Things that Mean Things

13308640_1175953279118227_6365910480183376487_oI’ve been cleaning house lately,

getting rid of things I don’t need.

The usual stuff:

Blankets,

Old clothes,

Stuffed animals from years gone by,

Books that have gone untouched for years.

It didn’t take long for me to whittle down

All the things I didn’t need,

Put away in brown bags to be sent to Goodwill.

Then I found myself amongst

A different pile

Of old things.

A picture frame

that holds four smiling people

And says

“Friends forever.”

A few years ago,

I would’ve held that picture to my chest

and maybe cried.

But I looked at it

and for the first time

I didn’t feel

Anything.

An old pillowcase from fourth grade

that I used to cry into

when I had anxiety

but before I realized

anxiety

would become part of my life’s narrative.

I looked at it, felt it, smelled it

and it didn’t mean

Anything.

A plethora of other pictures

Notes passed in class

Candles from birthdays gone by

I looked at them

sitting in various boxes

and realized –

That’s not the way it is anymore.

I used to need those things,

the people in those pictures,

that blanket for comfort,

that note from that person.

But now

I

don’t.

What happened?

Nothing, really.

Just time.

Time happened.

Time caused a gap

Caused silence

Caused apathy.

And that’s okay.

If we were meant to say in a harbor,

we would be a buoy, not a ship.

We sail. We don’t stay.

And by sailing,

We move away from the things

that used to keep us safe

to search for things

that grow us.

We sail away from old memories

that used to make us cry,

but now only bring a tickle to our throat

before disappearing forever.

We part from friends and leave them on the shore,

so they can build their ship

and sail too.

We leave the things

that once used to be

so so important to us 

on the sand

to be lapped by the waves.

What used to be treasure is now merely driftwood.

And that’s ok.

We weren’t meant to crave driftwood,

to hang it in our houses or cling to it at night.

We weren’t meant to be tied to the dock.

If we hold onto the things that used to be us,

we’ll stop becoming who we’re meant to be.

We’ll be a ship, but we won’t be any use.

We’d hold onto

everything

that ever made us

anything

and

slowly

we’d

sink.

So let go.

a. w.

Not How you Are, but Who you Are

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I laid in my bed feeling like I was going to throw up. I wasn’t sick, but I was certainly queasy. My heart was pounding out of my chest and my stomach felt like a rock. It was nearing midnight after a long day, and I had gotten home late only to log on to my computer and find out I needed to buy a textbook for my summer class – a textbook that cost almost $200.

You’d think the computer had punched me in the stomach. That’s almost half my savings. So at 11:30pm I shakily entered my debit card number with a limp index finger and smashed my head into my pillow with thoughts racing.

Why did I decide to take an unpaid internship this summer? Why didn’t I try to find a higher-paying job? Why am I even taking this class? I’m paying off loans, shelling out cash for parking every day, and just scraping by with a minimum wage job.

I could take on another job. There’s got to be something I could fit in to my schedule. How am I going to pay for my apartment in the fall? 

And then the racing thoughts got deeper. Why did I decide to go to a private college and live on campus? I’m up to my eyeballs in debt. I’m never going to get a job that will pay it off. I’m gonna be homeless. This is a disaster. 

(It’s amazing how money will make you regret every decision you’ve ever made. But that’s a discussion for an entirely different blog post.)

Summer is a weird limbo period for most college students. You have a heck ton of time that you didn’t have during the school year, so you have lots of time to think. Instead of cranking out homework, you’re probably working a wage slave job to scrape up a little money for the semester to come.

And trust me, when you have time to think, you think. A. Lot. And your thoughts can turn on you fast.

This has been one of the most stressful summers of my life. I spent a month (and a lot of my money) in Europe on a school trip, which was three weeks of physical, spiritual, and emotional intensity. I returned broke and exhausted and threw myself into a part time job at Starbucks, a play, an internship, and a summer class. My gas gauge and my bank statements descended quickly. I overdrafted three times in the month of June. I still try to make it each week with a tiny paycheck (thank heavens I live with my parents. I’d live in a box if I didn’t.)

