Thinking with You
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The Big 'V' Word

I’m sure that many of you ladies are doing your best to go on dates and to meet as many guys as you can, in order to let your future man find you.  Good on you!  But I’m sure that there are also many of you who are just too scared to put yourselves out there. 

Perhaps you find it more comfortable just hanging out with the same crew after church each week, sticking to your usual connect group, and making the same not-so-funny jokes with your one or two male colleagues day after day.  Maybe you engage in some romantic connections via Facebook, text or online dating, but when it comes to actually meeting in person, you think, ‘Nah…’ and bail out.  Do you find yourself wearing worn out, frumpy clothes, even though you can afford new ones?  Do you think to yourself, ‘There’s no point doing my hair and makeup; no-one cares.’  Or are you carrying a lot of extra weight – because you’re scared for someone to see what’s underneath all those layers?  There are plenty of psychological explanations for these behaviours, but the bottom line is that you are probably afraid of the big ‘V’ word: vulnerability.

There can be lots of very traumatic events in our lives that cause us to shut down and to be too afraid to try new things anymore.  Maybe you’ve been through a terrible breakup, even a broken engagement or divorce.  Maybe you’ve been lied to and betrayed by guys.  Maybe you had your heart set on something (or someone) and it didn’t turn out.  Your hopes have been dashed, your spirit crushed.  Maybe no-one has ever looked twice at you, and you feel invisible and worthless. 

Did you realise that where you are today is simply the result of a lot of choices?  It’s true that as children, we have very little power and we are subject to the choices made by our caregivers, and/or by those who abused their power in our lives.  My heart goes out to those of you who have been mistreated in any way, and not given the start in life that God designed you to have.  Those of you who resonate with this – you have some processing and grieving to do, and a few extra hurdles to overcome.  But it can be done. 

Now that you are an adult, you have a plethora of choices at your fingertips.  Perhaps you don’t realise it.  Maybe you are living as a powerless victim.  ‘But I have to stay late to finish this project…I have to visit my mother every Tuesday night…I have to baby-sit for my step-brother’s kids every fortnight…I can’t leave this church now, after all I’ve invested…I can’t quit the team, I’ll be letting them down…I can’t change careers, this is my dream…I can’t lose weight, this is just the way I am…’ Why don’t you have a go at finishing this sentence:  But I have to

-       But do you? 

Every choice we make has a consequence.  And yes, consequences can be hard and scary to deal with.  But what’s it gonna be?  You get to decide.  What will it take for you to risk something?  If you don’t change anything, nothing will change.  You don’t have to bet the farm – but just try to change one thing this week.  Stand up for yourself in that work meeting.  Say ‘no’ to that oppressive family member.  Take a Sunday off and lie in the sun instead of going to church.  Try doing your hair and makeup a different way.  Go along to a new connect group.  Do something that feels risky for you. (For me, this is going one day without flossing my teeth. Naughty!) You get the idea!  We’re not looking for results overnight, but for a new confidence and self-esteem to start bubbling up inside you. You need to start feeling a sense of empowerment in yourself as an independent adult - free of others’ pressures and rules.

Here’s the only recipe you need to start changing: the pain of staying the same has to be greater than the pain of change.  That’s it!  If you are not changing, then you’re obviously content with the life you now have.  If it was terrible, you’d do something different.   

So instead of whining about your situation and lamenting the problems in your life, CHANGE. And stop over-spiritualising it! God is not going to bring Prince Charming to knock on your door with a block of chocolate and box set of OITNB. Get off that couch!

And sure, it’ll be hard.  I never said it would be easy.  Do you really think it’s easy for an overweight person to join the gym? Do you think it’s easy to go to yet another party by yourself, hoping that you won’t be sitting by yourself all night?  Do you think it’s easy to offend friends and family members with your new decisions?  Heck no.  But you have to decide if it’s worth it. 

Here’s a good place to start: stop saying ‘no’ to things, and start saying ‘yes’!  If you are in community, you are probably receiving invitations on a regular basis.  It might be for women’s events, connect group dinners, church socials, sporting clubs or events, BBQ’s, or even…dates!  You might not realise it, but perhaps you have an automatic ‘no’ switch built into your anti-vulnerability armour.  The guys at work invite you to grab a drink on Friday arvo…you say no.  Your physio invites you to join their team for a charity walk-a-thon…you say no.  Your pastor invites you to give a short testimony at church… you say no.  Come on, ladies!  The thing is, every opportunity that you wouldn’t otherwise have had leads to more opportunities down the road!  Sure, you might think the guys at work are less than appealing, but maybe one of their cool flatmates drops in to say hello. You just don’t know where or when the connections could happen.

So for now – practice saying ‘yes’.  (Obviously don’t say yes to freaky guys asking you to walk down a dark alley.)  In my next post I’ll talk about some tools you can use to overcome your past hurts and fears.  It’s a journey, but I believe you can and will get there.  You are strong, capable and your life is not over yet, sister!

Love Ruth xo