The 34-Year-Old Virgin

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve wanted to have sex. But for one reason or another, I never have. Whether it was my own resolve to remain abstinent (less likely) or God providentially keeping me from making that mistake (more likely), it was a teenage fantasy that never materialized even in adulthood.

This might be hard to believe for some who know me. There was a time recently when I was trained to be a pickup artist. After the mid-2000’s, I was certainly capable of meeting and attracting women. And I often did – on my own, or in groups of like-minded men. Prior to that time, I had the nerve, but not the game (not at all, as other friends can attest to).

One or two years ago, at the height of my pickup days, I would have been totally embarrassed to admit that I was still a virgin. But not today. I’m neither proud, nor embarrassed of the fact – though I am tremendously relieved. Relieved that I have never gone far enough in any previous relationship to lose the “V” label.

Previous girlfriends wanted to have sex at times when I was determined not to. When I was willing, the girl wasn’t. Etcetera. Even during my pickup days, I wasn’t interested in having sex. I wanted to simply improve my social skills and get over the fear of talking to strangers. It was all a lesson in social dynamics for me, not a shortcut to sex.

Now that I’m engaged and two days away from my wedding, I’m so thankful to God for keeping me from this particular sexual sin. Never in my marriage with Megan will I be able to compare her to other women from my past. I imagine that’s an important ingredient in a happy marriage.

Many gifts will be given on Saturday. But for me, there’s no greater gift I can give my wife on our wedding day than my sexual purity.

Learning My Love Language

I just finished reading The Five Love Languages Singles Edition, which is one of those books talked about amongst Christian circles. I have to admit, I was skeptical of reading it, because I thought it sounded gimicky. Single Christians I know would always ask each other, “What’s your love language?” which sounded as trivial as, “What’s your sign?” I was pretty convinced this was just some Christian fad.

But in my ever-growing hunger for knowledge — especially on the topic of relationships — I figured I would have to familiarize myself with the 5 love languages at some point. So I got the book this week and finished it moments ago.

I admit I was wrong. This turned out to be an important book that I believe all people should read. Not only will it help you in your romantic relationships, but with all relationships in general (family, coworkers, friends).

Similar to secular self-help books that say everyone has a preferred “sense” in which they tend to communicate best (e.g., visual, audible, tactile), Gary Chapman — the book’s author — suggests that everyone gives and receives love in one of 5 ways (read: love languages). These five languages are…

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Gifts
  3. Acts of Service
  4. Quality Time
  5. Physical Touch

Should you not recognize the love language of your romantic partner, friend, or colleague, you risk building conflict in the relationship through their perceived lack of love coming from you. If the way you choose to show love and appreciation is not the way the person wants or is capable of feeling love, then your efforts are in vain.

For example, if the other person’s love language is Words of Affirmation, all of your sacrificial service or gift-giving is not going to make up for the lack of verbal affirmation the person craves. Likewise, if the other person’s love language is Quality Time, then all of the encouraging emails and bouquets of flowers aren’t going to make up for the lack of love they perceive from the little quality time you spend together.

Right away, I knew what my weakest areas of showing love were… Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. For most of my life, I was very distant in my relationships with other people. I was distant verbally (didn’t often talk, much less provide encouragement to other people), and I was distant physically (wasn’t much of a hugger). And I certainly didn’t like to do acts of service — not even service that acted in my own interest, not to mention others’ interests.

If I was good at any of these languages, it was gift-giving (I love to give stuff away) and quality time (I love to spend time with the people I love).

As it turns out, my primary love language is Quality Time. I both love to give and receive quality time with those I love. I can’t think of a better way to experience the love of another person than having the chance to hang out with that person for long periods of time.

Secondarily, I think I also respond well to Words of Affirmation. I’m not totally convinced about that, as I tell myself I don’t care what other people think of me or what I do — but I’m sure much of that is bravado, and that I really do appreciate it when others publicly appreciate me.

Aside: If someone wanted to make me feel unloved, all that person would need to do is stop hanging out or communicating with me. (Can’t help but laugh at this, given my recent personal circumstances. It explains so much.)

The challenge for me is learning to identify the love languages of other people, then using their love languages to communicate my love and appreciation for them. As I said earlier, I have a lot of work to do in certain areas. The biggest of which I think is Words of Affirmation. I’ve grown up with and around such cynical, critical people that it’s hard for me to say something encouraging to someone without sounding disingenuous to myself. That’s just something I’ll have to get over.

Defeating Jealousy with Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is God’s will for God’s people because when we give thanks for who God is and what God has done in our lives, there is no room for jealousy of what others’ have, no room for complaining about what we lack. Even in times of deepest sorrow, there is a joy that rises up on the heart when praise comes even with tears. Thanksgiving makes the heart full of gladness which overflows from our lives and spills out into acts of kindness and generosity. When we are grateful, we cannot help but share our gratitude. And this is the will of God for our lives.

