The new chapter

This isn’t what I wanted.

I don’t mean that in a boo-hoo-poor-Miranda kind of way, it’s really more just a matter of fact.

This isn’t what I wanted.

When I was dreaming and wondering and planning what my life would be like, this was not it.

I never imagined I would move to the Midwest (of all places). Not for one second did it occur to me to look into jobs at the company I will now be working for. I didn’t hope to one day be 23 years old, in an apartment, alone, where I know few people and am far, far away from my family: my home.

This is not what I wanted.

If things had gone according to my plan, I would still be in Charleston, engaged to the man I loved and surrounded by my close friends and family.

To me career was never a priority – my mission stood outside my work and I was fine with that. Moving for a job never crossed my mind.

But doors that I had started to walk through were painfully shut on me, and doors I had never seen before sprang open abruptly. I didn’t feel that I chose this new path, rather that I was being chosen for it. I could walk through the door or not, but it had been opened for me. Why? Couldn’t tell you. I hope for my good, and also for a greater good – a higher purpose. But right now as far as I know, I could be as “woefully wrong as Humphrey Belcher, who decided the time was ripe for a cheese cauldron.” -A.P.W.B.D.

I have decided to accept, tentatively and somewhat reluctantly, that maybe, maybe my plan wasn’t the best one (maybe).

Maybe there is a bigger, better plan that will successfully lead me to the peace and joy I have been aching for.

Maybe something about moving, about living here (of all places), about making the new friends I will meet and developing my writing skills, maybe all this is necessary for my growth, my peace, my happiness. Perhaps this is an essential part of my journey that will make me more myself and help me to become the person I want to be.

Possibly the things I do here and the relationships I form will turn out to be of the utmost importance.

The reality is that I don’t know. What I do know is that I left behind my friends and family, my job, my home to come here.

Not because I am sure it’s the right thing, but because I am trusting.

We don’t know everything and if we think we do we’re just kidding ourselves. We’re not in control of the all doors that open and close in our lives, sometimes we just have to step through one that is open and see what happens – always hoping for the best, always trusting.

To me the worst thing we can do is to hang on stubbornly to what we want and knock on a closed door insistently, shouting for someone to come and open it.

Life is too precious to waste on what we think is best, what we hoped for, what we wanted. I don’t mean that in cynical or Debbie downer kind of way, I just mean that sometimes we need to choke down our piece of humble pie and realize that we don’t always know what we really want; we don’t always know what is best for us.

A door was closed on me that I desperately wanted to sprint through, but as much uncertainty and pain and fear that I feel – I am walking through the door that was opened and trusting that it will be for the best.

As I sit here in my (mostly empty) and very quiet apartment, waiting for my friend to drop off a sleeping bag (my mattress is arriving Wednesday), I have decided to trust, to make the best of this and to let go of what I thought I wanted.

Because maybe, just maybe, there are things at work here bigger and better than I could have dreamed up myself.

So if you’re in a place of uncertainty, unknowing, disappointment…you are not alone. New beginnings aren’t always the Hollywood moments we want them to be. Often there is a hard fall before the recovery. And often the recovery is long and slow. So hang in there, keep hoping and, most importantly, keep trusting.

This isn’t it.

xo

Miranda Kate

Ask Him: Feat. Kevin

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Kevin is an interesting one. I met him through our young adult group this summer after he had recently left seminary (a type of “school” men go to discern priesthood) where he lived for fourteen years.

Not four, fourteen.

Through a long and arduous process of attempting to understand what he felt called to, Kevin discovered that marriage was one thing he couldn’t let go of and deeply desired. Even more importantly, he realized it was what would lead him to become the best man he could be.

He was excited and super relieved. As beautiful as the priesthood is, he knew it wasn’t for him and that this is okay.

“God doesn’t just want me to be useful, he wants me to be full of joy and at peace.”

So he left seminary and is now headed to grad school this Fall at Notre Dame to study business.

His goal is to be an “evangelizing businessman”. He wants to form relationships with executives and invite them to achieve greatness not only financially, but also spiritually and morally.

He hopes to find “twelve guys with a ton of cash to make a difference.”

#goals.

Go Kev!

What are some qualities you look for in a woman?

“My biggest fear leaving seminary was becoming girl-crazy…so I actually made a list of qualities to look for in a woman to help keep me grounded.”

  1. Christ-centered: “Not just prayer-centered…I want a woman who is in love with Christ. That’s a non-negotiable for me. I guess my fear was falling for appearances without that spiritual foundation.”

  2. Selfless: “A woman who will put Christ first, me second and herself third. Just as I will put Christ first, her second and myself third.”

  3. Honest: “She isn’t afraid to tell me what upsets her, how she feels…I don’t want to date/marry someone who expects me to read between the lines or constantly read her mind. I’m a pretty upfront and empathetic guy; I delicately say what I think. I can’t handle relationships where I feel like the other person is hiding something from me, or is dissatisfied with me in some way but won’t tell me what it is…so I’m hurting them without knowing what I’m doing wrong. That is important to me, not that you’re pleased with me but that you’re upfront with me.”

  4. Affectionate: “That’s really important to me because due to my mother passing away when I was young, there were a few years where I didn’t receive that feminine touch. I definitely could not handle someone who withholds affection as punishment or is constantly asking me to prove myself. To me personally, being affectionate is a quality that I really look for in a woman.”

How do you show interest in a woman?

“First thing is just saying ‘Hey, I’d like to know you better.’ If I’m interested in a girl the first thing I do is spend time with her. I usually take it one step at a time and to me that first step is friendship.”

What do you admire about women in general?

