Discipling The Distracted

I hate telling people I have adult ADHD. In the past, it’s been met with an eye-roll, a laugh, and, “God, everyone is diagnosed with that now.” <- This legit happened a couple of years ago, with very close friends.  Others will laugh and say, “Oh goodness, I’m totally ADD!” Side Note: Doctors no longer diagnose anyone as ADD, as it has been dropped from medical literature. It is still commonly used, though, to refer to ADD/ADHD, which are medically defined as the same thing now. This has been true since the 80s.

Being a Christian, it’s frustrating on so many different levels. On the outside looking in, I’m just lazy, unintelligent, unorganized, and flaky. You wouldn’t think twice about what it feels like to be inside my brain (I’m sure it’s super unorganized up there). And it’s a serious problem. It’s not a joke, a phase, a season, or a discipline issue. It’s also not just a “children’s disorder.” Is this a serious problem that can’t be alleviated, and should just be accepted as-is? I don’t think so. Some doctors even argue that it’s a brain advantage when the symptoms are managed well. If they are, we are basically unstoppable. But it’s incredibly difficult to manage the symptoms without medication. Think of this like getting out of a life-long habit. It takes time, repetition, and from everyone else: GRACE.

adhd

I do believe Christians should be more sensitive to discipling people with Adult ADHD.  If the person has never been diagnosed, I do not suggest you go around diagnosing people, and I’m certainly not suggesting that you avoid talking about sin or the person’s past experiences. I firmly believe that past experience can effect SOME (*not* all) symptoms of ADHD.

I’ve made a lot of people close to me, annoyed and sometimes angry. It’s hard to be patient with me. If I ever were to be married, I feel like I’d have to tell my husband when we got serious because it’s been so influential in my life, and not in a good way.

The things that happen to a “normal” person, happen to me at minimum, once a week. It’s easier for me to explain it this way than to list symptoms of ADHD.

  • Misplacing keys? Every day.
  • Locking keys in the car? 2-3 times a month
  • Forgetting your destination while driving? Avg twice a week
  • Going into a store and forgetting why you’re there? Every time I’m at a store, unless I have a list…but I forget to bring my list 95% of the time.
  • Driving away from a drive-thru without your change or beverage? 50% of the time.
  • If a task requires longer than 30 minutes to complete, I mentally check out and will errors will arise because my brain is beginning to focus on other things
  • I start several things at once and rarely, rarely ever finish one
  • I can’t sit in complete silence – my thoughts will become overwhelming and emotional for me (I’ll have so many at once, and they’ll pile up in my mind so high that I stop thinking and just cry for a while)

This is literally just a glimpse. A tiny snapshot. This doesn’t include how adult ADHD effects other things – like work, money management, time management. The only person I show up on time for anything for is my sister, Alex. I don’t know why. Ask any of my other friends or family how often I show up on time.

There is way too much science in regards to our brains and how they work. In regards to adult ADHD, there’s a lot of information, but in the end, the studies only show that medication truly alleviates symptoms – by about 80%! Psycotherapy, nutrition, etc has not had a huge effect, but has had some. Science aside, here are some ways you can disciple someone who has confessed they either have been diagnosed with Adult ADHD, or they believe they should be:

Stray From The, “Have You Tried _____?” Questions

Chances are very high that the adult struggling with this neurological disorder have tried everything. We have tried the planners. The neat filing cabinets. The apps. Oh, the apps. The diet, the exercise…name it…we’ve tried it. Because Adult ADHD isn’t taken very seriously still, there isn’t much knowledge out there about what actually works right now. And right now, all that actually has a huge effect is medication. Does this mean discipleship has no place? Absolutely NOT. Discipleship has helped me alleviate one major symptom of mine – which is my anger/temperament issues.  Because I attend a church that reminds us that there’s a lie behind every sin, I’m able to work through these things with people. Whether they’re in a fight club, or they’re just a friend – I’m able to talk about what’s going on with me. Am I able to go a long streak without any anger issues? I’m not. I know as you’re reading this, you may think, “Well, everyone gets angry.” True, but this is not just “angry.” These are what I call, “mini-rage sessions.” Physically, my body will change. My heart pounds out of my chest, blood rushes to my head, my hands start sweating. Sometimes, I’ll cry because I’m so angry. I clench my teeth, and I can’t stop myself from going over the situation hundreds of times in my head. This happens more often than what’s considered normal. Through discipleship, I was able to ask myself what was triggering these symptoms. What sin was allowing my disorder to take over right now? What lie am I believing in these moments?

So, I firmly believe in asking questions over just giving advice. Only trained professionals in Adult ADHD are able to effectively communicate strategies that can help a person who suffers from it. It’s too tempting to hear, “I have financial issues” to turn around and say, “Gosh, so did I until I sat down for an hour, made this budget, and downloaded the Mint app!”  Instead, you can help the person dig into why their symptoms are taking over them. What’s the bottom of the financial issues? Also keeping in mind that it’s a long road for us to completely change things. We tend to get off track quite quickly, and even thinking about “what’s at the bottom” is incredibly overwhelming. I’d recommend asking more specific questions.

