Tag Archive: relationships


Sindile

When i saw these online ponderings by my friend Sindile, i had to ask for permission to share this on the blog – as huge as the obstacles to true transformation in South Africa are [and Americaland actually – different context but similar scenario], and they ARE huge, i have no doubt that this point in itself is absolutely vital and probably the biggest piece of the whole puzzle:

I have come to realise even more that at the heart of this non-racial, non-sexist and post apartheid project some call ‘the rainbow nation’ is the need for all of us to build relationships with people who are different to us.

There are a number of reasons for this:

1.) It helps us have a more accurate perception of reality. If all we ever do is view things from our own perspective, we will privilege our own(group’s) perspective over everyone else’s, at times to the detriment of ourselves as well.

2.) It helps us see people rather than just labels and we are precisely dealing with flesh and blood people. It is frighteningly easy to dismiss other(group’s) people’s pain when you have no social or emotional connection to them. I have come across black people who dismiss out of hand the pain of people who have had family members killed on farms with glib and horrifying statements and I have come across white people who dismiss clear cases of very painful racism with stupid comments about BEE or AA…..

It is both dishonest and nonsensical for us as a nation to honour the ideals of fairness and merit and other things when we can’t even reach across to a neighbour and have basic and respectful human interactions.

3.) It helps to guard against prejudice. All of us at some point will experience racism of a breathtaking magnitude and develop biases based on this. What this does is that it makes us suspicious of other people and suspicion ultimately begets what it suspects. Diversifying our lives(so to speak) naturally stops us from immediatedly assuming the worst about a person based on a label.

It gives us an emotional basis from which we can talk and work out our many and varied issues in this country.

Yes we have to be robust about the need for justice, yes we need to be honest about our experiences, yes we need to talk about the pain that comes from living in a country that is still deeply scarred in it’s collective soul, yes we need to talk about frankly about racism and sexism and homophobia and all other asshole dispositions……. But unless we learn to humanise each other, to see each other as people, with hopes and dreams; with desires to get good jobs, to feed our families, to get married, to have children, to be safe and be able to live freely and love whomever we want……

We cannot do that if we do not take the time to get to know people who are different to us.

No system can compensate for a lack of humanity.

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Being a bloggerist [as i like to call myself] can be a roller-coaster whirlwind of emotions, and often is.

glass

 

The tension that exists between writing what you want to, what feels like it might be importantly significant, or giving in to the little red guy on your shoulder of page view stats where you slide into writing what the people want to hear.

Sometimes those things line up and it is easy. Any time i write about Relationships or what has become one of my favourite and the most popular of topics on my blog, that of Taboo Topics [You know, those rarely spoken about topics in church and even beyond, that many generous friends of mine have been bold enough to share their stories on], the people flock, like flocks of… um… flocking things.

But there are other times when i write about something meaningful and important and almost everyone stays away…

Two posts i wrote recently which i hoped people would read, but which i knew the titles alone were probably enough to scare most folks off, and at most it would be the choir once more – those who don’t really need to hear it because they are already doing it – who would stop by for a visit. Neither was particularly read at all – not read and disagreed with or read and ignored, but not even looked at:

When Violence Stares you in the Face and you Turn and Walk Away

Giving that Costs

These two posts on Christmas i thought would get a few more eyes on – maybe my reputation of being a Christmas grinch and the fact that i used a picture of the grinch to accompany the piece i wrote meant people stayed away cos who wants to feel bad about Christmas. But actually they are both really good pieces with a lot of positive in them. Especially Graham’s two pieces which i stumbled on online – was hoping if i made it obvious that someone else had written them, they would get some eyes:

Two True Meanings of Christmas – Guest Post by Graham Heslop

There is no U in Christmas

Then there was this post on Accountatextability which maybe turned people off by having no idea what i was talking about – this is an excellent way you can help out a friend who might be struggling with something [from porn addiction to temptation to cut to drinking] and i hope people will find it:

It’s as Easy as Accountatextability

You can try tricking people with a blog title that reads something like, ’10 Ways to the best Sex ever’ or ‘The baby that rode on a kitten’ [seriously i’m going to make that video one day and it will BREAK. THE. INTERNET] but is actually a post about how they should tip the guy who watches their car better, but you will likely lose them within a line or two. Not many people like to be tricked.

Or you can actually get some friends of yours to write about Sex Before Marriage or even Sex in Marriage and see if anyone bites, um, i mean reads the post.

Or else i guess you can just dial out of the stats pages and continue to write about and share space for others to write about the things that are meaningful and just simply hope that those who need to read it will pitch up. That as the choir continue to cheer you on and sing praises to your posts, that every now and then, hopefully when it matters, a non choir persona will stop by and be challenged, encouraged or transformed by the words you write.

