Tag Archives: love

Guilt-Free V-Days

Two days before Valentine’s Day, I find myself sitting at a kitchen table while my student reinvents herself through a group science project. A project that is designed for a group, yet doled out for an individual student while she’s on medical leave….

THIS is what I’m facilitating as a blog from one of my favorite bloggers catches the corner of my eye.

Beauty Beyond Bones is one of the few blogs I read–mostly because I get an email every time the author publishes. But it’s easy to proclaim a favorite when there aren’t many others for which I will sacrifice my time. For as long as I’ve been on this reflective journey as a blogger, her blog has caught my attention. I suppose it’s because her persona reminds me of someone who I once loved. I say this with no guilt, however. And that’s because I gave up guilt for lent nearly four years ago.

That’s right! I gave up guilt for Lent. Here’s why:

This person I once loved, she has a name. But for simplicity, let’s just call her Love. She had convinced me that she was the one the Lord held aside just for me. She’d been praying her whole life for what she called “my sweet king-to-be” (MSKTB) for which became the moniker for this blog thread. She waited her whole life–and I mean she WAITED.

Her unrelenting chastity was something I honored. I’d figured that she was worth the sacrifice especially since she’d already sacrificed so much. But as the years passed I began to question the validly of a “sacrifice” of something that was never experienced. I longed for the integrity of a pure relationship. After all, no relationship prior had yielding a godly outcome.

This particular relationship did not come without its conflict and confusion. This was uncharted territory for me. I’d been divorced for nearly five years. My beautiful children and much-needed experience where the fruits of that union. Alas I’d experienced a sex-free marriage. How hard could an abstinent courtship be?

And believe it or not, it wasn’t difficult at all. The challenge was understanding the “rules” of an abstinent relationship. Love, well she didn’t make it easy. This courtship, as she called it, forced me to recall medieval times when marriages were arranged and fathers held the key to the mystical chastity belt. Weird!

It made me wonder if there were occasions where restricted access was circumvented somehow. Or if the whole concept was more-or-less a myth. I suppose I had a front row seat to my own private show. It was an interactive one-act play where I was both the star AND the antagonist. It hinged on torture, but Love led me to believe that it was necessary to truly appreciate the sanctity of marriage.

She had a hold of me. To my circle of friends, it looked like a circus. I thought I was the lion-tamer. Nah, I was merely one of the clowns (the one without the makeup).

As our relationship entered its first Lenten season, I asked her if she’d given any thought to what sacrifice she’d make for 40 Days. I figured it would be akin to my own fast of soda or chocolate. No! Hers was much deeper!!

Intimacy!

Huh? What?

I was confused. How much more un-intimate could we be??? I pressed her for an explanation. She obliged.

She said she’d spoken to God about it, and he told her to take her sacrifice deeper.

I thought this was a joke. But Love doesn’t joke about God. I began to plead with her. And then I realized that there was no integrity to in that at all. So I encouraged her to explain further. She said “no touching!”

Yeah ok.

“No kissing…”

Huh?

“No lustful gazing…”

To which I replied, “where will you be staying?”

This is where she became confused. I continued.

“When you spoke to God, did he tell you where you’d be staying when you come to visit me?”

I realized at that moment that I was venturing into a very ugly territory from which there’d be no return. But there was no turning back.

I gestured gingerly, “Hun, I know that you come a long way to see me. I know the sacrifice that you make to be with me. You are tired when you arrive, and most weekends you want to lay down; which results in you spending the night.”

“But you’ve also got to realize the challenge that comes from you spending the nights here when my children are home–the challenge created from trying to model this righteous behavior in the face of being “chased”.

My daughter had begun to emulate pristine behavior. She asked for a purity ring of her own. She spoke of the importance of waiting…

What father wouldn’t want that? Now I was offered an opportunity to step up. I’m not taking one for the team. I’m embracing a responsibility far greater than a “man-in-waiting” (is there such a thing?); or was my search for masculinity manifesting into a fatherly responsibility?

It didn’t matter. For a moment–perhaps minutes at best, Love melted. Her eyes gazed upon me and I felt appreciated.

But that too was confusing for me. And so I did what I do best. I stuck out my chest and…

Ruined it!

She asked me lovingly, “what will you give up for Lent?”

“Guilt! I’m giving up guilt!”

Love was lost.

I defended that if God was going to have a private conversation with my love, I was going to assert my role in my relationship with God. I looked up to the ceiling and continued, “you can’t stay here, wear sexy pajamas in my kitchen, tell me I can’t look at, touch, or kiss you and stay here. It’s teasing and it’s mean.”

Well maybe I didn’t say it was mean. It was a bad memory. What do you want from me?

“I Am giving up guilt for lent!” The Lord died for my sins. The fornication, the lust, the adultery, and all the other illicit stuff that I reluctantly confess to. I don’t need to harbor any guilt.

I sorta thought that I should have consulted a priest on this one, but…

I’m not catholic.