Giving advice right away also continues to break our confidence down. As I’ve said before – we’ve tried everything. Trust that we have. Even if we sit and say, “I’m looking for a way out of this…please tell me what to do” – only advise someone to see assistance from someone who is more educated in this area (or even suggest a really good book on the subject, written by a professional). I wouldn’t be approached by someone wanting to lose weight and then write down a diet and exercise plan. I’d point them to doctors I’d trust and personal trainers.  You’re not passing them off, though. You’re still able to love them! Let’s say you had a cousin who suffered from Adult ADHD. They read a book that completely changed them. Or you have adult ADHD as well, and the only thing that worked for you was medication. Whatever direction you encourage them to go – you can love them along the way. Ask them how the book is coming along. Ask them if they’ve seen a psychiatrist about this condition. If you know they have something important coming up, shoot them a text about it. Don’t forget about them just because you felt “under-qualified.” I’ve pointed my friends to married elders in the church to help them through their marriage and I’m still able to ask them about how it’s going. How their marriage is doing, etc.  I don’t consider myself to be qualified to advise, but God put them in my life to love them. If anyone needs support and love, it’s adults who suffer with this.

Encourage, Encourage, ENCOURAGE

I can’t stress so much how important this is. A lot of adults with ADHD aren’t diagnosed until they are adults. This means, they went years believing they were just stupid, lazy, and a mess of a person. They also probably had people in their lives along the way that encouraged those lies. What adults with ADHD really need are encouragers. We don’t need empty compliments. We need specific things that encourage us. To further explain, let’s make up a story about a boy named Sam.

Sam loves writing screenplays. This is his passion. He also loves playing guitar, painting, and watching Star Wars. His number one love is screenplays, though. He has no idea how he’ll do it, but he wants to be recognized for it. He has other great traits too. He’s a good cook, so whenever his small group serves his neighborhood homeless, he usually is in charge of the food. He’s also hilarious. 

Knowing Sam is incredibly important. If you don’t know Sam, you’re going to encourage him in a way that won’t effect him. “Sam, you’re so funny!” Maybe he is. But he wants you to recognize something that he loves but that he doesn’t feel totally gifted in – YET. Your encouragement towards these specific gifts and passions can go a really long way to helping him pursue his gifts.

My buddy Elias kept complimenting me when we were in New York, shooting stuff for the documentary. I get a great amount of encouragement from people.

“You’re so good at serving!”

“Thanks for being encouraging.”

“You’re an awesome person.”

I’m so thankful for these words, and I frankly don’t deserve them. But none of them felt as good as when Elias was complimenting my work. He kept telling others how talented I was.  He saw my passion, and he complimented what was most important to me. Because of this, I felt “empowered” to be better in all those other areas: serving, encouraging, etc.

We Are Dreamers. Let it be.

Those of us with ADHD have my favorite “symptom” – we’re dreamers. We grab onto ideas, we tell the world, and we rarely follow through with them. I know – there’s entrepreneurs out there who are “dreamers.” The difference between us and them, is they (majority) don’t have a disorder that completely diminishes their ability to follow through with these dreams.

The dreaming “symptom” is not a favorite for everyone. It sets us up for disappointment. How can you disciple someone who’s a dreamer?

It’s hard to not want to say, “Whoa…easy there tiger!” when someone with ADHD comes out and tells you their new plan (dream). What we don’t need is a “shut it down” remark. We need to be reminded, though, that we are already playing a huge part in God’s plan for the world. Sounds cheesy, I know.  But it’s a lie for us to believe that we have to do all these things to feel fulfilled. We are excited about all of our dreams and plans. We are passionate about them. Perhaps we even hold the skills to accomplish them. But we need to be encouraged to pursue what God’s given us now and encouraged to ear-mark the other plans.

“That’s an awesome idea! Would you say that God has given you the resources you need for that now, or has he equipped you now for something else? I’m personally excited about what you’re working on now!”

No need to shut anything down. No need to express your “opinions” about plans we may or may not follow through with. Remind us that He’s doing something awesome with us now.

Last Words

Like I said many times, I’ll say over and over again. Adult ADHD is real. When someone has it, and they aren’t diagnosed, it can leave the person feeling pretty worthless. Don’t diagnose people, don’t dismiss people. Encourage them to see a professional, read a book by a professional, and encourage them in their current life. They need to hear it.

 

 

Friend-Zoning and Courting – Info for Single Ladies

 

I like to think of myself as a “pro” at being friend-zoned by guys. A lot of women my age would feel insulted by this, but if you know me well enough, then you know I don’t actually think a lot about those kind of things.

So here’s the deal. Like any of my posts, it will either be one I’ll regret 10 years from now, or it will help someone out. None of what I’m saying is so concrete that it should be over-thought and picked apart. Take things from it that you think you need help with. I should also mention that if you’re married/dating and you’re reading this, stray from thoughts like, “This is BS, I totally pursued my man!” Good for you! I’d like to point you back to the “Bold” sentence in this paragraph. Also keep in mind that I’m not a guy! This is knowledge taken only from personal experience. Nothing more. I’ve been pursued and I’ve been friend-zoned enough to write a blog post. Not a book. Just a post. And I need to talk about girls pursuing guys and when you should know when you’re friend-zoned.

