The Ache

Someone asked me today if all my posts on social media were an accurate representation of my life.

I had to think about that.

To an extent, yes. I don’t ever lie on there. I just post whatever I’m doing, or sometimes things that relate to how I’m feeling at a particular moment.

I guess the hesitancy about answering the question lies behind the reality that social media only portrays a very small part of the truth.

I couldn’t possibly post everything that was going on all the time, or every little thing I did (I think I would bore people to death), much less all I’m experiencing interiorly.

So to an extent, no. It’s not an accurate representation of my life.

I mean yeah, I do fun things. I am with people, I go new places and spend a lot of time outside. I have a beautiful apartment and live close to a park and enjoy reading…I have a good life.

But what I don’t post, what you can’t see is this constant feeling that follows me around. Wherever I go, whatever I’m doing, it stalks me like an unwanted suitor.

It’s an ache, a longing, a dull pain that never quite goes away. Even while I do the fun things, spend time with good people, work, move from one thing to the next…it never quite goes away.

It’s this mysterious, heavy suspicion that something is missing.

Sometimes it threatens to overwhelm me with pain and frustration; such a horrible feeling. Made even worse by the fact that I do have a good life, that I have nothing (or at least very little) lacking.

What is it?

Some may say it’s depression, or spiritual desolation. Some people would recommend seeing a psychologist (I do), or praying regularly (check).

So why doesn’t anything work? Why does this ache continue to haunt me? Why, when I have friends and family and a fulfilling job and physical health and material wealth and spiritual nourishment – am I still suffering?

I’m not sure, honestly.

I think part of it is just the reality that we’re made for more than this life, and because of that we will never quite be fulfilled here…we’re not supposed to be.

I also think, maybe, possibly, that part of it is longing for my vocation.

I believe we’re called to something. We’re here, not just because we are wanted – willed into existence – but also for a purpose. In other words, we’re here to do something. This something is for our good. Our peace, our joy, our fulfillment.

Again, not complete – not the way we will be After – but to a degree. And the way we know we have a purpose, is that we long for it.

Otherwise, if someone came up to us and said ‘hey you’re supposed to do this,’ we’d probably just reply ‘I’m good.’

Right now, I’m living for myself – and it is wholly unsatisfying, empty. I long to be a gift of self, to live for others in the most meaningful – to me – way. I don’t want to be my own. I want to belong, to serve, to love. I want to have the best friend, the companion to do life with. I want to love them entirely and be known and seen. I want to have a home and to be a home. I want someone to adventure with. I want someone to pray with and to laugh with.

Desire is – at its purest – a good thing.

But it hurts.

Every time I think I’ve gotten a step closer to having this desire met, I’ve been unceremoniously shoved back to where I was. No explanations, no glimpses of what is to come…just hurt and crushing disappointment.

I often get angry. I don’t want to want this. It seems unfair that I have no choice in the matter.

I have to sit, and wait. And I don’t like waiting. I’m incredibly impatient. I like living. I like doing and experiencing. And I desperately want to do all the things I do in peace, without this ache that no number of outings and adventures and fun nights and shopping sprees will ease.

It’s infuriating, and heartbreaking.

I fall into this cycle of attempting to convince myself I’m fine, and then feeling angry that I’m not and then desperately sad because I feel so helpless and confused.

Why why why.

I have to believe it is for a reason. I have to believe that this desire is so strong because it is inevitably going to be fulfilled.

I don’t know when, I don’t know how.

And honestly, I could be wrong.

Maybe I’ll live my whole life waiting for this ache to go away.

But there’s nothing I can do about it. I have to surrender to the reality that I’m a creature, I am not in control of everything.

And I’m not giving up, either.

At least for now, I am holding on to the hope that this ache – this longing – doesn’t exist to make me miserable; it is there as an indicator of why I’m here – a reminder of what I’m meant for: to be loved and known, deeply and intimately.

I doubt this constantly and often talk myself out of this way of thinking, but as of right now I’ve continued to come back to this conclusion.

In any case, I want to make the most of where I’m at, here and now. I know I can’t make this ache go away. But life is still good, it’s still worth living fully.

I think a good antidote to the hopelessness I often feel is gratitude. Overwhelming awe at the fact that I’m here, I’m alive, I’m healthy, I can love, I can laugh and run and cry and sing and travel and read and write.

