Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Kissing Game

“The next guy I kiss will be my husband,” she said.

After I caught my breath and fixed my face I simply gave her that “if you say so” type smile and walked away thinking, “now how is that going to work!?

Although my initial thoughts were “EXTREMIST ALERT”, I had to respect and acknowledge that she was making an “extreme” decision because she was seeking “extreme” results, purity before marriage, which in this culture and society, unfortunately, is seriously considered extreme. It was her way of disciplining herself to maintain what is meant for her husband, not just a kiss, but all of her. But it always starts with a kiss….

Now I must say, I LOVE TO KISS!! Affection is my first, middle, and last name. I crave it. Kissing is intimate and passionate and I could do it ALL DAY! I’d even put it above sex! Literally! If there was an Olympic sport of kissing, I’d train all year and shoot for the gold!

Outside of lover of God, good looks, and intelligence, the brother I date has to be able to kiss. On the first date, while he talks and I listen intently, of course, I imagine whether or not I could kiss him. If there’s a hint of doubt, there’s little to no hope! You call it shallow. I call it risk management!

But I will admit with both hands up, kissing has gotten me into A LOT of trouble. “It” always starts with a kiss, then a touch, then a caress, then a grope, then, well, we know what comes next. It never fails. I remember one boyfriend and I agreed to only kiss in public places to keep from succumbing to our flesh.  Well, that turned into just kissing in the car, which always seemed to lead back to the house, don't ask me how!

It’s been so long since I’ve even had a kiss, a good one! A toe curl, marry him tomorrow type kiss, and probably for good reason! I use to ask God to take away my sexual desire because I just couldn't seem to control myself around a guy I was physically attracted to and dating. I’m such a passionate person in general and the kiss just simply takes me there! So her idea of waiting to kiss her husband, as in on the wedding day, isn't such a bad idea after all!

I can't stress enough how the infamous definition of insanity: “doing the same thing and expecting a different result”, has transformed my entire life, particularly the way I date these days. I WANT TO BE A WIFE, not a wifey, a bae, or a boo thang, but a Proverbs 31, only woman to one man who loves me like Christ loves the church, type wife. And even above that, I want to please God and be an example to others. So choosing to be celibate and waiting until marriage is the sacrifice I am willing to make to glorify God.

It always starts with a kiss.  Could I do it? I cringed even typing it.  Let’s just say I know it to be possible because I’ve heard stories and actually met couples who didn’t kiss until their wedding day. When you ask them their story, they will say it was NOT easy but possible.

The fruit of self-discipline seems to fall far from the tree in this thing called life and dating. It’s a discipline that gets the best of us most of the time, if not all of the time, because we want what we want, when we want it, and absolutely how we want it.  It's the American way, right? And all I keep hearing in my head is, “ And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

In this dating life, I’ve conformed because transforming just seems too hard. Renewing my mind takes work. And the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God seems uncomfortable and scary! So about that kissing thing again. I did mention it gets me into a lot of trouble, right?  And because I clearly don't have a ring on my finger, my kissing obviously doesn't keep men around to put a ring on it, so why not try something different! Kissing celibacy anyone?

Now before I jump the gun, because it absolutely seems easier said than done, God had me look at it like this: As I prepare myself to be a wife and work on Kristin, I must also work on reserving myself for my husband. Meaning, these are his lips, his kiss, and ultimate his body that I may ultimately share my precious gift with. So, in essence, I’ve been giving his kisses away leaving nothing for the imagination, let alone the sanctity of marriage. So, with that thought in mind, I love Him and him enough to at least give this no kissing thing a strong consideration and attempt. And for clarity, I mean french kissing in particular ( I know some of you were already contemplating, now what type of

At the end of the day, to each his own when it comes to boundaries and self-control in dating. But if you know that your personal boundaries and level of self-control has dwindled down to none when it comes to being celibate, why not try something different. See if the results bring you true happiness and God true glory. Join me on this journey and let’s keep each other accountable!

