October 17, 2011

an appeal to court (vs dating)

courting or dating? this conversation is always an interesting one. one of the first times i heard both sides 'defended' was at a church youth service as a teenager. my dad was the speaker who had a panel of people of different ages answering questions posed by the crowd. perhaps surprisingly (considering the topic and stereotypical stance of teenage daughter vs father), i sided with my dad's view on dating. shocking? maybe. but, let's get this started right.......

rachel's disclaimer: i'm no expert here (on courting or dating); i'm simply voicing my thoughts on the subject. a few friends had a chat the other day about it and i thought i'd continue the conversation here. i'm not pointing fingers at people who are dating/have dated or who are courting/have courted to say they are superstars or fools. honest!! (in fact, i know a couple couples who just started dating and i think that's awesome.)

that said, allow me to trek through some treacherous terrain here. 

here's where i'm coming from: a good friend of mine told me this Spring that they didn't know how i would ever decide that someone was safe/right enough to date. i believe the direct quote was: "i think when you are ready to date someone, you'll be ready to marry them"*. that same friend said the way he made his mind up about dating someone was that he would date her if he was interested enough in them to see if there was 'anything there'. 

* no doubt there are challenges to my supposed style of 'engagement', however, i haven't married a fool yet.... so i think i may be on the right track. 

back to my observant friend-- i'm not saying his attitude towards dating is wrong. don't get the wrong idea, he is by no means reckless in his dating ways... i'm just pointing out the difference between my standoffish style and his daring-to-date demeanour. 

courting adjourned? - before we get all excited about jumping on the courting train, maybe we should ask an important question: is courting a thing of the past? i mean, it is a thing of the past... since it's been around for a while (see 'Rules of Courtly Love': http://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/rules_of_love.html)... but is it reasonable to think it happens these days?

let's define 'courting', shall we? it's synonyms are 'woo, pursue, chase'. def'n: 'to seek the favour, affection, or love of, especially with a view to marriage'. alright, i mean... maybe this is where i show my true colours, but, as my good friend erika would say: "i'm just gonna put it out there"... if we're being honest, we love the chase, am i right? especially the chase that doesn't result in wasted energy, no? the goal is not to be running wild through a field with our arms flailing, people. 

i would say it is the purposefulness of courting i find so appealing. communication is upfront; intentions are clear. this doesn't mean the relationship is boring, of course, just... precise in its expectations of the course of the relationship. which is towards... marriage! it may play out as meeting intentionally in certain settings, with different people, to get to know each other. and then, in the event that one or both of you does not see it proceeding in that direction, the intentional time together simply stops.  

a matter of tact! - furthermore, for courting to be successful, i think both people have to know themselves well, and be honest with themselves. (this is where some might argue that dating is beneficial: in the earlier years... you learn so much about yourself and others when you date people.)

the hardest part of the dating situations i've witnessed, is that there's a sometimes long period of dating that resembles engagement. people are just gettin' right in there, committing themselves, meshing their lives, and that gets confusing for everyone. everybody's hopes are up (in and surrounding the supposedly blossoming relationship). this makes the 'break up' scenario difficult, and sometimes avoided when it should be embraced (to put it lightly). people get stuck... i've seen it. when the situation has become complex and, in the end, the result can be heart-breaking. 

i think dating, in these cases, sets up people to lose-- where attachment meets routine in the worst way. "just go with it, see how it plays out...", "you don't want to hurt him..."... so tricky, i totally get it. all i'm saying is, courting provides a clear way out because you were committed to finding out whether the 'two of you' worked. it's a bit "business", but i'd argue it gets the job done, y'know? 

so, what's the verdict? there are some of you who are reading this who might think "your definition of courting is my definition of dating". pa-tay-toe/pa-tah-toe. hakuna matata. sounds good to me... i'm happy we agree! others might be thinking "best of luck with your court-dates, rrrraaach!" and that's cool, too. 

thanks for reading - happy dating/courting/daourting! ('cause everybody loves a good combo-pack!)

