Saturday, May 28, 2011

Unpacking Baggage

I seem to be on my way out of the lonley place already.  Thanks to all of you who were patient with me and all who prayed for me.  I'm sure that helped to minimize my stay.  :-) 

The latest subject of my overactive mind:  How does one deal with baggage from a past relationship?  Is it best to open it all at once and dump it in a big pile on the floor to be sorted through as quickly as possible?  Or is it better to slowly, thoughtfully unpack it, one memory at a time, as each one needs to be dealt with? 

Maybe it's a function of personality.  Maybe there is no one "right way" to deal with baggage.

I tend to be pretty oblivious.  I may or may not be aware that I still have bags that I haven't unpacked, until I stub my toe or trip over one of my bags.  Then I need to deal with my baggage.

Sometimes I want to just dump the whole jumble of memories at once and dig through them, tossing those that seem irrelevant to my current situation off to one side, and dealing quickly with the ones that seem to matter at that moment.

Other times, I want to pull out one memory at a time and examine each one carefully, asking myself a dozen questions about each memory I pull out.

One thing that seems to be pretty consistent about my baggage, though, is that I deal with it best in the context of a relationship.  Being in a relationship often causes me to go in a new direction, and it is then that I run into unpacked bags.

But being in a relationship helps me to do more than just identify my baggage.  It also gives me motivation to deal with it.  For example, if I am not involved in any but the most casual of relationships with men, I don't need to deal with the baggage involving asking men for help.  But if I am building a real friendship with a man, I must open that bag and figure out why it's such an issue, then I must decide if I am going to let it remain an issue, or how I will deal with it, because if I don't, I may end up with a very lopsided, and also very frustrating, friendship.

Being in a relationship also helps me to deal with my baggage in another way.  It gives me someone who cares enough to listen to me as I work it out (I tend to think aloud a lot), and to give me feedback.  I am blessed to have many friends, including several male friends, who function in this capacity for me.  My best male friend has a knack for telling me what I need to know in a way that doesn't offend, but reveals things I may have overlooked. 

I guess the most important thing is that at some point, baggage must be dealt with. Quite frankly, I prefer not to deal with mine alone.  How about you?  How do you deal with your baggage?

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Married Version of the Lonely Place

Several people pointed out to me that the lonely place exists for married people, too.  I am well aware of this, having lived in a lonely place for much of my marriage.

I do not expect a spouse to rescue me from the lonely place.  I know well that the lonely place exists in some measure for nearly every person, married or single.  However, I know from experience that the lonely place is different for a married person than for a single person.

As a married person, the lonely place was more self-imposed.  By that, I mean that I could have made changes that might have alleviated some of the pain of the lonely place.  Ultimately, I tried to make those changes, but it was too late.  My husband had already decided to make his own changes to try to get out of his own lonely place.

As a married person, I didn't feel the same sense of unfulfilled calling that I feel in my single lonely place.  I was going through the motions, at least trying to be who I was created to be.  I didn't feel useless, just unappreciated and unloved.  Despite the fact that my husband never would have admitted that he needed me, I knew that in some small way, he did.  Maybe he just needed me to raise his kids and do his laundry and other household tasks, but in those little ways, I was fulfilling my calling as a helpmate, at least somewhat.

As a married person, I didn't always have the physical intimacy and comfort I crave in my single lonely place, but at least I always had hope that at some point I would have that.  I was married, so I knew that if my husband and I both operated according to scripture, that intimacy would be restored, and that it could happen in an instant.  As a single person, I am aware that even if God dropped the perfect man into my life right now, this very minute, there would be a long wait before I could have that intimacy.

I do not mean to negate the pain of being in the lonely place as a married person.  I truly feel for my friends who are in marriages that are lonely places. I just wanted to point out some of the differences. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Lonely Place

I am in my lonely place again, so this post may be a downer.  No need to worry -  I come here way more often than I like, but I always leave this place eventually.   