At the end of the day, i guess all i can be is faithful, and trust that the right people will show up…

After all, you did. I thank you for your time.

chrisjacobs

Where do you even begin to describe the real challenges associated with singleness vs. marriage? I run the risk of making myself incredibly vulnerable by the detail I share in this post, but to most of your readers I am a “relative stranger”, so whilst there may be some risk, I believe sharing may benefit some and in turn out-weight the associated risk.

I’ve been reading through your, and everybody else’s posts and have found myself literally laughing out loud! This is not because I think anyone here is a joke, it’s because I’ve been in exactly the same place as all these people, and reading the common response from our family and friends is genuinely humorous! It’s a kind of mix between christianease and self-help mantras from Oprah or Dr Phil! Sure, these things are expressed with a well-meaning heart, but that never guarantees how they will be received. Allow me, however, to share my own thoughts and experiences…

For some context, I’m a 30 year old man, single, never been married either. I’ve had a couple of long-term relationships (18 months – 4.5 years) and have desired to be married for a long time now. Now I know what some of you are already thinking, “Buddy, you’re only 30…” To help you understand my position, this is coming from the guy who wanted to be married from as early as 21!! So sure, I don’t fit the typical male stereotype in that I actually wanted to be married, but that is just who I am. To give you more context, I come off the back of a 4.5 year relationship where I believed we were going to get married, but didn’t. Since then I’ve tried twice to date again, and both times failed dismally…but that’s another story for another time.

Things that I wish my married friends would hear or know, well there’s a lot. I think the overarching idea that married people need to know first is this; trite little answers do more harm than you would begin to imagine. I’m not second guessing my family and friends’ genuineness, but you have to take into consideration that we’ve (singles) probably already heard it all before, and we all know what is said about familiarity breeding contempt. One of the things which most single people will have to battle with at some stage is the mental gymnastics of “am I meant to be single or have I just not found a compatible partner?” Nobody has ever even come close to giving an answer to this question, and I feel that perhaps this is either because I haven’t heard a valid answer, or because I personally have too much personal resentment with the idea of being single till the day I die, and therefore don’t care to hear the answers from anyone.

However, what I must say is this; I believe that the biggest irritation that married people cause is actually elevating the position of the single person, i.e. you’re free to do whatever you want, “I wish I was still single, there is so much I’d do!” Don’t get me wrong, freedom is great, and I love being able to do whatever I want…but for the guy who’s wanted to be married for easily that last decade, I believe life is best shared. The fact remains that we always desire the next stage of life, and that could be anything, marriage, kids, boarding school, varsity, retirement, the goal is essentially not what’s important here, it’s the state of your own heart. So elevating your singleness as something to be grateful for is a good as not making the podium at the Olympics and being told that it’s so awesome that you made it to the Olympics! The real issue is, are you content or not? Period. I don’t personally like to think this way, because most days I’m not content with where I am and that leaves me feeling pretty disillusioned with life, but on the odd occasion that I do feel content I can only thank my Creator for everything I am and have and will ever be, knowing that even if all I have is Him, then I am still doing pretty damn well!

Practically speaking, married people shouldn’t handle us singles with a 10-foot barge pole with a bar of soap on the end, nor with kid-gloves. We’re still the same people who will sometimes accept and sometimes decline to attend social gatherings. We understand that your time will be more scarce because you are married, and sometimes even more so if you have kids, but what’s important is if you make even just the occasional effort. Include us in your life, and in the spirit of any good salesman, don’t make up my mind for me!

You know, this doesn’t even take into account that some single people just plain choose to be single, and if that’s their choice, then leave them be! They shouldn’t be looked down upon or pitied, that’s what they want and that’s ok.

One particular thing which I believe most marrieds don’t get is probably the most painful of the lot. speaking out of my own context, the vast majority of marrieds I know and associate with, if not all of them, have never had to deal with the rejection associated with a failed relationship like that of mine. i.e. 4.5 years. I genuinely believe that the world we live in today has a different way of viewing relationships and commitment, and so to hear of people giving up on relationships, whether dating, engaged or married, is not uncommon. So for the married people who have found a friend who became the spouse, and are still trucking along together, you have no idea of the challenge associated with finding somebody who will chose you and chose to stick with you. The reason why I say this, is because the older you get, the higher the likelihood the pool of singles you associate with (and date) are in the same boat as you, i.e. broken-hearted in a state of repair as you begin to trust another person with your heart. I’ll be the first to say, two slightly broken-hearted individuals do not make a whole!! The point I wish to make here, is really about the way in which marrieds don’t understand this, and they don’t understand that we will probably never find some “pure, spotless and untainted individual” like they did because life in the western world has a fantastic way of hardening and callousing the hearts of those who have to “go it alone”. (Wow I’m starting to hear my own angst here…)

There’s no recipe or sure-fire approach to dealing with singles as a married couple, but at least if all you married people can hear this stuff you’ll understand our hearts a little better.

