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Book Announcement: Are You Ready to Break Right?

If you’ve followed my other blog (2blu2btru.wordpress.com) or followed me on social media, you may have seen that I’ve been working on a new book. I’ve kept many of the details close to my chest. This is one of my most personal projects, and I wanted to make sure I wrote this well before sharing it with the world.

 

In 2016, it seemed like everything I touched broke–I lost my job, ended my relationship, and faced a move with no savings or income. I ended up leaving the city I’d come to think of as home, my church family, and many of my friends behind. It was truly a breaking season for me. Yet God kept me in perfect peace as these things occurred.

I learned many things in this season, and many books could have come from it, but in the end, God placed Break Right on my heart. As I worked through the ramifications and realizations breaking up brought to the forefront in my life, I wrote the things I was learning and experimenting with in my journal. This season looked different than I expected, in ways that both humbled and encouraged me. I began to wonder if others might be interested in what I was learning, so I reached out to a few women and pitched the idea. Once I put the heart of this book into words, I knew it had to be written, and I had to be the one to write it.

In the process of writing this book, I experienced the full force of what heartbreak can do. I found myself struggling to repair things I didn’t know were broken or damaged. I confronted truths I ran from before battling with the blank page. The writing of this book further healed me, and I know the wisdom God shared with me will help others discovering the healing He wants to give them as well.

If you’ve read my other books, you know I’m not the “woo, woo, woo” or “there, there, there” girl. I’m the “dig deep”, “let’s look at the lady in the mirror and be honest about what we see” girl. I’m the hard truth teller, the “what does the bible say” redirector, the spiritual fruit inspector. I’m a southern gal who’ll bless your heart and tell you about yourself in a ladylike, well-mannered way, clutching my pearls the entire time. I wasn’t sure I could write a book bound in sensitivity AND filled with hard truths for hurting women in search of healing.

But God met me on the pages of this book. He walked me through this season the way I needed Him to, while helping me hone the message of it in a way that’s sensitive and respect of where a woman walking through a breakup is in her healing process while presenting truths wrapped in a ton of love. I didn’t hurl hand grenades at injured soldiers; I’m helping in the healing. Like many medical procedures, there is some pain and discomfort involved, but it’s necessary.

I’m so excited to share the final product with you! As I finish getting the final details wrapped up, I wanted to let you know about this book of my heart and what to expect when it comes out next month. The book is entitled Break Right: Finding Wholeness in Heartbreak, and a Good God in a Bad Breakup. Part memoir, part practical advice and encouragement, and all from the heart, this raw, real and relatable work will comfort, correct and challenge the Christian woman in the midst of a breakup to reexamine heartbreak and healing from a biblical perspective. Filled with biblical examples and personal experiences from myself and other women, Break Right seeks to provide the perspective shift many of us need so we can shine our lights for the Lord in the midst of a dark season.

This book is not a blow by blow of the breakups I’ve experienced or a way to bash an ex. In fact, you won’t find much about my ex, and I hope you won’t focus too much on your ex as you read it. This book is about how you can emerge better and help the next woman do the same. I share many personal stories, but they probably aren’t the ones you’d expect. 😉

This book feels different, and it’s inspired me to do something different with its release. I am opening pre-orders for Break Right tomorrow, February 14, 2018. From Valentine’s Day until Wednesday, March 7, you can order Break Right for the introductory price of $9.99 in paperback (it increases to $14.99 after the pre-order period). Why should you pre-order? Those who pre-order will receive some cool perks: breakup greeting cards, bookmarks, and prints, as well as a free eBook of funny and introspective tales from my romantic life, Misses before Mrs. You will also received the first section of the book to start reading and access to a special Facebook Group. I saved the best for last: all those who pre-order the book or a book bundle will be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card. All pre-order books will arrive by the release date, March 13th.

If Break Right sounds like something you need in your life, come back tomorrow and see the front cover, read the book description, and reserve your copy. I’ll be sharing more about this book in the coming weeks before release, so watch this space.

For all my eBook readers, don’t fret. The eBook is coming! I will open eBook pre-orders two weeks before release, with digital perks.

I love you all and can’t wait for you find your wholeness and experience how good our God can be, even in a bad breakup.

XOXO,

Erica

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Social Media Envy

Today is the best day to make a statistical analysis of all of your social media friends. You can find the ratio of bitter, lonely singles to happily coupled people quickly. You can spot the people who think being anti-valentine’s day is deep and those who really just don’t want to drop $50 on flowers. You can tell who’s really happy with Jesus alone and who is eating a gallon of ice cream straight out the container while watching Love Jones or When Harry Mer Sally on repeat. It’s an amazing study in human nature.

Looking at what people write on their social media, though, doesn’t necessarily give you a true view of what’s really going on in their lives on a regular day, let alone a holiday. I once posted on my Facebook about people being such Scrooges at Christmas and got reamed for being insensitive because it’s not necessarily a happy time for everyone. I was referring to people trying to be deep and “hate on” the holiday, those annoying people who say things to get noticed rather than because they really have an issue. Celebrate or don’t, but stay off my page.