Are yall praying for me? God is up to something!

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Unavailable Man

“Are you going to get out there and dance?” he asked.

It was a Friday night and I was in the mood to shake my groove thang! Yep, I might be a little old and corny, but hey, it’d been that kind of week. Not a bad week, just long and I needed to let loose and cut a rug on the dance floor. I LOVE to dance!

I hit some of the ladies up to see who’d be interested in hanging out that night. It seemed that everyone was bailing out, but one came through at the last minute and we hit my favorite spot, Half Note Lounge. I have a thing for hanging with the forty and over crowd! They simply just know how to party!

As I was standing at the bar dancing to the sounds of the DJ, a gentleman started dancing with my friend. Not phased at all, I proceeded to let her do her thang while I continued to dance solo. I could only imagine the gentleman standing next to me was simply waiting for the opportunity to ask me to dance, and this was his lucky night! HIs deep voice peaked my interest, and as I turned to check out the rest of the package, I had to look up! That sealed the deal. He was over six feet tall! Score!

One thing about a forty and over club, it's not about the bumping and grinding. We actually faced each other and danced, even a little hand dancing. We sang to each other as the band played hits from the 80s and 90s, challenging each other on who knew the most words and who was too young for the time, which was always me!

As we danced to the sounds of one the baddest bands in the land, Secret Society, he constantly complimented me on my height and smile. As much as I’d been tearing myself down lately, his compliments were doing more than he could imagine. I was on cloud nine, enjoying his presence, all six feet and six inches of it all!

He was a gentleman, keeping his hands above the waist and moving me out of the way as people rushed the dance floor and bumped against us as we danced.  It simply made me feel protected and secure. My friends will tell you I “fall in love in the club” and this dude was winning me over.

As we danced to nearly 5 or 6 six songs, he proceeded to tell me that this was his first time at Half Note and, oh yea, HE’s BEEN SEPARATED FOR A YEAR, aka HE’S STILL MARRIED! I tried to play off my disappointment by continuing to dance. I appreciated his honesty. It was almost too honest, as in, he shares this quite often, maybe to give women a chance to decide how they want to proceed, but, on the other hand, drawing a bit of sympathy and/or an emotional connection. I proceeded with caution and then stopped at the red light.

I’ve fallen for it before. I’ve been that girl. You tell yourself, as they constantly convince you, that the divorce is coming. You try to ignore that there are still vows he must uphold all the while his charm is convincing and his ring is non-existent.  You enjoy spending time with him and he makes it all about you. You even convince yourself that he wasn't happy with her anyway and maybe you can be the better woman for him.  But the fact of the matter is, his legal status is still married.

His compliments boosted my ego and my self-esteem, but he belonged to someone else. Another woman. A woman I don't know and may never meet, but respect none the less. It’s a girl code, integrity, respect, kind of thing, and I was obligated to oblige, but the struggle was real!

Another one of those moments when you look up to God and say, “really??”  Out of all the brothers I danced with and talked to that night, the one that actually peaked my interest and I enjoyed the most had to be married! I keep trying to tell y'all, God is a comedian as a part-time hustle! He never ceases to throw a joke my way!

And because God knows me oh SO well, once we stopped dancing and I went back over to talk to my girls, before I could even think about changing my mind about giving him my number, he was gone! It was almost like a dream, or more like a test and I passed!

These past few weeks have been tough emotionally, and although the singleness cloud was getting a bit gloomy, I wasn't willing to compromise my integrity.  I’m growing and I appreciate God more and more along the way.

Ladies, always check the marital status and be ok with walking away.  Although it's hard out here in these streets for a single woman, the man God has for you will be fully available and completely yours, and that is absolutely worth the wait!

But if I see the brother again, I might just ask if his status has changed at all! Y'all pray my strength in the Lord!!! LOL….it’s a process!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Adventures in the City of LOVE!

“Do you mind taking my picture?” I asked.

