Tag Archives: Marriage

Love in the face of truth…

If you know me, you know how important love and relationship is to me.  You know that I am someone who loves friends, friendship and quality time spent with someone to whom I am deeply committed and connected.

Many times, love has found me… or was it love?  I know the feeling of love was a part of the relationship, but was it truly love?  You see, I almost always allowed my heart to rule my head.  I let the feeling or perception of my deep feelings guide my willingness to engage and commit to someone.  That’s not a good thing, if you’re not doing a “check up from the neck up”.  So many times, I have hoped for the promise of a great relationship filled with love, but I ignored the signs which indicated that an actual relationship with that person was simply unwise or unavailable because they weren’t ready or we didn’t share the same values and goals.  I’ve been in relationships where the “friendship” and love was undeniable and powerful, but there were mixed values or life goals.  I could go on and on, but the right combination of things seemed to somehow elude… both of us and yet, we carried on in the hope the other would change.

I spent many years wondering… “Who is going to be able to settle on and accept this conundrum called Tim?”, “Who is going to accept me for me?”… and equally importantly, find me accepting the other person too; accepting them for the right reasons and not just because they were amazing and loving!

Choosing a relationship is confusing and scary because it’s such a dynamic process.  Being honest with the other person while “you” are unveiled and vice versa can be dizzying because it sometimes happens at a very rapid pace.   Even if you both choose to start out “slow”, the relationship will dictate the pace at which it will unfold and often, we succumb to it.  If it’s right though, you will find a balance in the pace which will be comfortable for both of you.  You find that comfort because you can be honest with yourself about what you feel and what you see!

The statement about choosing a relationship was once very true for me, but I am grateful to say, I think that is finally a thing of the past for me and for one very important reason.  I think I finally value myself enough to choose wisely and to be honest with myself when I consider being in a healthy relationship, because I’m willing to act in the light of what I see; in both me and the other person.

In the past, I was always ready to set myself aside.  What I mean by that is, I would ignore simple truths that I would see.  I would not rise to question the obvious differences or be willing to make a stand in the light of what I valued.  I was always so concerned about giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, because I saw that they were a good person and deserving of love.  I also, selfishly, wanted the intoxicating feeling of being with someone.  I can recall example after example, but in the end… they were excuses made by me.

At the end of the day, when you’re in a relationship and you’re serious about it, it’s OK and necessary to talk to your partner about your feelings and part in it!  If they don’t value what you value or they’re not in the same place (relatively) and don’t see themselves moving forward in a way similar to you… then it’s time to be honest with yourself and them and then make a decision.    Once you’ve made your decision (which may be to leave), it can be hard to let go and put the relationship behind because it satisfied many things for you.  Unless it satisfies all the important things though, it’s wise to cling to your decision because after all, you saw enough to choose to leave in the first place!  We are who we are which doesn’t make us bad, it just makes us unique.   Two people can be great friends and love each other desperately, but that doesn’t make them right for one another.

I’ve always said “It just shouldn’t be that hard” and that’s the truth when you’re in a healthy relationship unless you’re both really expert at lying to yourselves and each other.  When you meet the right person however, it simply isn’t hard because it’s easy to live with them and the truth at the same time!  Hard questions aren’t that hard to share or face.  This is the rest of your life… so you’d better do your best to be honest, get it right and make sure the person you’re with is the best for you.  It’s great to find someone who makes your heart go pitter pat, but that gets old fast when you can’t count on their commitment when the going gets rough.

What’s worse still is when you find that special someone who understands you utterly, who makes you feel very loved and accepted and they find you the same.  They struggle and simply can’t allow themselves to commit to you no matter how hard they try, because they’re fighting a conflict within themselves that’s obvious, but that they desperately want to deny… you aren’t right for them!  You don’t match THEIR values or goals!  You’re only cheating yourself if you don’t question it and they’re cheating you if they’re not honest about it.  It might be easy to be with them at a love and friendship level, but that lifelong choice thing, that’s another matter entirely.  Choosing to be with someone should be easy because “EVERYTYHING” is obvious.  It’s obvious you’re attracted, it’s obvious you share passion for each other, it’s obvious you share laughter, but it’s also obvious that you both share the same values, goals and honesty too.    Honesty about everything!

There is nothing worse than dancing around an elephant in the room, and lying about it only makes it worse because someday you’re going to have to deal with what the elephant leaves behind.  You see, life brings both good stuff and crap too.  A couple’s willingness to engage in good and bad together, while sharing an abiding respect is what defines the basis of a good and lasting relationship.