That’s worth celebrating, I think.

So no, social media isn’t the most accurate representation of my life. It doesn’t show this deep yearning, the stubborn ache I live with or the suffering that accompanies me day in and day out.

But now you know, and I’m still here, I still have a good life. And I think if I can trust that this longing exists to be fulfilled – how beautiful and wonderful it will be when it finally, finally is.

My eyes are open,
My heart is beating,
My lungs are full,
And my body’s breathing.
I’m moving forward.

Dear God, grant me honesty.

xo

Miranda Kate

Love, detachment & me

“Teach me how to care and not to care.”

That has been my prayer these days. Along with, “I can’t do this, I can’t do this, I can’t do this.”

My personality lends itself to going to the extremes, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. Either I’m completely infatuated or entirely uninterested. I’m all in or all out. Either I feel safe or I don’t trust you at all. If you hurt me, it’s done.

Some may say this is passion, an admirable quality. I’m not sure if that’s true, but even if it is admirable, it is also highly problematic – at least if the goal is love.

I don’t mind being a passionate person, I don’t think I can really help it. But I want to love. It’s more important, and sometimes this ‘passion’ of mine gets in the way.

Passion implies strong feelings/beliefs about/toward something/someone. These feelings/beliefs aren’t the problematic part, the problematic part is when love becomes attached to these feelings/beliefs.

I feel this way toward you so I love you; OR, I feel this way toward you so I don’t love you.

Do you see how this is unhelpful? My love is contingent upon, attached to whatever feelings you evoke in me.

What makes you feel good toward someone? When they do what you want: whatever makes you feel loved, valued, important, seen, understood, cared for, special…

There’s nothing wrong with these feelings. My struggle – my impossible task – is to love in spite of them – not because of them.

You see, there are so, so many times when my sensitive self is hurt by the words or actions of others – most especially by those I care about. Often these words/actions aren’t even directed toward me, they have nothing to do with me. But I interpret them as a rejection, or simply because it’s not what I wanted from them, become angry.

Hurt so easily turns into anger.

This anger then fuels my decision to flee or strike back, to retreat or attack. The ‘love’ I had for the person quickly dissolves and instead the doors of my heart slam shut – protecting itself from any further harm.

But that’s the problem: that’s not what love does. Love doesn’t move that way; it doesn’t slam doors.

Love must remain above the primitive nature of feelings. It cannot be attached to the actions that please you or the feelings you like. Love just loves.

In other words, love allows room for disappointment, anger, hurt…even rejection.

Isn’t that awful?

I mean it’s excruciating in my opinion. But also the most incredible, wondrous thing. That’s why love, ‘true’ love, is so rare – so difficult to come across. It is beautifully demanding – few are up to the task.

This lesson on detachment has been one I wish I could have skipped. I wish that so much.

But I know that it has been incredibly valuable.

I have ‘lost’ so many things that I wanted/cared about this past year – I honestly find it miraculous that I haven’t shut down completely. Grace alone, I assure you.

There was a moment after the breakup, I was walking on the beach one afternoon when I was hit by the realization that I was okay. And by ‘okay’ I don’t remotely mean hunkey-dory-life-is-good, but more that I survived.

The worst thing I could have imagined, the thing that I feared so deeply for so long happened. My worst nightmare became my reality. And there I was, still standing.

It was a moment of true freedom. A moment when I realized that if I were to love someone again, I could do it with the confidence that – should they also choose to leave – it wouldn’t break me, at least not completely.

I was okay.

That is freedom. We can only love in freedom. Otherwise it’s not love, it’s just attachment/dependency/infatuation or any number of things – but not love.

Love is a choice made in freedom.

Of course he was not the only thing I lost. I lost the dreams I had held on to for marriage and a family. Moving away meant I lost my beautiful hometown, my close friendships that I had built for years, my dear family…all the comfort I had in the place that I loved – gone.

Even since moving I have had losses (including my beloved camera), smaller, yes, but loss nonetheless.

Yes, detachment has been a lesson forced upon me this year more vigorously that I could have possibly anticipated.

This whole time I thought my problem was that I cared too much. If only I cared less I would be unaffected, my heart could remain intact.