[For other thoughts Single People have wanted their Married Friends to know, click here]

[For some thoughts from Married People on what they would love their Single Friends to know click here]

friends

One of the most important relationships one can have is friendship. Family is family but you get to choose your friends, and all that.

i have a crazy amount of good friends who i thoroughly appreciate and thought it necessary to have some posts looking at how we can make good friends as well as be good friends to those around us – i hope you enjoy:

Cheering Section: The Art of Mentoring – I believe there can be a huge overlap between mentorship and friendship and especially the principle of ‘Wounds from a Friend’

How To Lose a Friend in Ten Ways – Some irritating habits in friends that make friendship with them tricky.

I am Thanx-Filled for my friends – This Thanksgiving inspired piece that i wrote in the States, naming some of my friends and inviting you to do the same.

The Art of Holding a Friend’s Head Under the Water – you know, as one does. But actually the life-giving experience of getting to baptise a friend.

The Friend Test – Another What Kind Of Friend Are You question, but this one focusing on what happens if a good friend hurts you badly?

What Kind Of A Friend Are You, Anyway? This post pretty much asks that question, and gives some examples of possible answers.

Also there is always a clip or two of my funniest moments in the hit sitcom ‘Friends’ to keep you going:

Funniest Friends Clip ever – My favourite Friends clip

Funniester Friends Clip ever – Just kidding, it’s this one!

bek

I am ‘Mum’ to three amazing biological children. Sir J, aged 14, Lady M aged 12 and Little Miss 7. You can stop pulling that face, these are not their real names, just how I refer to them in order to respect their future online identity and privacy.

My initiation into motherhood didn’t begin with a pretty white dress, two rings on my finger, a Christian husband who’d vowed to love me for life, or a mature and well thought out approach to ‘family planning’.

Nope, it was quite the opposite actually. Instead, as a drug addicted, just turned nineteen year old, partying at a bar with friends renowned for its bikie population, I met my Prince Charming.Actually, I met some random, heavily tattooed, good-looking bad boy who was a prospect for the Hell’s Angels.And so, with the knowledge of his first name, and age (27), I accompanied him home… To play chess, you see.Soon after our first introduction, we began ‘dating’ (I use the term loosely).And a few weeks later, BOOM-pregnant! Just like that. Who knew chess had such life-changing consequences!

My relationship with biker boy was never going to last. We were world’s apart, and although he didn’t think it was a good idea for me to have a baby at such a young age, he still respected my decision to continue with the pregnancy and raise this unexpected child.And so, we parted ways. He alone, me with burgeoning belly.

As a single, pregnant, nineteen year old, self-detoxing from a cocktail of drugs, woman, my journey into motherhood was never going to be easy.

I was the only child of divorced parents, living in a low socioeconomic area. Teen pregnancy was the norm, and I was acutely aware that I’d just become another statistic.But I made a decision. I was going to be different, I was going to break the mould, I was going to break the poverty cycle! I might even study to become a lawyer!Yes! I would make a difference indeed!

And so my baby boy arrived, I was a mum.Motherhood came easily for me. And I don’t say that with even a hint of conceitedness, truly, it was just the only thing I had ever, and have ever really known what I was doing (we’re only just into the teenage years, I’m aware this could all change!). But I guess that being so young also meant that I had the advantage of ignorance. Yes advantage. I’d never read parenting books, I certainly had no ‘mummy friends’ to swap notes or make comparisons with. It was innate instinct and Holy Spirit baby rearing.Thankfully it was during my early pregnancy that I decided to do things God’s way….most of the time.

Remember how I was gonna break the status quo? Yeah, I showed them! I got my law degree whilst being a single teen mum! I lie.Actually, when my son was 14 months old, I became pregnant, again, after an über short-term relationship. Sigh. Some behaviour patterns prove harder to break than others. Though this time, I’d not hooked up with a biker. Instead a chef, a young man the same age as me, who decided he wanted to do the right thing and make me a wife. And he did. Exactly six months after we began dating, just in time for Lady M to arrive.

I spent pretty much the first 10 years of motherhood, trying to prove to everyone that I wasn’t a complete screw up, that despite my background I could raise healthy, intelligent, obedient, polite and caring kids.