If you value a good career and financial stability, choosing someone who is entrepreneurial and frequently lives on the bleeding edge of financial ruin because they’re a risk taker is probably not a good fit; no matter how incredible they are to you.  Sometimes, our partners are completely honest with us… they want or don’t want to have kids.  If raising a family is something important to you and non-negotiable and your partner doesn’t want to have kids, you have little choice no matter how great the rest of the relationship!  Staying is keeping you from being with someone who values the same things you do and it keeps them from achieving their life goal too.  Choosing not to stay doesn’t make the other person bad for you, but does make them a bad CHOICE for you!  If however, your family choices are negotiable, and foregoing a family life is something you can live with… well I guess your choice may not be so difficult.  As long as you’re willing to be honest with yourself about what your partner shares with you, you can make healthy choices.  If you choose to leave, they will respect you because you’re valuing and respecting them too!

If someone pursues you after the relationship has ended, it’s easy to be tempted back because, after all, it wasn’t all bad.  It’s sometimes hard to honour our choices because let’s face it… being alone sucks!  But hanging about and playing with the fire of a past flame keeps you from moving forward and finding the right relationship for you.  I’ve struggled with that too, but I’ve learned my lesson after having been burned by playing with that very fire.  Fortunately though, I was not scarred because I feel I’ve learned from my experience and now have the ability to be honest with myself and make hard choices when necessary.

I’m not saying that you can’t feel completely connected to someone who is different to you, but you have to be certain that difference is something you can live with; because giving and committing your heart to someone should be about a forever choice!    “Every rose has its thorn” might be true, but if you can’t live with the pain you feel from what is otherwise something quite beautiful, it’s better to leave it alone.

Too many times, I held onto hope while waiting on the other person.  I waited and hoped that that the depth of our love would conquer our differences, but each time, that hope found me disappointed and ultimately… alone!  Sometimes, I chose to end the relationship and sometimes it was the other person or a mutual decision.  Thankfully though, it ended because continuing to live in the expectation or hope that I or the other person would change our mind would have resulted in frustration, anger and likely bitterness or resentment.

A very good friend of mine offers “Granny’s” advice.”  “It’s better to be alone than wish you were!”   Damn straight!  It’s scary to choose someone, but it’s worse when you hold onto someone when in the back of your mind, you know you shouldn’t be there.  Because you think the world of them however, or because you don’t want to be alone, you choose to remain in something that’s not right for you.  That’s just the wrong reason to be in a relationship and more… it’s really selfish!

It can be hard to be honest, but when you’re with the right person, they will accept what you have to say, knowing that it’s probably hard for you to share, but because they value integrity and because of their self-respect and integrity too, they listen knowing that you have their best interests in mind.

I have waited a very long time to find someone who sees me as I am, who finds me devilishly handsome, makes their heart go boom, accepts all of the idiosyncrasies that comprise me, who accepts and shares the goals and values we both have and who, in the light of all of those things is willing to talk honestly and openly about our life.  That is someone I can make a commitment to because that is someone within which I can place my trust.

The hardest part of being in a relationship when it first begins and then throughout is being honest.  It can be hard to be honest with yourself and then with your partner because sometimes, the message isn’t easy.  Of course, there are many other parts too, but it all starts with honesty!  Without it, you can never have integrity, honour or respect.  Often, when we find love, it feels easy, but without honesty and respect, it’s shallow and baseless!  Finding a great love, a love in which you share, values, goals, respect and above all, honesty… that’s not so easy, but it’s so worth waiting for!

I’ve spent the last 3 years of my life more or less on my own.  I’ve shut down my small business and joined a large software company, moved my home after 42 years and started another part of my life.   I’ve had to undergo a lot of scary stuff and become very honest with myself about who I am and where I’m at!  I’m not willing to toss all that aside for the first bit of “feel good” that comes along.

When you find the “right” person for you, you’ll know, but only if you’re willing to be honest… with you!  Here’s hoping you find the right person for you!

Soul Pic

Men, Women, communication and silence…

Lately… it’s been blog articles that have inspired my writing… “my writing”. There’s something I never thought I ever hear myself say.

I read an article this morning while sipping on my coffee and chatting with a few good friends (http://www.tickld.com/x/the-difference-between-men-and-women). How many times have we read this kind of parody on non-verbal interplay between a man and a woman? It’s a fairly common stereotype and sadly, there’s a significant amount of truth to the story.  The truth underneath this article is I think, all too prevalent in our relationships.

Before I get into this, I want to say that I don’t necessarily buy into the gender stereotypes presented in this scenario though I do know that they do exist. I see it far more often than I should and that’s a sad statement. Of course, not all women or men are like the characters in the story, but there is a certain thread of truth to their reactions and thought processes.

At face value, we could conclude that this is just the way it is between men and women, because of what and how we value and how we process. Women value relationship and are connection oriented. Men also value relationship but are compartmental and task oriented. Again… these are generalizations which I think are for the most part… nonsense. I think it is rude and assumptive to lump the behavioural patterns of individuals within their gender set because of their gender alone! While men are generally task focused, we’re not always that way… neither too are women brooding ninnies who constantly postulate scenarios because of a single spoken word or sentence. It’s preposterous and dismissive!

