My Deepest Secret Revealed

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Side Note: My book should be out in a few weeks so get ready! I think you will really like it. If you are a blogger with pretty good traffic or know of any bloggers or authors that could help me out, could you message me via my website? I can send them a free book to review.

On to the post!

I have a secret to tell you. It is a secret I have only told a few of my closest friends. It is such a stunning secret that I never even hinted at it to my last boyfriend, and I told him pretty much everything about my life. But not this. I knew that his view of me would change if I told him.

First, let me add here that I am a pretty deep person. As stated in a previous post, I have gone to monasteries all over the world to have solitude retreats. I work with homeless people on a regular basis and have even gone so far as to be homeless for a few days to understand them. I write music that makes people cry at times. I love books by contemplatives like Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton.

I would like to make you believe that the deep, beautiful, mystical Kate is who I am all the time. To convince you that there is no such thing as the weak, insecure Kate.

But your view of me is about to change when I reveal my secret. Making this confession is especially scary to me, because you are now going to know a part of me that I don’t like very much.

OK. Here I go. Here is my secret: I watch The Bachelor.

Now I feel much shallower than I make myself out to be. I honestly would rather have admitted that I used to be a drug dealer.

I have always secretly looked down on people that watch a lot of TV. I was better than them. I would read books instead of watching television. I would not be materialistic. I would be counter-culture. I would be deep. I would be a super-non-TV-watching-intriguing-indie-music-listening-mystical-social- justice-loving-follower-of-Jesus-who-wears-Toms-shoes.

But during the last few years, when I was in ministry school and being taught about spiritual things all the time, when I was working with homeless people and feeling so sad for them, when I was touring and meeting so many people that I was sapped of all my energy, well, sometimes I just wanted to stop thinking.

During these difficult seasons, I realized that I could have TV on my own laptop and hide it a little more. It became less of a social event and more of a private event. So I started watching it. And The Bachelor became my one staple TV show.

I know, I know. If I’m going to watch one show, why would I choose this one? It is just ridiculous. Every season it is the same. The man with the perfect chest and perfect charm. The synthetically-endowed, bikini-wearing, bleached-hair-perfect, gorgeous women. Some of them are sweet; some of them are psycho. In fact, I heard a radio program in which a reality show producer admitted to trying to cast forty percent narcissists and people who are crazy enough to make good television but not crazy enough to bash the camera in with a bat.

And for some mysterious reason, I love every minute of it.

I admit, I have a problem. I all but tap my arm before I shoot myself up with a new season. Why, I ask myself? Why would I want to watch this show?

In order to feel less shallow, I like to tell myself that I’m not just watching TV, I am observing a sociological experiment. I ask myself with a very scientific air, “What is the psychological process of a man who is put into a room with a number of beautiful women? When he has to choose who he wants to break up with and who he wants to keep?”

I convince myself that I’m a lot like Jane Goodall, only instead of watching monkeys and the way they interact, I’m observing a bunch of hot people.

I’m not watching this for entertainment, people! I’m watching it for research! Under my blanket and with my headphones on, so my housemates won’t hear the mumbling of romantic TV encounters coming from under the door. What’s wrong with that?

There. I feel better now. I just admitted to you some of my strongest parts and some of my weakest parts. I hope you will choose to love both sides, and I pray that I will do the same for others, especially if I get married. If  marriage is what God has for me, my spouse will be real and he will be hard to live with at times. But that is okay because I will be real, too, and I will be hard to live with at times, too. When I don’t expect my mate to be ideal, I won’t expect myself to be ideal. I will feel more free to be the imperfect me. I won’t need to hide anymore. I won’t need to have secrets. I can confess things and not be afraid that it will make me unlovable.

Even now, while we are single, it is important to love our friends and family for who they are, not for who we want them to be.

As my friend Brandon says, marriage should not be about finding a perfect person who will meet all of your needs. Marriage should be about creating a room where both of you can be human.

And I wouldn’t mind a room in which I am occasionally allowed to watch reality television.

Dating With Speed

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I went speed dating the other night. Yes, you heard right, speed dating.

“Kate,” you say”didn’t say in your post on online dating about how you felt like you were sinking down the dating totem pole by getting into that? I have news for you, my friend. The only thing lower on the dating totem pole than online dating is speed dating.”

I know. Whatever. You’ve got to take risks every once in a while, right?

Everyone I mention this adventure to is really curious. “Oh reeeeally?” they say. “You went speed dating? What was it like?” I want to retort “It was like an auction only with semi good looking men. The bachelor walked across the stage and the caller said very quickly and with a singsongy voice ‘Look at this lovely specimen of a man with the argyle socks and nice jawline. Can I get one date one date one date? Come on ladies how about a nice dinner and a movie? I see your one. One date one date can I get two dates?  Come on you lonely ladies wouldn’t you love for this handsome young man to take you bowling? I see you lady in the fur coat, make that two dates two dates.”

Okay, it was nothing like that, but it felt almost that frantic.

The party started out with mingling, an awkward but endearing stance at any party. The mingling was especially awkward and endearing at this particular party, since we knew that we were all there for the same reason; to get ourselves a few slow dates after these really fast ones.

Next, all the girls were asked to sit in a chair. The hosts explained that a man would sit in the seat next to us, we would get three minutes to talk, and then a gong would ring. Then the men would move clockwise to the next seat.

This is when I started realizing something. I hate first dates. All the small talk makes me more nervous than a man with a combover in a wind tunnel. Now I was going to go through twelve awkward first dates in the space of an hour. What the heck had I gotten myself into? This was either going to be a whole lot of fun or a whole lot of horrible.

