Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Epílogos: No Longer Greek to Me

(To read about my yearlong dating hiatus from the beginning, start here.) 

Two and a half years post-hiatus

It's funny how you can start out on a journey with an idea of how it's going to impact you, or of the impact that you will have on others, and have it turn out in a way that you never could have expected.  In August 2012, when I started my dating hiatus, I thought it would be something fun that I could focus on, to take my mind off being alone and wanting someone in my life.  I envisioned it as a little project where I could take the time to write every few days, giving myself a creative outlet and forcing me to actually sit down and do some writing, and hoped that I would have enough material to be interesting to others.  Perhaps I could even compile my entries into a book someday.  I don't think I ever really expected much to come of it; let's face it; I've never been excellent at finishing what I start.

However, this was perhaps turning out to be a real medium for change for me.  Once I started blogging, I knew that I needed material if I was ever going to have enough writing to fill a book, or a website, or even just to keep people engaged.  So, I had to give myself some subjects.  Naturally, if one is to write a blog on a year without dating, some basic questions come up.  Why are you doing this?  How are you going to do it?  What guidelines are you giving yourself?  How can you use what you've learned in the past to help you move forward and not make the same mistakes?  So I began to plod along, writing the first few entries easily, and discovered that I was enjoying creating a framework for myself to work within during my year off from men.  And it carried on from there.  I didn't always have something to say, but when I did, it flowed easily.  Looking back on my dating history with new eyes - doing what I have since learned in nursing school to be reflection - I began to see the mistakes that I had made.  And I realized that I really didn't want to make those mistakes again.  Going for a year without dating really stopped being about avoiding the wrong kind of man, and started being about discovering the best kind of me.

Despite the many little slip-ups I had during that year, it was really the best possible thing I could ever have done.  I started to really, earnestly attempt to learn more about who I was, how God sees me, what He wants me to be, and how to recognize the wrong people in my life.  I reflected; I wrote; I read; I learned.  And I made more mistakes.  Even as I looked back on the errors in judgment I had made before I started the hiatus, I was making more of them.  It's cringe-worthy to look back now and see how I was doing some of the exact same things that I was trying to reflect on and learn from.  I can't stand to read how I was simpering over The Michelin Man and thinking that I actually could end up with him.  The man was married (to his THIRD wife!), lived in a different country, and had contacted me randomly by texting my cell phone after seeing me on Facebook!  He was also twelve years older than me, had seven kids, and constantly sent me inappropriate pictures of himself after I had asked him not to.  What in the world was wrong with me???  I really was learning nothing, apparently.  I'm amazed that my dating hiatus didn't get even more off track than it did by his sudden presence in my life.

However, some changes had already happened within me.  After the initial ignoring of the red flags, I recognized within a few short months that this man was no good, and ended any communication. As I have said before, it took a lot less time than it might have if I had not been on this journey of reflection.  And, interestingly - and sadly - I discovered this past weekend that The Michelin Man was recently arrested and jailed for some inappropriate conduct.  As shocking as that was, I was somewhat surprised to realize that I wasn't surprised; the signs were there.  And I was more grateful than ever that I had stopped talking with him.

And what about Stu?

Those of you who faithfully read my blog while I was on my hiatus, and those who read my posts from July and November 2013 titled Plans, Patience, and Answered Prayers and God is Writing My Love Story, may be wondering how things turned out with Stu, the old flame who had re-entered my life as I was coming to the end of my year off from dating.  In Plans & Patience I talked about my hope for a life with him and my certainty that this was the man that God had for me: "I have faith that this is the man I am supposed to end up with.  I have so much faith in this that I am writing it here for everyone to read (and don't think that's not a scary thing to do - it is)!"

When I wrote that, it was terrifying.  Here I was not only putting my hope in a man - again - but I was also saying that I had enough faith that God knew what He was doing when He told me this man would be my husband to boldly state it for posterity.  I already knew that I had said things in my blog that I would look back and regret; would this be another thing?  Would I come back to it two or three or ten years later and say, "Oh, ridiculous me; I had so much misplaced trust and naive optimism that I told the whole world that Stu was The One.  How foolish I was, yet again."  Yet I chose to put it out there.  I chose to hope, whether foolish or not, and I chose to believe that this time, I had really found that happiness that had eluded me for so long.

And wouldn't you know it...I was actually right this time.