It wasn’t until Jordan, aka chef boy, and I had been married 5 years and settled into our instant-family-married-life, that we felt as though we had the right to plan for a third child. We knew we’d disappointed so many people, especially from Jordan’s side. Let’s be real, it’s not like you really want your son to fall in love with some chick from the wrong side of the tracks, let alone one who already has a kid! Don’t get me wrong, people were supportive, but we weren’t entirely stupid, we’d heard the whispers, seen the tears, felt the vibe. It’s not like people were excited for us

Choosing to have a baby, in wedlock, with mindful planning was an entirely new experience.That pregnancy was when I really stepped into the role of motherhood and felt like I’d earned it, not that I’d had to prove I was worth it. I finally owned motherhood, along with my own mothering style, quirky as it often seemed to others. For I have always believed I am not raising children, but instead raising people who will become adults and therefore must learn the responsibilities that come along with it. Yes, ironic and somewhat hypocritical coming from me, but I’d learnt these lessons the hard way, best I do all in my power to prevent my kids doing the same.

Motherhood became a symbol of responsibility, maturity.But it was around this time I also realised, that mums are allowed to have their own personality. We are allowed to have a life outside of our children. It’s actually okay if your kids aren’t the absolute centre of your universe at all times! I’m going to take it a step further, it’s ok if your husband is in fact your primary priority, above the kids! Yep, just said that.And no, I’m not talking from some submissive, anti-feminism, wife point of view, quite the opposite. I speak purely from a equal, friendship, partnership perspective.

And so the traditional thoughts of motherhood, martyrdom, and baking that I’d long held onto, started to dissipate.

I can no longer answer the question of what it means to be a mum, because it takes on all forms.

There are a handful of phenomenal older (not old!) women in my life, who mother me spiritually and emotionally.I have childless friends who carry fearless and nurturing mother traits that will never be used on biological nor adoptive children of their own, and yet they mother.I have two amazing kids from my church family, who call me ‘Mum’, and another who calls me ‘Mama B’. I am not their mother, and yet there are some levels, different with each of them, on which I mother them. My heart aches for injustice that has been done to them and I know God has placed upon me a burden to speak life back into the parts of them that have been neglected and broken.

There have been times during my marriage, where I have experienced heartbreaking personal circumstances, and in those moments, some of the greatest and most healing mothering came from my husband.

It is only within the last three years that I have been able to identify and relate to Father God. Up until that point, I just couldn’t trust a God who might be a Father. And do you know what? God never asked me to see Him that way, instead, up to that point, for thirty years, He mothered me!He is not threatened by our disbelief or anger.

To be a mum is to see a need in the life of someone else and fill it. What form that takes, how that looks, what gender enacts it, I don’t know, but I know it’s far more diverse than can be expounded upon.

What I do know is this, the best of mothers that I have personally come across, are those who are intimately tuned in and obedient to The Father’s Heart.And you know what?The Father’s Heart and a Mother’s heart aren’t too dissimilar .

-Bek Curtis

[To read more stories inspired by the phrasxe, ‘To Be A Mom’ click here]

[For more of Bek’s writing via her story on her struggle with Porn and a link to her blog, click here] 

jo2

We met at UCT in 1975, followers of Christ and both students. Already – two keys to a long-lasting relationship – our Christian faith has held us in good times and difficulties; our keenness to learn and be curious about life, has kept our relationship interesting.

After completing our degrees in Education and Librarianship , we decided to work for a year before making a firm choice to get married. So we had actually been dating for 5 -6 years. We were really good friends, and so that lead to the saying “friends first, lovers later’. Relationships that are based just on sex, not respectful friendship, are bound to founder on the rocks of real life. As friends, we still enjoy each others’ company and doing things together.

Whilst engaged and during the first year of marriage, my husband lost all his hair – a condition called Alopecia Areata Universalis. A tough situation for anyone. Ollie had had the most beautiful, abundant, auburn hair. On his first visit to my family home, my Mom commented; “My, but that boy has a lovely head of hair!” Those days, hair was “in” and if one was bald or shaven, people assumed one was either gay,or dying of cancer. For years Ollie wore a wig ( a real nuisance and very hot in summer). But then came the freeing day when, after a nudge from God during a sermon, Ollie decided just to be himself and go “wigless” and become one of “God’s shaven few”. I am so glad! Interestingly enough, the boys at his school have always been accepting and curious about his baldness. Adults are the ones less accepting.

That was the first major loss we faced together. Since then we have faced many other losses: illnesses; deaths of friends and family members; serious accidents; loss of friends through emigration; financial strain.

But with lots of daily communication; keeping a sense of humour; listening to each other; and being alert for God’s leading and wisdom, here we are looking forward to our 33rd Anniversary!

