In response to ‘Christian, or Feminist’

When I saw the title to of this article published by the Atlantic, ‘Christian, or Feminist’, I was actually really excited. I’m like finally! Conversation opened! …no. Upon reading the first sentence, I was severely disappointed. The particular lens in which the article has taken to reconcile Christianity and feminism was really restricted to sexual freedom and failed to expand itself into the greater conversation of societal understanding of gender and how the church overall understands gender. Yes, one could indeed argue that gender/gender inequality can be closely tied to sexual expression but I also feel like it’s a very limited way to look at it. Let me set up some personal context from where I’m coming from before coming back to this article.

I think as a Christian woman born in the late 20th century and now living in the 21st century, I am constantly grappling about how I should understand the role of women in the context of today’s world/culture. I grew up in a family that valued both son and daughter without discernment (which from a culturally standpoint, is pretty amazing since my family is Chinese and traditionally, patriarchal). I had the greatest privilege of attending good schools and received a solid education first as a secondary and then post-secondary student without any obvious barriers due to my gender. I also currently work in a workplace where a lot of us are women but our expertise and experience is taken into consideration without the lens that hey, this comes from a woman and thus could be questionable. Nope. I grew up and continue to be someone that believes in equal opportunity for both men and women, whether it be in sports, career, education or whatever. Whenever someone challenges my abilities and inserts false limitations of what I can or cannot do because I don’t have that particular appendage, I take it as a personal challenge and go out of my friggin’ way to prove this nincompoop wrong (note, I wanted to insert stronger language there but refrained…trying to curb my swearing ;)). As I’ve written before, I’ve struggled with accepting ‘girl’ in who I am because I had for some reason associated being feminine as being weaker than a man especially in the context of sports. However, being surrounded by so many strong female athletes in my tri club (which often has a majority of girls at our workouts…), climbing gym/outdoors and on the ultimate friz field, has really challenged my perceptions. Also, seeing my own athletic abilities grow due to time invested and commitment to training without relinquishing the fact that hey, I was born with certain body parts and still am pushing hard and playing hard. Anyways, mini rant there.

However, I’m also not pretending that men and women were created in the same fashion; it’s that seemingly contradictory phrase of ‘different but equal’. A friend of mine was like I think that sometimes we forget how different we are including via gender lines and that our genders gives us certain inclinations that are stronger in one gender than the other. It’s not say that those inclinations and strengths are any better or less than the others but they are indeed different. To an extent, one could even say that those different inclinations and strengths can complement one another towards a greater outcome. One only has to look at a healthy marriage (to illustrate this particular point, between a man and a woman): I think ideally a husband and wife could say that they work together to make the marriage work and to run as smooth (though…life happens :)) family life as humanly possible. It could be something like husband is stronger at writing and reading so he helps the kids with language arts and social studies homework whereas the wife is stronger at math and science, so she helps out more with subjects.

I remember the first time I heard the bible verse that called women to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22), my hackles totally raised up and I was like what kind of crazy backward way of looking at things is that? There are few ways that I’ve deconstructed and reconciled my understanding of this particular verse. For one, our current understanding of ‘submit’ has some really negative connotations with it. I think often times I look at that verse and forget the verse that follows immediately afterwards: ‘Husbands, love your wives and Christ loved the church…'(Ephesians 5:23). Personally I think that’s an even harder calling. But if one’s husband aspires to instil that kind of love for his wife in his marriage, then it would draw upon and embody those characteristics in Christ that calls Christians to love and trust Him and ultimately, to submit to Him. If that is indeed the case, that an environment of love and trust is created in a marriage or we can even say relationship if you think that this may only pertain to marriage (mm would argue no but this isn’t the main point), can we ladies trust our men to care for us and respect the decisions he makes? Chances are, if there is indeed again that environment of love and trust, decisions aren’t made without a deep consideration for your opinion and discussion to come to whatever conclusion has been drawn. So in this case, for me, submission isn’t so much a call to bring him a damn sandwich when he’s sitting on the couch watching the game, but it’s a call to truly trust the man you love and who loves you (as Christ loved the church!!!) in return.