I felt a little panicky. But like someone who decides to try taking a dip in a river in December, I just had to close my eyes and jump.

Here is a loosely translated rendition of what happened…

GONG (Enter sweet short man with glasses who is balding a little bit) “Hi my name’s Ed!” ” Hi Ed! ” “I hate these things.” ” I hate them too.” “Why are we even here?” “Well, they said there would be good hummus.” Chuckle chuckle. “Have you ever tried online dating? That’s even harder.” “Yes I hated online dating.” “Why did you even do that” “I heard there would be good cyber hummus” fake chuckle chuckle…

GONG (Enter taller guy who is geeky but in kind of a cute way) “Hi my name is Walter.” “Hello Walter!” “So you live in Boulder? Do you ever go to that great little ice cream shop on Pearl?” “Oh yes I love that ice cream shop! In fact, me and my friends have this really fun thing we do where we dress up like pirates and ride around on our bikes and end up there and eat ice cream with our patches on.” Very intrigued look from Walter. “Oh really? Do you like reenacting characters?” “Well, kind of. Just when me and my friends dress up and ride our bikes.” “That is fascinating, because I am really into civil war reenactments.” “You are? Where do you do that?” “In California.” “Oh really? Was California even around for the civil war?” Death look. “You obviously don’t know much about the history of the Civil War.” “Well in truth, Walter, I’m a pacifist. I don’t really like war when it really happens, let alone try to make it happen when it’s not happening.” Shock and horror ensuing. Much happiness when the three minutes are over.

GONG (Enter my friend Brian) “Hey Bri!” “Hey” laughing laughing laughing louder than we should because we are so happy to see someone we know and want people to be impressed with how much fun we’re having. “So it looks like you decided to go as low on the dating totem pole as you could possibly go.” “Well, looks like you did the same thing.” Laughter laughter.

GONG (Enter hippie looking guy named Ben.) “Dude what’s up?” “Hey there.” “So are you a vegetarian? Because I’m a vegetarian.” “Well, no, actually I am hypoglycemic so I eat copious amounts of meat every day.” “Murderer.” Stunning silence. “Just kidding man, just kidding.”

GONG (Enter cute hipster boy named Roy.) “So, I have an idea, let’s promise to not ask each other predictable questions. Ready, go!” Awkward silence. “I can’t think of anything that’s not predictable.” Chuckle chuckle. “How about, what do you like on your pizza?” “Ummm, do you really think that will help us know if we should go on a real date?” “I’m only going to date you if you like anchovies.” Chuckle chuckle. “What’s your take on predestination?” “I’m an arian.” “Wasn’t Hitler an arian?” No chuckling. Awkward. Horrifying and awkward. “So, what do you like on your pizza?” Chuckle Chuckle.

GONG “Hey you look familiar!” “That’s because we’ve been matched on match.com before.” “Oh, yes, of course.” “You never answered my message to you.” “You’re right, I never did answer that.” “Why not?” “Because you looked like a guy with a combover in a wind tunnel.” (Ok I didn’t say that, I just had to squeeze that in.) Totally horrible awkward for 2.75 more minutes.

I got through it. I did get one real date out of the whole experience, which was very flattering since there were so many pretty girls there. It made me feel special. And I no longer have to say that I had only been on two dates since my last big breakup two years ago. I can now say that I have been on 14. Six times as many dates as I have been on in two years. Three times as many as I’ve been on in $200 worth of the online dating over the years.

Score.

I love dating with speed!

Adventures in Online Dating Part I

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Before I post, I wanted to let you know that I am trying to play some concerts and/or house shows for my new CD, which contains all songs in which God is speaking. All inspired by scriptures where God is speaking truth and hope over us. I can also lead worship at churches. I can also teach and put on great retreats for women, worship teams, singles groups, youth groups, anything you’d like! I AM ESPECIALLY LOOKING FOR POSSIBILITIES IN THE SEATTLE PORTLAND AREA AND IN NORTH CAROLINA. If you are interested, please go to my website and shoot me a message! Ok here goes the post!

You knew that the topic of this post was coming. It has been lurking behind the scenes for months, ready to pounce on all of my readers like a whitewashed vampire in a haunted house.

It’s inevitable. I am in my thirties and single and it is the 21st century. It had to happen.

That’s right folks, I am stooping down to the lowest of the low points. I am going to try online dating.

It all started yesterday. My friend Rosie was going on a date with a guy she met on okay cupid. I started scrolling through some of the people on the front page. One guy in particular looked intriguing. Christian. Handsome. Career oriented. In my mind, his name was Ramon, since that is the name of the imaginary boyfriend that I talk about occasionally. “Maybe I’d try this some time,” I thought out loud.

Before I knew what was happening,  Rosie slyly asked me what my email address was and what password I often use, copied some of my pictures on facebook, and voila!  The whole world now has physical proof that I am desperate, like a girl on a desert Island who finally decides to eat snails.

I will admit this is not my first time on the exhausting online dating treadmill. I tried eharmony once. I gathered up the courage to go on one date. The guy was wearing an over sized blue suit, didn’t ask me one question in over an hour, and had created an ap that helped you hit on people in bars. I am not joking. It would tell you if there was someone your type in the bar who had the same ap. It didn’t work out, but that guy is probably a millionaire now.

For some reason, that date didn’t seem worth the sixty dollars I spent for the first few months, along with the sixty dollars I spent when they automatically renewed my subscription without my permission.

Awesome.

Okaycupid is a website that is even further down the already low low ladder rungs of online dating. It is worse than eharmony in that it is free. That is dangerous. Any guy who says “hey you know, I really want to find a broad to go on a nice date with, maybe even get hitched, but I don’t really want to pay any money to do that stuff” is not going to buy me dinner. No way.

