Dating and relationships – energizing or draining?

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

Making sense of a tragedy…

As a single guy I have many good relationships with family and friends. These can be a life saver for my sanity. I have both female and male friends who I listen to and vice-versa, over coffee, food, or through random texts that desperately need my opinion about their child’s behaviour, and some other crisis they are feeling. However, even though I usually feel quite self-assured that my life is not falling to pieces, apart of my lack of success in the romance department, I do have my occasional S.O.S call because I feel like I’m about to fall into a deep dark hole.

This happened recently, when my close friend of 6 years suddenly died. She was my constant companion. She was so sweet, and seemed to know exactly how to comfort or nurture me. She was my 7 year old dog. A golden retreiver with a very gentle nature. She came with me to work several days a week, and blessed everyone there. She worked with behaviour problem children mostly…sort like a child whisper.


I felt so connected to her. I loved her. Even as I write this I feel the tears coming back to my eyes. The worst part is that it was my oversight, my mistake that lead to her untimely demise. She was lying there in the grass, with wet blankets on her, as I assumed she was suffering from heat exhaustion. Little did I know that she was already dying, because she had red dots in her ears, which meant she was suffering from blood clotting.

How it happened

I forgot to leave the window down as I always do. It was like a perfect storm. I decided to replace my fence, and she had no yard to play in. All the lumber for the fence was in the garage so i parked my car outside for the week. I had always been in the habit of opening my windows while the car was in the garage to air it out. But now because it was outside, I had them all closed. I felt bad that my dog had lost her yard to run around in, and was determined to get her out to the parks as frequently as I could. This morning I got up and rushed around after finishing my breakfast, because it was my turn to lead the large group sunday school lesson at church (grades 2-4). But I had a thought that I was going to be working with some foster kids that afternoon, and I wouldn’t have time to pick the dog up before heading out to their place. These kids were always asking about the dog. So I quickly found the dog blanket and put it in the backseat. I grabbed her dog snacks and leash, and then she jumped happily into the back seat. It was about 16C and overcast, but did feel a little humid outside. My plan was to drive to the church, park with the windows and sunroof open, and then do my volunteer job, and then wisk myself and the dog out to the home in the country. However, I said bye to her, and I didn’t lower the windows, as I rushed into the church. In my mind the windows were already down because, they always were open first thing in the morning, and I hadn’t closed them. I did my job, and chatted with a few people, even talking with one person about how great my dog was for me and my work. I went out to the car, in a happy mood. I opened the door and looked at my dog, who was lying awkwardly in the backseat. She looked at me with one eye and I knew something was wrong. She didn’t respond to me at first, but with encouragement, she got up and flopped out of the back seat onto the cement. She tried to stand but couldn’t. She seemed to get up and fall, and seemed disoriented. I picked her up and carried her to the grass, asking a bystander if they could get a bowl of water. Another kind woman asked me if I needed any help. I told her I wasn’t sure. She suggested some wet towels. I agreed immediately, and she went to fetch them. We tried to spoon feed water to her, and kept those wet towels wrapped around her.

She is showing positive signs

She started to show signs of re-vitalizing. I had talked with pet-rescue services on the phone, and they said this was a good sign, and to keep cooling her down. I thought, “she is going to be fine and normal again soon.” She started to nuzzle my hand with her nose. She was reaching up with her paw, like she always did, to ask for more petting and nurture. I saw those red dots in her ear, but didn’t know what they meant. Then something started to change in her. I recognized the symptoms of trauma. I called pet rescue, and they arrived about 20 minutes later, put her on a stretcher, and took her to the vet. I arrived at the vets with this woman, who was supporting me (her family and children drove in the car behind us). After 10 minutes, I was called into a room (this woman came with me).

My heart is crushed

The vet came in and explained that she was dead. He stated that the cooling downattempt may have been too fast, and her immune system, which was already stressed, could not regulate it back to normal, causing a stroke. I cried so hard for about 10 minutes. This was so sad. This dog was so precious and deserved so much more. She must have suffered so much. Desperate for some fresh air from a car that she was so happy to ride with me in on so many occasions…so happy a few hours prior – then suffering – then death.

Last goodbye

I prayed over her dead body as I hugged her in that vet office for the last time. I prayed, “Please God, take her spirit to be with you…she made a positive difference in this world… not only for me, but for so many others as well. She loved much. I hope to see her again. You blessed me with her for 6 years. I feel like I wasted this precious blessing…so careless… I am so disappointed in myself. I know I want another dog…another with traits like her, but maybe one that will fetch too. Sorry God, for not caring better for her. I miss her so much.”

