Being acceptable

I’ve mentioned off and on in the past about a rebellion period in my life… that had sort of been brewing for a while, but broke loose not too long after a long term relationship ended.

There is one weekend, very early in this period, that sticks clearly in my mind.

Friday night was a random warm evening, and so I had my window open… facing out from my apartment over the busy intersection just a sidewalk width from the building. I lived right in the corner spot, directly above a pawn shop.

Across the street diagonally was a church that I had attended for a good part of my freshman and sophomore years. Across the street (from both me and it) was a building that had once been a bank, but that the church had turned into a youth and college building. Beside it was the larger parking lot for residents of our building.

But across the street from us the other way… was quite the contrast. A biker bar sat right on the corner. Next to it one way was a second bar. And next to it the other way was a video store that was more x-rated “restricted adult” section than it was normal videos.

Down the block had yet another bar, and a large public library. I was always sort of amused by the contrasts of the area.

So I had my window open, listening to bar music and general noise that had spilled outside due to the nice weather.

And I watched the people for a bit.

And the more I watched, the more I found myself deciding that I was done.

Done behaving as best as I could and still never seeing to be enough. Done with relationships that were supposed to bring positive into my life and instead brought rollercoasters. Done with struggling to do hard things.

Done with being the grasshopper…. when the ants seemed so much more happy.

With the way things were going for me spiritually at the time, this made sense.

Eventually I ended up at my computer… not sure entirely why… but I had left aol open, and I had a message from someone.

At the time, I had been talking to quite a few people on there that I’d connected with over the profiles section for our area. This was a guy I’d been casually talking to for several months… who had been openly flirty, but that I’d always turned down.

I think he was slightly shocked when I asked him if he wanted to get together that night.

And he would be even more shocked by my responses as the night went on.

As were several other guys from similar situations that weekend.

But one of the moments that I remember most from that weekend was late sunday evening.

It was dark, and the weather had turned cold again. Coming home from a guy’s house, I walked past the front of the church youth building, and waited for the stoplight to change.

And I found myself looking in… through the steamed windows into the main room with the stage brightly lit and the teens and young adults all gathered into a sea in front of it.

And as I watched, I realized several things.

First, I realized that I felt no guilt about the weekend. I knew I should have, but I didn’t. At all. Nor did I feel any urge to go inside, talk to the youth leaders, repent, or anything at all in that direction.

But the bigger thing I realized… was that I felt more accepted and cared about that I had at any other time ever in my life.

I knew that none of the guys from that weekend would ever be a spouse or even a boyfriend… if I ever even saw them again at all. And yet… the fact that they found me to be ok… to be dateable… to be acceptable… to even have my life together by some of their standards…

It was enough.

It was more than I’d ever felt even from the multiple year relationship that had just ended.
More than I’d felt from being a part of any of the groups I’d been in, or even led.
More than even what I’d felt from my relationship with God.

And I knew… that it shouldn’t be that way. The I should have been able to draw on my relationship with God for that same feeling of being acceptable… much more so than I could feel it from any human.

And yet… in spite of years of knowing that… and years of trying to make it that… it still had never developed.

Did I know it mentally? Yes. Did I ever truly feel acceptable to him in my heart?

No. I might have thought different before that night, but it became really obvious that in comparison with the way I was feeling now that I’d never really ever felt that

Maybe part of it was the mess with not feeling accepted by Christians… and maybe it was part just from knowledge of my sinful nature… but nothing I’d ever really felt had ever made me feel as much like I was acceptable as a weekend that probably still ranks up there as one of the most intentionally sin-seeking times in my life.

The light changed, and I turned and walked across the busy street… feeling that a crossroads had been passed. I’d made my decision… and at that point I’m not sure if you ever could have convinced me that I would ever look back towards Christianity again.

And while I know it wasn’t the best path to take to get the answers that I needed… I think a decent chunk of what I needed to know from the rebellion period came out from that night. And I think they were lessons that I needed to learn to move on with my life.

