Still Sparky

(Image from comfortlife.ca)

Last week I wrote about what that initial “spark” is when you meet someone you feel attracted to. It’s a high. It’s a rush.

You get together. Get married.

And then I hear how couples barely talk to each other a few years into marriage. Or how couples don’t care to spend time together because they’ve got their own things going on in their lives….they’re just sharing the house now. Or how any conversation is only about the groceries, the bills, the weekly schedule or the kids. Or how “date night” is going to a dinner where each are on their respective smart phones through the meal, followed by a movie in a dark theatre shared by a hundred other strangers where the only thing you hold isn’t his/her hand but your bag of popcorn and drink. It honestly makes me a little sad when I see it.

One husband with two young ones commented to us that since we’ve only been married two years, we’re still in the “honeymoon” and romance kind of phase but that in a few years we’re not going to care so much what the other person is up to. Will still love them, but just not care so much.

I’m a little alarmed by this…is that going to be us??? I don’t want to become that comfortable, but kinda emotionally disconnected couple. I want to always find things that “spark” between us. I want to make sure there’ll be moments of feeling melty inside…for the rest of our lives. I’m pretty sure I’m not a hopeless romantic so this goal isn’t unreasonable is it? Any thoughts or comments from those married longer than two years?

I asked Skywalker what still makes him feel the spark now. He said, “The Holy Spirit.” JUST KIDDING. He said, “I love that we can have fun and be silly together and you’re hot.” *melty* How about you?

I said, “I love how you make me laugh, that we can ‘play’ together and how sometimes with one look from you, I can get weak-knees.

Yeah…hope we’ll always be a little sparky. Long into Golden years of being wrinkled and grey.

*spark*

(Image not mine)

What is that “spark” you feel when you meet someone?
Is it different between guys and girls? Is it superficial?

People speak of this mysterious connection felt when meeting someone they seem instantly drawn to. And I wonder what defines it. Is it plain physical attractiveness? Sound of their voice? The way the sun hits her skin? That’s definitely starting to sound rather superficial…but is this what defines whether we feel that spark with someone? Or maybe it’s about how conversation comes easily? How he makes you laugh? Or how he’s just so awesome somehow?

I had a theory that because men are generally stimulated by sight, and women by touch or emotions, that maybe guys sense the spark in someone who is physically attractive and women find a spark in the person who makes her feel special. Thoughts to this?

I asked Skywalker when he first felt “the spark” with me. His response was something like, “Well, the way you blew me off kinda left an impression. And it’s really all God’s doing because you kept coming to mind even though I wouldn’t normally have given a second thought about a girl who gave me the cold shoulder.” Well, I was hoping for something along the lines of “You were beautiful”….ah well.

For myself…yeah, I did brush him off. Long story short, he was from Edmonton, I was in Vancouver, and I was never going to long distance date again. Famous last words. More in another post. What generated a spark though, was when he asked me a very perceptive question while sending a Facebook friend request. It tickled my brain. And THAT was my spark. Totally non-typical for a girl I know. But I am an INTJ so I guess this makes sense.

How about you? What was that “spark” for you?

The One

(Image not mine)

When I was in university…I had long conversations with girl friends about meeting “the One” one day. What that’d be like. What he might be like. What fun things we’d do. etc etc. And then I grew up. The end.

Jk.

Seriously though, I think we’ve got a major “soulmate” complex in our Hollywood-glamourized-romanticized culture. All rom-coms have the same story line: Boy meets girl, they don’t like each other or are with someone else already, then in some vulnerable drunken moment they kiss, and suddenly they know they’re meant to be together despite logic or reason. Passion trumps all things. If there’s struggle in your relationship or if things get dull, you must be with the wrong person. Because if you find “the One”, if you find your soulmate, everything will be easy and exciting.

Well, the rate of divorce amongst Hollywood actors should be a sign that the soulmate thing isn’t working,

I have a different theory….that soulmates are MADE not born. And that “the One” doesn’t exist…at least not in the way Hollywood has made it out to be. I believe through life we will meet a number of people who we get along well with, who we might have mutual attraction to, and who would potentially make a good life partner. There are definitely many more who do NOT and will not. But when we decide to make that commitment to marry, THEN that person becomes “the One”. It is in a committed relationship, particularly AFTER you make vows to each other in marriage, that you learn to become each other’s soulmates. And this is a daily decision you have to make. “If I’ve commited to be this person’s soulmate, how would I treat him/her?” etc.

Relationships ruled by passion are doomed to fail. It’s a bold statement…but truth is, our hearts are deceitful. Our emotions can wage war on our minds and make us do really rash/stupid/regretful/hurtful things. I’m not saying to take passion out of the picture, but it should not rule your decisions.

This means your decision to get married should also not be ruled by passion. Sometimes passion-led decions do lead to marrying the “wrong” person (i.e. someone abusive or unfaithful to begin with) but more often it leads to marrying someone who’ll take much more time and work to become soulmates with each other. Yes, I do think it’s possible to be in a difficult marriage and still make it work. But it takes mutual commitment to the marriage and willingness to be transformed by Christ. That is a critical point too, that only by being reconciled to God can we be reconciled with each other, even for the most hopeless of cases.

