I wasn’t ready for marriage

For any of you who have thought about the “practicality” of living together or debated how ready you are for marriage, I think this post is a great reminder that you can’t control for everything. At some point, you have to take a risk and you just have to move forward. That’s not the “end all” answer for every situation, but I feel this post is a good reminder of what’s important.

The Matt Walsh Blog

I met my wife on eHarmony. I was a morning rock DJ in Delaware, she was living in Maryland and finishing up her degree. I drove two and a half hours to pick her up for our first date. I spent most of my bi-weekly paycheck on tickets to a dinner theater in Baltimore. The rest went to gas and tolls.

And that’s the way it would go for the next year and a half (minus the dinner theater part). Once a week, I’d spend money I didn’t have and drive the 260 mile roundtrip to see the love of my life. Sometimes I’d sleep for a few hours in the guest room at her mom’s house, waking up at 2AM to head back to the coast for my 5:30AM radio show.

I was very tired back then.

And broke.

Lord, was I broke.

She’d take turns driving my way, burning gas she couldn’t afford to burn and…

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What makes a marriage work?

This post really resonated with me so I’d like to share it.  Whether you’re single, in a relationship, or married; I think we can all benefit from the message of friendship as a key component of marriage.  Take a look, it’s a good read 🙂

THE #1 THING WE’D HAVE CHANGED IN OUR MARRIAGE

“Abstinence is unrealistic and old fashioned.” – One blogger’s response.

In a recent conversation with some friends, I related a story about a young woman whose conversation I was unable to block from my hearing. I complained and rolled my eyes at how young and immature she is and the way in which she is playing into society’s supposed promotion of women’s liberation. I couldn’t stand the way in which she talked about her multiple boyfriends and casual relationships as if it was the most enlightened way of life. Because the truth is that it’s unnatural. You can’t pretend that sex means nothing and that living a promiscuous life doesn’t do any damage. As I told my friends about this instance, my tone was annoyed. But I think the truth is that I was disturbed and later God pointed out that instead of judging this girl, I should be praying for her. I should be considering that very damage in her life and hoping that it can be repaired rather than condemning her.

Thank you Matt Walsh for your perspective – a much needed one. And I’m so glad that Jeremy reached out to you for advice on abstinence in today’s world. However, my one point of contention is to not make the mistake I did. Although I am equally unhappy about what that health teacher had to say, it’s also not right to condemn her. We have a responsibility to speak truth into people’s lives but not to judge them. That’s for God to do. Obviously, this young woman has some misguided sense of reality and a true disconnect from much-needed wisdom. Unfortunately, she’s in an influential position and could do some serious damage with the kids she’s teaching. I think she’s wrong but instead of condemning her, let’s pray for her and others like her who desperately need to know the real truth. God loves her, the young woman I mentioned, and Jeremy equally.

The Matt Walsh Blog

From my inbox, an email from a high school student named Jeremy:

“Dear Matt, first I want to say I really like your blog. One of my teachers actually mentioned it in class once after you wrote something (she didn’t mention it in a good way lol) and I went and looked you up so I’ve been following you ever since. I know you get so much email so I don’t expect you to see this but in case you do I wanted to get your opinion about something. You write a lot about relationships and everything so I’m wondering if you think abstinence should be encouraged in school?

Reason I’m asking is because we are doing our sex ed lessons in health class now and the topic has come up. Yesterday my health teacher was talking about safe sex and someone mentioned abstinence and she said it wasn’t realistic…

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An Airport Run-In Fit for Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan

I Kissed My Date Goodnight

Airport DelaysI’ve been traveling a bit lately for both personal and work-related reasons. As much as I love life on the road, there are things about it that are just plain annoying. You know what I’m talking about, right? Wannabe-cop TSA agents, delayed-for-no-apparent-reason flights, airplane seats designed for Kristin Chenoweth, and non-existent airplane food and blankets. I mean, either turn the airplane temperature up by 20 degrees or give me a dang blanket already!

Now that airlines are charging for everything except breathing, one of the newly challenging aspects of flying is the no-holds-barred fight for overhead luggage space. No one wants to pay to check bags anymore, so there’s now not enough space for everyone’s over-packed carry-ons. That’s where Southwest comes in handy for me. Two free bags per ticketed passenger and I can stroll onto the flight with just my laptop and a medium coffee. Sigh. So nice!

Of…

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“Watch What You Eat!”

Word For Life Says . . .

