It’s Time To Ditch The Term “Sexual Purity”.


I’d like you to meet someone, Visitors.

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This is Beauty Beyond Bones. (beautybeyondbones.com) She’s a stunning, young Christian woman who writes a blog about her life, which starts with a very dark description of her bout with anorexia.

Visitors, her story is friggin’ terrifying. I had no idea. For those of us in helping professions, I’d like to steer you to her blog, where she eloquently writes about the depth of self-loathing, self-hatred and utter despair that lashed her mercilessly during her battle for her life. Beauty, as we shall call her, entered an inpatient eating disorders clinic at 5′ 6″ and 78 lbs. She was so skeletal that all of her inpatient medical personnel were on a death watch for this kid, and were surprised when she woke up each morning. She had depleted ALL of her fat stores, including the ones that protected her brain and vital organs. Her body was feeding on her muscles- the biggest concern being that her body would start to devour her heart, and it would stop. Horrifying.

Read here for a heartwrenching description of Beauty’s raging battle with profound dysmorphia. (https://beautybeyondbones.com/2015/03/) Brace yourself, this is a very difficult read. She’s a victorious delight now, and writes about her artistic endeavors in NYC.

Beauty is a true, powerful warrior of the Lord. With the help of the Spirit of God, daily she vanquishes the inner voice of torment that works so hard to convince her that she is unloved, a burden, a parasite, and the world would be a better place without her.

Beauty recently wrote a  troubling column detailing her commitment to her future husband. She wants to preserve her sexuality as a magnificent gift reserved only for the man God is preparing for her.

Read this one, Visitors, there’s something off here.  (https://beautybeyondbones.com/2016/06/13/v-card/.)  Did you catch that? Beauty is a committed Christian woman, yet somehow she’s saddled with the idea that obedience to God’s direction for sexual exclusivity is somehow weird. Granny panties-orthopedic shoes- six cats at home weird. Conspicuous, somehow unnatural, weird.

What’s up with that? What did we, fellow Christians, have to do with adding to, or lightening that burden that weighs on Beauty?

I’d like you to meet someone else, Visitors. Her name is Diane, and I met her through a shared interest in dance.

Diane was blindsided by a recent divorce. She’s the same age as me, and had been married for the same 23 years. Diane was very engaging to me for many reasons. One of which was that her husband presented as if he were an abuse survivor, a topic that they never broached during their marriage. Predictably, physical intimacy was a challenge for Diane and her husband,  one that became insurmountable and eventually was the tipping point that ended the marriage.

Diane was devastated by this. She simply didn’t see it coming. When her husband abruptly had her served with papers, she was plunged into an ice-cold, isolating eddy of despair.

Physically, Diane is one of the most stunning examples of humanity I have seen. She’s an eight time IronMan athlete, her full head of chestnut hair sprinkled with becoming touches of grey. Running is her specialty, she habitually brings home Firsts in her age group in any race she participates. She’s nationally ranked, and coaches running groups of lesser athletes with humor and grace.

I helped Diane pick out some clothes for a student production at her studio. For me, it was a blast to peruse shocking pinks and lively blues and talk about tailoring items to flatter her unusually fit physique.

Diane could hardly stand it. As we got to know each other better, I would be very direct with Diane.

“Di, look at this dress.  It makes your shoulders look great! Your legs look fabulous in this one, and this one makes you look smoking hot all the way around!”  With every observation, Diane seemed to withdraw, to pull farther into herself. It was as if, in her fifth decade, any aspect of healthy sexuality was somehow taboo, off limits for even adult women to discuss. What’s up with that? Two fellow Christians, talking about sexuality-related things. Why should this be hard?

Like all of my post-40, newly divorced friends, Diane was floundering. Everything she thought she knew to be true had been rocked by this profound rejection.  Diane was ashamed of her life,  ashamed of her failed marriage, and doubted God’s love for her.