And sometimes even now… years on the other side of it… I find myself needing to remember that although I choose to live aiming for standards that I may never live up to, that those disappointed hopes are not always the big picture. I may not be who I’d like to be… but I’m not nearly as far from the target as I think that I am.

The baptist church

Working through some chapter questions in a book… this chapter being on areas of our lives that we hide and on feeling unworthy or “less than”.

I’d grown up in a non-church-going home, and had become a Christian in 7th grade at an event.

The church I started attending a bit later was not used to having teens with absolutely no sunday school background who didn’t know all of the usual stories and verses… and things went pretty poorly.

The second incident that came to mind of feeling unworthy and less than others was here… when after being really into things and learning for 2 years, when it came time at the end of 9th grade for the teens to become full members, I wasn’t allowed to do so… under excuses stemming from my not being baptized, which they wouldn’t let me do because my parents didn’t attend.

A baptist church… which believes that baptism is essential for salvation… refusing to baptize. I think this may well be the biggest insult they could give someone.

To say that I felt less than and unworthy was an understatement… but then, not an uncommon feeling at all with that church.

A few months before this, I’d received a birthday party invitation in the mail for a surprise slumber party for one of the girls in the group. It said to show up at a certain business at a certain time, with sleeping bag etc… and of course not to mention it beforehand because it was a secret.

I was so excluded from the other members, girls especially, that I automatically assumed this to be a trick by some of the popular girls to make me look stupid… as if they didn’t seem to be trying to do that enough at meetings.

As it turned out, to my surprise, there was really a party.. but the invites had been made by the girls mother… sent to all of the girls in the group. Even knowing the party actually existed, I still felt like they wouldn’t have been thrilled if I had shown up even though I was technically invited.

Fortunately, we moved pretty soon after the membership ceremony… so I soon started going to a church with one of my friends whose boyfriend had a car… but sometimes I still have to stop myself and wonder whether feelings of “less than“ I get from certain church people is truly based on the situation, and how much it’s being influenced by the past rejection experience as a baptist.

< (Less than)

Working through some chapter questions in a book… this chapter being on areas of our lives that we hide and on feeling unworthy or “less than”.

In college, I began a long-distance relationship with a guy who was a decade older than I was.

He had also been a pastor nearly 15 years, mostly in an organization of house churches.

He was well respected, well liked, known for being a deep thinking intellectual.

I was young, had lead groups at my high school but had barely had my feet somewhat under me spiritually for about 5 years, and was known for being mostly silly and goofy.

In addition, the group of churches had some beliefs that I wasn’t comfortable with, so even though the largest of the house churches was in my town and I went to some of their meetings, I never actually joined.

This lead to a sort of weird dynamic anyway… as most of the time things went fine, but every so often, I felt like I was seen as just a flaky immature kid rather than taken seriously.

Granted, to some extent I probably WAS a flaky immature kid… but being brushed off as one in what was supposed to be a relationship really didn’t help things at all.

But there were also other things that fed into the dynamic.

First was probably the fighting… every single fight we had was big and dramatic, and always started out of the blue with something I said or did being taken the wrong way… without being willing to listen to what I’d actually meant or where my motives had been.

So feeling like I was always wrong and usually unintentionally causing problems didn’t help much either.

Then there was the weight.

Supposedly his concern was just for my health.

But somehow the phrase “fat cow” came out of his mouth during every fight.

I worked as hard as I could to try and drop my weight… not yet understanding that there were big chemical imbalances in play… and saw little progress even with swimming for an hour and a half 3 mornings a week, biking 3-4 miles a day, and hitting the cross country ski machine between classes for an hour several times a week.

Diet didn’t help much either.

Until a week fast. When some weight finally dropped.

Which turned into fairly frequent week fasts… somewhat for spiritual things, but more and more becoming mixed motives as weight loss success became a goal.

