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Last year, during this time, I had all of my close friends who were single.

Now, they are ALL in relationships. Not just casual..but down-right-serious relationships. Marriage, trips, ‘I Love You’s’ etc.

To be honest I am so incredibly happy for them. I couldn’t imagine a better thing in life for them, they all deserve where they are. But there’s one thing that really irritates the hellz bellz out of me…their fear.

Their fear you ask?

“Michelle, can you please not tell anyone that we are dating, yet.”

What is up with this? I have had every single one of my Christian friends swear me into secrecy that I can’t tell anyone that they are dating when they first start out. In fact, many times my friends dated exclusively for at least one if not two months before letting people know that ANYTHING was going on. What would people think? How fast would the news travel? Who would be upset? What would people say?

“Michelle, can you please not tell people that we are doing more than kissing..but we’re not having sex.”

I have had so many discussions with friends, single and not, about intimacy of the physical kind. It’s amazing to me, because there really isn’t anything out there in the Christian world that has provided me much help in deciphering how to go about having a physical relationship with a partner without feeling the immense guilt from the Church. I know that there are passages about maintaining celebacy…and then there’s Songs of Solomon. I think that pressure to maintain, whatever level of physical limitations, within a Christian relationship is one of the areas that really scares Christian couples.

Personally I don’t care. I don’t. I don’t care if you’re going to wait til your married to kiss (I would ask why not, but I’ll respect you) and I don’t care if you’re having sex (I’ll ask if you it’s actually what you want to do and if you’re ready for the consequences of it). At the end of the day, it isn’t up to me to judge. What is up to, is to insure that you are maintaining a relationship with God, your partner and your own faith that insures that you’re comfortable and respectful of where you are.

“Michelle, we are going away…but don’t worry we have separate beds. I am just so worried what people would think.”

I think it’s interesting that my adult friends have to justify to me that they have separate beds. Of course, sharing a bed can lead to ‘bad’ things and decisions that may not be the best..however you define this. The thing that annoys me is that the fear that some of my friends have is that if people knew that they were going away and they didn’t announce, literally, that they had separate beds that their morals would be in question. Why do we assume this? Why can’t we trust people’s boundaries and decisions?

Being the single girl in the midst of a hurricane of serious Christian relationships has been fascinating. I feel like I have become the secret/sound board for things which I find trivial and useless in forging an open, honest, discussion about healthy formations of relationships. I have realised that what you see in many Christian relationships are show in public and held-back because people are so incredibly afraid of being affectionate, open and honest. It’s hush-hush “because I don’t want to be judged by people” for our decisions.

I don’t think it’s anyone’s business to judge someone’s relationships choices. I do think it’s normal and healthy to ask if the relationship is following someone’s personal boundaries, faith dimension and respect for themselves. I do think it’s good to remind people of their walk with faith in their relationships, because I think that it ensures that people are respecting their foundation.

But to judge….that’s not my job.

~Farm Girl

I remember once when I was at my church and the pastor telling a story about his wife.

She was a new Christian at a gathering. They were all talking about their favourite parts of the Bible. She didn’t know many of the books. However, when it was her turn she spit out the one that first came to her. It was ‘Songs of Solomon’. (laughter erupts) If my wife thinks her most favourite book of the Bible is ‘Songs of Solomon’ then I am one happy man.

Man, I could probably still not identify my most favourite book of the Bible because honestly I haven’t read through every single one of them. Thus, I don’t think it would be fair to exclude one without due just. If I had to say…I would say Isaiah, OT, and 1 Peter NT.

But that’s not the point of this conversations. It’s actually to talk about my first impressions of Songs of Solomon. I will totally admit that I read this the other day blindly..ok I am not blind. I mean intellectually/background blind. I actually still have not researched anything about it. I am ok with that for the purpose of this conversation.

What struck me were two things.

1. The beauty of courtship
2. The idea of waiting

The beauty of courtship is so evident and I love it.

