Monday, July 8, 2013

My "No Man Plan"

What is a “No Man Plan”?  This is my plan for the next five years of my life.  It includes the goals I have set for myself: Finish my time in Germany, get a job when returning to California, finish college with heavy semesters, (and possibly summer school), and buy a house when I graduate with my BA degree.  Oh, and not to mention: Leaving guys (or at least, guys in the romantic sense) out of the picture for the next five years.

Why would I want to leave guys and romance out of the next five years of my life?

In less than a month, I will be 22-years-old. Not only will my age be changing by one digit, but I’ll also be having my 22-year anniversary of being single.

I've mentioned this before - but for a review - just in case you haven't read the other entries: I have never been on a date.  I have never had an actual boyfriend.  I have never been kissed…All of which, is considered to be “weird” by American standards. 

Sometimes I look around at all my friend and at people my age.  Most people, by the age of 22, have already been on a date.  Many of my friends that are my age are now engaged, married, and/or already have children.  While I know I want to wait for the right guy and that I don’t want to settle for anything less then God’s plan, I still sometimes feel behind in the relationship world.  In fact, when I was 18-years-old, a 12-year-old told me that I should join a dating website like eHarmony.

While I have been blessed to avoid so much heartache that many American teen girls face by the age of 15 or 16, I haven’t been as lucky to completely avoid all heart aches – even in the midst of being single.

Although I have always been single, I have had feelings for a few guys that I have known.  Little did I know, before I started to have feelings for them, that these male friends in my life would one day be a new root in my of heartbreak. 

Let me introduce my friend Jason*.  He and I were really great friends.  We talked often about every topic under the sun.  Our families had a long history of friendships, and he and I became really good friends.  Things were going great between us, and honestly, I was getting mixed signals from him.  One minute I would be getting signals from him that he might have feelings in return, but the next minute I wouldn’t be sure.

I never told him how I felt about him (in fact, I’ve never told any guy I’ve been interested in that I had feelings for him)…so we always stayed completely on a friendship level.  As great as our friendship was, I guess I was deceived.  We were talking like normal one day, and then I never heard from him again.  I’m not sure if I did or said anything to upset him, or if he had something take place in his life that made him fall off the face of the planet.  I may never know why our friendship ended the way it did, but it was a hard heartache for me to recover from.

Then there is my friend Wesley*.  Boy, did I fall hard for Wesley!  We started as friends, and eventually I found myself head-over-heels for this guy.  I found my feelings for Wesley to be very inconvenient as I was content being single and more than content not having feelings for anyone.  In fact, I tried as hard as I could to get away from how I felt.  Once I discovered I had feelings for him, I prayed to God, “Lord…Please give Wesley one of three things: Bad breath, bad body odor, or a personality trait that I would consider as a big enough flaw to break my interest, but not big enough to prevent a good friendship from taking place.”

Well, Wesley brushed his teeth, was well groomed, and was a great guy.  We complimented one another in many ways and our friendship grew stronger…and my feelings for him grew with it.

Eventually Wesley found out that I had feelings for him – but not from me.  The whole thing is a long and private story – but he found out how I felt through someone else.   As it turns out, he doesn’t have feelings for me in return, but our friendship has been preserved as we still keep in touch on a regular basis.  While our friendship is still maintained, I would be lying to say that I wasn’t disappointed and would be lying if I told you my heart didn’t painfully break.

Not only can I tell you about the guys I have liked in the past, but I can tell you about other situations too….Like the time a guy named Bradley* texted me, telling me I should let him know when I would be in town so we could “get together”…And I’m not talking about getting together to watch a movie or to meet for coffee.  His text was a bit more crude and slang-filled then what I am willing to post on my blog.  (Or the way my mom would say it, “rude, crude, and socially unacceptable!”)  The guy showed interest in me, but only on a level that I am saving for marriage. 

While I didn’t have an interest in Bradley in a romantic way, my heart still broke.  My heart broke, realizing the lack of respect he had for me as a woman, but also himself.  I’m worth more then a one-night stand, and so is he.  I’m worth far more than what I felt degraded to by his one, simple, text message.