Privately, sexual intimacy loomed in front of Diane as a solution. If she could find another man to ‘love’ her in this way, someone with whom she could share her most intimate desires, perhaps life would regain some sense of normalcy. Perhaps she would feel better.  Someone to fill her lonely days, someone to appreciate her athletic aspirations, maybe even someone with whom to share the second half of her life.

It is terribly hard for me to watch my divorced friends suffer like this.  Self deceit is a  trap like no other and Diane paid the price.

One freezing Colorado afternoon, I held her hand on the surgical table as the gentle doctor removed a portion of her intimate parts. I gave her tissues as she wept in lonely sorrow over another man who she thought had loved her, and had abandoned her to the ravages of a cancerous sexual infection he had given her.

Diane was alone, rejected,  again.

Christian Visitors,  how can we mitigate this, help ease this suffering of our own?  We simply must drop the shame, that will help.   We must unbind the language of cultural judgement, and attach our value to the word of God. ALL sin is created equal, ALL steps outside of God’s best break the heart of Jesus.  Beauty has enough on her plate without shame, and Diane is bone-tired and weary. We have to talk about these intimate things, and we have to do it in a healthy way.  Science and the Word of God tells us that sex is entangling, every single time. There is no such thing as ‘casual’ sex, ‘free’ sex, or ‘meaningless’ sex. That said, sexuality is a gift! ALL aspects of it!

Beauty, you are simply lovely in your slinky little  dress and stiletto heels. Your makeup is darling, and your fashion sense is impeccable! Diane, you’ve worked very hard on your body, and now, you are the picture of glowing health. Your athletic performance is reflected in your lovely form,  and  you are drop-dead gorgeous in cerulean blue.

American Christians, let’s look at this hurting population through the lens of unconditional love. There is no difference at all between Diane’s mistake and me holding a grudge, or getting angry for no good reason. We are ALL impure.  Jesus made us all righteous, if we allow it.  Let’s start looking at each other how Jesus does.

Much love,

Victoria

 

 

Online Dating and the Digital Language of Love


I have news for you, Visitors. I’ve started online dating, and it is a blast.

Nothing for OKCupid?

Nothing for OKCupid?

Now, most of you know me pretty well. I’m a committed Christian, and in my life, I take all comers. I have “normal” friends, single friends, married friends, adulterous friends, gay friends, a dear person who is an authentic transsexual,  deviant friends with every fanged addiction imaginable, and families in every single configuration you can possibly come up with. It’s very enriching.

(I model this take-all-comers attitude in my school as well.  When we admit people, we have a very directed interview, where we explain that we come from a conservative Biblical worldview. Of course, we cover the usual things-curricula, regulations, teacher qualfications, etc.  We also explain, clearly, that your preschooler will get Christmas as Jesus’ birth, Easter as his resurrection, daily prayers, Bible stories, all the things a good, solid, Christian school should provide. Choose EA or not, but know what will happen. )

I had heard about OK Cupid among some of my friends, so I decided to open an account and see what the commotion was all about. I figured there is nothing inherently unBiblical about meeting people like this,  it piqued my curiosity.

Well. Those of you familiar with meeting people this way know the drill. Fill out a profile about yourself, mark some interests, set your limits, and off you go. Gracious! One hour and 253 “likes” later (no exaggeration) I started sifting through all this information.

Good heavens alive, Visitors, what an education! I put down my professional reading for the night, and started reviewing data points.

Data point #1 : Hi! I’m Rich. Ever consider dating a younger man? Your profile looked great! (Rich, 32, teaches English at a public school in Denver)

Data point #2: Hello Beautiful!  I’m Ed. You have a calm “vibe” and I’d like to get to know you better! ( Ed, an engineer at Martin Marietta)

Data point #3: Hello, Gorgeous! I’m  Mitch! (Followed by this groaner) God was surely showing off when he made you! Care to chat? (Senior petroleum engineer at a local oil company)

I quickly activated my ‘predator sensor’ and wrote off the creepy idiots asking for intrusive information. Surprisingly, this was, oh, perhaps 20% of the total. Fewer than I would have thought.  I then wrote off the ones with obvious health problems, for reasons you can guess.

