Childlike Faith – Living and Loving Your Life With God's Perspective

Category - singleness

Any Guy Can Get Any Girl

As I’ve mentioned a few years ago on this blog, beautiful girls are everywhere. EVERYWHERE. And growing up during my adolescence as a warm-blooded heterosexual male, I really liked looking at them. And I wanted to become their friend. And I wanted to become their boyfriend. And wanted to marry them and make babies with them and live happily ever after with them. Well, not “them” – just one of them. Any one of them. They were all so wonderfully amazing, with their pretty eyes and their smooth skin and their curves in all the right places. You know what I’m talking about. Guys, remember your teenage years. Remember being mesmerized early on, when your eyes were first opened to them. You get it.

Plus, the men in movies and on the sports fields and on television – my heroes, if you will (superficial, I know, but I still looked up to them as an adolescent) – all had beautiful girls in their lives. A beautiful girl makes you want to run faster than a speeding bullet. She makes you want sink the winning bucket or score the winning touchdown. She makes you want to lasso the moon for her. Like there is a direct link from doing something epic to winning her heart and getting to hold her close while slow dancing, getting to cuddle with her on a couch while watching a movie, getting to build a life with her all the while thinking that you’re the luckiest guy alive.

At this point, you might be wondering, how did it go for me – as a teenager…was I a ladies man? Did I have success with any beautiful girls back then? Did I go on a lot of dates, and woo a lot of hotties, and break a lot of hearts? Well, if you’re reading this blog, you probably know me in real life, and so you also probably know that the answer is a resounding no. It was awful. I didn’t know anything about girls, or relationships, or what to do. At all.

I remember all of my crushes. In third grade, Shelly. In fourth grade, Leah. In fifth grade, Mrs. Stanley (oh man, she was a looker. And she taught English really well). In sixth and seventh grade, Melissa. In eighth and ninth grade, Summer. In tenth and eleventh grade, Rachel. In twelfth grade, Lucy.

But I barely talked to any of them. I didn’t know how. Because they all felt completely out of my league. On a whole different level. I didn’t know what actually mattered at that age. And I didn’t know what actually matters long-term. And in retrospect, my ineptitude was actually a blessing, because it saved me from 1) being heartbroken a million times and 2) leaving a trail of broken hearts in my wake.

All of those beautiful girls were (obviously) pursued by all of the beautiful guys. The popular guys. The guys on the sports teams, the guys who exuded so much confidence and strength. The guys who were charismatic and incredibly charming, and made them laugh, and looked great with their shirt off. And that wasn’t me. But that’s what I thought it took. To land a girl. To be in a relationship. To make progress towards ‘happily ever after.’ And so I would try. In very feeble, awkward, contrived, and unnatural ways, I would try.

With Summer, in eighth and ninth grade, I knew she liked Nine Inch Nails, and so I started to listen to them. And adopt more of a dark, depressed, and mysterious air about me. I basically became emo. But that didn’t get her interested in me romantically. With Rachel, in tenth and eleventh grade, I could tell that she loved it when I made her laugh, and so I would seriously spend all sorts of time learning jokes and riddles and humorous anecdotes and puns so that I could share them with her (in an off-the-cuff manner) during Spanish class each day. Unfortunately, that didn’t work and I stayed stuck in the friend zone. Even though I had started to work out at this point, and even though I was starting to get ripped and pretty vascular. I really thought that would do it, but it didn’t. What the pez. I thought girls would swoon over bulging veins. Nope. Apparently it takes more than that.

Anyway, with Lucy in twelfth grade, I wrote her not one, not two, but THREE poems over the course of the school year, and had a very popular kid at my lunch table deliver them to her (because of course I couldn’t do it personally, I was incredibly self-conscious and shy). And while I did talk to her a couple of times, I never mustered up the courage to actually convey to her that her sapphire eyes seriously left me breathless, let alone ask her for her phone number or to hang out sometime. Now that I think about it, I would have probably done it in the wrong order. Dangit. (Be cool, Sameer, BE COOL. You’re not supposed to freak them out by coming on too strong too early.) Oh, the lessons I needed to learn….

I also should point out that I didn’t really think of girls as normal human beings. Now, I didn’t objectify them and want to possess them, but I definitely pedestalized them.