This particular website started out by asking you a whole lot of questions, which I actually like. You need to weed people out somehow. They literally have hundreds of questions you can answer.

When the question was asked “Which is bigger, the sun or the earth?” I knew that I might be in for a rude awakening of how stupid some of my potential dates would be. I marked that question as “very important” to me, meaning that it was very important that my potential date got this question right. My reasoning being that someone who doesn’t know if the sun is bigger than the earth is definitely not going to be able to figure out how to change a diaper.

One of the next questions said, “if you were to turn your left glove inside out, would it fit on your left hand or your right hand?” I was too lazy to get up and try a glove on. There was no option that said “It can go on either hand, especially if you are good at putting your hand in a awkward position,” which is obviously the right answer. I skipped that question, knowing full well that it was not a good indication of whether I would make a quality life partner or not.

I finished a hundred questions. Within 2.5 minutes, I had three messages.

Message #1 was from a guy that asked me if I was into younger guys. Occasionally, I wanted to say, but not one that looks like you.

Message #2 was from a guy that said, “for you, beautiful girl” that had a link on it to a youtube video of a Melissa Etheridge song from 1988. If you listened carefully to the words, you realized that Melissa was actually talking about breaking up with someone. Winner.

Message #3 was from a charming man that had a picture of himself standing in front of his house with no shirt on. You’d think that might be a good idea if you have a six pack, but not if you have a beer belly.

In that 2.5 minutes, I also got matched with a friend of mine. Great. He will be the first one to know that I am willing to eat snails.

The only thing I was excited about was searching for Ramon. I searched and searched for him. I searched for words that I remembered being in his profile. I searched for his profile name. He was nowhere. You know why? Because Ramon is not real. The Okaycupid people made him up so that I would be intrigued and try it out. Oh Ramon, come back to me!

Now that Ramon is out of the picture, I have several legitimate excuses explaining why this is not a good idea. I will have to lower my standards. I will have to shave my legs. And my best and most holy excuse? If I do this, it would bring into question my trust in of the sovereignty of God. How could I think God was sovereign if I was forcing my love life to happen? Good one, Kate. Good one.

We’ll see if the excuses win out. You might be hearing more about this topic, friends. Even if you don’t want to.

Okay. Let the comment games begin. Your worst online matches. Your worst online dates. Ready, go.

Do I Really Need A Minivan In The Game Of Life?

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I was playing cards with my little friend Isabella the other day. We were playing Old Maid.

You know the game: each person has a set of cards. You draw from the other player, and lay down the pairs that you find. Twos twos twos. There is a sense of anticipation every time a card is drawn from the other player’s hand. Who will pair up next?

Another pair, and another pair, and another pair. Each laid down, one right next to the other.

There was one card left in my hand at the end of the game. The Old Maid. The card had a picture an older woman surrounded by cats. Apparently cats are the only creatures that will live with single ladies that are mature in age.

Isabella pointed at me and said “Look Kate! You have the Old Maid! That means you are the loser.

I didn’t know what to do with this statement, or with this game. I don’t usually mind losing games to five year olds. But I was a little more sensitive about losing this time. “Am I the loser?” I thought.

I decided to lean more about the history of the game. Here’s what I found out: it is a very old victorian game. There are versions around the world, many with different names. In Brazil, it goes by the flattering name Stink. The English version is called Scabby Queen, a name brings up even worse images than the picture of the American cat lady. And my personal favorite, the French version that is known as Le Pouilleux, which means the louse. Just in case you don’t know what that is, it’s a parasitic insect. Another word for louse is cootie. Awesome.

In my research, I also found pictures of some vintage Old Maid games. My favorite was a 1940‘s deck that had wonderful cartoons of very attractive curvy women. One woman was riding on an airplane. Another was surfing. A third looked like a successful business lady.

The Old Maid? A little old single lady, sitting in a rocking chair knitting, which is quite appropriate, since that is where the word spinster comes from. One who spins. It seems that single people who are a little older have nothing better to do than sit in a rocking chair and knit some booties for their favorite nephew.

A few weeks after this incident, I was playing another game with my ten year old friend, Collin. The Game Of Life. This game has versions of it dating all the way back to 1860. It has a track in which players move in little plastic cars through various life scenarios. Consequently, in the late 80’s the game changed the car from a convertible to a Chrysler-esque minivan.

“Wait a second.” I said to Collin. “What if I want a four wheel drive Subaru instead of a minivan?” Collin retorted “you have to have a mini van in the game of life.”

Well, I realized, it makes sense that you need to have decent leg space in your car, since you have to put your growing family in it.

This family is acquired towards the beginning of the game, when you hit a stop sign in front of a three dimensional chapel. It is here that you must get married and put a new blue or pink peg beside you in your minivan.  I looked at Collin and said “Hey, what if I don’t want to get married? Or what if, by some crazy turn of circumstances, it just doesn’t happen for me?” Collin gave me a quizzical look and said, “You can’t do that Kate! You have to get married in the game of life.”

It’s true. I did. If I didn’t, I would be stuck at the beginning of the game. Forever. I gave in, but mostly because you get $5,000 worth of wedding gifts on the next space.

At the end of the game, the bank paid out money for various things. I wasn’t at all surprised that you received a decent amount for each child that you were able to raise in your minivan. It seems that in the game of life, he who dies with the most kids gets the most cash.

Really, Milton Bradley? Really?

