Faith and Trust Away


How could I forget the nights
Where tears were all I knew
Where they greeted the dawn
The devastation each morning
Was fresh and new
I look at the past
And do not miss it at all
For I’ve found a road worth walking
With a hand worth holding
How could I forget the doubt
The pain, the temptation to despair
I never knew that in time
Life would turn around
And I would find him standing there
I remember the pain
That loving you brought day by day
Never knowing something so much better
Was only faith and trust away

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Why I don’t want to ‘Christian Mingle.”


Now don’t get me wrong.

I’m am probably the biggest romantic on the planet. Truly. Give me the cheesy love songs and slow dances, the heart-felt poems, the long walks, the hand-in-hand stuff with the right person, I am THERE.

And there WAS a time in my life, more recent that I am comfortable remembering, when I was so lonely, that I was not always discriminating in who I allowed myself to ‘fall in love’ with. However, I have always hated matchmaking, of any kind. Even of the most well-meaning variety.

I’ve gotten older, and I hope smarter, and maybe seasoned enough in matters of the heart to where I’m starting to get that ‘alone’ doesn’t have to mean lonely. I’ve experienced the devastating emptiness of feeling alone AND loving someone as well. There are, I have found, much worse places to be than fretting over why the phone isn’t ringing.

Which brings me to the singles services that are all over our email, Facebook and other social media sites today. I really find them, in turn—funny, sad, pathetic, and at times, alarming.

I considered going this route, back a few years ago when loneliness overcame common sense. And I know one or two hapilly married friends who met that way–through “E-Harmony” and “Christian CafĂ©.” However, my inner ‘commitment phobe’ just wouldn’t let me follow through. Something really important seemed to be missing.

Long-distance relationships are difficult enough when it is someone you actually know. But in the cyber-world, as thoughts become I.M’s, and there is so much that one can do to conceal who they are, right down to actual appearance, attitudes, etc. these modern day dating services can be downright alarming.

Let’s look at the not so old days (still happens!) Guy spys girl. Guy thinks girl is cute. So, he walks over, introduces himself, takes a deep breath, and asks her on a date. She agrees to go, because she likes him too, and was hoping he would ask. They go out, they have fun.

A few more dates, maybe they decide they want to only date each other. By that time, infatuation has died down a bit, and they may be ready to do the work of adult relationship building–where the foundation of loving friendship is just as important as the romantic side. Hopefully there is also deep and earnest prayer going on, on both sides about what God’s will is for this relationship. To me, this is the real-world, off line reality.

And yes, it is hard to be single and lonely. I have stayed away from bars that are the traditional home of those single and looking, simply because often what the male side of that appear to be looking for is uncommitted sex. I believe that a woman who walks into a bar alone is pretty much advertising she wants the same thing. Right or wrong, that’s just not me.

But I’m not quite enthralled with the church singles groups, or the innocent seeming social groups that are meant to get folks together. They tend to, for lack of more gentle word, turn into ‘meat markets’ where the joys of connecting with someone who has lots in common with you, looks good and is mutally interested sometimes gets trodden in the dust.

Recently, I commented on Facebook about the wide variety of dating services there are online and how they are being marketed. I was joking, but I speculated that there might be a marketing strategy to draw in singles who are habitual oatmeal breakfast eaters. And nothing wrong with that. If you’re going to end up spending the rest of your life with someone, maybe you need to know what you might at times, fix them for breakfast.

However, our society, in its’ quest not to be lonely, pretty much advertises through these services that many folks just don’t know how to connect.

Healthy relationships are more about two melting into one, similarities and differences than to bark out at someone ‘this is who I am, like me or not!’ And it seems that the latest dating service ads cater to this type of brokenness. I have seen ads by seemingly bitter men, which say “Honest women only.” Or,”No skinny women wanted!” Or, “No young girls wanted–mature women NEEDED.” Or worst of all, “Rich Men looking for YOU.”

