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I finally made it up in time to see the sunrise. I love being up early, but getting up is another story!

I can’t shake the image of the video I saw of George Floyd. I was late seeing this because I had turned off the TV and extra social media for a couple of days in an effort to focus. Now that I have seen it, it’s definitely difficult to focus.

I think about the emphasis we put on tolerance. But tolerance isn’t enough. Tolerance doesn’t welcome and embrace. It only scratches the surface of what our creator asks of us. Tolerance doesn’t switch courses for the sake of another person. Tolerance doesn’t interrupt one’s bias, sacrifice, or swallow pride. Tolerance is something we do for something, not someone. For many people, tolerance fulfills man’s capacity and is a disguise for something far greater.

God did not say, “Thou shalt tolerate your neighbor.” He went deeper and further than we can imagine. He commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves. When asked, Jesus said that all the law, and the prophets, hang onto this.

This is not love as we know it. We cannot grasp this kind of love without seeing it through the eyes of our creator. We get a glimpse of it in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13We will begin to understand it when we practice it.

Tolerance is not enough.

When my kids began to date, I might have given more consideration to the topic than the average well-rounded, successful, happily married person. I was many things, but I was not that. My emphasis on dating was the expectations of each person, to maintain their integrity and to remain true to one’s self. My dating philosophy sounds easy enough. But so does resisting that last piece of fried chicken. We all know that a simple concept doesn’t necessarily translate to an easy execution. But if we can approach dating, or at least, our reaction to dating, with a few basic practices, I think we can better manage our grief now, and save ourselves from more grief later.

Coming from a divorced woman who has dated very little in the last eleven years, I understand why someone might disregard my opinion. Most people who read this are probably married or have dated much more than I. But what I possess that you may not, are a couple of things. One, I have learned a lot from my mistakes. And two, because of my divorce, I had the opportunity to discover myself, in a space of aloneness. Can I use that word? Is it a word? Dr. Seuss would use it, so I’m leaving it.

Time to reflect on my mistakes and emerge from a place of struggle and autonomy has equipped me for many things.  It’s the source of lots of opinions, based on personal experience. Additionally, I have had three dates since January, one of which lasted for three months. See? I am qualified.

At the beginning of my online dating experience, when it was fun and novel, I thought it would be relatively easy to share my experience. That was until I met someone I liked. Someone worth exploring. I wondered if he would be “the one.” I know, “the one” sounds ambitious. But I am hoping to find a guy who wants to share the rest of his life with me. Real-time documentation suddenly didn’t feel right. Reality TV is not in my future.

Writing about one’s dating life is super intimate. With good friends, transparency is my middle name. However, my middle name changes when we’re talking about going public. Being able to reflect and work through this has been a great luxury, and now I have some things I can share, that won’t read like you’ve broken the lock on my personal diary.

HERE GOES. A whole book could be written on this topic, so understand this is a snapshot of my dating philosophy.

I value the dating process. . .

I went into this relationship with the same mentality I had developed several years back when my kids began to date. If respected, the dating process is an awesome opportunity of discovery, before we make a permanent decision. I say, “if respected,” because often people don’t treat dating like a temporary experience. Instead, subconsciously they commit to the relationship in a permanent sense before there’s a mutual agreement of where the relationship is headed.

Unless both parties have agreed to marriage, I believe either party can call it off, FOR WHATEVER REASON. I understand that there is more to this when a couple has been dating for a long time. This point could have its own chapter. But let’s assume we’re talking about six months or less (but I’m inclined to have the same philosophy for longer periods of time as well). Regardless if one person feels the relationship going in a good direction, it is either person’s right to call it off, FOR WHATEVER REASON. This frees both people to continue in their search.

Breaking up (reverting to my junior high vernacular) is especially hard when you’re focused on marriage, you’re old(er), or it appears that a target has come into view. I had to remind myself of my own dating philosophy. That as much as I liked what I was experiencing, it would not serve either of us well to manipulate or maneuver it. Understanding that dating is a time of exploration, we both have the right to end the discovery.

The best and least we can give one another is kindness. We can’t and shouldn’t attempt to force virtues on another person. We have no right to demand any more than what they want to give us. If they have asked to end the relationship, I believe we should honor their request with very little contest.

