Wednesday, February 22, 2017

190: marriage: object or portal, building or frontier

What is marriage? No idea. So this is my rambling.

As a single, sometimes marriage becomes an object. It is something you try to get.

Or we think of it like a portal into another world. You have no idea what the other world is like, but it must be Narnian in its magical qualities.

But we forget--unintentionally, temporarily--the relationship part of marriage.

Edward entered Narnia with his grumpy jealousies and wreaked havoc. Narnia was magical, but they still had to contend with the White Witch. We haven't tried merging our lives with another selfish being--like us.

Marriage is not an object or a portal. It is a building. It looks sturdy and safe and appealing from the perspective of a visitor. But the architect and construction crew know that you don't just say, "I want a beautiful house," and bam! it's there. It takes a lot of planning and starting and backing up and re-figuring, dealing with pipes bursting, and the city finding something wrong with the electricity, and the tile costing more than you planned, and the roofer taking twice as long as promised. On the worst days, you wonder if it was worth the headache to take this on.

Is it worth the labor? Yes. Oh yes. Because then you have a beautiful home that you built. There is pride and satisfaction and shelter.

But it's not an object to snatch up. This building is not up for auction. It's just a piece of land--maybe not even cleared of brush and rubble accumulated from the past. It's a portal into another world, sure--but that world is an untamed frontier you will have to pioneer.
Still sound romantic?

Actually, yeah, it does. :D

Monday, February 13, 2017

189: why I celebrate Valentines (not profound, not comprehensive)

I celebrate Valentines Day because I like romance and oohs and ahhs and an excuse to go over-the-top with hearts and chick flicks and red and pink d├ęcor.

I celebrate Valentines Day because I don't want to feel left out as a single person. Yes, that's the selfish, preventing-a-pity-party, barging-into-a-day-marketed-for-couples reason. Ah well.

I celebrate Valentines Day because I relish special moments. Those moments that make you smile from the inside out. That tickle your heart and make you smile even when you recall it months later. Those moments you write down in your journal to remember for always. That the two share that no one else sees--the personal joke, the unspoken expression, the unexpected look or word. Meaningless...except to you.

I celebrate Valentines Day because I believe in marriage. Because I believe God Himself made marriage. Because God Almighty endorses the relationship between man and woman. So Hallmark can be all wet, but no matter if I'm single or married or in a dating relationship that's going south, I'm still going to believe my God that that institution is a GREAT one and that He designed us to fit well in it.

So although rotic it may be (rotic = "romantic" without the man), tomorrow you will find me wearing a heart-bespeckled shirt to school, helping the kids with fractions using conversation hearts, eating holiday treats, and then spending an evening with the girl friends just because I get to enjoy the present!

"Clem caught her eye across the table. It seemed to her sometimes that the most important thing about marriage was not a home or children or a remedy against sin, but simply there being always an eye to catch." --Mrs. Miniver (1942) by Jan Struther


"Catherine coloured, and said, 'I was not thinking of anything.'
'That is artful and deep, to be sure; but I had rather be told at once that you will not tell me.'
'Well then, I will not.'
'Thank you; for now we shall soon be acquainted, as I am authorized to tease you on this subject whenever we meet, and nothing in the world advances intimacy so much.'
--conversation between Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, chapter 3

Friday, February 10, 2017

188: today's present

Today I am thankful for my little full time job where I can be lying in bed, waiting til the very last minute to get up for work, and get a text saying school is cancelled due to weather conditions. I'm thankful I can feel on top of things by mass texting my students' parents the news and then posting it on the school FB page. I'm thankful I can then be so not on top of things and cuddle back under the covers irresponsibly. I'm thankful I have time to read Laura Story's latest book, When God Doesn't Fix It. I'm thankful for time to get together with a friend and enjoy this oddly spring-like day (was Punxatawny Phil wrong??) by walking down town and book shopping. I'm thankful for money to buy yet more books for my classroom library (if I ever quit, I'll need a storage shed just for my books). I'm thankful for spontaneous friends who will bring over their Chinese takeout and make themselves comfortable while I run to the store for icecream and wait around anxiously for a hard phone call to happen that never happens. I'm thankful for movies from 80 years ago that still set my heart aflutter. I'm thankful for phones with Internet and Kindle apps when the Internet on my computer flops like a slippery trout. I'm thankful tomorrow is Saturday--after a full day off today--and that I can set it aside as a Sabbath and have TWO days off in a row.

