so that you can grieve a loss and move on? Because I’m not sure that I want to spend another 15 years of my life hoping for marriage.

I’m not saying that marriage and/or children is an impossibility, but I am saying…

…I am getting older and the possibility of having a child of my own is getting less and less.

…I am saying that I have to find a way to define myself that goes beyond what I “lack”. (And that’s not easy to do in a world where being partnered is the norm.)

I don’t have all the answers. But maybe I want to make a choice rather than living my life by default.

Maybe I want to go dancing to dance, take a class to learn something, meet new people to have fun instead of doing these things to meet a guy…to meet “the one”.

Maybe I want to be free from the “burden” of living in the shadow of hope.

Marriage is not guaranteed.

And if singleness becomes a lifelong destiny can I live with that?

Can I live that story? Can I be happy in that narrative?

-CS Woman

Image from  pexels.com

Just Say No

Recently, a man that I didn’t know very well asked me for my phone number.  Since I was caught off guard, I gave it to him.  But in hindsight, I wish I would have told him, “No, I’m not interested.”

To provide some background, this is a guy who works at a pizza place that I go to from time to time.  It turns out that he’s 30 and is in a time of transition.

Ultimately, I don’t think we are in the same stage of life. I’m 40.  I have a career. And I know that if I date someone, I’m looking for something serious. ( I may feel 40,  but I realize that I don’t necessarily look 40.  So, sometimes I get approached by younger men.)

Sometimes we can feel pressured to give everyone “a chance”, but when it comes to dating sometimes you “just know” that you don’t really match with the person expressing interest.  There may be a large age gap, difference in religious ideas, political views, etc. Why waste each other’s time in trying to see if things are going to work out? Sometimes you have a pretty strong idea that they won’t. It’s okay to say, “No”.

Regarding the word “no”, I have some thoughts.  I think women, in particular, feel pressure to be polite and nice.

When I was in college, I had various situations where strangers were asking me out and it made me very uncomfortable.  I didn’t know how to handle the attention and I didn’t want to be rude.  So, I’d often smile and would give out my number or talk to someone longer than I wanted to.

If I could offer advice to my younger-self, I would say something like this:

Everyone is made in the image of God.  So treat others with the respect and kindness that you would want for yourself.  Recognize the humanity in people, but don’t feel pressured into allowing someone into your life as a romantic interest/partner if you are not interested. Many people will “meet the requirements” for being an acquaintance or a friend.  But few will meet the requirements for romance.

Marriage is the ultimate “group project”. You don’t need to bind yourself to someone that you don’t really have that much in common with or someone that you are not physically attracted to. So, it’s okay to say, “No, I’m not interested”.  This is not an evaluation of their character, their value, etc. Dating/marriage is a different type of relationship. It’s okay to be selective about who you want to share that experience with.

To be honest, I wish that women were given better tools for how to relate to men-especially strangers. To that end, many women/young girls experience attention that can be frightening or uncomfortable.

I don’t think that men truly understand how uncomfortable it can feel to be approached at night, to be followed around in a store, to be stared at, etc. And those are just mild situations*.

By no means, have I mastered the art of saying, “No”. But I’m learning how to feel more comfortable in politely turning a man down.

How have you mastered the art of saying, “No”?  Do you think that everyone deserves a chance?

*As a woman, there are times that I feel vulnerable. And the sad reality is that the world isn’t always safe.  There are people who do harm.  For this reason, it can be good to be practical.  For example, I have signed up for a self-defense class and am considering activating the alarm in the place where I live.

In the spirit of the post, I leave you with this song/lyric video from Meghan Trainor, No. (Sometimes men can be aggressive and refuse to take no for an answer.  But if a woman says she is not interested, let it go.)

Hear This- Local Sound

I’m not cool enough to be on the Spotify bandwagon. But since a life without music is not really living , I have a music subscription to Napster (formerly known as Rhapsody).

Like most subscriptions, Napster offers song suggestions similar to the music you’ve been listening to.  And that’s how I found out about the group Local Sound.

They are an indie/pop/electric blend of praise/Christian contemporary music. And they are a lot of fun to listen to.

They have two EP’s out.  The first video comes from their pop/electric EP and the second is the more stripped down version.

Enjoy.

I’m Only Good At Being Young*

So, I turned 40 this year.

I knew it was coming, but it still was a little jarring.  Plus, it doesn’t help that I’m surrounded by people who were born the same year I GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL. (I work in higher education.)

It’s also funny how people say that they feel young at heart, like a 16 year old trapped in an “old” person’s body.  But I disagree. I feel every inch of my 40 years. Some days, I feel even older. :/ (I’ve been struggling with some health issues for a while, but I’m hopeful that I’m on the upswing.)

Perhaps in the future, I’ll write more about my thoughts on hitting middle age. But in the meantime, I’ll share this clip from Jamie Foxx about getting older.

*The title was taken from a lyric from John Mayer’s song, Stop This Train.

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