Okay, great. I’m honest, and certainly have some extra pounds and I passed ‘young’ a while back. However, the last one is just insulting. While its great to know my would-be partner is working and has some ambition, ‘gold-digger’ has never been any part of my personal description. There is so much more to a lasting relationship than the surface stuff. Why does it get so heavily emphasized?

Today I saw an on-line ad which I hope was a parody, but I fear that it wasn’t. It had a rough looking guy (and I am sure Road Warrior types need love too) who apparently had been following a woman around and decided he liked her. This was part of the marketing strategy.

Wow.

As a social worker who works with women (and men) who have been stalked and harassed by people who claim to ‘love’ them, that’s not even close to appealing. It’s actually frightening to think that some vulnerable woman (or man) might find such an ad appealing.

I am single at 48 for a lot of reasons–by choice, out of fear, because some relationship choices just didn’t work out, and because really, up until about two years ago, I was addicted to the ‘bad boys’ and didn’t give the nice guys five minutes.

Finally, I woke up to the basic truth that you can’t make a pearl from a sow’s ear. If you want respect, it pretty much has to be there from the beginning. If you want loving, gallant behavior, it should be evident in how the person you are attracted to treats everyone. And it really helps to be friends first. You learn more that way than in the protection offered by cyber-space or any other dating service.

Not so long ago, I saw an ad from Christian Mingle that had the couple saying that without the service, they would have never met and had their child. That blew me out of my chair. Really? Then why not just be honest and leave the “Christian” out of it and just call it “Mingle.” I personally believe in a bigger God than that.

When God wants a couple together, wants them to grow into love with each other (much preferable to ‘falling’ in love which intimates that it’s accidential) HE orchestrates it. And yes, it can be every bit as joyful, mysterious, nerve-wracking as the best romantic ad that CM can dream up…the key being…God doesn’t need human or cyber help.

And frankly, neither do I.

Syria Vs. Star Trek: An Errand of Mercy?


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I have been very tight lipped about the whole Syria situation. Partially out of ignorance. Partly because I just don’t know.

The two conditions are not the same. One, I must admit, comes from a willful choice not to read much of anything to do with the Middle East since the beginning of the first Gulf War.

At that time, I lost my dewy innocence about the two Republicans I had voted for in my first two presidential voting experiences. I had been raised to be a good conservative Republican, but suddenly an ugly truth was in front of my eyes—this first Gulf war was much more about access to oil than it was about human rights. I refused to support a war that was about that.

About the same time, I read William Manchester for the first time, and pretty much became a born-again liberal Democrat. If I had the option I supported any Democrat platform I could, because I felt that they were more ‘for the people.’

I could not see how extensive ‘Oil Wars’ would profit America, except to delay finding more productive ways of fueling our transportation and delay cleaning up our atmosphere. And delaying both of those only profited the oil companies and the super-rich.

But I wasn’t much for speaking up then, and pretty much chose the denial route, not realizing that 1990 would become 2013 and we would still be sending troups, support or be in the process of extending that somewhere in the Middle East.

Denial is an interesting place to be. I got to a place where if it wasn’t happening in the U.S. or mostly Kentucky, I didn’t think about it much. But then, children and innocent civilians were gassed in Syria. It was everywhere, all over the news, television. No way to deny that. Of course we should take action! That is evil! Evil must be stopped, mustn’t it?

A President for whom I’d proudly twice voted for was wanting to bomb the heck out of the place, and while I don’t support bombing the heck out of anything, I was thinking that maybe it was our only viable option. At church on Wednesday, though, I was shocked by my fellow congregants, the Wednesday faithful, as it were.

They wanted nothing to do with bombing Syria. Were angry and outspoken. My beloved priest, Jan, who is a huge role model for me, supported our assistant rector, in saying that if the US did bomb Syria, we would just be reprising our role as world bullies. I kept my mouth shut because I wasn’t sure if I agreed, and didn’t want to offend anyone in my church family….at least until I was sure why I might have an opposing opinion.

