A Realization of a Single Woman

You know how there are just moments that you find yourself in and you think, I need to listen. I need to pay attention. This is important. I was placed here for a reason to observe and learn. 

They are these teachable moments that are going to shape you and possibly change the path you’re on or maybe actually get you back onto the path you were supposed to be walking.

Tonight after the women’s gathering, I stood with three women as we processed through some marital issues. And as I stood there listening to one woman who spent three decades as a single woman and who is now married for two share her heart, and then another woman who has been married for 11 years, and another for 17 years, sharing their advice and wisdom, I found myself in that moment. LISTEN, TAWNY. Take this all in. Be a sponge. Soak it all up.

One day, God willing, I will be married and I will need to remind myself of this wisdom. I will need to remember that I am not alone. That I will have support and other women who have gone before or are going through it too — going through the suck, the struggle, the real reality of sanctification.

The biggest takeaway I had was the realization that if I were to marry my relationship with God will change. That how God communicates with me may change. It won’t be just me and God, but it will be me and this other man and God. We are going to become one flesh. And how I connect to God may change. Also, I will have to trust another sinful human too. My sin will not be the only thing God and I will have to deal with but someone else’s sin will be in the mix.

I am thankful that I haven’t wasted my singleness. I have been very grateful to be single. But having this realization tonight brought in a whole new layer of gratitude. I love my God. I love spending time with Him. I love our conversations and how He loves me. I protect our relationship too. And knowing that it could change, to be honest, scares me. Obviously if God tells me to marry a man, I will. I will certainly obey, but I am going in with clearer eyes now — knowing what I will give up.

I have never been one to settle (some would say that’s the reason why I am a spinster) and maybe that is partially true but I am okay with that. I will not settle for anything less than what God wants. I will not give up my precious relationship with God for someone who does not value God or their relationship with Him. I want a man who loves God just as much as I do or even more so and who is willing to submit to God and be sanctified together.

Yet until then, God will continue to be my husband and I will love the time we have together. It’s precious and it’s worth the lonely nights because really, I am not alone. He’s with me.

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“Wait, you’re single?”

My office building has a doorman and he has become a friend of mine. For awhile there we talked every day as I took my afternoon walk with my coworker. Well, she quit at the beginning of summer and I don’t leave my office anymore (apparently), so it had been four months since we had last seen one another.

We caught up with one another’s lives, talking about weight gained and lost, the Cubs, and where I had been the last week – vacation.

“A whole week? Oh, you don’t have kids, do you?”

“Nope.”

“Husband?”

“Nope.”

“Boyfriend will let you leave that long?”

“Don’t have one of those either.”

He looked stunned. “Now, wait a minute. You’re a nice girl. Why don’t you have a man? Is it your choice?”

“I just haven’t met someone. I have a hard time meeting people, to be honest.”

“Well, now this is what you do:  go to a nice restaurant and sit at the bar and wait. They’ll come.”

I laughed wondering if that were true and if I would be mistaken as a prostitute.

“Now, I am not saying everyone needs to have someone, but if you want someone, it’s a shame you don’t have someone,” he told me.

I smiled politely, all the while laughing-crying on the inside because this conversation is not new to me — most of my adult life I have been plagued with the same platitudes and compliments from others; the same pressures from society whether they mean it or not; the same remarks, “You’re such a nice girl,” or “you’re so pretty,” or “you would make someone so happy.”

I suppose I can rest easy in the knowledge that even if I were to have a boyfriend, the pressure of marriage, or children, or whatever else would not be far along. So, I will rest easy in this pressure of singleness because it’s a well-crafted friend that has been with me for so many decades now and I know it well.

This is also to say, if you know someone… I’m available.

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A semi-stream-of-consciousness on being single in my 30s

I have a Five-Year Memory Book that I received back in 2012 from a dear friend. As I enter in my thoughts or deeds for the day, I like to look back on the other four years. It’s so interesting to see how there are some patterns, such as pumpkin carving with friends usually happens this week (er duh), but then there are other patterns in which I am hiding in books or avoiding life with movies. Or when I break up with someone. October just isn’t a good month for me.

Last year I broke up with this guy I was seeing. It’s now fully been a year. It seems so long ago, but then it also seems like yesterday we were on the River Walk and I was thinking what a kiss from him would be like.

Tonight I was taking a bath listening to The Oh Hellos and this song struck me

Hello my old heart
It’s been so long
Since I’ve given you away
And every day I add another stone
To the walls I built around you
To keep you safe

This song reminds me of C.S. Lewis’s quote

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

I wonder how many stones God has and will have to move. As each year passes I become more like a stone, cemented in my ways. I can’t even think of how I would be with someone else. I am so used to being on my own; in my own head; doing what I want; being alone. Is it even possible for me to share my life with someone else?