People like Rich, I shelved for further attention, more on that later. “Mitch” and “Ed” types (not their real names, of course) garnered my attention. Why would professional, educated men resort to something like online dating? Are we desperate, boys? (Ooops, pots calling kettles black, came to mind)

So, I gave some thought to this. See, in my case, meeting like-minded, Christian, male buddies is nigh on impossible. I work with a team of delightful women. Middle aged (mostly),  white, devoted-to-their jobs women. All of you know that my dad stroked a while ago, so I gladly take him to HIS church, full of gentle grey heads. I go to grad school with hard-boiled (usually married) cops or fresh-faced twentyish grad students.

Is it too much to ask to hang out  with someone my own age? HA! Not on OK Cupid. This whole thing is just fascinating. As I continued to peruse the data points, I discovered my vocabulary to be lacking. How about these newly-coined words-

Sapiosexual- Someone who views intelligence as the most attractive characteristic. (OK, that’s a pretty cool attribute)

Demisexual- Someone who can only be sexually attracted to someone with whom they have developed a strong emotional bond.  (What? Isn’t it supposed to be like that?)

Omnisexual-(synonym to Pansexual)- Someone who is attracted sexually to both genders.  (Oh, brother, how convenient.)

This exercise in vocabulary development led to a whole new world of ‘blue’ vocabulary that I can’t possibly relate to you, Visitors, without censoring this essay into nonsense.

At any rate, I whittled down this tidal wave of interest into a few likely candidates, so far.

“Rich” piqued my interest immensely. What!  He’s 32! Mommy issues? I won’t lie about my age as a matter of pride. I could be your mother, boy!

Seriously!

Seriously!

What followed was an utterly charming conversation with an athletic young man who actually likes introducing middle schoolers to good literature. Turns out he was at a recent 21 Pilots concert the same night I was, and had just as much fun. This light and fluffy guy actually likes the focus older women possess. Hilarious!

“Ed” was genuine, if a bit of a downer. A parent of adult kids, Ed is four years divorced, and striking out on his own, relationally. Fair enough.

“Mitch” is Armenian, and speaks more graciously than he writes, thank heaven. He’s an attendee of an Armenian Orthodox church, and invited me to a service. I think I shall go!

All of this simply cracks me up, Visitors. The communication skills required in this kind of relationship-building are immense. We only get words until we talk on the phone, and even that is incomplete. Nothing, absolutely nothing, beats in-person communication, and that’s coming next. I’ll keep you posted.

With great hilarity,

Victoria

PS- I love you all, and I can anticipate the cautions a mile off. Remember, I am safety-minded to the point of paranoia. Meeting in crowded, well-lit spots? Yep! Telling someone where I am and when I’ll be back? Got it covered! Applying all of my newly-acquired background check skills to these guys? You betcha!

🙂 V

“Sex Is Not An Egalitarian Pleasure Party”


 

I  wonder if my kids will recognize innocent lovemaking someday.

I wonder if my kids will even recognize innocent lovemaking someday.

 

Hmm. Well, that one certainly got my attention. Most of you know that my three older kids are in college now, and they all  come back with things that constantly startle and amaze. My older daughter is blossoming into quite a feminist, and is walking a line between frothing rabidness and downright insightfulness. (It’s actually pretty funny, she’s self aware enough to call herself trite. )

Still, I listen to her like I did over lunch today, and can’t quite believe what I hear.  We discussed this issue today. The quote titling my column today came from a two year old column by one Jared Wilson, a blogger for an organization called “The Gospel Coalition.” Mr. Wilson wrote a column for the Coalition entitled “The Polluted Waters of 50 Shades of Grey.” (He has since taken the column down.) In it, he quotes another author -Doug Wilson, who wrote in his book Fidelity: What it Means to be a One-Woman Man:

“Because we have forgotten the biblical concepts of true authority and submission, or more accurately, have rebelled against them, we have created a climate in which caricatures of authority and submission intrude upon our lives with violence.

