Wednesday, June 15, 2011

the coyote + the frog: waiting on Him for him

i'm at the age when every time i turn around, somebody's getting married. my closet hails nearly 10 bridesmaid dresses, and in 2011 alone, i've been invited to 6 weddings [so far]... and that doesn't include the engagement parties, bridal showers, couples' cookouts and bachelorette parties that i [joyfully] attend.



at a recent pre-wedding event, i overheard some of the girls talking about a couple that's on the brink of taking the blissful plunge. trying to listen in on their conversation while having one of my own caused me to misunderstand the date of the rumored nuptials [i thought they were referring to summer 2011, when in fact, it was 2012 they were speaking of].



i shot two of my best friends a frantic, open-mouthed stare and said, "this summer?!?" they both giggled [whether at my eavesdropping skills or my state of panic, i'm not sure] and one replied, "no... next summer." i sighed with relief and uttered with a single exhaled breath, "ohthankgoodness."



despite the facts that 1) i'm pretty sure i can't handle a 7th wedding this year and 2) i'm 90% positive i don't want one of my own [my family thinks i'm bluffing], i absolutely love everything about weddings. well, most everything.



like many people, i despise the bickering that takes place amongst family members, the bridezillas & bridesmaidzillas and the majority of traditional wedding etiquette. most of all, however, i hate, hate, hate walking down the aisle. if you've ever been a member of a wedding party, you know the feeling. taking 3 minutes to walk 50 feet with 200 faces staring directly at you is merely awkward and anxiety-inducing.  i never know what to do. wave? smile? make myself cry? to make eye contact or not to make eye contact? it is, without a doubt, the worst part of the whole deal.



as the number of single friends i have rapidly declines, i think about all of my fellow unwed sisters. i'm excited for some and ache for others -- depending upon each's place in life and her desire to be either single or married with children. while it's obviously normal to long for lifelong male companionship, some women are 100% content living the single life for the time being... or forever.



she's focused on her career.

she's finishing her education.

she's just... not ready.

she's working on a relationship with herself.

she's working on a relationship with the Lord.

she hasn't found him yet.

or better yet... he hasn't found her.



some [myself included] think it's wonderful when a woman can honestly label herself as "clearly not ready for marriage." and yet, most of the world seems to have a hard time understanding that mentality. i think it's safe to say we've all known females who consider themselves "failing at womanhood" for being 20 and without a college boyfriend, 30 and unwed or 50 and divorced.



during a recent sermon at fellowship church, the pastor put several pictures up on the screen -- a large house, a fancy car, a newborn baby, shopping bags, an executive in a business suit, a professional athlete... a bride and groom on their big day. he explained in a nutshell -- we as humans were made to take pleasure in these things, but unfortunately, we're often under the illusion that these things will bring us complete fulfillment. then, in a solemn voice, he stated five words that hit me hard, "but they are not 'it.'"



there's one path to the wholeness and contentedness that our hearts constantly long for. and that path is centered around a personal relationship with jesus christ... it involves prayer, scripture, study and communion with other christians.



sad to say, i have to be reminded of this daily. often times, i'd rather read a nicholas sparks novel than my bible. i'd rather listen to hip hop music than to the lord while i run. i'd rather sleep an extra 30 minutes than pray. i'd rather peruse facebook than read my devotional. i'd rather seek my own relationships than let the lord bring them to life. and every time, it gets me in trouble.



i moved in with a native ohioan in march. sarah is laid-back, reserved and naturally gorgeous, and she literally laughs at everything. our personalities are polar opposites, but surprisingly, we enjoy a lot of the same things -- running, photography, cereal, ice cream, travel, good wine [white for her, red for me] and all things creative, to name a few.



we're also both uncommitted and share the same outlook on singlehood ["i'd rather be without someone and happy than with someone and miserable"]. in regard to the lack of eligible, christian, good-looking, kind, funny, worldly, intelligent, humble yet stable, tall-dark-and-handsome bachelors in our town, we often partake in a combination of joking and dwelling.



sometimes it's more tempting to dwell. and in our case, that's exactly when the lord sent a little reminder.