I have a few more stories about guy friends I have liked in the past, but I also have more stories that include a few Bradleys…but I won’t get into all of the stories I could share.  Sometimes, as a single woman, my heart breaks in other ways. 

While my heart has broken a little in each situation, I am thankful my heart has never broken beyond repair.  I am thankful that I haven’t had boyfriend after boyfriend, giving my heart away to the wrong guy(s).  I am thankful that I have avoided deeper heartbreaks that many girls go through several times by the time they are my age.

Although I am thankful, I’m not saying being single is easy.  Hence my “no man plan”.

My plan has been in place for about two months now.   While my plan doesn’t include dating or a relationship – I’m not saying I am completely against the idea of dating someone.  If it’s meant to happen, it is meant to happen.  What I am saying is: I’m not looking for something to happen.  Even with my plan in place, my desire truly is to one day meet a guy, fall in love, and to marry.  I’m also not going to say “no” to the possibility of a blessing from God just because I’m stubbornly holding onto a plan that may not be God’s plan.

In the past, I have desired to be in a relationship.  I think I desired it so much that I spent too much focusing on the idea of finding the right guy, waiting for a relationship to occur…all causing disappointment to take place when things didn’t work out the way I had hoped.

If a guy likes me in the next five years, so be it.  If he likes me – he can let me know.  I’m a bit old school I guess, but I believe it’s the guy’s job to pursue me, the female, and for him be the leader of a household.  I don’t want to develop special feelings for another guy, just to have him not like me back, causing a new dose of pain.  This time – I want a (decent and Godly) man to like ME, and to let me know on his own.  I’m not going to look for him…He can find me.  If he’s there, he’s there.  If he’s not, then he’s not.  (I sometimes wonder if a bus possibly hit him while he was on the way to find me…ha!)

Really, I guess I am trying to avoid unnecessary heartaches while using my single years to focus things that are here, now, and in front of me.  I can’t make my dream man magically appear in front of me, giving myself that perfect, romantic “happily ever after”.  In fact, I may never have a relationship to lead towards marital bliss…but I can focus on becoming a better person, God’s plan, friendships,  relationships with family, and other dreams that I can make come true.

God knows the desires of my heart…but more than that, He knows the plans He has for my life.  Single or one day married – life will be a great adventure with God in control.  While it won’t always be easy, I no longer want to take for granted the joys of being single.

Here’s to a successful, upcoming, busy five years.  

The Travelin’ Chick,

****** Names of all of the guys I have mentioned in this entry have been changed for privacy for myself, and for them as well.  

Challenges for Singles (In a Couple's World)

I know that the world doesn’t revolve around couples.  There are singles from all walks of life - by choice, by fate, or even by tragedy.

Like I’ve mentioned in a former blog post – I’ve been single all my life.  I’ve never been on a date, had a boyfriend, and I have yet to experienced my first kiss. 

Kenneth is to the right, I am in the middle.  Sadly, I don't
remember the girl to the right.
Okay, scratch that.  I did have a boyfriend in kindergarten.   His name was Kenneth, and he had red hair and freckles.  He even built me a birdhouse with his dad.  Once, he even gave me a haircut...One that may have needed correcting by a professional. However, as time went on, we realized that we were both too young to know what we wanted in a relationship...So…We ended it. We ended the relationship, and all other boyfriend experiences ceased to ever exist.

In the past, (especially in high school) I have desired to have the experience of going on dates and having a (real) boyfriend.  Living in a world where movies and TV shows make dating and relationships easy to find, it seems as though finding a date should be as easy- if not easier - than counting to 10.  However, the older I get, the more I realize that Hollywood gives false expectations to young girls.  Also, the older I get, the happier I am that I have avoided certain heartbreaks and awkward ex-boyfriend situations that many girls have gone through.