We all sign a social contract that says we can say what we want, but we have to respect everyone else’s right to say what they want. This is sometimes a very difficult thing to remember when someone expresses their disagreement with our opinion. We don’t, however, agree to divulge everything about ourselves or always state how we really feel.

We can put cute messages of live to our spouse on Facebook today and not relate how we “went upside their head” the day before. U can talk tough about independence and cry into my ice cream about not having a man. I can run my ex down on twitter and jump back in the bed with him without anyone being the wiser.

Why am I saying this? I want you to get real with yourselves. Be happy with where you are in life. Not mourning the past or anticipating the future, but content right now. Because that person whose twitter life you idolize might be worse off than you are. Because you only have right now. Because you are responsible for your own happiness.

What never ceases to amaze me is how many people don’t realize that their is no life achievement or person that will make you happy once for all time. Diamonds aren’t magic agents of change. Children will get on your nerves. A high paying job will need you to work a day you won’t feel like going in. Sustained happiness is a choice.

People may make fun of those single women who say they are married to Christ and waiting on God’s timing for a husband, but many of those women are happy and well adjusted to where they are in life right now. When your real life happiness matches your online happiness, then you have something to write about.

My absolute favorite blog is my favorite because of how real the writer is about her life. Some posts show her asking for advice on a parenting problem; others talk about a rough fight with her husband. I read about her grief in the loss of her father, and her decision to choose joy. If I saw her on the street (which is a possibility), I would feel like I knew her. Not just her awesome sense if humor or her perfect family photos, but her.

I say all of this to encourage you to take social media for what it is on days like today–a stage where everyone is auditioning to be the voice that tells you how you should feel, think & be. Cast your own life accordingly. That’s my two cents, anyway.

What is your social media envy? Is it personal finance blogs (my personal social media envy), fashion & beauty websites, super parent blogs, über religious twitter personalities, or celebrity Facebook fan page?

FYI: the new site is coming! I have the name picked out and am working with Tech Support (aka Mr. Perfect) on the finer points. I am buying the domain today, and will give it out via twitter tonight (@2blu2btru). I will have a grand reveal blog party tomorrow!

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Savory Moment: Weddings and Writing

Mr. Perfect & I outside The Abbey
Mr. Perfect & I outside The Abbey

This weekend, I went to the wedding of a good friend from church. I have been talking to her about her wedding since she got engaged, sharing my vast knowledge of all things wedding (acquired from hours of wedding shows, wedding blogs, books, and investigative inquiries to venue, photographer, and other vendor sites) while she tried to make the hard decisions. I even got to be the (unofficial) fourth wedding photographer at her wedding (sorry, my camera gives me delusions of grandeur in that area; but I got some great shots! I’m just saying). Being at the wedding, enjoying all of her hard work and planning was really special. I’ve only been to one other wedding and two other receptions, so it was nice to see a wedding from start to finish that wasn’t on TV. I more than enjoyed myself. The bride was beautiful, the groom was emotional, the food was good, and a good time was had by all. At this moment, they bride and groom are on their way to soak up the sun and relax in the Maldives. Happy honeymoon!

What I really love about this point in my life is that I can be happy for other people. I say that as if it wasn’t true before only because there have been moments where I’ve had to remind myself to keep my eyes on my own paper, metaphorically speaking, and try to pass the tests in my own life instead of pining for someone else’s blessings. This usually involves some arrogance on my part, that I should have had something long before this other unqualified person.

But lately, I haven’t been feeling that. Lately, I’ve been able to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. I don’t know if it’s because I feel like I’m fulfilling my own purpose or because it’s more in line with my personality, but I’ve been over the moon for all of my friends’ successes the last year or so–and there have been a lot of successes in that time!

I have been hard at work on my book for a few months now. I’ve been writing the book longer than that, but the past few months is when it really took off. I wrote the beginnings of two pivotal chapters in November of 2011. I “finished” an entire chapter at the end of July 2012. But the real opening of the floodgates has been since about October. The interviews I conducted for the original idea for this book began in August of 2010, so we are talking about 2 1/2 years of work from inception to now. It’s snowballed from a small smattering here and there to a veritable flood of things I want to address and say. I thank God it has grown so well.

At this point, I have the major areas of the book outlined and started. I wanted to whet your appetitie and give you an idea of what’s to come in the book. The book is for Christian singles who want to prepare themselves to marry. The major divisions are:

  • Preparation–laying the groundwork for us to come to this subject with our hearts and mind in the right place. Have you done the preparation to be ready to consider a mate?
  • Meet Mates— a meet mate is a suitable one. How do you develop your criteria for a suitable mate? What principles does the Bible give us concerning mate selection?
  • Making Yourself Meet— Are you a suitable candidate for marriage? What work do you still have to do to be suitable for marriage?
  • In the Meantime–What should you be doing while you are single? How can you be happy for others? What does it mean to wait on the Lord? How do you wait (hint: this is an action verb!)? What are you waiting for?

