14 Days Into the Journey

Well, it’s been two weeks since the dating fast started.

It has been a crazy ride in such a short period of time.

When starting out the dating fast, of course I entered with visions of grandeur, a clean and tidy dating fast in which I would automatically fall more in love with God.  I mean, how could you not?

Little did I count in the fact that my emotions are at sometimes, ok, fine, all the times, crazy.  

This is basically how my dating fast prep went:

The month before the dating fast started:  Ah, this is going to be the best thing ever for my spiritual life. How have I not done this before?  Get to know people without tons of relationships expectations, and just relax.  Cannot wait for this dating fast to start.

The day before the dating fast started: Holy canole.  What in the world am I getting myself into. I’m in college.  If I don’t meet someone now, it is only going to get harder.  This is huge.  This could be the semester where I meet someone.  And I’m going to have to say no because I’m on this dating fast.

Day 1:  I got this!  Heart to heart talks with God, some scheduled time for the Bible, this is great. This is better than great.

Day 5: Ok, it’s hard.  In fact, it’s really hard.  I’m surrounded by available, great guys everywhere I turn.  In class.  In the library.  When I go to dinner.  At work.  In my social groups.  Can I just join a convent?  This would be much easier if I could do a dating fast with no men around.  I feel like the only safe guys to talk to are those who are related to me and seminarians/deacons/priests.  I’m so in trouble if this is how it’s going to be for the next four months.

Day 9: Ok, how have I never noticed all these couples before?  They are literally everywhere?  That kid is in 4th grade and has a boyfriend?  What am I doing with my life?

And then I caught myself.  Because I’d fallen (again) into the trap that what I needed so badly was a relationship with a guy.  I was getting tripped up by guys because I was hoping that there was some potential there somewhere.  And frankly, that’s pretty darn selfish.

Things went from:

“Oh! What a great guy! He opens doors and doesn’t cuss and is super into his faith.”

into

“Hmm…what would our relationship look like.”

Instead of 

“Thank you Lord for a man of God who serves you with His heart.  Strengthen him on his journey and help him do Your will.”

There is a great story about three men who go out for a walk on a summer evening.  As they stroll through the park, they walk past a young woman in a revealing top.  The first man immediately averts his eyes, doesn’t acknowledge the woman’s presence at all and continues on the walk.  The second man indulges in the beauty of the woman for his own good, and cranes his neck to stare at her as she walks past.  The third man acknowledges the woman with a friendly smile and continues on the path, and takes a moment quietly pray Psalm 84:1 – “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Hosts!”

This can be applied to dating fasts too.

The first approach is to totally avoid guys at all costs.  You can’t date ’em, you don’t even want to see ’em.  This results in always wearing earbuds and sunglasses and may or may not include frequent midnight McDonalds runs for food incognito.

The second approach is to go all out.  You’re on a dating fast, but dating is flirting.  Dating isn’t texting.  You’re just lining the options up for when you are done with the fast and in for the feast.

The third option is acknowledge the beauty that God has created in this world (including guys in your life) and thank Him for them.  And then, continue along the path.

So, that’s the goal for the remaining weeks.  Acknowledge and appreciate, then find total fulfillment in God alone.  Pretty lofty goals, but with God all things are possible.

Any thoughts? Tips or hints for dating fasts? (pass them over, I will take anything you can give me.)

God bless!!

Chloe

Falling in Love with Authentic Love

I love love.

Romantic comedies, Disney movies, life chats about relationships, engagement stories, wedding pictures.

My soul sister is Anna from Frozen because of her jump-in-head-first love mentality. (spoiler, that doesn’t end well for her.)

disney enchanted true love cinderella Giselle snow white anna frozen kristoff

So it may come as a shock that the idea of a dating fast has been on my mind quite a lot recently.  And that this semester I’m going to begin a search for authentic love.

And that doesn’t just mean no dating.  It actually entails a lot.

Whoa.  Giving up going out? Flirting? Stalking a guy emotionally (and on Facebook)? Giving up planning out your future children’s names and how they will look so cute in baby blazers and chuck taylors? Deleting that secret Pinterest wedding board?

frustrated animated GIF
What will I even do with all my time now?

I spent my last two years of high school anxiously waiting for college to finally get here just so that things could be different.  I spent freshman year with my fingers crossed that if I could get the right friends, do the right activities and be at the right places at the right times, things would change for the better.

A.K.A., I’d get a date.  Let’s be real here.

Family gatherings or life chats with friends quickly turn to a potential relationship discussion, followed by questions about when I was finally going to go out on date.

parks and recreation animated GIF
“Don’t worry, you’ll find someone someday sometime” 

I was living in a little world where I was looking for just the right guy, and in the mean time, I was an incomplete person, waiting for my better half.  I felt as if something was missing – something from my life was not there, and when I found that one piece of the life puzzle, it would all fall into place.

And I was right.

But it wasn’t a guy who was going to turn things around and lead to sunset-gazing, hand-holding, long-walks-together wonderfulness.

It was the guy.

Or specifically, this guy.

Because I had quickly forgotten in the span of my freshman-sophomore years that I am a daughter of God who is beautiful, unique, and worthy of love.  I had forgotten that I was worth more than I could ever imagine.  “More than how many girls wish they were me or how many guys wish they had me.  Regardless of who I thought I was, the reality was is that I deserved someone who would give up their life for me.” (And if you ever need a pep talk this is the one.)

And I had Him.  But I’d just brushed Him off into the corner to pull out when I felt like it.