But I’m starting to see that’s not the problem at all. The problem is that I love too little.

Because if I truly love, it is free. You can hurt my feelings and I will still love you. You can make me angry and I will still love you. You can let me down and I will still love you. And if you leave, I will be okay. I may not want that, it may hurt, but I don’t need you. As soon as you ‘need’ something – choice (and therefore love) is compromised. Need doesn’t allow room for freedom, it can’t love.

In the strangest, most counter-intuitive way, love must remain detached.

“Teach me how to care and not to care.”

I can care, but I can’t care. I can care about you, want the best for you, love you…but I can’t care only about the effect you or your words/actions have on me.

I know it may sound nuts or even borderline masochistic but you have to remember that in a mutual, loving relationship the other person must do the same. It’s not that they have free reign to act and do as they want without any regard to you…both parties must continually strive to make the selfless choice of love over and over.

The point is, as much pain and angst and downright heart break this past year – especially the past six months – has brought, I hope, I pray that I am slowly making my way to a love that is stronger and more authentic than what I have been capable of until this point.

It hurts, my heart hurts, sometimes it hurts like hell.

But I don’t know, I’m not giving up I guess. I’m just holding on to the hope that down the road it won’t hurt so much. In any case I think it’ll be worth it – the pain – because learning to love is why we’re here, right? It makes sense that something so important wouldn’t come easily. It’s too precious.

My heart may be broken, it may be “ravenous and wild”, but its good, I think…ultimately. There’s hope.

I want to be “free to love once and for all” and if this is what it takes, so be it.

stay open stay open stay open

Confessions of a hypersensitive personality

Stupid stupid stupid.

That’s how I feel whenever I catch myself hurt over something/someone…again.

I’m not quite sure how it happens, but somehow my heart slips out when I’m not looking and latches itself onto things/people that cause me anxiety and pain.

Like a mischievous pet, it doesn’t obey my stern command to ‘not care’ and then wanders off without my consent.

The smallest incidents at work, with friends, with strangers, with boys…they affect me so much, more than I care to admit, more than I want to allow.

In anger and frustration I cry out, “STOP CARING.”

Yet my heart sits there, painful and unyielding, still hurting, still beating.

Stupid stupid stupid.

Don’t you know, silly thing? Don’t you know how this will end? Don’t you know what lies ahead? Have we not been through this countless times? You don’t listen, you don’t heed my warnings, you don’t learn.

How is it that after years of cuts and bruises you remain so reckless? How is that you’re still here, causing me so much trouble after so long? What do I have to do to make you see, make you understand, make you stop?

I want you to stop.

Stop caring:

About being liked

Her approval

His attention

Their intention

Being recognized

Being appreciated

Fitting in

Standing out

Pleasing them

Looking good

That comment

Their opinion

Just stop.

I just want things to not affect me so darn much. Is that too much to ask? Every interaction, the most miniscule gesture, innocent words…cut through me like a dull and clumsy knife.

Against my will, without my consent, my heart clings to any and every thing despite my continuous insistence that it be indifferent.

Stupid stupid stupid.

I have begged a thousand times for relief – or at least an explanation, a reason this burden was placed in my weak chest.

Don’t you know how frail I am? Don’t you realize how much it hurts? Does it not matter what I want?

Indignation wells up inside me. Anger boils to the surface.

Fine.

Have it your way.

‘It’s a gift,’ they say, to feel so deeply. Never has something been less welcome.

But I’m stuck with it.

I fight; I wrestle; I run; anything to escape this feeling, beating thing: but it is relentless; it is a part of me.

Why is it here? What is it for?

‘To love.’ But don’t they know? Don’t they see how hard it is? How painful?

“My vocation is Love”

Can I do it? Will I accept it?

I just wish I didn’t feel everything so much.

The girl who is chased

I will be the girl that doesn’t settle

I will be the girl who is won (and it wasn’t easy)

I will be the girl who doesn’t play games

I will be the girl with great expectations

I will be the girl who doesn’t have to be nice

Doesn’t have to say ‘yes’

Doesn’t always agree

Doesn’t need to look perfect.

