I have been struggling lately with the romantic-love culture I was raised in that is so present in the South and seems to be present throughout the rest of the United States.
By romantic-love culture, I mean the culture that has told us women that
you have to find the ONE! you have to have a thigh gap/long hair/a tiny waist/abs/big hips/big boobs/a tan/great style/a bikini-ready body 24-7-365! or else the ONE may pass you up! you must go to church and be involved! you must lead small groups, mentor youths, volunteer with children, travel to foreign lands to "make disciples of all nations," and participate in Bible study year-round! or else your heart may not be deeply hidden in the heart of God and you know how the saying goes! the ONE won't be able to find you! you better save yourself or the ONE will not want you! no one loves a whore! you must have a variety of interests that you pursue at all times by being awesome at them! possibly be the president of a society or seven! but at least be a member of four or more!
you must be yourself! no matter who that is! no matter if you don't even know! you better start acting as much like yourself as possible because what if you meet the ONE in the grocery?? you never know when he will cross your path! you better get sexual experience along the way or the ONE will not want you! no one loves a prude! you should probably have your pinterest account open on a tab in your browser at all times because your wedding should practically already be planned by the time you meet the ONE! but you better not tell him or you'll scare him off! what? you're feeling sad or worried? oh, well, you should probably stifle those feelings, definitely don't tell your small group about them, what if the ONE is in there?! he's not going to want to marry someone who is sad or worried all the time. or part of the time, for that matter! you'd better be happy! do it! right now! be happy all of the time! and you'd better not tell him you ever feel these ways or are ever susceptible to hormones lest he thinks you're crazy! you'd better move yourself to New York City or Los Angeles and start your career in magazines, television, movies, or fashion! and you'd better do it quick! girls are doing this every day and you don't want someone else to meet and fall in love with the ONE for you, do you?? ...
oh, dear God.
Well, frankly, I hope you interpreted that these things were exaggerated. But at any given time of our lives, we are told a myriad of different things because the ONLY THING that matters, apparently, is finding the ONE who will finally, exasperatedly, marry you. And once you're married, you're set!
I am here to say.... nooooooooooo!!!
No to the perfect magazine images of thigh gaps and perfect bums and long hair and photoshopped perkiness!
No to over-stretching ourselves and our time to please a dude we haven't met yet!
No to the over-commercialized presentations of cute, dainty girls with their always-smiling faces, working their dream jobs that are basically the same in every TV show or movie!
No to labels!
No to denial of realness like sadness, worries, anxieties, and stresses!
No to the incessant pressing of society's definition of right and wrong into us at every turn!
No to the definition of closeness to our God being found in how busy we are at church! Only God and I know how close I am to Him, and that is our business.
NO TO THE IDEA OF THE ONE.
I want to decide. I want to decide which things are right for me. And if I am being healthy, legal, and true to myself, who really cares??
The definition of the ONE is that we find the man who will marry us... But maybe the definition of the ONE should be the version of ourselves that we love the most.
When I decided I wanted to get a pixie hair cut, I read some blogs about it and about what to expect, and a common theme in these blogposts was that I will get hit on less, since guys like long hair. You know what happened? I met the most incredible man who loved my hair long and short, because he wasn't looking at my hair, he was looking at my heart. And God didn't stop loving me, either.
When I decided I needed to resolve my anxieties for my sake, not for anyone else, but because I wanted to relax, I got better. And the aforementioned most incredible man? He looks forward to the day he gets to help me relax when I am overly anxious and can't calm down on my own. Seriously, what?! I have never met anyone who treats my anxiety that way. And God was there to cheer me on, too.
When I told him about my sins, he said he loves me. Seriously. And God, who knew I'd commit these sins before I even knew what the word "sin" means, still loves me.
When T & I started dating, I told him I thought he was one cool cat, but that school was still going to come first, because me becoming a nurse is more important to me than anything. [For the record, this is hard for me.] His response? "If you didn't say that, I was going to." And God is still providing the strength I need to make it through, since I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (philippians 4:13) Still supporting me. Still loving me.
And the best part of all of this is that I picked these things out for me, not for anyone else! And I love it!
I think T is a guy that thinks I'm interesting enough to want to hang out and find out more. He and I have so much in common it can be spooky, and we are really compatible. So I'm not going to brand him as the ONE for me, because I know that our foundation, connection and commitment to each other are what will make this relationship work and last... Not an arbitrary label, not that I have shoved myself into a tiny, incredibly specific mold that society made for me.
Just me being me, and T being T.
So when it comes to Valentine's Day, my first thought is how grateful I am for the incredible love God has for me, that He laid down His life for me, to save me, just because He wanted His eternity to have me in it. Oh my gosh. I cannot thank Him enough.
My second thought is: I am so thankful God made me exactly the way I am. And I am even more thankful that He made T the way he is, and that T says to me the opposite of what society says to me... Letting me just be me, no strings attached, and loving me as such.
I have been thinking a lot about this blog, and how terrible I am at writing posts. The fact of the matter is, I am imperfect, and I set too high of a goal for myself. This semester of nursing school is much busier than I thought it would be. A blog post a day is too much for me.
So the blog is going to change.
He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light. Job 33:28 Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. Psalm 54:4 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. Psalm 63:3
I am so imperfect, y'all, so completely imperfect.
I secretly, selfishly hoped this blog would be a reflection of a great life, a prayerful one, that without more specific details could be inspiring and bring more people to God. But that is not what the Bible says, of course, I knew this. The Bible talks about making disciples by being honest and real, revealing both the good and bad in my life. It does not talk about making disciples by bragging about how wonderful your faith is... which I, basically, had hoped to do. How selfish of me, how ridiculous of me to think I could do that.
So this blog is going to become a standard-type blog about my life. My ups and downs. My hopes and dreams. My slow but perfectly-timed discovery of God's plan for my life. Musings, things that strike my heart, the mundane realities of my life. But that is all I have to offer: my life and myself.
You can expect a new blog post once a week, possibly more if it's a light week of schoolwork or summertime.
I do hope you'll be back, my friend. I hope you come back many times.
I will continue to pray for things, and you can continue to let me know if you have prayer requests. I will still pray, of course.
You are a blessing for reading this and for joining me on this journey of revealing myself. And I am grateful for you.