When we quarrel with the way the world is, we find that the world has ways of getting back at us. In other words, however we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts.This is of course offensive to all egalitarians, and so our culture has rebelled against the concept of authority and submission in marriage. This means that we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.”

Now just sit with me for a second.  I have trouble getting over my revulsion about the words ‘conquers, colonizes and plants.’ Much less the violating implications of ‘surrenders and accepts.’

Rachel Held Evans,  an Egalitarian Christian blogger, barely restrains her wrath from these men. I’ll excerpt what she said shortly.

Apparently, there are labels to be had here. The Gospel Coalition types, as I understand them, call themselves “complementarians.” That seems to mean that they accept Americanized-(italics mine) gender roles as God ordained. Men are in authority over all things, women are to submit.

Egalitarians seem to reject this, and accept roles with more liberality. As far as sex is concerned, it kind of boggles my mind that this is even a debate. Here is what Rachel Held Evans had to say: (rachelheldevans.com/blog/gospel-coalition-douglas-wilson-sex)

According to this post, sex is just another avenue through which a man must exert his authority over woman. As with everything else, the man is the boss and the woman is the subordinate. Wilson contrasts this “God-ordained” relationship of authority and submission to that of an “egalitarian pleasure party,” which I can only assume refers to a sexual relationship characterized by mutual pleasure, mutual authority, mutual submission, and mutual respect—which sounds a lot more desirable to me than being conquered and colonized. 

Now, Ms. Evans continues with lengthly reference to Song of Songs, the first chapter, where she describes the Shulamite woman as going out, finding her husband, and initiating the joy of sex with a willing partner. In First Corinthians 7:3-4 the Apostle Paul also teaches about the mutuality of the marriage bed.

I don’t label myself as anything but Scriptural, but I find myself landing with Ms. Evans on this one. How on earth is there anything but mutuality in the marriage bed, as taught in Scripture? Gracious.

Really, to me, I don’t care for any of this theological bickering, only inasmuch as it applies to the people I love. I must say, though, I am concerned. As my children fly out of the nest, they float through a lot of this relational nonsense. Fortunately for me, I was raised in a household that valued ‘hiding God’s word in my heart’ and not much else. It helped a lot when I met Chris, who had been blown about by all sorts of feel good teaching. None of that helped heal the hole in his heart from an abusive family dynamic. Only leaning on the eternal, unchangeable, healing of God’s spirit set him free.

My prayer for my children, as for you, is that we continue to find solid, baggage-free, Scriptural teaching that is not viewed through the lens of the culture or fad of the day. That we continue to dig through the treasure of Scripture and find out what God has to say about matters of the heart, rather than have someone do our thinking for us.

Biblegateway.com is a great place to start. I have great faith in your ability to think, Visitors,  and Biblegateway has a great parallel feature where you can look up what you are interested in, find several versions of scripture, and start asking yourself the important questions. Then go to your pastor, or write me even, and let’s figure some of this stuff out together.

Love to you all,

Victoria

(Note, Jared Wilson has since apologized for the content of his 2012 column.hegospelcoalition.org/blogs/gospeldrivenchurch/2012/07/20/some-reflections-just-one-explanation-and-apologies/)

Doug Wilson stands firm.

Faces of Love: Generations of Pride


So, who knew I had a completely badass brother? In 2008, my brother, John J. Newkirk, published The Old Man and the Harley.

Look for the book at theoldmanandtheharley.com. Tyndale was smart enough to publish it, and you can be inspired to get it on Amazon.

Look for the book at  theoldmanandtheharley.com. Tyndale was smart enough to publish it, and you can be inspired to get it on Amazon.

John’s a pretty bright guy. He’s also the best brother a gal could have. He’s a double EE from Renssalear Polytechnic Institute, Dad is also a graduate as well. Both with a powerful sense of family, history and citizenship.

In the summer of 1939, my dad, a young Jack Newkirk, set off on a rickety Harley to see both the New York and San Francisco World’s Fairs. He had no way of knowing it was to the the autumn of his youth, and that his entire generation would soon be thrust into the most devastating conflict in history, WWII.

