Thursday, November 29, 2007
determine that jaw
locate your ambition, now
no giving up - set your course
fix those big blues ahead
your goal is your own
so hold it tight
let nobody convince a detour
know what you want, girl
just go out and grab it
coming of age is independence
only you can stop you now
go on now, girl
get what you want in your hands
and grip it tight
this is what they tell you to run after
Monday, November 19, 2007
Why am I going to write on one of the most written about topics in social, single circles? Well, not only am I now one of the target audiences for said discussions and articles, I am also forming my own take on what it means to be a Christ-following single woman looking for adventure in the midst of career-driven prescribed dreams. I realize that just sounded like a personal ad... and please before all of you well-meaning, Christ-following single men looking for adventure in the midst of ________ (fill in blank) send a response, know that this is not an invitation.
I recently read an article published in the opinion section of Forbes magazine titled, "Don't Marry Career Women." Of course, days after it’s publication there was widespread public outcry and Forbes quickly published a counterpoint from one of their female writers. As I read through the first article, the first few paragraphs quickly captured my attention, “Just, whatever you do, don't marry a woman with a career. Why? Because if many social scientists are to be believed, you run a higher risk of having a rocky marriage.”
Michael Noer goes on to establish his argument on the shoulders of these social scientists who give all sorts of discouraging information about divorce, extra-marital sex, marital satisfaction, and the added complication of children.
Being a recently graduated woman myself, who checks the single box on official documents and replies to relationship queries with the most graceful shift in conversation, what Mr. Noer said struck a chord. But, not one that you might think most obvious for my life stage or position.
I spent four years in a liberal arts Christian college lusting after adventure and carefully growing the seeds of wanderlust sown early in my childhood on an Iowa farm. Though I trained my mind to filter much of my education through a Christian worldview, I couldn’t help but soak up bits of this overwhelming anthem: dream up anything, find some passion, and set out to realize that dream. It’s true that the American dream shouts this anthem, but the voices I was hearing above the rest were women. My professors, classmates, and celebrated success stories assured me that the only person who could prevent my dreams as a woman… was me.
So, when I graduated and set out on my first adventure to
The single most important factor in my life is my personal relationship with the Living God. The fact that God made us in His image relational, and that He’s placed us in intentional community should be apparent enough. But, my hardheadedness has stretched out this learning process into what is now 23 years. Finally, though, I’ve realized that we weren't designed to adventure alone.
It’s not that I’m an inferior woman who is void of an independent spirit. It is that I am beginning to understand instead my soul’s deep longing comes from the very opposite of independence. Darwin Anderson, from International Messengers, once said in a training session that “independence is just plain not helpful in the mission field. There is no room for it and no need of it.” Even though I strongly agreed when I heard this almost two years ago, I am realizing now that independence is useful in few places. What is all of life, but a mission field?
After about four months here in
But, let’s get to the real meat of it. There’s community and then there’s a spouse. There’s a definite difference between being a part of a Christ-following community and being a part of a “till death do us part” union. Michael Noer wasn't writing about the downfall of career women in the life of the church; he wrote about the negative effects of "career women" in the home. For some reason, my dreams of being a wife and mother have found themselves separate from my dreams of travel, missions, and career. Yet, though I tried for four+ years, I can no more separate these desires in my heart than one could separate the red from white swirls in a candy cane.
Yet, somehow I’ve found myself here. Like it or not, I am this career woman that Michael Noer writes about. I have a degree and I am looking for a well-paying position that would make a dent in the loans from my wonderful, high-priced education.
I realize the cited social scientists had several good points with which I sadly agree. But, Mr. Noer, where does that put me? I am the one you warn against, but also one who quite unwillingly finds herself in this situation.
Thankfully I am well aware that my marital fate does not rest in the hands of any crafty columnist, but instead in the scarred palms of a Sovereign Savior. The desire of my heart is that my next adventure would be with someone whose heart is equally captivated by Christ’s redemptive story. I have full faith God is growing me for an eternal purpose; career or no career, husband or no husband,
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
In this whole season of dependence, I have been overwhelmed with the sight of mankind's sin. My own and those I share with humanity. It seems to suck the life right from your marrow. All my courage and stalwart strength turns to something like mush that lands with a splash at my feet. It's hard to know how to fight if the enemy is so large. I guess Dostoevsky has something right here - loving humility is marvelously strong and there is nothing like it.