What I found very true about the article though was what happened because of silence and lack of communication. Fred’s silence or apparent lack of interested (in Martha’s view) spawned a dizzying array of scenarios in Martha’s mind, based assumptions which were based on a single word response! Let’s do away with the female stereotype for a moment and ask ourselves what’s wrong with this picture…

Was Fred wrong for answering as he did? Was Martha wrong for reacting as she did? Maybe and maybe not. This phenomenon is all too common and it’s based on one thing… our willingness to face truth. To be truly honest with ourselves and with those that mean the most to us.

Why is it that we have trouble expressing ourselves on topics that matter most to us? Clearly, relationship was very important and valuable to Martha. I would say it was a core value to her. That isn’t to say that it’s not also for Fred, but in this scenario, Martha is clearly thinking about moving to the next level in their relationship. Why then does she not pick a time to talk to Fred about it? Why not just be direct,  willing to face reality and ask? I know… I’m blowing this scenario out of proportion, but honestly, why do we let ourselves live in limbo? If the truth is that Fred would rather eat Doritos and watch re-runs of sporting events than share his life with someone, that is what he’s going to do and there is nothing that Martha can do to change it. It’s is what it is… that is simply the truth of the situation.

Martha clearly values Fred and feels that he’s a good match for her., but is he really?  Instead of respecting her values and engaging in a conversation with Fred about her hopes and the reality of their future though, she allows the situation to end in a cloud of uncertainty. Even worse, she further proceeds to play out scenarios by talking with people who can’t possibly hold any of the answers she seeks. I’m not suggesting that we do not seek the wise counsel of friends, but those conversations should be about us, our character and conduct, not what the other person should do or might be thinking.   If we truly find ourselves in a good and healthy relationship, we should be able to share the truth and be accepted and respected for it.  The subject may be difficult, but that doesn’t change reality!  It doesn’t change the truth that must be faced.

Why do we fear the truth? It’s just the truth. It’s reality. We have no control over what someone else will do. We may have a small amount of influence here and there, but honestly, we have no control!

The answer to this riddle is not at all complex. It’s simply based in truth and a willingness to hear, understand, accept and live in it! Martha can “suppose” all she wants to with her friends, but the truth she seeks lies in the heart and mind of Fred. Hopefully, he has enough integrity in himself and respect for Martha to answer with equal honesty.

This by the way, this isn’t limited to intimate relationships. It is applicable in all of our relationships… We could be wondering about the conduct of our child at school, a relationship at work or the status of our current position at our workplace. We could be wondering about our relationship with our neighbour… there’s no end. In the end, the truth exists and it exists in the honesty and minds of the people involved. The honesty shared between two people creates the truth in any situation.

Martha could have just as easily asked Fred “Wow… Six months… I’m glad to be here… how do you feel about the next six?” Fred could answer in many ways, but in the end, Martha knows what she values and if Fred does not share her values, then Martha’s reality becomes one of choice. Does she respect her values or does she compromise them? I could write a book on this scenario, but I think you can guess what I’m getting at. We must be willing to explore the truth and reflect it against what we believe and value because that is our truth. You can’t make an apple be an orange no matter how promising it may look to be. If Martha hopes to be married one day, to have children and live out her life sharing it in a family, then that is her truth. If Fred is not quite ready for that scenario and can’t say when he will be, then Martha has some thinking to do. She can do nothing of course, but then where does that lead? To more indecision and angst!

These choices are not always easy because of the promise that we may see in a situation, but it is far better to let go of what merely looks good and promising to us and instead seek something or someone who will value and accept us for who we are and what we value. A wise friend once said to me “it’s better to be single than wish you were”. Truer words were never spoken.

I’m sure that Martha and Fred are kind and wonderful people, but they may not be wonderful for one another. The only way for them to find that out is to be honest and open with each other. If they are unable to do that in the early stages… what might the rest of their relationship look like long term?

Being willing to accept and value who we are and then to accept someone opposite us is based in truth. The ability to be honest about who we are, what we value and what our goals are. It’s not rocket science. We just make it more difficult by not being willing to face and accept the truth of a situation. Phone a friend? Guessing? Will those bring direct answers or truth? Sometimes but mostly not. Ask about and face the truth with those directly involved and also be willing to share what you know to be your truth. You may not find the outcome you seek in that particular situation, but it will probably lead you to a much happier and grounded life.

Of course, this is just my opinion and you are welcome to challenge it, but do you have one on this subject or have you asked yourself… how do I feel about this?  If you don’t have an opinion then I challenge you to ask yourself to make one.  Please consider this… we’re depending on your truth.

The best days of my life.

I recently read what I suppose could be called a Meme and was shared on the Facebook wall of my niece. I was struck by power of this simple statement,

“It was one of the best days of my life, a day during which I lived my life and didn’t think about it at all.” – Jonathan Safran Foer

What was paradoxical about that statement was the article I had just read only moments before. It was an article about infertility and couples who must bear up under the weight of unrelenting disappointment. The bitter isolation that only the two who hope for a miracle must suffer through, together, but alone. (http://natepyle.com/the-disgrace-of-infertility/) By the way… if you haven’t read Nate Pyle’s stuff, you really should! I’m constantly blessed by him! Thanks Nate for accepting my offer of friendship and for sharing your life so openly!