I made the choice to take an unpaid internship and rehearse for a play back in April. I, being the idealist, didn’t see the harm. Until I started paying for gas after driving across the city for rehearsal every night, and sticking coins into a parking meter every morning (and getting a ticket…) And months before then, I made plans to get an apartment with my friends before school starts in the fall. Idealism, am I right?

I’ve struggled with myself this summer. I feel like I’m one of those second graders that’s getting held back (remember how scandalous that was when it happened? It was basically jail.) I’ve never felt like more of a hapless child, even moreso than when I was a hapless child.

I’ve been asking “how come I…” a lot, with the emphasis on “I” because a lot of our worries stem from ourselves. How come don’t have a boyfriend? How come didn’t get that paid internship? How come decided to do all of these things for free? How come feel stuck and like I’ll never amount to anything?

And then the even more dangerous question: What’s wrong with me?

So what’s the answer to that?

Nothing.

Nothing is wrong with you.

Parents and counselors will be the first to tell you that, but let me tell you that as a fellow human being, and maybe someone who is around your age. There is nothing wrong with you. In fact, keep asking those questions. But instead of wallowing in them, answer them.

Why did I decide to take an unpaid internship? Because it’s in a field I’m interested in. It will help me learn what I want to do, and I won’t just be doing it for a paycheck. I’ll have to keep showing up because I want to. It will grow me as a human and as a professional.

Why did I decide to be in a play instead of working more? Because I love creating art, and I’ve made something beautiful with a group of people I love. Because life isn’t just money. Life is experience. And no experience is wasted if you decide to learn something.

Why do you feel stuck? Because maybe you’re not supposed to be where “that person” (someone comes to mind, don’t they?) is right now. You’re supposed to be where you’re at, spending a summer with kids at a camp, bussing tables for 60 hours a week, getting married, preparing for the birth of your first child. None of these things are small. And you can learn something from it if you decide to. And something good can come out of everything if you decide that.

Life is more than gas money. Life is more than the number of zeros on your paycheck. It’s more than your relationship status, your friend’s Instagram feed, the number of messages in your inbox. It’s about who you want to be now, in a week, in a year, in ten years. It’s about how you greet your coworkers on a Monday morning. It’s about how you treat the stranger sharing your seat on the bus. It’s about who you are and not how or what you are. The kind of friend, sister or brother, husband or wife, mother or father you want to be. It’s your eulogy at your funeral, the words on your gravestone.

Life is Patience. Not merely standing by, but actively waiting and seeking. So be patient. You’re not there yet because you’re supposed to be here. So while you’re here, learn. Grow.

Be patient. Wait expectantly for the sunrise in the middle of the storm. Walk in the rain instead of rushing through it with a newspaper over your head. A year from now, look back at the storm. Instead of thinking about how it was or what it was like, think about who you were then and how you changed. Don’t let it be a regret and don’t let it be a waste.

Let it be something that, no matter how difficult it was, made you who you are. Not everything has to be a period, conclusive and final. Maybe right now, your life is at a comma. Because you’re not sure how this short story in the anthology of your life is going to end.

But I promise you that when it does come to an end, it will make sense.

a, w,

 

I’m A Christian, But…

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I’m a Christian, but sometimes I don’t act like it.

I’m a Christian, but sometimes I don’t feel very Christian.

Sometimes I don’t love people.

Sometimes I don’t care.

Sometimes I even hate people.

I’m not proud of it.

I wish I could be the Christian that everyone else seems to be.

Always happy, always perfect, always #blessed.

I’m a Christian, but my life isn’t like that.

Sometimes I don’t act like Jesus.

Sometimes I don’t want to follow Him.

Sometimes I don’t even love Jesus.

I love myself more, most days.

Some days, I openly disobey. I go my own way.

And I don’t even care.

I’m a Christian, but sometimes I chase the world.

I chase it relentlessly.

Because I want it.

Fame. Money. Happiness.

Being a Christian is hard.

It’s impossible in this day in age to have a definite opinion about anything.

But if you’re a Christian, you have to.

You have to disagree with people.

You get accused of telling people they’re going to Hell.

You get accused of saying you’re perfect and special.

You get accused of being a hypocrite.

Why do we get accused of these things?

