Wednesday, October 31, 2012

If I didn't know better...

I am a sucker for great drama. I'm not talking Real Housewives or Big Rich Texas, but I'm thinking House or Law & Order: shows and movies with great acting, deep characters, rich scripts and story-lines, and episodes that make you think. I've recently had some down time and had the chance to catch up on all of my TV shows, so I picked up a couple new ones, one of which being Nashville (ABC). I was impressed with the first couple of episodes, and I'm curious to see where the intertwining story-lines lead.

There was one particular scene that caught my attention: the final scene in the pilot episode. In the scene, a couple performs a song (which in the show they wrote, but in actuality it is a cover of a song by The Civil Wars) called "If I Didn't Know Better." I've posted the lyrics and video here...

If I didn't know better I'd hang my hat right there
If I didn't know better I'd follow you up the stairs

Stop saying those sweet things you know I like to hear
The horns are blowing louder and they're destroying me

Why do I keep drinking
Wasting my time on you
If I didn't know better
Well damnit
I do

There's a hole in what you're saying
I can plainly see
You have a lover that's waiting but baby you're right 
here with me

Ooh, you might as well be the devil
Oh, keeping me out past three
Oh, you're the one with that apple so baby you can't 
blame me

Why don't you keep drinking
Get me one night with you
If I didn't know better
Well damnit
I do
You know that I do

Oh, baby you're right here with me
Oh, baby you know

I've never heard this song before the night I watched this episode, and I loved how the writers/producer/whoever chose to end the episode with this almost haunting song about using your better judgement. Great drama, right?

But the lyrics themselves are very real. I know I'm not the only one who has experienced the bad boy's charming allure, and deep down when I know better, he makes himself dangerous and irresistible. Of course I'm not talking necessarily about guys in a biker gang or whatever, but we all know the type: the rebels without a cause, where heartbreak seems to follow them and we wonder what is underneath their mysterious cover. We know they're no good for us, and yet, it is so hard just to let go... or as my mom says, "just break the wrist and walk away" (quoting a movie, she's not actually encouraging me to be violent).

It's a blessing in itself that we are given consciences, that we can properly form to identify right and wrong, especially when our emotions are wrapped up in whatever particular circumstance. We can trust that deep down, we know when something is not good for us. Yet, we are still drawn to it.

(Don Draper from Mad Men seemed to be a good embodiment of this kind of character)

Sure, this is the allure of sin, as it always seems tantalizing and mesmerizing in the moment, but for the sake of this blog and this post I'm thinking particularly of the single ladies. We want a man we can bring home to mom and dad, someone our friends will be supportive of us dating, and someone who will ultimately make us happy, holy, and healthy. Accepting the reality that we are weak, frail human beings who are easily seduced by our ears more than our eyes, we recognize the tendency to fall into this damaging habit or cycle of not being able to let go of a man who isn't good for us. It could be the Savior mentality ("I can change him"), it could be the ability to identify with him ("He's so lonely, I'm lonely too, he just needs someone to love him and understand him"), or even simply the thought of being rebellious against whoever ("I know everyone says this isn't good for me, but I will prove them wrong"). But ultimately we know it all ends up the same way the ones who love us predicted: "I knew better."

We can praise our ability and our right judgement in helping us avoid or get out of these potentially dangerous situations that keep us from reaching the fullest of our potential, the best versions of ourselves, the individual amazing women we are! We need to ask ourselves:

  • Is this person/relationship helping me to grow?
  • Am I learning more about myself in healthy, positive ways?
  • Are my family and friends supportive?
  • Is this man doing what he can to help me thrive in my hobbies, workplace, and other relationships?

All in all, I was happy with the end of the song. It repeats "If I didn't know better..." but all comes back to "but damn it, I do." This extra little flavor in the language could be taken 2 ways, or even progressively... the first time or two she says it, it could be a "Oh, I want to, but I know I can't... damn it!" but as the song goes on, more of a "Heck yes I know better! I will not be tricked, damn it!" which is how I personally like to think of it... but of course, it's up to your own interpretation. I'm just happy that as haunting the song is, she sticks to her guns. Rock on, girl. Here's hoping all of us are inspired to find the courage within ourselves to do the same. :)

**If you or someone you know could be in a more extremely unhealthy, damaging, or abusive relationship, check out the warning signs here and don't be afraid to ask for help: toll-free hotline **

Thursday, October 25, 2012

On to plan B!