The lonely place is a place of craving.  When I am here, I long to be loved, to be needed and wanted.  I want to be what I was created to be, to be complete.  But instead I feel alone and useless and fractured.

The lonely place is a place devoid of all comfort.  My kids can hug me, my friends can hug me, but it isn't enough.  I know that Christ is all-sufficient, and that He offers me comfort, but I can't feel that comfort while I am here in the lonely place.

When I am in the lonely place, I am almost painfully aware of the calling God has called me to that I am not able to fulfill at this point, either due to lack of training, or to family circumstances, or to others who aren't willing to cooperate with His plan right now.   I am also acutely aware of the fact that God created me to be a helpmate. And I am acutely aware that I am not one at this stage of my life.

 The danger of the lonely place for me is that sometimes I will try very hard to escape it, and in so doing, I end up hurting someone.  I may try to take matters into my own hands and force things that shouldn't be forced.  Or I may become willing to "settle" for someone or something less than who or what God intends for me. 

My solution is to try to focus on my relationship with God, and on His amazing love for me, but even that is difficult in the lonely place.  Keep me in your prayers, please.  I would like this visit to the lonely place to be a short one.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Single Parent Dating

More on dating....

A commenter on my Single Parenting post told a sad story about allowing her daughter to get involved with the man she was dating.  After two years, the relationship ended, and she was left with not only her own pain, but the pain of her four-year-old to deal with.  Ouch.  And ouch again.

I still believe that allowing my children to get to know anyone I date is the best approach, but I think this may not be the case for everyone.  So what makes my situation unique?

For one thing, my kids are older.  My "baby" is 10, and my eldest is 17.  They all understand that not every relationship between a man and a woman will lead to marriage, and that it takes time to get to know someone well enough to even dream of going there.  If they did lose their heart to someone who then exited our lives, they would have the sadness and grief of loss to deal with, but it wouldn't be compounded by the confusion a four-year-old would have felt.

I have also given them veto power over my relationships, which gives them a sense of safety and allows them to step back and check out a man carefully.  When I introduce my kids to a male friend who may or may not become more than a friend, I introduce him as a friend..  Then I listen carefully to their comments about him, and I watch carefully to see how they interact with him.  Their responses have been interesting.  With one friend, they said, "Mom, he really seems to like you, but he doesn't know what to do with us."  With another, they said, "Wow, he is really nice.  We'd like to hang out with him and his family sometimes, but we don't think you should date him."  With a third, their comment was, "No way, Mom!  He smothers you and doesn't seem to realize that you have to be our mom, too, not just his girlfriend!"   

(Okay, just for fun, let me share what they have said about the man I am interested in.  "He's such a good dad to his kids.  I bet he'd be a great stepdad to have!"  "You should date him!  He is so nice to us and you have so much fun with him."  "I like how you two make each other laugh and smile."  "I think he really likes you, but he wants to make sure that this could work with all of us before he does anything about it."  Pretty positive reviews, huh?  :-) )

One other difference between our family and some other single parent families is that because of homeschooling, we spend a lot more time together than most families.  We also talk more than most families.  So our lines of communication might be slightly more open than some other families.

My children all remember (at least slightly) when their dad lived at home.  They have also experienced at least two of his girlfriends.  The first one was automatically despised because she was the reason their dad left.  In fact, my then-eight-year-old was the one who told me her name, as she had seen her dad chatting with and telling this woman he loved her online before I ever found out about the affair.  So in their minds, this woman was the enemy who had stolen their dad. 

The second one was someone he mentioned to them as a friend.  He assured them that there were no plans for her to move in with him, and they didn't meet her immediately because she lived out of the area.  A month later, when they arrived for visitation, she had moved in.  Needless to say, that didn't go over well.  Less than seven months later, the girlfriend had instituted house rules and when my children didn't immediately comply with those rules, their father announced that he could no longer see them.  Several months after he stopped seeing them, he and the girlfriend moved out of the country to be near her family, which only added to the resentment. 