He’s Just a Nice Guy

So many times girls disappoint themselves when they meet a guy who’s just a really nice guy, but they mistake it for flirting. Nice, social guys are just good at chatting it up. I have male friends who are caring and generous. I have male friends who, when they speak to me, listen to every word I’m saying and ask me questions about me/my life. I have male friends who are “touchers” – they love hugging, they’re just touchy people. I have male friends who laugh at everything I say. So, how do I not fall in love with these guys? How are they just friends? It’s simple. I know them. Here’s the mistake the ladies are making. They’ll have one or two conversations with a “really nice guy” who’s one or all of the above things I mentioned and will assume they’re being pursued. What I recommend is getting to know the guy before you make this assumption. Is he completely different with his other female friends? Does he have plenty of female friends? Those guys tend to just be good at communicating with women. Have you ever seen him pursue a girl before? If so, was it the same way?

The Green Light: Difference Between Flirting and Pursuing

Guys somehow naturally know how to pursue a woman they’re interested in. They are much less likely to over think things beforehand and weigh out stuff and put pressure on anything before they pursue. Because, though, of the culture in Christianity that sets the marriage bar high above everything – Christian men aren’t the best at pursuing women. I’ve noticed so many try to read a hundred books about dating, go to all the conferences, and try to be educated in the subject, but they never pursue anyone. I can say confidently though, that guys are still generally aware of how to pursue a woman. They just need a green light. I’m not “old fashioned” in saying that women shouldn’t pursue men. I’m realistic in that belief because most women who want a romantic man who is a go-getter/leader end up complaining later because the man they pursued isn’t those things. Girls who pursue guys tend to be in a relationship where she’s constantly having to lead in situations she shouldn’t have to. First, she’ll pursue by asking him for his number. Then she’ll pursue by always texting him first and last. Then, when she’s finally “won” him, and he’s flirting and seems to be into her, she still has to be the first one to say, “So, where’s this going?” Don’t set yourself up and don’t waste your time. Don’t convince yourself something has to happen because all the good guys out there are rare.

Here are some ways you can give guys the green light:

  • Laugh at all his jokes
  • Look interested when he asks for your number – don’t get awkward. He’ll translate it as “I’m not interested, but I guess I’ll be nice.”
  • Flirt back when he flirts with you

Here’s what NOT to do (because it’s you pursing him at this point):

  • Ask him for his number/Give him your number without him asking
  • “Jokingly” tell him to ask for your number
  • Text/Message/Contact first and continue to do so
  • Invite him to “date-like” events (weddings, couples events, etc)
  • Invite him to anything when he has never invited you to anything (exceptions are large events, such as music festivals, and events that you’re certain he’s interested in) – This “rule” applies to things like a drink, dinner, and other things guys would ask you to if he wants to pursue you.

Know Your League

A mistake so many Christian women make is not understanding their “league.” This sounds insulting and demeaning, quite frankly, but it’s human nature. Look at the guys you’ve dated in the past. Are they Tim Tebows or Seth Rogans? This is where you can gauge what league you’re in. Both guys are great for their own reasons, but they are definitely different leagues. Again, if anything is flexible, it’s this area. However, so many Christian women are passing up great guys because they want the guy in that other league. Women will look at their friends and think, “Wait, how did she land a super hot, funny, awesome guy like that?” without realizing that girl is different and that girls look at girls in different ways than guys. What we think guys are into isn’t always true. Want to change leagues? Sometimes this is possible, sometimes it’s not. And it always takes a LOT of “work.” And if you’re going to change yourself as a person, it should be because you want to glorify God. Not because you want to snag a man. Because once you get your Tim Tebow, your new idol will be how to get him to ______________ (have kids with you, get a better job, be a different person).

You Make It To The Friend Zone

Ways to tell you can move on because you’ve been friend-zoned:

  • He always calls you: Dude, kid, buddy, bro; Side not: Friend-zone or not – I HATE when guys refer to me as any of those things. I personally find it insulting. I’m not a bro, I’m a woman. Just because I can laugh at the same things and we’re friends, doesn’t mean I’m a dude or a bro. So if you’re a guy reading this…stop.
  • He makes comments about other girls in front of you
  • He doesn’t ask you to hang out alone, and when he does, he never flirts
  • He’s short in his responses to you

The 3 Guys You Need To Stay Away From

Guy #1: Temporary Marriage Friend

Some guys need a temporary wife and they tend to use girls to fill this void. This situation sucks because he’s always nice, he even flirts when he feels like it, but then a conversation happens where you realize he isn’t actually into you. Maybe you asked him about it, or maybe someone else did. Stay away from this guy. He can find a temporary wife with someone else – don’t convince yourself it’s okay to be used this way. It’s not. It’s emotionally draining and will end in heartache.

Guy #2: Booty Call Friend

I don’t think this needs explaining, but this one is difficult. There are guys out there who know exactly what to say to a girl to make her lack any sort of judgement. Or, they’re the guys who will blatantly send unsolicited (or solicited?) photos of their male parts. Either way, stay away. Don’t tempt yourself. And don’t convince yourself that his physical pursuit of you is anything more.