I slept but my heart was awake. Listen! My lover is knocking; “Open to me, my sister, my darling, my dove, my flawless one. My head is drenched with dew, my hair with dampness of the night” SofS 5:2

But my own vineyard is mine to give; the thousand shekels are for you, O Solomon, and two hundred are for those who tend its fruit. SofS 8:12

But what caught me off guard, honestly, was in the following passages 2:7 and 8:4 and the idea of waiting

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you. Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires

I actually highlighted both times it was said in this book, because it struck me.

First, because I have written about sex, relationships and how I have found that to be the hardest thing for me to overcome as of late in my walk as a Christian. Having not abstained before,  and now  approaching relationships as a Christian, I find that it is so much harder to abstain then if I hadn’t done anything.

but it made me think.

Secondly, I think it’s almost out of place at first glance. Why in the midst of the sexual courtship of words does the beloved mention this. A cautionary tale, word of advice, snipped of wisdom,

and yet I find it beautifully placed.

I don’t know if it is a warning per say. Rather a ‘heads up’. Don’t rush these things ladies. Don’t push yourself onto anyone because it’s not genuine when you do that. Men: love, court, intoxicate and appreciate a woman. But it’s more than just the sexual innuendos and suggestive wording of this book. I think it marks a much larger area in the development of relationships

intimacy

Intimacy in our world is one which is commonly caged in sex. Sexual intimacy.

What intimacy has been robbed of is emotional, spiritual and respectful beauty. We no longer place value upon getting to know someone, whilst showing interest. We show interest through often times, in the least intimate way by engaging too early in sex. Thus robbing the tree of the roots. Starving it of life.

What I believe the beloved is saying is…plant your roots. Don’t force it to grow if it isn’t ready. Be patient and nurture it.

This is one passage in the Bible that has reached out, smacked me across the face, and has made all of the angst I have had about waiting…dissolve slowly.

Cause really…doesn’t every girl want this?

Come away, my lover, and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the spice laden mountains. SofS 8:14

~Farm Girl

I had a great conversations with one of my friends last night over tea and soup.

This kinda of goes on the crux of my sexuality post and the fact that the past month-ish I have been in neutral with my faith. It just hasn’t been doing much for me to be honest. Nothing has really gotten me going, in fact everything has been making me question what I really REALLY want out of everything.

Why even be a Christian? I can be my OWN person with my OWN faith!

I do agree with the notion that you’re faith is ultimately yours. That you are the master of your own destiny and faith.

However, I do think that you do need to ask yourself one question

Are you doing the will that YOU want -or- are you ASKING God to let you LIVE the will of God?

I was talking to my friend about this, because in my processing of my stagnant, dare I say ‘backsliding’, state I have been thinking a lot about my OWN WANTS from God. I want to be able to have my own sexual definitions, my own prayer routines (ie before major things) and my own definition of what I want from my faith.

I have NOT been asking God to help me do God’s will.

I have NOT been keeping my mind/heart/soul/ears/eyes open to the fact that I would agree that we are here to live God’s will through the actions that we do everyday. For some of us that’s living in a rural place being a nurse, being a teacher, working at the church, mowing someone’s lawn…being present daily with God.

What I have bitched complained about before is the idea of relationships..as a prime example.

Friend: “I just thought I’d be married by now, with kids, a husband. I am losing hope again.”
Me: “So, what you’re going to tell me is that you’re losing hope in God’s ability to provide what God has laid out for you? What if you are not meant to get married for three more years and in that time God wants you to focus on nursing. God wants you to live in the present and live a beautiful, diverse life?”
Friend: “That’s an interesting thought”
Me: “There is NOTHING more unattractive than someone who is desperate, and trying to force upon their life their own will instead of Gods. The most attractive people to me, are people who have their own passions, follow their dreams, are warm to people and who realise that there’s more to life then getting married as the only validating exercise of God’s will”

The point that I am trying to make..is that we start demanding our will upon God..we start losing track of what our ultimate will is from God. Yeah, ok..so you’re not exactly where you want to be…so are you going to rob the rest of your life getting to a place you thought you should be now and/or were in the past?