Their father has since married this woman.  Right or wrong, the children blame her for the fact that he rarely calls or emails them and has spent less than three hours with them over the past 13 months.

Because of this, I have vowed never to do that to my children.  Of course, the fact that I don't believe in living together outside of marriage will prevent that, too, but even so, I want my kids to have time to get to know the man in question, to be able to express their opinion of him, and to be comfortable with him before we get too serious.

So for us, the advice not to involve the kids doesn't work.  But for others it might.  It's just one of the many things a single parent has to work out for his or her own family.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Greater Than One

One of the ways that I have found that I can tell if God is trying to tell me something is if certain "themes" come up repeatedly in a short period of time. 

The lastest incident of a theme that has shown up repeatedly is that of needing others.  In fact, tonight I saw two posts on Facebook, which is by no means scripture, but I imagine God can speak through it, just like He could speak through a burning bush and some rather interesting prophets....I mean, some of them ate BUGS!  I don't think any of my friends on Facebook eat bugs. 

Anyhow, first my pastor posted a link to Jars of Clay's song "Work," which asks the question,  Do you know what I mean when I say, "I don't want to be alone"?
Then a friend posted the following status:

We all need a close friend, somebody we can attach ourselves to whenever the attack comes. Don't try to fight it alone. None of us should say, "I don't need anyone else."

This called to mind the following passage in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

This is it:  the longing in my heart to be connected, to have a partner, someone who with me and God will form that cord of three strands, will defend me, keep me warm, help me up when I fall, and work alongside me. 

The hard part for me, the part I am working on, is learning to ask for help, to allow myself to be vulnerable enough to admit that I need someone else.  I'm making progress, but this is something new for me.  My nature is to be as self-reliant as I can.

Lord, break down my pride and fear so that I can be in a relationship where I am vulnerable, where I can admit that I need someone, that I can't do it all by myself! 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Healing by Numbers

One of the things the "experts" on divorce say is that it takes one year of healing for every four years of marriage.  But like all rules of thumb, this one leaves enough wiggle room to spin it however you want.

For instance, my ex-husband and I were married in May 1993.  He moved out in November of 2006.  But we weren't legally divorced until March 2009, and in fact, we had a brief attempt at a reconciliation the summer of 2007.  Given those facts, can you answer the following questions?

1.  How long was I married? 
    a. Two months shy of 16 years
    b. Thirteen and a half years
    c. Fourteen years and three months
    d.  Some other length of time

2. When did/will the allotted time for healing end for me?
    a. March 2013
    b. November 2010
    c. February 2011
    d.  Some other time

3. On the date when this "healing period" ends, what will I then be ready to do?
    a.  Get remarried
    b.  Begin dating
    c.  Start noticing men again
    d.  None of the above

Scoring and answers:  Give yourself one point for any answer you chose, since any one of them could be correct, depending on how you spin the facts!

Is the period of separation counted in the years married?  Is the healing time counted from the date of separation, the date of divorce, or some other date?  Must one include time for "extra" years, beyond the number that is divisible by four, and what about partial years?  Do they need to be counted as well?  And perhaps most important of all, at the end of the "healing period," then what?  Is that when one should begin dating, or is that the point at which one is ready to remarry?

The most helpful book on this particular topic was The Fresh Start Divorce Recovery Workbook, which I was introduced to at a Fresh Start weekend divorce recovery seminar I attended.  In that workbook, the participant named the date at which s/he knew his/her marriage was over, and that was used to calculate the approximate date when the healing process would be complete.

For me, that date was August 16, 2007, meaning that I was married for 14 years and 3 months, and my "healing time" should've ended sometime in February or March of 2011.

Last summer, I would've argued that I was already ready for a new relationship, and I jumped into one.  But last fall when that ended, I realized that I had jumped in way too soon.

