Thursday, July 29, 2004
Having just finished I Kissed Dating Goodbye, it was brought home to me how often we can use the same words and mean completely different things. Through the first few chapters of the book, I was very impressed. It was as though he'd taken my thoughts, expanded on and clarified them, and published them in a nice book. Except...near the end, one or two comments he made, which he may not have even considered, made me stop. You see, when I say courting, I mean "dating with purpose and responsibility." It's not dating just to be dating, but rather something relatively low-key where the idea is that should things continue to go well, marriage is on the frontier. It seems to me that when the Evangelicals say courting they mean "pre-engagement." That means that within about a year, you two should be at least engaged.
While I think I'm ready for what I meant by courting, I don't think I'm ready at all for what Evangelicals mean. At the very least, I've got two more years to go before I get a degree that will actually allow me to get a job. I think that in many ways I am ready, but not having real job prospects is something fairly important. I'd like to develop some other areas of myself, too, but those would be doable under what I'd mentioned before.
It did bring home to me the fact that there are those who are Evangelicals belief-wise and those who are culturally Evangelicals. Culturally, I'm a Catholic. God, to me, is present but still somewhat reserved. I tend pray to God in general, rather than specifically Christ (and, for that matter, I call the Messiah Christ, rather than Jesus). I'm not uncomfortable with secular influences. I have seen plenty of movies rated R, and enjoy shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy. I'll shop at Christian bookstores, but I prefer Best Buy, Borders, and Amazon.
One of my favorite verses is Matthew 10:16, which is "be ye wise as serpents and mild as doves." Many Evangelicals are easily mild as doves, but are stuck within their own subculture. I have my own troubles with being mild as a dove, and often feel like Nicholas D. Wolfwood from the Trigun series, but it's still odd for me to see things like this. I truly can't decide where I stand on these things. Where do we draw the line between stepping back from the culture and truly withdrawing? It's as though we're so sick of the troubles in the world that we're heading out and leaving others to wallow in the muck, and I'm just as guilty of it as the next person.
I want to have fun. I want to go to football games, go out occasionally with nice girls, listen to my ska music, drive around, and generally have a good time. And, each of the things I mentioned can be done. However, I sometimes feel stifled by the expectations, and I don't know whether it's me rebelling once actual burdens of obedience are placed upon me or just balking at unnecessary rules.
Saturday, July 24, 2004
I think one possible example might be the "New Updated Edition" of I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris. Whether you get the pun or not, I'll move on.
I'd heard about the book before, and figured it might be a good time to actually read it, as I'm at an age where I could reasonably expect to start seeing someone in a relationship devoted to more than just having fun and hiding my own insecurities. I'm currently slightly less than halfway through, and the amazing thing is that I think that Harris and I are seeing things along the exact same lines. Now, his background is different from mine, and he's gone far more in-depth with this than I had, but his basic conclusions are the same as the ones I'd reached several years ago when I first started thinking about girls and how I ought to act with them.
My old Bible Study leader and I were talking one day, before I was in Navigators, about my views on things. He knew that I was a Christian, but not knowing me all that well at that point, was basically sounding me ought. One question he asked was what I thought was appropriate between a boyfriend and girlfriend. I thought for a second, and asked him to imagine that he was married, and that the girlfriend wasn't his wife. My view was (and is) that if you're doing things with her that you would consider to be cheating on your wife, then you shouldn't do it with your girlfriend. You've probably heard this expressed better and more concisely as the idea that every woman is someone's wife (recognizing that some people are meant to remain single, like St. Paul, of course).
I keep seeing this, and I suppose I shouldn't be surprised any more, but it is constantly amazing to me how God has watched over and protected me. And, to be honest, I don't know how much of this is sheer dumb luck on my part and how much might have been God working through a willing heart (I flatter myself to think that I do have moments where I truly offer my heart to God). I look at the times I've been shot down in the past, and I look at each one and realize that it could have been a disaster if any of the girls had said yes. I'm thankful that I've been given the chance to get to know girls in group settings, and to see so many of them truly shine.
