Today I went to the new church for the third time. It was great. But it hit me hard, in my own seat. Where I sat. Looking at a man from India being interviewed about the caste system there and how terrible it is, and how little boys and girls are sold into the slavery before they’d even be old enough to understand what slavery is if they lived here…. and I felt ashamed. I felt ashamed that the day before, yesterday, I’d been watching season 1 of NCIS that I bought last week, nearing the end, thinking… I should buy season 2 tomorrow. Needless to say, I do not own Season 2 at present. That doesn’t mean I won’t at some point, but …. not the point here.
I had an uncomfortable experience this morning where I had to evaluate my world view. And I have been doing so all day. That was my first shake-up of today… realizing yet again that this world is bigger than me. Than my issues. Than my concerns and fears and problems. That I am needed… whether I like that or not… to get involved with what I’ve been given… to bless and help others who can not help themselves. I admit that I’ve been guilty from time to time of the attitude that if people really wanted to get out of poverty, they could. I know at my core that this is usually completely untrue… and yet it occasionally creeps up. There may be some who could fix their own poverty… but the vast majority of people stuck in poverty are just that…. they’re stuck… and I sit in my own little world trying to decide whether or not I can afford to buy NCIS Season 2. Apparently, if I buy it on Amazon along with JAG Seasons 1-10, because I’ll have spent over 199.00, I would qualify for an Amazon Rewards VISA, and could pay it off in 6 month installments… how absurd. I do not need a credit card to buy a boxed set of a TV series so that I can pay it off in 6 monthly payments. If I can’t buy it outright, there is NO good reason to put that on credit. It’s caused me to evaluate… what do I need? What is a want and what is a need? Because there are people who don’t even have what they need, and I worry about my wants. Worry isn’t the right word… I don’t worry about them. I ponder them… but still.
The second shake-up I got this morning was on a much smaller, much more personal scale.
When I turned 27 last December, I freaked out a little bit. I didn’t let much of it out, I felt embarrassed and silly about it. It’s just that there are certain things most of us feel we should accomplish by certain ages, and we count them as goal markers… we’re successful in our own eyes when we are accomplishing these things… and often, the order in which we accomplish them makes a big difference. I must admit I thought I’d be married before 27 hit, and that scared me. By all other rights, I was and still am a pretty successful woman. At that point, I had a full-time, permanent position, I was paying into a pension, I had a place to live…. a scuzzy one that I hated, but I had one… all I felt that I was missing was a husband and some kids. Many women my age around me, many of my friends, several of my colleagues, are accomplishing that life milestone… and I have not. I’ve convinced myself of various reasons for it over the last 5-7 years… I wasn’t pretty enough, I thought. I ignored that one, because I hate wearing makeup, and barring that there’s nothing I can do to fix that, so I moved on. I was too loud. So I tried to quash who I was on the inside and be a quieter, less rambunctious and boisterous version of myself. As I’m sure you can imagine, that didn’t make me happy. I ended up rather depressed for a while trying to be something I wasn’t. I wasn’t skinny enough, I thought. So I fixed that. I dropped a whopping 90 pounds over the 10 month school year in 09-10. I was the smallest I’ve ever been, and yet still felt unhappy. At a size 8, I still felt that I could comfortably lose 20 pounds…. I sincerely believe that I was dealing with some borderline eating disorder issues at that point, and this is the first time I’ve admitted that… It’s a very good thing I went to Camp that summer and ate nothing but carbs and gained 12 pounds. It shook me out of that. But, since then I’ve gained 40, and now I’m back at that unhappy place where it’s not that I feel that I’m unattractive because of my weight. I don’t. But I don’t feel like the best version of me either. I don’t feel especially healthy. And I’ve been convicted recently that my body is a gift given to me from God. I’m not a trash can, and yet I treat my body as such all the time. I started a plan with a friend a few weeks ago to try to fix this, but I am quite scared I’ll end up right back where I started. I’m almost afraid of that road, because I don’t want to get back to a size 8 and still feel like I’m not good enough. Obviously the lesson here is that my self-worth cannot be held in the size of my jeans. A friend quoted something she’d gleaned from her quiet time with God this week as her Facebook status. She said “For what will it profit a woman if she attains thinness of body but in the end exchanges it for leanness of soul?”
I did that. I worked SO hard at that. At the thinness of body. I was quite thin. But I had little to no relationship with my Father, and I was still kind of unhappy. It still nagged in the back of my mind. I still felt like I needed to be thinner. In my brain, I’d equated being thin with being successful, beautiful, attractive… whatever. And I saw it as the only barrier left to getting a guy. If I could just be skinnier……
28 is approaching. And what smacked me in the face this morning, is that I am no longer a ‘young adult.’ I was at church and the Home Church details were included in a pamphlet in the bulletin. In it were 2 “young adult” home churches. I thought hey, maybe I’ll check them out. To my shock, I discovered that I’m no longer a young adult. 18-25 is their age range. That’s a generally accepted age range for young adults. Apparently, according to the world, I’m an adult. A full-fledged, responsible, mature, etc…. I’m an adult. I’m 27. And by most rights, I have accomplished MANY adult things. Since my 27th birthday, I’ve purchased a home. That’s HUGE. I own my own house. I have a budget that I follow and I manage my finances, and I own a home. I no longer live in a scuzzy hole of an apartment. But something’s still missing… and it bugs me that I don’t know how to get it. Everything else that’s been missing, I’ve known how to get there. Live in a scuzzy, terrible apartment? Budget and save, and you’ll be able to buy your own house. Done. Need permanent income? Accept a half-time permanent position instead of a full-time temporary one to get your foot in the door, then hopefully the next year, that’ll come. Done. Want a husband and kids?