“There’s nothing more beautiful than a woman…I don’t just mean that physically. A woman’s ability to love without limits is incredible. My mom had cancer and they told her that she had something like 4-6 weeks left to live and she basically said ‘forget it, I have kids and I’m going to make sure they’re okay.’ She fought a year and a half. To me that’s incredible. Her ability to give of herself was truly beautiful and inspires me to this day.

And then I see women who flaunt their bodies and it’s kind of a shame really. They’re putting forth their ‘best selves’ and if that’s what they see as their true beauty…it’s too bad. An immodest woman is either looking for something I can’t give or turning me into a man I don’t want to be.

Not that women have to be frumpy, but an immodest woman turns me off because they don’t see what’s really beautiful about themselves, which is that selfless love of a woman that goes way beyond I think the way a man can love.”

You think women can love more than men?

“Yes. Men are naturally protectors, defenders, whereas women are much more relational…women are really the bond that holds the family together. Women are willing to suffer for the love of their husband or kids…it shows how strong women truly are. I think we’re all called to love as we’re able but I think that there’s something very particular about the way women love.

When a woman knows that she is loved and is sure of herself she can love in a way that a man can only admire.”

So what does man have to offer?

“I think a woman has more of a nourishing, bonding love and man has more of a sacrificial and practical type of love.”

Do you think it’s important for a man to ask a girl out?

“Yes. Choices are always about deciding which good thing you want. So for a guy to work up the courage to walk across a room and ask a girl out is a sign that he is willing to overcome obstacles (such as fear) to choose her. For a man to pursue a woman proves that he really cares about her…it’s not a casual thing. The more a guy pursues and proves in his actions that he really wants the girl, the better it is for the relationship. It’s important for a girl to know that he truly cares about her.”

Is it important for him that he ask her out?

“I think it’s important for him to test his own desire. Things that come easy aren’t really worth having. I’m not saying a woman should just blow a guy off…women have a deep desire to be pursued and know that they are truly beautiful. A man is on a quest to achieve something great for someone beautiful. Those are two complementary desires. There is something to the whole Rapunzel story, a man doing something to prove that the women is worth it. If she has someone by her side that fought for her it is so grounding.

If a woman were to come up to me and start a relationship I would be asking myself, ‘Do I really like this girl? Or am I just going out with her because she’s offering me things that I want?’

If you’re really sure that you are beautiful and worthy, why would you sell yourself so cheap? And the guy wants the challenge.”

Kevin’s thoughts on self-worth:

If a woman isn’t satisfied with herself she’s not ready to date. She doesn’t need a boyfriend to assure her – that will never work. She needs time alone to be at peace with herself. If I recognize a woman is struggling with her own self-worth, I feel dating her would be almost taking advantage of her. She needs time apart from someone – she is in a vulnerable state and if you insert yourself at that moment she’ll always need you…I wouldn’t want to do that to her or set myself up to fill a hole I’ll never be able to fill. It would be an act of selfishness for a guy to start a relationship with a girl who he knows is struggling with self-worth.

What are you looking forward to in the near or distant future?

When I left seminary I was totally starting over and I was happy because I knew I was where I needed to be…spiritually what I’ve learned after 14 years of seminary is that happiness and holiness isn’t about achieving some holy-goal. It’s about listening to where you’re called and throwing everything you have behind that calling. My hope and dream – more than a successful career or finding the perfect woman – has more to do with my relationship with Christ, having the strength to leave aside whatever is interfering with that relationship and live His will day by day.

Did I mention Kevin’s Catholic?

I was so impressed with his thoughts, a HUGE thank you to him for taking the time to sit down and chat with me about these things.

To good men.

xo

Miranda

The truth about control and love

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I tried to control him
Boy did I try
It did not work out (clearly)
But not for lack of trying.

If you’ve ever been in the hair products section of a Wal-Mart or Target, you’ll get an idea of how much women love control. We want it, we need it, we thrive on it.

Most of my life has been me trying to control what happens around me…and failing miserably. Unfortunately we cannot apply the same strategy we use for frizz to life, especially not to relationships.

Were my intentions bad? Not really, the need to control is typically motivated by fear – I was scared.

The thing is, there is no room for fear in love; meaning, there is no room for control in love.

Why?

Love is free – a gift given to be received, not possessed.

Love is free.

We can only choose love in freedom and give it freely, not expecting anything in return.

I tried to manipulate and finagle him so that he would do what I wanted – what I felt was the loving thing to do…for me.

‘If he does x, then he loves me – if does y, he doesn’t.’

In other words: ‘if he does x, I can trust him, I am happy with him, relieved, at ease. If he does y I’m angry, upset, hurt.’

I put very strict restrictions around his love and my love for him. I couldn’t let go, I had to control.

There is no room for control in love.

We must allow our beloved to be who they are, do what they want, love us how they love.

They can disagree, they are allowed to disappoint, and so are we.

Our loved one is not an extension of us. They are a person, entire on their own, with a past, dreams, hopes and fears of their own. Embrace their otherness. We should strive to learn, understand and empathize as much as we can with them – but not change, modify, or even “improve” them.

Love demands that we give the other person freedom to choose us in return, not out of obligation or fear, but love.

This doesn’t mean a free pass for them to do something immoral, unhealthy or intentionally hurtful. It does not mean they can walk all over us, always get their way or act in a way that negatively affects the relationship.

What it does mean is that we should trust. We should let go, we can allow them to be and love them for that.

Control is unnecessary, and imaginary anyway. You don’t actually have the control you might think you have.

Don’t do what I did and set conditions around their love and yours. They can do that thing that bothers/frustrates/disappoints/scares you and love you.

