How to Find What You’re Looking For (By Noticing Where, or What, It’s Not)

To think that I’d actually be writing two posts so close to each other must mean I have a lot on my mind. But to be honest, I always have a lot on my mind. It’s just that something I’ve realized I need to do more often is talk about it, and I’ve heard it said that writing words down make them all the more real. So here I am, writing out my thoughts, for my own benefit and for you, my readers, as well.

So what is this all about? It’s actually a rather embarrassing subject for me but I’m here to talk about relationships, and specifically those of the romantic kind. So why here, why now? Well I’m back to a place in my life that I’m looking for that sort of thing and, before someone asks if I choose when I want to date and when I don’t, I should tell you a story.

Setting: About a year ago

So I’m in the middle of a time in my life where I’m actively seeking a relationship (mostly through online dating sites) and I had just parted ways with someone I really liked (and she liked me too), but the timing just wasn’t right (that’s a story for another time). To be honest, I was fighting some real feelings of disappointment. I mean, that girl was someone I felt I could probably marry, given no red flags came up later in the relationship. Over the next month I went on a couple dates but nothing developed. Then one day I came across this profile that really jumped out to me. I mean this girl seemed to match my ideal perfectly: blonde, loved soccer, a fellow educator, a bit of a nerd, independent. So I sent a message, not really expecting to hear back (I mean, this is the basis of online dating, it’s basically a numbers game). But to my surprise when I woke up the next day, she had messaged me back. We started talking, and it didn’t take long for us to really get “talking”. I was blown away by how similar we seemed to be but I couldn’t quite understand why she was so hesitant to meet in person, despite living less than a hour apart. Normally this sort of behavior means someone is hiding something or lying about their profile. This went on for weeks, and while there was no physical aspect to our “relationship”, we were “hot and heavy” in the intellectual and emotional realms. For those know me personally, you know I am not really an emotional person, and I tend to keep everything under the surface because I don’t always know how to handle raw, vibrant emotional display. Anyway, back to my story. So I finally get this girl to meet me. I made us lunch and we watched one of my favorite movies together. I was deliriously happy. Not only was she as gorgeous in person as her profile pictures, but she genuinely seemed to care about my emotional state (or the general lack thereof). But this is where things went downhill. I hate to admit this but I’m a pretty mellow guy, like I tend to do whatever comes naturally and requires the least amount of planning. So when we started spending time together, it usually consisted of me driving up to her place and hanging out watching Netflix or movies. *Strike One* Then, our time together became less about what was on the TV. *Strike Two* Finally, she confronted me on my lack of initiative when it came to planning actual dates and going out. *Strike Three* And, well you probably guessed it, I was out. So how does this all tie into my title? Well I’m getting to it.

Lesson Numero Uno: “Sometimes it is the lack of doing that is wrong”

You see, I really dropped the ball by not actively creating an environment of creating shared experience and romantic pursuit within that relationship. It wasn’t that I was doing something wrong or hurtful to this girl, but rather by not doing much of anything I was revealing a source of immaturity in my life. A lack of action can be just as bad as doing the wrong thing. This rings true outside relationships as well, but it’s a lesson I had to learn the hard way when it comes to dating. It is honestly an area of growth I’m continuing to work on, both in my relationships and in my day-to-day schedule.

Lesson Numero Dos: “Seeing what’s there shouldn’t blind you from what’s not”

Like I said, this girl seemed to have many qualities I was looking for. And we connected in a way that I hadn’t felt in years. But I let it muddle my perception of some things that are truly vital to my person, things like my faith, my direction in life, and even my sexuality. Looking back, I think I willfully suppressed those red flags because I was desperate for intimacy, and I ended up looking for it in a wrongful manner. Having maintained my virginity all my life, I struggled with whether or not holding out until marriage was getting in the way of my ability to build intimacy in a relationship. This dating experience reminded me that waiting for sex until marriage isn’t about me, but it’s about God, and His plan. My virginity isn’t a curse that prevents me from building intimacy with someone but a gift that proves to the person I marry that I am truly giving myself to them, one and for all.

