Praying with my eyes open; a return to finding a girlfriend

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Genesis 2:18 – The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Queen – Somebody to Love – “Oh Lord, Ooh somebody, ooh somebody, Can anybody find me somebody to love?”

    I find myself constantly in prayer and as of late I’ve realized I’ve stopped praying for a certain someone…a certain woman…in my life. I don’t know why I’ve stopped praying for a girlfriend in my life, I really don’t, and the pangs of singleness are flaring up again. It’s not that I am exposed to a lot of couples who are young (of age, or at heart) and in love, it’s just I realize that with all my passions and aspirations and desires are carried out alone. It’s not to say that I want a girl that will do exactly what I do, but rather I want to share my world with and I want to partake in her world as well.

I have learned…and have relearned multiple times…that communication is vital in a relationship, and not just mere “hey how’s it going, fine and you?” shallow-end-of-the-conversation-pool talk, but the mundane as well as the hard and difficult but real / authentic talks that need to be had. I realize that I have no problems with getting there with others, albeit sometimes I put more out there at a quicker rate than what people are accustomed to but here’s why.
In my first 22-23 years of living, I was a calculated and serial bullshitter! I presented myself in a way that I thought was socially acceptable, a nice and tidy outside might reflect a nice and tidy inside, right? Well, it wasn’t me, and yet I thought to myself constantly if anyone finds out who you really are and what you’ve been through, they’ll stop liking you and even worse, stop loving you. It wasn’t true, but when you hear something often enough or repeat something to yourself no matter how false it is it will be true to you.
So I spun this lie in my head until my world evolved…my comfort zone expanded…and I found out that even when I put myself out there, warts and all, people still liked me and loved me. I haven’t looked back ever since. And while some relationships among some individuals I entrusted my story with have gone belly up over the years, I don’t regret the brief friendships that were based on transparency and honesty to the other person, and so I continue to conduct my life in this way; not holding back, not bullshitting, being transparent, and being the best damn version of myself. I and like the rest of humanity is evolving. And so often we are the force[s] that move us forward or keep us *here* wherever *here* might be. Not saying that *here* is not a good place, but if you find that it is and you want to move forward, it’s time for you to move forward…and if you need it, you have permission to move forward.

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With that being said, here’s my transparency; I have no freaking clue of how to jump back into dating / I don’t know what my “scene” is when it comes to dating. Real talk, apart from work, my social interactions either occur at bars or in church. I am prone to overanalyze and overthink things…everything…and so I weigh out what either place has to offer, the types of women, and I even check my prowess.
I am not an alpha male, I don’t ooze testosterone and type a-ness, I don’t reek of Brut and pheromones…I’m an assertive type b introspective ambivert who is better at active listening than talking, good at making out, loves God and craft beer, loves word-related games of all sorts, likes to workout but doesn’t regularly hit the gym, has Zach Galifianakis as a spirit animal, tie-dye and weird socks wearing, wish-I-could-wear-shorts-all-year-round kind of guy!

I know this FULL well about myself, and I love myself for it; I thank God for these traits and nuances about me on the daily, but I also realize that too often I am stuck in my head. The insecurities of being liked and being loved sometimes crash over me like a tidal wave; I am the beach and I am pounded by a seemingly unending barrage of doubt and helplessness at times.
It’s because of getting stuck in my head that I don’t venture one iota of courage when it comes to the opposite sex…and therein lies the basis of my singleness. I have dated before, hell I was also engaged as well, but it seems like with every passing day / week / month / year I grow a bit more frustrated. It’s why I am returning to praying with my eyes open, because it connects me with something deeper than myself. It’s not a shot in the dark or a hail Mary play, but as a means to be verbally transparent before God. God already knows me, but remember what I said about communication? Yep, same thing applies here.

So that’s where I am returning to. I may have walked away from this practice for a while, but I know I will get there. It might be cliche to say, but so be it, it’s equally about the destination inasmuch the journey. God bless this journey I am about to embark on, who knows where it will lead, but I am ready and I am willing to go where it leads.

~Nathanael~

Memphis 10-10 to 10-13

I’ll stay in Memphis – Elvis Presley

Thursday morning at 9:05am I left Oswego IL for Memphis

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9 hours, 540 miles later I arrived at my friend Jimmy‘s apartment. He was already chillaxing on his porch in wait of me (perhaps). I was quickly introduced to Andrew, Cory, and Gabe. Ate dinner, built community, laughed a good deal…and before I knew it, it was nearly 2am!

I jumped in my rental car and headed to T.O. Fuller State Park, 20 minute drive I arrived to my campsite and…cleared out my backseat and fell asleep! Reader’s note: The back seat of a 2012 Toyota Corolla is more spacious than it seems, especially when it comes to sleeping.

I woke up to a barred owl hooting above my car, freshened up and set up camp and then headed out to Pho Hoa Binh for some inexpensive Vietnamese food for lunch. Best $6.22 I have ever spent on Vietnamese buffet!

Memphis being a town chockful of history, I decided to go the Civil Rights historical route and went to the National Civil Rights Museum, the site in which Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. It was heavy being there, getting an overview of the Civil Rights movement, the bullet shell/pellets/rifle used by Lee Harvey Oswald…it was heavy, and almost for me too much.

The following day I was a part of the I’m Sorry Campaign at Memphis Pride.  Now as someone who’s used to a large crowd and large parade ala Chicago Pride, I wasn’t really expecting that small of a parade.  Still the element of it ending in Robert R. Church Park and there being booths for all different groups/vendors that was enjoyable. I made the rounds to the various churches, I was given a lot of thanks for my participation in the I’m Sorry Campaign and several invites to visit them the following day for church.

