Saturday, July 30, 2011

Quit Trying to Fix Me Up!

An Open Letter to All Who Know Me:

Growing up in the Christian church, there was an unusual phrase I’d often hear tossed around. It was “the gift of singleness.”

When a pastor would use this term, it referred to people like the apostle Paul whose purpose in life and relationship with God was so fulfilling that he didn’t need to marry and have a family to complete himself. But, when people in the congregation would use that term, it was more in this tense:

  • “What’s the story with the guy who always wears the Star Wars ties on Sundays?” “Oh, him? He has the ‘gift of singleness’.”
  • “That woman with the cat hair all over her dress, who’s her husband?” “Oh no dear, you see, she has the ‘gift of singleness’,” “Oh my, I’ll bring her a tape roller next week, poor thing.”
Yes, the majority of the world was designed to be half of a couple, to be fathers and mothers. We don’t need the human race to dry up, this is a good thing! And, yes, many single people do feel incomplete during that timeframe where God’s still working on their other half, preparing them to be “just right” at the just right time. The waiting can be frustrating, I comprehend this and sympathize for these people. I just can’t relate.

When the movie Jerry Maguire came out, at the moment the women (and some men) in the audience heard the line “You. Complete. Me.“ tears broke out throughout the theater. I may have squeezed out a little saline too, but I think mine had more to do with being in the midst of a mass crying jag. (Certain movies do that to you and you get caught up in the bond of crying with a group of strangers.)

The little sign language bit of [point, circle motion with hands, point at self] became the trend of the season and a box office hit was made. I understood this intellectually. I comprehend what “you complete me” means. But, again, can’t relate. How sad that people are walking through life feeling incomplete. People rode away from that movie on the great swell of the story of love. I walked out with my main mission in life being to track down Jonathan Lipnicki and giving just one pinch to those adorable cheeks!

No ring, no problems! Oh oh oh! ♫
It’s a wonderful feeling of elation the day a person becomes content with the way God made them. I can vividly remember the time I was loosed of my boy-crazy chains.

For background, it’s been awhile but, yes, I dated in my late teens and twenties like everybody else. Although I hated being set up, even back then, and wouldn’t allow it. My whole life, I have always felt a closer bond with my male friends. I love the male species (and, yes, am very attracted to them) and always had them around, so it took me awhile to understand that some girls were dying to have a boyfriend just to have a boy around. It was a mystery, they wanted to spend time with one of these elusive creatures.

I, in turn, always had guys around… so it would take a very special one to perk my interest enough to cross that comfortable line of friendship into that uncomfortable territory of dating. Anyone I’ve tried this with had already been a friend of mine for a decent amount of time, and I would already have to be a little bit in love with them to be willing to take that scary step. These generally weren’t what the world calls “committed” relationships and never lasted long-term. It was always sad when they ended but, on my end, it was almost equally relieving to go back to being just friends. I’m not an ideal girlfriend. God didn’t give me that talent. I make a better girl-next-door. A buddy. In fact, I think I excel at buddy-dom.

So, moving on, at one point when I was in my mid-twenties I was part of a small-group Bible study where me and my girlfriends had all read this book on Christian dating and we somehow, to my chagrin, decided to make a joint dating pact. We decided to take a “dating fast” for six months and spend that time getting to know ourselves without manly distraction. I was the oldest of the group and probably the most resistant.

You see, my biological clock had turned into a biological time bomb at that age. I couldn’t sniff a baby with knowing that was true. No kidding, anytime I would hold a newborn infant, whatever pheromones they’d release from the top of their soft spot, would be inhaled through my nostrils and directed swiftly to my ovaries. I understood wholly the concept of a “panging womb” in those moments. Any woman can tell you, there's no better word for it than “pang”.

Immediately prior to me signing the dreaded dating fast pact (yes, we actually signed a dotted line) I had been secretly trying to figure out which of my guy friends to try to date next. I needed a baby in the panging womb, but none of my remaining male friends seemed like a perfect fit.

Well, to me, an oath is an oath. And, I soon enough delved into dating myself. I came to find out that I really liked dating myself! I’m a lot of fun! My tunnel vision kicked in and, being free from the distraction of men, my creativity sky-rocketed and I began painting again and writing again and being crafty and communing with nature. My life had never before felt more on-track!

When the six-months was up, I announced that I was going to extend my fast to nine months because I had begun writing a book and wanted to finish it. The nine months turned into a year, because I was trying to find a publisher (Thank you Lord that I never found a publisher! I enjoy writing, but wouldn’t want to make a career out of it. The book I had written at the time was on the same subject matter and would have been humiliating, in retrospect, to have been released to the public.)

Side note: I also discovered during this time that there is nothing more attractive than an unavailable woman. I had never been asked out more in my life and actually started to find it really annoying.

Well, it’s now at least a decade later, I’ve never officially ended my fast. Writing that embarrassing book (where I’d even included diary entries for the love of Pete! What was I thinking?!) had one amazing purpose. It forced me to scour the Scriptures and solidify my faith.