Does that mean we were just handed a crappy day, that seeps into a few weeks? Probably. But that doesn’t change that explanations are not owed to either party. The breakup experience is still part of your story, individually and within your relationship. It’s the whole process that refines both of you. It is beautiful, valuable, and sometimes, difficult and painful.

Frequently couples “stick it out”, because the thought of hurting another person is so troublesome. Breaking up seems unkind. As hard as it is to be the breakee (new word), for me, it is more difficult to be the breaker (another new word), unless you don’t mind kicking dogs. OK, I’m joking, but for many people, the anticipation of hurting another person is something to avoid at all cost.  At times truth, authenticity, and sincerity may be uncomfortable and hurt. But almost always, it is the right thing.

If we grant each other this liberty, we can avoid the darts that get thrown and save us wasted time attempting to force relationships that result in bad outcomes.

Remember, we are D A T I N G.

Why it hurts so bad when it ends. . .

After just three months, with Stay at Home orders, and a long-distance relationship, it was still really sad to break up with Bill (Not his real name. Poor guy; he dated someone who blogs!). I think there are two main reasons breakups hurt. One is because we give someone our heart. The other is because we begin to establish a culture that becomes comfortable and familiar, which is where I love to sit. But for this post, I’m going to focus mostly on our hearts.

We hand another person the most tender, powerful part of us. The part that stores our emotions, desires, aspirations, hopes, dreams, feels pain, loss, and grief. We do this, because we care about something. Most likely, it is this other person. Although it’s not always just that, but this snapshot prevents me from elaborating.

This is no different than many things we put our heart into. On a team, you play to win. When you’re not on the field, you think about the game. You prepare off the field and execute on the field. You don’t hesitate. You move forward with ambition, desire, and determination. You dodge bullets, endure discomfort, and subject yourself to pain. On fourth downs you deliberate and make strategic decisions. Your heart is all in.

I think dating well looks the same. Of course, there are stages and circumstances vary. Some relationships require more effort and experience more challenges. They’re all different. Our hearts attach to the unique personality of the relationship. You keep at it because along the way you’ve decided this person is worth the efforts, sacrifice, or emotions you’re handing over. You’re in it to win it.

This is the beauty of life. You expose your talents, skills, personality, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. A lot is going right. Then you mess up a little, but so what? We all do it. It’s a fumble! You get back up and recover. You keep at it. But then the game clock ends, and you’re left standing there, wondering why you’re stuck in the middle of a play that can’t be finished. Nobody asked you, and the game is over. You didn’t win, and it hurts.

But here’s the thing: unless you cheated, lied, or stole, you played a fair game. If you gave it all you could, you played well. That’s all we can do when we’re looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right. My objective is to find a person who wants to play with me for the rest of my life. After a few sucky weeks, things begin to turn around. We recognize how much we’ve gained, and we’re ready to play again.

When in doubt, stand still. . .

This is an old saying, even before my time! If we aren’t sure about something, then we’re unsure, which means we’re in doubt. Right after a break-up, we are pretty unsure about a lot of things. The relationship, the sincerity of it, the person, our judgment, the list goes on.

I think the hardest thing to do at this time, is to stand still. We desperately want comfort and instinctually want to grab at the most convenient thing. Most often, we think we’ll find comfort in answers. We’re tempted to demand them in an effort to finish the play. What? I wasn’t done! You said this, and what about that? When we don’t get answers, we consider another relationship. We want to be assured that we’re okay. We are, aren’t we?  We’re desperate to compensate for the new loneliness and the abrupt change in culture that has us looking around like Marty McFly in 1955. If we’re not careful, we could find ourselves twirling, into the arms of a tragic country song.

In that moment, our vision is so blurred and our motives so self-serving, that really, the best thing we can do is to be still, be sad, cry, and pray. Even when it doesn’t make sense, we need to accept that we lost this one. There are a million ways we can interfere with God’s plan. I think we have the advantage of seeing his plan, if when in doubt, we stand still.

Trust God (when you’ve asked Him to guide you). . .

After the breakup, I kept coming back to this. We both prayed, together and separately, that God would bless us individually and as a couple. My prayers are a sincere conversation with God. When Bill broke it off with me, I wanted explanations as we all do. But thankfully, Bill was spared the tears when I chose to trust God and honor the dating process that I so much respect.

I mostly stood still.