Stop forcing your will upon God..and let God give you God’s will.

~Farm Girl

I remember the feeling that I had when I was writing the ‘Rebelling Against My Faith‘. Man..I wanted to do it my own way. SCREW THIS GOD…I AM DOING IT MY WAY..GOT IT?

Cause, you know what…that last 26+ years of doing it my own way has been PERFECT

not

The thing that I think sometimes I struggle with is looking at Christianity and seeing the rules. The expectations. The ‘you shouldn’ts’ and the ‘you shoulds’ and thinking ‘but why?’

Call me a rebelling toddler. Call me a ‘back slider’. Call me an engaging xian.

If you’re going to be anything in life..you should know what you are. You should question your beliefs, and in some instances you should challenge them. To me, that’s the only way you’re ever going to grow.

For me that challenge has manifested itself in sex/intimacy/dating. I want to be physically intimate with someone, I have moments when I yearn for it. I am not a virgin, and knowing what ‘it’s’ like is enticing sometimes, especially on cold winter nights. My struggle recently has come from my faith, which I have not had challenged until the past two weeks, and wanting to ‘do my own thang!’

After exploring this sentiment I came to a realisation…that God wants us to not just save ourselves for our love/husband/wife/partner because it’s the RIGHT thing to do. Because lets me honest, there’s lots of right things to be doing. But I think what it actually boils down to is because it’s the thing which brings about the most personal and relational integrity.

Sex is, in my opinion, a facet of a MUCH larger spiritual/emotional/holistic realm of intimacy.

Intimacy is the ultimate manifestation of self-worth/love/care/affection/values/respect. In that we create or do not create an intimate relationship with ourselves and others. When we starve out a holistic approach to intimacy with ourselves, then we attract a desperate need to feel ‘whole’ by instant gratifications. This can come from eating, sex, over-exercising, drugs, alcohol, gambling etc.

For me, and I am just being honest, I don’t know how to be intimate…thus I don’t know how to be intimate with Men. I struggle being intimate with God. Thus, sex and instant physical intimacy fills the little void that I have in my intimate being…for the blissful moment.

But it leaves the soul empty.

So I do not sit her pissed off at God for encouraging me to keep my legs together, from shoving my face with chocolate cake or putting off things I need to do.

Rather I want to hug God for enabling me to see that it is not rooted in condemnation…rather a love for each of us that is rooted in God asking that we live the best life that we can live…by giving us ways in which to engage our lives that demand integrity.

With the ultimate goal of creating an intimate relationship with ourselves, which impacts our relationships with God and those around us.

~Farm Girl

I have written about dating and Christianity. However, I was talking with one of my friends today via skype. I love skype.

The thing which I still wanted to talk about is the notion of ‘THE ONE’ and ‘THE CHECKLIST’

I have walked through so much of my life with a check-list.

  • Tall
  • Smart
  • Intelligent
  • Sophisticated
  • Can make my laugh
  • Good shoes
  • Good dancer
  • Nice teeth
  • Nice hands
  • Doesn’t walk funny
  • Wants to be a Dad
  • Someone I could see myself with
  • Doesn’t eat funny
  • Fit
  • Attractive
  • Someone I could take to see my grandparents
  • Knows how to dress
  • Smells good
  • Isn’t a Mama’s Boy
  • …..

I am not here to say through all of our ‘check lists’ out the window. However I am going to bring up a couple of things which it think suck Christians and Non-Christians into the ‘frustrated single’ ‘I can’t find anyone’ ‘I have given up’ ‘I have dating’ mind-frame

Having expectations that aren’t necessary

I have a friend who I go ‘He’s a great guy.’ To which they respond ‘He’s not really my type, he’s not attractive/hot enough’. Coming from a girl who has had major body issues, I cringe when they say that. I get that being physically attracted to someone is important, but what about the idea of falling for someone for who they are? I think that we put up ‘MUST HAVE’S’ and forget about the true, formative, foundational MUST HAVES.