The three main topics we will explore are preparation, purity, and patience. Each of these topics is composed of several other subtopics, of course, but these are the main takeaways.

So what am I actually working on right now? I am writing the practical application half of Meet Mates, pulling interview quotes for various sections, and researching. I still have scriptural examples and references being brought to my rememberance that will fit in somewhere, and I am still searching the scriptures for more. I have revised the first chapter multiple times to send out a piece to possible editors or agents. I sent this section to my dad, who really likes it. That’s a big plus for the book.

I’ve read certain passages of scriptures until my eyes feel like they are crossed, and the wonderful thing about it is I STILL find something new each time I read and meditate on them. I’ve enjoyed digging deeper into the Word of God. If this little book never sees the light of day in my lifetime, it has done a great work in my life. It has revolutionized my Bible study.

Things I still don’t have:

  • About the Author page–I HATE these. I never know what to say. Since it’s a book for singles, should I highlight that aspect of my experience? Since I haven’t published anything, should I try to get something published in Christian Woman magazine or somewhere to plump up my credentials?
  • Acknowledgements–there are SO many people to acknowledge! What if I forget someone? How can I convey my gratitude to them? I don’t even know how many more hands will be involved in this book to write one yet.
  • A foreward–once the book is finished, someone is going to have to read it and pen a foreward for me. I feel like women writers in colonial America, like I have to have someone vouch for me. “She’s a really good writer, and she really wrote this book. It’s awesome; you should read it.” Seriously, I think the foreward sets the tone for the book, and I want something that strikes the right chord and gets the reader’s hearts and minds ready for the book.

I welcome any suggestions. Of course, I know you all are not my writing blog audience, but as the blogs and discussions here started the idea for the book, I wanted to share this with you all first.

What savory moments have you all been experiencing? I love to read about your triumphs!

Working hard,

2blu2btru

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A “Successful” Courtship

 

So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Isa. 55:11

 

This scripture was in my head all day yesterday. I don’t know why, but when Joshua Harris asked what I would define as a successful courtship in his book, Boy Meets Girl, this came to mind. He started out by relaying how he’d heard about some friends who had decided to end their courtship. At first, he viewed this as an unsuccessful courtship. Then he realized that the courtship had accomplished what they wanted it to, it just didn’t have the hoped for outcome.

 

When two people decide to actively engage in a relationship with an eye towards discovering whether or not they should get married, whether or not it ends in marriage does not determine the success. Anytime you are able to make a clear, informed decision about whether or not you should marry, it’s a success. But try keeping that perspective and balance when you’re the one in the courting relationship!

 

It’s always amazing to me what happens when I share God’s word with someone. There have been people I really wanted to bring closer to Christ and His truth who just don’t fully embrace God’s word. It has frustrated me to see close friends and family pick and choose what to believe in the Bible or act as if they can decide to give God any kind of response they want. It doesn’t always matter how I present the Word or the timing of it; they just don’t want it. It has taken me a long time to realize that God’s Word accomplishes exactly what God means for it to accomplish. Sometimes it draws people closer and sometimes it drives them away. As a Christian, my job is to share the Word. I’m not supposed to be concerned with the results because I don’t know what a successful result is in any given situation. I can’t see all that God is doing. I don’t give the increase. Anytime I share the Word, it’s going to be successful. God’s word is going to do exactly what it’s supposed to do. That should be freeing. I can’t mess it up. But when there are feelings involved, it’s not so easy.

Throughout this season of courtship, I’ve learned that God answers prayers. I’ve also learned that sometimes the answer isn’t a simple yes or no like I’d want it to be. I wanted to know if I should marry Mr. Perfect, and my answer has been the Marriage and Family Workshops every 4th Wednesday, pre-marital counseling, and some uncomfortable revelations about self and others (To be fair, I asked for the wisdom to make the right decision. Maybe if I had asked a yes or no question, I could have received a simpler answer :D). I’ve also learned that God doesn’t have to drop out of the sky or send a blazing neon sign in order for me to get the message. He has placed some wonderful people around me who both knowingly and unknowingly have pointed me to the right scriptures at the right time, whose lives have been testimonies, and who have opened up their homes and hearts to share with me knowledge that I would have paid dearly to acquire through experience. Hearing the same things over and over again from people who don’t know each other nor do they know I’m dealing with decisions in the area they are speaking on just convinces me God knows I need some help and has placed study guides in this world for me.

 

Even if at the end of all of this I am back to being single, this courtship will not be without its accomplishments. I have learned to communicate better. I’ve corrected many negative traits I had. I’ve developed more discernment and a reliance on God for wisdom and not myself. I have written a book that will help many others wade through some of the wrong thinking we have about what relationships are all about because I’ve been disabused of such notions. I can say that I have conducted myself well in this courtship. I have done the work to know exactly what it is I bring to the table, good and bad. I’ve done the work to make an informed decision about my future. How can that not be counted as a success? 