I also should point out that I didn’t really think of girls as normal human beings. Now, I didn’t objectify them and want to possess them, but I definitely pedestalized them. To me, they were the tour de force of God’s handiwork, His most magnificent masterpiece. It never really occurred to me that they struggle in many of the same ways that I struggled, and that most everyone else struggles. With doubts, fears, bouts of loneliness, insecurities, needs for validation and affirmation, parental problems, money problems, and so much more. They just seemed perfect to me, and I wanted to be associated with that perfection, and delight and revel in that perfection. It was really that simple and that uncomplicated for me.

As I got older, though, my eyes slowly opened. And I started to see that while many girls were (naturally) drawn to beautiful guys, that wasn’t the most important thing necessary to win their hearts and – most importantly – to make the relationship last. Physical attractiveness, a sense of humor, and an abundance of charisma and charm was nice, but it was gravy. It was sprinkles. The cherry on top. And I started to learn that all the things my pastor and the other fatherly figures in my life were telling me were actually (and incredibly) true: what matters is not what’s on the outside, but what’s on the inside. For so long that seemed so cliché, and hollowly comforting – but as time went on and as everyone gets older and has to live out adulthood – it’s actually everything. It’s like the biggest truth ever. And so this made me think that wow, Sameer, you have a shot. You’re not destined to be alone forever, and God could actually give you your heart’s desire (a girl I was attracted to!!!! And, of course, who was really awesome).

My first glimpse of the reality of this was when I realized that God had made me a good listener. Because as I started to feel more comfortable around members of the opposite sex (you know, look them in the eye, sit next to them on a couch, give them hugs when I saw them), they would want to talk to me. I repeat: girls wanted to talk to me. A lot! And I would just listen, and give them the best of my attention. And they would really appreciate it, and keep coming back. And yes, I would remain encamped in the friend zone, and never ever demonstrate interest (for fear of creeping them out, which is rooted in a fear of rejection). But this would be good for me. It would be a very instructive revelation during this growing season of my life.

Time continued to march forward, and with me not being in any relationships and not really knowing what I was doing to even try to make one happen, God had lots (LOTS!) of time to work on my character. He broke my heart a million times so that I could feel the pain of others readily, viscerally, incessantly (and often too much, at times). He whittled down my sharp edges, and replaced my heart of stone with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). He pounded me in the crucible and thwarted the plans I made in my own strength and own efforts, so I could learn that unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain (Psalm 127:1). He taught me how to give grace to myself and to others who were trying but also failing. He made me dependent on Him for my validation, and confidence, and hope. And He gave me childlike faith, and restored my ability to see the world with awe and wonder (which, incidentally, I believe He can do for anyone, at any time of their life). And apparently, all of this made me attractive to the opposite sex. Seriously. I’m not making this up. Yes, it surprises me too. But then I landed the most beautiful woman I know to be my wife forever, and so I’m pretty sure it is true.

But then I landed the most beautiful woman I know to be my wife forever, and so I’m pretty sure it is true.

I feel that when a woman reaches adulthood on a both a “head” and “heart” level, and when the “teenage dream” relationship ideal of which Katy Perry so eloquently sings has unfortunately fallen short, they realize they would much rather have a man of substance rather than style. Style is a good thing – six pack abs, witty banter, hilarious cuteness, and all of that – but you can’t build a life and a marriage and a family on that. You can’t anchor deep into that, and hold fast through the storms that invariably will come your way. And I’ve learned that the converse is also true: I can’t be all about pretty eyes, and smooth skin, and curves, because I need a helpmate and a true partner for life so much more (desperately more!) than I need arm candy.

Style is a good thing – six pack abs, witty banter, hilarious cuteness, and all of that – but you can’t build a life and a marriage and a family on that. You can’t anchor deep into that, and hold fast through the storms that invariably will come your way.

And so for all of these reasons, I believe that any guy can get any girl. There is no such thing as “out of your league.” You just need to work on being solid, and learning the many lessons He wants to teach you during this season of singleness and preparation. You just need to major in substance, and minor in style – rather than the other way around. Then, you will actually become God’s best, positioned to receive God’s best. I know it’s easy to say and to commend to others, but miserably difficult to walk out. I am currently trying to convey this to a couple of the teen guys I am mentoring, and I feel like they get it on a “head” level…but it’s so hard to wait and trust and prepare. Especially when nothing is happening, for years and years and years. It’s like, this is not working, why do I even bother…. And I’ve been there for what seemed like decades, so I completely get it. It sucks. But it’s all part of it. They know my journey, and they know how it worked out for me in the end. And how my life shouts out the truth of His promise that those who wait on the Lord will not be disappointed (Isaiah 49:31).