A secure attachment is just that, secure. It’s not secure if or when this does or doesn’t happen. It just is secure.

Love trusts, love believes, love hopes.

Their love is not limited to your subjective interpretation of what their actions mean.

If something they do legitimately upsets you, think about the reason behind your hurt feelings. Why are you hurt by it? Explore the feeling with open curiosity. Don’t feel guilty for feeling what you feel, but don’t be afraid to question it either.

Often our hurt has much more to do with something inside of us than the act that caused it.

Granted, sometimes we will hurt and it will be justified. It is important to note these times and discuss them.

However, sometimes we get upset because we’re scared; and sometimes our fear bosses us around too much.

He wants to go out with the guys? Yes, great, go for it. He wants to join a sports team? Go team. He wants to buy a boat? Fun! He dreams of traveling the world? Me too!

Sometimes even the seemingly most inconsequential things like those I listed above can terrify us. What if he meets some cute girl while he’s out? Why doesn’t he want to spend that time with me? Will we be able to travel together? Is he going to sail away forever?

Goodness I remember these fears. They tortured me as I tried to love a good man but felt the insecurities building a wall between us. I wish, I wish I had done a better job of handling these demons. Instead of dismissing them I tried to control everything else – namely him. If he did exactly what I wanted/needed, I would know the fears were untrue. What actually would happen is that then another fear, suspicion, uncertainty would creep up – my thirst for security, certainty and reasons to trust could not be quenched.

Now I know that confidence truly is key, not control. Confidence is simply relaxing. Feeling the fears without acting on them. Choosing to trust over and over and over.

Don’t let fear have the last word. I did and ended up hurting myself more out of fear of getting hurt than anything else – not to mention the man I loved.

It’s so hard. It really was one of the most difficult things, to ignore what the voices in my head were screaming at me, what my emotions were overwhelming me with. You think that because a thought is in your head or because you feel a certain way that the thought you’re thinking or the emotion you’re feeling is objective truth, but that is not the case. I failed too often to love and chose to obey fear instead.

I tried to control
Boy did I try.
But I won’t try now, not anymore.
Love doesn’t control, it just loves.

Keep your affections in boxes, keep your heart free, that’s what they told you those sly foxes but that don’t faze me.
AB

 

xo

Miranda

 

I’m not ready for marriage, but I’m doing it anyway – a man’s perspective.

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Last week I proposed to my girlfriend and, amazingly enough, she said yes. If you knew me, you would know that is nothing short of a miracle.

As I began to share the news with family and friends, a trend developed among my male cohorts. Their response took some form or another of the sentence, “Wow, dude, that’s a huge step, I didn’t know you were ready for that.”

My response was: “Well, I’m not ready, but that’s not really the point.”

They weren’t expecting that answer.

My friends were expecting something like what we hear in movies or from guys who are unwilling to be vulnerable with one another: “Yeah man, trust me, when you meet the one, then you’ll just know!” As if you know your love is real when you experience this magic voodoo feeling of clarity that will just overwhelm you when you meet the right person.

But if I were to say something like that, I’d be lying. And I usually try not to lie.

This outlook which is expected from us is in fact the soul crushing myth perpetuated by those who claim that love is nothing more than a feeling.

So why do my fellow men ask that question? Why have I asked that question of others in the past? Because for most guys, this phantom thing we call being “ready” is our bulletproof excuse to delay doing the best thing in exchange for the easy thing.

Just look at the three hallmarks of how the current culture does romantic relationships and it’s easy to see how good men have gotten at delaying commitment.

  1. Safe Sex: The reasoning goes something like this, “Well, we need to know if we are sexually compatible right? It’s a huge part of a relationship! But we aren’t ready for kids. Instead, we use contraception which allows us to have safe sex and know if we are compatible. Win win!
  2. Live together before marriage: “How else are we supposed to know that our relationship can work before making a lifelong commitment? We have to be sure, and living together is practical. It makes sense. It’s safe.”
  3. We should get a dog before we get a kid: “We don’t know if we want to have kids yet. We want to travel and just do us for a while. We’ll just get a dog and see how that goes. After all, with divorce rates being so high, we should practice being parents together before bringing kids into the world. It’s the safe thing to do.”

All of this is nonsense. Safe sex is a myth. People who live together before getting married actually have higher rates of divorce than those who don’t. And having a pet is NOTHING like having a child of your own.

If the wise people in my life, the ones who have been married for 25+ years, have taught me anything, it’s that you can never be ready for something as big and beautiful and incredible as a lifelong commitment to another person. Being ready isn’t the point. Freely and willingly choosing to give your significant other everything you’ve got, for as long as you’ve got it, is.

The real tragedy is that when men delay doing the best thing in exchange for the safe thing, we deny ourselves the ability to thrive. When a man defends, protects, uplifts, glorifies, loves, and serves a woman, yes he gives up his independence, but in return his life is elevated to an entirely new level. He goes from coasting to thriving. From passive to passionate. From selfish to courageous. From a good man to the man of your dreams. And that’s not by some uncontrollable fairy magic, that’s the power of love as choice.

Unfortunately, what women have failed to realize is that they are complicit in this. Women set the standard for the relationship. Not men. And most women let men off the hook. Ladies, if you really loved him you would challenge him to be more than a safe bet. You would challenge him to reclaim the power of choice. And you would challenge him to love you the way Jesus loved the world in his time on earth.

In the hours before he was arrested, Jesus said something to his disciples that really knocks me out. He asks God, if possible, to spare him of the immense impending suffering. He essentially says, “I don’t want to do this. It would be much easier for me to open the gates of heaven without having to suffer so please don’t make me do it.”