I point to this particular verse because it’s one of the most obvious ones that people like to pull out when talking about the patriarchal culture of the church and how women are justified to be a second class as a result of what has been written in the Bible. Historically, I cannot deny and vehemently disagree about how the Bible has been interpreted to create different classes of man, whether it be through gender or racial lines; I really don’t think there is much biblical foundation for that. I’m not a theologian so I’m sure someone could come up here and bash this little blog post of mine all around but hey, let’s engage in some dialogue then. Jesus Christ specifically reached out the people who were considered to be second class or of no class during his time. His very birth is an example of his closeness with those who were considered less in this world – the king of heaven, king of kings, was born in a stable…in hay. I know that after years of Christmas carols and stories that we may be desensitized by the imagery of this but really, think about it. Have you been in a barn before? He also didn’t rise up the career ranks to become a formally recognized high priest or a king’s right hand man; nope, he was a carpenter. He also often called for the children during his travels; children during that time (and arguably now…though again not the main point for this particular blog post) had no voice and no status. Also, when we think of Jesus’ followers, I think most of us go directly to his 12 apostles who were men; I know I do. But let us not forget about Mary and Mary – they were to first two people who were told about Jesus’ rise from the dead by the angel. Women during those times were also of little status – for God to decide that these would be the first two people to receive this news when this occurred is pretty momentous. Oh yeah, how could I forget them? Women in the old testament also had an incredibly important role. Esther, Ruth…yeah let’s not forget what amazing things they have done out of faith.

So now that I’ve laid out that I really don’t think women are second class citizens in God’s eyes, I’m going to come back to that article I cited at the beginning and the driver for this post. The article is centred upon a book by Dianne E. Anderson to sought to wrestle with and reconcile her faith and feminist self; this realization came through losing her virginity and then realizing that sex outside of marriage can be holy. Wait, what? Of all the things that could be have been used a launching point, this was chosen? Seriously? The author of the article does make an interesting and arguably true point which does support why perhaps Anderson went in this particular direction: ‘Despite being at odds in their politics, evangelical Christians and feminists share a fixation on sex’. Really true. A quote pulled from Anderson’s book does also resonate with me to an extent: ‘”Sexual purity—rather than a relationship with Jesus, caring for the poor, or loving one’s neighbor—has become the marker of a good Christian,” she writes. Conversely, at times, “sex becomes the god we worship, and we will go to any length to obtain it.” The solution, she writes, is to recognize that “sexuality is not the center of a person’s life, faith, or health.”‘ Fair enough. There has been indeed a deep fixation on sex and I would argue that sex has been elevated to the sin in which we must fight against the most versus ‘do not steal’ even though sin is sin, regardless of what sin it is. There are no levels of sin. Interestingly, the article does go to say that ‘Arguably, the focus on “purity” in evangelical culture arose in response to a secular, sex-obsessed American culture’. Agreed as well. Okay, so what’s my biggest problem with this article since apparently I can relate and even agree to some of the points made in it: the fact that Anderson has decided that sex outside of marriage can be holy. How, seriously, how can you draw that conclusion? I really cannot understand how any interpretation of the Bible can lead you down that rabbit trail. I also fail to truly understand how she can draw upon this conclusion to reconcile feminism and Christianity. As someone that has had sex outside of marriage in a couple different relational context, I cannot relate to her conclusion whatsoever. Sex to let’s say third base was and has been so ingrained in me to be okay that it is only now that I’m really starting to unpack and realize that hey, maybe not so much. It sucks to have a conversation with the Christian man you’re now in a relationship, we’ll call him John Mayer, and be like by the way…yeah, not fun.

The argument made in this article also brings me back to an ongoing conversation with I’ve been having with John Mayer (ha yes! He’s actually a real person, not just an abstract example to illustrate my point). We were talking about the continual strain and difficult balance that must be struck in trying to retain the hard truths we know to be true in our faith and remaining relevant and still being in tune with what is going on in our world. It’s very dangerous to live in our little Christian bubble and pretend the world outside of us doesn’t exist. Differing viewpoints is a blessing especially when there’s room for conversation and discussion; it’s how we grow and understand who we are as people, not just in our faith. The primary approach to the ‘Christian, or Feminist’ article is through my interpretation, a complete disconnect from a hard truth from the Bible. I’m glad it was written though, if anything, so that we can get the wheels churning as to what we really think about this particular topic. I’m a feminist and Christian. I personally don’t undrestand how these two things cannot be reconciled. I’m most disappointed by Anderson’s approach because it’s such a pigeon hole approach to bridge feminism and Christian theory; there’s so much more that she could’ve launched off from. But hey, maybe we can really start digging deep and start talking about this now; at least it was a launching point of sorts.