Guy #3: Perfect Friend

This is the guy that’s either married, dating, or is single…but he’s perfect. He’s gorgeous, and you know that in another life you two could totally hit it off. Well, you’re not in another life. You’re in a life happening right now and if there’s a man who is not interested in you or is taken and he “seems perfect” – it’s best that you stay away. Don’t express these things – especially if he’s married (because its pointless unless it’s causing you to sin…in that case you can talk to a discipleship group). Don’t give into temptations to be closer to him.

In the end, I hope you understand that you don’t have obsess over one particular guy. The awesome thing about being single is that there are options. There are possibilities. If you’re finding that you’re having so much trouble meeting guys, this can be changed to an extent. But don’t look at the ONE single guy at your church that you MIGHT be interested in and hold onto some imaginary hope that you two will hit it off and be married. My biggest piece of advice would be this: Stop over thinking. In the end of all of this, the only thing that matters is NOT romantically-lazy guys or lack of christian singles….the only thing that matters is that God put you in your city to glorify Him. Not yourself. He knew that the city He put you in was the perfect city for that time. His big-picture plans are something you’re important enough to be apart of. That’s incredibly beautiful and you should feel honored just knowing that. He pursued you, remember?

NOAH. Read.

If you loved the Bible miniseries on the History channel, or movies like Fireproof, don’t see this film.
If you go into films that are based off books and walk away upset that the director didn’t satisfy what your imagination gave you, do NOT see this movie.
If you dont like speculating about what ISNT in the bible, and don’t like people to speculate or imagine, don’t see this movie.

‘Noah’ was ‘Transformers’ meets Genesis meets my imagination about God’s supernatural abilities.

I speculate all the time. Some things aren’t confirmed or denied in the bible. I believe some things still (things that I don’t believe contradict what we DO know about God’s character). I believe animals we loved on earth will roam in heaven. I believe animals had the ability to speak before the flood (or just before the fall). I believe that Earth is not the only planet with “life.” Human life, yes. Other life,  no. What I am saying is that scripture shows us what we are to know. It does not mean it’s ALL there IS to know about God. If that’s true, then we are fools. But we know it’s not true. It’s all we NEED to know. The rest – is speculation.

What’s most annoying for me to hear is when someone says that directors are obligated to make a film a certain way. They’re “obligated” to follow a book perfectly. “Obligated” to cast characters a certain way. If you have a dictator attitude about film, you should probably stop watching movies.

You are allowed to hate movies. You’re allowed to not like actors. You’re allowed to walk into films with insane mindsets about how someone should make a film. Do realize that directors aren’t “obligated” to satisfy you. But as Christians, I am truly tired of the judgment that comes before a film is seen or a book is read. Well known pastors, who will share The Bible series with ALL of their friends, bashed the Noah movie. The Bible had awful acting, the characters looked to be Mumford and Sons band members, and of course the Son of God film portrays Jesus as a super model white man. But that’s ok. It’s okay for Christians to produce work that will only be attractive to Christians. But it’s not okay for a non Christian to use his imagination and speculate about how things may have gone down thousands of years ago. To make a movie he made with the only intention for you to be entertained….not to show a film at Church. Yikes, you guys.

Ask yourselves as Christians, why your standards are the way they are. We had an opportunity to see a movie and show some love and grace on an unbelieving filmmaker. But we publicly shamed him.

Anyway I loved it. Epic. Adventerous. Sad. His vision scenes were my favorite. Adam and Eve looked ridiculous/hilarious. Opening scene was cheese ball. The father/sons tension was good. Interesting spin on the pro-creation. LOVED THE GIANTS. and MAD PROPS to Darren for actually highlighting that humans used to be vegan before the flood!!! That’s in the bible too,  yall.

My Favorite Videos

I have struggled with a lot of things that I think a lot of people have. I’ve been at a point where the only reason I wouldn’t end my life is because my mom, my family, and non-Christians I’m close too. I don’t want to make God look bad. I’ve struggled with body image issues (which is actually struggling with idolatry in many forms). I am not good at dealing with some things. I’m not good at dealing with death. Even death of an animal. I cannot take it. It’s too hard. So, I certainly can’t take it when I know someone who lost a child, or if someone loses a friend at any age. It’s just so hard. I find myself frequently begging God to come back. I find myself weeping to him, with nothing more to say, than “God, just please come back.” I don’t know why He doesn’t already. I don’t want to think of things being worse than they are.

I also don’t want to dwell on the awful stuff. I don’t want to only focus on the bad. If I do, then I’ll rarely praise Him for the good. And God doesn’t get enough praise.

God has used film in my life to remind me that He’s still perfect. Some film that has reminded me of His beauty and mission are here:

“The Mountain” by TSO Photography

This video is a huge reminder of God’s beauty. A huge reminder that Heaven would actually be better than this. And that despite the bad stuff, God still gives us beautiful things. I love this time-lapse. Beautiful shots, wonderful music.

“Most” from Eastwood Films

A short film (which is apparently based off a true story, but can’t be confirmed) about a father’s choice to sacrifice his son. I watch this, because it makes the story of God’s decision more real. I can grow up hearing, “God sent his son for you,” but if I never have kids, or if I never would have to make that choice, I just have no way of imagining what that’s like. This film does a great job of telling that story, but making it very real for it’s audience. It’s also done very well. Good actors, script, and direction. I appreciated that this wasn’t a cheese-ball Christian film.