Success simply means that something has done what it was supposed to do, even if it’s not what we wanted it to do. I may not end up saving a soul or flashing a shiny ring, but whenever God’s will is accomplished, it’s a success. This quote I saw on twitter by CS Lewis perfectly sums it up:

C. S. Lewis@CSLewisDaily

For you will certainly carry out God’s purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John.          

A successful courtship, a successful life, is one that seeks out God’s will and then lines itself up with it. People like to think of sins as mistakes and God as this eraser that makes most of what you did disappear; that’s not how it works. God forgives sin, but consequences still come. However things end up for me, I strive towards eliminating sin and the need for God to have to work around what I’ve done to get me back on the path He had me on to begin with. Again, CS Lewis says it so much better:

C. S. Lewis@CSLewisDaily

Whatever you do, He will make good of it. But not the good He had prepared for you if you had obeyed him. #CSLewis

Your Two Cents: How do you view success? Did your relationship work out as you intended? What are you doing for Christmas?

XOXO

2blu2btru

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How Choosing a Mate is Like an Election…

Mr. Perfect was asking me about a remark our minister made about the election. He was talking about how it didn’t matter who was in the White House because God was in control and had set up the government. Mr. Perfect asked me if I believed that it really didn’t matter. I said I did. I believe God works all things together for good for them that love Him and are called according to His purpose. God can use even non-believers to carry out His will. At some point, the conversation switched to making bad choices in mates and divorce, as many conversations do these days for various reasons. As I was explaining my beliefs to him, it struck me that choosing a mate has a lot in common with choosing a President. Here’s my list of similarities:

  • You have to do your research. Anyone can tell you anything, but you have to look at a person’s record. Does he/she keep their promises? Are they swayed by special interests with deep pockets? Do their policies line up with your beliefs on how things should be run?
  • False advertisements and slander abound. Sometimes people oversell themselves when they are trying to get a position. They only put their best foot forward and pretend they have only done well their entire lives. They may even attack a rival’s record and cast doubt on their ability to handle a position. Even special interests groups not affiliated with either candidate will pay for advertisements against a candidate or in favor of a candidate that shares their beliefs. Similarly, when we are going about mate selection, a potential mate may only let us see their best qualities or will cast doubt on someone they see as competing for your affections. Your friends and family members may also have a lot to say about the person’s suitability. Their inner circle will have things to say about you as well. Discernment is key in determining who to let advise you. Read and listen for yourself and weigh biased opinions against the truth you have observed.
  • Debates don’t mean much. Being able to present your arguments for or against issues is important. Looking confident and keeping your poise under pressure bodes well for your ability to handle the position. But when you have your ceremony and are bestowed with the title, foreign leaders and even members of your own House aren’t going to abide by debate rules. There won’t always be a mediator to keep the conversation on track and mudslinging to a minimum. Everyone won’t be swayed by pretty words. How are you going to work with people to get things done? Can you concede the small points and stand firm on the more important ones? Are you willing to stay in the room until an agreement is reached?
  • Prayer is necessary. There’s no way to get around the fact that we will never know everything we need to know about a candidate endorse them unreservedly. Even if we could know this, there’s no way to predict how being elected can change them. At some point in time, you are going to have to choose one of the candidates or not vote. Time can run out and make the choice for you or you can decide for yourself. Either way, God knows all. He knows things we can’t possibly know. Prayer for God to show you who someone really is, to give you discernment, to help you know what questions to ask and who to believe is crucial. If you want God to be a part of your relationship, invite Him in early and let Him stay. Take advantage of the advantages you have in being able to have God personally involved in helping to prevent you from choosing the wrong person for the job.
  • You can only choose one. As good as the candidates may or may not be, you can’t vote for all of them. You may be compatible with one on the social issues and another on the economy. No candidate is going to match up perfectly with all of your ideals (or as Chris Rock says, you won’t meet anyone who loves Star Wars and the Wu-Tang clan as much as you do). You have to choose the best man for the job and support him, or don’t choose anyone.
  • A president can’t change anything without the House and Senate. There are a number of roles in our lives that need to be filled, just like there are many levels of government. These are checks and balances. If a democratic president has a majority republican congress, unless some bipartisanship takes place, they will cancel each other out. The congress won’t pass the laws the president wants, and the president will veto the bills that congress wants. You need a mate that can work well with your congress and you can work well with theirs. You can’t be engaged in a power struggle for every issue. Is this someone whose agenda you can support and push through, or will you constantly filibuster them?
  • There are strict rules for impeachment (aka you can’t undo your vote). Once your vote is cast, it’s hard to recall it. After someone is elected and they do a complete 180, it’s hard to get them out of office before their term is up. Only two presidents have been impeached, or investigated on suspicion of wrongdoing that may lead to removal from office (Nixon resigned before impeachment proceedings against him began).   Both men still remained in office. It’s equally as hard to undo a marriage. Divorce is “easy” in today’s society, but the spiritual and mental ramifications are not easy to overcome, let alone what God has to say about it.
  • Even if you pick the “wrong” candidate, God’s will can still be done. God can use your “wrong” mate. Even when what they do is meant for evil, God can use it for good. All things work together for good for us as Christians. You may be “stuck” with a less than perfect candidate who makes mistakes, but God is ultimately in control.