Let it go

I may have been super tempted to post the song from ‘Frozen’…but I figured I didn’t want my readers’ ears to bleed from hearing the over played song 🙂 also, my thoughts behind this phrase is a bit different than the situation that the character from ‘Frozen’, Elsa, was facing. It is in a way, about freedom but the confines are in my head and in my head alone. My head, my heart, my conscious and subconscious are held captive by self-imposed constructions within. As much as the confines are held up by me and me alone, it is also up to me to decide and to take action to tear these confines down. Context? Sure 🙂

Yesterday, I ran in the last race for the fall Frank Mac series here in Edmonton. It’s a series of trail runs that span from a 5-8ish km distance. Although I registered (very last minute decision) for the whole series, I was only able to make the first and final race, both of which started/finished in Hawlerak park. I was very apprehensive of running both races: I wasn’t and am not in the best running shape and these races are fast. Don’t let the relatively short distances fool you; there may be a lot of attention and admiration for the longer distances but short distances are a whole other beast. You go all out. Pace? Pft. Yes okay, a bit but more on pftttt side of things. You lay it all out. The people who participate in these races can be people just looking for a good time but there are also many elite runners and triathletes that come to play and compete too. I also knew that M would be there and with the girl I suspected was his new girlfriend. As mentioned before, my girl crazy comes out in being competitive for better or for worse. I refuse to have a really good look at this girl because I didn’t really want to know what she looked like or who she was. She was a painful reminder that whatever was between M and I was a thing of the past and had no bearing or relevance for the present or future. For my first race, I had the best time I’ve ever had; I had hoped to get under 5:00/km and got 4:53/km. I know, those numbers look really small lol and the difference seems incredible insubstantial but seconds count and add up to something a bit bigger. This race, well I wasn’t sure about it all still but again, didn’t really have time to mull over it because the race started, my legs started going and I crossed the start line and activated my timing chip; no turning back now. Funny thing is, M’s new gf and I were pretty much on pace with each other the entire time, especially for the last couple of kms. We took turns pacing each other and really pushed each other at the end. I barely eeked it out for a few seconds ahead but it turns out her time was a bit faster than mine when I looked online. It was at that moment where I couldn’t put her in a negative space because she seemed like a lovely human being and I enjoyed running with her and that push was awesome for both of us I think. I don’t know if she knew who I was but to be honest, it doesn’t matter who I was in M’s former life because that’s what it was: former, the past and no longer relevant to the present reality.

As I sat down at home after the race to get some nerding done but cracked open my prayer journal first. I realized that in my crazy, far farrrr crazy side of things where I thought that if I was patient, played harder, ran faster but really just waited, that M would return to me. Yes, I know, sounds crazy and it is a bit. It’s not so crazy because it’s far more along the lines of wishful thinking but because it’s so selfish. I realized that by desiring this outcome, he would have to endure at least one more break up and heart break to return to me. We spoke briefly earlier this fall before deciding that we couldn’t do that yet but from what I gather, he’s quite happy and I’m sure this lovely girl has something to do with that. This means that indeed a break up from his current relationship would hurt him significantly. If I truly cared about him as I claim to, how could I wish this upon him? The truth is, I cannot.