I don’t think I can write this post without addressing two things. Yes, the hundred miles between us was a challenge. The Stay at Home orders were executed a few weeks into our relationship. That was an even bigger challenge. But I don’t consider either of those obstacles an explanation of why things didn’t work out for us. Because, if both of us wanted our relationship we would have overcome the obstacles that stood in our way.

When we date well, it will hurt when we lose (meaning the relationship ends). When we date well and lose, we will recover and continue. When we date well, and lose, and recover, and continue,  one day we’ll find our team, and win the game.

Whew… this was a long one. Happy D A T I N G . . . whatever that looks like during a pandemic!

I am 60. I am 60. I hear that over and over in my head. I envision a circle of people, acknowledging they have a problem, and then I realize my only problem is that I have a problem being 60, not that I am 60.

Our family tradition. It’s not pretty, but it’s my favorite, and even more so, because Bridgette surprised me by keeping our tradition going.

I’m healthy, so any issues I have about turning 60 are emotional, and really, given our current situation, I need to get over it. But I never just “get over” anything. I need to make sense of it.

I’ve been reconciling advancing in age with every birthday since about the age of 50. For the last ten years I am more anxious about the things I haven’t yet accomplished. Write a book, start a non profit for people who suddenly find themselves single who don’t have family to hold them up, host a fundraising dance party where I get to choose all the music. Hike in France, dine in Italy, where my daughter couldn’t find the words to describe its freshness, and where Phil from “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having” describes local food culture that inspires me to work hard so one day my ship will come in, and deliver me to the gelato shop he featured.

Age is not just a number, any more than money is just a number. I avoided the topic of “60” as long as I could. Now, it’s not just about “running out of time,” but the wrinkles in my hands, neck, and face remind me, no, yell at me, that the truth of my age will no longer be ignored. April 16th approached. And now the COVID virus has joined me in my emotional journey.

One minute I’m grateful for the silver linings that this experience affords us, and the next minute I feel like Christmas is tomorrow and I haven’t purchased one gift, and all the stores are closed. From “Embrace and relax.” to “Get yoself out of bed and get to it. You’ve got a gelato shop in Italy to visit!”

I understand Paul, the epitome of flesh and spirit, a living example of the struggles within.

Like a cold that doesn’t leave me bedridden, yet has me constantly reaching for the tissue, I am working on this issue. Monday was my “birthday week,” which meant it was time to get serious about this project: my turning 60 emotions.

I have a weird fondness for these cyclist images on the road.

Monday started with a bike ride. It was a cool spring morning with a bright blue sky behind bursting buds of pink and white. I pedaled up a familiar path, out of the “saddle” (feeling like an imposter using cyclist language). My route wasn’t pre-planned, but I’d vowed to ride twelve miles. I titled my ride: BYE BYE CREAM STUFFED PASTRY AND CREAM PIE, in honor of the two Easter meals provided to me by my friend.

I’ve lived in this part of town for twenty years, so I’m comfortable navigating my way around. I take in the spring colors popping up in manicured lawns and the smell of fresh bark dust. So, my ride will be familiar. I can relax and focus on the traffic and my path, watching for obstacles that could disrupt a very good experience.

I begin my conversation with God. In this moment I want to talk to him about being 60. I begin by acknowledging what is good in my life. My bike that continues to operate, has yet to fail me, and that I am 60 and riding it (even up off the saddle) is reason to thank him.

Gratitude overcomes me, and the route transforms from slightly mundane to glorious. I am capable, I am able, I am healthy. I am grateful for this body, this bike, this community, and for the plain good fortune of experiencing “this,” when so many are suffering and so much is at stake.

After gratitude come my pleas to God. Pleas for my children, pleas for friends, for my Valentine’s Day relationship, pleas for our president, my church staff, and our world, pleas for overcoming the learning curve in my business, and pleas for success in my business. In the midst of praying for one dear friend, I look to my right to see the word VICTORY. It’s among other Nike shrine like buildings that are emerging on Nike Land. A weird sense of warmth towards Nike envelops me, and I thank God, and Nike for this encouragement.

Thank you, Nike.

Gratitude is a popular (and necessary) strategy for overcoming emotions that can send us down an ugly rabbit hole. We are instructed to use it faithfully.

But for me, before gratitude, is God. He opens my eyes and expands my heart. He’s a light that exposes what we already know to be true, but forget when the clouds dim our view.

John 1: 5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Referring to Jesus.