That’s my two cents, anyway. Leave yours in the comment section.

What are some other ways in which choosing a mate is similar to choosing a president? In what ways is it different? I haven’t even touched on the ceremony similarities. I probably won’t because I don’t want to drag election talk on past today, so feel free to start there.

XOXO

2blu2btru

 

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Playing Wifey, or “Did I Shave My Legs for This?”

Consider this horror shot a before picture. Mr. Perfect and I at the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine.

The one thing that is odd to me about doing premarital counseling before being engaged is the idea that I am preparing for something that may never happen. It’s really weird to me because I have a strict line for things pre-engagement/marriage and post-engagement/marriage that I don’t like to cross or blur. There are just some concessions I am not willing to make for a boyfriend and certain privileges not available to any less than a husband. Meanwhile, one of our more recent sessions was about how two become one, a session in which I was called upon to do something on the other side of the line.

We finally had the session where we talked about our lists about a week ago. The point of this exercise, I concluded, was to see how we could compromise and work towards making each other happy. In order to share this story appropriately, I have to tell which undesirable we discussed and the ensuing miscommunication disaster that followed, both of which are very personal. So, bear with me.

In our session, we talked about one of the undesirables that I wrote down for Mr. Perfect. I’ve been trying to think of a word that better fits what I meant, but I have to admit I’m a bit stuck on a poor substitute. The word I wrote down was “vain.” Mr. Perfect is not vain in an absolute since. What I meant was that he is very concerned with looks, both his and his future wife’s. I find this to be an undesirable because it can often feel like a requirement, sort of a “you have to be this fine to enter this marriage,” if you will. At least that’s how I saw it. While talking to Brother Drummer, Mr. Perfect was asked why this was important to him, and I was asked to voice my opinions on it as well. In an effort to sum things up, he felt that it was important for him to have a wife he was attracted to both because of health reasons and as an aid to helping him stay faithful. Basically, he wants a wife he can lust after instead of lusting after random women. All men want a woman that other men would want, someone they can be proud to show off; I get that. What I wanted was for it not to be a requirement. I wanted acceptance and unconditional love. Brother Drummer did a great job of showing how taking either one of our views to the extreme or to the exclusion of the other would be a mistake and gave us a challenge. He asked us to take on the other’s view, really embrace it and work towards trying to make the other happy.

My issue with this (because you knew there had to be one) is that I have been a slave to how other people have wanted me to look, and it has taken me a long time to be happy with myself. I had no intention of changing how I look to please anyone but a husband. I mean, at that point, my body is his and vice versa. I didn’t want anyone who hadn’t made a commitment before God and aforementioned opinionated relatives to love me as I am having any say so in my looks. I didn’t want to change all this about how I look only to be single again next week. No. But after reflection, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see if I could look the part, a dress rehearsal, so to speak. So I decided to embrace this exercise a little bit.

I got up early and went walking for some exercise. This wasn’t too hard the first two days, but a front and change in the weather meant the last few mornings I’ve been walking/jogging in 40 degree weather at 7:30 in the morning. Then I took another step and actually shaved some things I haven’t shaved in years. That’s right; I shaved my arms.

I never shave my arms, just my armpits. I don’t have a lot of hair on my arms. But I figured I would fine tune my look. I shaved my arms (which still feels weird), plucked stray hairs on my face (which is painful!), trimmed up hairs, perfumed and oiled down everything, and took time over my face. I felt great. Then I spoke to Mr. Perfect.

Mr. Perfect knows a few things about me as a result of a nearly five year courtship. One of those things is that I am a stickler for being on time. We hadn’t been on time the last few Sundays for church. Since I had taken my morning walk, shaved everything in creation, washed and oiled and powdered everything not nailed down, and took my time picking out an outfit, I knew we would be late again. I wasn’t going to sweat it this one time. But Mr. Perfect didn’t realize I’d decided that trying to live up to embracing his wish to have a PYT on his arm was worth being a little late. He thought that I would try to rush him now that we were running late and somehow make it all his fault. So, not only did he not notice all the pains I took getting ready, he was downright angry. I tried (really tried) to not say anything, to make it his fault, but after one too many comments I didn’t like, I had to tell him that I thought that me taking the time to look nice was what he said he wanted. *Cue half the day argument*

At the end of all of this, we learned a few things. We know each other, just not the way that we thought we did. We are always changing and the rules can get switched at any time. Secondly, neither one of us is a mind reader. I should have made it clear that I was going to try to embrace his way of thinking and make some changes (which was the first thing we were told to do, LOL), and he shouldn’t have assumed that I would blame him for being late. We were both looking for verbal and non-verbal cues to confirm what we already thought, which only made it worse. Third, it is impossible to figure out anything when you’re trying to defend your position instead of working to understand each other’s position. Once we were able to stop defending ourselves and listen to the other person, it was obvious that we weren’t even mad for the same reason. I was feeling vulnerable because I’d put myself out there and gotten snubbed, not made because we were going to be late; he was made because he thought I was mad that he was making us late when I’d taken a long time to get ready. We are getting better at communicating, but we still haven’t perfected it yet.

