About That Backside of the Desert…

Dry and boring.

It’s been a while since my last entry, and so much has happened.

Just when I thought turning 30 was going to be boring and borderline pathetic it turned out to be the best thing to happen to me. It’s as if 30 was a literal turning point in my life. After 12 months of being in the backside of the desert, I found myself in a place where….I was meant to be. I can’t really do the story justice. But, let’s just say there have been times in my life where I was absolutely positively sure this was where God meant and wanted me to be, and for the last year or so I hadn’t been feeling like I was in that Perfect Place. The ultimate frustration is when you know you’re not in the right place, but you don’t know how to get where you should be. So you wander around, hoping one day it will all make sense. Welp. I wandered long enough and now? Life is grand. Full. Overflowing.

A brief rundown of awesome things and lessons I’ve learned in the past few months:

  • Didn’t have a birthday party, but truly saw how great my friends really are.
  • I have more clients than I can handle. Which means more money than I can really handle.
  • Closer relationship with God. This is super big. I look back and I am thankful for the foundation and legacy of faith¬† my mother set for me as a child.
  • Re-prioritized people and things in my life. Demoted those that were taking up too much energy and time and returning very little value. Feeling much better about the things and people I spend my time on.
  • Moved the needle on putting God first in my life. I’m not 100% there, but I am much closer than I was before.
  • Simplified my life. Keep it simple, stupid.
  • Timing is everything. There really are no coincidences, especially the ones that seem to be bizarrely popping up in my life.
  • I am looking forward to taking another trip to Haiti this year! Going in September. I’ll be writing about fundraising for the trip shortly, and some other cool news.

I have a few other exciting things I’ve been working on in terms of career, but I will save that for another day. I’m learning that I am not my occupation, and while there are some cool things going on, they’re not necessarily definitive of who I am.

I’m overjoyed!

Recharging in LA

I’m turning 30 in a few weeks (more like 10 days), and I decided to pick up my bags and come to LA for a few weeks. I needed a life recharge, desperately.

I’m both excited and nervous about 30. I hear you get more confident in your 30s, and I’m looking to gain that. But, I still feel like an underdeveloped adult. Perhaps this won’t change until I have a child. And perhaps I won’t have a child until I change. Life seems like a big Catch-22 sometimes.

I’ve been picking fights with friends lately. I’m growing. Most of the fights have to do with how I’m growing. I’m hoping they stay patient with me.

I’ve quit dating for a year. 12 whole months. Yup. No dating until May 17, 2012. And I’m about to turn 30.¬† Am I crazy? I might be. But I’ve got some things I’ve got to get right with myself and with God. So for now, dating is off the table. More on that later. Or maybe, in another location and later.

Although I hated chopping my hair off 2 years ago, it was one of the best things I did for my hair. It’s much healthier now, and much like how I remembered it in high school. Don’t be afraid to look ugly, temporarily. Beauty comes eventually. Hopefully.

I miss my parents. I don’t really talk or think about them on a daily basis, as I’ve managed to make a life as far away from them as possible. But. I miss them. I have 4-hour telephone conversations with my mom and sometimes wish I could record them so I can play them back years from now and remember her words of wisdom. I’m staying with my dad in LA and within the first hour of seeing him, he’d given me sage advice about a lot of things I’ve been battling internally for quite some time. I know my parents aren’t perfect. Far from it. But the areas in which they’re top shelf, they run it. And I love them for it. As I grow older, I realize more and more just how amazing they are. Sometimes I think they feel the same way about me.

I am still jobless. But client work is a bit overwhelming. In a good way.

This changed my love/sex/dating/Jesus life. The whole series. If you ever had hangups or questions with purity, the church and celibacy, or ever wanted to know how to manage your modern love life while maintaining your faith, then this series is great: The New Rules for Love, Sex & Dating. I have many thoughts and things to say on it, but right now is not the place or time. Stay tuned.

Back to recharging.

Dating and The Church

In my last post I talked about my journey over the past year to working on my faith. I said my next post would be about sex and dating within the Christian context, so here we go.

Last summer, after attending a few small group bible studies offered by my church (they’re more like book clubs, with the book being a Christian book of some sort), I was nominated to lead a small group for the Fall semester. I was nervous about being nonimated to lead a group so soon after getting back into the habit of attending church (this must be a mistake, didn’t they know I’m not a perfect Christian?), but I prayed about it. Since all Fall semester small groups are assigned the same book to read, I accepted the nomination because it would be the easiest way to get used to being responsible for a group of people’s spiritual growth for a few months.

Yes, that’s how they framed it in small group leader training.

All of a sudden I had a small flock of folks to pray for every day and check up on and make sure they weren’t falling through the church cracks. It may sound a bit extra, but it’s what I like most about my church: it’s big, yet small at the same time.

I did my best to steer this group, but I couldn’t help feel a little detached from our discussions. Even with study guides to help facilitate discussion, I felt a teeny bit bored by the content, but I loved the folks in my small group. It was then I decided the next time I led a small group, I would have a sexy book. Sexy as in, interesting and different.

Enter: dating and the church.

Boundaries In Dating
This book is a must-read!

