246. far too much thinking about relationships
Some blog entries emerge effortlessly – they almost write themselves. Some are like pulling teeth with tweezers – they don’t want to come out, even if they have to. This entry is one of the latter. I started writing it Wednesday night and only a paragraph came out. Through the next few nights (and some mornings), I managed to squeeze out a few more sentences, but they didn’t come easy.
But this was an entry that had to be written. I write to try and unravel and organize the thoughts stewing in my mind and I knew that this was something I had to sort out.
Unfortunately, I don’t come to any conclusions or decisions, but it was a worth the effort nevertheless.
Anyway, I’m just writing this preface as an excuse as to why I haven’t lived up to my at-least-one-entry-per-week rule.
Can you save me
from the ranks
of the freaks
they could never love anyone
(“Save Me” by Aimee Mann from the Magnolia Soundtrack)
I suppose that I could love you
if I wasn’t so afraid.
I might go berserk if it did work
and I didn’t feel betrayed.
I’ve been writing off love for so long now
it’s all I know to do
(“I Suppose” by Loudon Wainright III, from the Grown Man CD)
So I’ve written before (see blog 162) about how 2006 was a year when I finally (somehow) found contentment in being single. And while, on the one hand, I’m glad to be free from the constant nagging ache that used to weigh me down, I’m also finding that there’s a lead lining to this cloud.
So that girl I wrote about in blog 240? I actually did get to talk to her a couple weeks ago and it was nice. Never got around to asking for her number or for coffee but I did learn that she’s been coming to this church for about a year now so I figured there was no need to rush.
That week, I found myself thinking about talking to her again, developing a list of places where I could take her (prime candidate: the just-opened Olympic Sculpture Park) but as the week progressed, I also started thinking about what I might have to give up if things worked out – the long, messy process of learning one another’s routines and needs and sensitive spots and bad habits. And I’ve written before about how meeting new people stresses me out so that was there as well, but the main reservation I was having was all the freedom I’ve come to enjoy as a single person.
Back when I used to complain to my friends about being single, the one thing they would always say was that I should enjoy being able to do whatever I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it. They all, even the ones in healthy, thriving relationships, told me about how they envied how I could just up and decide to see a movie or take up karate or move to, say, Seattle, and I wouldn’t have to clear it with anybody.
So the week goes by and Sunday comes around. I went to church and I saw here there during the service (my friend and I walked in late) but once church was over, we just made a bee line for the door. He was tired and hungry and didn’t feel like hanging around. As for myself, I…I don’t know. Talking to her again just didn’t seem al that important and now that he mentioned it, I was hungry as well. So we just dug out.
This week, I found myself thinking again about how amazing and perfect this girl seems, but I also thought about how unmotivated I am to make anything happen. And that got me thinking about the lines from the songs I quoted above. Had I become one of the “ranks of the freaks who suspect they could never love anyone?” Have I been “writing off love for so long now [that] it’s all I know to do?”
I suppose for most people, this would be a no-brainer. Just ask her out anyway because you never know what might happen. Maybe she doesn’t want to go out with me and she’ll say no. Maybe we’ll go out and we’ll find that we aren’t compatible. Maybe it’ll be marching bands and ticker tape parades from the start and we’ll live happily ever after. Maybe things will start out great but one of us will make an irreconcilable error and the whole escapade will end in a smoldering heap of burned bridges. Or maybe we’ll just end up being friends.
Yeah, just-ask-her-out would be the modus operandi for most normal people, but I guess I ain’t like most normal people.
So what now? What does this mean? What is God’s design for life (and for me since I am, as far as I know, alive)?
This week, I’ve been thinking more about these questions than about this girl. See, in 2006, I did a lot of writing about the concept of the kingdom of God (see blog 161, 207, 227 and 216 for examples) and while kingdom living and dating seem unrelated, they aren’t. See, living out the teachings of Christ has to do with living out a culture – the culture of the kingdom of God. And I believe that one of the core values of this kingdom is family – man, wife, child(ren).
I believe that God created people to be with one another. Any reading of the first few chapters of Genesis will make this plain. Man felt a longing for companionship before the Fall and that means we were designed from the start to pine not just for relationship with God, but also for one another. Seen in this way, a whole, Biblical life includes marriage because in learning to live with one other person, we also learn to live with larger groups of people – neighborhoods, cities, nations.
And so I wonder if all my reservations about asking this girl out are moot – that I should be asking her out anyway because it is, in part, my duty as a Christian. But I balk at that idea because it seems too utilitarian and unromantic. But what if it’s true?
Now I know that there’s a Biblical out to this in the form of the gift of singleness as written about in I Corinthians 7, but this gift is meant to be an exception to the rule rather than the norm. So am I in the exception camp or the rule camp?
For most of my life, my answer was that I knew beyond any shadow of any doubt that I did NOT have this gift. However, after the past year or so, I’m not as sure as I once was. I mean the idea of sharing one’s life with another is appealing on a number of levels and for a multitude of reasons, but at the same time, it’s not something I want badly enough to overcome my lazy contentment as a single person. I’m a victim of Newton’s first law of (e)motion: a person in singleness tends to stay in singleness.
From what I’ve seen, people who are single for a long time tend to gravitate towards one of two opposites. Some become increasingly lonely and desperate and so they lower their standards until they meet someone, anyone. Others, become more and more comfortable in their singleness and their standards go up because a
person would have to be that much more amazing for them to give up the comforts of singlehood.
I find myself squarely in the latter half of that pairing. And I wonder if my standards are far too high. In fact, I’m pretty certain that my standards are too high. But then again, I think there’s a good reason for setting high standards. Maybe part of the reason for the high divorce rate has to do, in part, with people settling for less. It’s been said that some people put more effort into deciding what car to buy than into which person to marry. And I don’t want to end up a divorce statistic.
Maybe the bottom line is this: If God wants me in a relationship (with Quest girl, or someone else I haven’t met yet) then it will happen and I don’t have to worry about it. But I don’t think that’s how it works because God doesn’t want me to sin, but I sin anyway.
I don’t know. I know things would be far simpler if I didn’t think about it so much, if I didn’t have such impossibly high standards, if I wasn’t so content as a single person, and if I wasn’t so resistant to meeting new people (aka shy). But I am what I am. But maybe that’s not how I’m supposed to be.
Eh, I don’t know. All this writing and thinking has made me even more unmotivated to start any kind of relationship.