But not to get derailed by rambling about my v-card, something that always bothers me about online dating is that women tend to seem very cut and dry when it comes to what they want in a guy. Like either you measure up to a specific standard or you don’t. For example, I’ve admitted I’m not a very emotionally expressive person but that doesn’t mean I’m not affectionate or passionate. Rather it takes me a good while to feel comfortable showing deep, raw emotions around someone new. Some women take this lack of emotional display or “intelligence” as an inability to be outgoing or affectionate. Or another example, physically active women (something I’m highly attracted to) tend to want a gym rat or workout buddy, and quite frankly going to a public place like a gym (especially by myself) has never appealed to me. I am a pretty active guy, but you won’t find me at the gym. I’m driven by external competition, so I’m inclined to pursue my daily exercise playing sports. And sadly, I’ve found that this just isn’t good enough for some people. And it’s not like I won’t go to a gym to workout with my significant other, in fact I’d happily do so. But it’s because I value that time with them and not because I particularly enjoy being in the environment. This mindset also stretches into my spiritual walk. You see, I’ve dated women who fit that nominal Christian portrait. It was easy to get along with them, because we were both believers at least. But I’ve come to realize over the past couple years, just going to church semi-regularly isn’t enough. My faith isn’t about attendance or memorization, but about a relationship with my Creator and my Savior. And unless I am willing to life out a passion for Christ in my own life, I’d be deceiving myself if I expected this level of spirituality from someone I was dating.

Lesson Numero Tres: “Live Faithfully, Lead Boldly, Love Sacrificially”

I’ve always had fairly traditional views on dating, relationships, and marriage. This is largely due to my Midwestern, Conservative, Christian upbringing. I mean I was one of those kids who “kissed dating goodbye”, was gonna only court (whatever that actually means in today’s society), and thought I’d wait until marriage to kiss someone. Well that all changed in high school. I went from a quiet, reserved homeschooler to a well-known and respected soccer player, class officer, and honors student. Granted I went to a small private school, but still it wasn’t the same as being taught at home with my brothers. Cue high school romance. I mean there was about a year where most of the school was taking bets on when this girl and I would start dating. Officially we were a couple at the school banquet, but secretly we had been dating for months prior to that. We both graduated and ended up going to the same university, which probably was more beneficial for me than it was her, as far as the relationship went. Just follow this progression of my schooling dynamic: homeschooled for most of elementary and jr high- 3 students, private high school- ~250 students, liberal arts university- >3000 students. Here I was, an introvert in a bustling scholastic environment, and I loved and hated it at the same time. I was so far out of my comfort zone that I relied heavily on my relationship and new friends to provide a stable foundation for my life, and this led me to neglect the one person who’s relationship that should always be my foundation, Jesus. Now I went to chapel regularly and attended church, for the most part, but my faith was pretty rocky especially when my Grandpa Stichter passed away from a heart attack during my freshman year. The only real spiritual lifeboat I had during college was working at Springhill, a Christian summer camp. This thriving spiritual environment oozed Jesus and I couldn’t get enough of it. This place became my escape each summer, especially now that I had ended things (selfishly) with my high school sweetheart. But once I finished college, my direction in life led me away from camp and into a dark, dark place. I moved away from my family and friends, into unknown territory. Here I experienced one of the greatest struggles of faith I believe a person could have; I stopped going to church, I was addicted to porn, I lived alone and partied on weekends, and I refused to tell a soul back home what was going on in my life. It was almost as if I was challenging God to give up on me, because I already had. Thankfully that is not my story and God led me through that time of my life, teaching me some painful, but necessary, lessons along the way. And over the past year, I’ve really begun to see why those lessons were so important. So when I say “live faithfully”, I’m referring to a state of utter dependence. To live by faith, I must deny myself daily and carry my cross whilst following in Christ’s footsteps. Once I have surrendered my future to God, only then can I truly lead others in a bold and fearless manner that mirrors the life of my Savior. Because of my Biblical upbringing, I do believe the man is the leader in a relationship and I have been challenged by the thought that until a man is ready to face all obstacles, firmly rooted on God’s foundation, he cannot hope to succeed in leading a relationship, much less a marriage. And in order to sustain and create a relationship, not only must a man be bold and fearless, but he must make sacrifices. I’m not talking about compromises in order to please one’s spouse, I mean full-on “I’m doing this, even though I really don’t enjoy it, because it’s important to you” sacrifices. And frankly, I’ve always been a giver. I prefer to give my time and money to those with who I desire a relationship, whether it be platonic or romantic. But the one area I fail at is doing it from a place of love, instead I realized I do it as a means of manipulating a person’s opinion of me. You see, it’s easy to get people to like you if you’ll go along with their ideas or go the “extra mile” to be with them. And while this can be genuine, it’s often way too shallow. Love isn’t about easy or shallow. Love is allowing yourself to be stretched and even broken for another’s sake. That is the mindset I desire for when I pursue a Godly relationship, and I trust my Creator to give me the courage and wisdom to do so when His timing is right.