So am I ready now?  I'm not sure if there is any way to know until I try again, but I do know that I am more ready now than I was even six months ago.  I also know that healing is an ongoing process.  I finally feel as if I am reaccquainted with myself as "just me," not as "somebody's wife."  I think I have figured out why I married him in the first place, what warning signs I overlooked both before and after the marriage, and how I contributed to the breakdown of my marriage.   I have a clear idea of what I want and don't want in a future husband and what I think makes a good relationship. 

So maybe I am ready.

But there is no need to rush. 

So I am waiting.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Repayment In Context

I have heard the promise in the first part of Joel 2:25 many times in regard to my divorce:

"I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten...."

I like that promise, but I don't believe in just pulling a statement out of the Bible and claiming it without understanding the context.  Since the Bible wasn't written in verses and chapters, the "context" doesn't just mean reading the verse before and the verse after.  It means digging to find out what the backstory is.  So I have done some digging, and discovered some interesting things about this promise.

First, the locusts were sent as God Himself!  So He wasn't just promising to fix the effects of a natural disaster.  He was promising to restore His loved ones, once the discipline had its desired effect.

Second, in verses 12-14, God urges the people to repent so that He might "relent from sending  calamity."  He reminds them that "he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love."  God gave them yet another chance, but apparently they ignored His plea.

Third, after the promise regarding the locusts, God tells His people in great detail how He will bless them and how they will know Him.

So, in context, how does this verse apply to me as one who has been through an unwanted divorce?

Well, first, I have to ponder the possibility that God used my divorce to discipline me, to redirect me and call me into a right relationship with Him.

Second, I have to make sure that I have truly repented of the sins that contributed to my divorce.

And finally, I need to acknowledge the many blessings God has bestowed on me as he repays me for the years that were destroyed by my divorce.

One of those blessings, I think, has been a new ability to wait on God.

Waiting has never been my strong point.  It still isn't.  I still feel frustrated and impatient when things don't happen right now.  However, thanks to God's discipline of allowing me to be divorced, I have learned to wait on His timing, to trust that He knows what He is doing and that His timing is better than mine.  I have learned not to be a Sarah or a Rebekah who takes things into her own hands, but to wait on God.

I am in a waiting phase of my life now.  It's not my favorite place to be, but you know what?  I'm okay with it.  And I am calm. 

God is repaying!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Divine Appointment

It never ceases to amaze me how God connects people at just the right time in just the right way.  I am just coming from another "Divine appointment" with a divorced friend who needed counsel.  Oddly enough (or maybe not so odd, since God orchestrated it), her situation was similar to one that I have experienced, but had never shared with her or any of our mutual friends.  But God knew, and He brought us together at just the right time.

All I can do is praise my wise and wonderful Father!  :-)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Single Parenting

I'm not an expert at single parenting.  In fact, some days I feel like a complete and total failure at it.  But I have learned a few things over the past 4 1/2 years, so today I will share those things with you.  Yup, it's another list.  :-)

1.  We all get along better when it is clear to my children and teens that I am the one in our family with the God-given authority. This is especially important with my teenaged son, who is bigger than I am now.

2.  Our home runs more smoothly when we all take on some of the tasks involved in making a household work efficiently.  To that end, everyone has chores. We all participate once a month in menu planning and grocery list making, and I generally take one or two of the kids with me to the grocery store.  Not only does this take some of the pressure off me, but it is also good training for when they have homes of their own.

3.  I am a much better mom when I take some time off for myself.  Sometimes I need alone time;  other times, I need adult time.  Either way, this isn't a luxury for me, but a necessity if I am to function well as a mom.

4.  Asking for help from non-family members is sometimes necessary.  Gulp.

5.  My mood plays a huge part in setting the tone for the day.

6. I am not a bad mom if I ask my children to stop talking to me for a short period of time unless there's an emergency.  I am a mom who is trying to remain calm and sane.

