Fathers

I’ve had a wonderful opportunity to help some people bump into Christ/God lately.  I know it’s not my job, nor in my abilities to save them.  I’m just supposed to live a good life that might make someone curious to talk to me, and when possible make the introduction.

This is almost embarrassing to admit, but it was only in the last couple of years that I realized that not everyone was fortunate enough to have a good relationship with their father and that telling people that God should be viewed as their spiritual Father wasn’t at all confidence inspiring, in some ways it turned people away.  And for years, I was just thankful that I could look at God as my heavenly Father and I was happy.  That meant God loved me unconditionally and that I could screw up and still receive His grace.

 

I was at a small group bible study recently, and the host used the word “Daddy” to describe God.  He said that he never knew his father, but that God was his Daddy now.  And he used that to convey a lot of what I think of with young kids and their dads.  Way more feeling and emotion and…  goodness than I just get out of thinking of God as a “Father”.  There’s a formality with “Father”.  There’s a…  stand-offish-ness.  A Father is someone who will punish you, or praise you if you get good grades, but a Daddy is who you run to with a scraped knee, who comforts you when you’re scared, who will get down on the floor and play with you or read you the same bedtime story a million times even though he’s bored of it.  And I think just as much as God is “Father” there’s probably a feminine side that encompasses God as “Mother” that goes unspoken.  Or “Mommy”.

 

That made me emotionally understand what I only logically understood before.  While I’ve got a good relationship with my Dad now, and compared to many, had a wonderful one all my life, he wasn’t emotionally available when we were young.  I don’t remember ever calling him Daddy (although I’m sure I did when I was younger) or hugging him or holding his hand.  I’m not placing this blame on my Dad, I’m just saying I don’t remember it, so I never, ever looked at God with that deeper emotional attachment.  And I’m having a hard time doing so now.

 

The other thing that happened, was someone was talking about God the Shepherd.  And because I was thinking about how using the analogy of God as a Father is a terrible tool to introduce some people to God, so is God the Shepherd.  It’s funny, the point of these analogies and parables were to make God relatable, to make hard to understand concepts easy by putting them in terms everyone could easily understand.  But those terms are so outdated now that the parables need almost as much explaining as the actual religious concepts.  I can’t go up to someone and say “God is a good Shepherd.  He leads the nursing ewes to green pastures to feed.”  “He leads the yous where?  Why do they need to go to pastures?  You know the plural of you is ya’ll, right?  Not yous?”

 

So I’m thinking about this a lot the last week.  If someone has a good, loving, earthly Father, there’s a good chance I’m not trying to introduce them to God.  And if I am, it’s an easy analogy.  “You know how awesome your dad is?  This is even better!”  “Awesome, let’s go to church!”  But the people who really need it, who pop up from time to time and who I’m fortunate enough to talk to…  sometimes you only have a quick minute to make an impression.  And if I start talking about fathers or shepherds they start paying attention to some other shiny object.

 

Feel free to share any thoughts or experiences.

Decisive Action

J and I have gotten in the habit of texting “Good morning!” to one another.  But it’s funny, it’s not just the greeting of the day, it’s a sign of how we’re feeling in general, and how we’re feeling towards one another.  And it’s also a conscious decision that we make everyday to be in the relationship and try and work it out.  Well, for me it is.

I’m not trying to put too much emphasis on two words and a punctuation mark.  But there’s meaning there.  We’re in the middle of our biggest rough patch yet.  Earlier this week I was really hurt and wasn’t sure how I felt about her and the relationship.  I mean, I knew I love her, but was that enough?  Are we really compatible?  It was hard to send anything at all on Tuesday.  It wasn’t “Good morning!”, it was just “Good morning”.  Yesterday was even worse, all she got from me was “morning”.  We talked a lot last night, and I’m still hurt and confused, but I’m not ready to throw the towel in.  Normally, she gets the first text right after I wake up, but today it took a couple hours.  And it was an effort to type both words and the exclamation point.  Are we a good fit?  Should we keep fighting?  Should this be easier than this?  If I type all three of those out, it’s me saying I’m not done fighting to make this work yet.

It’s difficult.  But I like that daily affirmation, that daily decision point.

TMI time

What would a personal blog be without TMI?

I’m getting a vasectomy next week.

It was recommended that I shave in the surgical area the night before.

I’m old school.  I’ve never manscaped before.

I’m more nervous/scared of that than the actual procedure.

The end.

So. I’ve talked about most this with friends before.  I’ve written about this at length in emails and IMs and blog posts in other places.  But hopefully this will be one of the last times.  Writing about it all in one place, adding new/recent thoughts and purging it for the most part.  Writing is a way for me to structure and order my thoughts for myself.

I dated a woman for a couple years.  It was roller-coaster-y.  We both had issues, we were probably the right people at the wrong time.  We broke up several years ago and I’ve just carried that around for a long, long time.  It’s impacted me more than any other break-up before or since.

That can be ok, or it can be unhealthy.  Had this happened years ago, probably the worst thing that could’ve happened was a drunk-dial or a letter or email.  But in today’s over-connected age, it’s so easy to stalk someone’s social media obsessively or to fire off a quick, impulsive text before your head can catch up to your heart.