I told myself that I would only do another small group if I were allowed to read the dating book of my choice, Boundaries In Dating. It’s not that the book is particularly racy, but it wasn’t on our regular book list. That’s why I was drawn to it even further. I wanted to talk about things most church folk didn’t talk about openly, regularly: sex and dating. It’s not that I am a rabblerouser, but I think there are areas in our lives where we don’t grow because we don’t really examine them close enough. As a Christian woman, I knew my dating life sucked and I didn’t feel supported in figuring out my dating life within a Christian community. And while I had a basic understanding of how sex in the bible worked (i.e. it’s only for marriage) I struggled with fully understanding how to apply this to my daily modern life. Also, I wouldn’t be able to win anyone over to Team Celibacy if I didn’t have a good grasp of what it was all about.

Anyway. Registration opened. I was elated to find my small group registration FILLED UP. Quickly. Most healthy small groups are about 8-10 people, but mine filled to capacity at 22 ladies within the first few weeks of registration. I was happy.

The book I chose was on point. It broke down my old and current dating issues. It gave me solid advice and things to do in my future dating life. I feel like I don’t need to read another dating book ever in life (not that I read many, but I own several for some reason).

Leading a dating small group was cool. I had 22 ladies to get to know as best as possible. I knew we all came from different walks of life with different upbringings and experiences. Some of us were single, some had boyfriends, some were divorced, and we ranged in age from early 20s to mid-40s. That’s what makes a group enriching, but the topic itself was tricky. The whole point of my group was to give women a (biblically-based) place to talk openly about their relationship issues without (Christianeze!) judgement, however, opening up to a group of strangers is tough. I was also afraid that as their leader, there would be a misconception that my dating/sex life was perfect, when it was so incredibly flawed.

In the end, everything worked out. There were a few weeks when the book talked about sexual purity and I felt nervous for the discussion. I think this is where I feel Christians get real Judgy McJudgerson, and I didn’t want anyone to feel judged for anything they’d done in the past (or for how they currently live). Typically I find that as a small group leader you have to share a lot in order to encourage others to share and so…the sharing of my failures was brutal. I’m already hard enough on myself, now I had to tell others about it too? And say it out loud? It was for the best though. The more I talk about my previous failures, the more I am able to get over them. Not to mention I have made some *awesome* friends during this process, and now they are able to reflect truth back to me when I veer off track.

As for what’s next…summer small group! I’ve recruited a co-leader this time around, and she is awesome. She keeps me in stitches and brings the best out of me. I am excited about leading this group with her if we can pull it off. In keeping with my tradition of a packed growth group and a racy topic, I think we are going to read a book (or books) about *drumroll* sexual purity. We’ve talked about dating, now let’s talk about sex. I like uncomfortable topics among Christians, and I think this is an important one. A big one. I think this issue keeps a lot of distance between God and Christians and I am all about finding ways to close that gap.

I’ll let ya’ll know how it goes.

 

It’s Holy Week: My Journey Back to Church

A year ago this month, I decided I was going to attempt to take my faith in God seriously. I grew up in a Christian home with parents who were very much like biblical scholars but often times poor in application when it came to their marriage. Their divorce and inability to get along hardened my heart when it came to the Christian community. As a teenager, I felt that my parents were hypocrites, holding their bibles close to the chest and being pious towards others, meanwhile back at the crib I had to call the police on them (several times) due to their domestic violence disputes. It never added up to me.

I’mma keep it real. Christians got on my last nerve with their duplicitous behavior. I had no problems with Christ. I had every problem with Christians.

Eventually I let these problems wear on my relationship with God. Because Christians got on my nerves, I would only go to church whenever I felt like it (read: maybe twice a month if I were lucky) until I rarely ever went. Pissed off at either duplicitous Christians or seemingly fake Christians, I resolved that I would go to church and just not talk to anybody. Yes, I thought this was a good idea. Later I realized not only was this not how God designed the Church, but this was counteractive to my spiritual growth (you can’t grow in a vacuum); furthermore, this made me no better than the hypocritical Christians I had beef with.

Oh.

So, I took my skepticism to church despite my beef. I told God that I was going to be obedient and do church, but I wasn’t gonna like it. Luckily I found a place were there was no pretense. No cliques. Nobody pretending to be something for somebody else. Just regular people you see on the street every day. Normal but not normal (right? because we are not of this world).

It blew my mind. So much so that I joined said church, got baptized, got involved as a leader, made friends and now? I love Christians. I don’t know why many of them like to pretend they don’t have some very jacked up lives. But, they do. We do. I do. And that’s okay. While we are called to lead perfect lives, we should know that we will never be perfect. But a lot of Chrstians will have you think they’re perfect.

What I really needed was a commuity of Christians who weren’t just going to church just to go, but who were actively denying themselves for God. Who were actively applying God in their lives, and not just giving people lip service. I’m trying not to judge Christians for this. It’s a balance, as I have to be sure I don’t fall into the trap of arrogance or maintain a judgemental mentality. So, I’m trying to check that as well. But, let’s be real. If Christians really did what the Bible asks us to do, we would have much better PR in this world.

Anyway. It’s Holy Week. Easter is on Sunday. I am going to be sharing a few more things about my journey to church and spiritual growth on the blog this week. Tomorrow it’ll be about sex and dating, and why I thought it would be a good idea to lead a bible study group about said topics.