whether or not Your lips move

You speak to me

Harmonious Relationships July 27, 2010

Just now I was reading 1 Peter 3:8, which says followers of Christ are supposed to have unity of mind, or as some translations put it, be “harmonious.” I don’t know about you, but a lot of times it can feel like we’re not even singing off the same page of music, let alone singing in harmony!

I struggle a lot when I realize I have a difference of opinion, taste, or thought than a friend. I like peace and really dislike arguments. I struggle even more when I realize that there is someone in my life that just doesn’t like me and isn’t all that interested in being friends.

This verse helps me feel a little better, though. Harmony is all about complementary notes and often what notes aren’t played are just as important as the ones that are. It doesn’t mean you hate the other notes. It just means they don’t need to be played at this moment in time.

I wonder what life would be like if I applied this to my everyday relationships. I could take some stress off myself with trying to “play every note” all at once–that probably ends up sounding like a great big mess. Instead I can focus on this chord here, and this one here. So these individuals aren’t interested in interacting with me on this. That’s OK. Maybe next time. So this person doesn’t want to hear my thoughts on this subject. No problem; maybe just bad timing.There might be certain topics or people that I just need to let take a rest.

So maybe it’s OK when we don’t all agree on something. As long as we are being sympathetic, loving each other, and being kind and humble, maybe we can work out the significant differences and just let the rest fade.

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.
1 Peter 3:8 (NIV)

To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit…
1 Peter 3:8 (NASB)

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Dealing with Loneliness May 28, 2010

This is a repost from my other blog, Keep Him or Dump Him?

On this blog we talk a lot about being the kind of women we know we can be, and not settling for anything less than the best in our relationships.

If you’ve been on that journey for even a short amount of time, you’ve probably come to realize something. It’s a lonely way of life.

It can get lonely when you feel like surely you must be crazy for holding out for the “right” guy. You might have even been called “too picky” and told you need to lower your standards. Nobody’s perfect they tell you. And you know this, but you also know that you are worthy of the deepest love and respect possible in a relationship with a guy. And so you continue to hold on to hope as best you can.

It can get lonely when you see another girl partying and hooking up with few consequences, while you continue to wait. She seems to have so much fun. But you know that even if her body isn’t showing the effects of it, her mind and emotions are taking a beating that she may not be aware of—or that she just isn’t equipped to acknowledge. Somewhere along the way she was tricked into thinking that this is the way it is done, this is who she is, and this is how it is supposed to be. It can be very tempting to want to try her way of doing things. It can also be very tempting to set yourself up on a high horse above her. Instead of judging her or joining her, you decide to love her and be her friend.

It can get lonely when you’re the last one of all your friends to be in a serious relationship. You find yourself surrounded by couples and feel like the third wheel. You may even begin to scrutinize yourself and think there is something wrong with you. You feel like you have to choose between bitterness of soul and just accepting reality. You fight the temptation to just go out and find any guy willing to fill the void in your life. But you realize that when you draw your strength from God, you can think a little more clearly and try to keep your eyes on what’s really important.

It can get lonely when you are being pursued by men that you know are totally wrong for you. You get tired of always saying no. You might begin thinking that you should just go ahead and take what you can get. You might start thinking that God is holding out on you and this is what you have to choose from, so why not just go for it. But you are reminded that God has good, exciting plans for your life and choose to focus on that instead—even if it is a daily battle to do so.

I speak from experience on all of this. “But Ashley, you’re a happily married woman now, and therefore I am going to stop listening to you.” (I remember totally tuning out married women’s opinions at one time in my life, too.) Yes, but I have a very good “emotional memory” and remember very, very well the way it felt to be alone.

I didn’t always handle my loneliness very well. Often I was very immature about it. I’d avoid friends who were in happy, healthy relationships because it just put a spotlight on what I didn’t have. I would totally ignore the advice of happily married women because my jealousy painted them as being totally out of touch with the real world and what it was like to be single. I manipulated guys for their attention and affection to fill the void in my heart, but didn’t understand that this was what I was doing.

Finally I found a decent way to deal with loneliness. I guess that after a while I just got tired of being miserable. I started taking a good look at myself to evaluate who I really was. It was painful and not fun. And—you guessed it—it was still lonely! But I was at least learning to be a little more content with it. I had a lot of alone time with God because I didn’t really have much of anyone else. I ended up reading the Bible a lot, journaling a lot, praying a lot. And after a few months of it, I realized that I was becoming a different person. And I kind of liked her.

I need to point out that just because a woman is married, it doesn’t mean she is never lonely. Loneliness has more to do with your soul than your relationship status. It comes and goes, often staying longer than we’d like. But sometimes a little loneliness is OK. When we are dealing with it in appropriate, healthy ways, it can be a tool that helps chisel us more into reflecting the image of God.

What are some ways you have dealt with loneliness?

 

cougars January 6, 2010

I had a really interesting discussion at dinner tonight. A friend shared a story about her teenage son who just graduated from high school. Apparently a woman at their church (who has three kids of her own), fully aware of his age, gave him her phone number and told him to call her sometime. And this happened AT church. She even wrote her number on a prayer request card.

Obviously there are so many things going on with this situation that it’s impossible to discuss them all. But in recent years I’ve really been fascinated by this “cougar” trend. It’s been explored in movies, reality shows, and sitcoms. Normally a woman is considered a “cougar” if she is 40 or over and seeking out men at least 8 years younger than she is. “Pumas” are women in their 30s–“cougars in training.”

I like to try to understand people and put myself into their shoes. I know I could easily be just as susceptible to doing something “crazy,” too. I wonder if these women are fulfilling a part of their lives from the past. Maybe they didn’t feel attractive to guys when they were in middle school or high school, and so they are “reliving” that desire with much younger boys. Or maybe they never quite grew out of the way they related with boys at that age. Maybe older women are going for much younger boys these days because of the lack of father roles in their lives. For a long time everybody would say girls look to marry guys that remind them of their dads. I think a lot of women got tired of hearing this because they wanted to be with someone who was anything BUT like their dads. So some end up looking for WAY younger guys so they can “train” them to be what they want them to be, instead of dealing with unresolved emotional issues.

And, our culture seems to think it’s hot for a young guy to be with an older woman. Just look at all the movies that have this theme in them (American Pie series, etc.) and popular songs (“Stacy’s Mom”).

But I don’t think it’s just “older” women who are “cougars” these days. I’m often shocked at the way even young girls are with boys. The girls do all the pursuing. They seem to look for guys who need rescuing. In our society’s efforts to empower women, I really feel like we’ve gone quite a bit too far in this area. I’m looking around and seeing a lot of unhappy girls and women–single and married–who have taken pursuit into their own hands.

Call me old fashioned, but I really believe ladies should back off and give guys a chance to be the ones to pursue. Yeah, that means they have to man up and take initiative and not sit on their rears expecting the world to come to them on a silver platter. But honestly, deep down this is what they want. They want to have to man up. They want to have what it takes to make a woman truly happy (this will take up a whole other blog post). They want to have to fight a little for it. But many of them have no earthly clue.

What say ye, ladies? What can we do to change things around? Or do you think things are okay the way they are? What’s your story and experience?