Love left that night. She went home to her father’s house where he and her mother later praised me for raising my own daughter to be a queen. I’m not sure how I felt about that, but…

Now THAT Ash Wednesday did not fall on Valentine’s Day (like it does this year), but the sheets have been cold ever since. Well, cold on Valentine’s Day at least.

As a middle-aged man who is on the cusp of denial, I will love myself this Valentine’s Day. And once you get your mind out of the gutter, you’ll probably do the same.

In case you didn’t know, the boxes of chocolate go on sale after 6pm at most pharmacies. And the Ex-lax is a few isles over.

Happy Ash Wednesday!

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I Was Monogamous Once

Yep I was actually in a 4 year monogamous relationship. I didn’t plan it that way, when I started dating the guy I happen to have not been seeing anyone else then he asked me to be mono and I figured I could give it a try as an adult. You don’t really know your […]

http://dollfacediary.com/2016/03/26/i-was-monogamous-once/

Dear Dad…

When there are so many things to write about and so many things to reflect on, today is a day that my focus shifts.  As a father and a son, Father’s Day is a day when I can do what ever I like (in theory).  However, it is the day that I represent all that is important to me.  Not too many fathers will admit, but the truth is that we are far more important than we are given credit for.  This is not to diminish mothers or grandmothers or even grandfathers, aunts, uncles, or anyone else that helps raise up a child.  But on this day we focus on the importance of fathers.

As an educator, I spend very little time discussing any of the “holidays” because of the need to focus on everything else.  I don’t place a high priority on any holiday because I end up having to justify and dance around beliefs systems. Otherwise I’d try to make a way to incorporate the meaning of the holiday into a bonafide lesson.  And because Father’s Day usually falls so close to the end of the school year that it gets overlooked anyway, no one complains–not even the dads.  The mayor of a local town recently posted to his Facebook page that he is so proud that 15 dads came out to the “Annual Donuts with Dad Breakfast. ” This kind of puzzled me.  I certainly could address that, but I’d like this story to take a different direction.

As a social worker, my focus on dads was minimal because mothers usually accepted all the responsibility in the household. For court, counseling, and intake interviews moms carry the load.  Sure there’s mention of dad but there’s always a compelling reason that he could not attend.  And although there’s a shared responsibility of raising a child, there are usually responsibilities that are often overlooked that dad is actually fulfilling.   Dad is not there to defend himself.

As a father, I do not need to defend myself.   As a son, my father’s absence had an explanation.  I never questioned it.  I knew and I understood.  But because the moms of the world were always there to offer an explanation, the real reasons were diluted.  Our world has two sides to it–the explained and the unexplained.  This is a balance that is necessary to keep things in check.  Although we might not be comfortable, please understand that balance is required in everything.  The ying to the yang, the male to the female, the rational to the irrational, and the list goes on…

But we force an inequality.  We demand more than we should and accept less than is acceptable.  It’s a paradox!  We overlook the need for balance.  Mother Nature will find the balance though; just like Father Time will never cease (even though we don’t see him until it’s too late).

My father is no longer here.  My mother is.  Balance.  I miss him.  My mother demands that I miss her.  Irony.  I have to laugh to keep from crying.  Today I celebrate the fathers who can no longer be there with their children.  I recognize the reasons.  I embrace those reasons even though I may not endorse them.

In this world full of so much tragedy, we manage to find some happiness.  Balance.  When the scales are tipped too much in one direction there is chaos.  We’ve come to accept certain arguments and conditions. Someone might suggest that the scales need to be re-calibrated.  This rings true in just about every aspect of our natural world–and probably in the supernatural realm as well.  Let’s explore that for a moment.

I spoke to one of my pastors yesterday who suggested that our role in the church has become antiquated. Men don’t come out to church as often as they should because the church is perceived as effeminate.  We refer to our Savior as a man who is caring and compassionate, who counsels and nurtures, who provides and heals.  This sounds more like a mother than a father.  I replied that “We call Him Father, but treat Him like a mother…”  Make of that what you will.  I’m certain that it will become a preaching point in today’s sermon.

My father was no mother.   As caring and compassionate as he was, he was still assertive and stubborn in his ways.  He provided resources that the family happily consumed.  He provided for several families and raised more children than he conceived.  He married more often than his wives would have preferred, but he was respected by each until the relationship had ended.  He loved his trucks and his sailboats.  He loved his projects and his books.  And he loved his children.  He was riddled with the guilt that he hadn’t enough love to give–even though he had given all that he had.  That’s not effeminate. That’s the type of man he raised me to be.  That’s the type of man that all of his son’s have turned out to be.  These are traits that I am modeling for my son.

dad

In his absence, I’ve learned the meaning of balance.  I only had him as a constant in my life for 13 years.  Too short?  No way!  That’s way longer than than I’ve been in my son’s life (so far); and way longer than most children have their fathers in their lives.  I am blessed to have been conceived by him, to be supported by him, and to have him there to show his love to me.  My father demonstrated balance in his life.  He was a poet and a sailor.  He lived his life like a well-narrated story, filled with comedy and tragedy.  He rarely completed a project, and his ultimate demise mimicked his projects.  This was no accident.  As I said, he was a poet.  Had he been a painter I’d suggest that all of his brush strokes were deliberate.  Instead, I confirm that all of his “I’s” were dotted and all of his “T’s” were crossed.  He left this earth of his own free will.  It’s been impossible to grieve his death because I daily celebrate his life.  Although I’m criticized for my perception of my father, I will learn from his model.  I will live my life the way I know best and I will teach my children how to LIVE life to the fullest.