I have a ‘serenity prayer’ plaque that I think my mum/someone gave me for my baptism a few years ago that says: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage the change the things I can change and the wisdom to know the difference”. For those who know me, I am someone who goes all out when I’ve decided to commit to something but the downside to that is I don’t let go very easily. For a long time, it seems to me that I have placed the fate of M in my life in the category of things I can change when in reality, it is in the category of things I cannot change. The end of our relationship was not the result of infidelity, miscommunication, love that turned to loathing or character flaws that the other could not endure. It was because he had decided that there was no chance of God playing a role of in his life…ever and a by-product of that decision was the end of our relationship. Like anyone else’s choice to believe or not believe, it is a personal decision, one that cannot be decided upon by any external sources. External sources have the ability to influence but are not the decision-makers (thinking of my NGO class and government in these respective roles lol). I think a part of me has been wrongfully bearing the responsibility for this end thinking that hey, maybe if I tried harder, maybe if this or that, things wouldn’t have drawn to the painful close that it did. The thing about choice is that it carries the weight of responsibility when you do chose and in this case, this choice and ultimately, the responsibility, was M’s. I’m not trying to ‘blame’; there is no blame here. The results were a consequence of choices.

So truly, I should relieve myself of the burden I have been carrying and shed the mentality that has had such an impact on my present when it belongs in the past. I had let a false interpretation of past events have a foothold and negative impact into my present and subsequently into my future. Although I now know this, the next move is to actually accept it and by accepting it, it means that I must take action and move forward but in a constructive manner and one rooted in reality of what can be achieved and in what time frame. No, I’m not suddenly break free of my mental/metaphorical shackles (good image there eh? ;)). I have learnt quite a few things through this relationship and the aftermath of it all. The fact that I could actually be part of a relationship that was relatively functional and with someone that I just clicked with was something new and showed me that hey, it is possible despite my family’s past and personal reservations about relationships, love and commitment. It also showed me that as much as I loved M, I still loved God more. That even though I had honestly, one of the most compatible and loving men as my significant other, he couldn’t trump God. And that when it came down to it, God won out even though the cost was so high. I really thought that I had dropped the ball and failed Him (as in God) when I wasn’t the one who called it off. I thought that perhaps my faith wasn’t strong enough or I as a person, wasn’t strong enough. That when my bestie emailed me and told me she was proud of me for sticking to my guns, I thought it wasn’t warranted because I felt like I hadn’t. But it seems that I had actually taken action without realizing it and that the action M took was in response to this subconscious action I had taken: to value God first and to never let Him go, no matter how much I would have to give up. Because my fellow Christians and for those who prescribe to a certain belief, there will be a time when you are tested and when you question whether or not your beliefs are worth keeping in light of gaining something else. That in theory, yes your beliefs are greater but in practice, it can be very difficult to apply. That believing in God comes with a price and cost of its own and we are asked to pay it because the sacrifice that Jesus made was much greater and our gain through Him is also much greater. And it’s okay if we don’t realize it right away, agree with it right away or accept it or take action in response right away. It’s okay to have mixed feelings about these sort of situations or any situation for that matter. We’re human. We are dynamic. It’s a process; it really is. Don’t let anyone tell you what pace you need to be going at or where you should be at xyz. No, that’s completely up to you and up for debate with only one other person: God. So big hugs! my friend and here’s to hoping 🙂

Underlying Quality

There are a few things in life that get me really excited/make me super happy:

  • seeing someone, especially kids, meet their goals after enduring a crazy challenge – the image that comes to mind is a kid who is running a race and pushes through to the finish line, completely spent, potentially keeled over and taking huge gulps of air but with this massive, absolutely massive grin on his face;
  • just being outside – there is absolutely nothing like that simple beauty found in fresh air, sun in the face, wind in the hair, sunset/sunrise lighting up the sky, dense smattering of stars in a clear night sky – absolutely nothing like it;
  • movement – again, there’s a simple beauty found in movement, whether it be the pounding of feet on dirt, manoeuvring and shifting of one’s body during a climb or near-flying when you’re on a bike;
  • unmitigated, simple expressions of love – image that comes to mind: when a dad picks up his son and let’s him fly and
  • good, fresh home-style food.

I think these things are so beautiful to me because they remind me God and in a way, the simplicity that is the relationship between Him and I. There’s no guessing as to whether or not he ‘likes’ me or if he loves me still. It means a lot to me when I hear about athletes and people considered to be successful in this world when they attribute their success to their faith or simply, refer to their faith because it’s the foundation who they are. I think that when I enjoy these things full blast and just revel at their awesomeness, I would like to think that my faith comes through. Through these things, a certain dichotomy that exists: internal joy and outward expression both of which point towards one thing – God. 