Because sometimes, these things are true.

We can’t help it.

We’re. Not. Perfect.

I’m a Christian, but I’m. Not. Perfect.

I’m selfish. I’m broken. I’m filled with negativity.

I’m a Christian, but I’ll be the first to tell you that

I

need

Grace.

I need grace even when I don’t think I need it.

I need it every second of my small, selfish existence.

I’m a Christian, and I need Grace. We all do.

The earth groans for grace,

and she doesn’t even realize it.

I’m a Christian, and it makes me different,

but it doesn’t make me better.

It doesn’t make me more loved or cherished.

God so loved the world 

that He gave

and gave

and gave

and gives.

I’m a Christian, but I’m not perfect.

I’m not perfect, but I’m loved.

 

a. w.

My Adventures in Online Dating, the Conclusion: Mars & Venus

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“Welcome to my world.”

“Good job with the face.”

“You have a nice smile! *winky face*”

“Did you know that cows have best friends?”

These are some examples of the smooth ways I’ve tried to initiate conversation on Bumble. Each of them failed at least once. (Disclaimer: “good job with the face” and “nice smile” were the only ones that merited a response. I bet you can guess why the other ones didn’t.) Some of my more successful attempts have been a bit less interesting, like “You don’t have a bio, so what do I ask you?” or “Tell me about yourself!” Or even the typical “Hey!” Which apparently guys don’t want to respond to…but, hey (!) do guys even know what they want?

Not on Bumble they don’t!

And neither do I…?

Or maybe I actually, secretly do know what I want and that’s what makes online dating so difficult.

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I definitely didn’t want that.

After online dating for about two and a half months, I have gone on a grand total of three dates. I haven’t kept track of how many people I’ve matched with, but it hasn’t been an astronomical number. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting to be ambushed with men as soon as I logged on, but I have to admit, it’s been a little discouraging. One of my dates turned out to be an atheist. One now has a girlfriend. And another brushed me off after dangling the possibility of a second date. There are a few I haven’t even met but kinda sorta really want to but can’t for reasons.

So yeah, it’s hard.

But it’S hard offline too. I realize that. The dating game is the same in the real world – you usually have to anticipate rejection, unless you want your self esteem kicked around. But after awhile, it sort of helps you grow a thicker skin, so you can continue to enter the dating pool with confidence.

In short (but not short, really), I’ve learned a lot about myself through online dating. I learned things that I really didn’t expect to learn, to be honest. When I joined the online dating scene, I thought I was simply going to be swiping left and right and going on cute, fun dates all the time, just to test the waters. But it’s actually been a rather emotional (and, dare I say, spiritual) journey for me these past few months.

I’ve never really been ~on~ the dating scene. I was an awkward-as-heck high school student who never had a boyfriend and asked her own date to prom. I wasn’t the victim of freshman frenzy in college. I’ve never really been the “chased-after” one. And that can do a number on your heart sometimes. You see everyone getting with everyone else and you wonder what’s wrong with you. (I’ve talked about this before, haven’t I? I’ll bury the dead horse now.) So to jump into the dating scene at this time in my life, when I’m still becoming the adult I’m meant to be instead of the teenager/juvenile I was, was like jumping into a cold lake, when I thought it was going to be like wading into a tropical seaside.

But life is never quite what we want it to be, is it?

So, before I get any more tangential, here’s a few things I’ve learned while surfing the web for a husband (not an overstatement):

1. 90% of men are really bad at online dating. Ok, that’s not an official statistic, and it’s probably not accurate. But I feel like I’m weeding through a lot of roughs to find the diamonds. Here’s some reasons why they’re bad at it (let the meta-lists begin!):

  • Ya’ll don’t specify who you are in a group picture. If all your pictures involve multiple people, I have no idea which one you are. And that makes a difference. Are you the one cuddling the puppy or holding the liter of beer? I need to know these things.
  • YA’LL POST PICTURES THAT INVOLVE YOUR EX (or multiple women.) If there’s anything that’s super unattractive to me, it’s when guys on dating apps post pictures of themselves a) with their ex (or a woman who is draped over them for some other reason?) or b) multiple women who are apparently competing for who can wear the least amount of clothing, or bleach their hair the brightest. That’s a huge turnoff for girls who are looking for something real. Unless you’re not looking for something real, in which case…as you were. I’ll pray for you. (Only slightly kidding)
  • You don’t post anything about yourself. Seriously, a bio goes a long way. I tend to swipe left on people who don’t have bios because I’m not much of a risk-taker. I do understand that some people are on dating sites for much…different reasons than I am, so maybe a bio doesn’t matter much to some people.