Stu and I have been together for the last two and a half years, and it gets better all the time.  He truly is my best friend; he is the embodiment of every hope I ever had for a relationship - a true partnership where each likes, respects and supports the other.  In all the times I imagined that someday I would be happy, I honestly never envisioned that a relationship could be so easy and comfortable.  We don't fight, although we have disagreements; we enjoy discussing and explaining our points of view to each other, and it's wonderful to have opinions from him that I so value, and know that my opinion is just as important to him.  We talk often about our future, and I know it is with him.  I can say that with one hundred percent confidence now - it's not scary anymore.  And I love going back and reading my old entries about Stu and seeing the foreshadowing that I had not realized at the time:

"I was beginning to understand the importance of crafting a solid and true foundation to lead up to what could eventually be a great and stable marriage." - The Story of Stu, Part II

"...even if it's been weeks since I've seen the guy, something strange happens as soon as I am back in his presence.  He sat down beside me on my right, and I swear, it's as though my spirit is drawn to him: I actually felt something inside me pulling toward him.  The guy is like one huge magnet." - Stu is a Force to be Reckoned With

"There is someone I am waiting to be physical with - to be more than physical with: to be physically and emotionally and spiritually entwined...I just don't yet know who he is yet.  Just because I can`t see him and I am not aware that he is the one I will be with doesn't mean that I shouldn't be just as content to wait for him.  And who knows: who's to say it won`t be Stu, after all?  Maybe he will be at the right place by then." - Stu is a Force to be Reckoned With

It took some time, but my foreshadowing was right on. 
My life has come full circle.  This year is shaping up with only good things around the corner - although I know that God can take them away at any moment, I still choose to hold onto my endless optimism and be grateful for every day I have.  In six short weeks I will complete my nursing degree, and soon after will be working as an RN in the Operating Room.  My children are almost grown, healthy and happy; my relationship with their father has improved by leaps and bounds; I plan to buy a home this year - whether a condo for me and the boys or a house with Stu when we marry remains to be seen - and Stu's family has embraced me wholly and lovingly.  I am blessed and content, and definitely believe that taking a year off from dating has contributed to me being a better person, ready for Stu when he was ready for me.  I praise God daily for all He has done in me, and pray that I will continue to seek what He has for me, no matter what is around the corner.  For now, I rejoice in the contentment and peace that I have found.  Finally, everything makes sense.

Thanks for reading.


Thursday, 2 January 2014

It Is Finished.

On May 2, 2006, having finally made the most difficult decision of my entire life, I walked out of my marital home with nothing but my bed and a suitcase full of clothing, and moved into a tiny basement bachelor suite. I didn't have room for anything important...including my children. For months, until I could afford a bigger place, I went back and forth in the early and late hours of every day to be with my children at their dad's place whenever he wasn't there. Singing my little boy his usual bedtime song became bittersweet and I cried through the words: "Rest and relax knowing Jesus is near / And when you wake Mom will be right here." On the nights I knew I wouldn't be there when they awakened I had to change those lyrics.

I moved many, many times over the years, each time trying to make a better home for these three children who struggled with the painful knowledge that their parents were no longer together. They couldn't understand why all these moves were necessary, and though each time I tried to build a home that would be comfortable and welcoming for my family, of course they preferred to be home with Dad, the place they had lived for years.

There were court battles and custody issues and financial fights. There were attempts to reconcile, knowing that this pain was too much for our children to bear...so many times I thought I should have - may have preferred to have - just stayed where things were difficult for me, in order to spare them the suffering that comes from a broken family. There were tears of pain, tears of frustration, tears of heartbreak, tears of acceptance. There were misunderstandings, there was hopelessness, there were thoughts of suicide when it got really bad.

There were revelations. Through recognizing my culpability and my part in the breakdown of our marriage, I began to see the things that I had done wrong in a different light, and have learned to take responsibility and accountability for them. While I don't believe that my former husband will ever forgive me for my failings - although for his own sake, I pray that he will be able to - I have learned to forgive myself, and I feel fully forgiven and blessed by a loving God who has brought me to this point. I wish it had not taken such huge mistakes, blunders and setbacks to get here, but I can find peace in where I've ended up.