Shared faith, no kids, committed to family, makes you laugh.

What if we just shrunk our lists down to five things, what would they be?

I think that the five things that you need to focus are things that stand the test of wrinkles, lost jobs, family tragedies. They are the foundational MUST HAVES.

Looking for ‘The One’ and shutting people

Yeah, I won’t go out with them, because I know that they are not ‘The One’. Really? Do you actually know that they aren’t the one? How do you know?

I often think of this when I think of Jesus and his teaching. Jesus talked, spoke, taught those who were marginalized. Never turning away from those who needed to be loved on, never undermining people because they weren’t initially good enough.

Matthew 22:37-39
Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ // This is the first and greatest commandment. // And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'”

I am not saying that you should go out to coffee with creeps. What I am saying is keep your heart open, treat people with respect and quit thinking the coffee equates marriage. Shutting people out on a principle list that is so long that no one can fit it. Remember the good friends that you have, they may not have even been people that you liked and/or thought that you were going to like.

One of my dear friends, who is a short Asian woman, was someone when I first met her thought to myself: Oh, she’s a crazy Bible thumping Christian, there’s NO WAY that we’re going to get along. Low and behold she was the one who showed me my faith. She is the reason I am Christian. We have talked before about how we both almost shut each other out, because we didn’t think that there was going to be any connection, but we just learned to be open with each other and are now amazing friends.

The same thing has happened with guys for me. Albeit my ex was not someone who did much for me overall, the attraction was NOT because he was handsome. It was his intelligence, wit, thirst for life. It was who he was. It was the transcending values, initially, that attracted me to him.

How many people have you thought: ‘Oh, he isn’t the one, so there’s no use in going further?’

I get that there are people whome you’re NEVER going to work out with. But there are a lot of people out there that perhaps we could all keep our hearts a little bit more open to. To actually get to know them as human beings.

Hiding behind PERFECT

For me, this is for me. I feel like I need to be perfect before I can date. I need to be educated, smart, intelligent, thin, beautiful, funny, sending the right signals…changing for what I think that he wants? That used to be me. You see God’s grace is amazing, the beauty that you have right now, is one that has been instilled in your forever, it’s God’s Grace. As I have written before, you are beautiful in God’s eyes. Filled with his grace and purpose. Whenever I feel like I am not enough and/or not connecting and/or it just isn’t going my way—I bring myself back to God’s love. At the end of the day, that is where I should be living my life through.

Philippians 4:4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! // Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. // Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, be prayer, and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. // And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 John 12-13
God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. // We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us his spirit.

Not enjoying the ‘butterfly stage’

Who said flirting is bad? So, you bat your eye lashes, make a smart-ass comment back, wink, get a tinge suggestive. I once had someone say to me ‘Don’t just try and define things from the beginning, just enjoy the stage that it’s in.’ I think that many of us, especially as we get older, rob the courtship of butterflies. We want to know RIGHT NOW if this is going somewhere. The butterflies are awesome. How fun is it to see them and think ‘wonder what they’re thinking?’ or get the cold hands or racing heart. I mean really, it means that you’re alive.

Just enjoy it.

Making a move

This is my last and final thing. Make a move. I have heard so many times that people sit in idle ‘friend’ stage forever. I am not one that is good at this. But I do think that there’s something to be said about making a move. Rmemeber dinner, coffee, run, movie outing doesn’t mean that you’re getting married. Rather, it’s just a friendly gesture to get to know someone.

At the end of it all, it’s about the following

  • 5 foundational and transcending values/beliefs that someone MUST have
  • Enjoying the courtship
  • Being open to people
  • Loving yourself, because you are God’s image
  • Making a move and taking the pressure off

Who knows…you may just find THE ONE!

~Farm Girl

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