 Reflection  – Why did this have to happen? What is the point?

That was a tough day for me. I took my bible (The Message) a few days later and flipped it open to Ecclesiates 7. King Solomon, one of the wealthiest, and wisest men to ever live spoke to me with these words here: “Better to cry, as it scours the heart, then to laugh with fools.” I thought this was true for me now. But what really caught my heart that day was, “Don’t knock yourself out being too good, or wise…it doesn’t always lead to good fruit… don’t push your luck by being bad or reckless either. Enjoy good days, and grieve on bad days.”  My dog was a gift from God. She was just what I needed after a longterm romantic relationship broke my heart. She made my days happier then I realized. Thankyou for her God. She really blessed me.

I thought alot about what Romans 8:28 means in this circumstance. What good would come out of this for me…for anyone? A caring friend mentioned to me that he had been praying about this for me too, as he was wondering the same thing. He stated that what came to him was that I worked in a job with a lot of broken parents and children, and I have heard a lot of careless tales about parents that lead to the neglect or harm to their children or others. One parent was already coming to my mind. A lot of people were quite openly critical of her in front of me, and sometimes directly to her. She was absent minded during a period of her life and a series of poor choices was wreaking havoc now, years later with respect to her children’s behaviour. Maybe God didn’t make my dog die, but when it happened because of my mistake, God saw it as a powerful empathy tool for me to use in my practice.

Understanding and renewed vision

Nothing teaches better then living through an experience. Many of these parents were teenagers or not ready to deal with a major responsibility, when they had their children. From building a relationship with these parents, in helping them diagnose, and problem solve the current issues, I have to come to know that they love their children, and want to guide them in the right direction. They can’t change the past, but they can change the future with their choices today (a parent said to me). So many professionals I work with want to point the finger at their incompetence. God has shown me through this experience, that I can weep with them, empathize with them, and support them with comforting advice, and honest strategies. That woman and her family (I didn’t get her name) who supported me without any condemnation were like the spirit of Jesus, holding and comforting my heart. This is an experience that I will share with a family or parent at some point in the near future. Anyone of us can make a mistake, and often we don’t experience consequences so severely. Do we choose bitterness, self-pity,  or dispair? None of these are good choices, but sadly, too often, that is what many of us choose. We can meditate on Romans 8:28, and try to understand how God might make lemon-aid out of a bad situation. I know I can use this experience to show kindness, and through sharing my experience, create empowerment, and hope. Seems like a good starting place.  With a good strategy, and consistent support, I have seen some of these broken people start to heal. I am so blessed to be part of this process…I will still miss my old friend, and the memories are still bitter-sweet, but I am thankful that something positive can come out of this.

I have a new dog. He is the same breed exactly, but not the same dog. He is sweet in his own way, and he fetches like crazy!

Hey world…my dating history at a glance!

I’ve started this post to share my experiences about dating in this fast paced secular culture, and the many dips and trappings that a single Christian guy can stumble through in this journey. If you are at all like me, and desire to have a close friendship with the love of your life, you will likely have some similar experiences. The problem is not meeting single women in this western digital culture, but developing a skill set or selling features that will appeal enough to the potential female suitor to keep her around long enough to get to know you, without losing your authenticity in the process.

I live in a city with N. America, but it will remain nameless, as I don’t want to bring unwanted attention to anyone who doesn’t want it.  I attend a church at least once per month, and I have some really good friends through this community. I also work fulltime at a professional job that requires me to appear quite neutral about my spiritual beliefs, and very empathetic and supportive of other’s outlooks. I consider myself a decent athlete, although not good enough to make a financial living from it. I workout 4-5 x per week, and eat a healthy diet, inspired by my mom, and by an operation at about 21, relating to the health of my colin.  I am so healthy looking, that most people do not expect that I ever had an operation of this nature.  I have travelled to some parts of the world and spent enough time in other cultures, that I see myself having a healthier than average balanced outlook on life.  I live in my own house and rent out other property. I have a beautiful dog, which requires lots of attention.