Today, seven years and eight months to the day after I walked out that door, and two days after what would have been our nineteenth wedding anniversary, my divorce is final. This in itself is not a cause for celebration; the end of a marriage is never something that I will celebrate. However, it is a time for reflection, for remembrance, for thankfulness, and for relief that - although repercussions of my choices will always remain - this particular part of the battle is finally done with, and I can move forward in life no longer tied even in paper to that time of pain, suffering, loneliness and regret. So, with tears even now, it is a quiet observance of the fact that I and my children have gotten this far through it all, and now I can finally say, "IT IS FINISHED."

Thank you to all of you who have seen me through these past many years.

"Without the setbacks, I would not appreciate where I am today." - Sarah Trowbridge

Saturday, 23 November 2013

God is Writing My Love Story

Three months post-hiatus

Wow, it's been a while since I've logged in, and it looks as though this blog is getting quite a lot of traffic.  I'm glad for that, but it also makes me slightly sad, since I'm not actively posting anymore.  I know people have asked me to come back and continue posting, but since I'm not on my yearlong hiatus anymore, it almost seems as though it's logical to leave it and not come back to write more about what happens in day-to-day life when I'm no longer single.

Oh, you caught that?  Yes, as Facebook would say, I am "in a relationship" (in fact, my Facebook page does say that, and it was fun to see how excited people got when I changed that).  As I mentioned in my post Plans, Patience and Answered Prayers, I knew before the end of my dating hiatus that there is a man that I believe I will end up with.  As of August, when I wound up my year, The Man and I were getting closer, but still not in a romantic relationship.  Now, three months and lots of conversations later, I can definitely say that we are together, and our future looks bright.

Of course, the fact that he and I are so similar in many ways and share a faith and outlook on dating and marriage - well, in most things, actually - has helped us to draw closer over the past few months, but I know that taking that year off from men in general was such a good thing for me and for our relationship.  I know I messed up here and there - The Michelin Man being an example, as well as that silly little crush on my roommate - but for the most part, my focus during that year off was total and complete.  I wanted to stop going after the wrong men; I wanted to learn how to say no when I recognized someone wasn`t the one for me; and I wanted to prepare myself to be better in a relationship.  Rather than looking for the right person, I realized that I wanted to make sure that I could be the right person for him once I found him.  Now that I have found him, I can see how invaluable the time really was for me, and how much better it has made our relationship.

If those of you who have read the blog faithfully haven`t already figured it out, The Man is Stu.  He and I "courted" briefly a couple of years ago, but things ended when he told me that he wasn't ready for a relationship.  Back then, I saw in him all the things that I desired in a man, and I was so anxious to be with him.  I remember seeking out our pastor's wife and talking with her about how very badly I wanted things to work out between us, how happy he made me, and how good I thought it would be.  She listened and empathized, but I think she knew that I wasn't ready.  I was all about what I wanted, and not about what Stu might need, or what God wanted for either of us. 

When things ended, I had already started to pull away from him in my mind, because I could see that his heart wasn't in it, and I was so terrified of allowing myself to be hurt.  The fact that we were close friends and that we did not have a physical relationship made it much easier to allow my hopes to dissolve into a solid and comfortable friendship, although I did still have a vague idea in the back of my head that it would be nice if someday Stu would be ready for a relationship and would seek me out (see Stu is a Force to be Reckoned With for more of my feelings at the time...and a bit of foreshadowing that I didn't even recognize when I wrote it!).  As my dating hiatus wound to a close and suddenly Stu was back in my life in a new and totally different way, I began to remember the fierce and firm idea that I had once upon a time of Stu being the man that God has for me (In Plans, Patience and Answered Prayers, I talk more about these feelings and the absolute certainty it gave me that Stu will once day be my husband.)  Suddenly it became even more important to me that I learn to be the right woman.  Back to my pastor's wife I went.

