Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Blind Dating The Church

Here is what I know about myself, I like my churches like I like my men--intellectual, small and quirky. I moved recently which puts me in the church-hunting scene and I don’t know that I ever realized before how very similar the process can be to blind dating. I give each church a try based on the information that I have from a friend, a group that I belong to or, let’s face it, maybe just based on outward appearances. I think I have a good gut for what I want, but I still always try a few that aren’t my type thinking that perhaps my tastes have changed or that I should just find a few places to pass the time for a while. After all, my perfect church home is only really going to plop itself down in front of me when I stop looking, right?

That is, by the way, what married Christians are always telling single people about “church” searches.

You’re only going to find a church when you stop expecting to find one. Good churches always pop up when you least expect it.”

“God will bring you a “church” when you stop wanting one so badly. That’s what happened with me and First Baptist, here.” (Cue, oozing condescension)

AND, finally, “Did you ever think maybe this is a gift from God that you haven’t found a “church”? Now you are free just to concentrate on HIM and not get confused with the love and support and fun that you would be having if you did have one.”

Wait, that all sounds stupid in this context doesn’t it? Same goes when we’re talking relationships. If you are a married person who uses one or more of these canned lines, on your poor vulnerable, single friends, get in the bathroom, rinse that filthy mouth out with a bar of soap and immediately send those phrases to your conversational graveyard!

Now as I was saying, on my church-finding journey I always want to visit a couple of places that are refined and traditional, but after one or two “dates” I am like “Am I ever going to be able to dance around you” and “Why are all of your friends geriatric?”

Then, occasionally I visit a small, home-grown-country church because my grandmother wants me to. Always a horrible idea. She has an agenda.

Most recently, I blind-church- dated the popular one. This is the church that everyone in town talks about excitedly, assuming it is just what you want. This church is big and strong, has money and always has a lot going on every week. That’s all good, of course except that big and strong makes me feel little and fearful, rich makes me feel awkward like when I go to the Save Haiti Dinner and I have to ask which one is the salad fork. And, when, in the past I have church-dated the congregation that has the most stuff going on every week, I have found that it doesn’t seem to have a lot of time for me. I once went to talk to the pastor at a popular church that I attended at the time. I was crying, confused and in need of a little TLC. So I asked the pastor when I could come in and talk with him about some important issues I was facing and he told me he was booked for the next 3 months. “Look, you can either talk to me right here, right now, find an elder to get with later this week or get on my schedule for 3 months out. But it seems like you’ve got a lot going on here, so I would set up an appt with an elder if I were you, so that you can get the most out of your time." I do not enjoy being pawned off. We "broke up", a few weeks later.

So, in the spirit of success in both church and romance searching, I have created a list of tips for finding your dream church/partner.

1. Seek Divine Counsel. God has good things in store for our futures, period. There is no need to fret when parents are sending pamphlets for every church in town or rambling on about grandchildren. Use the pamphlets for a decoupage project and remind them that you only get to be a grandparent after you really truly stop wanting it. God loves us and is the author and finisher of our faith. If you want to know what happens next, check with the writer.

2. Know Thyself. If you want to puke when someone argues that God is a registered Republican, maybe stay away from First Republican Church in smalltown, USA and the singles group that meets there. You will never agree with everything a person or church says or does, of course but when you sense a profound disconnect (vaguely racist or sexist comments, odd money spending habits, over-emphasis on outer appearances) ask a few clarifying questions and if you aren’t pleased with the answers move on. Life is too short.

3. Be open. Although a gal (or guy) has to know what she or (he) wants, I think all of us can probably think of a time when we scoffed at someone or something and that object of our ridicule ultimately turned out to be the very best thing for us. You will never get to participate in God’s raucous cinematic adventures for your life if you insist on replaying the same stale VHS tape for the next 25 years. Maybe you hated blond hair when you were 12 but you’re 32 now dude, take a risk. Or perhaps you have historically experienced acute sleepyheadedness singing hymns in a liturgical service. But it could it be that these old hymns might have new life for the one who has ears to hear? Seek God. Know Thyself. Be open. Wacky though the journey may be, God has big plans.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ways My Neuroses Could Be Diminished With A Husband: Essay 1

** Side Note, I have been trying to post my 50th essay for the past two weekends and kept having technical difficulties, this is not that article, but maybe one day in the near future I will be able to paste that one as well.

