Notes to Self

Sometimes during long conference calls at work, I doodle or write notes to myself in the back pages of my office notepads. Occasionally I flip through these back pages to rediscover the partially-coherent thoughts or ideas I jotted down while trying to remain conscious during one mind-numbing meeting or another.

This morning, I came across these two pages that I evidently scribbled back in August. When I read them today, I marveled at the fact that I knew five months ago what it has taken me until this year to begin implementing in earnest.

On an unrelated note, you will see that I tend to write my letter “r”s as capitals, even in the middle of woRds. Apparently this means I am defiant and don’t like to be told what to do.

Yep, sounds about right.

“The defiant person doesn’t like to be ‘managed’ and is always alert for any sign of unjust authority…Usually it takes the form of a capital letter… Most handwriting analysts talk about the defiant k… the ‘go-to-hell’ k… We have also included a capital R in the middle of a letter… Defiance is a defense of the ego. It says, ‘I defy you to criticize me, to attempt to hurt me.’ …This personality trait is VERY common among Americans… based on the overwhelming need to defy the odds, face the threats, and stomp down those who would steal our freedom… Americans will continue to be defiant. It is in the genes.”

Journal 1.jpg

Journal 2

Authentically AuRoRa

Elevator Speech

Elevator

I get asked out all the time – at least once a week. Ladies, I’m told the secret to my unintentional success is that I am both pretty and approachable.

I say “unintentional success” because I generally try to look as unapproachable as possible. Like Ron Swanson, I call my coworkers my “work proximity associates”. I occasionally intentionally call people the wrong name if they start to get too chummy with me. As I type this, I am wearing a shirt that says, “I didn’t choose the grumpy life. The grumpy life chose me.”

I’m not sure how my perpetual scowl and look of disdain are mistaken for being welcoming. Maybe that’s why none of my dates work out. I only attract utterly imperceptive men who think that my grimace secretly means “take me, I’m yours!”

In any case, historically, I’ve been asked on dates by complete strangers at the most random of places, among them the yogurt aisle in the grocery store, the gas station and the sci-fi section of a Barnes and Noble. Now I can add to the list: an elevator.

The first week of the year, fresh from my commitment not to date for a while, I was invited to a party at a friend’s apartment. I’d never been to this particular apartment before, so only when I showed up did I realize that it is a veritable fortress.

There were multiple towers – Tower A and Tower B (“The Two Towers,” I thought to myself… See why I got asked out in an aisle of sci-fi books?!) – and a huge lobby with multiple elevator banks protected by armed security guards. I’ve learned over the years that no one questions you if you look confident, so I strutted past the security guards like I lived in the place, and I made it to the first set of elevators.

A cluster of residents was exiting an elevator just as I arrived, so I snuck in before the door closed. Sighing in relief at how easy that had been, I pushed the button for floor 7. But nothing happened. I tried again. Nothing. So I tried pushing floors 6 and 8. Still nothing.

Eventually the doors opened back up to the lobby, and, puzzled, I got out. Just then, I spotted one of my girl friends across the lobby on the other side of the security guard’s post. I waved her over, but she’s not as bold as I am. She shyly shook her head, so I went to her where she stood in the safety of the public area of the fortress.

As I started to explain to her my difficulty getting to the 7th floor (the hostess also wasn’t answering her phone), I spotted an attractive young man returning to the lobby from walking his dog outside. Assuming he was probably a resident, I said loudly enough for him to hear, “Well he looks like a nice guy. I bet he’ll help us.”

My friend looked horrified at my widely-heard proclamation, but it did the trick. The young man turned to look over his shoulder at me, and I smiled winningly as I strode forward.

“Hi!” I lowered my voice so the nearby security guard wouldn’t be able to hear. In my experience, security types like this tend to either have big egos or inferiority complexes. In either case, they are more trouble than help. “My friend and I are trying to get to the 7th floor for a party, but we’re having trouble with the security system in the elevator.” I batted my eyelashes for good measure. “Do you live here?”

I saw the dog owner looking down at my left hand. I followed his gaze down to the six-pack of beer I’d forgotten I was holding. “Do you want one? I’ll owe you a beer if you can help us out.”