So…I think a good start would be to toss the idea of finding your soulmate or finding “the One” out the window. Instead work on strengthening your character so that you can be a good soulmate to someone one day. And look for someone of good character, with passion on the side, because that’s good soulmate potential too.

It’s gonna hurt sometimes

(From quebecoislibre.org)

Our culture has gotten really sensitive about making sure no one has any hurt feelings or that everyone “feels good” about themselves all the time. Where did this ever come from?? When did we get so wussy?

Truth is, hearing the truth about yourself is going to hurt sometimes. And it’s ok. Granted the deliverer of the message should hopefully, be delivering the truth in grace and love, but regardless, it could still sting. I’d rather hear the stinging truth, and then deal with it or make a decision based on truth rather than to continue building up an illusion. Likewise for people around me, I would rather tell the truth (hopefully tactfully) rather than try so make them feel better and see them reap the consequences of finding out the truth later.

Or guilt…guilt also feels horrible. But we treat it as if we should avoid feeling guilty at all costs. In actuality, guilt CAN be good. I’m not talking about the guilt-trip type guilt that might get laid on you to manipulate some kind of preferred response….but true guilt from your conscience saying “This isn’t right.” It’s the warning bell that you’re going to do something that could hurt someone and/or yourself. It’s the pain of touching a hot stove telling you that leaving your hand on it any longer will cause some serious hurt. Why wouldn’t you want to listen to that? Why would you want to dull or avoid that painful warning when it’s there to protect you?

Criticism, rejection and failure is part of life…we need to be able to constructively deal with it. If we keep insulating ourselves (and our kids) from anything that could hurt our feelings then when Life deals a particularly hard hand, we/they’ll find our/themselves on our/their faces, in the mud, feeling like a victim, for a really long time. The person who can take the blow, do something good about it, will succeed. I want to be that person….and I want my future kids to be that as well.

Not every kid will share toys…I’m not going to swoop in, take the toy from the other kid to give to mine. There will parties they’re not invited to…I’m not going to phone the parents demanding an invite. They’re not going to make every team they try out for…I won’t tell the coaches off. They may or not pass their Learners exam on the first try…I’m not going to argue the instructor for a pass. And there’ll be at least one D grade in their academic years (there better not be more than two!)…I’m not going to tell the teacher off at PTI’s. (I’ve seen or heard of these scenarios happening in real life!)

Someone please quote me to my face if I become that parent that tries to protect her kid from every/anything that might cause discomfort. Thanks!

Back to dealing with stinging truth or burning guilt…take it like an adult. With a grain of salt. Be honest with yourself in evaluating whether or not that truth or guilt is valid. Then take a deep breath and do something about it…turn it into something constructive and come out as a stronger and better person.

Compassionate I am not

Growing up, I noticed my Mom likes to leave reading material lying in convenient locations (i.e. dining room table, bathroom reading racks, etc) with pages opened up to articles that she thinks one or all of us should read. Sometimes she highlights the parts that are particularly pertinent. It’s very subtle (but I’m on to you Mah!) and usually, it provokes enough curiosity that I do read it.

My parents helped us tremendously when moving to BC last month and as the chaos slowly cleared from my living/dining area, I found a little “Focus on the Family” magazine on my dining table. The topic of the month was on Compassion. As I read through the short but challenging articles it became more and more clear that I have WAAAAYS to go in becoming a more compassionate person. (I’ve been told I’ve grown more compassionate since high school…but this just shows how heartless I really was. ha ha.)

To be compassionate is to feel in your gut the same pain/unease/sorrow/grief/anger/etc as the other person feels. Not just an “Hmm, I see how you might feel that way.” Jesus Himself wept over the condition of the people of Jerusalem, seeing them as sheep without a shepherd. He saw the hurt, He saw their hearts. And not, as I’m quick to think, that what I can see and analyze of their unfortunate circumstance is a product of their choices and so if we can fix the problem by doing this or changing that then all will be well. One of the article authors wrote, “Fixing is a personal, hidden agenda to keep the pain at a distance. Rather than simply suffering with our friends, we tend to give advice.” (That’s SO me. *gulp*) While there’s a place for pointing out truths and doling advice, jumping straight to it when a person comes to you in pain is self-centered, unloving and certainly uncompassionate. (I’m sorry to the friends I’ve done this to!!)

I’m challenged to ask myself why it’s hard to look on another’s pain and enter in. Our world is definitely one that avoids as much pain as possible. (I’ve seen those pain-killer aisles at the pharmacy.) But if I can’t feel another’s pain, then how can I  be compassionate? Or maybe it’s that I don’t look past the visible pain into the person’s heart. Another article author, Steve Johnson, wrote this:

When we look past the pain, we see the person and engage him with our heart. That doesn’t mean we ignore the pain. We acknowledge it and respect it. But we look past it to the heart of the person. Look past the suffering to the sufferer. Look past the hurt to the heart. When we do that true compassion is evoked.

I see more now that I tend to live on the side of conviction and truth, rather than compassion and grace. Not that I should be living on the other side entirely as neither extreme is healthy nor Christlike….but that I need to exercise and walk in tension between both sides. It still means I have a lot of compassion growth opportunity to get to the right balance however. God please grow a compassionate heart in me.

What does being compassionate mean to you? Are you consciously trying to be compassionate or do you already live with compassion?