Saturday, April 24, 2010

On being the Single Friend (or Living like a Fingertip.)

It's been a while since my last update, not really for lack of things to write about. I just haven't been able to sit down and write. Life updates will come later I hope. For now, random musings from this week...

When I was very young, I always felt alone and socially awkward. I somehow came to the impression that I didn't have any friends. In my little world, my friends were the books I read. We lived out in the country, so it was hard to have playmates anyway. I was alone. Don't ask me where the thought came from. Looking back, I can see that while I have never been one of the "popular" girls, I have always been blessed with friends. No matter what stage or place in my life, God has always provided friends for me.

I'm not really sure when it started, but sometime in Elementary school, I decided I liked boys. Not really romantically, I just thought that boys were better than girls. I wanted to be friends with "the boys." I tried really hard to be one of the "boys." Of course, I wasn't the kind of girl to be accepted so easily by the boys, but I could usually find some who at least tolerated me somewhat. But no matter how hard I chased after the boys, God always provided me with female friends as well.

Now that I think about it, I am always chasing after relationships that don't suit me, ignoring the people God has given me, and chasing after "bigger, brighter" things. Whether it was the popular crowd or the boys or trying to find romance on my own, I'm always leaving behind what I have to chase after something else. And then I feel alone when I don't reach those things. I think, "I must be not good enough. There must be something wrong with me, or I would be able to have the relationships I want." I am tainted and un-valuable. (yeah, spell check tells me that isn't a word, but I don't care...)

One very valuable experience for me has been watching my friends form romantic relationships. Some I have seen from the very beginning (one set of friends started dating in the back seat of my car...). I have seen the dating, marriage, kids, and even sadly enough, divorce. I have seen hook-ups and break-ups. Boyfriends and ex-boyfriends. Now that I'm in Japan, there are husbands and kids I have never met. I've learned a lot about what "good" relationships should look like, and the consequences of bad ones. I've even given out plenty of relationship advice from the sidelines. (Why people even ask me for that, I'll never know.)

But there's only so much I can learn from watching others. I learn from experience. Generally when learning something, I read/watch/listen to directions, hopefully see an example, and then to really understand it, I have to do it myself. There is only so much that reading, watching and listening can do for me. I get some information, but not the whole picture.

When I was younger, I watched with a jealousy that made me envy my friends of their good fortunes. I usually ended up depressed and feeling sorry for myself. I often tried to make others feel sorry for me too. (always a bad idea) Sometimes, I still do. It's a hard habit to break. But recently I've noticed that I'm watching with more of a sense of deep longing and a feeling of separation. Separation from my friends and their shared experiences, separation from the feeling of being a complete person, loved and appreciated unconditionally.

Why am I suddenly thinking about this? I guess it was just something I've been pondering this week as I have been reflecting on my currently spiritual condition (mixed with a bit of PMS I'm sure.)

Right now I'm reading "The Ransomed Heart" by John Eldredge. It's a collection of writings from his many books. There is a repeating theme of Heart, Desire, Romance and Love in his writings. The things that make us truly alive.

And I look around at my friends. I see the relationships they have: with their significant other, with each other, with God. And I feel a great gulf between us. They seem to have what I'm looking for. There is only so much I can learn from this side of the gulf. There is only so much we can share like this, only so close I can come to them. I find most of my friends are "taken." Even the single ones have wonderful, vibrant, fulfilling relationships with God. And I'm left wondering what I'm missing. I feel frozen in time, unable to break free. I am the Single Friend.

I would be lying if I said I didn't want a boyfriend. I've wanted that since jr. high. I want the knight in shining armor to come on a white horse and rescue me. I want to experience intimacy. But I've seen enough to know that a boyfriend alone won't be enough to satisfy me or to fill me. What I really want is a romance with God. To hear him call my name. To feel for even a moment His eyes upon me, looking at me intently, and to feel the depth of His love for me (as scary as that sounds.) I want to know more than theology or doctrine. I want to know more than I can find out by just hearing about other people's experiences. I want to leave behind my "singleness" and enter into relation.

There is a song by Avril whose lyrics often speak to me. The openings lines are "I'm standing on a bridge, I'm waiting in the dark. I thought that you'd be here by now. Nothing but the rain, no footsteps on the ground. I'm listening but there's no sound. Isn't anyone trying to find me? Won't somebody come take me home? It's a damn cold night, trying to figure out this life..."
It's a song about being alone, but I think it expresses the human condition so well. Our separation from God and the coldness in our souls that comes with it. Our "singleness."

Another song I really like is called "ooh ahh" by the Grits. It talks about living life by the fingertips, never quite having a full grasp on things. This is my current relationship with God. Only fingertips. Sometimes I fall, I slip. But I hope, I know one day my Prince will come. He will look deep into my soul and tell me that I am beautiful and valuable because I belong to Him. And He will never let me go. He will fight for me and He has already won. And I will understand, I will leave behind my life of singleness- of aloneness- and be in a True relationship.

So I wait as a bridesmaid, waiting for when the Groom will come for me also. So for now, I need to make sure I have enough oil in my lamp as I wait, so I am ready for when He comes. I can't be running after distractions, or I might miss Him. And so this is what Hope is. Waiting for the fulfillment of a promise by the one you love.

Now the hard part is figuring out how to make that resolution practical and how to merge it with daily life, whose sole objective is to see how much it can distract me from my Hope. (Ahh!! It's too much for the poor ADD girl to handle!!!!)