“What? Oh.. uh, yeah. I’m… uh, I’m on the 8th floor.” Clearing his throat, the young man straightened his shoulders and explained importantly, “You have to have a key card to operate the elevators. Come with me!”

Thanking him profusely, I winked at my friend to follow. We waltzed past the security guards and got onto the elevator. Sure enough, our guide slid a badge in front of a card reader, and he was able to push both 7 and 8 for us. “I’m Trevor, by the way,” he told me, reaching out to shake my hand.

Like the frog from Harry Potter? I thought. Then I inwardly rebuked myself for that being my first reaction to his introduction. “Nice to meet you, Trevor. I’m Aurora. Which beer would you like?” I extended the sampler pack to him so he could choose one. Shiner. Good choice.

We were almost to the 7th floor when Trevor handed his phone to me. “Let me get your number,” he said as I took the phone from his hand. “After all, I owe you for this beer.”

Ugh. I wasn’t supposed to be dating, but I didn’t want to reject him in front of the other people in the elevator. I typed in my number and figured I could explain myself later.

Within an hour, I already had a text message from Trevor: “So at 100% interest a day, we need to get drinks real soon. I might not have went to Harvard, but I know all about compound interest.”

I thought his compound interest comment was charming (yes, I’m a nerd), but I was confused about his random reference to Harvard until I glanced down and realized I was wearing my ex-fiance’s sweatshirt. Classic.

I figured we could go for one round of drinks, I’d explain that I’m not dating, we would end up going dutch, and that would be that. So I asked when he was free. His response? “I’m always free. This is America.” And with that comment… my brothers would love him. 

We went to a wine dive a few days later. Typically, my first date mindset is: Ask all the hard questions – premarital sex, politics, family dynamics, religion. If he has potential, he’ll stand up under it and give all the answers I hope for. If he’s weak sauce, I use the Socratic method to challenge his thinking and make a positive difference in his character before exiting his life forever. Of course, now that I’m not dating, there is no former option; just the latter, which – while satisfying – is significantly less exciting.

Trevor ended up identifying as a Christian who never reads his bible and has yet to find a home church in this city where he’s lived for the past three years. (Disclaimer: Going to church and reading your bible are not necessary to go to heaven. We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, not by being a “good person”. But reading the bible and being involved in a church are evidences of someone who takes their faith seriously and is actually living it out. Disclaimer over.)

As predicted, I gave my “I’m not dating” speech, Trevor agreed to split the check, and I haven’t heard from him since. I guess that’s one less frog I have to kiss before I find my prince. This whole “fasting from dating” thing is a breeze.

Authentically Aurora

Surrender: Circumcision of the Heart

SingleForASeason

Ah, circumcision… one of the many reasons I am glad to be a woman! Unfortunately for me as a Christian woman, I still have to undergo circumcision, but mine is a proverbial circumcision; one of the heart. And when I say unfortunately, what I really mean is fortunately because, painful as it is, circumcision of the heart is ultimately for our betterment.

The LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. -Deut. 30:6

What’s with all this circumcision talk, Aurora?! Well, I recently had revealed to me an area of my life – a stronghold in my heart – that needed to be cut away. For quite some time now, I’ve been due for a fresh circumcision of the heart; a cutting away of a dark corner of my heart where idolatry has been permitted to reside for too long. My frequent readers can probably already guess which area I’m talking about.

Most of us, whether we’ve ever attended church or not, are familiar with the story of Moses delivering the Israelites from Egypt and crossing the Red Sea on their way through the wilderness to the Promised Land (thanks, Ridley Scott). What some people may not know is that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years under Moses’s leadership and, eventually, when Joshua took over as leader, God commanded that the younger generation of Israelites be circumcised before they could leave their wilderness of wandering and enter the promised land of Canaan.

The older generation had been circumcised, but the younger generation born in the desert had not yet been committed to God through this obedience to the Old Testament Law. And so the younger generation of male Israelites underwent circumcision – a “cutting away” – so that they were ready for the Promised Land.