When You’re Single and Waiting

For those of you who are waiting for your big love, I have to tell you that your life is never going to be the same. And you’re probably thinking, that’s what I want, I am tired of being alone, I am tired of the single life. I was there, I felt the same way. It felt like it would never end. But when it happened, it was like a flash flood. Everything changed. I was so used to my solitude, to my schedule, to my way of doing things when I wanted to do them. But when a girl comes along, much of that goes out the proverbial window. You have to die to yourself, and die to how you want to spend your day, every day. Possibly for the rest of your life. Donald Miller, in “Blue Like Jazz,” writes that he wants a girlfriend in his life, but only wants her to come over every few days, when he feels like shaving. I really liked the way he put that.

When you are in a relationship, you no longer have unlimited, uninterrupted time to focus on yourself. To focus on your education, on professional aspirations, on the hobbies and talents you want to develop.

You will want to spend time with her. A lot of time. Sometimes all the time. But there will also be times when you will want to work on yourself…you will want to spend time doing the things that make your heart come alive. I have realized that spending my time wisely while I was single was the best possible thing I could do. Because honestly, when you are in a relationship, you no longer have unlimited, uninterrupted time to focus on yourself. To focus on your education, on professional aspirations, on the hobbies and talents you want to develop. You don’t even have the same amount of time as before to focus on hanging out with friends, investing in others, serving in various roles at church or in the community. Having a significant other given to you by God is the most wonderful thing in the world, but no one really tells you how drastically things have to change. Paul alludes to it somewhat in the Bible when he talks about the benefits of being single, but I feel that the real essence of his words are missed in our world where everyone and everything is screaming at you (especially in the Christian church) that you need to be in a relationship, that you need to find someone, that you need to get married. It is just what you are (apparently) supposed to do.

Often we think when they come along, it’ll provide us with the inspiration we need to do what we know we should do – get that degree, obtain a better job, lose weight, travel, serve, whatever. When she comes along, you do get inspired.

So the natural tendency is to spend our life waiting for the one, just biding our time until it happens. Often we think when they come along, it’ll provide us with the inspiration we need to do what we know we should do – get that degree, obtain a better job, lose weight, travel, serve, whatever. When she comes along, you do get inspired. But even if she is the most perfect girl in the world, the inspiration will not last. It will not carry you through all of your goals. It will help, but its influence will fade over time. Usually to the point where the external motivation which used to come from her just doesn’t do anything for you anymore because you are weighed down with the realities, complexities, and difficulties of life.

Unless you have something inside of you that drives you to accomplish your goals, they are likely not going to happen long-term. And that something inside of you can’t be mustered out of nowhere. Rather, it typically comes from practice and from the formulation of good habits over months and years. The months and years of your solitude and singleness.

After my girlfriend came along, I was so thankful that I had already done the hard work of schooling and preparing myself for my career. And even though it was miserably difficult along the way, I was so thankful that He had pounded on me in the crucible so that I would be ready for when it (her) happened. And, honestly, I am thankful now that my big love hadn’t come along sooner. Because I needed those years so badly. Heck, even now I’m like, gaaahhhh, I need more time to try and get prepared and try to become more amazing so that I can be the very best for you (and our future kids) at all times!!! I don’t tell her that, I just think it in my mind. But, then I realize that I will always be growing and developing and the Lord mercifully pulls scales off of my eyes in increments so that I not completely overwhelmed and discouraged by the truth – the truth that I have such a long way to go and will never actually “arrive” where my idealism would want me to be. And she likes me for how I am now, and not for what I’m going to be. And I like her for how she is now, and now for what she’s going to be.

Everyone just needs to realize that life really does have seasons, and we have to fully live in our current season without pining too much for the next season to come along.

