Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fear and My Precious Time (Marnie)

I was watching something I taped a while back from the Lifetime channel and it went to commercial. Before I could grab the remote, a commercial played for a movie that had Ricki Lake in it. It was called Matters of Life and Dating and it is about a single woman who is diagnosed with breast cancer. One of the clips from the movie was quite poignant (yep, I used the word "poignant" in reference to a Lifetime movie!). Ricky Lake's character says, "Fear has been a waste of my precious time."

That really hit home. Because for MANY years, dating equaled fear for me. In essence, I have wasted much of my precious time. And it's something I've worked hard to change.

What where those fears? The unknown, the known, the potential loss, the potential gain, the heart broken, the heart not even being touched at all...oh! the list of fears goes on and on when it comes to dating!

And it doesn't get better when you are in a relationship. The risk gets deeper and the potential fallout can make you go numb if you dwell in that fear.

So why have I been so afraid? What's the worse that could happen from dating? Well, let's list them:
1. Heart broken
2. Feelings hurt
3. Rejection
4. Loss of a loved one that doesn't love you back
5. Being vulnerable and having that person hurt you or exploit that vulnerability
6. Taking a risk and looking stupid
7. Saying something you regret

I could keep going, but that pretty much covers the gist of it. The fear is real. But it can keep you from something really important - and I don't mean a husband. I mean an experience. Because maybe that experience is necessary to go forward! Maybe that experience - and yes, you can get hurt when you take a risk - helps you make a better choice and carve out more room in your heart for the great man that is up ahead!! If we don't face that fear, we don't go anywhere!

We Mormons are always looking for the miracle (the man of your dreams comes from nowhere, you both suddenly realize you are perfect for each other and get married quickly). But alas, often life is about hard work and patience. As I've continued with my "50 Dates to a Mate" program, I'm finding that it's not just a date I'm getting, it's experiences and some of them aren't that fun. I would REALLY love to be that girl that sets that goal and meets "the one" at date #26. But as I've reached #39 with no good potentials on the horizon, I realize this could go on all the way to #100. That in itself sounds depressing but I at least can see now that each of these dates has taught me something I needed to know - how to improve a relationship skill, humble me, give me confidence, teach me what NOT to do in a certain situation, help me make better decisions about who I date and deal with confrontation. All those things will help me be a better catch and helps me make a better decision and see what I really want in a spouse. And I've been very fortunate to NOT have gotten what I prayed for in the past when it has come to the few relationships I've had. Those matches that seemed so great at the time really weren't and I can see now from these experiences it's good they ended.

So what about fear? Even though I know those experiences are important, I've let the fear creep in again and it's made me very discouraged with my dating situation this last little while (thus the reason I haven't posted anything for so long). I've thought, what is the point??? I have put my heart and soul into everything that I have control over to find more dates, meet more men and to try to find a guy that works for me. And what I've gotten has been disappointing. Mostly that I don't have much to show for it but some painful dates and some hurt feelings from taking a risk with some of those dates. And when you make a goal and seem SO far from it after what feels like you've put your whole heart, soul and faith in, it's very easy to succumb to the fear and just walk away.

But I can't. The reason I want to walk away is only because I'm scared my biggest fear of never finding someone will come true. But listening to that fear is the very reason it WILL come true! Thus, the dichotomy. (I think I used that word right?!)

So what am I going to do about it? Not give up. Not succumb to my fear. Get back out there and keep searching for dating experience #39 - even though it's scary for me.

Tonight I'm supposed to go to a singles dance - the scary kind. And all my friends have bailed out on me. What should I do? Stay at home on a Saturday night because going alone will make me feel vulnerable and uncomfortable? It's scary! There will be times where I will feel out of place or even feel like a sitting duck with some less than great hunters taking aim. But it's better to take the fear head on and go. Face that fear! I've done it before! I can do it again!

And hopefully, this will help empower me, overcome that debilitating fear and stop wasting my precious time!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Prayer (Leah)

This morning I was looking online for an Education Week talk about healthy living to share with a friend. I found it. Then I decided to keep looking, just to see what I could see. I came across a talk on dating and finding your mate - "Hanging Out, Hooking Up, and Celestial Marriage," by Bruce Chadwick. After reading it I decided to share a bit with all of you. I was able to make a personal application in a friend relationship I'm currently struggling with, so I know there's truth in here for everyone - single or married. First is the link, then what follows is an excerpt.

I don't know whether they ever repeated this simple exercise. But I learned a great lesson that has affected how I live my life, and I pass it on to you as my fifth suggestion: "Pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Most of us probably don't like those who hate us, and, sadly, these feelings of dislike canker our souls. Amazingly, praying for our enemies reverses our feelings. Maybe the person still hates you, but that does not matter. What matters is that your heart is softened and the Spirit abides with you. Usually a change in your feelings and subsequent actions will initiate a reduction of the other person's hatred of you. Perhaps even reconciliation may occur.

Whenever I have been angry over the years with my wife, Carolyn, I kneel and pray for this good woman. She is such a kind and loving person that my anger is usually my own fault. Whatever the cause, my angry feelings are turned to increased love by sincere prayer.

On Sunday afternoon Carolyn saw me editing my remarks and asked if she could read them. She offered some insightful suggestions. Later that night, just as we were drifting off to sleep, she whispered to me, "I heard you share your experience about praying for your enemies when you taught our Jerusalem students during the Mount of the Beatitudes field trip. Since then, whenever I have been angry at you, I have prayed for you. It has worked every time."

I did not know how to respond. I did not know whether to be miffed that she had felt I'd done things that justified her anger or to be happy that she had discovered the same results that I had in applying the Savior's words. If I were miffed at her, I would have had to get out of bed and pray for her, and since I was very tired, I decided to just go to sleep a happy man. It should be no great surprise that good things come from following the teachings of the Master.

Besides this suggestion to pray for your spouse, the implication for those of you who are single is to not only pray for yourself in a dating relationship but also to pray for the young man or woman in whom you are interested. Pray for what is best for them, which may turn out not to be you. But that is okay. The Lord will bless you, and good things will follow. This simple action will change feelings between husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, children and parents, and neighbors and co-workers. When you are angry, when a relationship is stretched thin to the limit, sincerely pray for the person who at that moment "hates" you. It will bring a mighty miracle in your feelings and in your ability to bear affliction.