It has recently occurred to me that building a lasting relationship (i.e. marriage) is like building a house in a climate that could turn violent at any moment. You need that house to be as sturdy as it can be, and a huge part of that is God's blessing of it. If you skimp on laying the foundation, that house is going to get destroyed by the next hurricane or earthquake, and you're going to be in deep trouble. Just as there are days when the weather is too bad to go outside and work on building your house, there are seasons for each of us when we can't be in a relationship. In seasons such as those, we need to prepare ourselves for whatever God's work may be, and that often includes eventual marriage. If we have a girl in mind, but don't feel ready to actually start seeing her, then we need to be praying for her and considering her needs as we seek to strengthen our friendship.
I never really liked the idea of "dating," but considered that if I to ask a girl out, then the idea was to see if the two of us would be suitable for marriage one day, which is known as courting. This was also a problem, I later realized, because I sometimes asked a girl to do things like go to lunch which all of the world except me apparently considers to be a date. By sending confusing signals, I was accidentally messing with girls, with the end result typically being that they either distanced themselves from me or got mad and weird towards me. While I had figured that if I were courting someone then I needed to be prepared to go as fast or as slow as things required, this meant more than I'd considered. The most obvious concern is that the two of you will go too far and end up in compromising situations. I'm relatively sure that I would seek to avoid pushing to go that fast, but I hadn't really thought about the extremes. If courting, then I should be prepared to get married the very next day if circumstances required it. Also, I should be ready to simply wait if the time isn't right. Am I prepared to do these last two things? Right now, I don't think so. This may change in a week, a month, or ten years, but it's where I am at the moment.
I had a few other things I was going to say here, but I got distracted. Look for either an update or a related post eventually.
Monday, July 05, 2004
I am a SRDF (Sober Rational Destructive Follower).
Best quote: "You are kind of a tool, but you get things done. You are probably a week away from snapping."
(via Silflay Hraka)
(I've decided to start a policy where people I know offline are only to be identified by two of their initials, rather than their names, as I don't feel that I have the right to identify them otherwise.)
In case anyone was wondering, the reason I haven't blogged lately is that I'm now interning in Chester, PA. I picked up my friends EH and RMi in Woodbridge, VA, and drove up on Monday. We had a nice barbecue, where we met two of the other interns, CG and JM, with TS arriving that evening. I think it's safe to say that all six of us are very different. Still, we get along pretty well. CG and RMi are working with RG, one of the missionaries here, in community ministry in preparation for a new church plant in the Highland Gardens area of Chester, while the other four of us each have a class. This being the Fourth of July [extended] weekend, though, most people were gone, and so each of the four of us only had about three kids in our classes. Things went about as well as could be expected for a first day, especially once we managed to find a way to get power into EH's classroom so she could run her fans.
Also, this weekend I went to my first wedding, which was really nice. My friends ML and the former BC (now BL) were married in Waynesboro on Saturday. EH, RMi, and I drove over to Carlisle to pick up our friend MC, then on down to Virginia. Afterwards, they stayed with an older couple who were friends of BC's family, while I stayed at the local Holiday Inn with JG and JR. JG, JR, JR's fiancee RMc, and I had a good chat, though I think they may have each had a drink or two beforehand. Perhaps the oddest moment was when RMi asserted that girls always wear towels after coming out of the shower because, and I quote, "girls leak." I decided not to think about the implications of this, and our conversation moved on. After I went up to my room, I was joined by JR, and we had a nice long conversation. I don't have an older brother, and a lot of the stuff we talked about was the sort of stuff that was very good for me to hear and learn (he being a few years older than I am). The next morning, we headed back, dropped off MC, and got back to Chester. I was dead-tired by the end of it, as JR and I shared a queen-sized bed, and I kept waking up to find myself choosing between lying on a few inches of bed or being spooned. After I got back, we had a barbecue for Independence Day. Unfortunately, I had just woken up from a nap, and so I was pretty much out of it for the entire experience. I also think that something I ate had gone bad, as my stomach ached for a long while afterwards. I'm feeling better now, though; thanks.
I don't know how much I'll get to blog, but I'll try and do it at least once a week to give updates on my situation. Two prayer requests I have are for friends seeking jobs. The first is for RD, a guy I met at the reception who turns out to have been in the horn section of the marching band the year before I entered. He's moving up to New Hampshire with only a job interview, and so please pray that he can get that job and be closer to his wife's family. Also, JR is looking for a job in Blacksburg, as he and RMc are getting married in August and she still has one more year to go to finish her degree.