Seven decades later, John retraced this epic ride with Dad, in a silent hope the old soldier will still be proud of the America he fought for. Each mile brought discovery as the author learns of his namesake, “Scarsdale Jack Newkirk”  the heroic Squadron Leader of the legendar Flying Tigers, and of his father’s life on the road and in the jungles of the South Pacific during World War II.

The result is quintessential Americana, a sweeping portrait of the grit, guts, ingenuity, and sacrifice that defined a nation, and a timely lesson from the Greatest Generation on how we can overcome our most pressing challenges and reclaim the American Dream.

I’m proud of these two generations of men in my family. I’m the mother of a firstborn son, and thank God he had the first eighteen years of his life with a man who wasn’t afraid to be manly, like John and Dad.

Study this one with me for a minute.

You could say apples don't fall far from trees. Except that God grafted Abi into our family tree, and Dad couldn't be prouder.

You could say apples don’t fall far from trees. Except that God grafted Abi into our family tree, and Dad couldn’t be prouder.

So here’s part of the third generation now. Faith is wearing the Salutatorian banner, and Abi is a National Merit scholar. Dad’s goofy grin takes over the picture, he just couldn’t be prouder.

Since my girls lost their dad, I’ve been praying for  ‘manliness’ to surround them. Now, don’t laugh, I realize the words ‘masculinity’ and ‘manliness’ have become comic fodder these days.

But when dealing with families, completeness is such a luxury. Male influence is necessary for child development, I’m convinced of it.

Now, before I get deluged with all kinds of mail about how intolerant I am, let me remind you I’m a single mother. I am not on the prowl for a spouse because my kids need a dad. That’s ridiculous. Loss abounds. One of my favorite bloggers, Prego and the Loon, recounts the tale of her near escape from a dad who very nearly killed her and her child. Bird Martin, of Everyone Has a Story, has very wisely chosen to restrict access to the kids by her meth-addicted husband. Men make mistakes, and women often have to make hard choices. A dear friend also lost her husband to cancer, two weeks before she gave birth. It can be a lonely life.

But how about the normal, healthy masculine guys? The ones like Dad, who fought for this country, came home and slugged out a living for sixty years, took pride in his kids and their accomplishments, and thanked God for his opportunities.

Or John? Electrical engineers are a dime a dozen in this raggedy economy. John is getting older, his kind of jobs are getting fewer and father between. So he regroups and slaves away and produces this marvelous book.

Or my friend Jeff? Look at this picture for a moment. Jeff has endured his fair share of loss. Jeff is familiar with spousal betrayal, the loss of precious friendships, and the restrictions of his rights as a father.

But even in his fifties he slugs it out. Jeff has three kids, two still need to be provided for. He’s a soldier, a defender of our freedoms, and works two jobs to get it done.

Look closely at this one. Cradled in his big arms, his powerful, careworn hands gently handle the most fragile of our species. A prideful smile plays across his craggy face, and the power of masculine gentleness radiates from the shot

Grampa Jeff when he's not flying a big scary plane.

Grampa Jeff when he’s not flying a big scary plane.

So what to do with all of this? For single people, I have found that Valentine’s day can be a little difficult. It’s a beautiful thing to reframe things sometimes. The love of a father, brother, the love of a child, all of these things truly are blessings from the Lord, and gifts to be treasured.

In fact, if I were a man, I might even give a hearty UH-RAH!

Much love,

Victoria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monty Python and the Fine Art of Worry


It Just Feels So Good When You Stop!

HAHA! Click on the video before you proceed, friends. Everyone should laugh as often as possible!

The monks are chanting  ‘Pie Iesu Domine. Dona eis Requiem’, before they whack themselves on the head with a board. It means “Merciful Lord Jesus, Grant them Rest.” It’s from a Catholic funeral mass.

Isn’t that the best? Gracious, sometimes you just wake up on the right side of the bed. I bounded up this morning, realizing that for some reason I felt about two inches taller and twenty pounds lighter.