She broke up with me and immediately started dating someone else.  We’d talked while dating about whether we could be friends if we ever broke up.  I’d stated that I didn’t think so.  Maybe if we were both single, but I’d be too hurt/jealous knowing/watching her date someone else and I wouldn’t want to date someone new while still being friends with her, because us loving one another was never an issue.  Even if we broke up, I’d still have feelings for her.

Because of that, she kept the fact that she was dating someone else from me.  So we continued hanging out for months, trying to be friends.  Even after she broke the news to me, she lied about the timelines and the strength of the relationship, always downplaying it.  So I spent months trying to win her back, trying to change and improve and grow for her.

About six months after we broke up, they signed a lease and posted it on Facebook.  That was really the first indication I had of the seriousness of it.  She even lied about that.  Just days before she told me that she wasn’t renewing her lease but that it was too soon for the two of them to move in together, she was probably going to move in with an old friend who was moving to town.  Seeing the post of their new place was yet another stake through the heart.  But it was a much needed wake-up call.  I flipped the switch and cut ties.  Unfriended and un-followed on all social media, deleted her phone number, stopped returning texts, calls and emails.

It was tough.  I wanted to check her feeds everyday, but I found ways to cope.  And it got a little easier.  Feelings didn’t change, but the urge to reach out all day, everyday became easier to control.  Life happened, and I slipped a couple times in the years that followed, but for the most part, I stayed strong.

One of the reasons why it was doable, was because she kept stalking me.  I had another blog at another address.  She checked that on an obsessively regular basis, generally everyday, multiple times a day.  And she checked all the other forms of social media that she knew about that I didn’t/couldn’t lock down.  Annoying as that is/was, it was also comforting on some level, especially the blog.  During the initial weeks and months after the breakup, when I thought there was still a possibility for reconciliation, I used it regularly as a way to communicate with her.  To show her a side of me I’d kept hidden in the relationship, to be vulnerable with her.  I showed her how I was changing and growing for her.

Blogging was a way to both send her love letters and hate mail.  Originally she had access to private posts, but after I cut ties, I cut her access.  I couldn’t control whether or not she could get to public posts, but I can pour my heart out about things she couldn’t (I think) see.  After I cut other ties I was still always aware of the communications channel.  Sometimes I consciously used it, sometimes subconsciously and others I tried not to think of her at all and just write whatever I wanted to write.

My feelings are still conflicted.  Am I still in love with her?  I think so.  Do I still love her?  Yeah, I still do, and still want the best for her.  Do I still want to be in a relationship with her?  I think some days, sometimes parts of me have wanted to be.  But I think more, I wanted a chance to see and talk and be involved in the decision of whether we’d be a couple.  I hate that she made the decision unilaterally for us.  I know that happens with most break-ups, but this one was tough, because I’d just recommitted myself to the relationship at the same time she was planning to call it off.  And when I tried to win her back later, she’d already committed to the new guy, originally as a safety mechanism to keep from coming back to me.  Some…  childish part of me wants an opportunity if they ever break up and she’s dead single to pitch my case again, or to have the discussion to see if I still want to.  But it’s not all get back together stuff.  I’m mad.  Mad that she keeps checking the site.  If she’s off with this new guy and happy with him, why does she keep checking my linkedin profile and my blog and my twitter and blah-blah-blah.  His birthday is also the same day as Valentine’s day.  The two of them were away together, and yet on that day she still hit my blog twice this year, two years after our breakup.  What is that?  It’s disrespectful to him.  It’s hurtful to me, and it’s messed up for her.  How healthy is their relationship if she’s trying to maintain this tie.  And I’ve told her how it impacts me and asked her to stop, numerous times.  Unless of course, they both look at it together and just mock me.  Then it’s just hurtful to me.

So my posts the last couple of years have been all over the place.  Knowing she’s with him, some of them have been screw-yous to her.  My life is awesome.  Some of them have been sad, probably to try to induce some guilt.  Some of them have probably tried to show that I’m still growing and changing in a way that would be attractive to her.  I don’t really know the breakdown and I’m not going to go look, because that would just be sad and depressing.  I tried to not let her looking influence me, but I’m sure I made some titles to private posts juicier than they needed to be to drive her crazy that she couldn’t read them.

Finally I’d had enough, and since she wouldn’t stop going to my blog, I just moved here.  It needed to be done, it should’ve been done long ago.  But it comes with a fresh wave of feelings.  Ripped some scabs off.  It is severing that link.  And I didn’t realize how much I was using it, til I had to force myself to stop.  I hate that I can’t make another back-channel appeal, that I can’t torment her, that I can’t try to make her feel guilty or sad that she lost me.  She was one of my best friends.  I still hate that I can’t share a million different things with her.  How my son’s doing, how my health is, some funny story about someone we both knew.  It’s been several weeks, and the shock of it all is wearing off and the urge to go running back to the old site and post something is fading.  I just wasn’t expecting it to be so hard.  I thought the break-up was so long ago and so much anger and resentment for her continuing to stalk me had grown that it’d be easier.