Here’s what people around you will tell you. And if you’re pushing 28 and single like me, I’m sure you’ve heard this advice. Likely from people who married fairly young, and didn’t have to do most of these things.
“Get closer in your relationship with God. Rely on Him fully and that’ll come.”
Check. Well… more check than I was 5-7 years ago, anyway. Not claiming perfection here.
“Be less boisterous. No one likes really rambunctious adults.”
…….. Tried that. Don’t really find that I’m the best version of me when I’m trying to be something I’m not.
“Tell God what you want. He’ll hear and honour the desires of your heart.”
Check. What happens if the desires of MY heart aren’t the desires of HIS? Then how do I deal with that?
“Wait patiently. Your time will come.”
…. I am. It might. It might not. God’s desire for me may not be a husband and kids. Then what do I do with all this advice and this desire that I have?
“Pray for your husband.”
I do. It’s very hard when he’s faceless.
“Get out there. Be social.”
um…. have you met me? I am social. I am VERY social. To a fault, maybe. That trait has scared a few guys away actually…
“Get into groups where there are single men.“
I’ve tried… I can’t find them. Do you guys know where they’re hiding? And also… now apparently I’m too old. And also… I wrestle a little bit with the idea that I should go church hopping to find a man. Not when I’m where I’m supposed to be in the church… but that’s a thought for another day.
*ahem* I wonder how many of the people who tout this as an option have actually tried it? I know there are success stories, and I know its popularity is rising in today’s ‘digital age,’ but all I found was more of the same… a large selection of guys that made it easy to see why they were still single… and a pocket of guys that were worth paying attention to, who didn’t feel the same way about me. But mostly the first. It was a huge hit to my self-esteem… that I paid a good chunk of money for. No thank you. Though it did make for some VERY entertaining, though rather cynical, stories and blog posts :p
This is an area where I find churches tend to lack. We do really well with our children’s programming. We usually do pretty well with our Youth programming. If we’re lucky, we find churches that have a solid College/University/Young Adult program…… and then they turn into full out adults and most of them get married, have kids, and join other groups where they fit in nicely because they have that in common. The older I get, the more difficult I find it to fit into a group that is a bunch of couples. I find it difficult, while I am independent and strong and confident in most respects… I find I struggle to sit in a room full of couples and not feel like an odd duck, whether anyone else sees me that way or not. But I’m also starting to feel like an odd duck with the young adults, because as my suspicions were confirmed this morning, I no longer am one. Don’t get me wrong, please. I’m not trying to say that I don’t feel I can learn from people that I don’t have life stages in common with. I absolutely can, and I believe I have life experience and whatever to offer as well. I’m not saying that the way things are done is particularly wrong… I’m just wondering if there’s a solution for this kind of unclassified life stage that I find myself in. Obviously I’m not expecting to walk into a church and find a Bible study specifically for “young-ish, fairly successful, but still single peeps who don’t know why” lol… no one would go to that anyway, because it’s a stupid label.
Where do people like me fit? Do we have a place? Should we have a place? Or am I just supposed to suck it up and go hang out with the married folk and their kids and stuff down the feelings that I want that? And the fear that comes with not knowing how to get it. Am I supposed to be ok knowing that I own a baby gate but only because I don’t want my friends’ kids to fall down my stairs?
I’m turning 28 in a little more than 3 months. While I’ve accomplished many of my life goals already, which is a huge blessing, I still can’t seem to shake that ‘odd man out’ feeling. So if it crosses your mind, please pray for me. I would really like to find peace with this.
Anyway… that’s all.
I’ve kind of bared my soul here, and I feel a little raw and exposed, but I’m gonna leave it like that, and at that.
Here’s my short list of things for which I’m thankful, as I’ve been pretty neglectful of the book lately.
247. Students who give into my silliness and actually end up reminding me why I teach. (I had a student write me a 3 paragraph description of why I’m awesome on Thursday night because I wrote it on the blackboard as homework, being a goof, and not expecting anyone to do it. I nearly cried in front of the whole 7/8 class. I left it at work though, so I’ll have to try to bring it home tomorrow.)
248. The Meeting House — being stirred and shaken in my very seat.
249. Generosity of friends.
250. A housewarming party fit for a Queen. Well… maybe not a Queen. A Queen may not like the housewarming party my realtor threw me, but I felt very very special yesterday.
251. My freedom. My wealth. My upper-middle-class status…. and the conviction to use that to help others.
252. Making new friends.
253. Crisp fall air.
254. Random adventures.
255. Coffee. Yum. I’m a recent convert, but I’m enjoying the convertedness.
256. Convicting quotes.
All photos taken on my Motorola Charm.