7.  Likewise, I am not a bad mom if I occasionally treat myself and not the kids.  I have been known to go out for ice cream alone, but I try not to tell them when I do.  ;-)

8. The lack of a man in the house doesn't mean that my son is automatically promoted to "man of the house."  He is still my son, and I am still in charge.  I cannot expect him to function in an adult male role at his age, although I can expect him to at least help with the "men's work."

9. Sometimes the "experts" are wrong.  For instance, the experts say that a single parent shouldn't introduce his/her children to the person they are dating until it is a serious relationship.  I suppose if I were dating around, a different man every week, that might be a good policy.  But when I did date a man for a period of time before the kids met him, I lost my heart to him and then my children didn't like him.  That was painful, and could've been prevented if they had met him earlier on.  They don't need to know details of the relationship, but they should be able to meet someone I may eventually have a serious relationship with early on.  That way, if there are objections, they can be raised and considered before I choose to allow the relationship to get serious.  This is one example of "expert" advice that doesn't work for our family.

10.  My children are my children.  We are possibly closer than a lot of intact families.  However, they are my CHILDREN, not my friends.  Thus, I shouldn't confide in them about certain subjects that are not appropriate for a mom to discuss with her children.

I realize that many of these things are common sense, and many apply as well to intact families.  As a single parent, though, they are even more crucial to the success of my family.

What should I add to this list?  I'd love to hear your advice!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Another Ah-Ha!

Last night as I was reading before bed, I had one of those ah-ha moments.  The book I am reading is Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, by John Gray. I'm only on chapter four, but this statement jumped out at me:

Setting limits and receiving are very scary for a woman.  She is commonly afraid of needing too much and then being rejected, judged or abandoned

A few paragraphs later, Dr. Gray says the following:

For women, not only is needing others especially confusing but being disappointed or abandoned is especially painful, even in the smallest ways.  It is not easy for her to depend on others and then be ignored, forgotten, or dismissed.  Needing others puts her in a vulnerable position.   


There it is:  the reason why I have such a hard time asking for help from a man. My biggest fear and hurt as I was going through my divorce was the fear of abandonment, which most likely had roots in my childhood, when my dad left our family.

In my experience, men leave.  My dad left.  My first fiance left.  My first husband left.  My second husband left.  I could point to any number of boyfriends during my single years who left.   In fact, when I am feeling especially cynical, I like to joke that my life verse is Proverbs 20:6, which says  Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?  (Before you all flame me, let me assure you that I am just joking around when I claim that verse.  Sometimes it's better to laugh my head off than to cry my eyes out.)

But as a Christian, I need to remember that there is One who is faithful. 

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6) 

So no matter how many men leave me, the Lord my God will never leave me.  And the most amazing thing is, He is not just a man.  He is the eternal God, Creator, Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End.


Now to live in that knowledge.....

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day

Tomorrow is Mother's Day and I have a mish-mash of thoughts I want to mention here.

First, I am grateful to my own mom, who somehow managed to raise four kids on her own.  Way to go, Mom!

Second, I want to give a shout-out to some very special "moms."  Happy Mother's Day to all my single male friends who are being both Dad and Mom to their kids!   You guys are doing a great job at filling a role you probably never dreamed you'd have to fill.  I was especially impressed this evening when one of these dads mentioned that he wouldn't be taking his kids to church tomorrow, because a standard Mother's Day sermon would be painful for his son, who is still dealing with his mom's absence.  That kind of sensitivity tells me that this dad is being a great mom!

Which leads me to my third thought.  I am praying for all those who are mourning the loss of their moms this year.  My grandma was one of the most influential women in my life, and even though she has been gone for seven and a half years now, I still think of her often.  The littlest things call her to mind:  the sight of a cardinal, the sound of a hymn (I swear I can hear her singing along when we sing some of her old favorites!), the smell of vegetable beef soup, the taste of johnny marzetti, the feel of an elderly hand grasping mine at church.  I miss my Gram!

