Archive for June, 2007

Year Four

Posted by on Friday, 29 June, 2007

Since I’m oh so fond of linking, perhaps this would be a good time to review: years I, II, III.

My, that was considerably more depressing than I had expected. Apparently I’ve been going backwards this whole time. At least this year was more interesting than last. By far.

Yesterday a friend and I were wandering through the local farmers market when we passed a fellow standing on a footstool, Bible in hand, shouting to people that they were going to Hell if they did not repent. I instinctively labeled this man as a nutcase. But wait, is this not what I too believe?

As a matter of fact, it is not. I do not believe in Hell. Nor do I believe in Heaven. I do not believe in an afterlife at all. I do not believe that my mother has gone to another place… she is just gone, never to be seen again by me or anyone else.

That being the case, the consequences of sin and the matter of a savior remain merely academic questions. Therein lies the difficulty.

For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins…

If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.
— 1 Cor 16, 17, 19

Breaking the Spell (Part III)

Posted by on Monday, 11 June, 2007

Parts: 0, 1, 2.

By the way, I hope it is apparent that each of the three previous parts was about a different person. To continue the previous story:

Knowing myself as I do, I figured that I had about a week to ask her out, otherwise I would most likely spend months overanalyzing the situation and probably never do actually anything. This seemed like one of those “hot iron” type of situations, and it was important to strike while I still really did not have anything to lose. Besides, there’s no way that I would get a third chance.

Five days later, I made the call. Now, if you have ever had a serious conversation with me, you would know that if I have something important on my mind, it takes a ridiculously long time for me to work up to it. In my hesitation, I lost control of the direction of that conversation almost immediately. But I was able to get around to my point eventually. And seriously, five days is still an amazing personal record for me. (I think somebody owes me a quarter!)

“Well… I’m flattered… but no.”

You know, I’ve thought this before, and I’m saying it now: Aren’t there, like, genocides and stuff going on out there? Shouldn’t God have better things to do than to come up with funny new ways to mess with my head? Well of course not, God is omnipresent and omnipotent.

In a sense, I was a bit relieved for her sake. For I had a turbulent sea of things going on just below the surface. It seemed almost deceitful to try and enter a new relationship when I knew that I was on the verge of exploding. Also, it’s not true that I had nothing to lose. For one thing, this was the only girl who would consistently give me a hug every time I saw her. Now I mostly just get hugs from guys. That was just poor forethought. More significantly, there was the loss of hope. For every choice made means a door closed. My long-term plan had failed. My back-up plan had failed. What now?

Curiously enough, with these two events coming so close together, I found that to truly be upset about either one meant admitting that the other did not really mean that much. And oh, by the way what was I asking her for anyway? Was it not the very fact that I had rejected dating, and was fascinated by this idea of “Christian Courtship” that lead me to church in the first place? Had I then not sold out my principals the moment I entered a relationship with that other girl, when from the very beginning we both admitted that it probably would not last? Was this not a further step in the wrong direction, asking for, essentially, a single date? Shouldn’t I therefore be directing any inquiries of this nature toward her father? Oh no. Oh haaeeell no.

So, that all pretty much sucked. But it was necessary. For the important thing is, the spell was broken. Also, did I not say before that I had plural options? Ah, and wouldn’t the next girl be positively delighted to know that she was, at least pragmatically speaking, the third choice? While I’m at it, why not just go alphabetically through every girl I know until one says yes?

So, at last, I could no longer deny: my heart is a liar. My heart is not even a consistant liar. Forget about these women. Had I not been vexed for some time by the fact that the church group seemed to have become less about God and much more about socializing and “hooking-up”? Yet what was I here doing? Why not try leading by example, numskull? Forget about these women, man, you need JESUS.

Breaking the Spell (Part II)

Posted by on Sunday, 10 June, 2007

Part I

Let me tell you a story.

Last spring, my Bible study group decided to go country line dancing. This, I probably need not tell you, is not my cup of tea. However, a friend and I decided to make the most of it by buying some fabulously awful cowboy-style shirts for $1.45 each at the thrift store, and we looked, as they say, “hotter than a whorehouse on nickel night!” (It was important to pick up some authentic cowboy slang as well. Ahem.) Anyway, that evening, I had the pleasure of dancing with a certain young lady and discovered, much to my surprise, that I really enjoyed dancing with her. A lot.

This was quite a conundrum for me, because at that time, the very idea that I was capable of having feelings toward anyone else was both unexpected and unwelcome. Yet, in the coming weeks, I could not help but wonder if she felt any of what I did.

“You’ve had this problem before,” I told myself, “of being unable to move on to something new because of your refusal to let go of the past.” I have to admit that it seems that I have sabotaged myself more than once in this regard.
“No!” I declared, “My problem in the past has been my unwillingness to make a choice and commit to it.” So there and then, I made my choice. And I committed to it.

The results of that decision, I believe, have already been made clear. Conveniently enough, as life and circumstances would have it, I did not see this particular young lady for awhile after that. Out of sight, out of mind, and my focus moved to other things. As I have described elsewhere, last summer was bad, and fall was worse.