Things were different this time.  I talked with her about my feelings for Stu and how they had developed.  I talked about the moment in the car when I felt the strong conviction from God that he is the one for me.  I talked about how terrified I was that I was going to mess it up; how great my worry was that I was just allowing my deep longings and hopes to create some sort of false assurance for myself; how much I wanted to be there for him and how much I prayed for him and our growing relationship every day.  I could see in her face that she knew this was different - that I was different from the eager little girl from two years before.  She held my hand in hers and reassured me that if this is what God wants for Stu and for me, there is nothing I can do to ruin that...just like if it isn't His will for us, there is nothing I can do to force it to happen.  That took such a huge weight off me.  Although the onus is on me to be the best person I can be, and to contribute positively to my relationship, it isn't my responsibility to make it work or not work.  I admitted in Plans & Patience that it terrified me to actually put fingers to keyboard and type those words: "I have faith that this is the man I am supposed to end up with."  It's scary.  The whole idea of believing I've found the man I will be with for the rest of our lives is terrifying, because now that means I could lose it...but my pastor's wife reminded me that if it's meant for us, then it will be, and there's nothing that I - silly, impetuous hopeless romantic of a girl - can do to mess it up.  I can relax into the relationship and just be myself, and love him as best I can.  The rest - including the work that needs to be done in Stu's heart - is up to God.  Not me.
And as I said before, I still need to have patience, but I look at how much things have changed in the past couple of years (in my heart alone) and I see that if it takes another two years, or five years, or ten, for us to get to my "fairytale ending", it will be worth it, because it's another two or five or ten years' worth of growing and learning, and getting closer to being the person that will best fit him.  Maybe he needs the time more than I do.  But I will be patient.

Stu and I spend a lot of time together and it is growing steadily.  I am so grateful for his presence in my life, and happy that I can share every part of myself and who I am with him - he accepts it and cares for me, everything included: my goofiness; my intelligence; my fears; my history (which can sometimes be scary to share with him, especially the bits I'm ashamed of, but he always, always surprises me with how well he listens and how much he cares, as well as his insights); and my admittedly sometimes overwhelming love for him.  He isn't as much for PDA as I am, but he grins and responds to my exuberant affections readily.  I believe we will get there, to that place of happily-ever-after, and in the meantime I'm enjoying every single moment I have with him.  He truly is a gift from God to me and I intend to spend every moment I can being the best gift to him that I can possibly be.

Thanks for following my journey.


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The First Ten Days

Day 11 Post-Hiatus

The first ten days after completing my dating hiatus have been very busy, as most of my days are.  It's almost time for school to start again (both for the kids - well, my boys, as my daughter graduated this year! - and for me) and that realization has me in a sudden flurry of worry and activity.  There are school supplies to buy, courses to plan, schedules to arrange...lots of things that I have blissfully been ignoring during this summer will soon be back full-force.  So I've been trying to get my life back on track and realizing that there is not a lot of summer left to enjoy.  Why do they always go by so quickly?  I want more travel and sun and fun in the water.  Ah well...soon it will be Christmas again, I suppose.  That's something to look forward to, right?

They say that the second year of nursing school is the hardest one, and judging from what I've heard of the Biology course - Pathophysiology, otherwise known as Everything That Can Go Wrong With Every Single Body System - that will be the course that has me in tears this year.  It's very memorization-heavy, but I don't memorize things well without having a solid understanding of them, so I want to really get a grasp of all that I'm learning in order to apply it properly.  That is, I suppose, a desirable quality in a nurse.  I had planned to find out which text we will be studying from and use it to get a good idea of what we'll be learning this semester and next, but it didn't happen, and the summer has gotten away from me, so I'm going in fairly blind.  Just thinking about how I am going to manage all the schedules (my school; the kids' school; my work; our meals; housecleaning; studying...aggghhhh) is enough to make me want to just run away back to California.  Or even Mexico.  Life is simpler there.  But forge ahead I will.

Some of you have asked what's been happening with the Michelin Man.  Of course you know that I told him a while back that I was no longer interested in further communication, but he hasn't been listening too well.  The more I get to know him, the more I realize that he either a) never pays attention to anything but what he is thinking or feeling; b) is really kind of ignorant; or c) just thinks he can completely overturn my decisions and emotions simply by words.  Occasionally he will send me a text message designed to make me melt and open up a whole new line of conversation with him.  Sometimes I get photographs (and when he feels brave, they are not exactly appropriate photographs).  I have told him and told him that he has to stop and that I am not interested, but he doesn't seem to get it.  For a time it was entertaining, but it has become irritating and frustrating.  I can tell him with the clearest of statements that I do not want to be with him and that he has to stop texting, and he ignores it.  It's probably time to do something a bit more definite.  I'm still working on figuring that out.

The good thing about this silly infatuation with Mitch is that I can go back and read everything I wrote and see exactly how I was doing all the things I used to do.  I told myself in the beginning of my hiatus that I had to learn to recognize Red Flags and Dealbreakers, and when I "met" Mitch I even spelled out some of the Red Flags I saw in him, but immediately I began to do the same things that I've always done when it comes to men: I began to make excuses for him and to try to push through to do exactly what I wanted to do anyway, just because I wanted to do it.  It doesn't matter how much the romantic in me hopes for these things to pan out; I need to pay attention to those things.