2. I’m bad at online dating too! Be you not afear’d, men. I am also terrible at online dating, as you’ll see by my awful conversation starters. I’ve done really jerk-y things, like unmatch with someone after a conversation (essentially “ghosting” them.) I’ve gotten unnecessarily angry at people I’ve matched with. And I’ve been hecka impatient. That’s been my biggest pitfall so far. Even now, I’m beating myself up for something I texted one of my matches weeks ago. What the heck possessed me to say that? 

3. It’s really overwhelming. It can feel like online shopping at times…which is probably not how it’s supposed to be. (But if you think about it, IRL dating can be like shopping too…) It’s almost like that scene in The Emperor’s New Groove (I’m very cultured) when Kuzco is choosing from a row of women for one of them to be his wife. And then when you do swipe right on someone, you get hopeful that you’ll match. And sometimes you don’t. And that can be draining or discouraging. In the last week I’ve talked to only two people on Bumble, and both conversations were unfruitful. I matched with several guys, but those people let the conversation expire. And I keep thinking why? What’s wrong with me? (Wrong way to think about it, but I’ll get to that later.) It can do a number on your self-esteem.

All that to say, my journey on Bumble has been a journey of the soul. (Cue candles and ambient music.) It sounds canned, but it’s kind of true. I’ve learned a lot about myself. I learned that I get attached really fast. After matching with people, I sometimes imagine what our first date will be like, or what our first cute Instagram photo will look like. I imagine what it’s like to drive in a car with them, listening to their favorite music. Audrey, that’s ridiculous. You haven’t even met them yet. (Cue Michael Buble music.) I know it’s ridiculous. It’s friggin’ ridiculous.

Which is why I think I’m going to call it quits on online dating.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but I don’t think I’m at a good spot in my life to be doing it. However, I’m really thankful that I made that decision to join a few months ago, because I don’t think I would have learned about who I am or what I want if I hadn’t. Here’s the way I see it: Online dating sites are for people who don’t know what they want. But I’ve realized that I actually do know what I want, which is kind of a weird thing for me to say, because I feel clueless half the time.

Secondly, no matter how hard I want to look ~authentic~ on dating sites, it’s almost impossible to be 100% real online. (Like I said, I went on a date with an atheist and didn’t realize he was an atheist based on his profile.) Sometimes I think the more we try to be authentic, the more fake we are. And yeah, I try really hard on dating sites. So it’s not doing me any favors to show that “me” to potential dates. You can fake it all you want, but just remember there’s no screen when you go on an IRL dates. It’s all you. And it’s exhausting to try to keep up an ~authentic~ facade.

I’ve made some good connections on Bumble. I still talk to some of the people I went on dates with. One has a girlfriend now (we figured out after one date that we weren’t super compatible, but are cool as friends) and is giving me advice on future romantic pursuits. I still talk to some of the people I haven’t gone on dates with, because hey, you never know.

So, in short (1440 words later), online dating is a great thing. But remember, you might not be ready, and you might learn the hard way that you’re not ready. Be patient with yourself and with all those left-swipers out there. Don’t take every rejection personally. Continue growing and cultivating who you are first and foremost.

And most importantly, be the realest you you can be.

What if when he sees me
I like him and he knows it?
What if he opens up a door
And I can’t close it?
What happens then?
If when he holds me
My heart is set in motion
I’m not prepared for that
I’m scared of breaking open
But still I can’t help from hoping
To find someone to talk to
Who likes the way I am
Someone who when he sees me
Wants to again

– When He Sees Me, Sara Bareilles

a. w.

 

 

It’s 2017 and I’m Still Wearing a Purity Ring. Here’s Why.