Sunday morning I went to Corey’s house church and had a good time. They asked a random question; “what is your earliest memory?” While I didn’t give mine, I did give the one surrounding being on America’s Funniest Videos with my sister at the mall in the early 90s.

All in all it has been a good trip thus far 🙂

~Nathanael~

Last train home from a summer concert – 21/28

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2 summers ago a few friends and I boarded the Aurora IL train out to Chicago, it was free concert night! Iron & Wine were the main attraction, with a few opening acts, and it was good…but before any of the bands hit the stage, we had to get through the crowds.

People? I’ve never seen that many people gathered in one place in Chicago! I’ve seen a lot of people at the Chicago Art Institute, but they’re spread out; they’re all not gawking and being entranced by Night Hawks despite how good a piece of art it is. I’m fine with crowds, I really am, but this was ludicrous or at least so this is what happens when Iron & Wine plays for free was what crossed my mind.

Trying to find a seat was a crap-shoot, my bro and his girl went one way while my friend and I went another way. We lucked out and found two seats that were comfortable and enjoyable…apart from the fact that while the sun was setting I was in a position where my forehead was burning. We watched the show, had a good time, and walked back to the train station to catch the last train home…

Now that experience I had of being around a big crowd was magnified 1000 fold aboard the train! Packed in like sardines would be one thing, but that statement does injustice to sardines and whomever was on that train. I think it was overwhelming for the conductors and other train staff as well, because I was never had my return ticket stamped! So it might have been the most crowded and free train ride ever, I’ll have to get in touch with Guinness Book of Records about that one 😉

The Aurora IL is the last stop of the train line, so it became less and less crowded by the time we got back into town. Our lesson was certainly learned; when free and concert are paired together, everyone, and I mean everyone, will show up for it.

~Nathanael~

It’s not a relationship if there’s no communication – 5/28

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In any relationship, you better put out.

Put out what you want out of it that is (what did you think I meant? ;-))
Despite being funny and perhaps slightly provocative, there’s a lot of truth what I wrote. It is only little kids who can start up friendships on a truly organic level; he has crayons/Legos/Hot Wheels, I do too, let’s share, we’re now friends…But as you get older, you start to realize that friendship isn’t as easy as it once was.

Differences don’t make for a deal breaker in friendships, diversity in all shapes and forms is the spice of life, and it makes for better relationships because it gives you the room to hear from someone who’s on a different path in life. In my own life I recognize that the differences I have between friends has aided to my broader thinking about the world at large.
If there’s truth to Thomas Aquinas’ statement of beware the man of one book in the same turn beware the man of one type of friend; because anything that is outside of that group of individuals norm (self-imposed or not) is going to be mere speculation.

Another facet of relationships is what you won’t do. I don’t think that on our minds from the get-go, but over time we might unless we suppress/”put up” with the foibles and faults with our friends, but there’s a line to that, and if it becomes detrimental and unhealthy for you it might be a good time to call it quits. Now what constitutes a deal breaker? I truly think it varies relationship to relationship, but there are some common threads; you’re taken advantage of, you’re put down, you’re physically/emotionally/spiritually/etc abused, you feel worse after hanging out with that individual than better, you’re not given room to speak, you’re not given room to BE who you truly are…these are some symptoms that the relationship isn’t a healthy one. If you have the audacity to say something along the lines “but I can’t stop being friends with that person, they’re my friend!” Well, here’s one for you, would a REAL friend treat you like dog shit? Would a friend really make you compromise your integrity and character? If it’s not healthy, there’s no point being around that person at all.

Put out what you can in any relationship in a healthy manner, if one relationship doesn’t work out, there will be opportunities for others. 🙂

~Nathanael~

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I don’t have many friends, but – 4/28

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Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one. – C.S. Lewis

I don’t have many friends, but, I never intended to be the social butterfly, the “popular” one, or any other descriptive term to describe the person who has a lot of friends.

Thing is, I rather have a good group of friends that I can put out there what’s really going on as to what’s going on in my life, in transparency, in honesty, that have less of that with more individuals.  I am not saying you can’t do that when you have a lot of friends, but I do find that having less friends helps me more especially since I want to keep track of what’s going on in the lives of my friends as well.

I cannot force my friends to give of themselves (time or otherwise), I cannot coerce them into revealing what’s going on their lives. Yet over time, WE have gotten to that place for better or worse. It is realistic to believe that not every time a “fine/good” answer is given that everything is fine or good; I think as a culture sometimes we accept this answer, not so much for the sake of our friends, but our sake and the ownership of actually figuring out what’s going on and sometimes that can be painful.

I rather be fighting side-by-side with my friends than hiding in my own foxhole, I rather be transparent about what hurts me and cuts me deep, than keep up a facade that states life is hunky-dory and I’m okay…because, well, I’m not okay.

For too long in my life I thought I wouldn’t be liked if I revealed the REAL me. Growing up in a household where everyone wore the fake smile, laughed off the pain, never resolved their own issues and dwelt on the issues, it was my norm, but when I went off to college I realized I could be ME despite being a broken individual, and I actually started making friends who encouraged me to be myself.

Now does that mean I wear my heart on my sleeve, by no means, but when I get to know someone, those layers that aren’t me become removed over time. I remove these layers because it’s healthy, provided the relationship’s conducive to that kind of thing, and it helps others get there as well. I like to say, because I know from experience, Transparency begets transparency – I don’t reveal the me as a manipulative tool to get someone to stand and deliver their own issues, if it happens it happens, so much of it begins with me. If I can get to that point in any friendship, that’s great! I just hope and pray that the person believes that I can trust them with their personal junk as I can trust them with my own personal junk. It takes time but it’s a worthwhile endeavor and it has yet to backfire in my face.

~Nathanael