There is nothing like it because we are not capable of it. But, oh that the Lord would grant us a taste that we could share. That we might know that the most marvelous display of loving humility was the completed task of His sacrifice.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
A couple months ago, I found myself re-discovering dependence. Psalm 63 is a treasure my heart never tires of finding.
O God, you are my God. Earnestly I seek you.
My soul thirsts for you and my body longs for you
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
I remember reading these words and asking God to be my one source of life. My bread; my water. I asked because I knew it was Truth – Jesus came as Sustainer. But, I also asked with a privileged assumption.
I am mostly a regular person. I love coffee in the morning. I get lost in the pages of good fiction. I enjoy debate. I crave ice cream. Call it regular. Call it normal… whatever it is, I get pretty comfortable in the realm of regular. Every once in awhile, I’ll venture outside regular into the Caroline de-centered universe. I glimpse this worldview and see I am merely a part and not the whole. But I often end up back at the coffee counter, housebound by a novel, or with a coffee-flavored, coconut-topped ice cream in my lap.
And this is my privileged assumption.
See, when I ask God to be my only bread and my only water, I expected the regular with a few less coffees. I expected the regular with a few more challenging days. I expected to navigate the shoals with a bit of an effort and then tell stories of arduous adventures. I expected to have the luxury of admitting faults and confessing failures at my convenience and (ashamedly) benefit.
In the past two weeks, God has given exactly what I have not expected. I have been stripped bare of regular. The privileged assumption that the Lord would teach and discipline around my schedule was shattered when I abruptly stormed the borders of the regular realm into the unknown territory of true dependence.
A nice evening turned sour when I caused a car accident on South Congress and William Cannon that totaled my car (which was on loan from my parents). An affordable and amazing living situation became impossible when I had no transportation. My "personal space" became unreasonable when I humbly accepted my co-workers' offer of their living room couch. A simple errand brought more tears when I hydroplaned in my co-worker's vehicle and firmly met the curb. A nice Christmas shopping cushion quickly depleted after repairs. This turn of events has sent me back to be refined by fire.
All these years, I have felt compelled to pair the Lord’s story with what I have to offer. I needed to be able to say, "See, I am a giving person. I make sacrifices for other people and good things are said of me. I take people out to coffee and leave thoughtful cards and messages at the right time." I needed to be able to make God look good.
For the first time in my life, I have nothing to offer.
The Lord is answering my prayer for Him as Sustainer by opening up the most closed places; my failures laid bare in my professional and personal life. The LORD’s story is indeed every bit as glorious as when I first met Him, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the presence or absence of my offerings. I am finally seeing that He can stand alone. His story and glory need not be paired with anything in my life - it's enough that He died and rose again. It's enough that He paid the price of sin.
It's got to be enough, too. Because right now I literally have nothing else to offer.
I submit that life in the regular realm is lame. Regular is mundane mediocrity; the sloppy seconds with enough lackluster charm to woo a trance. C.S. Lewis wrote that we are like the little boy who would prefer to play in mud puddles over taking a vacation at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
A vacation at the sea is a glorious exodus from the realm of the regular, muddied puddles and onto the shores of divine dependence.
Related writings (nothing I say hasn't been said before):
Salieri and Studentdom
I come again, again, again
With failure close like skin
And maps to dead ends
litter my streets
I let go of cardboard dreams
And fix-it schemes
that storm my mind,
Filled like wine with new skins
A bursting, uncontained and unrestrained
My circle of influence shrinks
In ignorance uncapable
and unsearchable a dream
To repair and mend the evil,
Borne in sin
I come again, again, again
Not a drop of mercy earned or owed,
heart heavy and head bent low
Mystery and nonsense shroud
in bold, sufficient stripes I'm found
Again, again, again.