I will be the girl who sometimes says the wrong thing

Sometimes trips for no reason

laughs too loudly

sings too enthusiastically

feels too deeply

I will be the girl who wears her heart on her sleeve

Who needs forgiveness

Who prays for obedience

I will be the girl who doesn’t wait around

Doesn’t rush into anything

Doesn’t search for approval

Doesn’t need to be liked

Doesn’t strive to please

Doesn’t try to entice

Doesn’t want to tempt

I will be the girl who loves tenderly

Touches gently

Smiles warmly

Cries earnestly

Reveals slowly

Fights fiercely

Speaks kindly

I will be the girl whose affection is constant

Whose heart is wild

Whose desire is pure

I will be the girl devoted to Truth

Who stands up for what’s noble

And despises what’s not

I will be the girl who is chased

The heart pursued

The mystery unveiled

The love procured

I will not settle (and neither should you)

The heart

This red, bloody, pulsating thing.

I give it to Him

It’s bruised; having been carelessly mishandled, forgotten and left.

The slightest touch can cause it great pain

What it is good for, I surely don’t know

With gentle hands He takes it and makes it His own.

Why He wants it is a mystery

How He will heal it (if He does), is yet to be seen.

The onlookers are grim

It doesn’t look good, they say

Perhaps it would be better to put it away

To lock it up where it cannot be reached, or held, or hurt any more

I nod in agreement, my eyes pleading, bloodshot and sore

He smiles, “I make all things new”

He says as He takes the heart I can’t bear anymore.

Dear divorce

Dear divorce,

Thanks to you, I learned nothing on earth lasts as long as it should.

Dear divorce,

You spread the heinous lie that ‘happiness’ is on the other side of leaving, that it’s the only answer

You convinced them that ‘children are resilient;’ after all, we ‘want you to be happy.’

Dear divorce,

You taught me to trust no one, not even those who say ‘I love you’, not even myself.

Dear divorce,

You showed me how my world can come crashing down on me at any moment – so don’t get too comfortable.

Dear divorce,

You made nights slow torture as I tried to manage the pain in the darkness alone.

Stop crying

Stop crying

Stop crying.

Dear divorce,

You taught me to isolate myself, to keep my distance, to remain unattached, to fear instead of love.

Dear divorce,

You made me desperate for attention but wary of affection.

You convinced me to cling instead of trust, because they will leave.

They will.

Dear divorce,

You caused guilt to follow me every day of my life. Guilt that envelops me, though it wasn’t my fault.

It wasn’t my fault

It wasn’t my fault

It wasn’t my fault.

Dear divorce,

You made closeness feel impossible, love seem unattainable.

Dear divorce,

You made me feel unlovable – that I am not worthy and never good enough.

You told me that something is wrong with me – it must be.

Dear divorce,

You filled me with rage but gave me no way to express it. You told me to shove it down, deep deep deep.

I’m angry

I’m angry

I’m angry.

Dear divorce,

You left me with the heart of a broken child, a heart too weak to love, too hurt to be held.

It hurts.

Dear divorce,

You stole my haven, my comfort, my security. You just took it.

You bastard.

Dear divorce,

You’ll never know what it’s like to make a vow to someone and keep it until you die.

You’ll never grow old with the person you promised “till death do us part.”

You’ll never experience the unconditional love from one person all of your days.

You’ll never know what it’s like to come home to the same people, the same person, year after year.

Dear divorce,

You’ll never know what they mean: the words ‘love’ and ‘family’ and ‘stay’.

Dear divorce,

You will miss out on countless moments: Hugs and kisses, tears and breakthroughs, fights and grief, forgiveness and reconciliations, firsts and lasts. You lost them and you will never get them back.

The ghosts of memories will haunt you until your lonely death.

What could have been.

You’ll never know what could have been, what was on the other side of staying – the forgiveness, the grace, the love.

I pity you.

Dear divorce,

You thought you had me. You believed I would buy into the treacherous lies, but I won’t.

You have led many others astray, lured them with your siren’s call, but not me.

I will never be yours – I have seen too much.

The charm of ‘freedom’ is only loneliness. The happiness you promise is empty – a black hole of egotistical wishes.

I know the suffering, I know the fallout, I know the pain. I know.

I will never choose you – not as long as I live.

You are dark, sad and alone.

I pity you.

Dear divorce,

Thanks to you, I know that I will never be yours.

Ask Him: Feat. Kevin

boots

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

IMG_3455.jpg

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