These are some of the stereotypes that are placed in our minds at a very young age, and I admit I can relate to some of them. Like the Old Maid, I have seen my friends pair up two by two. I am not as old as she is, but I am in my thirties, which is pretty old to be single, especially in Christian circles. And yes, I do put my knitted creations on etsy.

But that’s where the similarities stop. I hate cats, I have many other things to do with my time than sit in a rocking chair, and I am really, honestly, not a loser.

Those are good signs that I am not really an Old Maid, right?

There are also things in The Game of Life that I can relate to. I often feel like society says to me “You’re not married? You don’t have children? How could you possibly ride around in your plastic car with one lonely plastic peg in it? Is there something wrong? Are you going to get stuck at the beginning of life and never move on to the rest of your game because of your singleness?”

At this point, I have no idea if I will ever get married. I have stopped trying to control it. I do know that I want to make a new game of life. One in which I can go anywhere I want to go, even if no one is with me in the plastic minivan.

Anyone else out there have childhood memories that made it feel like being married was the only thing that would bring happiness or value to your life?

Adventures In Pity Partying

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Today we will talk about pity parties. I have been the event planner for quite a few of these festivities, so I can talk about them with some expertise.

Okay, I’ll stop being modest and just and say it:  I am pretty much the Martha Stewart of pity parties

Here are some of my pity party planning tips:

1) Come depressed. Your goal should be to obsess about how crappy your life is, and to have your guests comfort you as you talk about how crappy your life is.

2) Be selective about who you invite. Don’t include people who will say things like “get over yourself”or “it’s time to move on.” They will ruin everything.

3) Wear the proper outfit. This usually includes glasses, pajamas, and rabbit slippers.

4) Plan your menu! I like to have potato chips as my appetizer, Ben and Jerry’s as the main course, and maybe another kind of Ben and Jerry’s for dessert. An assortment of deep fried foods works great for side dishes. If you want to get especially fancy, add garnishes of marshmallows and tootsie rolls.

5) Mood music is very important! I have a mix tape labeled Kate’s Songs That Allow Her To Wallow In The Depths Of Despair.

This tape contains such classics as:

“All By Myself”- made popular by our mentor,  Bridget Jones.

“Against All Odds”by Phil Collins- you cannot get a more apt song for a pity party than one that contains phrases like “How can you just walk away from me?” “Theres nothing left here to remind me, just the memory of your face,” and “I wish I could make you turn around, turn around and see me cry.” Classic.

“Baby Got Back: by Sir Mixalot- Wait, how did that get on here?

6) Plan some really fun games! My favorites are “Pin the Tail On the X-Boyfriend” and “The Pinata That Looks Remarkably Like Someone I Used To Kiss.”

7) Make sure to light lots of candles. If the pity party goes really well, you and your guests can burn love notes and pictures as the finale of your shindig.

8) If you want to provide party favors, I can hook you up with some nice pity party T-Shirts. I have soft gray ones that you can wear to bed, hot pink ones with sparkles for when you go out with the girls that come in sets of three, and light blue ones that have “Pity Party” written on them very subtly that are especially nice to wear to church. I also have pity party mugs and pity party signature kleenex.

Follow these tips, and you too can have a great (read: pathetic and soul draining) pity party!

In all seriousness, the reason I am such an expert in this area is that I have thrown many pity parties in this season. I am getting older. I don’t have a lot of years left to have biological children. It has been on my mind all the time, and my patient friends (including you, dear readers) have had to endure a lot of conversations about it. I have been walking around saying “how could this be my life?”

This week, the darkness of this season grew to a crescendo when my long time counselor challenged me to really examine what I would do if I never got married and didn’t have biological children. How would I go about rearranging my life if my only choice to have a child was to adopt? She also asked me if I thought that my life would be valuable if I never had a traditional family. It was almost impossible for me to say yes.

I have been devastated for days. At the same time, though, I am recognizing how much these thoughts have been consuming me lately. I haven’t been sleeping very well. My mind has been mulling over my difficult childhood, wondering if that contributed to people not falling in love with me. I have been bitter towards x-boyfriends for rejecting me. I have been doubting God’s goodness and even existence because he was not given this deep desire. In other words, I have been trying to blame anyone I can for my pain.

This difficult counseling session helped purge this deep sadness in me, and also made me realize that I am spiritually “hung over” and exhausted from the pity parties I have been throwing. I have had the mantra “denial and bitterness, denial and bitterness, denial and bitterness” pounding in my head, and it is stealing away my life.

So this week, I have tried to fill my mind with different thoughts. I have literally repeated the words: “acceptance and gratefulness, acceptance and gratefulness, acceptance and gratefulness” in order to replace the other hopeless words.

Someone asked me the other day “if you were to lose everything you haven’t been thankful for this month, what would you have left?” This really humbled me. I realized that I have been focusing so much on everything I don’t have, and missing what I do have.

I realize now that pity parties are okay every once in a while because they allow me  to express my pain, but  parties that celebrate my life are the ones I should throw on  a more regular basis.

How My Trip To The Library Proves That I Love You

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(I wanted to include the above picture as proof that the following blog is based on real events.)

I want to let you know that you are loved today.

Do you know why I know that you are loved? Because I am the one that loves you. Do you know why I know I love you? Because of a little trip I took to the library yesterday. Read on and you will understand.

I have always loved libraries. I inherited this love from my very wonderful but very quirky mother. All though my years growing up, we would have stacks and stacks of books around the corners of our house. Mom realized that if she went to Denver Public Library there was no limit to how many she took out. She also realized that she could renew all her books every Friday, and that if no one else requested them, she could keep them for as long as she wanted.

So she milked that government subsidized machine-o-wisdom for all that it was worth. At one time she had two hundred books out from the library. I am not exaggerating Two. Freaking. Hundred.