These are things I'm thankful for that I would not have experienced if this were not my present. This is my present and I accept these gifts. :)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

187: this year's Valentines post

I have a new theme for my blog. Embracing the Present.

But I don't want to be always zipadeedooda either.

Basically, I don't know what to write about anymore. I feel like I've already said any thoughts that I continue to regurgitate.

I recommend 2 books. Pain Redeemed: When Our Deepest Sorrows Meet God by Natasha Metzler, and Blindsided by God by Peter Chin. Neither have to do with singleness, but both apply.

I haven't experienced the hardships that other people go through. I haven't experienced infertility or infidelity or wayward children or financial crisis or cancer (which is no respecter of marriage status).

I've only experienced singleness and living at home.

That's it.

So God uses the putty at hand to teach me what I desperately need to learn.

Like, it is okay for life to derail. In fact, it is normal.

When I read my Bible and hear testimonies, I discover that God has no reverence for the "ideal." I'm not sure where we come up with the "ideal" life or the "perfect" life or the most virtuous way of doing things, even down to me thinking that bigger families, living in the country, and not dressing trendy is, by default, "better."

I have completely subjective ideas of what is the ideal life. My ideal would have been to marry NO LATER than 21 years old, have probably a dozen children, raise them so that I have a close relationship with my children and none of them rebel, and have a marriage that would show the older, less-romantic marrieds that this is how you have a good marriage.

What does God do? He gives me, oh, none of it.

I have yet to see where God observes our ideal.

God does not work with ideals. God does not work with your perfect dream.

Sarah was barren for about a century. Her ideal? NO WAY.

Ezekiel's wife dies. His plan? No!

Hosea marries a woman who leaves him for other men, and their relationship is publicized before the whole nation. His idea of a good life? Uh, no.

Moses is sent away by his mother while a toddler, forced into a adoption/foster child type situation where he (my conjecture) fits neither as an Egyptian or as a Hebrew.

Elijah feels all alone in the world.

Daniel is castrated as a eunuch while a teenager.

Esther is forced to marry an older man who sleeps with many women.

Jeremiah is cast into a pit just for doing what God says.

We dismiss these examples because that was God's plan for them. Because we see how God was going to use it. Because they're in the Bible.

No, no, no. These were real men and women who had their lives upended because having your life upended by fate is NORMAL, but God is not fazed IN THE LEAST when your life derails. He does not have to come up with a Plan B. He is right there. His ideal for me was never dependent on me getting married, having children, and homeschooling. His plan for me never involved the path of sanctification I wanted--I wanted, I've always wanted, to be sanctified through marriage, to grow up through the crucible of marriage, to mature through parenting, to fulfill my life's purpose alongside my husband.

Instead, God's plan of sanctification for me means I have to say, no, I have no idea what it's like to be a parent. I've never had to stay up nursing or taking care of a sick child. No, my heart has never broken over my flesh and blood. I have not had to deal with miscommunication with a spouse. I haven't had to learn to compromise with a husband. I haven't had to feel the pang of selfishness being scraped away through marriage. I haven't. And not because I don't want to. But because this, THIS, is God's plan for ME. And the whole world can think I have the easy life as I shake these iron bars and cry out that it wasn't my plan, but--

God is in Heaven, and He does what He pleases. He chooses the paths we trod. Why, why do we hold on to our dreams so tightly and forget that EVERYTHING could go wrong in our lives and, still, EVERYTHING would be ours through Christ? His ideal for us is not temporal and circumstantial but spiritual and eternal. We lose nothing through singleness that every other Christian before us hasn't experienced in their own God-ordained way--the loss of something dear so that we might gain the intimate knowledge of Christ, apart from circumstances.

inside recess on a rainy day

"[T]o be a witness to God is, above all, to know, believe, and understand Him. All that He asks us to do is but means to this end. He will go to any lengths to teach us, and his manipulation of the movements of men . . . is never accidental. Those movements may be incidental to the one thing toward which He goads us: the recognition of Christ." --Elisabeth Elliot, The Savage My Kinsman