There is so much pressure out there, especially in the Christian world, for a girl to find a man, get married, and start procreating with reckless abandon, and if you don't do it in your first couple of years out of college, there's something wrong with you and you are using being single by choice as a cop-out excuse for not being chosen. Especially for ladies recently out of relationships with a man who was supposed to be "the one," this is a huge fear.

I've felt like this myself in the past. I thought I had found my future husband, we'd figured out a timeline and we knew when we were getting engaged, when we were getting married, when we'd start having a family. I'd tested writing my name with his last name, and all that lovey dovey stuff. But it didn't work out.

So I tried not to take dating so seriously and date more "casually." A very call-it-like-it-is mentality, going on a few dates to try someone on and see if he fit. It was working all right for me, but after each breakup or each almost-relationship ended, I was back at square one. I'd think to myself "Here we go again through the cycle: Do I like him? Does he like me? Would we be a good fit? Get to know each other's background, family story, yadda, yadda, yadda."

It was disheartening and ultimately draining. I knew that I shouldn't have that kind of a mindset, but it was so difficult not to look at it as a repeating pattern, expecting to find something different when I kept treating each thing the same.

But I was missing out here. I had the capacity to make my life something extraordinary! There was an important message I hadn't been applying to myself in the dating sphere:

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future full of hope." Jer. 29:11

It all came down to one thing: let go and let God. Sure, dating is draining, breakups are hard, and it can be quite a bit stressful repeating itself, but having a relationship or a relationship prospect is not an end all be all (of course not, that's the purpose of this blog). But I learned to do my best to stay cool and remember that God is God and I am not.

Men aren't letters in the alphabet. Just like we want them to see us as incommunicable, irreplaceable, infinite mysteries, with deep hearts and minds that go on forever, we must remember that they are human beings too, and more than potential suitors! It's almost silly to try and make that point, but it is so important to remember that men too have passions, fears, hopes, dreams, wounds, strengths, and hopefully a sense of humor and personality. Fostering healthy friendships with guys (I'm talking boundaries, ladies) helps remind us that we're not looking for a checklist... we're waiting for our best friend.

Moral of the story? Stay cool. God knows what's up, and He knows a lot better than we do. Keep being your classy, fabulous self and trust that it's all going to work out. Feel helpless in the meantime? We can practice virtue, explore our own passions, fears, hopes, dreams, wounds, strengths, and hopefully sense of humor and personality, and trust that the Lord knows what he's doing. Future full of hope... I like that.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A presentation on dating:

Some of my dear friends from Franciscan University of Steubenville, my alma mater, put together this presentation on dating for the Homecoming 2012 talent show this past month. Just in case you needed a smile, this sure did the trick for me. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

In The Know

Gossip is a huge weakness in this day and age, especially among women. I've been reflecting on this quite a bit recently, especially after encountering an old girlfriend of mine who was interested in my life updates. I had gone through a messy breakup and started seeing someone knew, and naturally as my friend she wanted to be filled in. I briefly went over the events that had transpired just so she could get the gist of it, and then I moved on to the fun part: how happy I am with my life now.

However, I noticed that my friend kept steering the conversation back to the breakup: "Who said what?" "And then what happened?" "How did they react?" "So what did you do?" ...I was ready and willing to let the conversation move forward, as what she saw as "juicy details" are unnecessary, especially given that she has nothing to do with the situation and I did not have permission from the persons involved to share details, and frankly it was none of her concern aside from her relationship with me. The thought occurred to me though: if her concern was for me and my goodness and happiness, where was the need for the dramatic backstory coming from?

Maybe it is that innate message "knowledge is power," and the "if you know how to use information you can do anything" kind of mentality that drives it, but there is something in us that wants to be in the know, the first person to deliver the news. We love having people come to us for information, for "juicy details," for interesting tidbits of gossip about our dear friend Jill, Lisa from down the hall, Marcus who dated our friend, Kailey from high school, or Ben who knows a friend through another friend but we've never actually talked to each other, or Taylor's sister's bridesmaid (the one with the blonde hair), or Theresa's coworker's sister's son and his girlfriend.... you wouldn't believe what they did!

