Two years ago I started this blog with a series of four posts one day after the next on relationships in the church. For better or worse it established the foundations of what I would write a lot about, and more to the point, what I would be known to write about. I go through phases of leaving the subject to one side, letting it have a breather, but the issues do not go away and my opinions don’t always want to keep to themselves.
One of those four posts, “Why guys don’t ask girls out” gets hits every single day, and a few weeks ago I read it and winced not only at typos that continue to be read but what I said and the way I said it.
Many of the things I wrote on four consecutive days stand the test of time. There are some concepts and ideas that I articulated for the first time which had been percolating through my mind for many years, others that slipped off the fingers onto the keyboard without sufficient thought.
There are ideas I have rethought as I have written and reflected on a topic that is tender to many people. I have had to change what I do because of what I wrote, but what I write should also be affected by what I do – and too often I have written in a vacuum.
The first Sunday after I started writing I struggled to walk into church. I had seen the email addresses on those commenting, even when they endeavoured to do so anonymously. I felt the compliments sting like ice on skin left exposed too long in the summer sun. I had invited friends and strangers to talk to me about matters intimate to their heart. And they did.
I liked to pretend a wall existed between the worlds I lived in. But when a girl I like reads posts I write that wall crumbles to dust.
It is also a lot easier to write words than act them. I am guilty of too often not living up to the words that make there way onto these pages. I say guys should ask girls out, and then I don’t. I say clarity is the gold dust of friendships and relationships, and then I obfuscate. I write about modesty and male responsibility, how they are culpable for their thoughts, and yet my eyes still wonder on a hot summer’s day.
Shortly I’m going to revisit the same topics I wrote about when I began, not rewrite the posts, but take a thorough fresh look at:
1. Does the church have a dating/relationships problem?
2. Why guys don’t ask girls out?
3. Do friendships get in the way of relationships? The friend zone question.
4. Should guys pursue, and what does it mean for a girl to make herself available?
Please let me know your thoughts. Are there other issues that I should take a look at? I feel I’ve got more to say about Christian expectations and norms of behaviour, but that may come later.
I’m off on holiday for the next couple of weeks, and I’d rather relationships were not on my mind, so the pace will be a lot slower than the frenzy of those August days when I began. These posts will come in a time of their own, they will find their way out.
Relationships matter more than words about relationships.
Last weekend I was in the Lake District with some friends, some I knew well and some I now know. I had managed to navigate 29 years of my life before finding it to this part of my country. And what I had missed. But the place was not the key, it was beautiful, stunning, heart stirringly fantastic, the experiences were great: swimming in a huge lake, plunging into a cold hillside tarn, climbing mountains and skipping down them. It was the people which made it special.
So when I say I’m off to Italy on my own next week it might sound quirky, but after 48 hours of non stop company last weekend I was done, my introversion shining through. Sometimes I need to hit pause.
People matter more than I often imagine. I think I can do it on my own, but usually I just pause for a few moments while the world keeps on spinning. Sometimes that is exactly what I need and now is one of those times, but I know it is only ever a temporary respite.
When I write about relationships it cannot be detached from the people I know, those I meet and those I care deeply about. We are dependent on each other, we need other people. When I visit my sister and her new born son this weekend he will need the support of my arm against his neck as he does not yet have the strength to hold his head up on his own.
Sometimes we think we are all grown up and able to do it ourselves. When actually we are little more than a babe in arms.
This is both why I write about relationships, because people matter, and also why I hesitate, they matter so much I do not wish to sideline them for words that may fail to adequately grasp the depth of meaning that falls between syllables and punctuation.
I will not put posts before people.
I will not put statistics before sensitivity.
I will not put readers before relationships.
But I will write. I will write about the ties that draw us together, and the hurt as we pull apart. I will write about the dance of emotions as we get wrapped up our attraction to another. And the fumbling of feet as we try to work out if they feel the same as we do.
This isn’t a relaunch. It isn’t a fresh start. It is part of my journey.