Oh, more background needed? I’m a born-again Christian since the age of four. I’m not one of those Christians they parody in TV and movies. Y'know, the gay-hating, judgmental, abortion-clinic-bombing type. I'm the good kind. I simply believe in God and that Jesus was the Messiah. I love reading the Bible and praying. I really get a sense of truth resonating when I do these things and, to me, that's proof of God's existence. I won't thump you on the head with my Bible. I won't try to change you if you don't feel the same way. If you ever change your mind, I‘m happy to answer questions. I’m a recovering gossip, who knows it's wrong, but it's my biggest temptation. I'm embarrassed that this is a trait that falls under the “Christian stereo-type” and I don‘t want to be a stereo-type.

In my faith, dating is a means of finding a spouse. I realized I don’t really want a spouse at the moment. I really feel complete and whole. I’ve never been happier than being romantically independent. I’m not a lonely person. I don’t feel like half of a non-existent couple. This past decade has been the happiest and most fulfilling of my life!

So, how did I cure the baby pangs? In a way only God could align the stars for. While I was dating myself, the most life-changing thing happened... I became an aunt!

To be honest with myself, in my twenties, I only wanted to get married for the intent of having kids (of course, and to have someone to fool around with now and then.) I never really was one to dream about my wedding day. I never had the ideal type of man I wanted to end up with. When I thought of the future, in the family sense, it was always just a picture of me running around and laughing with kids in my life who thought I was awesome. Marriage itself always seemed like a chore.

Well, the ultimate cure for the baby pangs was overnight niece/nephew visits. I remember distinctly the night I found my biological snooze button. One of my nephews, age of one (or it might have even been negative-one at the time) was spending the weekend with us. Our family was going through the terrible trial of his brother facing life-threatening surgery. So, my parents and I would take in this nephew whenever his brother would have to stay in a hospital out of state. (By the way, that tragedy is over and nephew #2 is healthy and happy today.)

I always knew sleep was important to me. Missing one night of it, one can always run on adrenaline until the next evening. Missing two or more, I found, was definitely my limit. I had realized that being an aunt was cool, but I am much too lazy to be a mom. When I would mention this discovery to friends, they would always say the same thing, “Oh Kim. You’d be wonderful mom! It’s different when it’s your own kid. You’ll see!” They never got it. The snooze button had been pressed! The pang had left my womb and had jumped into the nearest twenty-something female’s body. I was free!

Happy aunt!
But, my snooze button story is longer than that. Many parents of grown children will tell you that they’re glad they’d had the experience of teething, learning to walk, potty training, watching their kids grow up, but they would never want to go back and do it again! That I can relate to as well.

More back-story? About a year or two after my snooze button had been activated, I became a full-time aunt.

Without delving too much into my siblings’ personal business, I’ll just say that one of my siblings had become a victim of the economy and their whole family of five moved in with us for several years. I had the incredible honor of helping raise their kids, just out of happenstance and the sole fact of having shared a roof. I’ve been through the teething, first steps, potty training, homework, bath times, meal times, etc. that come with parenthood, by default. They are some of my most precious memories and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world.

I’m still incredibly close with the children even though we no longer share a street address and we sometimes joke about how I’m an honorary bonus parent. Having that experience was enormously fulfilling to me, but like an empty-nester, I can’t say I want to start over and do it all again with children of my own. (Especially the potty-training!) I'm in no hurry to have kids. So, I'm in no hurry to find a husband. I may never find the need for one! Don't be offended, I'm not pushing this lifestyle on you.

So, when you see someone without a ring on their left-hand, do some research before you start trying to “help”. People who want help finding a mate, usually will ask you for it. Not every unmarried individual is lonely, depressed, incredibly shy, a closeted gay, incomplete, asexual, frigid or cuckoo.

Some of us chose this lifestyle. Most people will tell their loved ones that they just want them to be happy. When you say this, please realize that we all have different things that make us happy. None of us are hard-wired the same way, God didn’t create us all to have the same path in life. The gift of singleness is a real thing, don't get it twisted just because you don't have it. If you try to force someone to be happy in the way you think they should be happy, you just may be robbing them of their own bliss!

As, for me, put those phone numbers away. I’ve already found my bliss and I’m the happiest person I know! Aunthood: Nature’s snooze button.


Scheezo said...

We all want life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I admire the fact that you're pursuing happiness and don't need someone else to make that happen.

)O( Figgy )O( said...

Kim, you are so not that little girl I remember. You are, indeed, a beautiful, loving and very talented, INDEPENDENT woman! I am so proud to say; "that is my niece and she wrote this!" :o) Yep, I have been braggin on you, just like I do Jess to all my friends who ask about posts they see on my wall!
I can't wait to read your installments, in fact, I am addicted to your blog as you are FB; checking it just as often, if not more so.
Love you!