My hypothesis? We want to feel needed. If we have a piece of information that no one else knows, our presence holds value. You can see it in action movies: someone won't tell a secret, won't write down a password or secret location of a captive, so the person(s) trying to get the information out of the secret-keeper are forced to keep them alive, in order to eventually attain said valued piece of information. Makes sense enough.

I've heard people complain about those who gossip, saying that people who gossip are insecure, and I think there might be some truth to that thought. We do all have insecurities and wounds in one way or another that manifest themselves differently in each person, in each circumstance, etc. But everyone has a need to be affirmed in his or her existence, to know that they are needed. On some level, we need to know that we are needed. Accordingly, it makes sense that we have a tendency to keep little stories and bits of information to ourselves, only hinting at hit to play up the value. If someone wants the information badly enough, they'll keep us around.

I think the next question to ask here is, how can we still be affirmed in our friendships and our worth without slipping into hurtful or sinful habits or adopting a tabloid mentality? One word: LOVE.

Yes, I know, I bring just about everything back to love, but it is the crux of our existence, our reason for living, our purpose in the creation story, what each and every man and woman seeks to no end, what no person lives a full and happy life without... so I'd say it's worth repeating.

I think the most practical first step is asking ourselves before we share a story or tidbit about whoever a few important questions:

1. Is this necessary to share?
2. Does it help or hurt the person(s) about whom I am speaking?
3. Does my involvement warrant me sharing this information?
4. What is my motivation for sharing?
5. If the person I am talking about was here next to me, would I still share?

Another important thing to consider, or I guess just another step towards bettering ourselves: surround yourself with people who want the best for you, genuinely. You want friends who still want to be around you when you don't have a secret story to disclose, or that you don't have to bait with hints of details about any certain scandalous affair. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference, but once the stories are filtered, it becomes much easier to see who loves you for you and who just wants to be in the know.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I don't wait anymore

This post was beautifully written by gracefortheroad at It's super beautiful so I'm sharing it here for all the single ladies. Worth the read! :)