As I stood in line, and yes there was an actual line, to take a picture in front of the famous “LOVE” sign in downtown Philadelphia, I smiled to myself.  I did it! I went on my first official “solo-cation” aka solo vacation.

I was initially asked to substitute for a friend for a fashion show in Philadelphia on a Friday night. I’d never been to Philly and took the opportunity to make it a short weekend getaway. It was fantastic! The Friday night show was awesome, and Saturday I was an official tourist of the city!

In a previous blog post, I shared my true sentiments on women going on dates with themselves. Still not a fan, but the concept of spending time with yourself is a must, particularly traveling by yourself!

I booked a hotel in downtown Center City and I was one with Kristin. The room was small but just enough space with a bed and pillow from heaven! I slept like a baby!  I lounged in the bed the next morning, simply taking in the day that I did not have to work, run errands, or hear the demands of other people. It was my day to do exactly what I wanted to do in a city I’d never been in, and I was excited. I googled touristy spots in the area and I embarked on the day!

Now, in traveling by yourself you learn a few things that are essential in this process. It was me and the people of “brotherly love, and sisterly affection.” And they were truly just that! So here are few things I learned and experienced along the way:

1) Embrace the city and culture from a tourist standpoint.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate travel, not just for the simple getaway, but to also embrace another culture and history.  Many folks simply want to ask the locals and go wherever everyone else from the city goes. That’s fine and dandy, but I’ve learned that most locals don’t even know the history of the place they call home. They couldn't tell you any significant facts about the buildings and statues they pass on an everyday basis, and in a city like Philadelphia, the history is so rich and valuable.

As I made my own tour of significant places I knew about Philly, I decided to hop on the Sightseeing double decker bus and get all I could from Sheniqua! Yes, my tour guide's name was Sheniqua, and she did a fabulous job!  From the Liberty Bell to the 72 steps of the Philadelphia Art museum where Sylvester Stallone ran up in the movie Rocky, the history was overwhelming.  The statues of Benjamin Franklin, the Free Library, and the amazing architecture had me in awe.

2) Always keep your phone/camera charged and bring a selfie stick!

Can I just say that my phone is simply on the bootleg side and doesn’t hold a charge to save its life! Being a solo tourist requires a legitimate phone or camera for frequent picture taking and use of Google maps to locate particular stops.  I missed many memorable pictures because my phone was dying a quick and untimely death. In an attempt to preserve what battery I had left, I experienced a few embarrassing moments as I hustled and maneuvered to locate a plug to charge my phone. The struggle was real!

Attempting to take selfies that were impossible without a stick was frustrating. Every now and again most people were generous enough to take my picture, in particular, this one handsome gentleman with a beautiful smile and a British accent. Once he finished taking my picture, he simply said, “Cheers.” I melted and looked up to God, “I’ll take one of those, please!” I think I heard God say move to Philly. I’ll have to get back to you on that, though! LOL

3) Take your best walking shoes

Although the cab rides weren't expensive, it's nothing like walking the city and encountering the people.  I had the bright idea of walking to the famous Geno’s Cheesesteak spot from downtown Center City.  Google maps said it was a 15-minute walk, but as it recalculated at least 5 times, I realized I had been walking for about 25 minutes. I stopped and asked about 3 different people for directions and finally made it to my destination after another 20-minute walk. After I cooled off from my unintended marathon walk, I really did enjoy the journey. I walked through various neighborhoods and encountered a nice market spot that had live music and unique and eclectic vendors. I was having a ball!

Now my only complaint would be that when I finally made it to Geno’s, I was highly disappointed. As famous as cheesesteaks are known to be in Philly, I was not impressed with my hoagie bread, a slab of steak and a slither of melted cheese. I’m learning touristy doesn't always mean best, but I was put on to two other spots that I will definitely try when I go back! At first you don't succeed, try again at a different spot! LOL

4) Reflect and Celebrate!