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I was 18 years old and working as a grocery store clerk. As I scanned an older couple’s groceries one evening, we exchanged some banter, as one does with near strangers. They were talking about how usually the wife does most of the shopping and making witty quips about it. The husband then looked me dead in the eye and asked:

“How about you? Do you do the grocery shopping for your hubby?”

The question startled me. But not as much as it could have. When you wear a silver ring on your left hand where a wedding ring would be, you get questions like that. I got them at 18, and I get them at 21.

“Are you married?” is a question I’m not unfamiliar with hearing. After that comes the awkward clarification that I’m not married. Sometimes I just stop there and avoid the further awkwardness of explaining what that ring is. Because then I’d have to talk about…sex. 

Well, I’d have to talk about it implicitly. I’d have to say, “It’s a purity ring.” And then you see it behind their eyes.

Oh. She’s one of those people.

I went to a Christian school growing up, so abstinence was in our curriculum. In eighth grade, twenty-five sweaty and slightly hormonal eighth graders gathered weekly to listen to a woman talk about the dangers of premarital sex (a bit more tactful than the Mean Girls coach, I might add.) Eighth graders tend to giggle at the s-word. (Not to mention all the other words that go along with it.)

After those uncomfortable four weeks, I made the purity pledge (I still have the ATM – “Abstinence Til Marriage” – card in my wallet. Judge me and judge me hard) and then after eighth-grade graduation, went to a Christian bookstore and got a small silver ring to wear on my left hand. It has three words on it. “Love. Purity. Trust.”

Fast forward to today. I’m typing this and it’s still on my finger. I haven’t taken it off much since then. It peeks up in many of my Facebook photos, has made a handy prop for a few plays and musicals, and has been the subject of many questions and comments over the years.

You might say it’s become a part of me.

And that was the norm for Christian school kids. Many of my friends had or still have purity rings. I thought the Silver Ring Thing was a thing of the past, until I Googled it before writing this to find it’s still in fact…a thing. Their mission statement says: “SRT defies the meet-up, hook-up, break-up mindset of today and inspires students to a pure life centered in Jesus Christ.” And that’s great. I’m glad that it’s still around. 

But is it still…relevant?

It was when the Jonas Brothers wore them. But now they don’t. Because it’s not cool anymore. (Or they’re married. But I’m talking mainly about Nick here. You know, the one who used to be the cute and innocent one.)

Purity rings became a Christian norm in the 1990s, when millions of Christian teens were taking purity pledges, only to (fairly quickly) break them.

Teens and sex go together – it’s always been like that. It’s hard to tell a teenager “no, don’t touch that, wait for something better.” Teens want everything now. Which is why teens have sex. Which is why adults tell teens not to have sex. Which is why the purity movement seemed repressive to some, and many adults are now coming out about their experience with the purity movement – that it was forced upon them by their church groups, that they were made to believe sex was inherently bad, that it prevented them from having a healthy sexual awakening or full knowledge of their desire for intimacy. You name it. The purity movement messed them up, apparently.

But for me, it’s not a fad. And it’s certainly not repressive.

That’s not what it’s about. At least not for me. And maybe we as Christians are just getting the whole sex narrative wrong.

See, I don’t see my purity ring as a ball and chain, enslaving me to some doctrine or ideology of “do” and “do not.” It doesn’t make me fear sex or intimacy, or feel guilty for having impure thoughts or looking at things I shouldn’t. I intend to wear it until it is possibly replaced with a wedding ring, and even then, wearing it still.

Because above all else, it’s a reminder.

There are so many allusions in the Bible to Christ being a bridegroom. Can you grasp how intimate of an image that is? God chose this language – the most intimate relationship a person can have – to describe the relationship of His son to us. Because His love is unconditional and intimate. It penetrates our hearts and permeates every square inch of who we are.  And if you think that’s explicit language, read Song of Songs. (Guess what? Song of Songs isn’t just about sexy time between a king and his bride. Guess Who else it’s about.)

Also, in modern translations of the Bible, a euphemism for sex is “knowing” someone, particularly in the KJV. In the time that version was written, that was a common way of politely saying “they did the nasty.” But isn’t that an accurate way of talking about sex? It’s not just your body. It’s your mind and your soul merging with another person. You know them as no one else knows them. And Christ knows you even beyond that.