[For a Marriage year 45 post by Costa and Lorraine Mitchell, click here]

 

Jo1

bev

Love (along with dating and of course mating eek) is a complicated beast, even more so when you are a Christian trying to forge a life(style) for one in a world that feels like it’s mostly built for twos. 

Navigating rights and wrongs can be enough to derail any fledgling flirtation and the pressure us singletons put on ourselves to ‘get things right’ can be so overwhelming at times because when really is the right time to message after a date, how soon is too soon to let things go far enough without going too far and at what point do you reveal that you may have slightly oversold on your saintly qualities.

This post isn’t for everyone in fact it may seem a bit risqué and perhaps a little too honest but it’s a very real look at singleness and I guess if anything is more for fellow singles who I hope will look at things a little differently if they make it all the way through my ramblings.

I wish I could say that being single was easy but there are moments when it can be outright overwhelming which is why I thought I would take a step away from ‘what I want my married friends to know’ and head towards ‘what I think all (struggling) singles should know.

1.      It’s not terminal. i.e. being single (particularly over the age of thirty) will not kill you.  Life happens and the faster you stop seeing your singleness as a meantime, limbo or waiting room the faster you can start living and exploring and embracing and enjoying.

2.     Everyone’s process differs. In a moment of annoyance and frustration one Saturday morning (after a particularly bad date) I decided to free myself of the numerous singleness focused self-help books I had accumulated.  There were 21.  Twenty One!  Though I believe there were some nuggets of wisdom in each, not one of them completely resonated with where I was at or what I had been through.  Own your process and get to know yourself it’s the most worthwhile investment you will ever make.

3.     Honestly assess why you want someone in your life.  If the words ‘age’ or ‘everyone else’ fall into the equation, chances are maybe this is something that needs to be relooked at. Relationships essentially involve a level of mutual seed sowing – don’t sow those babies where you know they won’t grow or be nurtured.

4.     Never underestimate the power of a lonely moment. Even the most rock solid of convictions can be compromised in the quest to find, create or sustain a connection.  Mechanisms such as whatsapp, snap chat and mxit provide a false sense of security and a distorted basis for interaction – many people have shared sobering moments of regret after nights spent over exposing themselves (take from that what you will) to virtual strangers and it comes from a need an innate need we all share to feel wanted and attractive and desirable.

5.     Know your boundaries and why you have them.  One of the most incredible conversations I have had of late revolved around how acknowledged, shared and respected core values form the basis for successful and thriving relationships. There is so much truth in this because it’s the root of who we are and where we are headed.

6.     Have a sense of humour. Be able to laugh at yourself and those dates that don’t go quite as planned.  Try to take something from each interaction even if it’s just a great meal or confirmation of what you are(n’t) looking for in a love interest.

7.     Go with your gut and trust your intuition. If it doesn’t feel right chances are it isn’t.

8.     Live in the moment. Embrace and celebrate love.  I spent a large portion of my twenties so wrapped up in meeting Mr Right that I missed out on the opportunity to really embrace the joyful happenings in the lives of those around me.

9.     Get out of your head, get out of their head.  Be present!  Nine times out of ten what we think the other person is thinking isn’t what they’re thinking at all.  That’s a lot of thinking to be doing in the first place.

10.   Have a predefined idea of what you want in a potential partner. A handy way of doing this is having negotiables, non-negotiables and items (potentially) for future discussion.

11.    You are entitled to a private life. For many singletons divulging details of their romantic and intimate on-goings can often feel like a good way to feel included when among those who are attached.  While its second nature to want to conduct a post-date autopsy it can lead to cloudy judgement stemming from mixed suggestions on what should come next, heightened pressure for things to go as planned and open the door to becoming the butt of jokes and jibes particularly if you like to add a little humour when regaling your friends with the story of how your dreamboat tried to convince you that stealing exotic plants from a local nursery and selling them for a profit would be a great idea if you wouldn’t mind helping him load them up (yes that really happened).

12.   Be real.  You will not meet the right person for you by misrepresenting yourself it’s too much hard work, makes for a shaky foundation and probably means you’re attracting individuals who aren’t being entirely honest either (eek).

13.   God provides, take comfort in that.  Look around you and come to the realisation that what you lack in partner is made up by the people you surround yourself with.  No matter what my need whether it’s a date for a wedding (who loves to dance and makes me laugh until my tummy aches), help changing a tyre, a listening ear and some male perspective or a lesson in setting up my latest gadget there is always always an answer to my call for help.

[To read another story of Singleness from my friend Alexa, click here]

[For more great stories told from the perspective of a single person, click here]

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