I absolutely love being in this relationship with my girlfriend. Everyone just needs to realize that life really does have seasons, and we have to fully live in our current season without pining too much for the next season to come along. Every day is precious, and every day can be used exactly for what He would want you to use it for – if we just keep remembering that He knows our heart’s desires and He is doing some neat, promise-fulfilling stuff in the background that will come together suddenly. Remember, our God is a God of “suddenly.” Think about His words in Isaiah 47:3 – “I foretold the former things long ago, my mouth announced them and I made them known; then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.” I also love Habakkuk 1:5, where the prophet is crying out to God to move, to answer his prayer and come through with his miracle, to which the Lord finally responds: “Look at the nations and watch–and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told!”

I believe that those who wait on the Lord and continue to intentionally and purposefully prepare themselves for their future mate while single will be able to marvel at how He will come through amazingly and all of a sudden. I wish we had a 100 year season for being single, another 100 year season for being married, another 100 year season for having and raising kids, and then a final 100 year season for winding down. That would rule and I don’t think I want any more years (but maybe I would). But life here on earth is a vapor. And I know is that we have to make the absolute most of the season in which we find ourselves – today. And do the same thing tomorrow.

I wish we had a 100 year season for being single, another 100 year season for being married, another 100 year season for having and raising kids, and then a final 100 year season for winding down.

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When You’re Struggling While Waiting For Love

I’ve been thinking a lot about boy and girl relationships recently, as most of my single friends are in that place where they want it to happen pretty much right now.  I am probably not in any position to offer advice or guidance, and I definitely do not have a lot of experience, but I still wanted to write out my thoughts about some aspects of it.

Obviously, we know that we should be patient and wait on God to bring us the right girl or guy.  We get that, and we don’t need even one more reminder from well-intentioned folks.  But during desperate and lonely moments, our head starts to spin with questions.  “What if it doesn’t happen for the next few years?” “What if I am supposed to be “doing” something because God helps those who help themselves?” “How am I supposed to know what I want if I don’t get out there and spend time with a lot of girls (or guys)? “  “What if it <gasp> never happens to me?” And so we start to panic, and those panicky emotions begin to shape our actions…especially our choices related to socializing and hanging out and being with the opposite sex.

Maybe we choose to hang out pretty much all the time when we are not working, put ourselves into as many social events as possible…just in case the right person is at one of them.  Maybe we go to them just hoping, hoping for a connection to be made.  Maybe we have a good time, and meet some cool people, but it tends to leave more to be desired.  Because in the back of our mind, we are like…come on God…do something….do something now…I just don’t want to be alone anymore….I want my big love…I want what everyone else seems to have….  None of this is inherently evil or sinful or dishonoring to God.  It’s real, it is our reality, it is our humanity.  But it could lead to us getting in the way – and staying in the way – of what the Lord wants to bring about in our life.  And for me personally, I am so tired of trying to bring about things in my own life – I so want Him to just take everything out of my hands, and take over completely.

I am so tired of trying to bring about things in my own life – I so want Him to just take everything out of my hands, and take over completely.

I really believe for my friends that God is going to do it.  The statistics – according to Census Bureau Statistics – indicate that nearly 100% of Americans over the age of 70 have been married at least once in their lives.  I’m not making this up. The odds, if nothing else, demonstrate that it’s pretty much going to happen to you.  But there is something else – we have to remember that we have the Lord on our side, and He knows our heart, and He has placed these desires for marriage on our heart.  I think we get into trouble when we compare ourselves to other people we know who haven’t yet met their dreamboat.  I know I used to do that all of the time – “Jane has served You soooo faithfully all these years, and You know how badly she wants a husband…why won’t you do it for her, God? Is that how it is going to be for me, too?”  But I don’t know all of the facts, and I don’t know Jane’s story, and I don’t know the story of the guy God has for Jane…and so I just need to focus in on my story, and my relationship with God, and not compare my situation to others.  It does no good.

It’s funny that we are quick to compare ourselves to others in ways that make us feel like we are missing out on something good that God should be giving us – “Bob has an awesome family whose parents don’t fight, why don’t I?”….or, “Jenny keeps having these health problems and struggles daily with aches and pains, and my body is starting to fall apart, and so I guess I’m going to suffer the same plight….”  We so much less often compare ourselves in ways that remind us how good we have it…”Austin can run fast on the soccer field and so can I, thanks God for both of us!”…or “Brooke just worked through a miscommunication with a friend, and God helped her, and I believe that God is going to do the same for me the next time I have a miscommunication!”  Nope, we just don’t see things like that as often as we’d like.  We are grateful when they are pointed out to us, but the eyes of our heart aren’t naturally wide open to see them….  I sure wish mine were, all of the time, so I could see what He sees, and be so much more thankful and content, and not so much thinking about what I still need and want in my life – related to the relationship in my life, or not related to the relationship in my life.

