Dating and relationships – energizing or draining?

Archive for the month “August, 2013”

Morality vs. Spirituality

pretty toes

Being a 40 something single guy I feel the vibes/awkward body language when people realize I’m single. Maybe I’m a creep they are thinking, or maybe they are thinking “Wonder why he couldn’t meet anyone…what’s wrong with him”. Or maybe they think, “lucky guy…he has no worries”. I’m sure there are other thoughts on this. However, somehow I have experienced certain events thru the church community that have resulted in me feeling shame. Like the time I admitted I slept with my girlfriend to the pastor. I was a leader of a bible study group at this time, and in the fall the church has this habit or ritual of having all their bible study leaders on stage to be introduced, and prayed for. After this confession, during a service, all bible study leaders were asked to the stage. Of course I went up. Everyone was introduced except for me. Prayer, and then we were sent to our seats. I found out later, that I was deemed by the pastors to have a spiritual deficit because of my behaviour with my girlfriend. In other words I wasn’t close enough to God to be a good example to others. Seems that the church requires perfection for leadership, and Christ requires honesty, humility, and grace to be his follower. Seems like two different standards.

Morality – do we focus on it too much?
Our values over which behaviours indicate true morality are as skewed as our approach to each other is unchristian. Because of the way we judge each other, we become the evaluators of each other’s spirituality and worth. This evaluation belongs to God alone. Read the scriptures carefully, and you’ll find that the pages of the bible are filled with murders and adulterers who love God and are loved by God. A lot of their bad behaviour seems to happen when they are in relationship with God. Could it be that God’s way of approaching human morality and behaviour is radically different from ours?

The curse of Human Nature
Ryan writes in his book (Ashamed no more): “The appeal of a moralizing approach to faith is this: If a person can live a dramatically self sacrificing life or an apparently moral life, it is the curse of human nature to hear that whisper in our hearts, ‘I’m doing good things; I’m a moral person; God must be pleased with me.’ That is the whisper of spiritual idolatry. Instead of our love being focused on God and his desire to love us in spite of ourselves, it is focused on us and our achievements. Jesus calls us to do what we do and to want to do what He wants us to do only because we are increasingly captivated by God’s passionate love for us. ”

It seems in our current church culture that some behaviours are more morally essential then others and some sins are more acceptable then others. Sexual sin, and perhaps abortion, are seen as strong indicators of one whom is not spiritually in relationship with God, more so then sins like ‘gossip’, or ‘gluttony’ . From what I have seen and heard, the church community is quite accepting of gluttony, and seems to overlook gossip as nothing more then a slip of the tongue. Hardly enough to suggest removing someone from leadership. Seems to me that Jesus was more concerned with feeding the hungry, and visiting the prisoners then he was about serving in church leadership. Somehow we have been having a tendency to slide away from the real gospel.

The Dark Side
The dark side of Christian morality is that some of us so want to feel good about ourselves we convince ourselves that God is probably pretty glad we are on his side. We wouldn’t say that out loud, and maybe we don’t even realize that we are thinking it. This is moral hypocrisy, and when we finally confront it, we are likely appalled by it. Pride is at the heart of this.

So everyday I attend church, and serve in sunday school, I know Iam likely being judged in a positive light. But when I admit to lust, or others suggest I used a girl by dating her several times and then disappearing, I am negatively judged. This is how people use moral behaviour to judge the level of someone’s spiritual relationship to God. A visitor comes seeking God at church, but ends up being confronted with a moral teaching that points at one of their habitual sins. This may be good, if they can repent and turn away. however, if they have an addiction to gossip, alcohol, lust, or some other sin, they may leave silently under a cloud of shame. Do they return to church next Sunday, or do they feed their addictive coping mechanism even more just to improve their mood and eliminate the pain of their shame? Where do we experience shame in our lives? How do we respond to shame?

Another Dating Disappointment!

Amy golfingMy dating life is not a lot of fun. As a matter of fact the more dissappoinment I experience, the tougher it gets to keep my heart soft. Getting one’s hopes up only to be dashed again and again hurts!

I met this one girl through Christian Mingle. However, she lives a day trip away. After several conversations, it seems that we really are on a similar page. We share testimonies, and I start to feel hopeful about this one. However, I know the first litmus test will be in meeting her and spending some significant time with her doing some activities. I agree to travel her direction. After some discussion about schedule, we agree to have a visit in two weeks. I will spend one day there, and travel back the following day. However, when the time comes close, I remind her that it will only be 36 hours. She states that this can’t work because she has already made other plans. I make an adjustment, and she agrees at first, and then states that she can’t get her parents to take her child as it is her week with her daughter, and they are going away. No problem I state, as I know this reality is true, and don’t think it is appropriate for me to meet her daughter right away. We rescheduled for a week later when her daughter would be away. She thanked me for being so patient and understanding. We texted a few times during the week, and shared devotionals, along with a review of my most recent teaching from a sunday morning church service. Everything seems good. I have arranged for a dog sitter, and my car is highway ready. However, 48 hours prior to the visit, she states via text that she hasn’t heard that much from me recently and is wondering if I am still coming. Before I can respond, she states her cousin in another city is having a wedding shower, and she is thinking of attending. She states that she can always fly up to see me later. I responded that I was definitely planning to come, but she has stated that she is going to her cottage for the day, and will be out of reception range. My response was 1 minute after her text arrived, but I got no response after a few minutes. Then I phoned her and got her vm to which I left a detailed message expressing my planning and desire to come to see her as planned. I wanted to discuss this with her as I wondered if she may be feeling insecure about not hearing enough from me during this previous week.

At this point, I am feeling like I have been punched in the gut…I have a physical sensation that I want to vomit. My perspective with online dating is that you can only chat so long with someone before meeting them in person. If this takes too long, the spontaneity and momentum start to decline, as the initial meeting time period from first voice contact increases. I feel stuck… How long can we stretch this out? I don’t have any commitment to her as I haven’t met her. Iam starting to think she isn’t serious about meeting me, and wonder if I should start pursuing other options. I allowed my hopes to get up that this might be a good possibility. Now I feel so down, and defeated. How many times must I go through this cycle? There are no simple answers, but there are some simple platitudes out there like “Let God find her for you”. Hhmmm…. does this mean that I am not letting God be part of the process because I’m using an online dating site? I wonder if Abraham should have stayed at home until he got a written message or prompt to move his family to a new land. Doesn’t faith have something to do with us taking a physical step? Platitudes are frequently used by people who are too tired or lazy to listen carefully and empathize before recommending a different approach. They frequently come across as moralizers. However, some platitudes when used in the write context, communicate deep meaning…like Rom. 8:28. God frequently has indicated in his word that we should listen first, pray, and speak when the spirit prompts us too. We as Christians need to practice this more…me included. The tendency of many of us seems to be to give quick advice or a wise saying, or attempt to trouble shoot the problem without first considering the persons feelings. I’m not trying to make any of you feel bad… I’m just saying. Anyway…. the life of the single guy is not a bowl of good times. It is frequently a bowl of loneliness, and feeling disconnected with the community. Most of the time I am most comfortable when I am so busy at work or volunteering that I don’t have time to be introspective. This is why I avoid church social events unless I’m going to be busy serving, and not having to field stupid questions relating to my singleness. Ahhh….I wanted to scream today: “I can’t take this anymore….and then blow my brains out!” Instead I just went to the most un-judgemental spot I know… the gym…and then worked out (poor weights) very hard. So what should I do? Stay in touch with her? Tell her how frustrating this feels? Play it cool? Or just move on and wonder what could have been… Right now I feel confused, which doesn’t happen that often with me.

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