Now, I am no scripture scholar. Nothing even close. But, what I read here is that Jesus identifies the complex surge of emotion humanity experiences when we are faced with the hard choices. It’s this feeling that, we know we are meant for something and we know we desire it deeply, but we don’t want to do it because our fears are yelling things at us like, “what if it’s really hard?” or “what if I fail?” or “what if I am not good enough?” or “what if it doesn’t work out!”

Jesus knew his mission in life was to destroy the power of death and save the world. And he had a truly deep desire to do it. But he also had a moment of gut wrenching hesitation before doing what was required to accomplish his mission. However, contrary to what our culture might say, the solution wasn’t for Jesus to feel better or find some safe way out. The solution for Jesus was to stare directly into the eye of his fears and choose the better path anyway.

The same goes for all of us. Especially men in relationships.

The honest truth is, I am not ready for marriage. Marriage scares the crap out of me!  

I’m afraid of committing my entire life to one person. Terrified of accepting this incredible person’s love knowing that there is a really good chance that I will do something massively stupid that will hurt her. And, of course, scared of exchanging my independence for a life devoted to someone other than myself.

That kind of fear doesn’t get vanquished by some magic clarity that comes with “the one”. It’s still there and it will remain there even after I say “I do.” But that’s ok. It’s natural.

I didn’t propose because I was ready. I proposed because deep down in my soul I know God created me for marriage. I proposed because my future wife is an incredible woman and the life partner I don’t deserve but got anyway. I proposed because I love her more than I love myself. I proposed because she challenges me every day to become the man God created me to be. And I proposed because I want nothing more in life than her eternal happiness.

And that, my friends, is the point.

By Jack Beers

Marriage is an adventure – like going to war.
GK Chesterton

The comeback kid

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My mom loves to remind me of the day I learned to ride a bike. There was a big hula balloo because the Rodriguez siblings had gotten new bikes! Oh, happy day! My new bike was sans training wheels which only added to my excitement.

Unfortunately, as six-year-old Miranda soon realized, learning to ride a bike is like…learning to ride a bike; it’s difficult at first. So, long after the initial eagerness had faded and my brother and sister had gone inside, I could be found in the driveway, angry and frustrated but resolutely determined to figure the darn thing out, now.

I fell over and over, tears brimming in my eyes, my hands and knees stinging from scraping the pavement – yet I kept getting back on.

You can probably guess how this story ends…fifteen years later I still don’t know how to ride a bike.

Jk Jk

Of course, the reason my mom loves that story is because my “determination” – aka stubbornness – came to my aid, I didn’t give up.

Those of you who have been following my blog to some extent can guess that it has been a tough year for me – even more difficult than learning to ride a bike with only two wheels (if you can imagine).

This past year I fell in love with a man that surpassed my (very high) expectations. It was wonderful – like a chapter out of someone else’s life. We had so many lovely, sweet, fun, beautiful times it often felt surreal to me.

Obviously that wasn’t the difficult part. The difficult part was all the fear that accompanied this relationship. It was absolutely impossible to understand why I had such a difficult time trusting someone so good – someone who clearly cared about me. It was incredibly painful to constantly question him and his love. It was torture to be bombarded by doubts and insecurities about the relationship every day. Together or apart, no matter what he said or what I told myself or what others shared, fear plagued me as I struggled to love and trust someone and be loved by them for the first time in my adult life.

The joy of finding someone that until that point I had only dreamed of was tainted by my deeply rooted fears – fears that came true when Nicholas finally bowed out in February.

“I told you.”

That awful voice in my head which so often had urged me to make a run for it rang in my ears months after the fact.

It was right.

This year was also dramatically humbling. Amidst my turmoil and angst I came to the startling conclusion that I am one of the least qualified people to speak on the topics of love, relationships or familyThe fact that this has been my main source of content is almost laughable.

Almost.

Who am I to speak on the subject of love? When I fail so often to practice the thing in my own life. I am still the obstinate girl who falls over and over again – broken and bruised – only now the fall is emotional, spiritual and psychological, in addition to physical.

I barely understand what love is really meant to be – if anything I know better what it is not meant to be.

I guess that’s something.

The thing is – much like myself all those years ago – I have a streak of stubbornness that refuses to give up.

This became especially clear to me on this break, my mini sabbatical from publishing. It was a lovely and painful time. I did some travel (nowhere exotic but still fun), lots of bike riding/exploring, took lots of pictures, caught up on some reading and spent a good bit of time just reflecting. Even though I enjoyed all of this, it was difficult to face the reality of losing someone I had cared about so deeply. A reality not made any easier by our regular crossing of paths. Every day I had to accept all over again my loss and look ahead at the murky future with only wisps of hope to hang on to. 

On a particularly difficult day during this time I grappled with the tough question of why the heck am I doing this?

What’s the point? Loving only leads to bitter disappointment. People are too imperfect, too broken and too difficult to love (most especially myself). Why bother? I could be content doing my own thing; traveling, writing, enjoying casual friendships and relationships without commitment or difficulty. 

I had my chance and I blew it, who’s to say there will be another one?

Yet here I am.

I guess the reason for that is the reality that everyone else at some point in their life has also been faced with this question. If you haven’t yet, you will be. And the people I most look up to, I’m most inspired by and desire to be like, they chose to love. Not because it was easy, not because they didn’t get hurt, not because it always felt wonderful or rewarding, but (I think) ultimately because at the core of their being, they felt it was worth it. It was a calling too beautiful, too precious, too valuable to turn down.

Love makes us better people, it challenges us to grow and change in the most beautiful of ways. It heals and gives us strength to move forward, day in and day out.

