I ran across an interesting blog post that has also been making the rounds on various social media outlets. If you want to read it, you can find it here. Just the comments alone are off the chain. The author tells her story of being a pregnant unmarried woman who is also a pastor and is not stepping down from her leadership position in the church. Oh the outcry! People are shocked that she would “dare” not publicly be repentant and spend months hiding away in shame due to an unplanned pregnancy. But she is clear in her article that she made her peace with herself and God and is moving on and enjoying the moments. It’s always been interesting how women are treated versus how quickly some people are to sweep a man’s indiscretions under the rug. There’s some type of righteous indignation that seems to follow pointing the finger at someone’s supposed “sin.” She’s not a young pre-teen. She’s a grown woman with a career and a stable home and yet people are riding her about her personal choices in her own life because she’s in a leadership position in her church. I understand the expectation that those in leadership uphold a certain standard of “acceptable” behavior. However, why is being sexually active and getting pregnant on the same level as adultery, stealing, or exploitation? There are plenty of men who have committed actual criminal offenses in leadership positions and have been allowed to get off scot-free with the “we all fall short” excuse. Life is short and can end without warning or reason so why exactly is abstinence before marriage still considered a sign of a “real” Christian? Don’t get me wrong, there are people who have chosen that life of abstinence for themselves and are happy and content with their choice. But there are others who it doesn’t work for. Of all the things to do in the world that are bad, why are the bedroom activities of two consenting unmarried adults judged so harshly? There’s literally so many other legitimate things to be up in arms about in this world we live in. A pregnant unmarried pastor is a non-issue (or at least should be). Next.
Not too long ago I ran across an interesting article and immediately shared it with a friend who also agreed wholeheartedly with the author. You can read it here. As a therapist I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve talked to clients about accepting themselves and not basing their happiness on the presence of another person. But let’s admit it, we all want acceptance, companionship, and validation. The author brings out a good point when she talks about a strange sort of contentment in doing your own thing 100% of the time. You don’t have to consult with anyone or let someone know where you’re going when you leave the house. It’s like settling into a homeostasis of sorts. You aren’t obligated to constantly think about the welfare of another person. If only you could order a significant other as easily as one does an Uber or Lyft. You could specify various characteristics that you wanted and then request. As promised, a companion would suddenly appear on your doorstep, the epitome of all your hopes and dreams. No heartache or second guessing because you’ve just met your soulmate and you know that you’ll live happily ever after. Let’s be real, there’s a certain amount of selfish that is perfectly acceptable being a single person that just won’t fly in a relationship. You can’t get your way and never compromise and still expect to have a successful partnership. The author brings out a good point when she discusses the constant self-analysis and diagnosis that happens when you try to make sense of a phenomenon that is supposed to occur within a certain time frame. I have to say that I agree with her conclusion.
Like many people, I have to say that this presidential race isn’t anything like it was in 2012. I’ve never been very involved in politics but over the past year I’ve learned a little more about political systems and the importance of being aware and involved in what’s going on on a local level. That being said, this upcoming election is one that is especially impactful and has the possibility of some long term ramifications. Apart from all the rumors going around, I haven’t taken the time to read about the platform of each individual candidate. In a perfect world I would pick the candidate whose platform is in congruence with my values and perspective. There’s been some discussion around voting and if it really counts. And if you know anything about the electoral college, you know that there’s an additional step that allows a select few to actually chose a leader. Needless to say, so far I’m not a huge fan of either candidate. I’ve identified one whose views seem most contrary to my own but haven’t done my own research on all the details. It’s easy to have an opinion when you don’t have all the information; and I need my choice to be informed by facts and not just what has been put out there by the media because everyone has an agenda. I don’t know if there’s a such thing as “unbiased” when it comes to pushing your own perspective forward. I think that this election would qualify as a defining moment for the country. It would be nice if progress could actually happen instead of a bunch of empty promises and the perpetuation of discrimination and racism that has been alive and well for centuries. But I’m not going to hold my breath.
About a year ago I made a pretty important adult decision. It’s funny how adult decisions can be so defining for you. It’s always a choice pertaining to the future and isn’t as mundane as deciding what to have for lunch. I think of adult decisions as the ones where you take time to decide. The decision process is deliberate and takes time. You carefully weigh the pros and cons of your decision. You research the emotional consequences and additional ramifications that may come as a result of your decision. Sometimes this decision involves consulting with trusted friends. You mull over it in your mind. You sleep on it. You run through all the possible outcomes of the decision and make allowances for anything that could go wrong or not according to plan. And then you make the decision. It’s almost like you build a house of fragile materials and then you hope that it lasts. You let the chips fall where they may and you deal with it.
Like many single people, I often get the chance to hear the reason why I’m single from many nice and well-meaning people. Personally, I find the unsolicited advice annoying but that’s a different topic. The reasons always vary and tend to involve some advice on self improvement. All well and good. This week I heard a new reason that seemed more ironic than the other ones I’ve heard up to this point. I was told that I’m single because I appear to be too independent and “put together” that it appears that I don’t need anyone. I will say that there’s a certain type of confidence that comes along with the continued ability to manage your bills and life without the input or assistance of a significant other. You make the hard decisions and life with the consequences alone. It may not always be ideal but you make it. But let’s be honest, people like being needed. There’s a certain security that comes along with knowing that you’re needed. You see couples who have broken up with both partner feeling utterly lost because they were so codependent on each other that they lost themselves in a relationship that ended. I think that there’s a balance or a sweet spot to be found concerning being “too” needy or “too” independent. Personally, it makes more sense to me to be too independent instead of too needy because it almost seems like the “lesser” evil. You have people with bucket lists of places that they want to visit and the only thing holding them back is finding someone to take along. Regardless of everything responsibilities have to be addressed and bills need to be paid. I think that’s just basic adulting stuff. It’s not an indication of being too independent to have a companion. But that’s just my opinion. So am I going to try to appear more needy for the sole purpose of landing a significant other? Nah.
Like most people I like to be right. There’s just an inherent smug feeling of satisfaction knowing that fact agrees with your assertion. It’s a great feeling. But as much as I like being right, there are times when I wish I wasn’t. It’s not fun to see the huge possibility of a negative outcome and then watch it happen. I guess it’s in those circumstances that I actually wish I was wrong and was pleasantly surprised instead. But I think that’s the ebb and flow of life in general. There are good surprises and then some not so great ones. But every now and again it’s not a bad thing to be wrong.
Not too long ago I had the opportunity to brush up on my therapy skills and put them into practice. Like anything, there are certain things you forget when you don’t have to use a certain set of skills consistently. While it’s easy to get back in groove (like riding a bike), the process requires additional preparation and planning. Something that stood out to me was the role of vulnerability in a successful intimate relationship. We have an impact on each other and walls are sometimes necessary because they serve as emotional protection in the face of real or perceived emotional danger. A certain amount of baggage typically comes along with two people entering a relationship. It’s not about finding a “perfect” person but more about choosing someone whose problems and emotional baggage complement yours. Vulnerability requires a certain amount of trust in the other person. The lines of communication have to be open without any topic being off limits. It’s interesting to witness adults in a variety of situations shy away from being assertive and discussing expectations about an uncomfortable topic. When I think about being vulnerable I think about watching dogs play and fight. Typically one dog wins when the other one surrenders by laying on its back and going belly up. It’s literally a position of vulnerability as it exposes vital organs leaving the dog at the mercy of its opponent. But it also signals the end of the fight. I think it’s important to remember that getting to that point of vulnerability takes time with human relationships. But it can be so worth it in the end when both people can communicate on that level without feeling attacked or judged.