last week, i had had a long day at work, and as soon as i stepped outside to walk to my car, i felt the coolness in the air. since we'd had temperatures in the upper nineties the last few days, the weather immediately put me in the mood to go for a quick run. in a rush, i busted through our front door, and as i made my way through our living room, i asked sarah, "wanna run? i'm going to throw some clothes on now!"



she had already ran a couple miles earlier that day but decided to go with me anyway [thank goodness]. it was about 9:30 pm by the time we hit the pavement. we ran 1.5 miles down the sidewalk of an unlit two-lane road then turned around to head back to my car. at about mile 2 of our of run, sarah and i both looked to our right and saw a 4-legged animal wandering through the tall grass.



at first, i thought it was a small deer. while i got a better look, sarah [born and raised in the midwest] gasped, "is that a wolf?!" i kept looking at the creature, which was lurking about 15-20 feet from us, and finally determined aloud, "it's a coyote. we need to cross the street."



we crossed to the sidewalk on the other side of the road, and the coyote kept its eyes on us [as i kept looking back at him]. after a few seconds, he too crossed and disappeared into the dark bushes to our left. knowing that coyotes are usually skittish around humans, i realized that we may be in danger and told sarah we needed to cross the street again. for nearly the last mile of our journey, we were running as fast as our legs would go. [she's 5' 2". i'm 5' 10". so as you can imagine, she would've had a total disadvantage if the coyote decided to come after us.]



my mother was fuming when she discovered the details of our most recent adventure and forced me into a binding verbal agreement to never run in that area again. in her maternal opinion, mr. coyote was strategically "herding" us into a runners' death trap -- aka an unescapable position in which we'd be surrounded by the german shepherd-sized head-honcho and his posse of snarling pack members. and if i ever put myself in that situation again, she recommended i spread my feet as far out as possible, wave my arms uncontrollably in the air and scream loudly, as to make myself appear monster-like..... nice. [while i digest what she's saying to me, i'm partly humored and partly touched. one day, i hope to be as protective of my daughters as she is of my sisters and me.]



anyway, after our 3-mile dash, we hobbled to our building from my car. and there in front of the stairs to our apartment sits our familiar friend -- a softball-sized speckled frog [he may be a toad, but i prefer to call him a frog]. he's there every single night. seriously. whether sarah is poking him with a stick or cade and maverick are sniffing him up and down, he doesn't move an inch. the first time i saw him, my high heel barely missed his little body, and still, he didn't budge.



days later, sarah was casually emailing back-and-forth with one of her friends and told him the story of our amphibian visitor. her friend replied back, "maybe if you kiss him, he'll turn into a prince." [or say, hmmm... tim tebow]



i've been pondering ed's response to sarah's email since she told me about it.



when it comes to relationships, why do we as women prefer the coyotes? they chase and hunt; they're dangerous; and more times than not, they lead their prey straight into a death trap. yikes!



it's crazy... i've told the masses about being chased by the coyote and next to no one about our boring ole friend the frog. as i think about my female dna, my mind is blown. in our innateness, so many of us women prefer "exciting, thrilling and down-right dangerous" to "steadfast, gentle and kind."



so how do you keep from overlooking a good one? i think you stop looking. i think you stop falling for the wrong ones. and i think you let the good one find you.



the good and right one will whole-heartedly pursue you with humility, selflessness and love. and he'll do so at the right time because both you and he are whole-heartedly pursuing a relationship with jesus christ.



sarah and i were walking cade and maverick two nights ago. she saw a young girl in her early teenage years pick up the frog and carry him far away to the gate of our apartment complex. [i assume the girl had good intentions and wanted to put him out of harm's way.] even though i don't like bugs, frogs, toads, snakes, etc., sarah and i were both a little bummed that our green friend was gone.



the next night, sarah walked in the door and said with a cheerful smile, "the frog is back." i smiled in return and thought to myself, "of course he came back. ...the right one always will."



"above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." -proverbs 4:23



blessings + healthy relationships,

julie



p.s. i'm happy to report there haven't been any coyote sightings since the night we naively went running in his territory.






the girls in charleston for kel's bachelorette weekend

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