Monday, February 23, 2015

The "Spiritual" Test

"Would you expect your husband to attend bible study with you every week? he asked.

We hung out one Wednesday night before bible study. We had a small dinner, talked, laughed, and around 6:30 pm I headed out to make it on time, while he stayed at home preparing to go to the gym.  He called me later on that evening revealing that he felt a little awkward as I left for bible study and he was still sitting on the couch.

He knew the importance and significance of church in my life. He wanted to know what my expectations would be if we ever decided to move forward in a relationship. Mind you, he does go to church, and his bible study is actually on Tuesday nights. Because of his work schedule and distance from church to work, there are many nights he is unable to make it to the house for bible study, but will watch online.

Had this been a year ago, I would've been very adamant about attending bible study every Wednesday and being in the house, not online! It was a tradition and routine in my house growing up. There was a bit of judgment that came when I even thought about not wanting to go. Oh, but I've learned better! I've been freed of other people's expectations and judgments. I currently work a great distance from my house and church, and work late hours at times. Bible study is a great midweek boost and study of the word of God. Its a more intimate setting where you can ask questions and hear others thoughts and opinions, but there are just some days I just can't make it, and I am ok with that! I'm still saved!

To answer his question, I let him know that I would like for my family to attend church regularly together on Sunday mornings.  Bible study during the week would definitely be a great time to share in the word together as a family, but I absolutely understand the midweek hustle and bustle and would not expect him to attend every week.

But being the woman that I am, I started to over analyze and think too hard. Are we on the same page spiritually, not just from our conversation about bible study, but then I began to wonder about other aspects of his spiritual life. Does he read his word frequently? What's his prayer life like? How involved is he in ministry? Is he a worshiper like me? He doesn't talk a lot about God. Is God really that important in his life? I began to judge his entire spiritual life! We discussed our relationship with Christ and he shared his story of salvation and his draw to the church. But he cusses occasionally, doesn't have a strong desire to wait to have sex before marriage, but respects the wishes of the woman he is with. He's not as involved in ministry at church because of his busy work schedule, and he listens to ratchet music in his car at times.

If I began to list my faults, they may far out way his. Well, let's see. I listen to ratchet music in my car occasionally too! Sometimes I just need a good beat to dance to and Yolanda Adams just won't do it! If you push me too far, hallelujah is not the first word to exit my mouth. I've committed to being celibate and waiting until marriage to have sex, but the way my flesh is set up, that battle is not always won! I think negative thoughts at times.  I don't treat everyone with kindness every day. And the list goes on and on.  But we are both saved and proclaim Jesus Christ.

As a minister and a seminary student, my life demands visible accountability, studying the word, and constant prayer.  A burden and blessing that can be difficult to handle and live up to at times. But its a daily process and struggle that I enjoy, because God has been nothing short of a amazing in my life. Unfortunately, it sometimes causes me to become judgmental in seeking a mate because I zoom in solely on their current spiritual walk and forget the time it took me to grow to where I am today.  It's still not anywhere of where I should and will be, but God is good! LOL

Questioning and observing his spiritual walk and relationship with Christ is not a bad thing. Ladies, it should be at the top of your list as you date and seek long term relationships. But when you begin to answer and draw your own conclusions, you slip into the realm of judgment and condemnation that we has humans do not have the right to do.  Actions tell a lot, but only time and situations can reveal the true essence of who a person truly is.  We are called to be in relationship with one another, yet in dating, as Christian women, we tend to devise conversion plans to make him into the man we want and desire and not who God destined him to be. We must accept people where they are and allow God to do the necessary work.  This walk is a race that we are not all in at the same pace and distance, but we are in this race together.

As I've gotten older, dating has actually drawn me closer to God as I seek his guidance on relationships.  I seek to be married. Not just to any man, but the man God has for me. And that requires constant communication with the one who is preparing my husband. Reminding myself that its only been 3 weeks!! I am going to continue to "chill", enjoy the experience, and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal and lead me in this relationship. It just makes me tighten up my walk that I may be an influence and not a hindrance. Because if he is not the one, then I want to make sure my seed was planted on good soil, and not choked by my judgment and impatience.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The "Expectation" Monster!

"Are we ok?" he asked. 

"We've been in a good place so far right? he asked.

I got past my two date maximum and I was about to ruin it already! We had been dating a few weeks and things were going great. He even asked me to be his Valentine! It was so cute and low-key, I was waiting for him to ask or at least mention Valentines Day! It had been a while since I even recognized the day as a holiday! 

But there was a caveat. His brother was preparing to have his first child. From the same lips that asked me to be his Valentine came words of comfort for the possible departure and disappointment that he would have to make. And I understood. He let me know in advance! The brother got points just for that. Many of his counterparts would not even had given me that pleasure.

So the week of Valentines Day was here. We had been seeing each other just about everyday and my excitement about the day began to rise slightly. He asked about my favorite type of food. He even asked what time I was getting off work on Saturday and what time I could be ready. He was planning. Again, more bonus points! But being the woman that I am, I ask questions too! Throughout the week he would mention that he was talking to his brother and the family, making plans. Not really sure when the baby was coming, but would possibly go the following weekend.  In order to curb my disappointment, I asked what his final plans were.  I got the "man" answer, "I will definitely let you know." This question leaves a woman nothing but frustrated! But around Thursday he finally hit me with the dagger. It was a strong possibility he would have to leave out on Saturday, but still left me with the lingering, "but I will let you know by Saturday morning." 

But ladies, he won a million points by sending flowers to my job Friday afternoon. But my smile only lasted until Saturday morning. He was headed to be with his family, and I was way more disappointed than I thought I would ever be or should be!