Love is why we are here and what makes this treacherous, incredible, awesome life worth living. It’s an adventure in and of itself; the most fulfilling and challenging one. 

There is still a part of me – the wounded, guarded, angry part that taunted me after Nicholas and I broke up – that doesn’t believe a word of this. But I’m hoping to prove this side of me wrong in time.

I’ve fallen down, and I will continue to do so. But I won’t give up. I’m back and I’m in it for the long haul.

Here’s to the kid who got back on the bike one too many times, and to everyone who has dared to choose love – even when it hurts. 


On another note, there are two, more practical things I’d like to share with you.

  1. I’m changing the setup of this site just a little so that it can become more of a community and less of me ‘talking’ at you. To help me make it more collaborative, Some incredibly talented people agreed to write for you here and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Keep an eye out for some contributor articles coming soon.
  2. As of last week I have agreed to take a position as content lead at Dynamic Catholic. I will be moving to Cincinnati, Ohio this summer!

I want to sincerely thank all of you who have prayed for me and encouraged me during these past few months – it has done more than you can know.

And of course, to my readers..this wouldn’t mean much without you.

xo

Miranda Kate

“For what is life without love?”
Pedro Silva

Love is/Love does

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“If my inward coldness has burned you some way, please know, please know I’m sorry.”

Alanna Boudreau


Love is difficult
Love is beautiful
Love is sacrificial
Love is tender
Love is heroic
Love is forgiving
Love is painful
Love is miraculous
Love is sweet

Love is thoughtful
Love is vulnerable
Love is delightful
Love is meek
Love is intentional
Love is steadfast
Love is humble
Love is strong
Love is attentive
Love is grateful
Love is fruitful
Love is powerful
Love is obedient
Love is merciful
Love is receptive
Love is mysterious
Love is docile
Love is fierce
Love is gentle
Love is courageous
Love is free
Love is a choice.

Love commits
Love heals
Love gives
Love grows
Loves cherishes

Love submits
Love perseveres
Love protects
Love reveals
Love admires
Love accepts
Love dotes
Love affirms
Love corrects
Love assures
Love endures

Love consoles
Love laughs
Love moves
Love fights
Love trusts
Love resists
Love mourns
Love misses
Love understands
Love respects

Love disciplines
Love listens
Love stays
Love unites
Love transforms
Love prevails
Love never gives up.


As someone who tries to love and fails quite often and in the most clumsy of ways, sometimes it helps me to think about what love really means.

This list isn’t comprehensive, I’m sure you can think of more items to add (help a sister out and share a few!). But it’s a start. The important thing is to never, ever, ever give up. If we keep trying, we will eventually, haphazardly, brokenly achieve something that looks like that ⇑.

Just don’t try to do it alone, that was my mistake. Rely on Grace, it’s the only way…I promise.

Who’s the greatest Lover? You said You are I Am.

Alanna Boudreau

#alltheAlannaquotes #fangirl

Most importantly, please, please remember that you were made to love and be loved.

xo

Miranda

A good man is hard to find?

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You may recognize this title as one of Flannery O’Connor’s most famous short stories. I read it for the first time in my AP literature class in high school and being sixteen and more interested in boys, didn’t think too much about it. This fall I read it again and was a lot more taken by her writing – and this story in particular. If you haven’t read it before I highly recommend it.

Toward the end of the story the protagonist notes, ‘a good man is hard to find.’

Her circumstances are very different from mine (as you’ll note when you read the story), but her observation is one that I’ve found highly relevant many years later in the real world.

I state it as a question because I’m not sure if it’s true:

Is a good man hard to find?

Is a good man hard to find?

I have met some really great men in my life. I’ve also found plenty of men who fall short. I think at my age (23 going on 100), it really isn’t the ‘good’ part I’m concerned with as much as the ‘man’ part.

By this I don’t mean that there are more good women out there than men. Rather, it seems as though guys are taking longer and longer to mature…they’re not really men. Most of the good men that come to mind are a good eight or more years older than I am.

Okay so what am I basing these statements on. To me masculinity can’t really be boiled down to a few qualities like physical strength or aggressiveness – do those really matter that much anyway?

It’s more about man’s purpose.

‘Miranda, you are clearly not a man, what do you know about this?’

Not much, however I have read a little about this topic and rely on other, smarter people who have done their research for my information.

Some men who have taken the question of how to define masculinity very seriously found that there are:

  …“continuities of masculinity that transcend cultural differences.” While every society’s idea of what constitutes a “real man” has been molded by their unique histories, environments, and dominant religious beliefs, Gilmore found that almost all of them share three common imperatives or moral injunctions — a male who aspires to be a man must protectprocreate, and provide.

– Brett, The Art of Manliness

Okay, so it’s not about big muscles or deep voices or how many bar fights they’ve been in.

Good to know.

We can break this down a little to understand what these really mean:

Protect

The only requisite to this is courage. This doesn’t mean running off to battle, picking a fight etc. It is merely a disposition of putting others’ safety in front of your own. Walking a girl to her car at night [even if she insists ‘it’s fine’], walking on the side of the street closer to the cars, getting up in the middle of the night when you hear a weird noise…it really doesn’t have to be anything grandiose. Of course, some men do live this out in very drastic ways such as protecting their country which is of course good too, however it doesn’t have to be that. There are plenty of opportunities for men to live this out on a daily basis in your average city.

Procreate

“The imperative to procreate essentially requires that a man act as pursuer of a woman, successfully impregnate her, and thus create a “large and vigorous family” that expands his lineage as much as possible.”