Beginning of a New Year – the ‘Why’

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33

So it’s the start of a new year! Happy new year, dear reader 🙂 At the beginning of the new year, we let go of the past year and ponder on what the new year will bring us, what adventures we may have and of course, possible surprises along the way. I think that I have mentioned before that I rarely outline a detailed plan beyond a six month period because God brings in things I couldn’t even imagine into my life. It’s not that I don’t have long term goals, but there’s always timing to be considered. In a way, all things are good though some are more challenging than others. Last year, I got into triathlons, dusted off my badminton shoes beyond corporate challenge and met the most wonderful man. Last year, my own mum and my best friend’s mum was diagnosed with breast cancer and had mastectomies, my grandmother passed away and the wonderful man I met, who remains wonderful, is no longer my team mate. I was going to write about M and our break up, but I’m still collecting my thoughts and I don’t think I’m quite ready yet; however, I can tell you that God has taught me so much through the relationship itself and even more so in the aftermath.

I started my new year off with a breakfast + spinning get together with my tri club of awesomeness. Our time together as a club is usually when we’re training together which makes sense for a tri club but I really do enjoy the times when we just hang out. Of course, we can’t just hang out like normal people. When most people are sleeping in and/or nursing hangovers, the lot of us take turns setting up our bikes on trainers and pedaling our hearts out. Three km never looked so long…nor has eight minutes. The beginning of the year also signifies as the beginning of the new training season leading up to the new racing season which means  that everyone is thinking about what races they want to enter. It’s been on my mind a bit but more so in the last couple of days. Last year, it was just being able to keep up with the team. Okay that never changes because my mates are such a dedicated group and dare I say, kind of crazy fit? Sigh. Perpetual inferiority complex lol. 2013 was a challenging year. I never thought that my mom would get cancer and honestly, you can empathize as much as you want, but the realization is inexplicable. I never thought that I would love so much that I would cry everyday for three weeks straight.

As I set myself down for my first journal entry, I couldn’t shake Matthew 6:33 from my head. I decided that this was the verse that I would really try to model 2014 on. Undoubtedly, I will be pursuing this for the rest of my life but I think by purposefully setting this as my 2014 theme, I could set a solid foundation for the rest of my life. How does this relate to setting race goals? God calls us to run and finish the race well (verses on this). To me, that means to do things for the right reason. To me, the motivation behind doing something is just as, if not more, important than the action itself. I have been thinking of the gifts that God has given me. I could just look out for myself, for my own advancement and development; it would be easier. However, that’s not what He has called me to do. I often think about my career when I think about the skills I have; only this year have I begun to realize that that I have other skills too. I’m not exactly a natural athlete as some are but I work hard. Now I wonder, why am I working so hard to ride hard, to play hard? Sure, it makes me feel good inside, it’s a way for me to deal with stress and yeah, my body looks better because of it but those are all selfish reasons. I can feel God calling me to do something more with all the abilities He has given me, including this part of me. It’s time to use whatever athletic ‘prowess’ I possess for something beyond my own self-gratification. The awesome thing is though I have been slow to realize this, so many other people were on the ball way ahead of me. There are so many races and events that have been set up to raises awareness and funds on their selected cause. I will be hashing out which races I want to do this year but one has been lingering in my mind since Christmas: The Ride to Conquer Cancer. I also would like to do a trail run race that’s <15 km but I also want to make sure that it is for something I believe in. I have also been following and have contributed towards the World Bicycle Relief . No matter where your talents lie, we are called to use them beyond our own ambitions. We are here to be the salt and the light. So the next time you sign up for a race or whatever comes your way, give a bit of a thought to what the ‘why’ behind that choice is. Here’s to a great 2014!

What is it like to date a non-Christian?