I had let my “God journal” become my “Guy journal.”  I had so many talks with God on the walks back from class about if He could just work this one out than I would for sure make my daily Bible reading a priority again.  And I just needed a spiritual guy leader in my life to help me out.

The one day, I heard a question that shook me.

“If the guy of your dreams were to walk into your life right now, would you even be the kind of girl that he would be looking for?”

And I honestly had to say no.  I had spent so much time creating a list of characteristics that I was looking for that it had skipped my mind that I should be working on those virtues too.

 Enter the dating fast.

No dating for this Spring 2015 semester.  No mentally stalking guys.  No pinterest binge nights and rants on how I had everything ready for my future wedding but the guy (which, it turns out, is a pretty important part).

I’m giving God this semester not because I’ve given up on being found by a great guy.  Not because I’ve dated guys a lot during high school and college and have been burnt by it. Not because I’ve broken up with the concept of love.

parks and recreation animated GIF
Nope, not the reason 

But because I want to first fall in love with the man who died to get to know me.  Because I’m tired of walking into Mass and scoping it out for potential guys of interest.  Because I want to know what an authentic God filled relationship would look like.

Because my life needs some silent time to find out what the voice of God even sounds like…so that when He says “There’s the one” I know who is talking.  Or that if He says that and points to His son, I can respond without hesitation.

I am in no way saying that dating is a bad thing.  In fact, it’s very good.  You usually can’t end up with a great person unless you go on some dates with ’em.

But I don’t believe I’m going to be looking back on this fast in five months and saying “Darn it, growing closer to the Lord and treating people like brothers and sisters in Christ was such a waste of time.  Wouldn’t do that again.”

Is it going to be tough? Heck yes.  But one of my favorite women of God, Saint Catherine of Sienna, once said, “Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.”   

No one one their death bed looks back and wishes they hadn’t gotten to know God and His children better.

So, what are your thoughts?  Have you, too, struggled with emotional chastity and dating obsessions? Let me know in the comments below!

In Christ,

Chloe

The theory of suffering

Stephen Hawking made it clear what he wanted to accomplish with his life.  “My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.” 

Thus is born his theory of everything, a desire to understand why things are exactly why they are.  

Why the earth is even here.  

However, Hawking lives a life in which you count yourself so great that the explanation for the beauty of a magnanimous universe cannot be something you can’t understand.  To think so highly of yourself that if you cannot understand the theory of existence, it must simply not be a valid theory.


That is the sheer beauty of Christianity.  To exist instead in a worldview that Hebrews 11:1 proclaims: “Faith is confidence, assurance, concerning what we hope for and conviction about things we do not see.”

Things we do not see. Things we don’t understand.  

It is a challenge to live in a world corrupted by sin and suffering and point to God.  To experience loss and trust God simultaneously.  To realize that God’s blessings can come through the unexpected and painful occurrences in our lives.   

At age 21, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with a motor neuron disease.  He was given two years to live.  He has lived an additional 52 years with the disease.  

His life contains a large amount of physical suffering and frustration.  

In the second letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote about the concept of suffering.  

“In all things we suffer tribulation: but are not distressed.  We are straitened, but are not destitute.  We suffer persecution, but are not forsaken.  We are cast down, but we perish not.  Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life of Jesus may be manifest in our bodies.  For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake: that the life of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh.  So then death works in us: but life in you.”  

Christ’s crucifixion exists outside of the human time construction.  Because of this, we can join in the suffering with Christ on the cross and unite our hardships with Him. 

Saint Rose of Lima lived in the early 1600s in Peru.  Although she only lived to the age of 24, her life contained the beauty of practiced redemptive suffering.  When she was sick as a young woman, she would pray, “Lord, increase my sufferings, and with them increase Your love in my heart.” 


She knew the power of the cross, and also wrote, “Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to Heaven.”

That is a bold statement.  That means the cross isn’t optional.  Suffering isn’t just if you feel like it.  They are the means by which we draw closer to Our Lord and unite our will to His divine plan.  

But without God….suffering doesn’t make sense.  In fact, neither does life. 

Jane, Hawking’s former wife, wrote of the conflicts that arose from the rejection of even discussing his illness.  With suffering just being a by product of nature, selected to be imposed on random victims, what was the point in discussion?  Jane wrote the Stephen “insisted on a facade of normality, he never talked about illness…It was the illness that had become a barrier of anguish between us.”

Without the crucifixion and the picture of redemptive love and suffering, pain has no meaning.  Without God, there is no hope for something greater, for a redemption from the effects of sin in the world and the misuse of the gift of free will.  


 Hawking wrote, ““I believe the simplest explanation is, there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization that there probably is no heaven and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that, I am extremely grateful.” ” 
But instead of simply appreciating the beauty of this earth, the belief in a loving and intelligent creator unlocks the beauty of the foreshadowed.  Of knowing that as beautiful as this earth is, it is nothing in comparison to the life after death.  


Even things as beautiful as love and the creation of life are, they are only a shadow the life and love showered down by a Father who is unconditional love.  

Yet with no end in mind, the day to day life of this world becomes mundane…pointless.  Suffering becomes a bother instead of an opening of the door to suffer with the Lord.

In a rejection of Christ for the convenience of a self theorized science, once can quickly become one’s own god.


The Theory of Everything has missed out very important things.  For without God, without the hope, faith and desire for authentic love that is instilled in our restless hearts, there is nothing.  

Christ is everything.  And that’s not a a theory.  
  

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