Um, so yeah.
I realize this sounds a little…antiquated. The reality is that today sex is unattached to pregnancy, if anything pregnancy is mostly avoided at all costs. Not only that, but for men to be the ‘pursuer’ is considered outdated at best and disgustingly sexist at worst.
However, before we condemn this notion as old-fashioned and insulting, I think we should take a second look at what it really means.

When a man pursues a woman (in a healthy, appropriate way) he is conveying the message that she is worth attaining, despite potential difficulty in doing so. In other words, she is desirable. While men desire to be needed, women really want to be wanted. When men pursue us, this desire of ours is fulfilled in a much more satisfactory way. Not only that, but men are inspired and motivated by a challenge. The pursuit then fulfills their own innate desire as well.

Ok so about the ‘create’ part of this. Sex today is rarely about ‘creating’ anything other than, um, sensations. Ultimately we know that the purpose of sex is twofold: expressing authentic love and bringing new life. For this reason, we should never separate one of these fundamental aspects of sex from the act itself. If we do, sex is shortchanged and something that should be completely selfless becomes selfish. Sex should be preserved for the occasions when both individuals a) love each other and are committed to each other for life and b) are open to life (this doesn’t mean what you think…look up natural family planning).

Okay so what does this mean to men? Basically sex for it’s own sake is not what motivates men (or shouldn’t be). Instead, sex that communicates love and could create life is what they seek (and that distinction is how you separate a boy from a man).

Provide

This one is probably the easiest one to understand but also a little tricky. Obviously men need to provide for themselves. What about for us?

DON’T HURT ME IT’S JUST A QUESTION

I realize this is a sensitive topic. I think the answer is that men don’t need to provide for us. Generally women work both before and after getting married (if we marry at all). However that doesn’t mean that men don’t want to provide for us. Whether it’s paying for a dinner or being the sole breadwinner this could mean something different for each person. I don’t think we should shut down the concept of men wanting to do this for us in the name of equality. To say that our equality boils down to our financial contribution is completely inadequate. Women and men can bring different things to the table and still be entirely equal.

Anyway, I feel that a lot of guys my age today have lost sight of these principles of masculinity. I keep hearing of breakups that happen seemingly without good reason…other than he’s just not ready.

He’s not sure, he doesn’t know, he can’t commit, he needs more time…they are not the least bit concerned with protecting, provided or procreating, and it’s a shame because it is through this that they will feel fulfilled and competent as men.

Why they’re struggling with this is a question that would take me a million years to explore, however while maintaining an outlook of compassion and empathy, I know that I’m kind of done accepting less from men. I love them too much to set low expectations.

I don’t want a ‘nice guy’, I want a good man.

A good man is hard to find, but they shouldn’t be.

“I ask you brothers, I ask you men, for the love of all that’s holy, release the stallion trapped in it’s pen, gain a thirst for who you should be. “

Alanna Boudreau

Men, what do you think about this? I invite your thoughts on this (you all know better than I do!).

xo

Miranda

Queens Don’t

img_3765

For the past three or four days I’ve basically been listening to RaeLynn’s new song, Queens Don’t, on repeat.

#fangirl

It’s funny because this is a message I’ve been thinking about for a while but just haven’t been sure about how exactly to put it into words, and then she did…perfectly.

“I wasn’t raised in a castle
I grew up on the outskirts of town
No dresses with golden tassels
The rings on my hand are handed down
But I’m gonna find the one that needs me, sees me
And treats me like I’m already royalty
There ain’t nothing priceless on my wrist
I might not fly private, but that don’t mean I ain’t a queen.”

If you detest country music or can’t understand southern accents, the gist of the song is that she (RaeLynn) is a queen and expects to be treated accordingly. Not only that, but she realizes that there are also expectations on her end regarding her behavior as a ‘royal’:

“Queens don’t hate, queens don’t fight
Queens don’t stay unless their king treats her right, oh
Every jewel on my crown you better believe I earned it
Won’t keep people around that don’t believe I deserve it
No, queens ain’t fake
A queen’s gonna rule just the way she was made, oh
I ain’t ’bout to let nobody come and take me off this throne
Some girls might, but queen’s don’t.”

If it’s hard for you to take country music lyrics seriously, I understand. Another way of looking at it is thinking about the Netflix series ‘The Crown’.

Queen Elizabeth knew that there were exceedingly high standards on both sides because of her status. Being waited on and treated with the utmost respect was the norm for Elizabeth. However her status not only required others to treat her a certain way, it also meant there were extremely high demands being made from her. She had to look, dress and behave in accordance with her title. Even if she was not wearing a crown people needed to know she had one.

I know that we aren’t all royal in the sense that people address us as ‘her majesty’ (although I’m not opposed to that), and I know that RaeLynn isn’t ‘royal’ either (or that she thinks she is). The truth that she is sharing with us is a little less conspicuous than ballgowns or diamond headpieces.

It has more to do with our innate dignity: (noun) the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.

As women we have great worth. It’s something that is hard to put a finger on… is it our beauty? Our ability to bring life into the world? Our contributions to the workplace?

I think in general it has to do with less about what we do and more of who we are… in other words, our femininity. Which includes all of this but certainly not exclusively.

I’ve always detested these kind of messages (which is why I have been so reluctant to write about it): You’re so worth it; you are worthy; you are enough; believe in yourself, you deserve so much more…

Ugh, gag. Cringe cringe cringe.

I really hate talking about those things or hearing sentences like that. No thanks.

The unfortunate thing for me is that they (like RaeLynn) are right. Having a little more experience under my belt, I actually have come to realize that knowing this and living in a way that reflects it is of the utmost importance.