For the past six months, I’ve been a relationship with the wonderful M. I could give you the whole mushy spiel about how we connect, etc. but let’s not. I will tell you though that it’s pretty amazing to reach a point in your relationship where no words need to be spoken, just one look, a simple action (hug!) and you can feel the enormous love behind that one moment/action. But the biggest wedge in our relationship is my faith and his non-faith. Although raised in church, M has no interest in the message of Christianity. Although not raised in the church, my life line inextricably entwined with the message of Christianity. M is grounded in science and physical proof and reasoning; it’s not to say that faith and science cannot coexist in my opinion but M believes that these two things are exclusive to one another and have no overlap/opportunity to coexist. However, despite his non-belief, he understands how important my faith is to me. That faith in my life is beyond the physical motions associated with organized religion; it is a state of being, a way of life. It saved my life and molded me into the woman he loves so dearly. It molds my perspective of the past, my present and my future. He told me before that I was the happiest person he had ever met. He wasn’t talking about the happy response that comes with favorable external circumstances but an internal, underlying happiness. He knows that this foundational contentment comes from my faith. He has been supportive and sometimes, even proactive, to ensure that my faith continues to be nurtured and grows in my life. He has come to some events associated with the church to support me. However, he remains uninterested in exploring faith himself.

In our relatively short relationship, we have nearly broken up twice because of this issue. There were tears, hard blows and hearts breaking. Ultimately we decided to remain together to try and make it work, but what does that really mean? Since that time, we have learnt a bit more about each other and I think, grown to love and respect each other even more but we have been very hesitant to approach this part of our relationship because it is contentious. I sometimes wonder if I should say anything on certain topics because it is religious (though M does encourage me to speak unhindered) and I hesitate on asking him to pray with me (though he has agreed to sit with me if/when the occasion arises). Yes…I realize that these prefaces seem like justifications but they are what they are: the truth. Yet we also know that we cannot ignore it and cannot exclude it from our relationship. My faith is all encompassing. It cannot be put into a glass box and forgotten; it touches every part of my life and all the decisions I make in my life, including the decision of remaining in this relationship. Everyday, I pray that he will know God but I also know that regardless of what I want, the decision belongs to him and God and that I don’t have any control over it. All I can do is live my life as God has asked of and planned for me, to deepen my relationship with Him. I believe that God overflows the limited shells that we are and will overflow even more as we deepen in our faith. The breadth of His reach those this sodden vessel remains solely in His hands. God also calls us to know the people in the our lives better so that when the opportunities arise, you can essentially speak their language, that you know where they’re coming from. In my job, a lot of it is about word smithing, so you would like think that I would be able to apply this in my personal life (eh…difficult in practice but doable!). M has had a very blessed life. He’s smart, good looking, incredibly athletic. He’s successful in career and has a group of close friends from high school. His family loves each other and are very close as well. In many ways, he has not experienced the need that many others have. I don’t fault him for  this; how could I? But when we do not know need, if everything is provided in our lives and we are supported, how could we ever know that we actually do need God? All this I know and I trust the faithfulness of God but it doesn’t stop the ache. It doesn’t stop the questions that plague my mind. It doesn’t stop the sharp pain every time I think about this difference. Like my daily prayer for him, every day this hits me like a blow to the face. Everyday, the thought of ‘hey maybe breaking up would hurt less’ comes and stabs me in the chest.

The purpose this post isn’t to say whether or not it is right or wrong to date a non-Christian as a man/woman of faith. Rather, it is an inside look of what it’s like to be part of such a relationship. With regards to these relationships, many quote 2 Corinthians 6:14: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”. Fair enough. God provided us with His written word so that we may have a solid reference guide to the fullest life. Yet we are imperfect and it is extremely difficult, perhaps even impossible, to ever achieve the perfect life outlined in the amazing book. We are fallen but by the grace of God we are saved. So in response to this particular verse, I would very much agree with it not so much along the lines of ‘that’s wrong!’ and that’s it; rather, it’s because it’s so hard, so difficult and I think part of this verse is that God wanted to spare us from heart ache. It is absolutely heart wrenching to know that someone you love so deeply and someone who loves so deeply in return has yet to experience the immeasurable love of God. And yes, it is also difficult on a relational basis that you may not pray together, read the word together, sing worship songs together, attend church together. If someone was to ask me what I thought about dating a non-Christian, I would probably warn them against it because it’s so hard. Yes, I have choice in this of course. I had not considered remaining in a relationship with a non-believer before meeting M. And yet, somehow we did come together. If M and I are to continue in our relationship, I will have to decide whether or not I can live with this sadness until he knows God. And if he doesn’t, would I be okay with it? If you find yourself encroaching upon or in a similar situation, that is a question you have to ask yourself. I think that you would also need to ponder the question of whether or not you are/would still growing in your relationship with God and if your partner is and will always be supportive of this growth. Let me tell you though, the little things, little moments between M and I, even if he just says good morning every day when he goes into the office, is inexplicable. It’s like a warmth that fills your body and takes your breathe away, a smile that never fades.