The Denver Library finally changed their policy to say that your book limit should be, you know, under the triple digits. She proudly believes that they made that policy because of her.

I usually check out really thought provoking, deep books. Books of spiritual poetry. Books by Henri Nouwen, who is my favorite non fiction author. Theological books about the bible. Novels that are beautiful written and inspiring. Books about social justice and community development, subjects I am very interested in.

In my warped, slightly self absorbed, perception, I always believe that my familiar librarians notice what I am checking out. That they are intrigued by my choice of books. There she is, they think. That wonderful kind redheaded girl who always checks out  such spiritual, thought provoking books. She is so contemplative and wise.  In truth, what they are probably thinking is I wonder if I should make tacos for dinner. 

This last time I went to the library I needed to do some more research for this blog, as I am a very astute blog writer. Plus the fact that I am totally running out of things to say about dating.

As I stood to check out my books, I looked down at what I was about to check out. And I was ashamed. deeply ashamed.

Instead of Henri Nouwen’s Return of the Prodigal Son or a book by Teresa of Avila, I was checking out Dating Makes You Want To Die: But You Have To Do It Anyway, How To Date A White Woman; A Guide For Asian Men, and Wood Nymph Seeks Centaur: A Mythological Dating Guide. (Okay. I didn’t really check out those last two, but I thought about it.)

In my mind, I was no longer the librarians favorite mysterious yet winsome patron. I was the shallow thirty something year old woman who wanted a date enough to read these ridiculous books. “Would you like to check anything else out?” the librarian said to me sadly. “No, just these,” I retorted with a tear in my eye.

One of the only books that I checked out that looked promising was called How To Date Like A Grown Up.  Okay. Looks like it might be a good research book.

I knew my mistake when I started reading the third chapter, which was called Mortuaries and Other Pick Up Joints. The chapter talks about how it is more difficult in later years to find good dating material in bars and dance clubs. So the author has a few new suggestions. In the section of the chapter called Ladies Night At the Crematorium it talks about how funerals are a really good option for us.

Not. Making. This. Up.

There is a little caption at the bottom of the page with some good advice. How long to wait to flirt with the widower. Seriously, author lady? Seriously?

The next two suggestions of places for women to find good dating material were a golf course and a motorcycle gang.

Midway through the chapter, I looked up and thought, Dear God, what has happened to me? Is this what I have been reduced to?

These are the sacrifices I must make to write this blog. These are the things I must endure.

I DO IT FOR YOU! I DO IT ALL FOR YOU!

Do you feel loved now? I hope so. Because you are.

Sick Of Love

Sorry if this picture is graphic. It just cracked me up so much I had to use it.

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(Before I start this post, I am trying to get out to Mexico City to teach a YWAM base there. Does anyone have connections there where I could play music, lead worship, or teach? You can contact me through my website, katehurley.com. Thanks!)

When I tell people that I am writing a book about being a single Christian, we inevitably get into conversations about the challenges of dating in the aftermath of the Christian Dater’s Hell that was the 90s. About our fears of getting older and still not having a family. About how Christian guys would rather clean every bathroom in grand central station with a toothbrush than ask us out on a date because of the pressure they feel to get married too fast.

Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

These conversations make up about eighty percent of my communication with other human beings lately. Which is not really that bad because women talk about men seventy percent of the time even if they are not writing a book.

I have also had my heart broken pretty badly in this season, which makes me infinitely more aware of my singleness and the loneliness that became so evident after that happened. Right now, I am not just love sick, I am sick of love. Of thinking about love. Of talking about love. Of reading about love. Of writing about love.

So today I am protesting. I don’t care if this is supposed to be a blog about dating and not dating and all of that. I am talking about something else.

Let’s talk about the pope. The pope’s hat is so tall, isn’t it? Is it because they inevitably choose short men to be the pope and less than 3% of CEO’s are under 5’ 7”? No one but the pope could wear a hat that looks like a huge christmas tree ornament to make him look tall. Why not wear a two foot hat? I would if I were the pope.

Hmm remember that time that my x-boyfriend was having a job crisis and said “Kate, maybe I will just go to school to be the pope so I can stand in a little glass box and wave at the people. That would be nice.” I wonder where he is now? He was so fun. We had a hard break up but he was a great guy. Maybe I was being too picky???

Oh dang it! I am talking about love again!

Okay, how about we talk about France? I got to go to Paris during an eight hour layover on the way to Germany and it was fabulous. The people were not as mean as everyone said they would be, but that might be because a clever friend gave me a Canda patch to wear on my backpack.

Speaking of France, I wonder why they are called French fries? The national food of America is All Things Fried so you would think that those were invented here. I also wonder why they call it French kissing. Man it’s been a long time since I’ve been kissed.

Ahhhh! No no no!

You see, even if I make a conscious effort to stop thinking about love, it seems impossible. Love is freaking everywhere. Almost every movie has some form of a love story in it. Most songs are about new love, wishing you had love, love that lasts forever, love that kicked you and your dog out the door without your boots on.  It is difficult for us singles to have this love saturated culture around us because it makes us so aware that we don’t have it.

If we are not careful we can become very self absorbed.

Okay, I’ll just say it: I have become very self absorbed.

I soak in all of the love culture like a sponge and then it absorbs into me in forms of jealousy and heartache and loneliness and not understanding God’s will. And I am becoming more cynical and more sad and more absorbed. (I wonder what the word absorbed means in latin. Let’s see, what are some other words with ab in them? Above, absence, absolve, abdominal. Wow, that guy jogging past certainly has nice abs. Oh no! Hold yourself together Kate!)