But in November, things started to turn around. Among other things, I started attending that particular Bible study again as well as a new church service. Toward the end of the year, as I began to see her more regularly again, and as my other hopes were crumbling around me, I could not help but wonder if I had really made the right decision back then. But even if there had been anything there, surely that ship had sailed six months previously.

That was the state of things on that solemn day in January when I challenged God for a sign. The next day was Sunday, and I happened to run into her just as I was walking into church. Is that a sign? Surely not, for we often went to the same church service in those days. So I took a seat next to the wall as was my custom, she chose the one beside me, and before long three members of her family came and sat in the row immediately in front of me, giving the distinct impression that I was now boxed in by her family. Now that seems more like a sign, no? That was still a bit of a reach perhaps.

The sermon that day was all about going through storms and at the end of the service (being the first Sunday of the new year) the pastor called for anyone who had been through a storm in 2006 to stand. Oh yeah… that’s me. This was followed by a request for anyone who was facing a storm in 2007 to stand, and a time of prayer.

After the service, her mother engaged me in conversation and eventually invited me to lunch with them. It is not so uncommon to have lunch after church… I had just never been invited by anyone’s mother before. Which in itself is a point worth mentioning. I, along with some others from our Bible study group, had been to their house for a couple of barbecues last summer. So I had met her mother before, and on those occasions, she was always so extraordinarily nice to me that I could not help but wonder if perhaps my name had come up before.

Anyway, under other circumstances, I might have declined this invitation, but on this particular day, I was immensely curious to see where all of this was leading. It then came out that we would be having this lunch not locally, but at a restaurant some thirty miles away. This prompted a discussion of how many vehicles were needed as people had to make various stops both before and after lunch. My friend, however, declared that she would not be needing her car, and proposed to ride with me.

At that, we departed. While in route, my friend received a call from her mother, saying that the proposed meeting time had been moved back. We would have been early anyway, as we had headed straight there while the others had various errands to run. Now with this, we had an hour or so to kill, which we decided to do at a nearby mall. By this point, it had become very difficult for me to dismiss this series of circumstances as totally random. I had done nothing whatsoever to bring any of this about, yet things were unfolding in a way that I could never have imagined or planned.

So, we spent our time wandering around looking at various things and talking about various things. The thought crossed my mind that she and my sister might enjoy shopping together, which, in light of this post, is perhaps the best I could ever hope for.

I’m not sure exactly when it was made clear to me that the reason we were going so far away was so that her grandparents could join us for lunch. I do know that I was aware of it by the time we arrived at the restaurant. We were still the first ones there, and as we sat waiting, I was brought back to reality. What in the world was I doing here? For, in my mind at least, if a fellow goes out to dine after church with a young lady and her whole family (minus one, but I will come back to that), then I should think that there might be certain expectations and assumptions made by that family that really were not true here. But the family was quite welcoming and the lunch was quite pleasant overall. Toward the end, my friend’s sister joined the group, and I’m pretty sure I saw a distinct what-the-hell-is-Tim-doing-here look cross her face for a moment. It was actually a relief to know that it wasn’t just me.

At the end, my friend got up to use the restroom, and before she had returned, everyone else stood up to leave. As no one else made any move to pick up her stuff, I reluctantly took that duty upon myself. So I stood conspicuously waiting for her, holding her purse and to-go box, thinking, “What IS this? I’m not the boyfriend. I’m not even a good friend. I’m just SOME GUY from Bible study!”

She would be joining the other females in her family for a shopping excursion, so we said our goodbyes and I was left to drive home alone. I could almost here God taunting me.


For in retrospect, this ought to have been a top contender for most awkward day of my life. Yet it wasn’t. I felt like I was playing the “boyfriend” role all day. It felt like a Ghost-of-Christmas-Future kind of thing. YOU WANTED TO KNOW WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE? THIS IS WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE. As I have said, when I asked for a sign, I expected something a little more subtle.

Part III

Breaking the Spell (Part I)

Posted by on Saturday, 2 June, 2007

Where was I?

As stated, for months and months now I have been digging the trash out of my heart. I have spoken about love and the girl and the demons and the darkness and all that holds me down. I have been avoiding this for a long time, but hopefully by now, you have enough background information to make sense of the events of January.

Long had I waited and watched as new guys would come into her life, only to be rejected. Deep down I held on to the hope that she had not found someone to replace me… that maybe on some level she was really just waiting for me to get my crap together. But lately, guys were standing in line just to get shot down. It was not fair… I was in love with her before being in love with her was “cool.” Yet, ultimately I knew that I had less of a chance than any of them, because I had had my chance, and she had already determined that I was not what she was looking for. And though she hated being constantly put in an awkward position, she certainly seemed to revel in the attention.

One day, I was finally fed up with the fact that nothing I said or did or felt had any effect on her. I was done being one of the satellites orbiting in her universe. Her choices were her own, and I could no longer bare their consequences. It would not be polite of me to say what the final straw was. But I assure you, it was final.

That was a dark, lonely night. Yet, in one sense, it was liberating. I had been in the process of losing her for as long as I could remember – like slowly bleeding to death – now that she was truly gone, I hardly knew what to do with myself. I met with a friend to discuss, among other things, my options for the future.

After all, she was not the only attractive young lady I knew. Yet, I was sick of doing the “wrong” thing. I determined not to do anything without a clear sign from God. REAL clear.