Through all of this, I have come to realize that while I still believe some things should be reserved for marriage and some privileges only given to husbands, there are some things it wouldn’t kill me to show and prove I’m willing to do. It’s hard for someone to take your word on everything and gamble on forever. It’s equally as hard to put yourself out there with no guarantees. I’ve no idea what the next couple of months holds, but either way no one can say I didn’t try.

XOXO

2blu2btru

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Thoughtful Thursday: Balanced Thinking

One of the MANY pictures I took in St. Augustine. This is at the Old Jail.

There are few things that people both critically overthink and fatally underthink in equal amounts. One of those things is the idea of commitment, of forever.There’s a saying that goes “marry in haste, repent at leisure.” Sometimes we are too quick to pull the trigger on major decisions and make mistakes we can’t take back. Sometimes, however, we face a bit of the opposite struggle.

As you all know, I am under a bit of a deadline in my relationship. Mr. Perfect and I will be at five years of dating in early December 2012. Our relationship could be in preschool, have started and finished undergrad (or a five year master’s program), paid off a car loan, or completed Insanity or P90x approximately 60 times. In the past five years, many, many friends have met and married and had babies. They’ve moved to new cities and started completely new careers. I’ve gotten to be deliriously excited about at least ten engagements, five marriages, and two babies of people I really know and interact with, not to mention countless facebook friends. While I’ve enjoyed everyone else’s happiness and success in the relationship arena, I do wonder if I’m in the remedial love class. I mean, if you can’t either seal the deal or decide it’s not going to work in five years…

I am at the point that I may be overthinking things when it comes to marriage and family. I am at the tipping point, so to speak. The content of this blog is not the extent of the relationship work and knowledge that I’ve acquired in the last three plus years I’ve been writing it. I’ve read so many books about relationships and marriage it is unreal. I have followed the blogs and taken the tests. I should be certified in relationship coaching. Still, I have NO idea what marriage will really be about for me. There are some things you just have to do to know, you know? I have a surplus of knowledge and no experience. In the current job market, you can’t get hired on that.

The key to this commitment issue, of course, is balance and perspective (OK, so maybe that’s two keys). This is why I decided to stick to my original plan of giving this five years (a really generous amount of time, IMHO). Any more time would be uncivilized. Anyone who’s ever even seen gambling on TV knows that there’s a time you have to place your bets and let it ride. Once Regis asked, “Is that your final answer?” there was no turning back. You have to lock it in. But how do you know when you have enough information to make an informed decision? When you have looked at it from every possible angle and ignored all the impossible ones. A balanced perspective.

If you haven’t been following my personal blog What I Wanted to Say (and why haven’t you, get on that!), then you are perhaps unaware that Mr. Perfect and I have started Pre-Marital Counseling. No, we are not engaged; it was something Mr. Perfect wanted to do before deciding on engagement. So far, we aren’t discovering too much; we have talked about nearly everything that’s been said over the last five weeks in six session by one mental health counselor and one minister and one book (huh? Yeah). Forever is such a far reaching decision that it requires a lot of thought and attention. However, at some point you have  to make a decision. The trick is to make a decision based on what you have learned and observed of yourself and your relationship, not other people.

Don’t play the even Miss Independent is getting married (which is true, and I’m beyond excited for her!) card, or the it’s been five years card, or the I’m awesome and you need to marry me card. In fact, just stop playing cards. Don’t pull straws or eeny meenie minie moe it, either. Make an informed decision.

I know many of you think that my sticking to a hard and fast deadline is silly. I don’t get the point of pre-marital counseling for a pre-engaged couple of five years, either. But we all have to do what gives us a level of comfort that we’ve explore all viable options and possible angles without overthinking and possibly missing out on something wonderful.

That’s my two cents anyway. Leave yours in the comments section

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Never Just for a Ring: Bad Reasons to get Married

Whenever I talk about being married, it’s easy for some to get carried away thinking about the process or the possible benefits and not the actual marriage. Many people today are wedding-minded and not marriage minded. I’m sure at some point all women who intend to get married have suffered from this.

I remember reading “One Perfect Day” nearly a year ago and saying “I’m never going to be spend that much money on that” or “why would anyone pay for that?” Now, when I try to envision a wedding, I realize I have some pricey words in my vocabulary. We all know some pricey wedding words: elegant, modern, personalized; it was featured in The Knot or Bride Magazine; Martha Stewart or David Tutera made it; Monique L’huillier, Maggie Sottero, Amsale, Pnina Torné (sp?). Weddings can be the most financially expensive mistake you make in life.

That’s not to say that people running to the courthouse to be married have a better idea of what matters. No matter how you go about tying the knot, there are several reasons that are not good reasons to base such an important decision on. I want to cover this in detail in my book, “It Takes One to Know One,” so I’m only going to give a few of those reasons here. We hear these things over and over, but it never hurts to be reminded.