Ahem, sorry about that. Back to my post.

I am reading a book called Tattoos On the Heart right now. It is the memoir of a priest they call Papa G who started Homeboy Ministries in LA. He is like a father to countless gang members. Former enemies will work side by side at Homeboy Bakery or Homeboy Silkscreening. It is amazing. It is the best book I have read in a long time. I am crying crying crying almost every page. Each story touches a deep place in my heart. The part of me that really wants to love rather than to be so blatantly aware that I am not loved.

Papa G is surrounded by the same love stories and love culture that we are and he is a priest. He will never have a traditional family. But he chooses to be absorbed in a different way than my own self absorbing. He absorbs the pain of the gang members around him. Like a sponge. Because there is no one else in their lives to care about the extraordinary abuse and pain that they have endured. Over and over again, these hardened men come into his office breaking down, telling him their real names that no one else knows, letting him love them.

Papa G has not allowed himself to be surrounded by the absence of love, he has chosen to surround others with love.

This book came at a very appropriate time in my life. I have been crying on a regular basis lately. I have had a lot of time on my hands as I have not gotten many shows and am home almost every day alone writing this book and songs for my new album. I am often so lonely. I hate it. I have even gotten to the point of getting angry at God.

But I have been inspired by this book. I am looking into doing a lot more volunteer work with inner city kids and am even thinking about finding a part time job working with at risk youth or the homeless. I’d have to give up touring to do this most likely, but I think it might be worth it right now.

Because I am not just sick of thinking about love. I am sick of not loving.

I cannot control whether I have a husband or not. It’s not like getting a degree or a job, something that you can achieve if you work hard at it. I have worked hard, and it just has not worked out.

I can’t even control God and make him give me what I want. Not if I pray enough, not if I fast, not if I do enough good things to earn myself family. I don’t understand why, and I can’t understand why right now.

The one thing that I can control is that like Papa G, I can wake up tomorrow and take steps towards building my own family. This is kind of scary for me because it makes me think that I might be giving up on a blood family. But there are a lot of people out there whose blood family has left them. And they need love. If I do end up having a blood family, I will have learned to love in ways that I could not have if I had holed myself up in my room and watched stupid love movies all day.

It’s time. It’s time to stop thinking about the love I don’t have and give the love that I do have.

Tell me about your own experiences with this. How has culture made you struggle more with your singleness? Have you found ways to build your own family?

90’s Dating Gone Bad #3: Families Should Be Intimately Involved With Who You Marry

Today I am going to continue my series on 90’s dating gone bad. (Read this article as an introduction.)

We come to our next rule, that families should be intimately involved in picking our spouses. I include this rule because it was one of the main points in “I Kissed Dating Goodbye.” Out of all the rules that we made as a Christian culture from the book, I really think we could learn from this one.

I wish that  family was as important to our culture as it is to most of the cultures around the world.  It breaks my heart that it is not. The importance of materialism and comfort over family is probably the saddest byproduct of our countries’ independence. But the reality is, in our culture there are very few families that are healthy enough to pick our spouses, or to even help us pick our spouses. Fifty percent of them seemed to do a pretty bad job picking their own.

If you have a wonderful believing family that you are close to who you can dialogue with about your dating life, then go for it. If they treat you like an adult but also want to lovingly help you make such a big decision, that’s invaluable. But not all of our families are like that.

If my parents picked a spouse for me, today, it would most likely be a modified kind of a business proposition (like in the Bible) where they found someone who would take care of me and my kids.  I’d probably get an accountant with a nice mustache and some good hair on his chest. (For some reason I have vague memories of my mom telling me she liked those things. Weird.)

There is nothing wrong with an accountant with a nice mustache, but I am glad that I have the opportunity to pick a life partner that I deeply love .

I like that I can look for  someone that I can dream together with about the kingdom and bringing it here to earth.  That I can look for someone that believes like I do: that  loving people is one of the most important vocations we can possibly have, even if it doesn’t pay well. A man who who simply brings home a decent paycheck and doesn’t think about the world around us is not enough for me, even though it would probably be enough for my parents.
I like that I can choose the man I will spend the rest of my life with. I feel like that is my right as a human being.

On the other hand, I don’t want to be the selfish, non family oriented American that I just described. I have a new, wonderful family around me, a family called the body of Christ. Most of the intimate friends I have chosen in this season of my life are the kinds of friends that never tell me what to do, that trust me to make my own decisions, but who process with me about all things that are important in my life and give wise advice.

I want to process with my family. I want to tell my family how I feel, and genuinely listen to what they have to say about the relationship that I am in. I trust them. They are not controlling, they love me.(If your family does not make you feel safe and try to control your dating life or you I would suggest running away fast.)

If I had eight of my most trusted friends  telling me that they are concerned that the person I’m dating could be a bad fit for me, I would be wise to listen. They can see better than me, since at this stage my brain greatly resembles a bowl of hormonal soup. A bowl of hormonal soup does not often think clearly.

I do make the final decision. They get a vote, I get the biggest vote. But I want the people I trust  to be involved in the process.

Another thing I would like to challenge the church on is creating better singles groups so that our “family” can help us in the dating process. Most single groups now involve a bunch of awkward people standing around a punch bowl asking each other if they like star wars. I hate small talk, and so singles groups are the scariest places on earth to me (along with eharmony first dates.)

I went to Bethel church in Redding last year and attended their single life workshop. I was so impressed with the way they went about bringing single people together. We all met in a large group, but had small groups that we sat with every week and had intimate conversations with. The groups were (heaven forbid!) both female and male! And we (heaven’s to Betsy!) talked about very intimate topics in our group like sex, communicating, even struggling with pornography. Somehow the evangelical police did not arrest us, even while talking about those topics with people of the opposite sex.