I go back and forth between contentment and desire.

when-harry-met-sally-original.jpgIt doesn’t help that I was watching When Harry Met Sally today and I kept comparing myself to them. They’re in their early 30s and I am watching this film thinking, my life looks nothing like that. I don’t even date. Why isn’t my life as together? Well, for one I am not in a movie. This isn’t the 80s. And I am a Christian.

It’s the FOMO (fear of missing out). Stupid envy! There were so many things in my 20s that people do that I never did. Either because I didn’t want to do it or it wasn’t an option. I fear much of my 30s will be the same. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life. I am incredibly grateful for everything that I have. I find incredible joy that can only come from God in all aspects of my life, even riding the L. But there are times, like tonight, laying in a bathtub wondering about my heart, if I will ever date, marry, and parent.

It wouldn’t be the end of the world if none came to pass.

But I just wonder. What type of wife would I be? What type of mother would I be? How much would I learn about God, myself, and humanity because of those special relationships?

As a kid I had this image in my head of my future. None of it has happened. And for the most part, that’s good! But that small percentage is painful to realize it will never come to fruition (i.e, I will never be in my 20s, skinny).  It doesn’t help that this weekend five young 20-somethings stayed at my place and reminded me how different I am from them. Not because I am 30 but because I am at my core different. I was never that type of 20-year-old. So, it’s really hard to envision what type of life I will lead. I have no comparison. (Wow does that sound arrogant! I hope you know what I mean.)

I feel selfish most of the time. Yes, I try to use my time wisely. I serve God in anyway that I can. I serve the church as best as I can. I love others as best as I can. My life isn’t a waste because I am single. It’s very full and well loved.  Love from a man isn’t the most important thing in life. Love from a child isn’t the most important thing in life. All of this is true. All of this I know. And I thank God that I am not in want of it all of the time; instead, I just have my moments when I think what if? 

That question is both good and bad. It can drive you, but it can also stall you.

And in the end, I want my heart to align with God’s. I want what He wants. If I am to marry, if I am to be single, if I am to … so be it. As long as God is in control, it is well.

Chicago isn’t Dangerous; A Single Lady’s Tale

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Photo Credit: Visual Hunt

One of the first memories I have of Chicago is walking on California Ave. and Milwaukee Ave. passing the many bars and restaurants that align the area to meet my friend who was waiting to pick me up in her car. There were so many men standing around, attractive men, more attractive than the men in California. They were smiling at me, saying hello to me, and you know what I did? I ran. I literally ran away from them.

I got to the car and laughed with my friend. What did I just do? I confessed to her, “If I wasn’t Christian, man this place would be dangerous for me!” I never had that type of attention in California.

Fast forward years and the woman who would run away from men was slowing down — a little jog, a light fast walk; instead the “Get behind me Satan!” attitude evolved into “God, why can’t I have that?”

I started to make exceptions in my head. I started to lower my standards. And friends and family were lowering theirs, as well. I had several people tell me that I just needed to have sex with multiple partners, have fun, and get married to just a nice guy. I don’t need to wait for some great guy. An okay guy will do. This was painful to hear. What is wrong with me? Shouldn’t these people who are my own blood want the best for me? Why do I need to settle?

Did this weigh on me? Yes.

Did this influence me? Unfortunately, yes.

Did I act on any of it? Somewhat. The most extreme thing I did was date a Catholic man for a couple of months. We broke up because it was obvious our passion for Jesus was not the same.

When I became a Christian nine years ago I fell in love. When I moved to Chicago God really became my husband. I had to rely on Him for so many things. When I asked God, “Why can’t I have that?” I was looking at my friends with their significant others, having kids, and creating a family. I was comparing my life to theirs. God graciously reminded me that I already had what I needed. And it’s true. I am a content and blessed woman.

So what is it that I am looking for in a man? What are my high expectations? My impossible standard?

  • I want a man who loves Jesus and who wants others to love Jesus.
  • I want a man who is kind; who has a repentant heart.
  • I want a man who follows Jesus; who is being sanctified daily.

I know that’s a lot to ask, but that man right there is worth waiting for, and I know I am worth waiting for too.

Maybe he’s in Chicago, maybe he’s somewhere else, or maybe I am fated to be single.