Rediscovering Faith

I haven’t updated in a long time with my thoughts regarding relationships and what not. If you’ve read previous blog posts, I talked a lot about finding a man who could walk with me spiritually and love God more than he could ever love me. That sentiment still remains but sometimes, things don’t go quite as you expect them to. Whenever I met a guy that I thought was interesting, the first question that came to mind was whether or not he was a Christian. If he wasn’t, I usually lost interest right away. With my dating history, I knew how difficult it would be to date a non-Christian and selfishly, I didn’t want to go through that again. It is also quite amazing to be supported by someone who shares the same foundational views and values and to know that you could always count on this person to pray with you and to rely on God and call upon Him when things were rough inside and outside of your relationship. This would be ideal. I still very much believe in this idea of a relationship even though it would seem that my own path hasn’t followed that.

It would seem that I am determined to take the harder path lol even if on one hand, I aspire to take the easier path. Sometimes I look at my Christian friends and fellows who have found someone they love and loved God from their church and get a bit jealous. Relationships are difficult regardless but at least the onset of these relationships seemed to be pretty good. In the past year or so, I had two Christian guys who became non-starters. No, I did not pine away or jump off the deep end without caution. At least from my viewpoint, I had very explicit signs that hey, boy is interested and boy shares faith…huzzah! Alas, neither came to fruition. Was I frustrated? Most certainly but I remained relatively optimistic that this was where a relationship would come from when it eventually happened. Apparently not so much.

I met M playing corporate challenge badminton this past spring. Yes, I play badminton and used to do so competitively; however, in recent years, badminton would only happen once a year for corporate challenge and that’s it. I actually didn’t really want to play this year because I was already committed to triathlon and rock climbing, two things of which demanded so much of my time as individual sports, never mind both sports. But I was bribed into playing with the promise that snacks would be involved at practice and at the tournament (it was all a lie!). I noticed M pretty much right off the bat and got along with him amazingly well. Somehow, things just came together and snowballed. We started talking more and come tournament weekend, both were pretty confident that the other person was interested in the other. However, M is a non-believer.

On the night before our first ‘official’ date, he figured that we should talk about our differences in faith and values. Up to this point, I had justified the existence of our ‘relationship’ to be nothing more than a summer fling but as this talk approached, I realized how much I liked him. In the past, this is the point where most people would’ve backed off because there would a) be no sex involved and b) not so thrilled about religion having a role in the relationship. M surprised me. Despite all our differences, he wanted to a shot at trying to make a relationship work for us. I was shocked.

Since all this began, M has never shied away from the difficulties our relationship has faced and the times when I question it and when I emotionally shut down. I never had someone care for me the way he does, to want to fight for us. And yet, inside, I felt very torn. In the church, we are told that dating non-Christians is a bad thing – after all, the Bible tells us not to yolk with non-believers. Perhaps my own viewpoint is skewed, but I did and do not view the things that are outlined in the Bible to be hard rules but rather guidelines to living that have been established by a God who loves us and wants us to live a life that is fulfilling to the max. With regards to ‘not yolking with non-believers’, it’s because it’s so fucking hard. It’s so hard to know that you don’t share that perspective with them and have them available for you to pray with when you’re not sure about something or struggling with something. It’s hard to think that when you die, you won’t end up in the same place. This past weekend, M and I really struggled with how this would play out in our relationship and after a lot of discussion, we have yet to come to a conclusion with what we should do.
I spoke about the imperfect love of man to the perfect love of God. I realize though the imperfect love of man will always be imperfect, even if the man is a believer of God because we as people are just imperfect. But love in itself is a beautiful gift from God that truly doesn’t come around as much as we think or wish that it did. Yesterday, the verse of the day on my bible app was Psalm 55:22 that says this: ‘Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken’. I am so thankful for my non-family family, that they can give me a good reality check and encouragement all at the same time. One of my girls, Jaws, told me that I had to let go and give up this self-imposed oppression about whether or not M would know God or not. She told me that it wasn’t up to me. That even though M couldn’t see himself coming to know God, that he nor I could predict what could or could not happen. That being with me was a window into a whole different world that he didn’t see before. That all I could do would love M and continue to live my life with the love God instilled in me and walk on the path God has laid before me. That by being ‘burdened’, I was trying to take control of God’s work. One of the most interesting things she told me though that I hadn’t even considered was that by sharing and not censoring the faith part of my life with M, that my own relationship with God grows. That through this relationship, I am learning and still drawing close to God. A part of me fears that by being with someone who is not a believer, that I am disappointing Him. But then I think about how blessed I am to have M in my life and I’m not so sure about that anymore. She also told me to be strong and not to abandon M when we are both learning and growing with one another. One of the things I value the most with my relationship with M is how we can have involved conversations about life and relationships. That there’s an established and growing trust to share things about our past and how we view life without fear of judgement and knowing that it’s being shared in a safe environment. I feel like one of the reasons why God placed M in my life is because he’s strong enough to be there when I fall and that he is helping me heal the emotional scars left behind by others.