What we put into our body matters.  The foods we eat can either help or hinder our health.  Yesterday, I mentioned stopping at a fast food joint.  Sometimes we do this but it is not an everyday occurrence.  I value what goes in my body.  Is every food choice the best choice?  No, but I try to make it a point to have the majority of what I eat to be of nutritional value; to be something that will build me up and not tear me down.

Our spiritual lives work in the same manner.  We are what we eat, spiritually.  If all that we are ever digest is the negatives of this world then we are robbing our spirit of the vital nutrients that can increase our awareness and spiritual health.  The Bible says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” (Rom. 10:17).  What we assimilate…

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Taking a Break from Dating

Ever gone through seasons of just giving up on even thinking about your love life? I know I have. This is a great post simply because of its vulnerability. Sometimes you just need to hear that someone else gets it. Take a look!

Wasted Time: True Love’s Saboteur.

Over Easy: The Great Faith Debate

Over Easy: The Great Faith Debate.

A practical approach to the often-asked question about whether interfaith relationships are okay.

Submissive wife? No way!

This morning as a I checked my email (which I do incessantly), I saw the familiar Single Roots newsletter in my inbox and was thrilled by the subject line – Allowing Myself to Dream.

However, when I opened up the link and began reading, I was disappointed. It’s not that I disagreed with anything that Shahan had to say. In fact, I completely agree that God wants us to live life to the fullest rather than twiddling our thumbs as we wait for the one. But, I was looking for something else. I was hoping for a post that would tell me it’s okay to dream about love and marriage.

I wanted someone to tell me there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging the part of me that some might label old fashioned. The part of me that longs to be a wife and a mom.

Why did I crave that affirmation? Why do I need someone else to tell me that being a modern woman doesn’t require that I give up my desire for marriage and family? As I wrote this post, the answer surprisingly brought me back to a truth I needed to be reminded of.

On a college trip to Chile, I somehow ended up in a conversation with one of my classmates about premarital sex. When I revealed that I didn’t believe in sex before marriage, she was astounded to say the least. Her response was something along the lines of the following: “I can’t believe that as an educated woman, you subscribe to such antiquated beliefs.”

I was shocked by her reaction. What did having an education have to do with my religious beliefs?

As Christians (male and female), I know we are constantly experiencing this divide. To express one’s religious beliefs is not “PC”. We may be seen as backward  and judgemental, or automatically grouped in with conservatives, evangelists, or “Bible-thumpers”.

As a woman, I have witnessed this conflict on a very gender-specific level.  In my experience, the modern woman is expected to be career-focused, ambitious, independent, and self-sufficient. She should be comfortable with her sexuality and unconcerned with societal conventions.

When I joined the working world and later re-entered school to get my MPH, I felt the weight of these expectations on a very personal level. I don’t know how to explain exactly how I experienced it except to say that they were subtly woven into the fabric of the community around me. It felt as if expressing a desire for marriage and children was just not done. I hesitated to bring up church life because of the negative association attached to religion. And it was a given that my ambitions in life should center around my career. I felt alienated from my peers.

I remember telling a good friend of mine that I felt inadequate compared to my classmates because I wasn’t sufficiently passionate about public health. Her response struck a chord because as soon as she said it, I was hit with how right and true it felt. She said, “That’s not true. You are passionate. You’re passionate about God, friends, and family. You’re just passionate about something different.”

As an Indian American woman raised in the church, I never quite knew what to think. I would hear relatives tell me in chiding tones that I should learn how to cook if I wanted to get married and that I wouldn’t be able to find a husband who would accept my feminist views. I grew up in a church where elders turned a blind eye when boys left service to hang out in the basement, but made sure girls were not doing so.  The double standard grated on my nerves. I would read Paul’s letters saying women should cover their heads, submit to their husbands, and not be allowed to preach in church, and my temper would rise.

As much as I long for marriage and family, that doesn’t make me a conservative in all of my beliefs. My heart rebelled at the notion of man as the traditional head of the household, making all the decisions, and calling all the shots. I believe in a 50/50 marriage, one in which decisions are discussed and made together.

So what should we seek to emulate as women? The role that modern society now assigns us? The submissive wife of the Bible? For those of us who come from different cultures, do we take on the responsibilities outlined in those cultures as caretaker and cook?

The answer is incredibly simple and yet not easy. We take on the role God asks us to adopt. When I realized a few years ago that God kept bringing my attention to this issue, I recognized my stubborn refusal to allow God to direct me. I was scared he would give me an answer I didn’t like. And that’s when I forced myself to say a prayer I didn’t want to say. I asked God to help me see the role he designed for me as a woman and then, to help me accept and adopt it wholeheartedly.

