None of us are immune to having unexpected circumstances happen in our lives. How we respond to the events that play out in our lives is where our characters are defined. By this time, I believe I am going to be the shiniest diamond out there. God seems to have been doing a lot of grinding, chipping away and polishing of my character lately.
I kind of thought we were finished for a while but it seems that He is still working on me. When my Jeep started making noises, it really didn’t bother me. When dating didn’t seem to impress me, it didn’t bother me. I have learned that life will throw its curveballs and that God always steps in showing me what I can do to fix something or tell me to have patience and wait for something He is already doing.
When things fall into the “Catch 22 category”, that’s where I have trouble in trusting and to watch God at work. It’s easy to give Him the trivial things that really are not that important that I know will work itself out. A few days of not driving until my son came back home and could evaluate the noise in my Jeep was not too big of a deal; I just rearranged my schedule. It happens. It turned out that a bottle of power-steering fluid was all that was needed. But I needed him to tell me that because I didn’t have the money for a mechanic and don’t know the first thing about cars.
Online dating was not appealing to me, yet someone who I was already friends with and adored who I seemed to fit with - smoked. Smoking is an absolute for me, I can’t stand it. So I “x’d” that possibility from my list and did not explore that as an option. Instead, I avoided the obstacle all together. Being without my car for a few days puts me behind in work. Being behind in work puts me behind on my paycheck. Being behind on my paycheck can keep me from being able to do my job at the performance level I set for myself, which then damages my self-esteem.
Catch 22. I am starting to not be so fond of my favorite number. Usually, when there is a Catch 22 – I see it as a challenge. There are obstacles and roadblocks all through life and it just means that it is my job to find a way around it, to not accept defeat. And then sometimes it takes a little courage on our parts, to just ask ourselves how much of a Catch 22 we really are in or how much of what is going on are just excuses in our lives because we are getting tired or becoming lethargic.
I wonder how many salmon that swim upstream just get tired and “let go” letting the flow of water carry them down? Many times I have felt like letting go. I set the time limit and if God can’t “get His act together” by my time limit that I had set for Him – then the deal is off and I stop trusting. Sometimes we follow head-knowledge over heart-knowledge and we don’t listen to what we really know; we blindly observe what we see. How many of you played the game “What’s wrong with this picture?” I believe it was in the Highlight’s magazine found in the doctor’s offices when I was a child. You had to find the oddities in a photo that did not belong.
I think there are many times that we live our lives like this. Instead of finding the joy in circumstances or each day that we are given, we ask “What’s wrong with this picture?” What is wrong with what is set before me, before I trust to step in that direction?
“You want me to do what, God? But that isn’t how I saw it – that couldn’t be what you want for me to do. There are problems with it, I don’t see how it could work.” But then I have to ask myself… are there problems without it? Yes. When I “just go” whether it is in my own limitations or in trusting fully on God there will always be an answer. Sometimes the answer is wrong (those times that I go without giving it to God) but there is still an answer because I gave it an action. I can’t become lethargic, I have to keep swimming upstream.
When I just sit back, hold back or even hide from something – that is when it seems the Catch 22’s abound. The excuses of why I can’t - I see what is wrong with the picture – but with no solutions. I am constantly in awe of what God is doing in my life – even when I am faced with diversity. I absolutely love when something terrible has happened yet I have that sense of peace because I know God is doing something with it. Oh, if we could only have that attitude each and every day. But – I am human and I too, fail to recognize His hand in something and it is usually when I get so darn tired of swimming upstream.
When I had given my “lonely woes” to God over the last few years, I knew I was to be patient. When I had that clear indication that it was time to start dating again I did the work, I opened up my heart to it. That took a lot. I trusted, I took what all I had learned and I was ready for it. I honestly cannot tell you if God pointed me in a certain direction at that time or not because my focus was on “how I saw it”. I was looking in that box of ‘what was wrong with this picture’ and didn’t have a clear direction to go if even God may have given it. If it wasn’t in the way I expected – maybe I wasn’t seeing where He was leading – or maybe He had not given me a clear direction yet.