Those of you who have been with me for a while, know that their have been three things over the past year that have been dragging me down. (Whack!) First, worrying about if my children will make the transition to college successfully without their dad. (Whack!)

Next, will my family still be speaking to each other after my mother’s will is untangled in probate. (Whack!)

Lastly, this disgraceful state witch hunt about my little Christian school will be settled. (Whack!)

Merciful Lord Jesus! Grant us Rest! (Whack!) It just strikes me as hilarious, that as Christians, we can torture ourselves for ever (Whack!) Or, we can settle down and accept the peace He offers us.

I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.   -Jesus Christ, in John’s letter, chapter fourteen, verse 27. 

Now, of course, that is a heluva lot easier said than done. (Whack!) But here are some facts of the matter, at least for me. My children have made the transition to college successfully, and are winging around as resilient, caring young adults. Wow.

My family is all still friendly! Actually, that’s too sarcastic. I have a great little sister, and a brother of sturdy character, and we’ve had each other’s backs for years.   Mom’s probate was done a week ago.  Remarkable. Especially because people tend to go bananas even with just a little bit of money involved. But in the end, we all agreed that with the Lord as the center of things, it would have killed Mom for us to argue.

I can’t yet fill you in about the EA business, but I will soon. In short, my staff, attorney and I have done the very best we can, and it is in God’s hands now, and that is awesome. We are done.

Bird, Mel, Fang, Chrissy, John, especially John, Michele, Deann and Tom, Dad, Stacey, Betty, Joann, Drew, Becky, Pam, Melissa, double for Melissa, Barb, Todd, Nellen, Steve, Brent, Claire, the list goes on and on. Every single one doing their level best to grab that goofy board. Thanks gang! I’m grateful for every single one of you being Jesus with skin on.

So, I’ve put the board  down. Mercy! It just feels so good when you stop!

We’re Not Dead Yet!

PS – Three days ago, a large, uniform group of readers marched down my blog roll list and showed up on my WordPress Statistics page. I can’t tell who you are, unless you identify yourselves, but this is tremendous compliment. The same number of you read over two dozen of my essays, and I would like to meet you. Prayson? Rick? PC? Princess?  Words Fusion? Is it you? If it is, I admire your work as much as you seem to like mine. Drop me a line, whoever you are at victorialierheimer@yahoo.com. Let’s meet.

Much love,   Victoria

On Intimacy, Touch, and Dates From Hell


So it’s 3:32 am,  and I just put my eighth grader on a plane for the East Coast. I drove through a pounding snowstorm to get to her school, and the possibilities for maudlin analogy are endless.

“Launching the kids”

“Unspooling the kite line”

“Letting loose and letting go”

And on and on. She’s going with her classmates at the local Christian school to see Washington. She danced around with her friends, and I waited in the car to see what would happen next.

Eventually, I hugged her goodbye, and they piled into the buses. The snow kept falling, and I tried to drive home. She’s launching, and I have to let go.  It’s a beautiful thing, and actually does get easier with each child. Slightly.

Tears streamed down my face as I got lost, and missed my daughter.  I am hopeless without Mapquest or a GPS. I found myself on the boulevard of broken dreams, somewhere around Sixth and Wadsworth.

I drove past the dim light of the weed shops, and the grey ghosts of lackluster motels and pawnbrokers.

What would it be like, I wondered, to park the Lexus at the nearest bus station, get on, and  be driven into the unknown? Just me and my computer, an electronic Jack Kerouac, or Least Heat Moon. I didn’t pull over. I continued to drive looking for the equivalent of a twenty first century diner. Starbucks, anyone?

Eventually I found myself at Simms and Union, and pulled into a Denny’s. Astonishing, only  Denny’s is open at this hour. It looked friendly, or at least familiar. Familiar. I grabbed my computer and set up, and was thunderstuck. Of course, this is the Denny’s that my family and I gathered at when my mom died in January. I snapped my computer shut and left.

I drove around aimlessly for a while, thinking about the terrible date I had had several hours earlier. Dante wrote “Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here” on the inscription to the first gate of Hell. How appropriate.