Eventually working its way up to three week fasts with a single glass of juice for each meal but only water in between.

And even then… at my lowest weight… I still couldn’t make my goal.

I was still too fat.

And still felt like I was the problem, even after things ended and the next person he started dating was a lot bigger than me.

—-

And probably the aspect that messed with me the most emotionally was that i was a low priority.

On one hand, I knew that he cared about me. He spent a lot of time in evenings talking to me both online and by phone… and cared what was going on in my life.

And I knew that when he came to town, it was going to be related to church stuff.

And I knew that a lot of things were limited both by the distance, and by the leadership position. Cuddle time on the couch watching movies just wasn’t going to be in the cards.

But, unfortunately, neither was much else. It’s not like I was wanting anything that unreasonable… a date out to dinner with just us… or some time with taking a walk with him… just a normal date that could have happened normally had we lived closer.

But every time, business or fellowship won out.

He did fix this with the next girlfriend, setting aside days for her with no church stuff allowed… but then, that just made me feel even more “less than” that he hadn’t been willing to even carve out a few hours for me in person… only when he was at home far away and had nothing else going on.

Even our relationship status fell into this.

It was quite a while after the church members had already considered us a couple before he was even willing to give the title of girlfriend.

But as time went on, the plan became that I would move when school was over, and if we were still ok with it 6 months after that, we would do an official engagement and look towards a wedding 6 months after that.

I suppose in modern relationship levels, that falls under “promised”. Everyone we knew mutually seemed to make the jump to “fiance”. On very weird occasions, I even had to correct “wife”, or something written out that had my last name as his.

Sort of messes with you a bit, especially when you aren’t even entirely sure that he wants to claim you as girlfriend around some people sometimes

.—————-

In spite of this… he was still my best friend… and my first serious relationship… and my world revolved around him way too much.

I loved him… and I knew he cared about me.

But I always felt like it was in spite of me being who I was… rather than because of who I was.

And I still felt like I was an embarrassment to him publicly… someone who harmed his image and goals rather than being able to be a help-mate.

The relationship ended in a huge fight…. after he got mad at me, because I had gotten mad at him because I was hurt at what seemed to be him making me look worse in the eyes of one of his fellow pastors.

Afterwards, I know that he was teasing… otherwise it would have made no sense to tell me the conversation happened at all.

And at the time of the fight, I’d assumed that I was just responding out of past hurt from other rejections, and family members who’ve always seen me as less than.

But in time, I’ve come to figure out that while that may have been part of why I felt as I did, my response wasn’t coming from that…. it was coming from that fact that I did feel less than… all through the relationship.

Though, I think that he wasn’t seeing what I was seeing in a lot of the instances… and that my assumptions on what he was feeling were probably off. If he truly felt like I was an embarrassment, would he have had the conversation and intentionally made it worse? Probably not.

Sometimes I wince… wondering why I ever stayed in that relationship as long as I did with some of the dynamics going on.

Others, I wonder if a good counselor couldn’t have made the world of difference.

The new marble game

So I guess we’ve decided to try the marble jar discipline method, once again.

5th time is a charm?

Trying a bit different this time… one type of marble for good, another type for bad… prizes or punishment based on ratio.

At least maybe it will give a temporary break.

Running out of creative solutions.

How dreams died

What were your childhood dreams of what you wanted to be, and how did they die?


The first thing I remember wanting to be was a GI Joe style army woman.

Somehow this managed to merge into being an army nurse… and then into a nurse like my grandma (my mom wasn’t a nurse yet at that point)… and so the family always told people that I wanted to be a nurse… when really I sort of wanted to be GI Joe and was settling for the idea of GI Joe nurse.

This died pretty early… and if it hadn’t, it would have been eliminated by knee injuries and later by other physical factors.

And I really don’t like much at all about nursing. To me, it has all of the hard parts of the care, without any of the interesting diagnosis parts, and I’m still not a big fan of blood.


