Will You Be My Friend? Check Yes or No

On Sunday I watched a father and son eat lunch. The father was on his cell phone for most of their meal, while the son ate in silence. I found this odd because usually I see younger people on their cells while the older people are sitting there in silence, but more than finding it odd I found it sad and representative of our technologically-obsessed culture. So attached are we to our gadgets that portability is a must. We must be available at all times, to all people. We must have wireless internet access and internet and music on our phones, even TVs in our cars. We must update our Twitter and our Facebook daily, if not hourly, so everyone knows what we’re doing or thinking. Of course, the irony of all of this is that while we’re seemingly so connected to each other, we couldn’t be more isolated. We neglect real relationships for cyber ones, preferring a text or email over a phone call, a phone call instead of face-to-face interaction. It’s just easier that way. Right?

I have found myself trapped in some of the scenarios I’ve just described, and it’s only lately that I’ve realized that I’ve allowed myself to hide behind my online presence. I’m more comfortable baring my soul on a blog post or in a facebook post than I am in real life. The online me is the selective version of me, and so the online me is safe, protected. And I’ve allowed myself to believe that I’m cultivating and maintaining friendships because I know what my friends are all up to thanks to the wonders of social networking, and yet how often have I actually called them up to find out? In person communication isn’t always possible, but I know I can do better than exchanging facebook messages.

The truth is, I don’t know how to make friends anymore. It was so easy in college and mostly easy in grad school because I was constantly thrown together with people in the same stage of life as I. I lived with these people, went to classes with them, shared meals with them, goofed off with them, and so it was natural that relationships would develop. Now, however, I am an adult, and I am not “forced” into interacting with others on a daily basis, and I am floundering. I wasn’t bothered by my lack of new friendships when I first got married because I was content to spend every hour of the day with my husband, and I still treasure our relationship and his presence, but my girlie soul longs for female companionship, too. I don’t even have any close friends at the church I’ve been a member of for a year and a half. How sad is that? There are women at church that I have shared passing conversations with, but I have never managed to muster enough courage to get to know them better by inviting any of them out to lunch or to the park or even to Target. (And now I sound like a guy who’s trying to get up enough courage to ask a girl out. Awesome.) I suppose deep down I am afraid of being rejected, and so I don’t say anything. I’m good at that, it seems.

Part of me (a rather large part) didn’t want to write this post because I am aware of how completely lame I am, but I am putting it out there in the hopes that I am not alone in feeling this way. (Plus, it’s late at night and it’s possible my judgment is impaired.) Does anyone else struggle with cultivating friendships? I welcome any and all suggestions/thoughts.

Meditations on Singlehood, Part Two

Is God enough? I don’t ask that in a way that’s meant to sound blasphemous or flippant; it’s just something I’ve been trying to think through. Let me explain:

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 73:25: “Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You.” I return to this verse, and the ones following it, whenever I feel dissatisfied with being single or when I just feel lonely. I remind myself that all I need is God. To be honest, sometimes this helps, sometimes it doesn’t.

Then there’s the song “Enough” by Chris Tomlin (I think he wrote it): “All of You is more than enough for all of me, for every thirst and every need. You satisfy me with Your love. All I have in You is more than enough.” I’ve sung that song many times, taken comfort in it, tried to remind myself of the words when I’m wishing I were married.

But then there’s Genesis. Adam is in the garden, and God says, “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him.” God Himself said it’s not good for man to be alone, but Adam was with God, right? So what does it mean that God felt Adam needed someone else? If God is enough, if He is all I need, then what are other people for? And I’m not really sure I’m comfortable with saying that God isn’t enough, so how do I reconcile these two ideas? I know that if I’m not happy being single, I won’t be happy being married, and I know that I need to be content with where God has me, and I honestly am trying.

I think I’ve been thinking too much.

Meditations on Singlehood, Part One

EDIT: Dumbest commercial ever: A woman jogging, with a voiceover that says, “I can’t concentrate. Could I be pregnant?” Um, WHAT?! That’s the worst logic I’ve ever heard! Come on, Ept, think of something better than “I can’t concentrate!” Next thing you know we’ll be hearing, “I’m so tired. Could I be pregnant?” Sheesh.

And oops, pretty sure we forgot to pay the rent. It was due on the first. It’s always due on the first, so how in the world we managed to forget is beyond me. We’ll probably be homeless tomorrow. Awesome.

I’ve always been of the old-fashioned persuasion and felt that men should be the pursuers in relationships, but what about Ruth? She laid herself at the feet of Boaz as a way of saying “Hey, I’m available!” This certainly caught Boaz’s attention, seeing as how they ended up getting married, so what does that mean? I read a two-part article about “pulling a Ruth” that talks about the importance of women making themselves available to men and not being passive, and this isn’t the first article that’s talked about women not just “settling” with singlehood, but how are we supposed to do that without looking like we’re desperate or trying to take control? Do I wear a sign on my clothes that says, “Hey, Christian guys, I’m single and want to settle down?” I guess I’ve always just assumed that guys figured most women had marriage on the brain from the age of 2. Not only that, but it frustrates me that so many Christian guys can’t seem to get up enough guts to just ask a girl out. All of this is a big puddle of confusion in my head, but here’s what’s had me thinking a lot the past few months:

1. Are there things about me or my life that would suggest to single guys that I’m not open to marriage right now? Does pursuing my MA and possibly my PhD mean I’m sending out some sort of message that implies I want a career over marriage?
2. I read all sort of articles and hear messages from speakers that urge singles not to delay marriage but to embrace it and enjoy it while young. That’s all well and good, but it’s not like I’ve been keeping guys at arm’s length and refusing marriage proposals left and right. What am I supposed to do until marriage presents itself? Where’s the middle ground?
3. How can I encourage Christian men to step up and be the leader God wants them to be in relationships? What could I potentially be doing that would discourage them from this?
4. How can I both embrace the idea of marriage but at the same time pursue a career?
5. Am I willing to give up my aspirations of being a professor were I to meet someone I want to marry? In other words, would I be willing/able to put family over career?

I’m not sure what compelled me to write all of this, but I’ve been dealing with these questions for a while and thought it might be good to hear what you think. So please jump in with advice, comments, criticisms, etc.

Stay tuned for part two: Is God enough?

I Was Right!

My longtime readers will recall a question I posed almost a year ago:  Can a man and a woman be “just friends” and nothing more?  The question sparked quite an interesting debate, and even though some say it’s possible, I remain firmly in the “it’s highly unlikely” camp.  I don’t think that persons of the opposite sex can be friends without one or the both of them developing some sort of attraction/interest in the other that will end up complicating the friendship.  And now my friends at Reader’s Digest agree with me.  In this month’s issue, columnist Jean Marie Laskas, a regular contributor to my most favoritest of magazines, answers “life’s 25 toughest questions.”  One of these questions is “Can a man and woman ever just be friends?”  Her answer:  “For a short time perhaps.  Making the friendship last requires that you find each other at least vaguely repulsive.  Good luck!” 

Thoughts?  Discuss amongst yourselves!  I’m off to dye my hair.