I decided at the start of the year to partake in Dry January ("Dry-uary") to cut back on the booze - which in a town like Austin, is very hard to do. (I tell all my friends at home, it's like this city was made for happy hours.) Like I mentioned in my earlier post, it's not that I felt I had a problem... I just wanted to minimize my intake and I thought it would be a good way to kick off the new year (and let's be real, I really don't need those extra calories). Now that we're into February - I can look back and say that I didn't too bad... I actually did better than I thought I would.
I stayed alcohol-free for all but one day in January. That one day? My birthday (the 28th). I told myself that if I can go 27 days without a sip... I would reward myself on my birthday. (And oh did I - a glass of wine with mom while getting our nails done, a margarita at dinner, another glass of wine - make that two - when we got home to watch a movie). But outside of that personal holiday, I remained committed to the goal.
Yes - there were definitely days that I wanted to give into the temptation. Specifically, when all my girlfriends and I would all go out and watch the Bachelor together. (Nothing goes better with drama than wine.) Another sad but funny moment was when I asked the server while at dinner with friends if I could have a 'carbonated water'... but she heard 'Cabernet'. I kindly corrected her while my friend Wes laughed at the immediate cry face I made when she walked away.
But overall, I'm glad I did it. And it really wasn't all that bad. As far as the effects? I didn't really notice any major changes - I'm still fluffy and I still love the taste of a good Sauvignon Blanc. But I have noticed that I don't crave it as much as I did before. And even since the end of January, I've limited myself to wine one night a week. We're only two weeks into the new month- but hey, so far so good.
This morning, our church wrapped up a very convicting series called "God Loves". Over the past few weeks, we talked about the ways God loves: life, you, your neighbor, family... & today's focused on singleness/dating/marriage. All of these messages concluded with how as Christians, we are called to imitate His love. Each sermon was powerful... but this morning's really left me compelled.
One of my biggest takeaways out of Pastor Tyler's message this morning was to TRUST GOD. Being a single gal, it is incredibly hard to stay patient, positive and hopeful in the process of dating - especially getting older. Watching friends get married, start families, move into that "next chapter" - at times, I feel like I'm falling behind in life. Over the last decade, I put my career above everything else... and I sometimes wonder if I should have spent more time investing in myself and relationships rather than chasing a paycheck. (Don't get me wrong, I love my job... but when I was an intern, I had a mentor tell me "this is a very lonely business"... and he wasn't lying.)
I pray every night, "God, I'm ready to find my person. Help me find that person."
Back to the sermon -- Pastor Tyler touched on principles such as knowing God first, knowing yourself and what you want out of a significant other, truly knowing the person you're dating and paying attention to their trajectory, not seeking perfection, etc. There were so many little nuggets in that 50 minute message -- I filled up three pages in my notebook. I NEEDED to hear this.
My hard-hitting God moment didn't actually hit me while I was in church... but rather, in the parking lot. While waiting for the lot to clear, Garth Brooks' "When You Come Back to Me Again" came on the radio. I have always loved this song. It's a sad song... and the music video wrecks me every time I watch it, but I can't help but listen to it. (The song was actually recorded for the movie Frequency... and the music video shows the movie's character as a firefighter who ultimately ends up losing his life in a fire. It's BRUTAL.)
I've sang this song a million times in the car but never really noticed the meaning of the lyrics until this morning:
It starts like this:
There's a ship out, on the ocean
At the mercy of the sea
It's been tossed about, lost and broken
And God somehow you know that ship is me
The next verse, Garth sings about a light house.
'Cause there's a lighthouse, in the harbor
Pouring its light out, across the water
For this sinking soul to see
That someone out there still believes in me
This is the moment I knew God was talking to me. In the sermon, Pastor Tyler used an analogy of a light house as a way to demonstrate God's love. He said that when it comes to dating, God isn't going to give you rules or a "how-to" that reads "If you do X,Y,Z... you'll get this" which in this case, would be the perfect, dream spouse. God will, however, lead you... like a light house. A light house doesn't make a decision for a captain on a ship in the harbor... instead, the light house shines a light on the rough waters, the rocky coastline, etc. to help give the captain clarity of the decisions he will make. Like a light house, God gives us the clarity to see the implications of our decision-making. God leads us. God has a plan for us. Ultimately, we must TRUST in Him to guide our decisions.
Later in the message, it was said that "If you fear singleness more than you fear a life without God, you're not seeing clearly". And reflecting, I wasn't seeing clearly.
Between the conviction of the message and the parallels between this particular song on the radio and a light house analogy... I felt like my world just got ROCKED. But what was just a silly movie-song to someone else, really meant more to me.
NOTE: I was told by my boss not to talk about my past relationships on this blog... so I'll likely get in trouble for this. But this is the open and honest part of my story.
When I decided to leave Albuquerque to come to Austin, that meant that I had to end my relationship with the guy I was currently dating. He was a local firefighter. We had dated for about 7 months before I left ABQ. He couldn't leave New Mexico or else he'd lose his pension... and I didn't have plans to stay (or come back). We both felt that our careers were, at this time in our lives, what was important to focus on... and that our relationship would be the cost of that decision.
I won't go into the details of our "break up"... but I will say it wasn't one of those ugly breakups. We don't hate each other... and I truly believe we only want what's best for one another.
But if we're being brutally honest, this has been the hardest part of my transition to Austin so far. It is incredibly hard to leave a relationship that essentially, had no reason to end other than terrible timing and distance. I truly believe in God's plan and that for whatever reason, He had something different planned for both of us. But I'm not going to lie - I will always care about him and worry about him a lot (particularly, with his job).
Now circling back around, listening to the Garth Brook's song... full of emotion after the sermon... the light house analogy... a music video about a firefighter that reminded me of my firefighter I had to leave behind... the fact that I haven't dated anyone since.... needless to say, I WAS A DISASTER ON THE WAY HOME. I cried... I sang the song... I cried some more.
By the time I pulled into my parking spot at home, I had composed myself enough to realize - this is God reaching out to me. This is God saying - let me be that light house for you. Let me guide you. Your past relationship is not my plan for you. Trust in me. Yes, dating is hard. But I will provide.
And that was exactly what I needed to hear from the Holy Spirit. (Isn't it funny how God knows? Triggered me by none other than an old Garth song.)
As a person on faith, I believe that God's timing is perfect. His plan is greater than anything I know or could give to myself. But if there was one thing I can cling to, whether single, dating or married - it's that light house.