So now my faith is growing in a way I never really considered. Man, it’s so hard. It really is difficult but so far, I’ve learnt so much about myself and my faith through M. I don’t know if he knows that. It’s not to say that we won’t struggle because we will but at least I know that I’m on a team and not alone. Here’s to hoping 

Girls

I actually had a completely different post put together, ready to be posted online when I realized and decided that something needed to be addressed first. The concept of community is still a new and astounding thing to me; it’s something I’ve always craved for yet feared. To be truly involved in a community of people, there has be a give and take, a commitment towards vulnerability with people you continue to grow in trust, respect and love. My community of people consists of the friends I’ve met throughout my travels, my family, those old friends I’ve known for more than a decade and those that surround me here in Edmonton. It is this emphasis that I try to carry and apply to my life, regardless of how busy my schedule can get.

Today, I want focus on one particular group of friends that have really opened my eyes in the past year, that have surrounded me with so much support and love that I feel the need to write a sort of a love letter. Today, I’m writing to my girls. That’s right. For quite a while, I have scorned the friendship between women because I saw a lot of the negative pettiness that existed between women and the drama, oh the drama. But the past year or so, God has really put an emphasis of meeting and developing close relationships with girls in Edmonton and rejuvenating and deepening the already close relationships with my girls that live elsewhere. So here we go 🙂

Dear Girls,

I’m not quite sure how to start this letter. Somehow, I don’t think the usual greetings will suffice but hey, I’m just killing time right now as I try to find the right words. Your friendship has been a light in my world. I’ve never experienced so much joy and support as I have in the last year I’ve been in Edmonton. I always knew that God grounded me in one place for a relatively prolonged period of time so that I may develop relationships but I never thought I would’ve found you girls. You are the girls that rock my socks. Somehow, we bounded like glue. Actually, in some cases, it was almost like lightening and we were instant friends. If I look back, all I can think of is ‘hawt diggity! we became friends so quickly’. And it’s not just a surface friendship, no. It’s a friendship that delves into the reality of who we are, the struggles that we face, not just with boys but with life. Most of all, we unite in our faith, the one thing that brought us together in the first place, the one thing that enables this deep connection that we share. It doesn’t matter if we climb, bike, run or swim together, though we probably do at least one of those things together. Maybe it’s when you call me out for lunch or a movie night, or willingness to squeeze in a short coffee date into your busy schedule because you know I need some face time with someone who cares and loves me. Maybe it’s when you answer instantly to my text and tell me to call ASAP because you know I need to talk to someone NOW. Maybe it’s because you are willing to pray with me regardless of what I’m going through, whether or not you’re physically with me or because you just keep me in your prayers. You inspire me. You inspire me with your triumphs, with your struggles and with your faith in God. You inspire others; you just don’t know it, but you do. You were uniquely created by the God who loves you unconditionally and bestowed gifts upon you so that you may be a salt and light to the world. You have got to know that you have achieved that in my life. So let me end this before I get too sappy: Thank you.

B