“Follow” from Elevation Church

One of the best-shot baptisms (if not the absolute best) I’ve ever seen. Edited extremely well. It’s just showing a church being baptized, but because of the way it was shot/edited, you’re able to truly experience the beauty in baptism. Some could argue that they’re using film to “draw” out emotions. If that’s what they’re doing, then they’re doing their job! Film should do real experiences JUSTICE. Film should show you life, and show it in the way it DESERVES to be shown. That’s what I love about this.

I love film, but I love God more. I love that there are filmmakers that are willing to show what He has already given us (the galaxy, mountains, baptism) in such a way that moves us. That’s how film should be used. That’s how I want to use my skill and my passion. Just to do what He’s already given us some justice.  I want to praise Him through films that depict those things – redemption, grace, beauty.

3 Reasons I’ll Go See Noah

The Director is Awesome

He did Requiem For A Dream. That’s reason enough for anyone that’s my age or a hipster to go see this. He did Black Swan - despite being weird, it won awards and was filmed quite well. He did The Wrestler. This movie was wonderful on so many levels! The director knows his stuff, and directors who know their stuff should be the ones making films about biblical stories.  He obtained what seems to be a great cast, and that’s always a huge plus.

I Love Epic Bible Stories

I want to make a film or TV series (only 3-4 episodes, 1 season) about the Book of Revelation. I love epic, dramatic stories in the bible. God also made sure the dudes who wrote the stories down were good at writing, too. If you don’t believe me, read anything from Revelation in King James Version. Beautiful and totally meant to be made into film. So, when I first saw the Noah trailer, I was excited. I know the story. And I also know that movies are never (or very rarely) accurate. For a few reasons…1. Some things can’t be told on screen. 2. Lots of things can’t be compared to your imagination. 3. You’re still creating a film that has to be attractive to an audience. If a die-hard Christian was creating the film, then yeah, maybe they would have tried to tell it exactly how it’s told in the books…but you don’t need to be a film nerd to know that we [Christian filmmakers] aren’t exactly perfecting our craft.

Between the story of Moses in a KJV bible and the movie, The Ten Commandments, guess which one grabbed the attention of a kid with ADHD? I didn’t grow up in the church or learning about the bible. What I knew was from film, and The Ten Commandments quickly became a favorite. I’ve loved that movie since I was a kid. It impacted a non-Christian kid and planted a seed…THAT is what film should do. When you have a CRAZY story like the flood that wiped out mankind, you have to do it well.

I’m hoping this film finally does this story justice. I’m hoping people can walk away and see that God did 2 things: 1. He keeps His promises. and 2. He can totally communicate with animals (and animals are awesome!!)

So Parents Can Quit The Noah’s Ark Baby Themes

I mean, seriously. I hope every parent will watch this and be able to see Noah’s Ark wrapping paper, Noah’s Ark mobiles, and think “that’s disturbing.” It is disturbing. The story is incredible. God is incredible. But the massive wipe-out of mankind is intense and CRAZY.  What happens  when your kids inquire about the theme? “God gathered up allllll the animals and Noah and his family to protect them from a flood.” Are you just gonna leave out all the other stuff? It should be an intense story of new beginnings and God’s faithfulness.

There are things I’m sure I won’t like about the film. But overall, you can’t get me to hate a film that depicts an epic biblical story in an epic manner.  When I was little, I remember watching some SUPER old, low budget, local film about Christ’s death. It showed Christ on the cross with a few little drops of blood, looking sad. I asked my grandma what was happening, and I remember how upset she was that the film wasn’t depicting what actually happened. I will never forget her telling me that what actually happened didn’t compare to what we were looking at. She was genuinely mad.  Does that make her a blood-thirsty, gore-desiring woman? Nope. My grandma is simple. She just didn’t want us to dumb down his death. She still, to this day, has not seen Passion. When I asked her about it, she said, “I don’t want to see it because I know that’s exactly what He went through.” She didn’t see the film, but still appreciates that someone is telling the truth.

We can write pages about how important it is to be accurate in biblical stories, but we also should contemplate the fact that we don’t know exactly why directors choose to go the route they do. In the end, it’s a movie. It’s not scripture. It’s not the Truth. It’s the equivalent of us writing our own book/commentary or telling our friend stories. It’s just the middle man. And any film that gets ANY ONE to pick up a bible and read the actual truth….I think it’s fulfilled it’s purpose.

Online Dating Is A Terrible Idea…Here’s Why

I’m no stranger to “meeting people online.” About 10 years ago, I had joined the official message board for the band Thursday. I ended up meeting a few of those people and some became my best friends and actually changed my life. At that time, it was still super weird to talk about meeting people online. So we never told anyone else how we met. If people said, “How do you know ____?” we’d respond with, “Mutual friends.” It was always and still feels embarrassing.