I actually don't believe this across the board, but unfortunately it does have some truth to it.

My friends were concerned and tried to warn me, but I pushed ahead regardless.  And look how it turned out.  I haven't even told you all - because I was so busy trying to gloss over my concerns about Mitch in the first place - but Mitch is married.  He told me when we first started talking that he was separated, but as time went on I began to realize that there was something off.  I questioned him; he either ignored, deflected, or half-answered my questions.  After I told Mitch that I knew he couldn't give me what I needed and wanted - and deserved - in a relationship, he kept trying to pursue me and, although he said he didn't know what he would do if he ever lost me (which he already had), he still refused to give me straight answers.  Finally, in frustration, I talked to a good friend of his about the situation, discovered that Mitch had kept my presence in his life a complete secret from anyone at home, that he has apparently send inappropriate photographs to other women, and that as far as this friend knows, Mitch is still quite happily married.  That was when I told him I didn't even want to be friends anymore.  I feel as though I completely dodged a bullet there...and to think that if I had paid attention to the Red Flags that I spotted right at the beginning - instead of being Miss Overly Romantic as per usual - I could have saved myself a whole lot of emotion and frustration.  Lesson learned.  Hard way?  Sort of.  But learned.  FINALLY.  That`s worth celebrating.

Reflecting on those things, and thinking about how I plan to face life now that my Hiatus is complete, I realize that there are still things I need to work on before I'm ready to be in a relationship with anyone (and yes, I am still enjoying the company of the man I believe I will eventually end up with - henceforth known as The Man - but there's no rush and we're nowhere near a romantic relationship yet).  The Man deserves me at my best, and I want to get to the point where I have worked through more things than those I've attacked during the year off.  So, although my year off from dating has ended, there's no end to the reflection that I need to do every single day.  

I keep reminding myself that, although I thought I was ready for The Man when we were first seeing each other, the years between now and then - and especially this past year - have been invaluable in bringing me to a place where I now believe I could be a good partner and wife to someone.  If I could do that much work on myself - if God could do that much work within me - in a few short years, then I should welcome the chance to do even more.  Any time that is well spent on bringing me to a place where I am more ready for a relationship is well worth it.  And The Man can probably use that time, as well.

I've learned there is value in taking time away from my regular, everyday routines and thought patterns.  At this time last year, I found myself overly stressed and completely unprepared to face a completely new situation in starting Nursing School.  This year, I've felt myself drawing closer to that point of exhaustion and being overwhelmed, so I'm taking some time for myself before school begins.  The week before school starts on September 3rd, and for the first week of school, I am taking off from work in order to get rested, ready, and re-vamped before life completely changes again.  Part of that time will involve getting supplies ready; back-to-school shopping; and more of my lists-upon-lists for financial things, menus and schedules, and part of that time will be set aside to make one more list: the things I need to do before I am ready for another relationship.

It`s no longer about finding the right man for me.  It`s about being the best person that I can be, and taking whatever time I need in order to do that.  Another Step One is about to happen.


Saturday, 10 August 2013

That's a Wrap

And that's it.  No more numbers at the top of my post.  No more counting days.  No more days ahead.  My dating hiatus is officially behind me.

And it feels...totally normal.

Right now I don't feel all riled up and ready to go out looking for a man.  It isn't time to start "(rude verb)-ing my way across Canada", as one friend referred to the impending end of my sabbatical.  I don't want to start emailing random guys to see if they want to go for coffee, or suddenly re-open my Plenty of Fish profile for speculative viewing of potential mates.  I'm not even interested in seeing whether my text message inbox "starts to explode", as suggested by another friend.  As trite as it may sound, and as much of an anticlimax it may be, I just am grateful for the lessons that I've learned in this year.  The whole idea behind the dating hiatus was that I had spent too many years looking to be completed in the wrong way: I was searching for that "missing piece" in my life by trying to find a man who would fulfill the emptiness that was left and would make me feel right and whole.  I needed to learn to be happy with myself and to be able to realize that if I didn't end up with someone special, I would still be completely happy and whole on my own.  I think I've accomplished that task.