There were many more thoughts and musings from this week, but I didn't write them all down, so this is all you get this time. For anyone who is interested, here are the lyrics to "ooh ahh" with my favorite places highlighted. For a rap song, it often makes me want to cry, and dance at the same time. :-D

My life be like Ooh Ahh
It's times like these that make me say,
Lord if you see me please come my way.
Leavin bread crumbs for when I stray
Rely on sacrifice and the price you paid
Feel me like a fingertip
(flow fingertip flow fingertip)
Sometimes I fall I slip
Got a heartfelt desire be more like you
Trying not to quench your fire by the things that i do

I'm on an island by my lonesome stranded
Low key and stayin� candid
Reflectin on the things I try my hand at
Search for the equations to persuasions I'm used to
Findin comfort in the zones of closet bones I get loose to
A mountainous fontaine,
Spinnin and monsoonin
Grinnin its high octane
This worlds out wacky
Rollin down the hills cause lifes a hassle
Encircled by my folly like a moat surround a castle
Stay afloat,
Catch a second wind thin is the air I breathe
Teary-eyed nose runnin, wipe the snot on my sleeve
I'm callin on my savior to be all that I need
Please forgive me my behavior had me lost at light speed


The fear of never falling in love
And the tears after losing the feelings
Of what you thought love was
Like the dirt still up under the rug
(My life be like)
Bad characteristics covered in Christ's blood
The joy of new birth and the pain of growing up
The bliss between giving my all and giving up
The highs and lows,
Paths and roads I chose
In the cold I froze
Trying to ease my woes
In this world of sin
Clothes to thin to fend
So to God I send
Words of help to win
In grumblings so deep letters could never express
So the sounds of Ooh Ahh beneath my breath projects


My life be like (Toby Mac)

My life be like ooh aah ooh
Dum dum diddy
Here comes that boy from the capital city
Last up on the Grits new ditty
But eight bars of the truth will do, eh
I believe there's a bride thats stunning,
And I believe in the kingdom coming
I believe if you seek the truth,
You don't need to look far cuz it's gonna find you

So why, oh why, do I trip and stumble?
And ooh ahh as commitments crumble?
I can't believe that I'm here again



pinklemonade said...

Hey, Amber! I don't know if you remember; my name is Katy, I commented on your previous post "Fullness of Life". I got a blog account for the purpose of following yours after that. :)
Well, since then I've read many of your old blog posts. Sometimes for the purpose of learning more about Japan :D, but often just because, your thoughts and musings are so uplifting and thought-provoking, I just wanted to keep reading.(Incidentally, if you ever wonder whether you're getting through to anyone, wonder no more. ;]) Also, I've been praying for both you and the work God's doing through you in Japan!

Something you said in this post reminded me of a thought God put on my heart the last few months.

"What I really want is a romance with God. To hear him call my name. To feel for even a moment His eyes upon me, looking at me intently, and to feel the depth of His love for me (as scary as that sounds.) I want to know more than theology or doctrine. I want to know more than I can find out by just hearing about other people's experiences. I want to leave behind my "singleness" and enter into relation."

That truly is an amazing (almost too amazing) idea. Having that kind of close relationship with God sometimes seems so above the possible...
But I don't think He was trying to make it hard for us to get close to Him. On the contrary, He wrote an incredibly long, beautiful, centuries-spanning Love Letter for the purpose of showing us how to have that relationship with Him.
But then, how can I feel so close to Him one day, and separated the next?
I was wondering that one afternoon when abruptly (for no reason than that He wanted to do something nice for me, I suppose) He gave me the answer. :) Here it is:
God doesn't change with our perception of Him. He's always the same. He loved me then, He loves me now. He's been reaching out to me all my life, He's doing it here in this moment.

Okay then, I replied, What am I doing wrong, exactly? What's keeping me from having a beautiful, incomparable romance with You?
Another answer: Me. God has defeated Satan and the forces of the world (as Ryan Dobson put it), the final battle is against the flesh. Praise God, I'm not alone even in that fight.
He led me to read His Word, pray constantly (turns out, it's possible to pray without ceasing! Who knew? :P), and seek His Kingdom everywhere. The more I give of my flesh, the more I receive of His love. I guess what I'm trying to get at is that, God is always pouring love into me, I just have to make space for it. Give up my time, my pride, my attachments, my entertainment and wrong thoughts, so that I can fill their spots with God's grace, love, mercy, or just His words. Once I've done that, I know He'll come closer because He promised to (and yes, I'll admit, because I've doubted and He's wound up *proving* it to me over and over again).
Well, you already know all this and I'm probably not communicating it very well; today happens to be one of those days where I'm having trouble opening my heart to Him. ;)But I know He's right here at my computer with me, so I keep talking to Him about me and you and Japan because He wants to hear it.
In the end, I just love knowing that, no matter how my own attitude flip-flops, His love for me is so unfailingly extreme that every so often, it just about knocks me over and laugh/cry all at once! That's a really great feeling. :D

Sorry this was such a long comment, my goodness. I'm rather long winded, aren't I?
Anyway, I love reading your posts and I'll keep checking back and praying for you!

In Christ,

Anonymous said...

Amber -little twisted on the the alone thing - ya walking down a dark path.. just love yourself.
the parts of that song you highlighted arent dark values that the writer isnt idiolizing :(
world will give you what you ask foor - always. Be carefull with such feelings -all thats genuine is yourself always trust that