When I was 16, I got a purity ring.
And when I was 25, I took it off.
I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it — it wasn’t a statement or an emotional thing. I just slipped it off my finger that day and, before tucking it away in a box, ran my finger around the words on the familiar gold band.
“True Love Waits.” Waits.
What’s it “waiting” for, anyway?
I had my reasons for deciding not to wear it anymore. Other people might have other reasons. It’s a graveyard of hearts, this place where single church girls crash into their late 20s and early 30s. Churches see the symptoms. They scramble to reach out to the ever-growing young adult singles crowd who feels alienated by family-oriented services.
But there’s something bigger behind it than that.
Much bigger.
There are a lot of girls out there who don’t know who God is anymore – the God of their youth group years just isn’t working out. Back then, that God said to wait for sex until they are married, until He brings the right man along for a husband. They signed a card and put it on the altar and pledged to wait.
And wait they did.
And waited and waited and waited.
Some of them have prayed their whole lives for a husband, and he hasn’t shown up. They’ve heard the advice to “be the woman God made you to be, focus on that, and then the husband will come.” They’ve read “Lady in Waiting,” gotten super involved in church and honed their domestic skills.
And still they wait.
More than a decade ago, a youth leader handed them a photocopied poem in Sunday School written to them from “God” that said, “The reason you don’t have anyone yet is because you’re not fully satisfied in Me. You have to be satisfied with Me and then when you least expect it, I’ll bring you the person I meant for you.”
And the girls see it posted on their bulletin boards from time to time.
“You’re right, God,” they say. “We’re not satisfied in you yet. We will put you first and then you can bring us a husband in your timing.”
But many of them – if they’re honest – will tell you that time has passed, and it’s wrecking their view of God.
If this is who God’s supposed to be, then He’s tragically late.
So some decide to chuck “Lady in Waiting” out the window … and possibly their virginity with it. Church goes next. God might go next, too. If He doesn’t answer these prayers after they’ve held up their end of the bargain, why would He answer any others?
Whether it was the fault of the leaders, the fault of us girls, or both, a tragedy happened back then.
A lot of girls were sold on a deal and not on a Savior.
I had that poem on my bulletin board all through high school – the one where “God” was telling me to fall in love with Him first and then I would be able to fall in love with a husband later.
Who wrote that poem anyway?
Pretty sure it wasn’t God.
When Jesus was here on the earth, the crowds would follow Him because they saw He gave good things. But that’s not what He wanted. He wanted their hearts for Himself. So He would turn to them and say things like, “If you don’t love Me so much that every other relationship in your life looks like hate by comparison, you can’t follow Me.” (Matthew 10:34-39, paraphrase)
That sounds a lot different from the poem.
Christ is the source of everything we need and the giver of all good gifts … but in telling people about Him, it’s possible we’ve sold them on a solution for life’s problems and not life itself.
What if we as girls had learned early on that having Him was everything, not a means to the life we think He would want us to have.
If we had learned we don’t abstain from sex because we’re “waiting.” We abstain because we love Him.
If I’d had on my bulletin board, “Fall in love with Jesus.” That’s it. Bottom line. That’s everything you need to know, to work toward, to put your hope in.
If I’d learned who He is, what He wants, how to give Him everything, not “wait” so that one day I could give my everything to someone else.
If I’d learned that it’s not bad to pray for a husband, but that my greater prayer should be for Him to spend my life as He chooses for His glory.
If we as believers make that our message, things could be drastically different for a lot of girls wondering why the God they think they learned to follow doesn’t compute. It doesn’t necessarily stop the desire for a husband or end all feelings of loneliness, but it does show a God who provides, loves and gives infinite purpose even to our singleness rather than a God who categorically denies some who pray for husbands while seemingly giving freely to others.
It shows that while marriage is good, He is the greater goal.
Don’t think I’ve done this perfectly.
I’d be deceiving you if you thought that. I’ve had relationships where I made major mistakes. I’ve gone through angst-ridden phases where I met with friends to plead together with God to bring us husbands. I’ve planned major life decisions around possibilities.
I lived like I was waiting for something.
And that’s why I slipped off my ring that day. It wasn’t that I wanted to sleep with people – I haven’t. It wasn’t a slap to True Love Waits, or to anyone who wears a purity ring – saving sex for marriage is good and is His design.
I just didn’t want to wait anymore – didn’t want to live like I was waiting on anyone to get here.
I already have Him … and He is everything.
“Follow Christ for His own sake, if you follow Him at all.” – J.C. Ryle

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Letter to my 15-year-old self

I wrote this for work to post on the company website ( if you want to have a looksie) and I wanted to share it with you. :) I've also included a picture of 16-year old me, just for fun.

Dear 15-year-old me,

I’ve been taking some time to look back on my own life after encountering some young girls who deserved so much more than what they were settling for. It broke my heart to witness, and all I could think was if only I had known then what I know now. I know that it’s a little late for me, but in putting this into words it might not be too late for someone else. Here are some things I wish I knew:

“Follow your heart” is probably the worst advice ever. Use your head. All of your actions should come from the two working together.

Do things for yourself. Don’t live as if the man of your dreams is watching, or if your parents are standing right behind you, but do what is best for you. You know what these things are: things that make you the best version of yourself. Get sunshine, exercise, count your blessings often, take time to pray, and do something that you enjoy just because you enjoy it.

Surround yourself with people who genuinely want what is best for you, people that want to see you thrive. Your friends are the people who will want to help you follow your dreams, support you when times get tough, and do what they can to help you be happy, healthy, and holy… long-term, not just for the night.

Act out of charity. It’s one of those fake it ‘til you make it things when you are having a rough day, but you will make it. Be genuine. Smile. Speak kindly about your friends AND your enemies, and everyone in between. You will cheer everyone else around you up, and the feeling overflows to you… Joy comes from the heart and shows in the way that we treat others.

You are beautiful! You will hear so many other things in your life: you have to be skinnier, your hair has to be longer, your chest is too small, and so on and so forth… but you have been formed out of love, with a purpose and people who loved you even while you were in your mother’s womb! People who feed you those lies are only trying to feed emptiness in themselves, but dear, you are not empty! You have passions, loves, interests, personality, talents, and gifts. You are inspiring! Strive every moment to be the best version of yourself, regardless of others’ put-downs. When in doubt, remember that happy girls are the prettiest. Be someone worth admiring… but above all, remember that you are beautiful and you are loved!