Of course, I still have a longing deep down for a partner in life.  There are times when I listen to my clients talk about their deceased husbands with such fondness and gratitude for all the years they spent together, and I still feel that same pang of envy that they were able to have that and I won't.  I mean, even if I got married tomorrow, it's unlikely that I will live long enough to be married for fifty or sixty years (well, maybe fifty - but would he survive being with me for that long?? Ha!).  The difference is that before, I would listen to them talk about their marriages and feel self-pity, or loneliness, or desperation...or even jealousy.  Now, instead of thinking "This lucky woman had someone love her for all those years, and I never will", I find myself thinking how very blessed they were to have had each other, and instead of regretting the fact that I don't now have it, I`m looking forward with hope to the time that I will.  I believe that God does have someone in mind for me, and for the first time in my life, I am actually falling back on that in faith, and believing that it will happen when it is supposed to happen.  However many years we do end up having together, I am sure we will make them happy ones.  In the meantime, I will wait.


It's so incredible to me when I look back at all of the things I have talked about during the course of this blog.  I've reflected on past relationships and told stories of these men who helped shape my romantic history, as well as taken the time to really think through why those relationships didn't work out, and hopefully used those experiences as lessons on how to learn to choose better the next time.  I've talked about priorities; goals; mistakes; the benefits of being single; the difficulties of sticking to decisions; and the importance of loving yourself just the way you are.  I've explored the characteristics of Women Who Love Too Much and recognized many of those tendencies in myself.  I've faced the holidays - one birthday, one Christmas, and one Valentine's Day - alone, but with a very different viewpoint from the ones I've endured in the past.  I've found ways to celebrate the joys of friendship and tried a few different ways to lift up people in my life who are important to me.  I've fallen down; I've kicked myself; but I have gotten back up wiser...and the bruises faded quickly.  And quite aside from what I've written about is what I've accomplished - I started the nursing program after years of working toward it.  I have traveled on my own.  I kicked the habit of an old flame, and I learned to recognize rather quickly (hey, it`s all relative) when someone who was interested in me was absolutely not right for me.  And it would appear that I've been able to let go of worry, stress, and panic, and trust my life - and even my relationships - to my God.

So.  The big question now, from many of you and from my close family and friends, is: What now?
So many directions, so many possibilities...

Am I going to stop writing?  No.  The blog will obviously have to change, as I'm no longer focusing on a break from dating, but I am sure its effects will continue on as I move into a different stage in my life.  I may not write all the time, but I have come to really enjoy keeping a blog.  And I know you will want to know when developments happen!

Am I dating this man I mentioned in my past post?  No, we are not dating at this point.  He is a consistent presence in my life and I love the time we spend together, but we're not at that stage.  However, I know that I am now patient enough to wait and see what happens between us.  I thought I was ready when we first were seeing each other, but looking back, I'm glad I've had that time to grow.  If it takes another two, or five, or ten years (and I'm not above saying Please God, don't let it be ten years!!!), I know that time will be well spent and I will be even better prepared for a life together.  I'm excited to see where the road takes us.  In the meantime, our friendship is comfortable, full of both laughs and serious discussions, and is forming a great basis for wherever our relationship eventually goes.

Will I accept a date if someone asks me?  That's actually a tricky one.  On the one hand, I feel like I shouldn't because I do believe that I have already met the right man for me.  On the other hand, we are not together, so would a date or two be so bad?  I guess it wouldn't, but really, what would be the point?  The realization that I am having now, as I write this, is that I just am not interested in accepting a date with anyone else.  My focus isn't on "dating" as a concept, because "dating" implies searching around for the person who you will end up with in life.  Dating seems pointless when you've already met that person.  I have other things to spend my time on.  My life is filled with good friends, school, children, work, and plans for future travel and mission work.  I know now that I want to learn Spanish - I know I had mentioned it before as one of the things I want to do, but now that I've been to Mexico again and have had the opportunity to be in relationship with native Spanish speakers, I feel a real need to be able to communicate properly with them the next time I go down.  So really, even if I wanted to date, I wouldn't have time!  The only real difference between being on my dating hiatus and having completed it is that now, when this man is ready for me, I'll be able to say yes without hesitation.

And so concludes this year of abstinence and reflection.  Despite the setbacks and the moments of panic, I do believe I have indeed accomplished my goals, including ones that I didn't even realize that I had.  Life now moves on, and I follow my path with anticipation and confidence.  Thanks for having come on this journey with me; it has been great to have your support and encouragement along the way.  I look forward to sharing with you the changes that will happen in the future.