October 15, 2011


with guilt i live closed in
with shame i feel exposed
with love i can succeed
with beauty, find a rose
with fear i lose myself
with light i lift from lows
with choice i’m given freedom
with flight i join the crows
with friendship there is sharing
with joy there is laughing
with pain there is learning
with truth there is growing
with voice there is giving
with sight there is leading
with touch there is reaching
with words there is meaning 
with sorrow is found the broken
with building is found the brick
with faith is found the first step
with chase is found the quick
with tears is found the release
with magic is found the trick
with mercy is found the undeserved
with healing is found the sick


our world is broken
i mean, ripped apart and fallen
in a sad and twisted way
in a hurt others cause i’ve been hurt, 
fall down, hit the dirt, 
break down, hit the first 
thing that cracks me, 
irks me, disturbs me
our world is dark
the light doesn’t penetrate
it could, i mean, it does
it should and will because
the Light is greater still 
then broken hearts and broken wills 
then patterns of abuse
then poverty’s refuse
our world is ugly
not the created world, 
not the beauty of one another
but the way we forget to be beautiful
the way we choose our nature 
based on the hurt we’ve felt
the hand we’re dealt
it’s broken; it’s dark and ugly
you are not
we are not

bold, bleeding & believing

this song came to mind today when i was reflecting on God's love for me as the Beloved.

today, i am looking at the passage in Luke 8:43-48. the story here is about a woman who has looked for healing everywhere and believes Jesus has the power to heal her. she believes so much that, in a crowded place, she reaches out to touch him and is healed.

(note: by Jewish law she ceremonially unclean. she wouldn't be welcome anywhere!)

then her act is acknowledged because Jesus knew the difference between her reaching and the crowds' pushing. One reason Dr Ralph Wilson suggests Jesus "exposed her secret" of silent healing is that Jesus is taking the first step in lifting the burden of uncleanness from her by accepting her publicly.

as i share with you, i feel like i am the woman in Luke 8:47,
47And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed.

i admire her. she's bold! she's elbowed her way through the crowd to get the healing she's needed for years. the most interesting part of the story to me is that she gets the healing and thinks she's outta there-- no 'thank you', no conversation with Jesus, nothing. it's Jesus that's immediately interested: "Who was it that touched me?"

i think we still feel the need to hide once we've received healing. shame is a powerful thing. is it that we don't believe we are truly forgiven? the woman in the story would have feared public shaming should the crowd have known her situation. her focus is on her identity as an unwell person (and one particular flaw that has kept her ostracized), not the miracle that has made her well.

"insert Rachel"-- a little shaky, to be honest. knowing and recognizing that i am not hidden from God... my weakness, darkness, loneliness, brokenness and failures are all exposed. yep, all of that and lots more. but, i'm forgiven. FOR-GI-VEN! there is no point getting stuck in the 'yes, but...' of limiting God's grace and mercy towards me by not believing when the reality is that i am free from those things. i can see my weakness, sin or anything else that makes me imperfect as the location in which God's grace and mercy collides with my need continues the process of making me whole.

read here "Bleeding & Believing" (author?)- a poem i was given by a dear friend years ago.

Once there was a wound
It was no ordinary wound
It was my wound
We had lived together long

I yearned to be free of this wound
I wanted the bleeding to stop
Yet if the truth be known
I felt a strange kind of gratitude for this wound
It had made me tremendously open to grace 
vulnerable to God's mercy.

A beautiful believing in me that I have named Faith
kept growing, daring me, to reach for what i could not see
This wound had made me open.
I was ready for grace
And so one day, I reached.

That I was thick in the crowd bleeding and believing and I reached
At first I reached for what I could see; the fringe of a garment
But my reaching didn't stop there for Someone reached back into me
A grace I couldn't see flowed through me. 
A power I didn't understand began to fill the depths of me. 

Trembling, I was called forth to claim my wholeness
The bleeding had left me.
The believing remained.
And as strange as this may sound, 
I have never lost my gratitude for the wound that made me so open to grace. 

In his book Spiritual Direction, Henri Nouwen says:
"only by expressing our anger and resentment directly to God in prayer will we come to know the fullness of love and freedom. only by pouring out our story of fear rejection, hatred, and bitterness can we hope to be healed."

Psalm 138:3 -- "On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased."
"psalm 139" - rebecca st james

you search me, you know me
you see my every move
there's nothing i could ever do
to hide myself from you
you know my thoughts
my fears and hurts
my weaknesses and pride
you know what i am going through
and how i feel inside
but, even though you know
you will always love me
even though you know
you'll never let me go
i don't deserve your love
but you give it freely
you will always love me
even though you know

* on the blogs with a song there is a link to the song via youtube- click on the blog title.