Today, I also celebrate my children.   They were conceived in love and are nurtured daily by a mother and father who want nothing more than for them to be healthy and happy. Our children’s lives are not traditional.  However, “traditional” is no longer the norm. Therefore, their existence is actually better than most–and certainly better than what they could have had–no father.  I am the best father that my children will ever have! That’s as easy as affirming that I am the only father they will ever have.  I had a step-father for a few years who once told me, “you only get one mother…” Puzzled, I asked him if the same was true for fathers.  He had no answer.

034IMG_0001kids and me

Dear Dad, I love you.  Knowing that I will never see you again, I am happy for those years we had together.  You will live on in me as I provide for my children.  And one day when I too have left this earth, my children will be great people and live happy lives.

If only I had known…

If only I had known, I probably would not have bothered.

egg

If only I had known that running for township committee would require party leaders demanding that I see things their way (instead of asking me to consider the alternative), I would not have run for office.

If only I had known that another member of the fire company would be asked to run for a public office to represent the community, I would not have obligated myself.

If only I had known the outcome of my previous career endeavors would have resulted in me changing careers several times, I might have never embarked.

If only I had known that becoming the leader of my union would have resulted in management trying even harder to withhold our labor rights, I might have reconsidered.

things not seenIf only I had known that my marriage would end in divorce after nearly ten years, I might not have taken those vows.

If only I had known that I’d be leaving my home after twenty years of raising a family there, I might not have purchased it.

If only I had known that my pension wouldn’t be there for me when I retired, I might not have taken up a career in public service (or I would have at the very least invested differently).

If only I had known that the road that I travel now would not bring me to my destination unscathed, would I have chosen a different path?

I am not certain.  Had I not been elected to public office, I would not have recognized why our system is broken.  I wouldn’t have learned that just because we have only some similar beliefs, we still have vast differences.  I wouldn’t have learned that we must also look beyond our differences and engage in discussions about the many ways WE can meet our collective objectives.  I would not have learned that when they try to stifle me, I swell up with zest to overcome the barriers.   I would not have developed my voice!tied up  If it were not for the challenges that I’ve faced, there would have been no victory.

If I had known that they would pit someone LIKE me AGAINST me, I would have walked away because they created an unnecessary adversary.  I would not have realized that the goal was never to accomplish something, but instead to fuel the unrest that is destructive.  We were never on the same page.

My careers as a program coordinator, judicial assistant, probation officer, and family counselor all prompted my endeavors as an educator.  All of that experience fuelled my passion for advocacy.  My studies could have never prepared me for what was to come.  My entire life has been an internship that simple paid a little bit better than being a volunteer.

My stint as a union president was merely a foundation for a different kind of leadership—one where livelihoods were at stake.  The dues were small, but the rewards were great!  If managers had not suggested that I break the law, I’d have never realized how important it was to preserve the law, uphold the law, and defend the law.  Now I know how to change the law.

When I was young and naïve, I thought that all that was needed to have love was the opportunity.  If I wanted it bad enough (and if my heart was open to it), I could have what my heart desired.  Lost love and love lost?  I chose wisely, but next time I will be even wiser.  How my life will improve through such experience need not be said.

I purchased a home with the intention of sending my children to one the most diverse schools in the area, but by the time they were school-age the demographic had evolved and the ideas had changed.  Like-minds contributed to a population explosion and now there isn’t enough for everyone.  I won’t be the last to walk away, but I am certainly not the first.  As the trash litters the roadsides and the houses are either boarded up or burning down, I ask myself “what were you thinking?”

And now my life savings is being held hostage!  Any chance to have a fruitful life on the other side of retirement is in the hands of officials that we trusted to protect our interest and to preserve a promise that was made when we were hired.  Perhaps it was realized too late that the most efficient way to get the public service to function like the private sector was to treat them the same way (by robbing the public servants of their benefits).  But even my colleagues who’ve invested what was left of their budgets are dissatisfied with their returns.  Now I fight for my rights along side of people similar to me (and different from me) as we mumble, “if we had known…”

I’ve said all of that to say this:  Even if I had known then what I know now, things would not be much different.  Why?  Because my faith is the same!  As a matter of fact, a direct result of not knowing what the future holds makes my faith even stronger.  It’s not even a question of spiritual strength as much as it is the need to be patient, a need to hold on to those things that are important, and conversely the need to let go of those things that aren’t important anymore.  Being able to predict the future is actually counterproductive to being prepared for what is in store for us.  Although our walks are different, we are positioned to bring our knowledge, our experiences, and our passions to the table.  Absence of faith requires no work at all.  Absence of faith is absolute loss.  Faith without work is death.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1