Tuesday, February 14, 2012

All the Single Ladies

Single guys look at Valentine's Day and breathe a sigh of relief that they make it through the day without spending a dime.  Single girls dread it for weeks beforehand.  As soon as the Christmas clearance is gone from our favorite stores, the shelves fill up with chocolate and roses and reminders of the fact that we are indeed alone.  This time last year, I was single.  Very, very single.  Just-been-dumped single.  In fact, right before Valentine's Day, I was shopping and came across a card that said "I want to grow old and disgusting with you".  I posted it to Facebook with the caption "Found the Valentine's Day card, now I just need the Valentine".  And when I posted it, I had no idea that I would meet my husband two days later.  And of course, even once we met, it took a little while to know that he was supposed to be my husband.  So last year, I made girl plans.  For all of you guys out there (or girls who married young and probably never had to make them), girl plans are the thing to make when you are single and female and a holiday all about love comes along.  You make girl plans to tell the world "I don't care that I don't have a man on this day filled with chocolate and flowers and romance!", even though you clearly do.  It's self-preservation, really.  And it prevents you from gaining twelve pounds by staying home and eating an entire container of Ben and Jerry's while watching Love Actually or Sleepless in Seattle for the 30th time.  Girl plans are fun.  They provide solidarity and camaraderie on a day when you most need to feel like you are not alone.  

Last year, though, at the last minute, I added a boy to my girl plans.  (Thanks, Katie, for allowing this)  My new friend Jake, my girlfriend Katie, and I went out for dinner to Urban Taco, one of my favorite Dallas restaurants.  I am pretty sure Jake paid for our food, and so Katie and I got the best of both worlds.  We had girl plans, and we didn't have to pay for our own dinners.  It was a win-win.  And in the end, I got a husband out of the deal.  Even bigger win.

But today, as happy as I am to have a super cool husband to spend the day with and to write me love notes on my Starbucks cup sleeve, my thoughts are with my girlfriends.  The ones who are waiting on Mr. Right.  The ones who have been left by Mr. Right.  The ones who don't care about finding Mr. Right (there are a few of those).   The ones that aren't quite old enough to need Mr. Right.  The ones that I have on my prayer list.  I am praying that Mr. Right comes along at the right time and that Mr. Wrong stays away.  He does more harm than good, I promise.  I am hoping that you have made girl plans.  I hope that you have worked to fill this day with all kinds of fun and excitement and people who love you.  Because even though it's always true that you are loved and valued, on this day the feeling might be harder to find. So, Happy Valentine's Day, friends.  I love you.  And if you are still hopeful that you can find a last minute date, I am pretty sure this guy's not busy tonight.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Grain of Sand in my Shoe

Mount Taranaki, New Zealand
Posted partly because it fit the quote below, but mostly because right now I just miss New Zealand

It isn't the mountain ahead that wears you out - it's the grain of sand in your shoe.
-Robert Service

I would like to be different.  I would like to be more loving, more tolerant.  At the very least I would like to be growing towards being more tolerant.  But some days, it's all too much.  And it comes at me from a million different sources- irritating Facebook posts, text messages, rude grocery store clerks, aggressive drivers, children, squeaky brakes, no parking places at my apartment.  The little tiny annoying things that make me crazy.  And some days I can handle them, but some days, I just can't.  

I go through phases, really.  I can go weeks and sometimes months without being affected by the little things that go on around me.  I can be patient and long-suffering.  I don't comment on the ignorant things people write on Facebook, and I barely give them a second thought.  I let the rude driver pass me and I don't say a word.  I smile at the unpleasant cashier.  I let the passive-aggressive tweets go by.  I clean off the sweaty gym equipment and I don't even look for the guy that just used it (so that I can give him the stink eye). 

But other times.  Oh, other times.  I get a condescending email.  And my 13-year-old Facebook friend has just posted her 37th picture within the last hour.  Someone talks to me like I am a five-year-old.  And Sugarland comes on my Pandora station.  And my knee hurts.  And there are 7 passive aggressive Facebook statuses, two hyper-spiritual ones, and one person talking about what a great and perfect person she is.  And the person in the truck behind me honks his horn the second the light turns green.  I'm going!  And the cashier is talking on her cell phone while ringing up my purchases.  On.  Her.  Cell phone.  Seriously.  And I have just enough of a headache to frustrate me.  And my shoes are too tight.  And I gained a pound.  And I am two days behind on my Bible reading and I feel like I will never catch up.  And Netflix "is currently unavailable".  And the only thing that sounds good for dinner is a big fat cheeseburger.  

None of these things are mountains for the climbing.  They aren't bankruptcy or divorce or cancer or natural disasters.  They are grains of sand in my shoe.  But they destroy happiness and contentment just as effectively as a larger enemy.  The process just takes longer.  It's just a long and painful death rather than a quick one that I didn't see coming.  

You want to know the difference, though, between my good, tolerant phases and my oh-my-goodness-if-I-see-one-more-stupid-thing-on-Facebook-I-am-going-to-punch-someone-in-the-face phases?  The difference is me.  The difference is in my own heart and head.  It is in my current spiritual condition.  It is in my prayer life.  It is in my choice to ignore the insignificant things in life and focus on truth and things that are good and lovely and virtuous.  

I was at a really low point last week when I started this blog post.  I texted a girlfriend "When I log into Facebook and I see a status and instantly wish the author would fall into a deep, dark pit for writing stupid things, I know I am not in a good place".  She responded with the wisest and simplest of answers, "Maybe you should step away".  And so I did.  I limited the number of times a day that I check all social media.  I started to meditate on the Scripture that I am working on memorizing.  I started to say quick prayers about the minor irritations.  And you know what?  It helped.  It always does.

It's funny that I have no problem handing over the big things in life to God.  I look at them, think "Whoa, there's no way I can do this... so here you go", and pass them right off to the One who can take care of them.  But the small things.  The small, annoying things in life, I feel like I am capable of handling alone.  And so I put them in my backpack and I carry them until I am so tired and crabby that I want to punch everyone.  And that is a dumb idea.  Because it never works.  It always ends badly.  It always ends with me crying my eyes out because the world is too hard.  And it is.  And so I renew my determination to hand these small things over as they come.  To respond in the Spirit instead of the flesh that grows tired (quickly) and reacts badly (often).  To practice Philippians 4:6 and pray about everything.  Everything.  Pray about Netflix and my sore knee and my car that seems to be falling apart.  And parking places and work problems and gaining weight.  Everything.  

And so, as you go through your day, I invite you to join me.  Pray about the laundry and the toys scattered all over your house and the unpleasant tone of voice your husband used with you this morning.  And pray about your bills that you can't pay and your singleness that you are trying to be content with and the person at work that drives you nuts.  Pray, and I'll pray, too.  


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