Archives for category: relationships

scarlett

I am a terrible romantic. Maybe that is one of the reasons that I have been single many more years than attached.  The fictional love stories just can’t seem to materialize in any of my real life relationships.

One of my favorite romances is Gone With The Wind. Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler’s timeless love story has always captivated me.  Their turbulent relationship ends with Rhett’s famous line (in the movie version). When Scarlett asks him (as he finally leaves her after years of alienating his affection), “What shall I do?  Where shall I go?” He responds, “Frankly Scarlett, I don’t give a damn.”

As he walks out the door and into the foggy night, Scarlett throws herself on the stairs and sobs.  As she sobs, she thinks of the only other man that she really loved-her father. She remembers her father’s words,” There is one thing you love more than me Katie Scarlett-Tara.” (Tara- the family plantation.)

“Yes,” Scarlett answers the memory, ”Tara, I’ll go home to Tara”. And with that- Tara is her reason to face another day.

Every woman needs a Tara in her life-something that gives her purpose and meaning, and the rock upon which she builds her life. Men need one too, but usually they do. Men tend to find their identity in their work, where as women find it in their relationships.

Relationships are so tenuous, even those that weather the years have plenty of low spots which could feasibly send your identity into an abyss. That is why women need a Tara.

It is far too big a burden for any relationship to be the source of a person’s identity. This no doubt, is one of the reasons that relationships have a hard time sticking.

I discovered my Tara recently. I was bemoaning my singleness and generally feeling sorry for myself, when I got a kudo on one of my writing pieces.  It immediately altered my attitude as quickly as the dog in “Up”s attitude changes over “Squirrel”.  All semblance of unhappiness evaporated in the bliss of my Tara.

My Tara has its roots in the one relationship that I will allow to define me-that with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  He is the One True Rock that is the greatest foundation for my life. All my endeavors (including my writing) are expressions of my service to Him.  I am like Don
Quixote with my pen (ie laptop) as my sword-battling evil, injustice and oppression to insure liberty and justice for all.

Find your Tara -your raison d’etre- and when you find it you will be home and anything else is just a plus.

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A year ago I suffered losses. The large beautiful tree in my front yard was removed because its roots had taken over the lawn and were beginning to break up the sidewalk and potentially become a hazard to the house. I also experienced the end of certain relationships.

I shared in my blog, at that time about how the removal of the tree improved the rest of the plants in the yard by allowing more sunlight to reach them goo.gl/db7i4h -Reflections on Loss . I shared in another blog about how the heartbreaks created a softer heart to serve and love God and others http://goo.gl/oSq2TN-Love Ruins Everything.

In the course of the past year something amazing has happened. One of the rose bushes in the front yard has more than tripled in size. The rose bush has been in the yard for about five years. In previous years it had grown very slowly and produced maybe 4 or 5 blooms each Spring. With the large tree gone allowing the sun to shine on the bush, it has flourished. This year there are already about 20 blooms so far and the season has just begun. The blooms have a deeper blush pink color and are large and luscious.

As I marvel at this beautiful plant, I realize it is also an illustration of my life in the past year.

I was forced out of the comfort of my relationships. These relationships were distracting me from my purpose and hindering my personal development. With their removal, I was able to bask in the Light of the World, my Lord and Savior. Strengthened by His Power, I grew beyond the comfort of my previous bounds and experienced new adventures, new relationships and new opportunities to glorify Him through the gifts and talents He has given me.

And I hope, my heart, like the rose bush, grew more than three times its size like the heart of the Grinch in Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

This is the life of faith-a life of living dangerously for Christ.

aristotle-quotes-sayings-real-love-happinessIn researching my new book Blessed Are They That Hunger A Christian Responds to The Hunger Games, I discovered a new phenomenon.  There is a growing population of single person households in America. It has grown from only 5 percent in 1900 to 27 percent in 2012.  There is also a decline in marriage. 51 percent of Americans are married as opposed to 92.3 percent in 1920. The population is declining in America.  We have not had enough births to maintain the population since 2007.