It doesn’t matter if you are doing it at a bar, or a club, or at church get-togethers, or online – the bottom line is that often it is prompted by fear, and chock-full of human effort.

Anyway, the problem I see in all of this is that our actions and choices seem to be laden with striving.  Human striving.  Our lives seem to absolutely brim over with it.  Human arranging and maybe even human manipulating (just a little) and human “gotta-get-what-I-can-get-while-I-can-get-it” thoughts and notions and behaviors.  Just to cope with the waiting.  Just to get by.  It doesn’t matter if you are doing it at a bar, or a club, or at church get-togethers, or online – the bottom line is that often it is prompted by fear, and chock-full of human effort.  Even though we’ve been praying to our God to supernaturally  {*outside* of our natural ability and actions) to bring along the one for us that only He could create and bring, and to exceed all of our expectations.

But we forget about that.  It’s easy to do – I know I’ve done it.  And so we spend ourselves directly or indirectly, overtly or subtly, and *try* to make something happen.  Something, anything.  Because oftentimes, especially with the way we’re feeling when our *singleness* gets the better of us, anything is better than nothing.  And you know you won’t go too far sexually, so it’s okay.  You know you won’t give him or her all of your heart, so it’s okay.  You know that God will understand because He knows you’re human and you’re doing the best you can. 

But even as you’re trying (and especially when you’re by yourself again and have time to reflect), you feel somewhat drained.  You are feeling like this shouldn’t be so difficult – that you and him (or her) should just slide together, that you both should “click”.  And you struggle with confusion, and you wonder if you’re reading his or her emotions and actions right, and you think, maybe next time, maybe it was just an awkward day, maybe he or she needs another chance, maybe I need to do more, maybe I need to be more.  But no matter what, you realize in time that your efforts to make some kind of match only lead to short-term improvements in your emotional state.  And they never lead to your true desire being fulfilled – in this case, a heart-level intimacy with another, deeper than any other on earth – a love relationship to last an entire lifetime.

We are not supposed to “arrange” life – it cannot be arranged, and every time we try we end up mucking everything up.

I know we are not supposed to just push through this waiting period – while God is preparing us or preparing our future spouse.  We are not supposed to just endure.  Because when we are just persevering and trying to make it until something amazing happens, we are not “living” as God intended, as we were created to do.  And, we are not supposed to “arrange” life – it cannot be arranged, and every time we try we end up mucking everything up.  You know this to be true in your past relationships, and in other areas of your life.  And this leads to the worst kind of heartache – because all along we have this quiet but nagging suspicion that we need to hold out, focus on something else, expend our efforts in other ways, be still, and just TRUST that He would come through.

Waiting for your love-train sucks.  Waiting is extremely painful,, almost to the point where you can’t take it anymore. Waiting is full of very sad nights, and horrible gnawing pangs of loneliness that seem to burn up the insides of your stomach, and sometimes (often?) giving up the hope that it is ever going to happen to you.  Sometimes it is your way of coping, and other times you really mean it.  It often leads to self-deprecating thoughts where you wonder if anyone could love you past your faults, if something about you is fundamentally unloveable and even repulsive, if it is just not meant to be and you’re destined to be single forever even as everyone else couples up, if the biggest blessing in this world that you’ve waited your whole life for is just always going to be out of your reach.  I know what it is like to wait for a very long time, and I know it often is not a happy time.

Waiting is full of very sad nights, and horrible gnawing pangs of loneliness that seem to burn up the insides of your stomach, and sometimes (often?) giving up the hope that it is ever going to happen to you. 

But I also know we are supposed to live in a certain way while waiting.  This way will not come easy, or everyone would already be doing it, and I would feel no need to think about this or blog about it.  None of us will do it perfectly, but I believe that we definitely can do it.  We’ll talk about it as we continue forward.  I ask for your grace should anything I type hit a nerve.  I am praying so hard that all of my words come across with love, and are God-inspired.

Source for Marriage Statistic: Kreider, RM (2005). Number, Timing, and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 2001, Table 3. Current Population Reports, P70-97. Washington, D. C.: U.S. Census Bureau.

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