The funny part of all of this?  Is that with all of the other stuff I’ve been through.  ALL of it, that this is what messes with me the most.

 

 

Parents

My Dad definitely isn’t young, but he’s not in failing health either.  And my mom is probably in even better shape, just go-go-go.  But there’s a history of heart problems in our family.  Dad’s already had a quintuple bypass.  And life just happens.  I talk to my parents more now than I did for years.  We’re much closer as a family.  Which probably makes the though of losing them worse.

Dad’s pretty respectful of work.  So when the phone rings in the middle of the business day and it’s a call from him, my heart stops for a second.  It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, I stop, excuse myself, find a quiet place to talk and take the call.  Always glad when it’s something trivial, but always aware that one day it won’t be.

I went to this thing last night…

… for church.  They’re setting up these “life groups” which are basically small group discussions.  It’s a mega-church, with multiple campuses and that’s not really conducive for growing.  So weekly they have these small groups for more in-depth discussion about the weekly topics.  J asked if I’d be interested in doing one with her, and I love the idea of us building a strong foundation, so I jumped at the opportunity.

She was sick last night, but she trusted me to get us signed up for a good group.  There’s no real point to this, just cataloging some random observations.

  • There were “women only” groups that filled up fast.  Single women who wanted to focus on the word and weren’t looking at it as an opportunity to meet a fella were signing up for these in hordes.  The “male only” groups?  Really, really empty.  Guys were looking at is a two-fer.  Why not join the singles groups and maybe find a girl while learning and growing?
  • I was waiting to talk to the leader of one group that I thought might fit us well.  The guy in front of me was amazingly annoying.  After a couple of moments I wanted to start mocking him.  This is counter to my “be less judgmental” focus.  But it also raised some questions.  Would I be a bad person for not joining that group because that guy was in it?  If I’m realistic and know that listening to him would annoy me and that annoyance would inhibit my ability to focus and learn and open myself is that a bad thing?  And does being less judgmental mean I have to like everybody?  I think there’s a difference there.
  • There was also one woman who ran a group that I could just feel an instant dislike of.  Body language, looks, etc.  I don’t know what causes the feelings.  And again, judgmentalness – my snap judgments have kept me alive.  Are they all bad?  How much to change?  What to change?  It’s going to take a little more thought and consideration than I’ve given it.
  • It’s hard acknowledging my age.  There were these groups for 20s-30s and those were the ones I wanted to gravitate towards.

I’m a Pig

I work in a predominately female office.  There are 3 women that are amazingly inappropriate in different ways.  Two just weren’t loved enough as kids.  Their moms never taught them how to dress or act as adults.  One regularly wears skirts that are way too short and no panties and will sit in meetings with her legs uncrossed and somewhat spread.  They both do various things throughout the day to call attention to themselves.  Funny, I remember my dad griping at my mom to “have a talk” with my sisters, or just correcting them on the spot and my older sister would argue back, claiming he was being sexist.  But no, the reality is he was just teaching her how to be an adult, same as teaching me how to not scratch my crotch or pick my nose in public.

The third is a little different.  Mid 40s, no kids, never been married.  Dresses well and carries herself with some class.  But is crazy flirty.  I spent the first couple months here trying to decide if she touched everyone here as much as me, or if she was sending me signs.  She’s incredibly high-maintenance/high-touch as an IT customer, always needing help with computers and technology and her phones and whatever.  Is her touching/flirting a way of trying to make it “easier” for me to help her as much as she needs?  Asking with honey instead of vinegar?  She was showing me some weird behavior with a photo editor on her computer a couple of weeks ago and had thousands of pics to choose from.  Instead of showing me a pic of flowers or her cats, I got a pic of her in a bikini.  A couple of days later she lifted up her sweater and told me to touch her tummy.  I can’t remember why, I just remember the flat, tight abs.

Anyways, she started dating someone before the holidays, and J is in the picture now.  So instead of raising my blood pressure a little and making me wonder, it just seems annoying now.  Sad.  Her constant requests for help seem demanding and irritating.  Which is funny, because that means that her behavior probably was having the desired effect before.  I was a sucker!  🙂

Sicky-sicky

I got sick awhile ago and it messed me up good.  I wasn’t sure if it was food poisoning or a real illness.  But afterwards I pitched almost everything in my fridge and in my food stores at work that I might’ve touched in the 24 hours before getting sick.  At my office, we’re trying to be “green”, so instead of plastic silverware and disposable plates we run the dishwasher.  This isn’t the first time I’ve been in an environment like this and it’s always bugged me.  I don’t want some of the people I work with touching my utensils before I eat with them.  So I’ve been a little crazy about hand washing stuff again before I use it.

Anyways, it kind of goes back to the holes in the underwear thing.  I never really finished that post.  I was talking with my Dad about it, and he didn’t think he’d ever really bought underwear or undershirts or socks for himself.  His mom got that stuff as a kid.  The Navy issued him stuff.  His wife took care of things like that as an adult.  The partnership.  SO much stuff didn’t get done while I was sick or the days following.  It’s taken weeks to dig out afterwards, and I still don’t feel like I have my head completely above water yet.