Our culture tends to focus on the carnal aspect of sex, which is degrading to both sex itself and the humans who do it. Sex in its carnal form isn’t the point of human sexuality. That’s for the animals. We were given senses and souls to “know” sex in a much different way. With strings attached, if you will.

Let me put it this way: When a buck and a deer, well…come together, the deer doesn’t have to worry if the buck is going to call the next day. The deer doesn’t have romantic feelings toward the buck. She doesn’t have to worry if she took her birth control or if she ruined her possible future relationship with her future buck husband.

She’s meant to have sex and make babies. No strings attached.

And people are too, but not in the sense that animals are. Our sexuality goes far beyond that of carnal animals. Ours is rooted in love, not necessity or instinct. Hence the Christ-bridegroom allusion. If our sexuality was meant to be casual and carnal, that allusion would fall apart and cease to have meaning. But because of the importance the Bible puts on marital sex, it infuses that beautiful allegory in all its fullness. Rules can be good, y’know.

Animals weren’t designed for intimacy – just for sex. Humans were designed for both. Human sex is more than just making babies.

(And that’s why R&B was invented.)

All that to say, that’s why I still wear a purity ring. I haven’t given up on the notion that we are more than animals, and that we are infinitely loved by a Man who wants us to live in His image. He loves us as a groom loves his bride. How amazing is that? No other religions can claim to have the same allusion.

I wear a purity ring to remind myself that, before anything or anyone else, I am infinitely Loved.

a. w.

 

My Adventures in Online Dating, Part 2: If You’re a Christian, Swipe Right

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Give me a little time and, take all my money, take all my money

You’ll come around and someday, I’ll be the one you love.

– “Broke,” Bear Attack

Hey!

According to most men on dating apps, that’s not how you should begin a conversation with them. But I think I can say hey to all y’all, instead of thinking of a witty pickup line. (I mean, what do they want other than ‘hey’? A deep question about systematic theology? Very confused.)

But I’ll get to “what men want” in another post. What do Christians want?

In other words – should Christians use dating apps?

Well, my obvious answer is probably “yes,” since I’m currently using one myself. BUT like most topics, different people have different opinions about it.

The Bible isn’t cut-and-dry about dating apps…obviously. We all know Hosea didn’t have an awful marriage because he accidentally swiped right. Ruth didn’t get Boaz’s attention with…well…~pics.~

And then there’s Song of Songs.

BUT ANYWAY

Dating is different now than it was in Biblical contexts. It’s more different than it ever has been before. Until the later part of the 19th Century, most women were still given away by their fathers and/or the patriarch of their family – sometimes to someone they’d never met. ~Love~ really didn’t come into play all that much. It was more mutuality or convenience that drove most courtships and marriages. (Not always…I mean, we’ve all read Jane Austen. I hope.)

What I’m trying to say is, the dating game has changed. But the name of the game is the same. (Lame.)

So has Christian dating. There was that whole courtship phase we all collectively went through in the 90s, until that was overruled by both Christians and non-Christians alike. Courtship is a bit stressful, with a little bit too much commitment far too soon. (It was so bad that the guy who wrote the book apologized.) And we have our ideal, “celebrity” Christian couples, like the Duggars or the Robertsons, who we then found out each have their own fair share of problems just like the rest of us.

So now what? Now what phase are we in? If we’re not being given away, or being courted, what are we doing?

Are we being swiped? 

Well, in a word, yes.

The game has changed, and I don’t think we need to sit idly by and let it change without us. Of course there’s dangers to online dating, but there’s dangers to live dating too. And I’m not even saying you have to limit yourself to an exclusively Christian dating website. Put yourself out there.

So that’s kind of my answer. Yes. Of course a Christian can date online. But, like all aspects of living in a fallen world…you have to be careful.

Actually, I would encourage Christians to date online. The great thing about dating online is you’re spreading your net further than if you simply mingled among your work, school, or church friends. (Because to be honest, sometimes the pickings are slim. Especially at church. Everyone’s already married. Or maybe you go to an old person church.)

So yeah, definitely set up an account on a site you deem appropriate and go on dates.