Why? Because it’s true; and because men need to be reminded of it…by us (unfortunately GQ and Men’s Health have yet to write an article about this).

Unless they happen to listen to RaeLynn’s music.

There’s a reason men get down on one knee before they propose, there’s a reason we are given flowers, there’s a reason chivalry is a thing (and if you think it’s dead then you need to hang out with better guys). It’s not superficial, it’s not an outdated tradition, it’s not silly or sexist…it’s vital. Why? Because we are absolutely the most beautiful and wonderful thing on this Earth (I can’t speak for other planets) and we should be treated like it, our nature demands it.

Guys don’t get addicted to looking at pictures of fancy cars. You don’t see billboards of beautiful trees advertising sweet smells or promises of luxury. It’s us.

There is nothing more beautiful than a woman, there’s just not. Part of our calling is to reveal beauty. And – this is important – we don’t do so by wearing clothes that are seductive or mountains of make-up. We do so by our demeanor, our words, our actions and how we love. There is nothing like it, and therein lies our absolute and unquestionable worth.

Our gentleness, tenderness, sweetness, receptivity, docility, hospitality, warmth, our strength, our loveliness, faithfulness, resiliency, vulnerability…so feminine, so wonderful, so life giving.

And let me just say, this doesn’t mean that you have to be the ‘nice girl’. I find the ‘good girl’ stereotype a little repulsive. It absolutely diminishes us. I don’t consider myself one. Nice is on the surface, these qualities run much deeper.

I don’t believe many guys intentionally think ‘yeah this girl is worthless’, but like most things our value is not necessarily an innate belief either: they need to be taught (or at least reminded…often).

Men should delight in us, adore us.

If we live and act in a way that says ‘hey, I’m pretty priceless’, others will typically follow our lead.

Okay so how?

You act as if you were the most precious thing in the whole world, because you are.

We take care of ourselves, physically, emotionally, spiritually…we nourish our friendships, we develop our gifts, we find joy in our lives. We are aware of what we say and treat others with the same care. 

Goodness is attractive.

I don’t mean being perfect. Goodness I don’t mean that. I get angry, I drop the ball, I wear my shirt inside out and backwards…but I know. Ultimately, I remind myself over and over and over that I am invaluable and the man who gets close to me will need to know that too.

Precious and sought after, we find comfort in the man who treats us accordingly and love him fiercely.

We don’t let him in until we know (or at least strongly suspect) that he is worthy. It’s okay for us to ask him to prove himself, to show his interest, to pursue. It’s not too much to ask, because the prize is priceless. We should not be asked to leave our throne, we allow them to approach it while watching attentively.

It’s not a chase, it’s not a game. Men’s hearts are not to be toyed with, but sometimes we have to be our own security guards. Really patting the person down (figuratively, ladies) before we let them through the gates. There is too much at risk. If we communicate our own value in how we act, how we treat others and how we expect to be treated, it’s a lot easier to narrow down the field to only a few contenders who are willing to rise up to our standards – because they desire us and they understand that it is worth it.

Honestly, everything I am struggling to tell you has already been said by a very wise man a few years ago.

“When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”

Bishop Fulton Sheen

So, yeah. That’s it basically.

We expect great things from men, but from ourselves first and foremost. When the temptation to ‘settle’ sneaks up on us, we don’t. Some girls might, but queens don’t.

xo

Miranda

My kind of broken

img_1069Kelly Clarkson has this song called ‘Dark Side’ that I really love. It’s not as well known as some of her other hits but I think it has a lot of truth to it.

The gist of the song is that we all have a ‘dark side’ and she wonders if we can be loved despite that.

“Everybody’s got a dark side, do you love me? Can you love mine? Nobody is picture perfect, but we’re worth it, you know that we’re worth it.”

I think there’s this subconscious myth out there that in order for us single people to meet someone and have it work out, we are required to have it all together.

Emotionally, spiritually, intellectually and physically we have to be ‘good enough’.

We are told by well-meaning individuals to use this time to work on ourselves.

Accomplished, in shape, out of debt, well-traveled, an excellent cook…there’s a long litany of things we can (and ‘should’) achieve during our singlehood. Until then we are vastly insufficient, which is why Mr. Wonderful is nowhere to be found.

Okay so yeah, I think self-improvement is a good thing – scratch that – an essential thing.

Isn’t the point of life pretty much to be a  better person day in and day out?

What I would like to challenge is this misconception that you’re single because you’re not good enough…You need this time to become better. Everyone else has already obediently achieved perfection (gee, what’s taking you so long?).

Not so, you want to use this time to become better. And all the time – even long after the right person has wandered into your life (took them long enough!).

No matter how hard you work right now on yourself, you will never be “done”.

Kelly Clarkson knew what she was talking about when she said we all have a dark side.

Insecurities that run as deep as our blood, hurts that still sting, jealousy, greed, vanity, selfish tendencies…these are vices we will be fighting our whole lives. And as soon as we feel we’ve improved in one area, ten other places that need some help will make themselves evident.

In fact, I believe that a lot of our “garbage” isn’t even apparent until someone tries to get a little too close. Struggles we didn’t even know we had come out of nowhere and slap us across the face as someone attempts to know us intimately.

Yes, we should certainly and continually strive for self-improvement – but this isn’t what makes us lovable or worthy of being in a relationship.

We’re already there, friends.

The question isn’t, ‘are we good enough?’ The question is the one KC poses: “Can you love me, even with my dark side?”

Sometimes the answer will be ‘no’, and that’s okay; it is heartbreaking and devastating too, I know. However dating is a discernment, and the question of ‘can I carry this person’s wounds?’ is one much better asked before marriage than after.

We only need one person to say this for the rest of our lives.