While I don’t want to compare the hope for a child with the hope for a life mate, the two are similar in that they are about unmet need. There is a big difference between not getting something which we desire simply because we just fancy it, and the feeling of disappointment or longing that comes as a natural part of our humanity or how we are wired to be. An instinctive driving life force if you will. The need for a Woman to bear a child, the need of a couple to raise a family and the need of a Man to love a Woman and vice versa.

What I found interesting about the “best days of my life” statement was what it made me consider. It made me consider my reality and what is real. My reality is that I am single, but is that who I really am? Being single is merely a state in which I currently find myself. I’m not just single though. I’m also a father to two wonderful children. I’m also blessed to say I’m a friend to a significant number of good friends. There is more, but these will do for my purpose today. The difference between them is that the latter two satisfy some of my core human needs for relationship. They allow me to live my life in the way that I would hope to… but is that all that is best for me?

What I’m asking is whether I’m challenging myself enough or have I become complacent to live in an existence or state of being. There is so much more to life than wishing I had all that I wanted in the way that I want it. I’m not saying that we should forget or bury the human desires of our hearts, but rather, to consider that while those may remain unfulfilled for the moment, we must still live our lives. There are times when life is hard and challenging because we must also live with a deeply rooted human need that we may have yet to realize. While I can’t know the particular need of a single Woman who longs for a child, I can certainly identify with the suffering that that unmet need can bring. Being single in itself is similar in that we must walk that process completely alone. Sure, there are things like friendship or a pet that can bring us solace, but at the end of day, we find ourselves eating dinner and crawling into bed… alone.

It’s what we do in these moments though that define what can be an awful, lonely existence or the makings of an opportunity to meet the next part of our life. What I’m getting at is that if we allow ourselves to be sucked into and focus on our pain, we will let our lives wash by! I’ve seen so many people who’ve been trapped in the cycle of loss or unmet need because they CHOOSE to stay there. They remain focused on what they don’t have or what they’ve lost instead of what life can bring. Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not for a second suggesting that we do not honour process of grief if we’ve suffered a loss. That is a natural and healthy component of moving on, but it’s definitely a part of moving on!

No matter what we do in life, we can’t hit pause! Life marches mercilessly forward and we have no choice but to go with that flow! It’s how God designed it and it’s brilliant. I could trap myself in a singular view of life by remaining focused on how my need to be with someone is not being met, or I can live my life while I’m in this single state. Sure… it can suck at times, but there’s more to my life than my singleness. The point here is understanding that I have no choice in the matter! I could manufacture a life that I want I suppose, and maybe it would work out for me, but chances are that it would not. It would likely not because it did not occur as it should have. I’ve tried to force many things in my life and every single one of them has failed! Every single one! I’m done with that and so, while it hurts sometimes to be single, I would rather suffer that feeling than suffer the pain of further rejection or loss because I’ve compromised myself or manipulated someone else. I am who I am! I am who God created me to be and so I choose to do the one thing that God gave me to do… I’m living life! I’m not focused on what I have not yet realized, I’m focused on learning what I do not yet know and I live with an optimism for what today will bring. It may bring some reminder of my singleness, but it may also bring an opportunity to learn something new or, if I’m lucky the Woman I am to share my life with. The point is… I’m not going to dwell on it and I think that’s the point of the statement above.

Ok… tough question time.

Writing a blog for the world to read, I’ve received many kind emails from lovely people who say “how can you be single” or “you won’t be available long” and yet… I remain single.  Before you jump to a conclusion, I’m not going to “boo hoo” about why I’m single; but a friend of mine wrote me to ask me how I deal with my singleness when my awareness of being single becomes acute. I think it’s a good question to consider in the face of the original statement “It was one of the best days of my life, a day during which I lived my life and didn’t think about it at all.”

I’m going to be very honest with what I’m about to share. I’m quite certain that there are some who may genuinely feel misunderstood or even a bit hurt by it as a result. If that happens, you’re just going to have to accept that what I’m offering is simply my perspective. I too have felt misunderstood or bewildered because of what I’ve seen displayed in my single and Christian walk. It’s just a part of being human! We all have our own unique perspective. Sometimes though, it’s how we offer that perspective and so, we need to be considerate in our delivery. That is my plea for grace. As you read my words, please remember this is just my perspective. I’m interested to hear (read) yours too.

I was recently asked by a trusted friend “Who do you turn to for comfort?”  The great thing about this question is that it requires me to understand my situation very comprehensively. I must consider where I am in it before I can answer this question appropriately. I also realize that when I consider my situation, “my situation” is also contextual. How I feel and see things varies as time wears on. I may be out on a hike, at work, drinking a coffee in the morning while I write. The point is… I live my life and I don’t think about it too much until I stop to think about it. When I stop to think about it, I realize that in aspects, I may not be where I hope to be in some areas. I hope to be married and share a deeply committed life with someone. I hope to be deeply in love! I hope to share the wonderful experience of life with someone and I hope to share faith with them. I hope to make memories with them. That is not my current reality however.