But now I am 21-years-old, and less than a month from turning 22.   I would be lying to you if I told you no longer had desires to have a relationship and deeper friendship with a guy.  The thing is…I do desire to have a relationship.  I think that’s normal for women my age – and any age across the timeline of life.

As time goes on, the more I realize the importance in the way I look at this desire. It’s okay to want a relationship.  I just can’t let my life focus on the possibility of a future boyfriend or future husband.  I can’t live my life in the moments of waiting for something that may not be in God’s plans for my life…Waiting for that “special guy” to come my way, to make my life complete.

Finding a man to spend my life with will not make my life complete.  My life needs to be complete in my relationship with God and confidence in myself as person, and nothing else.  No man can complete me, just as I cannot make anyone else feel whole.  We can only compliment one another.

This all being said – I also can’t deny the struggle that I have felt in moments of singleness.  Moments when childhood friends get married and have kids, moments of big dinners filled with young couples – except me, the only single person in the room.  Or even worse…Moments hearing of people who take for granted the love and relationship that they have with their spouse, betraying the other person’s trust in a single moment of extreme stupidity.  (I find situations like this to be the most frustrating.  What I desire to have – what I pray for – others forget the blessing that they have, and take it for granted.)

For the first time in my life, in recent months I have not only known I am single – but I have felt single.  There is a huge difference in knowing something in comparison to feeling it.

Being single, I’ve had ups and downs.   Through my ups and downs – I have compiled a list.  A list for things from experiences that shouldn’t be said to someone who desires a relationship, and things that you can do to reinforce that it’s okay to be single.

1. A few months ago I went to a wedding.  It, in fact, was my cousin’s wedding.  We’re the same age and grew up as best friends.  Over the years, our friendship has changed, but I’d still say we are close.  I know that if I need him – he’s there for me.  If he needs me, I am always here to help him.

As my cousin and his new wife were cutting their wedding cake – that was the moment when I realized he was truly married.  (Yes, even after the “I do” and “You may kiss the bride” part.)  It was a moment when I realized that my cousin, my childhood partner in crime, was now grown up enough to be committed to another for life.  I was getting a little choked up when someone next to me jokingly said, “So, Crystal, when are you getting married?”…Excuse me?!??

While I am sure this person was joking, I found it to be hurtful and insensitive…and not very funny.   The only ceremony I am focused on going through any day soon is my college graduation.

2. When a single woman (or man) tells you the desires of their heart, don’t respond with something like, “You’re only 21-years-old!”  My response to that statement is, “So what??  What does age have to do with it?”   My 20-year-old friend got married a week ago, and my 22-year-old friend will soon be a mom.

When this statement is said (and it has), it feels as though my feelings are being devalued …It feels as though my feelings aren’t something to be taken seriously, just because I am 21-years-old.  I am person…A person with feelings and dreams, and they are important – no matter my age.

3. In regards to number two…If someone is confiding to you about their feelings in wanting to one day find a significant other, I don’t recommend saying, “God has someone special planned for your life.”  Only God knows if I, or anyone else, is meant to marry. There is something beautiful about marriage – but there is also beauty in being single. God may choose me, as well as others, to stay beautiful in our singleness.

4. Usually when cards are passed out in church settings or mailed to our house, the card is addressed to my parents…and me.  However, this year at Christmas time, my parents and I got a Christmas card from a new couple at our church.  The difference this time? This time I didn’t have to share with my parents.  The couple wrote me my own Christmas card!  Yes, I live with my parents right now.  Yes, I am single.  But giving me my own Christmas card?  This makes me feel valued and independent, and tells me that I don’t have to be attached to anyone else to be thought of in card or invitation settings.  I can’t even begin to tell you how happy getting my own Christmas card meant to me.  I encourage you to write a single person their own card - even if they live with their parents!  

There have also been times like when someone once wouldn’t give me a missionary’s prayer card paper to fill out – even at my request - as the person told me, “You don’t need one.  I already gave one to your dad.”  The service was still taking place, the missionaries were still speaking, and the other people sitting near me were distracted as they listened in on the conversation...and were baffled like myself.