From “In Everything Give Thanks” by Margaret Manning

A true belief that we are the body of Christ should rule out all jealousy, competitiveness, and comparisons. If a good thing happens to one part of the body, it enriches you as a member of the same body. Ask yourself a question: Would you be just as happy for the Christian in the pew in front of you to receive a spiritual blessing from God as you would be if you received it yourself? If you’re like me, you probably answered no. But I believe that the answer to this question could be a resounding “yes” if we prized the doctrine of the body of Christ. Think of how your joy could be magnified if you considered the good of others your own good!

From “Called to Thanksgiving” by Betsy Childs

Eyes for No One Else

What is the time called between being single and being in a relationship? Because that’s where I am right now. I’m single, but specifically hopeful for one “friendship” to go farther. But when you throw the whole concept of dating and relationships out the window (like many in the Christian world have done), where does that leave you? Still single?

Wherever I am now, it’s definitely not my traditional role of being single. There have been several changes in my attitude and daily routines that scream loudly that I am no longer single.

There’s a joke saying (albeit true) amongst Christian men to “bounce their eyes” when they see an attractive woman who is not their wife/fiancee. Even though I’m not officially anything but single, I do find myself engaging in this practice today. Not only do I feel compelled to “bounce my eyes” at times, but I also feel compelled to “bounce my life.”

I’ve been single for a long time (it’s been 4 years since my last serious relationship). In that time, I’ve learned to be completely open to any and every opportunity to meet women. In essence, I’ve come to view every single woman I crossed paths with as a potential partner. I would be open to conversation and would initiate as many interactions as possible. This is how I became such a social person (as opposed to the extremely shy & quiet person I’ve been all my life).

Whether at work, at church, on the subway, or in the grocery store, I viewed all single woman as potential friends and dating partners. It became second nature for me to strike up conversations with absolutely anyone (except guys, which is a whole ‘nother blog post). I didn’t think twice to initiate.

But now, I find myself going against all of that social programming, as I’m trying to focus on one person. Despite my overwhelming compulsion to greet every female stranger I meet, I’m learning to “bounce my eyes.” Instead of flirting, I’m learning to be completely neutral in my conversations with other women.

I’ve even changed my daily routines. I no longer leave my condo at 8:15 AM, because I typically cross paths with a girl in the elevator, who I’ve flirted with on many occasions. I also don’t schedule one-on-one lunches with single females in the office anymore.

I don’t know what all of this means, other than the fact that I’m waiting to see if one particular “relationship” works out. I suppose it’s good to break old habits now, in order to have a successful relationship in the future.

I just wish there were a Facebook status for where I am right now.

Opposites Attract

There are a lot of cliches spoken everyday that we take for truth — or situational truths that may be apt for certain circumstances. Ever wonder which of these sayings is true?

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Out of sight, out of mind.

Both can be said to justify specific circumstances, but both cannot in fact be absolutely true.

Another apparent paradox exists with these sayings…

Birds of a feather flock together.
Opposites attract.

I say “apparent” because while these both can apply to dating, they can also apply to friendships with the same sex, etc.

However, when it comes to finding a potential spouse, should you be looking for someone who is very much like you (in personality, interests, talents, vocation, and calling?), or should you look for an opposite?

I have never heard concrete, biblical guidance on this subject. But thanks to a book I just finished and the expository commentary of John MacArthur, I discovered this evening that we should, indeed, be looking for an opposite. Seriously, it’s in the Bible.

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

According to Dr. Don Raunikar in his book Choosing God’s Best, “The Hebrew word translated ‘suitable’ literally means ‘opposite.’ God’s plan is to bring us a mate who can support us where we are weak and fill in the gaps where our own lives have holes.”

John MacArthur confirms this interpretation in his study Bible: “The words of this verse emphasize man’s need for a companion, a helper, and an equal. He was incomplete without someone to complement him in fulfilling the task of filling, multiplying, and taking dominion over the earth. This points to Adam’s inadequacy, not Eve’s insufficiency. Woman was made by God to meet man’s deficiency.”

So, someone like me shouldn’t be looking for someone who is identical to me — someone who has the same personality traits and interests. I should be looking for someone who would make a good companion and be strong in the areas that I am weak.

This brings up another cliche, though… You complete me. You always hear that you should not be trying to find someone to “complete” you, as you will be codependent. But what’s wrong with codependency? Is that not how God designed marriage? For two people to become one & depend on each other?

After my reading tonight, I no longer fear pursuing someone who is different from me.