The second one was a librarian. This one died mostly be working in the library for several years for elective credit.

I discovered that I really don’t like teaching… I really don’t like reading books that are out of my interest areas entirely… and I get frustrated easily by questions that people should be able to find the answer to if they actually took the time to try to find it. None of these work out well in a library.


The third one that I would consider childhood was late teens, when I wanted to work in radio.

Two things happened to this… one, like the library, the more I got into actually doing it, the more I figured out that I really preferred being on the outside edges of involvement.

I burnt out.. pretty big time… by all of the other stuff beyond the actual radio process. If I could have stayed an intern forever and worked with just the on-air, contests, and production aspects, I think I would have been ok… but there’s so much more.. paperwork stuff… sales stuff… marketing stuff… non-profit fundraising stuff… coordinating stuff… technical stuff…

Which leads to the second thing… the radio industry, in particular the Christian radio industry, changed a lot between the time I started my first internship in my junior year of high school and the time I graduated. Things became much more computer run… most of the stations in my area and many other areas became feeds that were coming from an entirely different part of the country and had no actual local content or staff… and the few jobs that were still there are almost entirely focused on doing all of that other stuff that I never liked in the first place.


So most of my dreams were not so much killed by lack of confidence in reaching them… or lack of feeling of being worth reaching for…. as much as they died because I went after them enough to realize that the reality was far different from the dream, and not something that I really wanted once I realized exactly what it was that I’d been chasing.

Nervous or suspicious

I’m having trouble figuring out, in the middle of the stress, what is just jumpiness from the nerves and what is true suspicion.

Going back over things from the teacher conference… trying to figure out if I should be ready for them to call and do a “poor kid in an awful family” report.

Trying to figure out if the questioning of my parenting choices on discipline matters is a deliberate undermining or if I’m just being jumpy. (It was a $40 item destroyed in a temper tantrum… I don’t feel like a week’s wii grounding is appropriate for the crime… and I’m getting really darn sick of the stupid little lies…)

Should I be concerned that the allowing of spending almost all of spring break with grandma is an attempt to pull something, or another attempt at undermining…. or am I just jumpy at what could just be an emotional thing from the whole divorce mess?

It’s mostly just little things… and little comments…. but they keep tripping my caution flag, and I can’t tell if it’s a legit warning or just a hair-trigger from all of the stuff flying around right now.

And worried about going off too easily… but maybe more worried about being wrong if it was something that I should have caught and attacked proactively.

So done.

So tired.

Not really tired I guess, but weary.

Of all of it.

I feel like keeping my phone turned off, my door shut, my time outside minimal… and just cocooning into a little safe bubble.

But even that doesn’t help… still need electric bill to be paid to keep bubble at reasonable temp.

Stuff has been moved around so much with the “now”, “wait”, “never”, “now” repeated moving prediction cycle that I can’t find anything anymore. I couldn’t even come up with the stupid spool of special expensive weed eater string when my brother needed to use it to do mom’s yard.

Everything I need to use seems like a hunt.

I got a voicemail a while back.

From my soon to be ex-stepdad.

Saying we don’t have to move, he’s never said otherwise, and he has no clue where that rumor is coming from at all.

At that point, the rumor was that we could stay, but that rent would be expanded to include all of the expenses for the house. taxes, homeowners insurance, those sorts of things… making a good sized increase in rent.. and making it to where I was paying about the same amount for a much larger and much nicer apartment in a nice suburb.. meaning to me that we might as well move anyway.

But then mom was upset that I wasn’t “playing nice” by mentioning that to her when told about the possibility.

And so, I never told her about the voicemail.

Funny how the moving thing has come around to “be ready to move” twice more since then.

At this point… I’m really getting tempted to just go ahead and sell appliances on craigslist for deposit and move anyway…. just to be totally out of the drama line. really bad financial move right now… but man would it be nice…

Guess I can keep dreaming and strengthening my plans b, c, and d.