Yes, I usually live with my parents.  But, I have been in and out of their house for about four years now – and at the time, I was preparing to leave for Germany.  The paper I wanted to fill out?  It was to write out my email address so I would be able to receive the missionary’s updates as they were sent out.  My email address is different from my mom’s, and is different from my dad’s.  I usually live with them – but I still live a life of my own as an adult.  I am independent.

While I know the person who refused to give me the paper and prayer card was probably trying to save a few trees, the situation did hurt.

5. This one is attached to number four.  If there has been big news shared with my parents, please don’t assume that they’ve told me.  Again, I do live with them, but I live my own life.  I go to school, help watch my cousin, hang out with my friends, and travel. If there is news that you want me to hear about – tell me and make sure I know.  I would love to hear the news as well as an opportunity to catch up with you! Please don’t rely on my parents to inform me.  They also live busy lives and may forget to tell me your news or information.

6. Don’t teach us, as singles, to wait for a spouse as though it’s the most important life event.  Teach us to live.   Yes, you should encourage abstinence of sex before marriage. However, teach us it’s okay to live in the moment…Teach us that our lives don’t revolve around meeting a potential life-time mate.

7.  Do encourage me – and other singles – to be confident and independent in who we are!  We are not defined by our relationship status.  Being single, we can have late nights with friends, have flexibility to travel, and have our own schedules.


These are just a few observations I have made from my own life as a young, single woman.  I am sure that there are other single women (and men) who have made a similar list of their own.

Currently, I am single.  Maybe one day I’ll marry – maybe one day I won’t.  From my older teenage years until now, I have had my ups and downs with singleness and I am sure I’ll continue to have these moments.   But, I know it’s not just an issue for those who are single. Even people who are dating and people who are married have their ups and downs too in regards to their relationships, or what people from the outside say or do.

Please don’t think from this post that I am desperately seeking for someone to date – because I’m not.  In fact, I have a five-year “no man plan” in place (please feel free to click on the link!). Again, I do have my up and down moments and frustrations, but I’m embracing the single years…taking chances in doing things that may be more difficult for dating or married people to do – such as living in Germany for six months.

Single, dating, or married.  Life is a beautiful adventure – despite your relationship status.

The Travelin’ Chick,

Monday, July 1, 2013

Welcomed by the Youth

The last two Friday nights that I've been in Germany, I have been attending a youth night/Bible study.  The youth group meets once a week, every Friday.

Before I continue about my time in the youth group - let me define what they refer to as a youth group. The youth group at the specific church I am attending isn't just middle school thru high school ages.  The ages range from about 17 or so until about 20-something, maybe even early thirties.

The first Friday I went, I was very nervous.  Here I am, in a new culture, not knowing the language, or the people.  I didn't know anyone in the room - except the person who had just given me a ride, whom I had only spent about 10 minutes with at that point.  I was told that many people there knew English, but I didn't know who knew English, or how well.

I met one guy named Peter.  He talked to me for about five minutes and was very welcoming.  I guess he could tell that I was a bit nervous, as he asked me, "You're quite shy, aren't you?"  I told him, "Ummm...Sometimes."  He replied, "But I thought Americans weren't shy??"  Ha...I guess I proved that stereotype wrong!

Peter then took me to meet a few girls.  They were very kind and took it upon themselves to translate everything to me during the night. Announcements, the message, songs...You named it, they heard it in German and turned it into English.

At one point, one of the leaders (and brother of the people I live with), Hermann, was giving some announcements to the group.  While this part wasn't translated word for word, I knew he was sharing that there was an American in the group who only spoke English.  (AKA: Me.)  While introducing me, there was a moment I found to be awkward.  One of the guys in the group said something (in German, of course) that resulted in his whole row looking back at me and laughter being shared among people in the room.  I have no idea what was said.  I didn't think to ask for the translation because I was caught off-guard and felt a bit embarrassed...but at least some people got a good laugh...right??

During the service they also sang two songs in German, and one in English.  The first Friday was a great introduction to the group.  I met a few people and they were all very welcoming.