Cut; scene; print it...That's a wrap.


Thursday, 8 August 2013

Second to Last

Day 364

What can I say now that a day that I thought would never get here is now on the brink of arriving, and a year that I thought would be incredibly hard on me has almost reached its end? I can't believe that tomorrow it will be one year since that day I discovered that the man I had a coffee date with had been convicted of murder, convincing me that it was finally time to throw my hands up and give up on dating completely for a little while.  I will admit that at first it was all about the novelty of it, although I definitely did recognize the potential and the value of undertaking such a year.  I wasn't even sure I was going to go through with it, to be honest.  Deep down, I hoped that I would actually stick to it and get something out of it, but I also knew that I do tend to get bored with things if I don't see immediate results.  Plus the Drama Queen in me just liked the idea of being "out there" doing something that was - for me - quite radical.  However, really deciding that I would spend the time "alone" (and I put alone in quotes, because I know I was not completely successful at keeping my mind off men - darn that masculine gender for just being so appealing to me!); doing a lot of reflection and insight into why I reached the point I reached one year ago; and having this blog (and knowing how many of you are rooting for me) have all kept me focused and working toward tomorrow.  Now it's here, and it's time to stop looking backward and begin to look forward.

Part of the reason that it's hard to believe that I'm actually - finally - here at the end of this year off from dating is that the past three weeks have been a blur of preparation and busy-ness; I had the opportunity to go with a group from my church to a small town in Mexico in order to build a house for a family in need.  We were gone from the 24th of July until the 4th of August, which pretty much ate up a lot of the final weeks of my hiatus.  It was an amazing experience; I have a hard time putting it into words.  Suffice it to say that it had a huge impact on me. I know that one of the results of this year off - which in itself actually made it a lot easier for me to go on this trip - is that I now know that I love to travel, and I want to do mission work.  I know that when I am an RN, I will want to use those skills to help people who don't have access to the same kind of medical care that we do.

I don't have a lot to say right now; I'm still rather overwhelmed, both emotionally and physically, with unpacking and organizing and financial matters that have been left for the past few weeks, so I'm going to make this a short one.  Here, however, is a little movie I made: my video diary compilation from Mission Mexico.  I put it together to share my thoughts on the trip and some of the fun moments we had.  I hope you enjoy it.

(There is a short section where there is no sound; YouTube didn`t like that I used a DC Talk song so they deleted the audio for that part of the video.  Sorry `bout that.)

Mission Mexico: My Experience

And tomorrow is the last day, so I will have to find some special way to celebrate it.  Let me know if you can think of anything and send your ideas my way.


Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Plans, Patience, and Answered Prayers

Day 341
24 Days Remaining

So you know how I was saying in my last blog post that I wished that I could just relax and have the same faith in God when it comes to my relationships as I do when it comes to financial and other matters?  That's something I've been praying for over the past few months, especially as I've been able to view my dating history through the lens of this hiatus and blog.  The thing is, I think for a while I was able to do that...I just forgot.  I also think that God answered my prayers long ago when I was asking him who He has for me...and again: I just quite simply forgot.

I also mentioned a while ago that I'm asking God for patience.  This is the hardest thing for me.  I also keep forgetting that just because something didn't work out when I originally had it in my head that it was going to, that doesn't mean that's the end of it forever.  What's that saying: "Sometimes God's answer isn't Yes or No...sometimes His answer is Wait."  Well, I waited, but I guess at some point I decided that I'd had enough waiting.  Or perhaps I thought that enough time had passed that the answer was actually No, when instead, it was still that: Wait.

So does waiting mean sit at home and don't date anyone?  Does it mean focus on someone who may or may not be the one for me and then just wait for him to figure out whether he wants me or not?  Or does it mean to pray, and to trust that it will be made known to me when the right man is in my life, and then to wait until the relationship grows?

A while back, I was seeing someone.  He was important to me.  I loved spending time with him.  I was finally in the headspace where I was ready to ask God to show me the right man for me, and as I left this man's house after an evening of hanging out together, I sat in my car and I earnestly, openly prayed: "God, is this the man that you have for me?"

The weirdest thing happened, and it's not something that has ever happened before or since: It was as though I had been struck in the heart.  The certainty that I felt at that moment gave me such clarity and resolve as I felt a definite and distinct answer reverberate through me: It was a loud, clear, and emphatic YES. 