  • Because she is—There’s nothing like comparison to make a woman get all in her feelings. She can be at a place in life where she doesn’t even want to get married, but then she’ll see that the girl who slept with everyone is getting married and looking respectable, and something inside her will start to whisper “why hasn’t anyone asked me to marry them? I mean, somebody is marrying her. She can’t be getting married before me!” We can think because we  feel someone “deserves” to be married less, because they aren’t as awesome as we are, that we should beat them to the altar. We don’t know if they are in good relationships or what they did to get that ring, but they must have did something because, well, it’s her. I’ve had to check this impulse a few times, the need to compare myself and my relationship to someone else’s. I’ve done the “they’ve only been together x amount of time and I’ve been with Mr. Perfect nearly FIVE YEARS!” But I’ve checked it. If getting married were a competition, I would have been left in the dust and declared the loser a LONNNG time ago. God’s timing is perfect. In the fullness of time. Blah blah.
  • For the benefits–please don’t ever take a job solely for the benefits. You will be a miserable person. I love the benefits I receive at my job, but just recently, they have changed a bit. There are now restrictions that weren’t there before, some things may cost a little more, etc. If I was only working there to receive those benefits, recent changes may make me start looking elsewhere. The same thing can happen in our relationships. If we are in it to split bills or have sex, what happens if someone loses their job or is no longer able/willing to engage in sexual activity? Having someone to help with chores sounds great, but what if that person becomes injured and needs to be taken care of? There are so many ways your asset can become a liability. It’s important to examine whether or not you will still be as committed if you don’t get everything you think you will.
  • For the wedding–Some people can’t wait to have the party of the year, see all of their old friends, receive a bunch of gifts and money, and be the center of attention.  Some are willing to spend a large sum of money they really don’t have to impress others with how much style they have and what a great party they can throw. They begin planning well in advance. Some are buying dresses and other things without a fiancé. A man is only another prop in the day; he is a plug and play and can be anyone. These same people pay little attention to the marriage. After this one day is over, they don’t have the skills to sustain a marriage, nor the money to maintain a household. It’s hard to go back to just being you without all of that attention you’ve been getting, and the diva complex you’ve acquired cannot be satisfied by the love and devotion of your husband.
  • Just to be married—it’s important to make sure you are marrying the man and not just the institution. I have known for a long time I wanted to be married, much longer than I’ve been with the boyfriend. The real question is do I want to be married to him? Marriage is great when you marry the right person and both are committed to making it work. It doesn’t help to be sure about marriage and not about your potential spouse. Marriage is more than a title or a state of being; it will be a major part of your life. In the vows, they ask do you take the person in holy matrimony, not the idea of marriage. Do you want this person? If not, then it’s not the time for you to marry.

There are, of course, many other reasons that aren’t valid for taking that walk down the aisle, many of which I will be discussing in my book. But right now it’s your turn: what are some bad reasons to marry? What are the good ones? Did you marry for the right reasons?

As always, you can leave your two cents in the comments section, or email me personally at 2blu2btru4u@gmail.com. You can also tweet me @2blu2btru or message me on the Indigo Moods Blog Facebook page.

XOXO

2blu2btru

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Thoughtful Thursday: Nothing You Can’t Give Back

Over the years, I’ve heard (and given) a lot of advice on how to navigate the dating waters. I think the piece of advice that has stuck with me the most was shared a few months ago from the pulpit. Bro. Drummer, in his usual fashion, had somehow taken a detour to talk about relationships, and was sharing a piece of advice he had given to his son. He said that he told his son never to take anything from a girl that he couldn’t give her back if the relationship didn’t work out. Hmm…

I sat thinking about this for a while, especially in light of my book (queue the *she’s talking about her non-existent book again?! groans) and my current relationship. Even being as intentional as I have been about not dating until I was “ready” to be married and not dating anyone who wasn’t “marriage material” for me, there’s no protection from being wrong about someone or it not working out. The reality is you may break up. Breaking up is hard to do, but there are things you can do to lessen the blow.

Taking nothing you can’t give back is integral to my approach to dating in theory. Of course, there are always things you can’t really give back. For example, I won’t be repaying all the money Mr. Perfect spent on food, parking and gas during our nearly five years together. I’m equally positive I wouldn’t see a return on all of the meals I’ve cooked for the two of us either. But the really important things, the things that create such soul ties to one another, haven’t been exchanged.

There’s a decided lack of chemical bonding due to lack of a sexual component to our relationship. We don’t have a child together. We haven’t purchased any property together. I haven’t even made that scrapbook of our relationship yet (which I’ve been threatened to complete and given a deadline on, LOL)!

But you know, there are a few things that you can’t give back that you can’t prevent giving or receiving. For example, memories and experiences. A LOT of memories have been created the past…four years and nine months (o_O). We have shared a lot of laughs, discovered shared loves of a lot of things, served at church events together, taken a trip or two together. We’ve met a lot of each other’s family members and spent time bonding with them. I can’t give back my love for Grandmother Perfect or the time we explored an old battleship in Mobile. Those are mine to keep.