I am a woman of many neuroses as evidenced by the following scenarios:

1. I believe inanimate objects to have feelings such that when I was a child I lost sleep over whether it was a privilege for ice-cubes to be selected to cool my drink or a horrifying death for the poor little icey guys and gals.

2. Ever since I learned of its existence in the ninth grade, I cringe when people misuse the subjunctive tense, even though English classes have not done a great job at getting’ the word out. If I WERE a grammar teacher you can bet people would know about it! (See, since I am not a grammar teacher I have to use were rather than was…that is the main subjunctive rule, consider yourself SCHOOLED).

3. I am constantly inappropriately, unfairly and unnecessarily ranking people and things on my various mediums for list-creation,


4. I am known to go for days without showering but still cannot stand the thought of dust on my feet . (Don’t even get me started about long walks on the beach, as I would sooner take up cannibalism as a regular pastime than the foot-rape that occurs on the gravelly shores of Texas.)

So, I could be wrong, but I just have a feeling that having a partner in life might whittle some of these neuroses down to a level that I like to think might be barely recognizable to my eventual DSM-wielding Shrink. Let me be clear about something though, when I say a husband could help,I do not mean through some romantic and spiritual process of sharing a space and a life with another human being--the two of us gently sanding down each other’s rough edges like iron sharpening iron. That, sounds horrible! Sandpaper?! Iron!? C’mon people, I am more of a “Kill ‘em with kindness kind of girl.” But, I digress.

My current neurosis fueled dilemma comes as a result of having just bought a book of funny essays by comedian, Jack Handey (that is his real name by the way). And here is my problem. I find it really unsavory when I go into someone’s bathroom and they seem to have a permanent collection of reading material in there. Call me crazy, but do you really want to advertise to the world that your bathroom habits afford you the kind of time to breeze through East of Eden? Why not just walk around in a T-shirt that you have bedazzled with the words “boweltastic” or “I’d rather be pooping”. I myself, have an unhealthy desire to be preoccupied at all times, but when I am in the bathroom I tend to be pretty goal-oriented, not looking for anything to potentially prolong my stay in the room where people go to do everything with their bodies that they are not allowed to do in front of others.

But this book of essays is the perfect bathroom book. The chapters are just a few pages each and it is light-hearted and mostly meaningless. (You do not want to read serious stuff in the bathroom. What happens if you have the most important epiphany of your life but then you can’t share it with anyone because it would involve them getting a mental image of your underwear hanging down around your feet while you sit on the toilet? Don’t do that to yourself, dude.) Anyway, I am standing there today, gazing into my restroom, hands trembling as I tried to figure out whether or not I cared so little about Jack Handey as an artist that I could take the chance of exposing his work to the invisible but certain cloud of bacteria that is sure to linger in that room, just to give my (apparently) soft-stomached friends a chuckle. But my pride would not let me do it. I cannot have people thinking that I am in the bathroom frequently and enduringly enough to need diversion.

But, if on the other hand, I had a husband, I could just roll my eyes when it came up in conversation like I am always seeing wives do. “Oh, the Jack Handey Book”, I would say condescendingly when it came up in conversation. “I have told Mr. Gosling how unseemly that looks but you gotta let’em win sometimes, am I right ladies?” Then me and all my snotty wife friends would have a laugh at our poor husbands’ expense and go back to playing canasta. I am not sure why I picture myself married in 1958 but I just do sometimes, especially when I am feeling particularly sexist. Plus, I always picture myself using the catch phrase “am I right ladies” a lot more liberally as I will finally have more things in common with my gender about which to commiserate.

But since I am not married, I have some decisions to make about this bathroom turned library debacle, so, Should I:

A. Elope with a Stranger providing he is willing to take the rap for my Jack Handey Book Sitting next to the toilet.

B. Fashion a stand that sits just outside the bathroom door, allowing guests to self-select whether they take the book inside with them.

C. Put the book in the bathroom with a huge-fake- sticky note on the front that says this:
Hey Girl, I got this book and thought of you, but I left it here in the bathroom just to get under your skin. I know both your tastes and your pet peeves so well. Don’t you dare take this book out of the bathroom or I will break up with you. Love, Your Totally Real Boyfriend,
                                                                                                 Leif Luke Tyler McRealenstein

P.S. This is what I look like in case you forgot

Let me know what you think, because I am definitely probably doing whichever one gets the most votes.