At 30 years old, life is great, and yes, even in my singleness!  The fact that I was able to pick up and spend a weekend in Philadelphia by myself was awesome. I didn't have to check in with anyone, well, except for my mother, and that's only because she would have blown my phone up a million times if I didn't answer! I didn't have to run my agenda past anyone, and I was able to do exactly what I wanted to do on my own time. I was in a financial place to afford a nice hotel and splurge on myself a bit around the city. I met great people, acquired a wealth of knowledge and history, and was able to truly relax! In that moment, I simply basked in my singleness.

Would the vacation have been better if I had a significant other to share that time with, possibly.  But what I’ve gathered from my married friends is that it’s best to take advantage of these opportunities now, for they may be few and far between once you have a family and kids. Note taken! So right now I'm just going to LOVE and splurge on me! I’ll be planning a few more mini vacations in the near future. Look out world, Kristin is about to come through! I'm thinking Boston is next, before the the blizzards take over!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Casting Stones from an Empty Bag!

“You seem like you’re a bit controlling,” he said.

At this point, I felt there was an unofficial announcement to “tear down Kristin” this week and I was completely caught off guard.

We’d only been out one time and talked on the phone twice. But on this particular night, only our second conversation, pulling from what little information he had about me, he felt the need to point out my flaws.  

I innocently shared an old scenario between a roommate and me that didn’t go well concerning rent money. I was simply sharing a story, not looking for scrutiny or counseling, just a listening ear. Instead, I got chastised and judged within the first twenty minutes of the conversation. I was done. I sat in my car and I cried. My emotional, spiritual, and physical tank was on empty. My guard was down, and everything that was fired connected in a detrimental way.

What was going on? From the brother earlier in the week lashing out, attempting to shut me down by alluding that he knew the reason why I was still single, to now this brother calling me controlling!  Not to mention another brother last week who was simply a disappointment in his lack of follow through and accountability, and yet it was still my fault. I figured it out. It’s because I’m black, particularly because I’m a black woman! That has to be it!!

And no, none of these men are my husband or have any significant role in my life. But when your guard is down and you're standing on shaky ground of self confidence, any negative words, no matter who they come from, will hurt, and they did.

And let me just put this out there.  I have no problem admitting my flaws and saying what my struggles are. Heck, I went to counseling for some of my struggles and recommend it everytime I get a chance. My beef is not with what the brothers said, because there’s a bit of truth in every word, but how and when they said it. They weren’t looking to uplift or encourage me.  They were looking to deflect and turn what mirrored their struggles or insecurities and place them on me.

The common denominator amongst these men were their statuses. Each man was single, over the age of 35, one over the age of 40, great jobs, successful, never been married, and no kids.  Hot commodities, right? God’s gifts to the woman, right? Not so! These are men, just like me, who contain all great qualities on paper but have struggles and insecurities, just like me! So why is it that these men think it’s ok to tear down or demonize the woman, particularly the black woman, because of her flaws, yet can't seem to get a clue that there may be a particular reason why they are still single, never been married, and are serial daters.  

If we want to run down stereotypes and stigmas, we’d be here all night. But the point still remains that stereotypes and stigmas come from somewhere. There is some truth in them all. Do some black women have attitudes, declare independence as a badge of honor, and can be a bit controlling and insecure, yes! Do some black men have commitment issues, lack accountability, and believe if they have a little money and a degree that they are God’s gift to women, yes! But we must get a clue, particularly as black men and women. We must uplift and encourage one another as we pursue relationships, whether friendships or romantic.  We must learn how to talk to one another and always seek to speak truth in love and respect.  And most of all, always looking in the mirror before spewing judgment.

I’m reminded of a story in John 8:1-11 in which a woman was found guilty of adultery and was to be stoned by the people of the city. Jesus, being the forgiving, merciful, and loving man that he was and still is, simply said, “The person who is sinless should be the first to throw a stone at her.” (vs. 7)  

One by one they all began to walk away. Jesus went to the woman, stood her up, and asked her,  “did anyone condemn you?”