But here’s the “no-duh:” only if you actually want to. 

If your female relatives keep asking you why you’re still single, that’s not a good enough reason. If your guy friends are telling you about their amazing wives, that’s not a good enough reason. If you’re just plain lonely and want someone around, that’s not a good enough reason.

The church definitely puts undue pressure on single Christians to get married. (You can’t graduate from your 20-something small group into a couples group until you do.) So if you’re seeking a partner just because you feel like you have to (or your grandma keeps asking) don’t do it. That goes for both offline and online dating. Just don’t do it. Wait til you are ready.

And only you can know if you’re ready.

That took a much more serious tone than I meant it to. But the song remains the same: I invite my young, single Christian friends to check out the online dating scene. I’ve had more interesting conversations on these dates than I normally have. And I’ve met other Christians who have different opinions than me (gasp.) So even if you don’t find your soulmate, you’ll probably meet some pretty darn cool people that you wouldn’t have met otherwise.

One last thing before I let you go. When entering the dating scene, whether it’s for the first time or after your last-breakup, remember this (another no-duh clincher:) If you like someone, don’t change your convictions for them. This can come into play especially in online dating. You see a cute guy’s profile and see what he’s interested in, and you might be tempted to, well, change. Maybe he smokes marijuana, and you’re not comfortable with that. Maybe he doesn’t mind sex before marriage. Maybe he has vastly different political opinions – or even some opinions about the Bible that you disagree with. Even if he (or she) is a Christian, that does not give you a free pass to change who you are in order for them to like you “more.” Seriously. It’s super easy to do online. I’ve definitely done it a few times.

So, my Christian brothers and sisters, go on dates. Talk to people. Swipe left. Swipe right. Remember what you believe and why you believe it. If it doesn’t work out, it’s okay. God has something better in mind for you.

Now you kiddos go have fun.

a. w.

 

 

My Adventures in Online Dating, Part 1: Initiation

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So here’s a surprise: I’m single. Very single. I kinda write about it a lot. But the good thing is, I’ve sort of come to terms with my singleness in the past year-ish. After only going on a handful of dates in my lifetime and having had a few ~serious~ crushes, I’m pretty comfortable with being a smart, sassy, single girl.

I’m at the point where I don’t need a boyfriend, but I’d like a boyfriend.

Or, at least, I’d like to meet people. Talk. Get to know people. Go out. Have a good time.

If you’ve met me, you know that I’m abismal at meeting new people. And that’s not a stretch. That’s the truth. My go-to method of flirting is staring at someone attractive across the room until ~maybe~ they notice me (this has only worked once.) If I actually get the guts to talk to someone, my conversation is either bland and uninteresting or WOAH CALM DOWN AUDREY DON’T HIT THEM WITH ALL YOUR WEIRD AT ONCE.

If you haven’t noticed already, I’m my own worst critic. Which is why I’m bad at meeting people.

A few months ago after some emotional setbacks, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I was going to dive into the world of online dating.

That phrase has a lot of weight behind it – and a lot of stigma. Swiping left and right and pictures of things you’d rather not see. And Tinder. Lots of Tinder. (I didn’t use Tinder but we’ll get to that later.)

“Audrey, you must be super ~desperate~ if you’ve turned to online dating,” you might say.

And you’re probably right. But it’s mostly because I’m so awful at freaking meeting people. A lot of people have told me it’s hard to meet people after college. Well I’m almost done with college, and even in college I haven’t had much luck either. So…online dating.

I actually have been staunchly against the idea for awhile. Why would I meet someone online when I’m CERTAIN that God is gonna whisk a dude my way in the most romantic way possible?

Concept: Garden party. I’m relaxing under a tree, wearing a breezy dress that perfectly matches my skin tone, sipping rosé. Sara Bareilles is probably playing in the background. I turn to the stairs leading up to the patio and there he is – MY DREAM MAN. He floats over to my shady perch and joins me. His shirt is probably a little bit unbuttoned and he might look like Colin Firth. The rest is history.

Ha. Ha. Ha. (I’m not gonna pretend I haven’t fantasized it happening that way.)