We also talked about sexual abuse- something I was surprised and incredibly saddened to discover was something many men had suffered. It was the first time many of them felt like they could talk about it, partially because there were women in the group who had gone through the same thing. They felt safe for the first time.I learned so much about men in those groups-  the way they think and date and struggle and how to pray for them. All invaluable information.

We were encouraged to date each other without crazy amounts of pressure. In fact, Bethel has their own dating website for passionate Christians, which includes links to wise teachings on dating. (ondaysix.com) Our leaders trusted us to be thinking adults who can date well. It felt good to be trusted as a single person.

My Christian culture has often made me feel like I haven’t gone through the “right of passage” of marriage, and so I am not as mature as married people. Why try to teach me on communication,  being a parent, or sex when I don’t need to know any of that? (Except how not to have sex, of course.) The leaders of this group made me feel like this information was important for me to learn, even as a single person.  They made me feel like a valuable, thinking adult. I would love to see people taking the initiative to have these kinds of healthy single groups popping up in churches everywhere.

So let’s take this 90’s dating gone bad rule and make it balanced and redeemed. Let’s love each other enough to teach about singleness. . To dialogue about our dating lives in non manipulating, empowering ways. Marriage is a big decision, and it is good to have family around us to walk with when we make big decisions.

Today, I Am Lonely.

“The only cure for grief is a pill called grief. And you have to take your medicine to get better. “-David James Duncan

I just got back from a tour to Oregon and Washington. I led a women’s retreat, taught at churches, and played some house shows. I slept on seven beds in ten days. Hence the blog silence. (For more about what I do for a living, go to my website katehurley.com)

Tours are usually wonderful. I get to travel, do what I love to do, see people’s lives change, visit people that are dear to me. I forget for a while that I don’t have a regular family and I get lost at the wonder of the strange, all over the world family that I do have.

But today I am home.

And today, I am lonely.

Maybe it is that damn website that I went on this morning. When suggesting a password question, it said things like “The place you and your spouse met” or “The name of the maid of honor in your wedding” or “You first child’s birthday.”  I inevitably had to choose “The name of your first cat.” Even if Samone was the best cat in the world, she’s still a friggin’ cat.

Maybe it is that I am working alone for the next few months, trying to figure out what the heck I am doing with my music and ministry next, which is a regular pattern. I love my job at times, but I don’t like how unstable I feel on a regular basis.  I work alone for a few weeks booking music and teaching opportunities, and then I travel alone. The theme here is alone. No team, no partner. I really don’t like working that way. I have had many wonderful journeys because of my job, but they are almost always journeys I walk by myself.

Maybe it is that I have no idea what to put on my phone’s screen saver.  I guess a mountain or something.

Maybe it is that I visited my dear friend Aimee in Oregon. She and I and my other dear friend Kate went through many years of the ups and downs of singleness together. We laughed and wept together. A year and a half  ago, while I was living with Aimee and Kate, they both got engaged the same week. Do you know what was happening in my love life at the time? My boyfriend of two and a half years and I were breaking up.

I was truly, honestly, 100% happy for them. But I was also about 64% sad for myself.

It’s a year and half later. They are both married to absolutely wonderful men.  And they are deliriously happy in their marriages. In my heart of hearts* I am so glad that they share this with me and don’t hide it. I am so glad I don’t hear for the umpteenth time that marriage is so so difficult and that I should appreciate my singleness and that marriage is, as one friend told me “like death.” In fact, on this trip, Aimee said to me that marriage was the best thing she has ever done.

I am 100% happy for her. But I am 76% sad for myself. (My  rule is that the empathy quotient on my singleness frustration is allowed to go up 8% a year.)

Maybe it’s that I walked by a little girl and her mother in the park yesterday, laughing and playing. I ached to have a child, like the prophet Jeremiah said, as if there was a “fire down in my bones.” This happens often when I hear children laugh nowadays.

Maybe it’s that all four roommates in my new house have been on a date since we moved in a month ago. I have not had a date in 1.5 years.

I am 39% happy for them and 82% sad for myself. (I know. Not my normal compassion quotient, but I’m having a bad day, people.)

In an article called “My Secret Grief: Over 35, Single, and Childless” by Melanie Notkin, the author says  “This type of grief, grief that is not accepted or that is silent, is referred to as disenfranchised grief. It’s the grief you don’t feel allowed to mourn, because your loss isn’t clear or understood. You didn’t lose a sibling or a spouse or a parent. But losses that others don’t recognize can be as powerful as the kind that is socially acceptable.”

This sadness, this disenfranchised grief, is what I feel on a semi regular basis. I have not lost a child, but I have never had a child. I have not lost a marriage, but I have never had a lover.

It’s a strange kind of grief, because people don’t often understand it as a loss. It is not socially accepted as a loss. There is not a lot of empathy for it.

It is a loss that is subtle yet constant, like when you suddenly notice birds singing even though they were singing all along.  That’s the kind of loss I am feeling today. Suddenly, I hear my heart aching. A heart that has been quietly seeping out sadness for a long time.

Here’s the part where I say that despite my pain, I am thankful for my singleness.

Here’s the part where I say that married people are lonely too.

Here’s the part where I say that there is a God shaped vacuum in me that only He can fill. (oh wait. That’s not in the Bible. Dang.)

Sorry friends, I’m not going there today.

Today, I am going to have compassion on myself and know that I am experiencing a true, deep loss. Even if it is a “disenfranchised loss” it is a grief that is real and painful.  I don’t have to explain it away or justify it.