Thought number four:  I am so thankful for the blessing of being a mom.  There was a time in my life when I thought I would never want to have children, but thanks to my ex-husband, I changed my mind.  I am so glad I did!  These four wonderful people who call me "Mom" are the joy of my existence and sometimes my reason for going on when I really would rather give up. 

Along those same lines (so not sure if I should make this number five or not), I am grateful for my "extra" kids:  my friends' kids who consider me an extra mom, and my kids' friends who treat me as a mom.  (I have to give special recognition here to Rebecca, Alexis, Daniel, and Brian.)  I'm also grateful for those women who function as extra "moms" to my kids, particularly for "Mama Anks."  :-)

Last but not least (because it's either thought number five or six, depending on whether the previous thought was five or not), I am sad for those kids whose moms are not there for them.  I am saying a special prayer for them tonight!

Happy Mother's Day, my friends!

Broken But Blessed

It's another one of those significant dates. 

May 7, 2011 would have been, should have been, my 18th wedding anniversary. 

I am very bad with dates.  The entire time I was married, I had trouble remembering my anniversary.  That might be because we eloped.  But no, I think it was just because I usually don't have a clue what today's date is, let alone what date I did something last week or last year or last decade.  However, I've noticed that when significant dates approach, I get a bit moody, so I must know somewhere deep inside.

This year, I haven't been too moody.  Perhaps a bit more quiet than usual, but not really sad or depressed or angry.  Just....pensive.  Actually, "pensive" might be overstating it.  I have just been unusually aware of my status as a single mom this past week.

You know, being a single mom really isn't a bad thing.  It's not ideal, not the way God created it to be, but it's also not the end of the world.  For that matter, it's not even the end of our family.  If anything, my kids and I have grown closer, become more of a team than we would've been otherwise, I think. 

So today I will list some of the blessings that have come from our "broken" family.  (I like lists!)

1.  My kids are learning to be independent.  Because as a single mom, I can't possibly do it all myself, they need to help out.  Additionally, one of the few areas of parenting my ex and I disgreed on was the need to train our children to be independent.  He felt that we should do all that we could for them;  I felt that we should train them to do as much as they could for themselves.  Since they live with me, I have the opportunity to train them in such skills as cooking, household chores, and as much as possible, household maintenance.

2.  My kids have a deeper sense of compassion for others than they might have otherwise.  They are living out 2 Corinthians 1:3-4:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  (NIV)

All four of my kids are quick to notice when a friend is hurting and to want to comfort that friend.

3.  My kids have made some friends that they might not have otherwise.  Not only do they tend to gravitate towards other kids from single parent homes, but we have also been able to hang out at a local cafe where ministry happens naturally.  We wouldn't have been able to do this as easily with my ex-husband's work schedule and preferences for leisure-time activities.  My kids have made friends of all different ages and backgrounds there at the cafe.

4.  My kids have had to learn that money doesn't grow on trees.  We went from six of us living on my ex-husband's six-figure income to five of us living on less than half of what his take-home pay was five years ago.  This has forced us to learn to live within our means, to swallow our pride and accept help when we need it, and to find creative ways to earn money for the things that matter to us.  For that matter, this has taught my kids about priorities and about differentiating between "wants" and "needs."  These lessons will serve them well in the lean years that often accompany young adulthood.

5.  My kids have developed a close bond with one another.  When my ex wanted to take just the younger two to Canada, my oldest son insisted that he needed to go along to "take care of" his younger siblings.  My oldest son has also taken on the role of "protector" of his sisters.  He does an excellent job of it!  Also, since there is only one chauffeur (that would be me) in our one-vehicle family, when one or two of the kids have an activity, the other two or three often get to spend time alone together while I run my taxi service, resulting in bonds between each pair of siblings.