In my efforts to reconcile what I am losing, I forget what I have. What I have gets lost, and what I don’t have emerges and somehow gets preferential treatment. But my communion with God exposes what is true. Sometimes that is my own greed or vanity. And in that truth, I can see more clearly what is right before me, on this day, in this moment, and discover the beautiful perspective that empowers me for another day, another person, another purpose.

God + Gratitude = Beautiful Perspective.

Here’s to “Getting Over It.”

 

 

 

 

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1: 3-5

This notebook is not my “look.” In fact, I think it’s ugly. It was one of the few things I inherited when my mom died. I knew it had its place; in my purse and out of view. It reflects my mom’s personality, and using it for God’s word was a perfect way to honor her. I decided to use this ugly little thing for the most beautiful thing: Promises that would inspire me when I needed it, or inspire others for the same reason.

MY PRAYER

Jesus, you are my life. May your light show me what you see, beyond what is right before me, and into the hearts of those around me. May your light reveal what is true and right and forever. Whatever my eyes see or I perceive, may your light provide better vision that will give hope where there is darkness, and light the path that leads myself and others toward restoration.

 

Forgive my horrible writing. In the moments when I write in this book, I’m usually cramming the gem onto the page, determined to retain the comfort for another time, but not concerned with my penmanship. I wish I could share this with you with pride in my writing style. If I could, I’d have my friend who writes beautiful calligraphy enter them. They deserve that attention.

 

From my little book of verses in my purse.

Hmmmm. What should I write about? Did you know the world has turned upside down? And yes, the whole world! Instead of sports and politics, our news is consumed with updates on the Coronavirus, aided with pictures of germs and viruses that are blown up a million times plus. I guess the media thinks we want to know what this germ looks like up close, but I wish they would ease up on that.

I began to do my bible study this morning, and before I delved into it, I changed my mind. I have a small notebook I keep in my purse that contains many favorite verses. Instead of my bible study, I decided to indulge in receiving the comfort of those verses. No studying, just lingering in the presence of promises. Those verses melted over me, like the coolness of a morning evaporates while the sun rises into the sky, my soul warmed and snuggled into the Holy Spirit with hope and assurance that all would be well.

I’m glad I did that, because the morning’s memory rested on me like a seat belt, with a sense of security in spite of someone running a red light in my path. I ran errands for Juggle Source later in the day. Evidence all around me seemed as surreal as the colorful blown up coronavirus pictures that display on the TV screen.

Costco managed its customers with thoughtful and bold crowd management, Fred Meyer closed off coolers and other sections due to a power failure, and I heard someone say that Winco was closing for a week (that was not confirmed). There were no paper products or chicken at Costco, and shelves were bare at both stores. These scenes of unfamiliar chaos and strangeness caused me to question the certainty of this small part of the world that I know so well. Yet, my spirit was not defeated.

I was shaken, but I wanted to take it in. I want to see the people, desperate to get food that we assume will be waiting for us tomorrow. I shook my head for a minute at a woman who clearly saw that my position was ahead of her when she veered at an angle to grab my anticipated place in line.

Then I unshook my head, and thought of the opportunity I have to assist her in this tiny moment, by smiling and acknowledging her need, whatever it is. I want to see the the empty shelves and coolers, and know that I have something in common with people who live in countries half a world away from me. I want to encourage the cashier who I’ve seen a thousand times, but never paid her much attention. I want to check in on my neighbors, because being in this store in this moment might be more than what they can do on this day, and maybe more than I can do tomorrow.

I take a lot for granted, one being my health. But in this moment, I realize that I never considered some things to be precious. Toilet paper, and paper products in general, salt, touching, hugging, holding, and kissing people I love and care about.

Socializing, restaurants, and entertainment. Sports, teams, practicing, playing, competing, and preparing. Church, work, shopping, celebrations such as weddings and birthdays. These are all things precious today, tomorrow, and for who knows how long?

I want to move beyond the disappointment that this American life isn’t meeting my needs.  I want to inhale this life, breathe it in, breathe it out, but I must do it from at least six feet from you.

I want to exercise my faith in God. I want to grasp what’s at stake, take hold of it, and make use of it.

On this day I’m glad to be healthy and I hope to be used.

I’m also really grateful for “The Voice.”

And, Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and Happy Birthday, Clare.

Yum. Well, the store only had purple cabbage. I already had to wash out purple splatters on my shirt, but purple or not. It is good!