I was then asked… “I’m sure that though you come across as cool, calm and collected, you’ve gotta have your days when you too feel like ‘nothing’s going according to plan’ or ‘if I’m as great as everyone says I am, why am I still single?”.

My friend then asked and stated “When you have these days? Who do you turn to and what scriptures do you turn to for advice? I was reading one of your old posts about people asking you why you’re single, and you said “I think it’s a strange question considering that they’re also single” – touche! Funny, we never see it like that.”

The person who asked me these questions and made these statements has become a friend and I love her for asking me. These are probably some of the most difficult questions I’ve asked myself when I consider why I am single or not? They are fundamental to how I view myself, understand myself and more, what I base my life upon… that is to say, in the living of it!

My answer again is that I just live life. If I feel blue or frustrated, I just go with it and live through it, no differently than I do when I’m happy. When it gets tough, I turn to close and trusted friends who know who I am and who understand both my heart and my faith. My brother is one of them. He’s a believer and he lives with faith, but he’s not connected to God or Jesus in the same that I am. That’s to say… in his walk, reading the Bible or going to church is just not a part of his program. I have to say though, that he really tries to understand my way of faith and attempts to meet me in it by asking very honest and hard questions that I’m quite sure Jesus would also ask. He tries to understand me and that is comforting. He doesn’t allow me to get away with anything or rest on excuses. I’m not one to do that as a rule (live in excuses that is), but hey… I’m human, I get bummed and sometimes wallow a bit like everyone else! I have many close friends who understand me in a similar way and I find comfort in talking with them too, but in the end… when the coffee, food or wine has been consumed and the conversation is over… I’m back to living life on my own. My point is that I surround myself by people who will challenge me with kind truth and will challenge me if I’m becoming complacent or stuck in a rut! The rest is up to me to challenge myself to do something about it when that happens.

As for turning to scripture… I don’t necessarily. It’s now how my mind and heart are wired right now. I rather more turn to God in prayer and discussion actually. I feel His presence with me all of the time…even when I’m not thinking about Him being present. He permeates my life. He lets me know He’s there. That’s just how it works for me. I’m often thanked for my kind and thoughtful posts because I’ve appeared to have connected to whomever I’ve written to. That’s because I don’t offer platitudes or scripture without offering my experience too. I think the single biggest comfort we can offer to one another is that we experience life too. That we’re honestly willing to share our joy and our pain. I think that’s the point of community.  Its partly knowing that we’re not the only ones feeling or experiencing life.  We’re not alone in our experience!

Seeing someone who is in pain and suffering and then saying… “there, there… have faith and hope because of what it says in Romans 8:12 and Jeremiah 29:11”. What the heck is up with that? Where is the empathy in that kind of statement? How is that relational? I know we’re all different and citing scripture is how some people choose to share, relate or express themselves, but without offering some relational experience… how can it offer solace or consolation?

How about honestly saying to someone… “I remember when I was sitting in the middle of the floor clutching my Dog and crying out to God… “how long must this go on?”” and being willing to leave it at that because they just need to know that they are not alone and that they’ve been heard. Sometimes, just listening to someone can be the kindest thing we can do for them. It may be all we can do for them.

Holy segue Batman… sorry about the rant and rabbit trail (did you see Alice?). Now back to the original questions… How do I deal with my singleness? If I’m selfish, I’ll dwell on ME, on what I don’t have instead of what I can do to live my life and to serve others. I let my relationship with God and my friends and family speak into my life.

What are the best days of my life? There have been many, but I honestly believe that the best are yet to come because I live in the hopeful anticipation of what will come next.

Does love feel like a Thunderbolt?

What is love supposed to look like? Should it feel like a thunderbolt, an overwhelming feeling of euphoria, or is it supposed feel like a slow cooker full of your favourite soup ingredients… A magical stew? I think love is just that… a magical stew that is comforting and exciting all at the same time. It can be like jumping out of an airplane and it can feel like a cozy pair of socks. Love grows and transforms. Love itself transforms as it does the people within its grasp.

When love is brand new, it’s an exciting, unknown, seemingly unending series of new discoveries.

What does love look like? What is love supposed to feel like? I don’t know how it’s supposed to look like to you… only to me, but I do know what I believe love should be based on. I also know what relationships should be based on and yet as I write this to you, I understand that it’s more than just a list. It’s more than a group of tick boxes that we feel must be met. I suppose, what I’ve learned is that it’s a combination of things I need to believe and trust. Things that are real and valid and which match quite well, who it is that I am as a person and as a man of God. It partly means feeling a sense of attraction (physical and otherwise). I’ve learned that while physical attraction may start the ball rolling, emotion, intellect and spiritual elements also come into the mix to become fully interdependent within the context of feeling or knowing love. The more I see someone as a match in my mind, my heart and my spirit, the more they become increasingly attractive to me, both inwardly and outwardly.