Either way, I’ll hang out with Jesus. I will continue to love Him and desire others to do the same; I will continue to work on kindness and having a repentant heart; I will follow Jesus and continue to let him sanctify me daily.

I am not waiting. I am living for Jesus.

When Being Is Not Enough

Pride-and-Prejudice-pride-and-prejudice-2005-10311013-1280-554I am a big fan of Jane Austen.

I can relate to her heroines. I can relate to the pressures of being a young woman trying to find her voice amongst the pressures of finding a husband and becoming a wife. This pressure is still true to this day. Sure, I have much more rights as a woman – and I am incredibly grateful for them – but the pressure is still there. The questions, “Are you dating anyone special?” or “Why don’t you try online dating again?” are constant.

It’s an interior and exterior pressure. Not only are my family and friends asking these questions, but I too ask myself and put on this pressure that leads to me asking myself, “Am I not enough?” Thankfully, I am in a good place right now with it all and I am enjoying the freedom and autonomy that comes with singleness (as you can see it’s phases and unfortunately, it changes).

Another annoyance to being a single independent woman in the 21st century is the pressure of being successful. I get ask the question, “So, have you got a promotion recently? Why don’t you apply for this job? Oh, yes, move to that job I am sure you can make a lot more money.” Lately, this has been the pressure. People have given up on my romantic value and they have turned to my economic value. And that’s what it feels like, my value – my worth – is at question. It’s not who I am but what I can offer that is most important.

In very brief moments I think back to Austen’s day and I yearn for the times when only my value as a wife and mother could be questioned. But alas I will take off my rose-colored glasses and remind myself it’s just hard being a woman in any time and in any place. 

How To Be Single

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Well, I just finished my second episode of Tea Time With Tawny.

If you don’t know what that is, it’s a podcast I started this month. It’s me trying something new, failing forward, and having fun.

In this episode I tell a story of how I met a man and then how I turned him down unbeknownst to myself.

Check out the episode here: https://soundcloud.com/teatimewithtawny/episode-2-how-to-be-single

You can also find me on iTunes!

 

 

 

Online Dating: My Honest Profile

So, since I will be backing away from online dating, I wanted to share with you something.

The question, “what are you looking for in your mate?” is pretty much on every dating app I’ve used and the responses that men put down are comical. I usually respond with a “well, that’s awesome that you want that in a woman, but that ain’t me, buddy.”

So, I wanted to share my honest profile:

I don’t like the outdoors. I hate bees and all bugs. In fact, I will run away if there is a bee around and leave you to defend yourself – sorry. I don’t like going out and dancing, but I love to play Just Dance for hours at home with friends. A perfect night for me? It’s eating homemade popcorn, getting cozy in the bed, and watching a movie. I love movies and will probably talk too much about movies, actors, and fun facts. I don’t wear sexy dresses or high heels, but I am adorable in the clothes I do wear. I am a modest lady and my sexiness is for my husband and not for the world. When it comes to exercise, I work out daily but I am in no way thin. I love my body and I love how I am strong, but my body shape is nothing to be ashamed of. I don’t like physical activity other than Just Dance and working out. Don’t expect me to play touch football with you or go hiking in the mountains. You do you. I will be happy to cheer you on at any sporting events you play in and bring you water. And speaking of sports, I don’t like watching sports. I can’t even pretend to be into it. But again, you do you. I don’t like jogging, but I do like taking walks and reading. I like seeing new places but I am also an introverted homebody.

And here’s the pic I really want to put down because this is what I look like right now, cozy in bed with no make up, enjoying Argo.

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The end.

Speed Dating in Chicago

The year 2016 is all about getting out of my comfort zone. One of my 3oth bucket list items is going on a date, as since I am an overachiever, I went on several dates in one night via Speed Dating.

Yes, you read that right. I’ve seen it done on television shows and in movies, why not in real life? Besides, it would give me something to write about in a book. So, before I completely fictionalize it, let me write about some of my experience on my blog.

Chicago Speed Dating

I went with my friend Melissa (thank God or it would have been more awkward), to Chicago Joe’s to meet eight men.

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This is the before picture. I am a bit scared.

The Process

Each lady sits at their own table. It looks like we’re all waiting for an exam. And then a ring-a-ding-ding happens and a man sits at your table to have a chat with you for five minutes. And then after five minutes, another ring-a-ding-ding happens and a new guy sits down. This happened for about an hour.

In Speed Dating you realize time is relevant. Some minutes seem to last an hour while other minutes seem to last only a moment. I met two guys that made me feel time was very short, which was nice and surprising.