This last Friday, I went back once again.  The same girls helped me out again by spending time with me and translating their native language to mine.

During the message, the leaders had everyone break into about 7 groups.  Before I realized what was happening, people started counting off.  People who said the number "one" were part of group "one".  People who said the number "two" went with group "two".  However, I don't yet understand the numbers in German.  I've heard them before, but not enough to realize when people are counting.  The group was counting and saying their group number.  Then, it was my turn to say a number...but I was still clueless as to what was even taking place.  Once it hit my turn, I think I got the "deer in the headlights" look as I knew I was suppose to say something - but I didn't know what.  Thanks to my new friend for allowing me to follow her to her group!

The groups were all given the same challenge to discuss.  The challenge was to find something (an act of service) that each group can do for the church or the community within the next month.  My group spoke in English the whole time, with a little bit of German.  I insisted that they could speak in German, but one of the guys told me, "But speaking in English is cool!"

Each group had a piece of paper for our group to write down our act of service we wanted to do.  Our group came up with an act of service and they wrote down the names of each member of our small gathering.  When they got to my name, one of the guys asked me, "How do you describe your name?"

How do I describe my name?  What???  It took me a second, and then I realize what he was asking.  I responded, "Oh!  Do you mean how to I spell my name?"

For those of you who don't know much about the German alphabet (as I didn't know much about it either until recently), their alphabet is a little bit different.  There are a few more letters in it and the letters are pronounced differently.  Sadly, I couldn't remember how to pronounce all the letters the German way - but I did remember one important one.  The following was how the next conversation took place:

"I spell my name C-R-Y..." - Me
"Y?  Which letter is Y?" - German Guy
"I don't know...I don't remember..." - Another German Guy
"Oh!!  Sorry...I mean 'upsilon'!...Did I say that right??" - Me
"Yes!  You did!  Good job!" - My New Friend

While I couldn't remember the exact way to say each letter, I remembered 'upsilon'!  If you've ever attempted to learn another language, you know exactly how good it feels when you remember a word (or, in this case, a letter!) and get something right.  It's one of the greatest feelings of accomplishment.  It also gives the feeling and thought of, "I remembered something in German!  Yesssss!  Maybe I'll be okay here after all."

After each group finished filling out their paper of what they want to do in the next month, we turned the paper in and all gathered together for the rest of the service.  The leaders read off the different papers of the tasks everyone intends to do.  Some mentioned that they want to help the church janitor clean for a day, some want to help care for the church garden, others want to provide snacks for the Friday night youth service.  Our group decided to write notes of encouragement to members of the church who are currently in a time of discouragement and hardship.

As the leader was reading off all the different things people planned to do, she was reading them in German as my new friends translated for me.  Then, the leader switched to English and looked at me saying, "The next one is a surprise for Crystal.  One of the groups wants to sing a song for you in English."

The group went up to the stage.  The same leader who introduced me the week before, Hermann, was in this group, and he spoke saying something like, "We just wanted to let you know we are very glad and happy that you are in our youth group while you are here.  We want to sing a song for you and we hope you enjoy it."

The song wasn't one that I knew - but I liked it!  The song is called, "Heaven is a Wonderful Place".  The group sang the song and then invite everyone else to join them for the second round.  If you don't know the song - click here for a youtube (random) video of the song.

After the service was over, they had hotdogs for everyone to enjoy.  (Yum!)  As we ate our hotdogs we all chatted and some of us stayed to play games.

I got to the church around 8:00 pm.  I didn't leave until about 12:00 am.

I'm really looking forward to meeting more of the youth group this upcoming Friday, as well as getting better aquatinted with my new friends.

I have only gone to the youth group twice, but I look forward to going more than I can really express.  The youth of the church have really gone above and beyond in welcoming me to Germany.  Although I've told them I don't expect someone to translate for me every time, or for them to sing a song in English every week, so far they have.  Every time I have left the group, I leave feeling encouraged.  They have really included me and I am excited about making new friends.

The Travelin' Chick,