Despite knowing that I am an above average good looking guy, I have found dating in and out of Christian circles frustrating, and discouraging. I have never been married, but have been in a couple of relationships that seemed to be moving in that direction. I was about to propose to one girl on New Years eve one year, and had all the details planned out. Despite my excitement at this coming moment, she was in a much different head space. She showed up at my door that day in the morning, and stated that she needed time to think about our relationship. She had my stuff (left at her place) in a bag that she handed to me. Talk about walking off a cliff that I didn’t see coming. Got a note about a week later from her stating that I shouldn’t communicate with her in any way, even if I don’t understand.  Wow, that stung. I think I cried myself to sleep for the next week. I did get a few clues as to what was going on in her life from her friends, and with my counseling training I realized that part of this was a trigger based on transference of her negative  memories of her dead father to me. I also had some work to do on myself, and actually saw a counsellor as part of my course for about 30 sessions.  I started writing poetry as one result of this, and even had a couple published.

Another time I was engaged to a girl who my friends thought was amazing (friend of a friend’s sister). She was a nice girl, but after too many red flags started showing up, and one being her investigation of some rumours about me being a major drug user and dealer, I new in my heart that I could not marry this girl. I resented her for not confronting me with this gossip. Some of her ideology with respect to Christianity was becoming hard to digest for me, and her family wouldn’t entertain any of my questions about it. God even spoke to me through a dream. It was a very tough decision, but I called it off.

I have dated lots of other girls for what I refer to as mini-relationships. As I got discouraged with the results, and the choices, I have entertained the idea of ‘flirting and converting’.  This idea is simply looking for a physically attractive girl with solid-looking values, and then checking to see what kind of faith history they have. I would try to appeal to core values in that history in a gentle, and subtle manner. This also had its inherent challenges, which would lead to some moral challenges for me.

I know what the bible says about these things. Don’t be unequally yoked. It also says don’t be “luke warm”.  In other words,  don’t be a chameleon, or fence sitter. It also talks about the narrow road. I do a fair amount of reading, and remember this one woman talking about “Relevant Christianity”. She described it as a road that is more like a tight wire that guys used to use to walk across Niagara Falls. On one side is total carnality, and on the other is hyper-spirituality. To be relevant according to her, you have to be able to relate to secular culture as Jesus did to the carnal crowds in his day. However, we must also have a solid connection to a few of our community planted on the other side of the wire. This may mean attending church and absorbing a challenging but relevant sermon regularly, or meditating with a devo, and bible several times per week. Walking this wire can be troublesome, and takes a lot of intentionality, and focus. Otherwise I am likely to slide into one camp or the other, which is not where I think Jesus was in his journey on earth.  What am I saying then? I’m not saying that “flirting and converting” is the best approach. But I am saying to be more discerning about what we condone with our actions and attitudes. By using hyper spiritual language and hanging out 90% of the time with that crowd, I found myself growing more distant, and holding some negative judgements with respect to the crowd in the carnality communities.  I know the attitude I sometimes felt inside was not one Jesus would be proud of for me. Don’t get me wrong, I did have some good attitudes. I reached out and helped people in poverty, as well as my own community needs. I tried real hard to have a servant attitude. But I was moving closer and closer to living life in a bubble of hyper – spirituality.

At the same time, I don’t see it as a wise thing to be too nonchalant about mixing in a carnal crowd either. Sure, I attend  parties with alcoholic beverages being served. Actually I enjoy a cold beer on a hot day, but usually only one or two cold ones at a time. I also love to drink wine of many varieties. This part I’m good with… the part I have slipped with is when dating in these areas on both sides of the wire, especially as I get older, I find it easier to rationalize, or let passion get too far ahead in the sexual arena.  The Bible says to guard our bodies, as they are a temple of the Holy Spirit… seems this has a lot of psychological connections to go with it. God is a wise dude. If He created everything, he outta know how things work, including us, who he made in his image.  Somehow, the pre-mature sex that seems like such a good idea at the time, can mess up our psychological health, and lead to a nuclear cascade of problems in the near future.  As one girl I dated recently, liked to state, it is a slippery slope. I think this applies to either direction. Get grounded and stay on that wire!

I hope you enjoy this introduction to my blog. About once a week or so, I will make a new entry about a recent relationship or dating experience. I’m not really promising answers, but I may instigate some questions in your own minds, as I do in my mind. I was originally thinking of Christian men over 35 as my target audience. However, this not written in stone. God has a lot of good ideas of His own, and he may want to use this blog differently then my intention. Partly, I am going to be venting, and talking about very personal emotions. But because it is also like a journal entry for me, I will sometimes direct my thoughts directly at God. I’m not trying to tell anyone what theology they should be believing. I am mostly thinking out loud, and hopefully provoking a few decent thoughts of anyone who chooses to read this blog. Us single Christian guys need a lot of encouragement. Men in general do. I have long had a passion to bring men together to talk about how they feel, and have done this over food mostly.  But we are living in a digital age.

A Single Christian Guy

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