I can honestly tell you that after years of experiencing relationships and trying for love… In my mind, love is a warm blanket, a warm pool of water. It is something that surrounds you and gives you a sense of comfort and trust. The hardest part about love though is trust. Can I trust love? Can I trust those that I love not to hurt me. The simple answer to that question is… no! You can’t trust that you won’t be hurt, disappointed or let down at one time or another throughout the course of a relationship. The only exception to this rule is of course God. He is the only One who can love us unconditionally. In fact, we receive a perfect love from Him and yet, we offer back a flawed and broken love. I believe we do so in the best way that we are able, but in our broken state He still accepts us. I don’t think we can trust “love”, but instead must learn to trust the person we are in love with based on their character.

True love is patient. True love is kind. True love is about acceptance. True love seeks to empower and esteem the other without need for repayment. True love is a bond. It is not a combination of well chosen platitudes, a collection of words or physical expressions. True love is a life long commitment based on a variable mix of ingredients and which at its core, means being self sacrificing and giving.

What does choosing love look like exactly? Love is different to each person because God has created all of us to be different. I can’t tell you what love is supposed to look like to you… only you can define it what it looks like to you. I do believe though, that there are no guarantees in love. There is no way to know how love will ultimately work out. I believe love is something you must let go to… just like we do when we give our lives to Jesus. It’s an adventure, an exploration and as we submit to it, it grows, becomes stronger and we become wiser and better in the process. It’s about trust!

I also have to wonder… what about confirmation. Peace or release. What does it look like to walk confidently into love (a relationship). I know that I completely understand and relate to what people are saying when they talk about having a release from God. There are times however where that just doesn’t come or happen. We are called to step out on faith “with God” in those times. God will walk with us through those unknown pathways, but we need to be paying attention to what He has to tell us while we do. One thing we do need to be sure of though is that the path we’re about to strike out on is in keeping with His Heart, His Mind and His Character. How do I know what that looks like. Well, I have to trust that I’ve learned from God and that some of what He’s been teaching me has rubbed off on me. For me, when it comes to “knowing” or having confidence in another person, I look for agenda harmony and I also have a sense about them based on what I see and feel. I must also have faith because I feel I can trust in who they represent themselves to be. How they choose to act. How they demonstrate their character.

OK… let’s assume that you’ve met someone and they’re “all that” for you. They embody for you all of the elements that I’ve mentioned and more. You feel genuine love for them and have gotten to know them for let’s say 6 months or so. You trust them, you have seen that they are consistent in their character and they are someone you are drawn to and trust. You see the person as someone you truly believe you could spend the rest of your life with and so… you tell them exactly that! It’s a reasonable statement to make if you’ve both been clear about being interested in settling down and getting married. In my experience, there have been times where I’ve been asked, “How can you know that about me so confidently?” or “How can you be so sure about me”? I’m going to be brutally honest on this point! Dependent on your perspective, that’s an awful question to ask because it seems so self condemning and self doubting! Do you not know yourself or who you are? How do you see yourself? Do you not value yourself as highly as I obviously do if I’m telling you that I’m confident in what I see in you? Why would you find it so hard to believe that someone can be so confident about you? Speaking from my experience, if I find myself ready to offer the trust I’ve just mentioned, it’s because there’s more than just a feeling in my heart. It’s because I feel love for you, but also because you fall in line with my values and goals. You stimulate me! When I hear “How can you know that about me?” or “How can you be so sure?”, that’s an instant red flag to me and a few questions instantly leap to mind. Are you serious about being in a relationship? Can you commit or are you afraid to? Are you wondering if something better will come along? Do you have trouble with trust? Do you have value issues with me or are you concluding that I may not be the same thing for you and you’re having trouble finding the courage to tell me? I’m not talking about not being in the same place in terms of your being able to identify whether I “tick all the boxes” for you. That’s a different scenario and it’s also reasonable that you might not yet be in that place relative to the time we’ve spent together (I just hope you’d have the ability to tell me the truth as you see it). If however, you tell me that I DO represent all of the things that are important to you when it comes to knowing whether “I’m the guy” and yet you wonder HOW I could see that “YOU are the girl”, then you’ve just scared the crap out of me and I’d now probably doubt your readiness or willingness to be in a lifelong relationship! It would make me wonder if you really ARE ready or if you truly believe in what you say that you are looking for. I would wonder if you have the ability to identify what you need in a relationship. If you are expressing doubts of any kind because I may not be the right person for you and you’re just unsure, then you’d better be honest about it, because I’m a part of this situation too!