Expectations ruined it again! I told myself this time around I was taking it very slow and not getting excited about what I thought it could be. I fought not to envision the long term and just stay in the moment. We were enjoying each others company. He was a gentleman. We laughed together. We were extremely goofy, and I was having fun.  And most of all, we were just friends, no relationship talk had been had. I was trying to do what my wise co-worker told me, "just chill." But of course that is easier said than done, at least for me.

I found myself extremely disappointed and upset. He led me on. I would have been ok if he told me from the jump that he was definitely going out of town. I could have settled with it and kept it moving. But I felt my emotions were getting strung along and then dropped on their head.  Even when I knew he was very apologetic and honestly didn't want to disappoint me, my emotions could not seem to act right! He called all day Saturday and texted me throughout the day. He was checking in to make sure we were ok. I placed an expectation on him after only 2 weeks. He was doomed for failure!

I expected that we would go out on Valentine's Day even though I was warned it may not happen. I felt and expected that he wouldn't let me down. I expected him to read my mind, know my thoughts, emotions, and feelings, and act accordingly. I expected him to act like my man although there was no conversation of a real commitment. I had an emotional roller coaster in my head all by myself and didn't snap out of it until a friend set me straight. 

I was saying out loud how I wanted to act, take it slow and go with the flow, yet I was reacting the polar opposite. I let my guard down too quickly. I was in head first and didn't even realize it. How did i get here?  At the end of the day I control how deep I fall.  And as much as I hate using the word in regards to dating and relationships, it was a "game" in which all my cards were showing!

Proverbs 4:23 reads,"  Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it. As women we are vulnerable and fragile at times. We open our hearts first and deal with the consequences later. As I am learning, guarding is not a bad thing. It is a protection mechanism to keep what God has created for the appointed time and person. I am also learning that out of my heart flow expectations. Expectations are not bad, but must be constrained and contained for the appointed time and person.  

I love the game of basketball, so I will end with this:

A point guard, like other player positions in basketball, specializes in certain skills.  A point guard is a coach on the floor, who can handle and distribute the ball, setting up plays on the court, getting the ball to the teammate in the best position to score, and controlling the tempo of the game. A point guard should know when and how to instigate a fast break and they need to always have in mind the times on the shot clock and the game clock.

The guard is one of, if not the most important person on the team. Guarding requires being in the game, taking control of your heart, emotions, and expectations, and position and play accordingly! So, put me in coach! I am ready to play! Point GUARD it is! I expect to win!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Insecure Cooking

"Do you cook?" he asked.

This question use to raise the hairs on my neck and make me nervous.  My answer doesn't necessarily paint the picture of the Betty Crocker wife that many men desire.  Since living on my own, working a full time job, church, working out, etc, I don't have time to cook, and to be very honest, i don't like to cook! I don't find pleasure in being in the kitchen, and a sandwich with a side of applesauce does me just right!

So now when guys ask me this question, I give them a straight answer, "No." I proceed to down play my abilities in order to possibly kill expectations that will likely not be met in a marriage.

Then he challenged me, " Why?"

(Side eye) "Its not that i don't cook, i just don't like to!" I said.

"Tell me more," he said.

My mother had me stay in the kitchen with her while she cooked, passing her particular ingredients, stirring the pot, and watching to make sure nothing over boiled. I learned plenty of dishes to cook, and I prepare them every now and again, particularly on special occasions. But i don't find joy and happiness in the tasks. I cook to survive and live!

In my previous post, they are saturated with my desire to be married! So this post seems like an oxymoron. If I desire to be married, wouldn't I embrace cooking?  But I have come to realize that my slight disdain for cooking is only a mask covering my fear of failing as a wife and someday a mother. You see, as I watched my mother make gravy and macaroni and cheese from scratch, my attempts at home were nothing short of epic failures, inedible for anyone to eat. I felt like I was not living up to the expectations of a woman being from the south or truly worthy of being someone's wife. Can I really live up to the expectation of providing for my family. I mean, the Proverbs 31 woman was a beast!
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.

I am good with the whole chapter right up until these two verses. Its almost as if I read the chapter and subconsciously skip over these verses.  I understand that cooking is not the end-all, be-all for a woman. I would actually be alright without this trait. Without these two verses, the woman is still a beast! (Repenting now for calling the Proverbs 31 woman a beast, but it's true! LOL)

It truly comes down to knowing yourself and the flaws you bring to the table. Are you willing to work on that which will require time and sacrifice to reach your highest potential and be the best at what you desire to be? I am not seeking to be the "perfect wife", but one who can provide meals for her family and maintain a household.

It takes preparation.  As women, and people in general, we tend to mask our insecurities yet desire and romanticize marriage as the healing band aid to all our problems. Well, I am learning that with every desire and goal comes preparation and sacrifice. I desire to be married, and although my cooking skills lack, and I fear my family will come to embrace ham sandwiches as a gourmet meal, I will embrace cooking as a task that I can achieve and an insecurity whose chains will be broken. 

As I wrote down my goals for 2015, I added a personal goal of discovering and making one new recipe a month from various sources. For the month of January I made spinach lasagna from scratch and shocked myself with how good it was! I ate on it for at least 5 days straight! It was great. I was proud of myself, and for once I truly enjoyed preparing and making a meal. I am preparing to be a wife, but most of all I am dealing with the insecurities within myself and growing as a person everyday.

Every wife is a woman, but every woman is not a wife. If it is your desire to become a wife, begin to self examine yourself and acknowledge your flaws and insecurities.  The truth will set you free! Marriage will not make you a better person, you become that before you say "I do."

Scripture excerpt: Proverbs 31:14-15 NIV