But the thing is, I can’t just sit around and wait for something to happen to me. That’s not how things happen. It’s a little give and a little take, if ya know what I mean. (I don’t even know what I mean at this point.)

But then I listened to this great podcast where a woman was talking about how millennials date, and the way she talked about dating sites made it seem a bit more legit than I’ve heard them talked about before. (One of my friends met his (ex)-girlfriend on Tinder and told everyone they met at Chipotle. Like I said…stigma.)

So I decided to embark on a quest. I was going to find love via the Internet. That sounds like a horrible tagline for a movie.

But guess what? You’re about to get a free ticket.

So the two dating apps I decided to use, in chronological order, were the following:

Coffee Meets Bagel: This is a free phone app (I’m not paying for a subscription…I’m not that desperate) that matches you based on mutual liking, which I found out is pretty typical for dating apps. You put up some pictures, write some stuff about yourself, and you’re off. Then you head over to “Discover” to look at potential match profiles (a weird caveat is their names aren’t given until you’re matched…so I can’t Facebook stalk them at all and that’s frustrating.)

  • Pros: It’s free; it doesn’t overwhelm you with choices; it allows you to filter through categories like religious affiliation, age, height (yeah that’s a serious subject), and distance; ladies get the final choice on whether or not you match
  • Cons: If you want a subscription it’s 34 FRICKIN DOLLARS A MONTH (money can’t buy me love…but a free app can?) and there are lots of features that require a subscription. You also have a certain number of points (called “beans,” like coffee beans, hahahaha) that you can spend on liking profiles. They’re pretty easy to earn, but if you want more, you have to PAY MORE FRICKIN MONEY. The Beatles were right. Also, I’ve had instances of 30- and 40- year olds liking my profile, and that weirded me out a little bit. This cradle is not getting robbed.
  • Result: I’ve gone on one date as a result of Coffee Meets Bagel. We found out that we were waaaaay too different, so no second date. As of a week ago, I’ve deleted the app off my phone. I’d rather focus my energy on one app.

Bumble: Bumble is popular because the lady initiates contact first (which can be stressful – will explain later) after the match is made – or after you both “swipe right” on each other’s profiles. Then you have 24 hours to initiate contact, but your chat never expires, which is kinda nice. It’s like a safe Tinder. Safe being a relative term. Bumble has also branched out to helping people find friends or simply helping them network. They recently opened up an IRL place for dates to meet.  I was introduced to this app after seeing countless ads for it on Instagram (I’m the gullible demographic they’re looking for). So I decided to give it a shot.

  • Pros: You have a lot of time to chat with each other (which I like, because I need a while to get to know someone before outright asking em out); there’s a “report” feature in case you find a shady character; you can make a fun lil bio for yourself (highly encouraged – I’ll talk about that later); you can filter who you see age and location wise.
  • Cons: It can be a bit overwhelming, almost like online shopping, so it’s probably good to use in moderation. You’ll run into a lot more shady characters here than on CMB. Sometimes people don’t utilize the bio portion, so you have ~no idea~ who they are. And if you’re like me, going from zero prospects to several prospects is a bit harrowing.

Not to mention. I’m bad at starting conversations on the Internet. Case in point:

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This was an actual message I sent to an actual person I was matched with. He never responded, and less than 24 hours later, his account was mysteriously deleted.

I really know how to reel em in.

On the other hand, as a result of being on Bumble, I’ve been on two dates with two different people, and one of them have merited a second get-together.

This post has gotten a bit long-winded, so I can’t talk about everything I’ve learned so far. But I can tell you that this will become a ~blog series~ (I’m so professional) including topics like:

  • Can Christians date online?
  • What Men Shouldn’t Do on Dating Apps (from a Female Perspective…you could call it womansplaining if you’d prefer)
  • General Advice on Online Dating: An Introvert’s Perspective
  • How to Talk to Strangers
  • Smooth-as-Heck Pickup Lines

One of those will NOT be a blog post. Guess which one. (Hint: It’s the last one.)

So, until next time, may all your swipes be right and all your chats be longer than 24 hours. If that wasn’t the most millennial signoff ever, I don’t know what is. Stay tuned, friends. It only gets better from here.

a. w.