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Internet dating, however…that’s another ballpark. This year, on Valentine’s day, I was hanging with my sister, her roommate Matt, and our friend Kelly. We started talking about online dating somehow, and my sister says, “I’ve always wanted to know who I’d be matched up with.” Kelly was an experienced online dater, so we were getting her thoughts. We came to the conclusion that not everyone online is a creeper, weirdo, or socially unacceptable human. We were informed that there are normal, and yes…even good-looking guys on there. We were still all curious and we all decided I would be a guinea pig to find out who I’d get matched up with.  My sister couldn’t set up a profile because she’s in a relationship. Kelly already had one. And Matt was like, “Nope.” So, I, after 2 glasses of champagne, I exclaimed, “I’ll totally do it. Y’all have to help me set it up though.”

The site asked me a bunch of questions, which I assume is typical of all the dating sites.

“What religion are you? How important is it? Dogs or Cats? Body Type?”

After answering the basic questions, you also have a slew of other questions that helps their system choose closer matches. I tried answering as many as possible, with help from the group (and more champagne). Most of these questions were particularly immature. They were “would you rather”-style questions that reminded me of an adolescent conversation between girls who were talking about what they want in a guy.

After I answered what felt like a million questions (but was actually like 20), we went through the “possible matches.” The first thing out of Kelly’s mouth was, “Hmmm they matched you with a whole lot of douches.” It was true.

I went through their profiles, and was concerned. If I saw something that turned me off (They hate dogs or said they only like club music), then it would be so easy for me to just move on. This method of dating doesn’t give people a fair chance. It also made me feel bad about myself when I’d see that someone “Liked” my profile but their page said, “uneducated girls are a deal-breaker.” I graduated high school, but I dropped out of college.

So, the problem is: It allows people to stay stagnant in their preferences and prevents people from changing their dating habits.

My assumption is that most people who set up a profile online either LOVE casual dating or they have trouble finding dates for whatever reason. Instead of working on the reasons, they’re allowed to filter through hundreds of people and pick someone out like something on a menu. And if there’s even one thing that person doesn’t like, instead of someone saying, “This person is worth looking past these things” they’re allowed to just block you, or ignore you. Instead of examining our dating life and becoming better people, we sort of just stick to our old ways.

“Ugh, he’s a Conservative. Nope.”

“He has a goatee? Is this for real?”

“He has the douchiest taste in music I’ve ever seen.”

I’ve said before that preferences are okay, as long as they aren’t things we worship. Online, we don’t have a chance to examine these things. Another problem with online dating, is it only encourages discontentment and idolatry. Anyone who knows me or reads this blog, knows I’m all for embracing the path God has you on and that both singleness and marriage are equally glorifying.  Once I signed up, though, I noticed that everyone who liked my profile was satisfying a desire to be loved and admired (which is hard to get when you’re single). It’s like posting a selfie on Instagram, and relying on the Likes you get. It provides a false sense of love. It’s false because it’s very temporary for the other party. It’s also false because it’s an empty compliment. It’s the equivalent to a stranger smiling at you in line at Starbucks, but it sparks an emotion that’s as deep as someone giving us a very gratifying compliment in person. This method of judging people based on 3-7 photos, is more physically demeaning than checking me out at a bar. If I look better or worse in a photo, you can ignore me or you can message me/ask me out under false pretenses (that I’m not as attractive as you thought).  The attraction starts with a photograph that’s controlled by lighting and angles. It’s so weird.

When I get “hit on” in person,  it’s normally at bars when I’m with other girls. It usually starts with the basic questions, “Are you from here? How long have you lived here?” and leads to the statements that are used to let me know that he’s flirting with me: “Do you have a boyfriend? No?! That’s crazy.” Then, he asks for my phone number. This, to me, is better. There aren’t any questions, and even if it’s awkward/miserable, it’s still normal.  He may or may not have found out I’m a Christian just yet, but he will eventually. I may or may not have found out he is obsessed with Baseball (a sport I loathe), but I will eventually. But I didn’t have to just give him the brush off. We didn’t need to exchange postcards with our traits. No one had to close us off based on one meaningless fact about ourselves. And, we were given the chance to say, “Hmm well he may have a child, but he’s a great father…” When we were going through my matches, I saw statements like, “If you are overweight, don’t message me. I take care of my body and only want someone who takes care of theirs.” and “Having perfect teeth is a huge plus for me.” I can’t make this stuff up. While those preferences aren’t bad – they probably won’t ever realize that searching for this perfect image they have in their head is going to be impossible. They’ll just continue to only message the ones who fit their preferences. Meanwhile, in the real world, new people are going to church, people are at bars, people are studying at coffee shops…regularly. We have chances, but we are sort of refusing to work on our social skills. If dating has become somewhat shallow, non-existent, or just slim for you….try to actually change that. Maybe you are a crazy introvert. It’s not fair to someone who isn’t attracted to intense introverts to be fooled into thinking you’re an extrovert because you were able to “be yourself” online, behind a computer. Instead, examine why that’s an issue. Why is it hard to start a conversation with a stranger? Do you fear rejection? Would being with other friends make it easier? Get a wingman! And your acceptance in Christ is more important than your rejection from man (or woman). I respect the guys who don’t put all this stake in rejection and will just come up to you. Or, the introverts that travel in packs and come up to me and my girls. If that makes it easier for them, so be it. Or, if your problem is that you’re crazy shallow…good luck with that. You’re going to be super gross one day when you’re old, and you’re not getting younger. Just a heads up.