I read some, (wish I’d prayed some,) read some more. Tried to think about other things. But the images of those dead children kept coming back to me. I love kids, would have had a dozen or more if that had been God’s plan for me–it wasn’t. The thought of all that promise lying there crumpled on the ground tortured my heart. I thought of comparisons to Nazi Germany. Didn’t we have to ‘stop’ them? Isn’t there a time to combat evil?

Yet, unwelcome thoughts jumped in there as well. As much as I have hero-worshipped FDR and what he did for our country in the 30’s and 40’s, there is evidence that the Nazi camps were common knowledge in the 30’s…even the Red Cross knew…and other things took priority. The only thing that got us into the WW2 and the subsequent freeing of concentration camp internees was the bombing of Pearl Harbor. So, we didn’t exactly go marching in to defend the innocent then, either.

Tonight, I was sitting in my recliner, watching my usual Saturday evening shows, and messing around on the computer. My favorite Saturday night (or basically any night) show came on–the original Star Trek series. And one of my favorite episodes…about a Federation-Klingon conflict that gets mysteriously de-railed…by wiser beings who appear at first to be spineless, pacifist sheep.

I half watched the show because I’ve seen it many times, but the dialog kept getting my attention…and I kept thinking it might be important somehow. How? Hmmmm….I don’t know, back to the computer. Then, at the end, when both the Klingon and Federation weapons were turned to white-hot unusable instruments (much to both sides consternation) the connective thought came. Wouldn’t it be great if that could happen right now?

Wouldn’t it be great if some benevolent race of beings forced us (all of us) to stop waging war and start waging peace? Sure, we’d be frustrated at first. I mean the person who hits hardest is supposed to win, right? Or should that be the person who loves hardest?

I went to bed, thinking about all the opposing viewpoints. Couldn’t sleep. Thoughts wouldn’t let me. What should America’s role be? To be a bully or not to be? To fight evil by being just as evil? What if we bombed and our collateral damage killed just as many innocent children and civilians? Would that make us just as guilty of war crimes as those who gassed the Syrian children and adults?

Then, came back the cynical thoughts that have made me purposely ignorant of our role in the conflicts in the Middle East. Wasn’t this really about oil? If Syria and her fellow countries had rice as its principal crop and there was no market for it in the U.S. would our government give a rat’s behind about the children gassed there? Would the people there have the ability to buy such gas from England? Would we have done more than say ‘tsk, tsk’ and then move on to more interesting events?

I’d like to say that Obama, by evidence of the last few years, would care. Would have something to say. However, I wonder if he would have the support of such people as John McCain if oil were not a part of this. Would we not instead be urging the United Nations to handle this somehow? What would our government’s motives be if there was no profit for this country and our carnivorous appetites?

I read tonight that there is a question that the actual murderers might not be the Syrian government. That it might be another group, some other terrorists. Maybe, maybe not. It is pretty clear that England sold the gas to the Syrian government. How it got from that place to where it was used to murder innocents, I don’t know.

Maybe we should find out.

It is easy to be outraged. It is easy to want to ‘go over there and do something about it.’ It is easy to make the killings of innocents the cause d’jour. It is not easy to bring talk of slowing down, and doing more investigation before action into it. We’ve been a nation at war, in one way or another with the Middle East or some part of it since 1990. What exactly have we accomplished?

I wish I had some answers. However, I have to end my thoughts tonight with as many/if not more questions than when I started writing. The only thing I do know, is more than reading, I need to start seriously praying. Prayer and God’s intervention is the only thing that will make sense out of this conflict, and only if we are willing to hear His voice.

How will the U.S. offer our ‘errand of mercy’ to the innocent of Syria? Do we provide it by more killing? Or do we try to ‘wage peace’ and not use the fact that we have the biggest weapons on the block to force our ideas of what is right or just on others?

As I try to figure out my own stand on this, I am glad of the Star Trek episode that made me question my own warlike impulses when I consider our possible retaliation for an evil deed. Do we ‘wage war’ or do we ‘wage peace?’ Do we defeat evil with love and other interventions or is there a time to make a different choice?

Loving doesn’t mean we turn a blind eye to mass murder. Not at all. But can’t there be a better solution than adding to the death count?

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