Why is love on the decline in America?  We have become sexually addicted and love anorexic.  Pornography is more accessible thanks to internet technology that now allows access not only on  computers but mobile devices as well. Revenues for internet pornography are nearly $3billion per year in the US.  70 % of men aged 18-24 view pornography on the internet at least once a month.

Mommy porn in the form of romance novels are at an all time high as well.  The ebook versions are outselling all other forms- (maybe because no mommy wants to be seen carrying “50 Shades of Grey”).  Romance novels far outsell other genres with nearly $1.4 billion in sales projected for 2013.

We have lost the art of real intimacy and now substitute real relationships with virtual communications on our mobile devices and computers.  We are turning into what our devices are aptly named-Androids.

What has happened to our society? Where is the love?  In my book I quote Rabbi Schmulley who blames it on our inability to understand lust as God designed it and sustain it for long-term fulfillment.

I heard a pastor speak to my youth group when I was in college about sexual sensitivity.  He said we were born with a set amount and if we abused it through over exposure we would need more extreme forms of sexuality for fulfillment.  With the bombardment of sexuality in our society have we become desensitized?  Are we incapable of sustaining fulfilling romantic relationships?

How can we return to love?

A good start might be to turn off the devices.  We could seek out real face time not virtual through joining organizations that allow for real interpersonal interaction. Take up a sport or a hobby like bowling or golf  and not on wii.

Can we relearn love?  All the virtual love and romance through internet, books, movies, and TV are about self gratification.  Love as God created it  is very different. Real love is about gratifying others above ourselves.  Our society has tried love without God, maybe it’s time to try love God’s way.  Can we try a little abstinence from any kind of sexuality except the Biblical form of one man and one woman who sanctify and set apart their sexuality for each other only through the covenant of marriage. Can we take it from tainted love to holy love? Then we can return to a healthy appetite that will sustain a healthy society.  We can stop starving.

1 John 4:16

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
I Corinthians 13
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

love story biblicalI’ve heard the saying “The heart is a lonely hunter.”  It means your heart will draw you to relationships good or bad out of its need to be connected.  I have been a Christian for more than a few decades.  I have been single, married, then single again.  I have read all the Christian singles books.  I led Bible studies on being single.  But somehow I still find my heart trying to take me down roads I should never travel as a believer in Christ.

The Bible tells us,

Jeremiah 17:9

New Living Translation (NLT)

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,     and desperately wicked.     Who really knows how bad it is?

But somehow I still buy into what our society says-that my heart can be trusted and romantic feelings should be pursued.  I have confused the Biblical view of love and romance with the world’s view as represented in books and movies and TV.  Thankfully, I have lived a disciplined life as a Christian for long enough that I have learned to only act according to what the Holy Spirit directs me in my life.  So I don’t let my feelings control my actions and I barely let them know that they are the object of my affection.

I am still left with my heart- the hunter and the feelings it gives me trying desperately to connect me.  I find myself feeling emotional connections with people who neither know the Lord nor share my values or the worst of all- that do know the Lord but don’t live a godly life.  My heart tells me that they will change. It tells me that God brought me in their life to help them find their way.  So I guard my romantic feelings as I allow friendship with strong boundaries only.

Then I wait for a sign from God like Diane Lane’s character in Under the Tuscan Sun, when the bird left his droppings on her head so the Senora knew she was the one who should buy the villa.  I wait for a sign that this man will become the godly person that I need for my life.  But more times than I can count the only sign that comes is the revelation of a fatal flaw-a character flaw, an addiction, a worldliness that doesn’t line up with a life sold out for Christ.  Once again I have let my heart muddle my thinking and I have put hope in my feelings and not in the only One that deserves my trust, my Lord and Savior.

I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks because I think I have a new attitude and a new approach.  From now on I will make sure that I let the Holy Spirit draw me to those who are sold out for Christ and not listen to my deceitful heart. Why does this sound familiar?