Meeting someone in person is more organic. It feels like it’s the way it’s supposed to be. Filtering through people online feels like shopping, which is unfair. We aren’t objects. And posting our desires, needs, and preferences for everyone to see, says, “I’m not willing to adjust things. Take it or leave it.”

I’m making a movie.

For the past year, I’ve been writing and researching for a feature-length documentary that has already begun shooting. 

You can find out more here: 

loveclubmovie.com

I’m in the middle of shooting interviews, but am still looking for the following: 

- Single guy, outside of Texas, to be interviewed about singleness and marriage in the church

- Single girl, outside of Texas,  to be interviewed about singleness and marriage in the church

- Married couple, outside of Texas, to be interviewed about singleness and marriage in the church

Interviewees should be outspoken, and have good knowledge of the subject. And, obviously, should be Christian. 

This is an unpaid opportunity, but I make it as easy as possible. I come to you, and take as little time as possible to shoot your interview. And that’s it. We will most likely meet somewhere for the shoot, but I make sure it’s near you. Interviews take around 1.5 – 2.5 hours. 3 hours, tops. 

Please email me if you’re interested: jess@loveclubmovie.com

 

Pride: Where it Stabs The Hardest For Me

Usually when you confess a struggle or a sin to a friend, they’re eager to say, “It sounds like pride to me.”

They aren’t “wrong” – everyone struggles with pride. Or, I have yet to meet a person at any age, that doesn’t struggle with pride. The problem with pride, is that it rears it’s head in so many different and ugly ways, so it’s hard to tell at first.

For me, I care way too much about what people think of me.

I am paralyzed at the thought of someone noticing my outward flaws (my body, my face).

I am depressed when people notice things about my personality that I hate (like being too aggressive with my opinions).

I get physically sick to my stomach at the thought that someone I am not interested in romantically anymore thinks I still am.

I get genuinely angry when I find out people were talking about me in a situation where I wasn’t able to defend myself.

That’s where pride just absolutely floors me in the worst way. It’s hard for me to get through a day whenever I imagine what someone must be thinking of me. I have to go through a process where I convince myself that they aren’t thinking these things and they don’t care. I have to pray to God that they don’t care about these things because *I* don’t want them to.  I ask God…no, I beg God that if they did think/care about all these things, that they’d move on quickly.

My pride is saying, “Defend yourself till the death!” “Don’t let them think these things!”

So I have to turn to Christ and ask Him what He says.

Luckily, it’s “simple.” I can ask myself why I care.

Me: Why do I care?

Truth: Because you’re a prideful, sinful human being who is distraught over not being able to please man.

Me: Ok, how do I not care, then?

Truth:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2

Lies:

“If he thinks I’m still hung up on him, then he thinks I’m weak, or worse – pathetic (as do all of our friends).”

“If they think I’m unattractive, then everyone else in the world does.”

“They just told me I’m unapproachable…so I am unfixable.”

What if the above statements were true, though? How does that make us feel? I have to “discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” while I’m being tested.

If someone thinks I’m not over them, that I’m pathetic – I can’t do anything about that, and I won’t. If it’s an out of control situation, I’ll try to bring it up, but otherwise, I know my pride and sin wants me to hate myself, my past, and my life. I literally cannot fix the past and I cannot spend time (waste time, really) worrying about what people think that I know in my heart aren’t true. If they are true, this is again, where I discern that and I can pray that He changes me. Because at this point – only He can. I’ve tried to myself, and at this point, I can only lay everything at His feet and just put trust in Him.

But I have to continuously remind myself of the way God sees me. It’s only then that my confidence is renewed (my mind). When I can rest in the FACT that He does not view me the way I or the world does.

Listen to this mini excerpt from a sermon by Matt Chandler & John Piper. It’s brought me comfort for a while now (cheesy, but good):

Perspective

Sometimes, you need to see things from another angle. Not a made-up, sugar-coated angle. A real angle. But just another one.

Angle 1: I’m single.

Angle 2: I have a solid community of people around me who help me fight sin, who disciple me, and who love me.

Angle 1: I don’t have kids.

Angle 2: I can serve wherever I want, WHENever I want. I can also scream an occasional curse word without fear I’m scarring a child.

Angle 1: I don’t have a career.

Angle 2. I have a job that despite what happened to get me here, it’s by God’s sovereignty that He has me here. I can glorify Him in any field.

Angle 1: I have terrible health.

Angle 2: I’m alive, and have the opportunity to change.

Angle 1: I am always broke.

Angle 2: I am more wealthy than millions of people, in more ways than one.

Can You Be Too Picky? Why I’m Glad I Was an Idiot.

This is purely from a woman’s perspective, obviously. I still don’t fully get how guys view potential romantic interests. In my experience, guys are simple. If they think you’re hot, they’ll pursue you. If they don’t, then they won’t. Even if you become best friends, they won’t be able to move past physical attraction. This is perfect for me since I love having guy friends. This is again, my own personal experience with guys. I have grown up around guys and it’s what I’ve viewed. Not saying this is a fact, or that this is a general opinion. Feel free to leave your input!