She replied, “ No one, sir”

He simply replied, “I don't condemn you either. Go! From now on don’t sin.”

I love my black brothers and celebrate their success. But I won't celebrate egotistical, arrogant, men who are blinded by themselves and their success and aren't accountable for their own downfalls and flaws. And neither will I accept it from bitter, insecure, overbearing woman who seek to demonize the black man.  We are all in this struggle called life together and don't have stones to throw because Christ holds them all, yet he throws none!

At the end of the day our confidence and strength lie in God, not in a man or a woman, but we are called to be in relationship with them nonetheless. So, never let a person take what they never gave you: your strength and confidence. I was a victim of it this week, but I promise you I am stronger because of it due to the solid relationships I have around me and the unbeknownst prayers that were sent up when I couldn't pray for myself.  This single and dating life is no joke, and being a minister doesn't negate the struggles that come along with it. I’m presumed to be the strong one, but I just can’t be strong all the time. I’m simply grateful that I have Christ and I'm growing, and that's more than enough for me!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Oh No He Didn't!

“I can see why you’re still looking for a man,” he said.

Let me set the scene of the crime, because you know the brother’s life was at stake as soon as the words left his mouth. It was a Sunday afternoon, right after morning worship. Service had just ended. The spirit was high and the word went forth, “Supernatural Confidence.”  At least that’s what I had before he spoke those words to me.

It started out as a pleasant conversation over business matters and trickled down into ministry matters. I began to question and challenge him on his purpose and impact in the particular ministry he was a part of because I was curious.  I was baffled and saddened by his lack of understanding regarding the needs of those of that ministry, kids, of all people!  As legitimate as he thought his words were, he was talking nonsense, at least in my personal opinion.  Now I will admit, I was constantly cutting the brother off because I was no longer willing to hear his point of view. That’s when he hit me with the Mike Tyson low blow.  

Did I mention it was Sunday and right after a powerful worship service? It took God and all the angels in heaven not to lay that brother out across the altar, and not for prayer purposes either!

How dare he say that to me! Because he was upset that I wouldn't let him speak? Because I speak my mind and challenge men when necessary? Because he was being challenged by a woman, a younger woman at that? Because he assumed that I was actually “looking for a man”? Because I write a blog about dating and he assumed I was single?  

After I told him how his over forty, still single, never been married, African-American self could take several seats, I  kindly told him never to come for me again unless I sent for him.  I walked away gracefully in my 5-inch heels, but was officially hurt!

I was actually in a bit of a fragile place.  I was coming off of a disappointment from a guy I’d been talking to and my confidence level was running a bit on the empty side. The word my pastor spoke was right on time and resonated with my spirit. But it’s always like the enemy to snatch the very word you need right from underneath you before you can even walk out the church building.

But let me digress for just a second. I always find it interesting that men love to spew out the phrase, "thats why you're still single" when they assume women are being "too much" and just so happen to be single. But rarely do I find that women say that phrase to men who are also in the same boat, single!! It's such a double standard! When did the defining reasoning for a woman being single be based soley on her strong willed demeanor and attitude, but a single black man over 40 who has never been married is simply single because he's a hot commodity waiting to make his choice? Because he cant possibly have any flaws, right??

Although the brother apologized numerous times, I couldn't help but go down doubting, insecure, memory lane. Was that really the reason I was still single? Am I too strong? Too overbearing? I've been told numerous times that I have a strong personality, and I do! I can accept that and embrace it. It’s never my intention to disrespect or disregard anyone or their opinions, but when something is important to me, especially if it’s a passion of mine, I will probably go for blood! It’s a blessing and a curse, but I promise you it's in God’s hands. There is a time and a place for everything. Every battle is not meant to be fought AND won by Kristin, and I am learning that EVERYDAY. My personality speaks volumes, but I am wise enough to realize when I need to give it over to God to curtail and smooth out some rough edges.  And believe it or not, He’s been doing quite a bit of smoothing lately! That brother should have thanked his lucky stars!