It was a prayer I had to repeat many times but I’m grateful he asked it of me because now I feel closer to him on an issue that used to separate me from him.

So, if you’re reading this and wondering what that answer is, I ask you to take the these next steps. Pray and submit your will to his. Read every passage you can in the Bible about the role of women, discuss questions with fellow believers, and keep asking God for his perspective and wisdom. If you come to your own God-given answers, you’ll find the role he has for you and you won’t need to fit into anyone else’s definition.

As for me, I believe it all ties in to the often quoted Proverbs 31. It’s an astounding chapter actually if you take into consideration the historical context. Here is a woman who is viewed as capable and wise; she is a provider and a mother and wife who makes her husband proud. She appears to do things not usually part of the female role and is well-respected as is her husband. She is the woman I want to be.

After a lot of prayer and contemplation of God’s word, I finally feel at peace with my role as a woman of God but sometimes I just need a little reminder to not seek affirmation from any other source than him.

Death and Community

Shock. Loneliness. Overwhelming grief.

Those are just a few of a multitude of conflicting emotions that hit us hard when someone dies. Last month our church lost one of its founding members. More importantly, a wife lost her husband, two sons lost their dad, and a daughter-in-law lost a father who treated her as his own. A community lost one of its own.

Death often acts as a catalyst for reflection. For me, it is always a reminder of three very important things – (1) community is a strange phenomenon and (2) what meaning have I given to my life? and (3) remember the bigger picture.

Community: While I watched people pay their respects to a man I barely knew (despite having grown up with him), I was hit with these reminders again. Youth members set aside finals, hectic work schedules, and even long distances to support these two young men who are experiencing a loss difficult to comprehend. Some of us may not even be close to them; we stumbled with what we could possibly say; but we tried to be there and show that we care. Former members no longer attending our church took the time on a work night to honor a man who did a lot to help without saying much. A community often split by church politics, judgement, and gossip, came together as one in recognition of the value of this individual and the grief of his loved ones. It’s both beautiful and disturbing. There is incredible beauty in the ways in which many gave of themselves in order to help and support the family. It’s also disturbing to know that there is so much potential for our church and community to be stronger on the good days rather than  just the bad ones and to not know how to make that happen. Having recently felt that God is calling me to stay in my home church and work to revive it; this was an especially difficult reality.

Meaningful Life: When a fellow classmate died my senior year of high school, our entire class was deeply affected.  There was one thing that stood out for all of us in our memories of her – her smile. Her smile reflected inner joy. That was the first time I dealt with death on a more personal basis and the first time I asked myself “How would I want to be remembered?” As the viewing progressed, stories were told of a man who was always willing to help and work hard, who shared his faith with others, and who served “behind the scenes”. I know more about the kind of man he was now than I ever did before. His life reflected meaningful and humble service. His life reflected Christ.

I think it’s an important question to ask ourselves – What mark do I want to leave?  I believe that when we look at life from that perspective, it helps us realign our goals with what God wants of us. My answer is that I want to be known as a woman who went out of her way to help others. That desire has manifested in the career choices I’ve made as well as the role I believe God has given me in ministry.

The Big Picture: Last but certainly not least, I sat there struggling to hold back tears at the sight of his loved ones falling apart and I looked back on my day and felt ashamed. I was so irritated that morning at having to deal with a 3 hour commute due to traffic, struggling to find someone to answer questions for my research project, and stresses from all corners. But what is all that in comparison to the grief I witnessed that night?

We’re so busy questioning God that we fail to recognize his eyes see it all and yet he loves us enough to listen to our rants. Why do we get mired in the details instead of looking at the bigger picture?

 

Death puts things into perspective. Why can’t we hold on to that perspective on a daily basis? 

One Step at a Time

I Kissed My Date Goodnight

I survived a miniature family reunion this weekend in New Jersey. Relatives gathered from near and far — including both coasts of Canada, Texas, Argentina, and The Garden State itself. We spent several days riding the magical carousel of eating and talking, eating and talking, eating and talking. Conversations effortlessly (and loudly) filled every empty space with multiple languages, laughter and much-needed reminiscence.

pizzaOn my final night there, we ordered a few pizza pies from a local joint and gathered around the table for — wait for it — more eating and talking. (If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right?) I found myself in a particularly heartfelt, honest conversation with my brother, his wife, and my cousin, Daniel. We talked about faith and how sometimes it’s hard to believe in God, sometimes it’s hard to understand his ways. We each had areas of faith we struggled with, yet all…

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