I guess I had thought I would help Him out by trying the online dating thing again that I knew I hated. And yes it was, once again - not for me. Not a big deal, I just decided not to do it and continue waiting on God to lead me in that. I didn’t have to have an answer for that, I wasn’t in a hurry; I could wait on God to bring me what He wants for me - one day. If you haven’t heard the joke about the man who was in a flood and had waited for God to rescue him from his rooftop; then Google it and read it. As the water had surrounded him and he turned away help from someone in a boat and then another boat and as the water kept rising; a helicopter came all the while he kept ‘waiting on God’ to rescue him. I often think about that in my “hindsight moments”, when I look back and say, “Oh-h-h NOW I get it, God.”
When I was finally ready to start dating, you would think that I would have worked hard on losing the 20 pounds that I needed to lose from the last couple of years. But it just wouldn’t click and I knew why. Subconsciously, I wanted to find someone that accepted me the way I am - right now, at my worse. I didn’t want to have to lose the weight I recently put on to attract a man because I felt a man like that was the wrong man for me. We all want to be attracted to someone and there are different things that attract us or things that would repel us.
If it is so important for a man to have a size two – there is no reason I should wait for a man like that because even if I lost the 20 pounds, chances are at another stressful time in my life, I could put on 10 or 20 pounds again down the road. I have never been obese or someone that lets their weight get too out of control, but I have played with 10 or 20 pounds over the years as the way I had coped in stressful times – but I always get back in shape. Being single and on my own and living by myself this last year was very stressful to me.
But here I was asking men to accept me the way I was right now, before I fix it. And then when I am ready to take off the extra weight, I will – but I needed to feel accepted for ‘me’ first. When the on-line dating made me feel “on trial” or that I had to pass a test while men checked off their list, I realized that I was doing the same thing. No, I wasn’t shallow about weight - that has never bothered me about someone. I understand weight issues. What flaw that had bothered me the most, was if someone smoked cigarettes. When truthfully, what was most important to me was integrity, honor and trust… a good heart.
My friend for close to a year now who smokes; I will nick-name him “Catch” is a Catch 22 for me. The way he treated me, the way he cared about me – he was perfect for me except that deal breaker - that he smoked. I knew that Catch didn’t want to smoke. He had quit once before but when stress hit – he went back to that weakness. Am I a hypocrite just because I hate smoke? Yes.
I was asking someone to be without an imperfection that bothers me, before I would consider them for a relationship. I wasn’t willing to get back in shape before I met someone because I wanted to make sure what that ‘someone’ wanted was my heart. Catch wanted the same thing and who am I to judge? Now you may argue, “Isn’t that just settling for something you don’t really want?” But I asked God for someone to truly care about me. How is someone’s weakness that can be overcome – settling over them having everything else God knew was important to me. I cannot live with smoke – it is unhealthy and it truly bothers me in an allergic type way. I feel my sinus membranes swell when I am around it – even on someone’s clothes. It cannot be a part of my life - period. But, if Catch is trying to quit and he takes steps to quit – wouldn’t he be able to do that better if he had support from someone who truly cared about him? If his stress was less because he had a special someone in his life that he could count on that made the other stress more bearable wouldn’t he be able to focus on quitting, better? If I had support knowing someone cared about me and that I wasn’t just this ‘nerdy writer girl who was chubby’ (my insecurity talking) then maybe I would eventually be able to focus on getting back in shape and be active again.
Both of mine and Catch’s weaknesses affect our health. We both know that we need to take care of ourselves better and having a supportive friend just makes it easier. It always does – when someone feels alone and the weight of the world is on them – how can they be their best? Marilyn Monroe even said once, “If you can’t accept me at my worse, you certainly don’t deserve me at my best”. Catch and I began a friendship back before I was ready to date. He pursued me and yet was respectful to back off still being my friend when I had pushed him away. I get it, God. I quit listening to my head telling me what I must have on my list. Those darned lists are what keep people from taking a chance on people who could truly love them.
Nobody wants to be hurt, and everybody wants to be accepted for who they are. So if it’s that simple, why do we make it so hard? When I think of my Mama smoking all those years when she raised her children and think of her being smoke-free for the last 30 years when my Papa had told her “It’s the cigarettes or me” – I know that people can make the right choice – the healthy choice. They just need to be motivated, encouraged and supported through it.
Now, I am still going to be smart, take my time and not rush things, but it could be that releasing my headstrong-thinking and allowing my heart to do some thinking; that Catch may not have to be a Catch 22 (especially when he gives up the cancer sticks)… he simply could just be a great catch.