Relationships are an investment, and every investment has a risk factor, however tiny. It’s one of the things we must evaluate and pray about as we begin to imbark on them, in every relationship area of our lives. I’ve had some pretty painful break ups with friends–people that I’ve trusted, shared secrets with, thought were in my corner. It can be difficult to emotionally recover from having your trust violated, or having your vision of forever meet up with a hard reality.

In any case, I think this piece of advice is valid. The one who makes the concrete commitment of marriage should be able to receive certain gifts, gifts that can only truly be given once. This necessitates an examination of our motives and ultimate goals that “seeing where it goes” does not. I like the thought of being heart whole and happy again one day soon after a break up, eventually being able to smile about the memories and not be a bitter fruit on the tree.

What’s the best dating/relationship advice you’ve received?

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The Difference Between Command and Demand

I wasn’t sure if the denotation would bear me out as much as the connotation would on this one, but low and behold they both agree with me. I should preface this by saying I am not a feminist. Yes, I am a woman and I think women should be afforded equal rights in the workplace and so on. I am certainly not a misogynist, nor an “independent” woman. If I had to qualify myself, I would say that I am a lady. So, if any of this offends your sensibilities, blame it on my vintage 1950’s “ladyness,” if that makes you feel better.

The dictionary definitions we will concentrate on for demand are as follows:

  • something claimed as due
  • a seeking or state of being sought after
  • the requirement of work or the expenditure of a resource

The definitions of command I want to work with are as follows:

  • to exercise a dominating influence over; have command of
  • to have at one’s immediate disposal
  • to demand or receive as one’s due
  • to direct authoritatively.

For those of you who don’t like to read my long posts, the gist of this is: When it comes to respect, command supercedes demand in getting the desired results.

I have heard women for years going around demanding respect and that men treat them a certain way. They have demanded a lot of things, many of them successfully (at least to what they were trying to accomplish). We have better employment opportunities and are taken more seriously at work, although there is still room for progress. We have demanded the right to choose when it comes to childbearing, and have gotten it, though that battle still rages on. We have demanded to be treated equal to men, and boy, have we gotten it.

The thing is, we don’t want it. Women are inherently different to men, and in certain situations, we are demanding to be treated like ladies–soft, delicate creatures that men should treasure, instead of like other men in the street. It seems that by our demands–for respect, to control reproduction, for more money, for equal rights–we have somehow defeminized ourselves. It seems that men have taken it too far. Now, they won’t hold a door for you or stop cursing around you like sailors. They expect you to pay for your dinner and theirs. Some think they don’t need to bother with the niceties of dating; after all, we are all “sexually revolutionized” and don’t have to wait for marriage to express our sexual desires within the confines of a loving relationship.

I don’t have a lot of problems with the above mentioned things. I don’t get cat called on the street or have to deal too often with over aggressive men. I am like many other women– I work a full time job to support myself, have a college degree, everything I have I bought it, blah blah. Yet men open doors for me, offer me their umbrella, make sure I get to my car safely. Men alter their coarse behavior around me because they realize I don’t appreciate it. All with very little verbal coaching from me, if any. I’m just a commander.

The nature of a demand, according to the above mentioned definitions, is such that it requires work and expenditure for something you claim you should already be afforded. Basically, this means you are working for something that you should be getting for free, something that is due you as a matter of course. You are seeking after it, boycotting and picketing for it, but you just aren’t getting it.

Don’t get me wrong; there are some things that you have to demand, that no one is going to give to you just because it’s yours by rights, and I understand that. I’m not putting down the advances that women have made. I’m just saying that sometimes demands aren’t fulfilled, just like in the supply and demand relationship in economics.

Command is different. Soldiers know better than to contradict the commanding officer, even more so if they step out of bounds and receive the punishment. A commanding officer never has to give supporting arguments as to why you should follow instructions; they expect that their instructions will be carried out. Command works by influence, not by brow beating. Influence is to alter by indirect or intangible means. In other words, there’s just something about you. It’s not telling someone how to treat you verbally or physically forcing them to, it’s indirect.

How do you command respect? Expect what you project. If you want respect, you should project respect. Everything about you should be saying “respect me,” the least of which being your lips. I dress in a way that allows me to be respected. I respect other people. I reward displays of respect with a smile and a thank you. If you don’t respect me, I don’t demand that you do, I simply remove myself from your presence, and most men get the hint. I don’t have to brow beat or nag them not to smoke or drink in front of me, to stop cursing or treating me like one of the guys. I don’t act like a man or think like a man. Everything about me says lady, and that’s what they respond to.

I’m making this out to be easier than it is for some women. It’s been integral to me since I was young. It’s how I was raised. But I will give some more concrete tips and thoughts after work.

The bottom line, though: expect what you project, not what you demand. Or, actions speak louder than words.

That’s my two cents, anyway. Leave yours in the comments section.