To give  as simple recap: I met some interesting guys. One guy sang to me. One guy told me my nose moves when I speak. One guy wanted to make sure I exercised. One guy and I shared a passion for Trevor Noah and didn’t want to stop talking. One guy was French. One guy was sad. One guy was going to go drinking after this and meet women.

Yup, a lady had her choices.

Takeaways

Some things I learned about myself? I am way more confident than I thought I was. It’s not as scary to talk to strangers. Leaving my comfort zone is actually comfortable. And there’s some nice men out there and there are some weird men out there.

Maybe I’ll do it again in the future. Who knows!

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This is us afterwards. A big smile on my face because I had an awesome time!

Spice Girls and Being Single

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Growing up my friends and I loved Spice Girls. Like a lot.

We even had our own ensemble:

There was B who was Scary

M who was Ginger

S who was Sporty

And me, Posh and Baby (we didn’t have a five person crew).

When I look back on those summer days I can’t help but smile. We rehearsed every dance and song. I directed us in music videos with my dad’s old video camera. We used sheets and hung them from the ceiling to make a “cool effect.” We even had our outfits down perfectly.

That was 20ish years ago.

Today I was tagged in a Spice Girl’s video post by M. I hadn’t seen B in years. And well, I haven’t talked to M in person for years and years, so I clicked on her profile too. S is my cousin, so we talk every week.

And I couldn’t help but realize how different our lives are. I feel so behind. They are all married and have kids. I was the oldest of the crew and I am still single with no marriage in sight.

For the most part I am content with my single life. It’s what I know. And comparison robs us of joy. This I know too. But sometimes it sneaks in when you least expect it.

I think of life like a road and we all have the final destination to get too and some people get there faster than others. There’s these big moments in life whether it’s marriage or babies or careers that mark our life, but they’re not distance markers (no!), they are these holes in the road that run deeper into the ground. So, when you hit these markers, you fall into these pits and you keep going further and further. It’s not supposed to be scary. It’s surprising, sure, because life is unexpected, especially love and babies. You also may dig deeper because you realize how much depth there is to life. But for those who just run to the finish line without falling into pits –  and these pits usually involve people and relationships of some kind – they have a shallow experience of life.

I feel like I have a shallow experience of life. I have hit some holes, don’t get me wrong, and I have dug deep in the things I have fallen into, but right now, from up here, everyone seems to be in marriage and children holes and it’s lonely. 

How To Adult, Part I

I am nearly 30 and I find myself saying, “I don’t know how to adult.” I think most people can agree that we have no idea what we are doing. We pretend. We try to act like our parents, people we see on television or in movies, and we think somehow that will be good enough. I mean it’s worked so far, right?

It’s no surprise that most people don’t know how to adult. You’re kind of thrown into it. Sure, school and university are supposed to be training for adulthood but they really just prolong adolescence.  We’re given applications for credit cards and loans without any of the wisdom to say no. We’re given the choice to choose the career or trade to enter into when we have no idea who we are or what we want to do. We’re given countless resources but we lack the maturity to really utilize them.  I could go on about our education system, especially as one who used to work for the system, but let’s save that discussion for another time.

So, I am writing and  imparting some wisdom(?) on adulthood. This is my How To Adult blog series, and I have no idea how many blogs I’ll actually write on this subject. We shall see.

How to Adult, Part I: Sacrifice

Sacrifice your needs over you wants. Sacrifice your time for others. Sacrifice your resources for others.

Being a kid gives you a license to be selfish. Everything is about you. Your parents sacrificed their time and money to give you a roof over your heard, clothes, food, schooling, etc. As an adult, you give back to the society that helped mold you (for better or for worse).

How do you do this? It’s simple. Become a productive member of society. Get a job. Pay your bills. Pay your taxes. Give to charity. Serve. Use the skills and talents you have bought at college and use them to make the world a little better.

Don’t be frivolous with your resources either. Create a budget and stick to it. Say no to the concert and yes to the dentist. Pay off your debt and stay out of debt. You know, just stay away from credit cards in general. And if you have to get student loans, pay that off as quickly as possible.

Your body is a resource too, so use it well and take care of it. Exercise. Eat fruit and veggies at every meal. Sure, have the burger, but grab an apple too. And water. Drink that h2o! And go to the doctors. I know it sucks to get shots and give blood, but you’re an adult now and nobody will force you to go, so it’s up to you.

There are days you don’t want to adult. You don’t want to get out of bed and go to work, but instead, watch Netflix and eat brownies. I get it. I’ve been there. Give yourself a day, but then the next day remember that you’re old and those brownies go straight to your bum.

Until next time…