I was talking to an awesome friend of mine about this last night. How women are attracted to men and how it’s so different. Guys assume we care about their looks as much as them sometimes. They assume that muscle/fat ratios on them are important. They think we care if they’re going bald. And hey, some women are like that. Some women cannot move past physical attraction. But again, in my own personal experience, I have yet to meet a woman who could not get past physical appearance when the man’s traits were all so attractive to her. My friend made a good point when she said, “you can notice that when you ask yourself how many times you see a pretty girl with a less attractive guy versus an attractive guy with a less attractive female.”

So, I think when it comes to physical attraction, women are generally flexible in this department.

Unless we are hung up on someone else. Then all bets are off, and we will find everything wrong with you.

If we are hung up on someone else for whatever reason – maybe he’s been leading us on, maybe there is something there, but the guy is taking too long to commit. Whatever that reason, we are hung up on him, and our blinders are on.

In the case where there aren’t really those kind of blinders though, we still have what we call “deal breakers.” I’ve asked myself plenty of times what the limit is on these. When you’re 22, and you think you know everything, you think “No way could I ever date an extreme liberal/republican. He HAS to have the same political views as me.” Then you get to be 28, and you start thinking, “well…we could always just avoid that conversation right?”

Here’s what my old deal breakers looked like:

  • Has to be a devoted follower of Christ
  • Has to be hilarious
  • Has to be attractive
  • Has to care about his health
  • Can NOT smoke (anything)
  • Has to have similar taste in arts
  • Has to be creative
  • He can’t have kids
  • Has to have the same exact political views
  • Must be well-educated

I’m serious. These were my deal breakers. Like…who the hell am I to have not only that many but to desire someone who is perfect? Not saying the guy above doesn’t exist. I fell in love with a guy who fit that description. I know seeing this list, maybe someone is reading it and saying, “but….I really don’t want to be with someone who smokes….” or “well, he DOES need to be in shape because health is so important to me.”

Here’s why I feel stupid about falling in love with the above guy. Not only did it cause me to convince myself that every kiss, touch, and compliment meant that he loved me back, but I feel stupid because when I finally accepted that the guy didn’t love me back, I realized I worshiped those bullet points. Because he met the above criteria, he was allowed to speak to me disrespectfully. He was able to convince me that keeping what we were doing private so he could literally figure out how he was feeling was normal and fine. (I sound bitter, but I’m merely explaining why worshiping a list will blind you to anything else. God transformed us and healed our friendship). Still, when I knew he didn’t love me, I literally thought, “How am I going to find someone like him?” My life was straight up, an Adele song.

My future dating life was so broken after this. The blinders were on. Any guy who took interest, if he wasn’t like my previous guy, then I wasn’t interested.  I can sit here, think about this, and feel regret. But I’m still thankful I was an idiot. If I wasn’t an idiot, I’d still be searching for that guy instead of thinking about how my life is glorifying to God. If I wasn’t an idiot, I could still be passing up some great guys. I mean, how dare I demand a well-educated man and close off anyone who wasn’t? That is probably the most ridiculous one seeing how I went to a public school my whole life and didn’t finish college. And he can’t have kids?! Sweet Lord.

I had to look at my list and decide what I was worshiping. I had to make a distinct difference between a preference and a “deal-breaker.” Here is my new “list:”

  • Must be a devoted follower of Christ
  • Has to like being funny or laughing

Literally everything else falls into place. If he fits into just that first one, then it will effect the rest of his life. The second one seems shallow, but honestly if you’re hilarious you can get away with anything with me. Laughing  =  joy. A guys’ sense of humor can seriously make me attracted to you almost every time. I truly believe that Ryan Gosling and this guy are equally attractive.

I don’t have to close off guys just because they smoke. I don’t have to shun guys away because he has a different opinion about the way our country uses “our money.” I don’t have to be completely closed off knowing a guy has kids. I am glad that because I was an idiot, I could finally see the pride inside of me that was seeing God’s sons in the complete opposite way that He was seeing them. God doesn’t see a smoker. He sees HIs son, blameless and beautiful.

I don’t have to force myself into being attracted or force myself into finding some connection with someone. I just have to remind myself of the way God sees His sons. So I do think women can be too picky. I think you can be passionate about subjects and we can all have “our things” we believe in. I think we can naturally be “turned off” by things. In the back of my mind, off paper, I genuinely don’t think I can be attracted to someone who is an extreme liberal or conservative. But that’s okay, as long as I’m not holding this paper around, and using it as a checklist.  It’s unfair to men, and I would be so humiliated if I knew guys were closing me off because of one trait I carry that was on their list.

Matt Chandler has great advice to single ladies:

“Can I say something to young ladies here? I’m trying to pick my words carefully here. Your husband, whoever he is, single ladies, will have an unbelievable amount of influence over your sons and daughters in regards to spiritual things. If you want your children to love Jesus deeply, hold out for a man that is Godly. And let me tell you this: I am well aware that Godly men are rare. Lots of neat Christian boys, not a lot of Godly men. And we’re working our tails off for you to try to develop some into that. But don’t settle, because it’s better that you be lonely now than you be married and lonely later. Are you tracking with me? It is better that you be lonely now than for you to get married to a man that will teach your kids everything but the way of Jesus.”  – Matt Chandler

Give up all the old notions, the fear, the worry.