Previous that day I had received  a friendly call from a man I had met at a Meetup. I had spent a morning with him on a hike, and thought I might like to get to know him better.  We agreed to meet at a local coffee shop that afternoon, and I still felt dirty that night.

I started to time him, which is rude, I realize. Funny, but rude. He talked for forty seven minutes before asking me a single question. When he started to talk about the kind of birth control he and his wife used, I got out of there in a hurry. What a hopeless, arid waste of time.

It got me to thinking about the lush greenness of  intimacy. I am built to respond to intimacy, personal connections with other human beings. I think most of us are.

The word “intimacy” is a tricky one, like “love”. Most people don’t use either one very well, and Christians often don’t bother to unveil what God wants for us with intimacy. Sexual intimacy is what most people think of when they use the word, and that makes me scratch my head in puzzlement.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

-The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Christians at Philippi, when he wants to encourage them to be humble, like Jesus was. (Phil 2:3-4) 

Am I the only one with intimate friends? Friends who will very often humbly set their own interests and needs aside in order to consider mine? I can’t be. Chris’s death has brought me many surprises, and the discovery of intimate friends is one of them.  What does that look like, anyway?

As we can see, God asks us not to do anything out of selfishness or conceit. Instead, to value, or consider, others as more important than ourselves. Not that the other person is more important, but we are to act is if they are.

When I left the date I was describing, the man surprised me with a blind grab toward intimacy. He locked me in powerful hug and kissed me on the cheek. Yuck. Doubly offensive, as I am toucher by nature. I hug my friends,  massage my tired children’s shoulders, give footie rubs to fellow dancers, and walk arm in arm. But don’t you dare touch me  romantically unless you have an inkling that I have given you permission to do so. I felt like taking a shower.

This man professed to be a Christian, and was a selfish jackass.  What a depressing, arid waste of time.

I got to thinking about intimacy in detail.  How intricately intimacy and touch are intertwined. My children tell me what is hidden in their innermost hearts when I am scratching their backs as they drowse off to sleep.

My mother gave me some of her most precious memories when I massaged her sore feet before she died.

My coaches have evolved to be some of my most intimate friends as well. If you think about it, it  only makes sense. Brook, one of my first dance coaches, was a deeply caring, concerned man. I started with  him about six months after Chris died, and was in a very odd place. It was as if I was a burn victim, and simply couldn’t stand to be touched. Brook was a great intuitive, and a hard taskmaster.  I was determined to  heal, and one of the things I was going to reclaim was waltz. Those of you who have been with me for a while know that I love to waltz, and Chris and I were good. The first time I told Brook I wanted to waltz again, we made it about halfway across the floor before I soaked his shoulder with tears.

As you know, the ‘advanced embrace’ in ballroom connects the body centers, shoulders and hips, and is energetically drawn UP and TOGETHER. When you get good, the unity of purpose is energizing, and intimate. Partners joke around, ask about families, laugh, get irritable, and in my case, cry until wounds are washed away.  It’s really very safe, if you care even a little about each other.  Brook was the soul of patience, and the dialogue looked something like this:

Victoria: (weeping against Brook’s shoulder) I’m sorry, Brook.

Brook: It’s okay. Dance is like life, it can be hard. Do you need a tissue?

Victoria: Yes. Sorry about your shirt.

Brook: (chuckle) It’s ok. Let’s get back to work.

Brook never go of me, and nearly two years later, I waltz with joy.

Todd, my current dance coach,  often doubles as my therapist. I’ve long thought you can’t be twitchy about being touched if you want to be a better dancer, and the best coaches ignore those kind of boundaries completely.  Todd will adjust my spine, rotate my shoulders, tilt my chin, align my pelvis with my body core, all kind of things while talking a mile a minute.

It’s almost as if vulnerability is automatic, as someone that close to you physically will notice tension instantly. I had had a lesson with Todd a few days ago, and he noticed something wrong immediately.

Todd: (Warming waltz up with me to Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose” ) Victooooria, you’re all tense! What’s wrong?