We all deserve to be with someone who will see us – brokenness and all – and say:

“this is my kind of broken.”

There are wounds that take a lifetime to heal, bad habits that we are perpetually ridding ourselves of.

The right person won’t ‘fix’ us, they will support and understand our journey toward healing and growth.

We have a responsibility to work on ourselves, to try and try and try again even if we fail 100 times before seeing a minuscule amount of progress. But this responsibility doesn’t go away once we are in a committed relationship – if anything it increases since we now want to be better not only for our own sake but for this person so dear to us.

You are not single because you need to work on yourself; you need to work on yourself, that’s it.

And, so does the person you date/marry.

The beautiful thing is that we are lovable right now, in our brokenness. And for the right person, we will be the right kind of broken (as odd as that may sound).

I know that there is so much that I want to work on, my dark side is dark. I also know that doesn’t stop me from being able to be loved and known intimately.

“Love is never defeated”

Saint John Paul the Great

Love, love and keep loving

xo

Miranda

The Breakup

*deeeep breath*

Oh how I wish this post was about the movie with Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaugh and not my own life right now.

The downside about blogging about your life is that you can’t just post about the fun/happy/photogenic moments (I mean I guess you could but it wouldn’t be very honest).

My worst nightmare became reality a few weeks ago when Nicholas and I sat down to have what became our final conversation as boyfriend and girlfriend.

And no, it did not end in engagement.

I’m a sensitive person (to put it mildly). I don’t date a lot and when I like someone, I really like them.

The hardest part right now is that I couldn’t really tell you why it didn’t work. I could give you a few reasons that may have contributed, but not really a good enough reason that would cause us to part ways. Unfortunately the reality is that -for whatever reason- it wasn’t working.

I could say that maybe one of us wasn’t trying hard enough, but I think we both tried as much as we could.

In any case I think in general we don’t understand a lot of things until much later.

The weekend following the breakup was brutal. It’s kind of funny because immediately after both of my breakups I’ve had some sort of youth group event. This time it was a weekend retreat with a group of eighth graders and as much as I desperately wanted to contact the leader and tell him I couldn’t make it, I reluctantly went.

In retrospect it was truly a blessing in disguise. Assisting lead a retreat for forty thirteen-year-olds forced me out of my head and shifted my focus. It also helped that the retreat center itself was one of the most beautiful and peaceful places in SC. Not only that, but one of my best friends and my brother both came as well, a huge game changer. Even though I had some pretty tough moments, I pulled through and I think the worst is over.

There is no point in trying to pretend that I’m okay, over it or have moved on. I’m not and I haven’t. It’s heartbreaking, confusing, frustrating and just plain sucks. I wish I could skip this part and go to when I start being okay again. I wish I couldn’t remember all the good times, or that I didn’t have to run into him around town. It hurts a lot and there is just no way around it. Unfortunately the only way through is through and there are thankfully some things that have helped me in this painful, painful time.

Moral support

Honestly I am one of the most blessed girls in the world. My friends and family are so true and so good to me. Everyone who knew what was going on has reached out to me, prayed for me and offered to talk or hang out if I wanted to. They’ve also followed up with me days after the fact and given me their consolation. I will tell you right now that friendships -close ones- are invaluable. People to celebrate the good and commiserate the bad with are an absolute necessity in your life. If you haven’t reached out to a good friend in a while or maybe you just moved to a new area, make the effort, reach out, do it. Life means very little without people on your team to share it with.

Self-care

It’s amazing how much a shower, a face mask, a new conditioner, getting your nails done, A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP, even cleaning your car will do for you. Seriously. I know that in rom-coms the girls going through breakups look like they haven’t showered in days but letting yourself go only makes it worse. Pick yourself up, be kind to yourself and show yourself some TLC (this is a good rule of thumb for any time of life, but especially difficult ones).

Social media fast

One of the first things that I did after the breakup (after crying, obviously) was delete the Instagram and Facebook apps off my phone. I knew the temptation to look for him on there, post something angry or dramatic or just scroll through old pictures of us would be overwhelming. Just give yourself a break. You can live a week or two without knowing what your friend from college that you haven’t talked to in five years is up to. You don’t need to see the engagement photos, the baby pics, the #mancrushmonday posts…you really don’t. That doesn’t mean you’re not happy for everyone else or that you’re somehow bitter, it just means that you need to experience what is going on without also comparing it to the highlight reel of everyone else you know.

Hope

The absolute worst thing you can do if you’re going through a hard time is despair. In breakups it’s easy: ‘no one will ever love me,’ ‘is there a guy out there for me’ ‘I’m not good enough’… these thoughts will consume you and take you down a deep, dark hole if you let them. Don’t. This isn’t it, there is more to come. No, it doesn’t make sense, no it’s not easy, but holding on to hope amidst the absolute most painful times is what will get you through it. Look at all the people that went through breakups and survived. Not only that, but the vast majority people who are happily married now experienced heartbreak at some point before. I haven’t given up on love, or men, or dating.

As difficult as it is, I trust that there is a bigger, better plan in place. I don’t know what it is right now and I don’t understand but that’s okay. Part of our creaturely-ness is that we’re not always in control of everything the way we’d like to be. We were created, we did not will our way into existence. Things will happen to us, good and bad, that we cannot control. We only have power over how we react. I do believe that we were made to love and be loved and that as long as we remember and are open to it, we will experience it. Keep hoping, keep trusting, keep fighting the good fight.

Courage, dear friends.

xo

Miranda

“We were legends
Loving you baby, it was heaven.
What everyone wondered we never questioned
Closed our eyes and took on the world together, do you remember?”