I’ve heard that some men like a woman who is strong and outspoken, but I do understand that a man also likes a woman who is understanding, gentle, and submissive (in the most biblical and positive way).  Some say I will need a man who is just as strong, if not stronger than me, to put me in my place, while others say opposites attract.  Who really knows?  All I do know is that I will put my confidence and trust in God as he continues to make this rock a beautiful diamond. And as for that brother, well we know why he's still single right?! LOL

Monday, November 2, 2015

But Do You Accept Me?

“If you meet a great person who you wish would change, again, not the right person for you. They could be, but at the moment, as they are, they’re not. The right person for you is the person who wants what you want, and accepts you as you are and vice versa.” (excerpt from the article “3 Reasons You Haven't Attracted the Right Person Yet”)

“But do you accept me for who I am?” she asks. One of my friends uses this phrase more often than not. She simply desires that people accept her for who she is and it drives me crazy, especially when I feel like I have accepted her for who she is, crazy and all! But I think I’m starting to get it.

This quote hit me in a familiar place. How many times have I met a great guy, but wished that at least one thing was different about him? More specifically, as a Christian, how many times have I met a great man and simply wished they were saved, or at least a bit more serious about their spiritual walk? They present themselves with great qualities and have the potential to be a great husband, but the salvation piece is non-existent or on the back burner. Hey, it’s 2015. How about when you meet a great guy only to find out that he is gay and not checking for your team at all!  Am I willing to walk away and be ok with the fact that “...they could be, but at the moment, as they are, they’re not [the one]?” 

This applies to friendships and other relationships as well. What does it really mean to accept someone? It's simply amazing how much I’ve learned from being in relationship and practicing communication with my girlfriends.  There was a time when I didn't even like to be around other females!  But God! I’m learning practical application that I can someday apply to my next and final relationship (hint! hint!)

A particular friend and I had a recent disagreement and subconsciously began to drift apart. We didn't talk on the phone as much or even spend much time around each other, but the time was much needed!  Under normal circumstances, I would’ve simply cut her off and kept it moving. It was simply my M.O.  But when you take a look around and realize you have no friends, you start to reevaluate your coping methods.  This time, God wouldn't allow me to let it go. I kept thinking about her and praying for her, still asking God, but why?  Without a real explanation, other than God healed both of our hearts and used the space to bring clarity, we are back together again, talking on the phone and hanging like we use to. But it dawned on me that my accepting of her was under my own terms; I accepted her through the eyes of Kristin and not through God, and I, therefore, was not accepting her at all.   

This was a hard pill to swallow and a hard truth to face.  This article wasn't speaking of seeing a person as perfect, but simply accepting who they are at that very moment and desiring nothing more than what's presented.  Do we really do that with anybody? We always desire change in people, or at least, I can be honest and say that I do. Is it judging? Sometimes, but most of the time, it's simply a desire to see something that you currently don't see but potentially know is there.

As women, we always desire to fix, change, and rearrange. It’s just apart of who we are and how we’re wired, but it's simply NOT OUR JOB! Most men and people in general just want to know that you accept them, respect them and will support them. But we must understand that if a man presents with fundamental differences at that very moment that don't line up with your fundamental truths, we must let him be! What I like most about that article is that it didn't say cut them off! It simply means to let them be! Don't get too invested. We can't force someone to be the one or get entangled in what we wish and desire would or could be.  Shoulda, woulda, coulda killed the cat!  The change will come with time.  We can want more in the present only if what the present represents is potential with desire for change.  A woman CANNOT change a man! She can only inspire and encourage and then support the changes that will come by his own desire and will. 

Just like we can’t change a man, I couldn't change my friend, only God could. I can't keep looking for the perfect man or perfect friend with all their ducks in a row! Who actually has that anyway?! Clearly, not me! But I must look to God to show me how to bestow the same grace, mercy, and love that he has shown me, and let Him do the work! He’s a great matchmaker and a relationship expert. I trust Him, do you?