I will go back to the questions “How can you know?” or “How can you be so sure?”. Rather than further challenging you, I will just say that if you hear me tell you that I believe you’re the girl for me, it is because I’ve made the decision based on what I see in you! This is what you would know about me or have heard me say,

“I see in you a woman who has great and consistent character. I see in you someone who is selfless and giving to a fault! I see in you someone who is wise, deliberate and yet compassionate and caring. I see in you someone who is creative and highly intelligent. I see in you someone who has a wonderful sense of humour. I adore your taste in music, your political views and insight and your social conscience. I admire in you, your willingness to be open and to self-evaluate and remain open to change. I admire your willingness to be wrong and to own it. A willingness to participate in discussions and then actually reflect upon them. To then see you truly, humbly and honestly adjust your view accordingly because you trust that I will do likewise. I admire how when you’re right and I’m wrong, you do the same for me! I admire that you are committed to your beliefs but you are not head strong. Now to the spiritual side of you… I love your insight into God’s heart. I love your commitment to God. I love your declarations that you “will not be separated from the Love of God” for me or anyone! I love that you model that in your life. I love that you openly pray. I love that you are trying to be and get closer to God’s heart. I love that you are not legalistic and that you reflect upon God’s heart and character when you evaluate scripture or when you hear about how people conduct themselves. I love how you explain your faith and how you see the Heart of God. I also see you as the most beautiful woman and that you have the most lovely voice! I Love the way you smile, the way you laugh, the way you wear your hair and the way that you are just yourself. Most of all though… I love how all of those things make me see you. It’s not one thing, but all of them that make me feel about you the way that I do. It’s just you and who you are. I accept and love you for you! That’s it and that’s all.”

If after hearing that and trusting that I’m sincere in what I’m saying because you know my character, then how could you doubt how I could know that about you?

It’s completely OK and fully understandable that two people won’t necessarily arrive at the same conclusion at the same time. All of us live, learn, trust and love at different rates. Being in a relationship and falling in love however, carries with it a great deal of responsibility. Probably the greatest responsibility we have is to be honest with ourselves. There is no way we’ll ever know how we truly feel about the other person unless we’ve taken the time to get to know ourselves, our likes, dislikes, values, goals and faith. We also need to see ourselves as someone of value and who is truly ready and committed to being in an honest and open relationship!

What are we supposed to choose for our lives? This is again up to us, but we have to make a choice. It’s not easy, especially with all of the crap most of us have gone through in our lives if you’re on the more mature side (age) and been around the block a few times. We do have a choice though and that choice should be relatively easy if we’ve done our homework and really gotten to know ourselves and what we need in a relationship. It’s what separates “love feeling like a thunderbolt” or being merely a feeling and truly knowing a deep, connected and bonded love! It’s not some flight of fancy, it takes sober, considered and deliberate thought and choice. If you can’t say that you’ve entered into a relationship without having done this work… then don’t enter a relationship. It would be unfair to represent yourself as ready and unless you are very, very lucky, you are likely to merely feel love and not truly know it!

Does love feel like a thunderbolt? I think love can feel like a thunderbolt, a magical stew or whatever kind of metaphor you want to substitute!. I think that after the the thunderbolt, love definitely needs to feel like a warm blanket, to feel like home, safe and secure!

Yes, love can feel like a thunderbolt, but I think it should be about more than just feelings. I think it needs too look like one too!

Love in a time of zombies. A love letter.

What is it about love that makes us feel what we do?  Why is it that we cry?  Why is it that we get a lump in our throat?  What is it about that feeling, that sensation that makes us feel warm when we have our love in our arms and that feeling of sadness and loss that distracts us so when we do not?

You are not going to believe what triggered this in me!  Last night, while chatting (text) with a good friend on Facebook (half way around the world from me), I was watching a movie in the background.  A zombie movie!   I never watch zombie movies!  They’re ridiculous, but there I was, following the story.  I’ve nearly stopped watching TV altogether, but I’m still one to watch movies and having some background noise was better than total silence.  The movie though was as strange as how it made me feel.   These were no ordinary zombies… the focus was on one particular male zombie and a young, living woman.  The zombie (later named ‘R’) had conscious thought… see what I mean… weird!   Now movies are doing zombie reality (OK.. “I am Legend” was the contemporary start)!  To make a long story short, over time, the two fell in love!  It wasn’t your typical sappy love story… he had to earn her love and trust and that wasn’t easy… he was a zombie!  He was however a thinking zombie who was attracted to her and so he knew he had to give her time.  He had to respect her feelings and doubts to earn her trust.  Of course, as fate would have it, he had eaten her former boyfriend’s brains (fortunately, I tuned in after that part, though R admitted it to her as the story progressed).

It’s even more bizarre how this story somehow managed to dovetail into my emotions with respect to the conversation I was having with my friend.  We’re both singles and we’re both having a tough time meeting someone with which we share, physical, emotional and spiritual commonality as well as feeling the all-important “gasp” effect or just call it attraction.  We were sharing with each other how we’ve adjusted to our singleness and have learned to accept it, but that we still long for someone to share our lives with.