Although in the Biblical Old Testament, the Israelites were circumcised to identify themselves as God’s people, in the New Testament, the apostle Paul explains that physical circumcision is no longer necessary under the New Covenant. Instead, hearts of the followers of Jesus are figuratively circumcised as a part of the process of sanctification (i.e. becoming more like Christ).

During the Passion conference earlier this month, Christine Caine asked each of us, “What does God want to cut away in you?” What area of your life is unsurrendered? What shadowy corner of your heart needs to be penetrated by the light?

“Are you willing to cut away some weights? Some good things but not God things?” Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. -Hebrews 12:1

Often we stay in the wilderness of waiting because the pain of walking through to healing is more painful than the pain inflicted by the initial injury. And so we put on our band-aids and develop our coping mechanisms and convince ourselves that we are just fine. We put on our blinders and convince ourselves that we are not still in the wilderness, but through this self-deception, we never deal with the root issue, and so our deepest wounds never fully heal.

As Christine Caine spoke this message, I sensed God convicting me yet again about my love life. Since my broken engagement, I’ve had a revolving door of men – no one too serious, but enough interested men coming and going for me to use the continual influx of attention and affection as a coping mechanism to avoid dealing with my heart’s bruising: a now deeply-ingrained sense of rejection and undesirability.

I have not allowed myself to really sit in my singleness; to feel the weight of it and truly accept the wilderness season God keeps trying to allow in my life – not to wound me further, but to heal me! Behold, I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her there. -Hosea 2:14

So I’m going to continue my season of not dating. I don’t know if it will be the full year; I am going to reevaluate my heart’s healing at the end of every quarter. At this point, all I know is that I need to commit to a season of waiting; to rest in my singleness and learn to be content being alone on a Friday night. To be content without one boy or another lighting up my phone with cutesy text messages. To reinstate God as my first love and rid myself of the idolatry of all these pseudo dating relationships.

There will doubtless be many opportunities to break from my fast of dating, and I hope to keep you all entertained with these stories of “missed opportunities”, but I hope to view these as chances to practice discipline, self-control and faithfulness. I desire to walk in healing and faithfully live out the path God has laid before me.

So in 2016, here’s to being single for a season but no longer single for a reason!

Authentically Aurora

Bo ≠ Beau

PatagoniaDancing is a great way to build relationship skills. Men learn to lead, women learn to follow, people learn to work together and build confidence as they are set free to express themselves, uninhibited by fears about the opinions of others.

In college, I spent most Thursday nights at a swing dancing society on campus, learning to dance East Coast Swing, Charleston and Lindy Hop. We had good, clean fun together, and it was there on the dance floor that I grew in my extroversion and discovered my love for encouraging others.

I occasionally visit a swing dancing studio in the city where I live now, but I don’t go as often as I would like because it’s not as fun to go without a partner. So today on Facebook when I saw that Bo – who just returned from a motorcycling trip around Patagonia – had decided to attend a swing dancing workshop on Saturday, I “liked” his RSVP.

Within a few minutes, Bo sent me a text message: “Are you an experienced swing dancer?”

I smiled in surprise. I hadn’t expected him to send me a message! Maybe he was looking for a dance partner. “I am! Are you?”

“Not at all,” he wrote back, “But it’s one of my 30-before-30 goals.”

“I love that you have a list like that… and that swing dancing made the cut!”

“Have you been to this dance studio before for stuff?” he asked me.

I told Bo that I had, and I explained a few of the class options to him. I wanted to be helpful but also not seem too experienced, because I figured that could be intimidating. And intimidating men is my downfall in dating. Not that I’m trying to date Bo, I told myself. I’m really, really trying not to date this year. Even though Bo is a smart, attractive, kind, athletic, adventurous, confident, godly man.

After I had explained the class structure – and coached myself to stop thinking about dating Bo – he sent me a text message back that made my heart sink: “A friend and I are both looking to learn. She’s interested in Lindy Hop, but I think I need more basics. Though the ultimate goal is to flip her in the air!”

I gave a tight smile as I moved my thumbs to type my response into my phone. “Lindy is my personal favorite, but you’re right; you probably need to learn East Coast first. That will be a fun thing for y’all to do together.”

No reply.

He got what he needed from me.