 

Holy Crap. That was way longer than I thought it would be. For those of you who took the time to read this, thank you. Hopefully you found something to encourage or even challenge you. I hope the point I’m trying to make about not getting so caught up in the things you’re attracted to about a person (or a situation in life) causes you to overlook the things that are lacking or that should be red flags has gotten across. If this blog has any true purpose, it’s that others can learn from my experience and maybe even empathize with the lessons I have learned. And while I might not be the type to actively initiate conversations with strangers, I do enjoy talking to you people all the same. Peace to you all, and God bless.

 

 

S.D.G.

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The Greatest Commands (and the Will to Obey)

I’ve had a lot on my mind the past month, as God has been showing me some of my current weaknesses and blindspots within my current state of belief and relationships. I am ever thankful I am surrounded by family and friends who provide sound counsel and intellectual feedback. And because I am often better at externally processing that which bothers me, here I am to share what is on my mind.

Let me begin by saying God isn’t always subtle when He tries to get His message across. I’ve had some completely unrelated events point me back to the same truth over the past week, which I know are God’s reminders for me to trust in Him. But back to my point of how God can hit us over the head with a proverbial holy frying pan to get our attention. Consider the story of the rich young man from the Gospels. This man seemingly had everything; wealth, piety, and a desire to do good. But Jesus saw into this man’s heart and loved him so much he had to point out this young man’s greatest weakness, his reliance on earthly riches. And what Jesus commanded the rich young man still rings true for us today and it is as follows (from Matthew 19:21): “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven. Then comefollow me.” Most of the time, we get fixated on the first couple of commands, “go” and “sell”, but as my emphasis hopefully pointed out, that’s only part of what Jesus commanded. To be honest, something I’ve been wrestling with is how well I’m currently obeying these commands in my own life.

 

GO

The first thing Jesus commands is to “go”. Naturally, one must ask “go where?” and sometimes we also find ourselves asking “go now?” The will to obey this command usually stems from our ability to trust God’s plan for our lives (as does the ability to obey any of God’s directives). When considering these five commands, this is one that I feel God has already willed me to obey. There have been certain life events I have experienced over the past few years that I can now clearly acknowledge as lessons God knew I needed to learn, but each one was preceded by the command to “go” where I needed to be in order to learn such lessons. For this reason, I found myself living in Muncie, Anderson, and then finally finding myself back in Warsaw; as well as working in a wide range of occupations. Each experience opened my eyes to something new about myself and understanding who I am and who I could be, yet none of these could have happened if I did not first “go” when God compelled it.

SELL

Next, Jesus commands the rich young man to “sell”. Since he already answered the “what?” (your possessions), the question that comes to my mind is “why?” But to be honest, I realized that if one must really ask “why” we should sell our possessions, it becomes obvious that a materialistic mindset has already taken hold. This is a great danger in our American society, the draw of having more “stuff”. Now do not take this as me saying having “stuff” is evil or wrong, as I believe God does bless us with abundance when we abide in Him and walk by faith. However I do believe that Christians can easily fall into the trap of believing these blessings are their right *Cough* Prosperity Gospel *Cough* and becoming fixated on the idea that evidence of personal wealth is a sign of God’s favor. I truly believe this is wrong. God does not give us good things because we deserve them, on the contrary if we got what we deserved the entirety of the human race would be eternally damned. Rather God gives us good things because He delights in blessing those who further his kingdom and abide in His plan for our lives and the world around us. So why would Jesus ask any of us to “sell” our possessions? I believe it is because he knows we have an abundance of wealth at our fingertips that could be used for furthering the kingdom instead of displaying an image of personal affluence.