I was so surprised at the physical shock to my heart and at having an answer that I started laughing.  Then the thought of having a relationship with this man made me laugh harder, with delight and happiness.  The excitement of our tentative relationship suddenly becoming something so obviously right had me laughing so hard that I started crying.  I drove down the darkened street, tears flying from my eyes as I simultaneously bawled and shouted with the joy and certainty that I felt.  Struck by lightning is the closest way I can describe that feeling, and the exultation that came afterward as I babbled aloud: "God, is this really you telling me this?  I am so scared that I just want it so badly that I'm making things up in my mind...Please let it be true...Please give me the patience...Please let us share this."  I didn't know if it was as real as it felt, and I was frightened that I was putting the thoughts into my head on my own.  Maybe I was.  But it felt so real and deep, this sudden complete knowledge that this man was the one that I will eventually marry.  The experience was such a hard-hitting one that I was certain it would stick with me and continue to assure me and give me further patience.
I resolved to be patient and wait for him to be ready, and for the relationship to develop.  I knew he was "the one"; therefore I would wait.  As time went by, I kept waiting, but nothing happened.  In fact, things started to head the other way, and as he distanced himself from me little by little, I allowed myself to be distracted.  As I got sidetracked by life and this man showed no more signs that he was interested in continuing a relationship, I started to let myself believe that the magical moment in the car had just been my imagination running wild.  I was disappointed, but I decided to just keep moving on.  I stopped trusting in God`s plan for my relationship and started searching on my own.  And - as strange as it might sound in regard to a moment that was so soul-stopping and defining for me - I completely forgot about that day in the car when I asked God if this was the man for me.  The relationship - such as it was - ended, and I lost faith in a future of love and started living life on my own terms again, latching on to the wrong people in the hope that somewhere I would find a man who would be happy with me and make me happy.  I forgot that I had put my trust in God and that He had assured me that I would end up with this man.

In the past few weeks, as I`ve been praying for God to bring me back to this place of trusting in Him, He suddenly brought back to me a distinct memory of the feeling I had that day in the car, and how I felt so certain that He had answered my prayer.  I`ve been struggling to understand why I felt it so strongly if it wasn`t what was meant to be, as well as having such a hard time with how I could possibly have buried the memory that now comes back so strongly and intensely.

And at the same time that this memory came back into my mind, this man came back into my life.

Little by little he has been inching in, surprising me with his interest and the apparent change in his ability to move toward any kind of commitment, and little by little I have come to realize that maybe - just maybe - the answer that day in the car really was from God...but I had ignored the little addendum that I had to waitYes, this is the man for you...but it will take time, and you will have to learn patience.  I believe that in this past year, as I have learned so much more about myself, and began to actively ask for patience and for the man who is meant to be mine to be revealed to me, my prayers are beginning to be answered.  The man whom I thought I no longer had a chance with is suddenly in my life, very definitively, and showing me in so many ways that he has changed as well, and we might just be back on the track that I thought I had to let go of.  Neither of us were ready back then.  Our relationship ended, and I thought that was it: my last chance with him was gone.  But really, it was just that I needed to take more time and have more patience as I waited.  Life had a lot more distractions to throw at each of us.  All the things I`ve been pondering for the last few months, all the possibilities and all the things I had to work through - it feels as though they were just things getting in the way, but in other ways they have helped me to be more ready for this moment when he has come back to me.  Perhaps there are a lot more obstacles that we will have to go through before we end up together, but I have faith that this is the man I am supposed to end up with.  I have so much faith in this that I am writing it here for everyone to read (and don't think that's not a scary thing to do - it is)!

I am hopeful; I am excited; and I am looking forward to the end of this dating hiatus so that I can see where we both are at and what will happen between us when I have fulfilled this yearlong commitment.  Maybe it will take a lot more time - I really, really hope that I don't forget again, and that I take whatever time I need to take to wait for God's timing.  In the meantime, I am praying for this man and for his heart, because I know that if there is still hesitation on his part, he needs to find peace before we can make this happen.  I look back on the prayer I wrote years ago when I first wrote my MoG (Man of God) List, a prayer for my future husband, and it fits so well for what both he and I need right now.  I pray again now, for him and for myself:  Give him joy in place of fear, give him strength in place of worry...I ask for patience as I wait, and praise You for the joy I believe You will bring me, in Your time.