Now he’s off to dance with someone else.

When I asked God to protect me from myself this year in regards to dating, I only partly wished He would answer. There He goes being all faithful and stuff. [Sigh]

Authentically Aurora

Recovering Date-aholic

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 9.14.53 AMI am a recovering date-aholic.

I’ve been trying really hard to rest in my singleness; to be single and stay single for a time. I have been trying to even revel in and celebrate my singleness. This is a season of life where I can do whatever I want, whenever I want to do it. I have a rare opportunity here.

I am free to serve in the church and all kinds of charitable organizations. My time is my own. I can work out or eat donuts; I can travel across the world on a whim, and I can stay out until 2 in the morning if I want to. There is no one at home waiting up for me; there is no one at home I am accountable to or responsible for. I am in a unique season of freedom from familial responsibility.

I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.” -1 Cor. 7:32-35

According to these verses, singleness is a time to be single-mindedly devoted to the Lord, not distracted or concerned about the needs of a spouse. I have no husband, and yet, my attention is still divided. I may not be distracted from serving the Lord by a nonexistent husband, but I am certainly distracted by any potential husband who may be in my near vicinity!

In today’s society, the opportunities to date are endless, largely thanks to social media. I’ve been asked out by three different guys in the past week, but I’m trying to say no. I’m trying to rest. I’m trying to wait. I’m trying to give myself time to heal and grow more into the woman God is calling me to be. I want to be the kind of woman who would be worthy of the kind of man I ultimately want to marry. And if I start dating while I am less than who I could be, I may spend the rest of my life married to someone who perpetuates an underdeveloped version of myself.

I’m adamant that the man should initiate a dating relationship. But there are plenty of ways for women to help the process along: Catch a man’s eye, hold eye contact, smile coyly, or dance away with a slight smile. Make sure you get caught looking a few more times. Entice their attention and interest. I leave it up to the man to actually walk over and initiate conversation, but I certainly know how to help the process along. But I’ve been trying to practice mindfulness; be where I am; embrace my season of singleness. And leave the men alone.

Last week, I got another opportunity to exercise self discipline and reaffirm my decision to wait on the Lord. When I first joined eHarmony two years ago, I was really impressed with some of my first few matches. My ex-fiance was one of my first ten matches on my first day on eHarmony. So was Nate – a mechanical engineer in O&G with an aura of confidence and a shock of blonde hair. Nate’s profile was filled with photos of hiking and snowboarding; four wheeling and rock climbing. He’s an American Ninja Warrior.

That first week of online dating two summers ago, before engagement rings and wedding dresses and heartache and depression, Ashley and I sat in her living room, giggling and looking through all of my matches. I was drawn to the man who would become my ex-fiance, but I remember Ashley rooting for Nate. Much later, in the wake of my broken engagement, I got on Christian Mingle trying to find some hope that there are still single godly men out there. And there was Nate’s big grin and radiating confidence smiling back at me, just as I’d seen on eHarmony a year earlier.

Last week our weather dipped gloriously into the 70s after a long string of summer days in the 90s. So I got up early, drove to a nearby park, and went for a 3 mile run. Right at the end of my run, I stopped by the stretch area, and who did I see directly ahead of me? Nate. He was there with a buddy and his dog. Our eyes met, I smiled shyly and glanced away before looking back at him again, unsure if he recognized me from my online dating profile.

I stretched longer than I normally would, hoping he’d come over. He keeps popping up in my life, year after year. But Nate was engrossed in conversation with his buddy. The Aurora of a month ago would have boldly walked over and asked if we’d met before. I would have struck up a conversation and gotten him to eventually ask for my number as I looked up at him through long eyelashes.

But on that sunny morning last week, I walked away. I walked away praying, “God, I keep encountering this man, and he’s caught my eye every time. I could try to make this happen, but I’m going to wait on you. If you want us together, have him recognize me and find a way to reach out to me. Help me let him go. I want to rest in you.”

My aim is to refocus my attention on the One who loves me more than any man ever could; indeed, more than I love myself. “In repentance and rest is [my] salvation, in quietness and trust is [my] strength.

Authentically Aurora