We’re both often told or asked “How can you be single!?  It’s nice to hear that affirmation from friends and even strangers when they get to know you a bit, but I have to tell you that it can also be hard to hear.  While I have accepted my singleness, it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be with someone.  When I hear how “eligible, attractive, fit, communicative, emotionally available and financially secure” I am and the person opposite me is incredulous as to why I’m still single… well… please trust that it can be equally confusing on this side of the table too.

So… now that you know I’m single and that I long for a relationship, I’m going to quote Tina Turner and say “what’s love got to do with it”?  Well… I guess what I’m getting at is that I miss the feeling of being in love, but what does that look like?  I suppose that’s been a pursuit of definition since we humans started recording our thoughts and feelings in writing, music or image.  Many a creative endeavour has been made manifest in the name of love and so I suppose that’s a possible definition.  Love is what we make of it for ourselves in our own understanding.  Each person finds their own unique perspective on love.  I think we each define and walk through it differently, yet we all refer to it in a similar way.  It’s a feeling deep within us that we seemingly can’t get enough of.  At least, that’s my take on it.

Why is it that we all seem to want it so badly?  I can’t say that I’ve ever met a single person who doesn’t want love in their life.  The love of an animal, the love of a friend, a parent, a sibling or the love of a certain, special someone.  Love is easily the most written about subject I know of.  It compels us in so many ways and we sometimes engage in outrageous behaviour to express or even prove it.

Since I’m writing this little blurb, I’ll try to define it for you as I understand and feel it.  There are many types of love, but the one in particular that I’m talking about today is the love of a woman with whom I hope to share life with.  The love of a life mate.  The love of my life!  I’ve been fortunate to feel love with another on a few occasions and for that I’m grateful.  I’m grateful to those women who’ve allowed me to share time and trust with them, but I can tell you that over time, while the feeling of love for me hasn’t change, the definition has.  My definition has narrowed and become more intense!  My definition?  I’m challenging myself even now to describe how I see and understand love with that certain someone…  here goes.

Love to me means living and giving beyond myself.  Love means having a willingness to sacrifice for the betterment of the other person.  Love means being willing to walk away because you know the other person has a life too and that life must be respected.  Love is not one bit selfish.  You see, if you’re going to share a feeling of deep trust and commitment with someone, they need to know that you have their best interests at heart.  They need to know that you’re always willing to be honest with them and that you want to turn to them before you turn to anyone else (except God) in your relationship with them.  They need to know that they are your confidante and you are theirs.  They need to know that you’re always willing to share the hard truth with them and that at the same time, they know and fully believe that you completely respect them.  They also need to know that the absolute reciprocal is equally true!

It’s funny… I’m just now realizing that I spent a huge part of my life, misunderstanding the definition of love and yet, I’d heard it many, many times.  I’m not going to say what I’m about to because I’m a Christian.  I’m going to say it because it occurs to me that it’s correct and real and I fully embrace it.  “Love is patient, love is kind.  Love does not envy, it does not boast and it is not proud.  It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered and it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth.  Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  I just realized that I now have the view of Love that I should have had all along.  This definition is found in the bible within the text of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.  Wow… I’m feeling pretty humbled right now.  What you’re reading is a man coming to an understanding that he’s been ever so gradually changed and has come to a point in his life where he truly recognizes it.  I’m not kidding here… while I’ve understood and believed this definition for a while now, I’m just now coming to the conclusion that I share God’s view and definition of Love.  He certainly is patient!  I’m evidence of that!  I’m truly humbled, but do you know what I want even more… I don’t want someone to know this about me because I’m writing it or admitting it publicly.  I’m hoping that I one day have the opportunity to earn this kind of love in my life with another woman.  I know I already receive this kind of Love from God, but I still long for an earthly love too.  Someone with which to share this amazing state of grace, trust, humility and desire to give.  This goes so far past not wanting to feel lonely or alone.  This is about a connectedness at the core of our souls.  Yes…. you’re right… that’s pretty intense, but hey… it’s how God created me.

What is love?  Love is humility.  It’s understanding that you’re being given a one of a kind gift.  The person opposite you is completely unique and they are choosing to give you everything that’s truly important and precious to them.  There is not one thing material about what they are willing to share with you!  They are willing to share with you their trust, their time, their mind, their passion and their heart!  I know it’s easy to say now, but I have to be honest and say that among the few things that drive me in my life, the single most important thing to me (except for my relationship with God) is my dedication to never forget the simple honour that will be mine alone to share the heart of another.  I have almost always chosen selfishly where love is concerned.  I pray that I am no longer that man!  I pray that I will instead choose to always see the truth and to revere the remainder of my days, the choice of the woman who has chosen to share her life with me.  I pray that I never lose sight of that simple and beautiful choice and that I’m always a source of profound happiness, joy, affirmation and validation to my future wife.  I pray that I am always a source of honour and that I always bring a sense of warmth to her heart.  If I ever do achieve that level of intimacy with a woman again, I will have led a life well lived.

Sweetheart, I’m praying for you.