Victoria: (Waltzing in tears)” I fought with someone I care about, Todd.” BOOM! Front and center. It’s hard to be guarded when someone is six inches from your face, and literally connected to your hip.

Intimacy is also a judgement call.  As a single woman, boy, is this difficult! When I was married, it grew easier and easier to read the man I loved as the years flowed by. Not that ours was an easy marriage, by any means, but I grew to be a student of Chris’s, and it got to be pretty easy to figure out what was on his heart.

I misjudged one of my new Meetup friends to be more concerned with me than he actually was, and he blew a cork. I treated him in a way that I treat the ‘top tier’ of my friends, those that I know, from the bottom of my heart, are concerned enough about me that boundaries of all sorts matter very little. I am concerned with them the same way.

Matthew and I are friends, but not for so long. A powerfully built man, he works an upside down schedule, and is often up at odd hours, like me. We have a lot to say, and can keep up.

Matt’s birthday is soon, and in my typical, take-no-prisoners, no negotiations allowed way, I thought about pulling a big, surprising birthday stunt to get a grin out of Matt. I did it surreptitiously, and Matthew got wind of it, and came at me with both guns blazing.

Suddenly I was a ‘plotter’, and a ‘schemer’ and an embarrassment to a new friend.

I was doing what came naturally to me, and trampling completely over what came naturally to someone else.

I related this to a handful of my intimate friends. As they love me, they used words like ‘over reactive’ to describe Matt. Perhaps.  But the few intimate friends also gently remonstrated me. He’s a man, Victoria, so by nature different than you. He’s allowed to be solitary, he’s allowed to be whatever he wants. Go and apologize.

” Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Hmm. Some Christian I was. I apologized.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome, Chapter twelve, verse eight.

I guess humility is a part of intimacy as well. Matthew did not humiliate me, and accepted my apology with grace.  He offered a humble apology for his own reactivity.

Whether Matthew and I will actually get to the point of being intimate friends remains to be seen. I couldn’t know this weak spot of his, but now that I do, I’ll protect it.  Perhaps he’ll protect me from my own impulsiveness. Or perhaps not.

As for me? What Jesus and my friends have taught me to do, I’ll do so for others.

We shall see.

Much love,

Victoria


Happy Valentines Day-Making Connections, Part 2


When I was a married woman, my husband used to start Valentine’s evening with rose petals on the stairs. Notes would lead to the bedroom, and a very large box of Godiva chocolates under my pillow.

What would happen next is…. a little too adult for this blog, and would totally gross my kids out, anyway!

Since Chris died, Valentine’s day hasn’t really bothered me all that much. I like to see love celebrated, and am delighted for all of my friends who are in a love relationship. I needle my closer ones goodnaturedly, telling them to be extra loving to their spouses that night, because tomorrow isn’t necessarily a given.

They put up with such a mildly morbid thought, because they love me, and in their hearts, they know it’s true. I miss the rose petals, and the Godiva, and of course, the……

As my children mature, they have more and more questions about what a real love relationship is like. As most of you know, Chris had a very rocky upbringing, and this made him a challenge to love well. But as a mother, certain refrains develop with your kids.

Ever notice that? Mommy tapes? Can’t you just hear  your mother saying “Eat your vegetables! They’re good for you!” “Do your homework before your television!” “No cookies before dinner!” and on and on and on.

One of my favorite refrains with my kids is “Nothing, absolutely  nothing, worth having is easy.” I believe that with all my heart.

 The twenty three years I spent with Chris, I wouldn’t have traded for the world. They were not easy. But when I held that fragile hand for the last time, I was glad I had known him. We had the real thing, something to be celebrated.

So his son sends me a Valentine today. 

This extraordinary Valentine was accompanied by this note: Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom. Imagine this as a small token of love from Dad. It says that  you are a great Mom who is supportive, dedicated, strong and loving. I know you miss him as much as I do, and I hope these flowers brighten today.

Love, Your son,

Christopher.

Yah, I’m all teary too.

Much love,

Victoria