Today, I am going to let myself cry.

Today, I am probably going to eat an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s. (They should make a flavor called I’m Lonely And I Need Ice Cream. Who knows how many millions of dollars those guys have made during our bouts of sadness.)

Tomorrow, it will be wise for me to wake up, take a shower, have coffee with some friends, eat a salad, and remember that my life is still beautiful. If I don’t choose to have a balance, I will get really depressed.

I don’t want to be stuck in this grief on a constant basis. I need to allow myself to have moments of sadness and moments of gratitude. Moments of longing for a family and moments of building a different kind of family. A ying and a yang. (Because ying ying is not a healthy way to live. It is the name of a panda bear.)

But today, I am going to let myself grieve.

Today, I am lonely. And that is okay.

*Side note: where the heck is your heart of hearts? Is that a medical term? Because it sounds sketchy to me.

SPEAKING OF ME PLAYING AND TEACHING: I am teaching and leading worship at a wonderful women’s event called Uniquely Made  April 20 and 21 in Denver. If you are in the area, we are really needing more people to sign up to make it happen.  I’d love for you to come so I can meet you!

90’s Dating Gone Bad #1: Dating Isn’t Biblical

In my post “Signs, Signs, Everywhere the Signs,” I mentioned that for most of my adult life, I wanted God to make a decision for me about getting married rather than making a decision with Him. Why did I want God to make the decision for me? Because I was scared to death of dating. Why was I scared? I’ll tell you why I was scared: my prime dating years began in the 90’s.  A decade I would like to refer to as “Christian dater’s hell.”

This era started with a handful of well intentioned  books, the most popular one being written by a 21 year old, which is kind of sobering when you consider what happened next. The books turned into a Christian phenomenon that turned into a bunch of rules that turned into tsunami whose wake we are still recovering from.

Here is a brief summing up of the rules that came about in this era.

Rule #1: Dating isn’t biblical.

Rule #2: You should never date. You should only court.

Rule #3:  Families should be involved with picking the spouse.

Rule #4: If you do court, you should never ever be alone with the person. Because being alone leads to kissing. And kissing leads to sex. And sex leads to dancing. And we cannot have any dancing now, can we?

Rule #5: If you do court, you better darned well know you are going to marry the person from the first group date you go on. Because you can’t court and then break up. That goes against the very nature of courting.

Most of my single friends and I agree that this was the most detrimental decade to be a Christian  looking for love in the history of mankind.  (Let me add that I do think that most of these guidelines are actually a smart idea for teenagers. But for fully grown adults, they just don’t work well.)

In my next few posts, I am going to look at each of these guidelines and how there may be a few holes in them. I will also try to challenge us with ways to create a more healthy dating culture.

I will start with Rule #1: Dating isn’t biblical:

It is true that dating isn’t biblical. It’s not in the bible. So maybe we should try a marriage philosophy that is in the bible; polygamy. David had lots of wives.  Solomon was the wisest man on earth, and he pretty much had an entire motel full of them. That’s in the bible, so it must be biblical. Taking up this biblical marriage practice would solve a lot of problems. We all know that there are probably about fifteen Christian women for every one Chrstian man. If we just started practicing this tradition, voila! Problem solved!

Of course, we understand that this is not a good idea. We understand that this was a part of the Hebrew culture and surrounding cultures (mostly in the upper class), but that it was never necessarily God’s best. Just because it is in the Bible does not mean that it is right. And conversely, just because it is not in the Bible does not mean that it is wrong. Sometimes it just means that it was not yet a part of the culture.

Our culture is so different then the culture of the bible. When our father wants to buy some land, he doesn’t offer our hand in marriage along with twenty camels and a flock of sheep. Marriage is no longer a business proposition like it used to be. It is a search for a life companion.

Women have so many more rights than they used to that they now get to choose the man they spend their life with. They also are able to make enough money to live off of, and so it is not required of them to have a husband in order to survive. (Throughout history,  there were few alternatives to marriage for livelihood besides prostitution for women.) Women’s rights  have been one of the major factors in our society that brought us from a culture  of arranged marriages to a culture where we can date.  Therefore, dating is not necessarily a bad institution. It is an institution that has progressed as the marriage institution has changed. As we became more independent as a culture, we also became more independent in the way that we chose our mate.

People will argue that the way the western world dates now ends in a 50% divorce rate. I would absolutely agree with them. We live in a culture that is so set on having pleasure that sometimes we stomp on anyone we to get it. We sleep around as if sex was as much of a commitment as buying a cup of coffee in the morning. Some people seem to try spouses on and then throw them out like they are jeans that have gone out of style. Our popular culture has little or no value for covenant and often makes fun of the sacred institution of marriage. I know that this is not the best way. Jesus weeps when relationships are this broken, and so do I.

At the same time, I don’t want to go back to a culture where I am seen as a commodity, where I have no choice in something as important as a man I will live with the rest of my life and that will father my children. I do believe that dating is an institution that has been abused. But just because people around us abuse it or the media might abuse it doesn’t mean we have to.

Instead of seeing dating as unhealthy because it is not in the bible, or unhealthy because people around us have abused it, maybe we can use it as an effective tool in choosing a good partner. We can have good boundaries in our dating. We can learn a lot about ourselves and what match would make sense for us. We can make wise, educated decisions because we have spent good time with different people and ultimately the person we are going to be committed to. Dating can become very useful in our journey of marrying well if we use it the right way.

Maybe now we can come into a new era where we can side hug dating hello. (I would say kiss dating hello, but we need to have good boundaries now, don’t we?)