GIVE

So if we have been blessed with much, what should be done with it? This is where Jesus’ third command comes in, “give”. And since Jesus tells us the “who” of the equation, that is the poor and needy, I must pose the question “how?”. This is the hardest thing I feel for Christians to decide. We often know we are to give, but most of the time we content ourselves to hand over our tithes and donate the occasional sum to a charity or missionary/missions trip. This mindset runs the danger of woefully selling the kingdom short. Where is the love and generosity Jesus displayed throughout his ministry in this Christian habit? Imagine how the kingdom could be furthered if Christians didn’t just stop their giving at their monthly tithe but dipped so deep into their pockets that it reveals an utter reliance on God to care for their financial needs. Now please don’t take this display of faith to mean I advocate the habit of bankrupting one’s self to support missionaries or different outreaches, because I also believe we are called to be good stewards of what God has given us, including our money. Rather the point I hope to make is that I feel we can get so fixated on saving for the future and stockpiling our wealth that we miss out on all the good we could be doing in our communities and around the world by giving out of the abundance God has given us. Now I must admit that at this present time in my life, I really don’t have much to give in terms of finances, considering I still have a large student loan to pay off. So what then can someone such as myself give to further the kingdom? The answer is my time. Time is the greatest gift we are given, as it is the only form of currency we cannot increase. This is why I’ve come to believe that those who give unselfishly of their time for the kingdom are blessed by God beyond those who give endless sums of money for the same end. While one can argue that “time is money” I would point out that “money is not time”. Or consider this, which shows more love to a person, giving them their money or giving them their time? Paul claims that giving to the poor and helping the needy is important, but if we do not love them, what is the point? Let me end with this thought: those who give to the poor and help the needy and loves them for the person God created them to be only have to look to Proverbs to see what God feels about their efforts.

COME

This command can be a bit confusing, because one could posture that it mirrors the previous command to “go”. However I would point out that “go” implies an outward movement of location or purpose while “come” often refers to an inward focus and humbling of self. This is based on my belief that when we are commanded to “come” to Jesus, the only suitable way to do so is in an attitude of reverence and self-denial. If we are to obey this command, it implies we set aside whatever it is we were doing previous, abandoning our former self and mission, to adhere to the purpose and position God has in store. This hit me hard because I realized I have been stubbornly postponing my obedience to “come” because I wasn’t ready to trust that whatever God had in store would be better than what I had currently arranged for myself. And to be honest, I’m still struggling with doing so on a daily basis, mainly because I struggle with denying my selfish desires, something I believe is a part of our fallen nature as humans. So I urge you, as the reader, strive to deny the self daily, pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ to do the same, and live humbly before your God.

FOLLOW ME

The final command Jesus gave is another that seems simple at first but when you put it into perspective with the others that preceded it, the implications can be much, much deeper. I argue this because I interpret “follow me” to be an invitation of imitation. To follow someone means to walk in their footsteps, observe their actions, and repeat or reciprocate what they did. In light of the command to “go”, “follow me” means be fearless. Jesus always went where the Father told him to “go” without question, and without hesitation. In the light of “sell”, “follow me” means God only needs us- our person, He doesn’t need our “stuff”. In light of “give”, “follow me” means handing over everything we have in order to further the kingdom, much like the poor women giving all she had at the temple. In light of “come”, “follow me” means that our humility is a key component of our submission and to try to approach God with even a hint of pride or personal ambition means we will easily stumble and fall behind. To follow Christ is the very basis of the Christian faith, yet we often fail to imitate Christ in our obedience to God’s will and I am the guiltiest of us all.

THE WILL TO OBEY

So where am I headed with this little personal devotional? All things considered, I’m really looking for a means to inspire myself to submit and obey the greatest commandments, that is “Love God” and “Love Others”, with a renewed sense of purpose and vigor. Having completed one stage of my personal journey and now heading into the next causes me to reconsider what my life is really worth and whether who I am is headed in the right direction. It is, as I said, my daily struggle to die to myself and pick up my cross. I hope that this might encourage some of you who might be struggling with the same things and possibly remind others of what the purpose of our time here on earth truly is and perhaps might lead others to question if they themselves are seeking the truest purpose life can have. Regardless of where you are in life, I do hope this can speak to you and that you might benefit from my intellectual and spiritual wandering.

 

S.D.G.

 

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Pulling an Irish Goodbye (or: How I Became a Master at the French Exit)

I told myself that when I started this “blog”, I would write something every month. That didn’t last. Then I was content with writing something every few months. Eventually that became one annual post reflecting on the past year. And then I thought I might renew my efforts at writing something every month as a New’s Years Resolution, but I decided against that. Finally I decided I’d do something very unlike me, I’d own up to the truth and then drop the mic (or just put it back on its stand and slink off to the shadows were I belong).