Not bad for a "broken" family, is it?  We are blessed indeed!  :-)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Please Vote for My Blog!

If you read or follow my blog, please take a second to vote for me. You can vote once a day until May 23. Circle of Moms is looking for the best single parenting blogs. Thank you!

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Well-Guarded Heart

What does a well-guarded heart look like?

In my head, I see a big, fat, red cartoon-style heart surrounded by thick stone walls, like those of a castle, and a moat.  There is one place in the wall with a drawbridge, and on the opposite side of the moat, where the bridge would drop down, I see two small guard-houses.  Two guards dressed in full body armor and holding spears stand guard.

But I don't like this picture.  The heart looks so lonely, walled off from human contact, with the guards making the determination of who gets in and who gets out.

So what does a well-guarded heart look like? 

Does a person whose heart is well-guarded never feel anything for anyone of the opposite sex?  Does he or she somehow manage to cut off all attraction, or is it more a case of constant vigilance and self-denial?

And how does the owner of a well-guarded heart know when to let the drawbridge down?

Does she have those who might wish to win her heart fill out an application?  Does she have a tournament where her guards challenge the applicant?  Does she interview him?

I just can't figure out what people mean when they tell me to "guard my heart!"

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I'd Like a Piece of Humble Pie, Please

My post from yesterday netted me a marriage proposal!  Unfortunately, I had to turn him down.  I checked my schedule and there doesn't seem to be time for a courtship or wedding anytime soon.  But I was most definitely flattered, and I am still smiling.  It's good to have friends.  Add that to the friend who offered to shave his head when I commented on my attraction to bald men, and I'm very blessed as far as male friends go.  :-)

Seriously, yesterday was rough.  Today is better....I only cried twice, and one of those times was when our pastor's son proposed to his girlfriend of two years at the end of the church service today, so those tears probably don't count.

But I am now wrestling with my issue with asking men for help.

One friend said that it is because of pride.  Ouch!  That is what made me cry, so I suppose that must be one component.  But this issue has its roots in my past, I think.

My dad had a drinking problem when I was growing up, and when I was 10, he left our family.  Over the next few years, when I called him to ask for any kind of help, from homework to financial help, his response was unpredictable at best.  But if my memory is correct, more often than not, he was "too busy" or "too stretched" to help right then.

When I got married the first time, I married a man who loved the outdoors and craved adventure of any sort.  I tried to adapt to his lifestyle, but I often failed and ended up needing to ask him for help.  When this happened, his response was to laugh at me and make fun of me to his family and friends.

When I married the second time, my husband wasn't competent at home and vehicle maintenance or repair.  Unfortunately, I didn't understand how hard it was on his male ego to admit this, so I would occasionally ask him to help with those types of projects.  This only served to irritate him, and he would snap at me or ignore me. 

As a result of these experiences with the three men who have played the male lead role in my life over the years, I came to some conclusions.  First, I concluded that men don't like to help women.  Second, I concluded that to ask a man for help was to set myself up for ridicule.  And third, I concluded that men get annoyed when women ask for help.

I have been assured by several male friends that these are faulty conclusions.  But until I realized that these were my beliefs about men (which happened yesterday), I wasn't able to deal with them.  Now that I am aware of my faulty assumptions, I am going to pray and work hard at changing them.

However, my friend who suggested that this is a pride issue was also right, I think.  Somewhere along the line, I bought into our culture's lie that women can do anything men can do, only better.  So it became a matter of pride to prove that although I am female, I am capable of anything and everything.  And then there is the whole matter of pride in the fact that I am a single mom and doing just fine, thank you.  Nope, don't need anyone's help, I can do it all and do it well.

Ahh, the stupid lies we tell ourselves, and the sinful direction those lies take us! 

I have work to do, my friends.  Prayers would be appreciated.  Oh, and if anyone would like to help me work through all this, I will accept your help....even if you are male.  :-)