You see, I’m a creature of habit (as most humans are), but one particularly bad habit I have formed in my adult years is the Irish Goodbye. This refers to leaving a social gathering without letting anyone know or saying your farewells. Initially I told myself I did this because I hated goodbyes and generally I knew I’d see those people in the near future. But eventually I realized I just didn’t care to adhere to the social expectation that is saying goodbye. Yet selfishly, I make an effort to send everyone off with a farewell if I am hosting, or in a position of importance. And truthfully, it’s not fair. You see, I was actually thinking about letting this blog go, just let it sink into the endless waves of the internet’s information. But I realized I can’t do that, because I value this space too much. It has given me freedom to vent my thoughts, and sometimes my feelings, and allows those close to me opportunity to see into my otherwise hard to read mind. So as per my more recent routine, I felt an update is in order.

I’m not really sure how to start off reflecting on my 2016. I mean, a lot changed for me. Perhaps the biggest change was through the Transition to Teaching program. As I strove to obtain my teaching license, I had to “grow up” even more. Along the way I made some pretty dumb decisions, quit a good job to pursue a career in education, made many new friends and lost touch with some old, and watched friends and family get married. And by the time I finished with my student teaching in December, I felt like a totally different person, or at least with my place and direction in life. So many things were now open-ended I got lost in analyzing and imagining the possibilities. This, truth be told, is rarely a good thing for me. Having too much time on my hands to think usually leads to deep moods of melancholy and doubt, and honestly almost brought me here much, much sooner than I eventually arrived. And one reoccurring thought, that I oh so desperately wish to talk about, brought me here. But the truth is, I’m still too scared to be open about it. At least not publicly. I can say that if someone close to me asked what was on my mind considering the state of my romantic life, they’d get an earful. But maybe that’s really why I’m not pulling an Irish Goodbye this time, because I really just want someone to acknowledge me and ask me some genuinely direct questions. So you know what, if you have a personal relationship with me, ask me anything. You know where to find me.

 

S.D.G.

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This is for Everyone I Call(ed) “Friend”

To All Those Friends I Left Behind or Lost Touch With:

I’m sorry. Really, I am. And honestly, I miss you. I always valued our friendship, even if I was never able to put it into words. Now I cannot be sure if life just drew us apart or if I pushed you away or if we just kinda stopped hanging out but whatever the cause I won’t forget about you. And who knows, maybe someday soon I’ll reach out. But if you ever do think of me, my door (and inbox) is always open.

 

To All Those Friends Who Survived The Years:

Thank you. It is because of you I still have friends. If I were left to my own devices, I’d probably be a hermit living in a self-sustaining environment with modern commodities. But you welcomed me back, even after years apart, because you took the time to get to know me. I know I always have a listening ear available and do not be surprised if I make use of that aspect of our friendship at random times. You are the community I needed when I was at my worst and because of you I was able to survive the ups and downs of my adult life thus far. I probably won’t say “thank you” to you in person, but a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about it.

 

To The Friends That Raised Me:

Or in other words, my family. You were the greatest human force of change and formation in my life. Because of the lessons you taught me throughout the years, I am who I am now. You are privilege to my idiosyncrasies like no other, and more often than not you’ll know what I’m thinking before I can put it into words. And more often than not, I won’t have to because you already know how I feel. You have been a massive blessing and I hope I can (and did) return the favor.

 

To The Friends Who Are More Like Acquaintances:

I hate you. And I love you. And most of the time, I think it’s both at the same time. Seriously, I’m not really sure if I put more effort into getting to know you by spending time together or just let you disappear into the Twilight Zone of acquaintances. I might say I don’t care how long it takes you to answer if I text you, but it sure as hell bothers me when you only decide to answer one text, and not the rest, or (worse yet!) when you only answer that one message that wasn’t even a question. It wrecks my brain conceptualizing all of the possibilities of whether or not you are ignoring me, are just busy, or forgot to reply. Or worse, that I’m annoying you! The uncertainty about our friendship drives me crazy, and this can lead me to do some really stupid things because, let’s face it, when my emotions take the reins dumb %#!& happens. Just tell me if I’m worthy of being your friend, it’s really all I want (and need) to know.

 

To My Gamer Buddies and Facebook Friends:

You are a special breed, truly you are. Though our interactions may have been purely across the internet, and we probably never met in person, you respected me for who I was and never thought to point out what I wasn’t. I cherish the voice chats and instant messages leading late into the night. I remember the secrets I felt I could tell you when I had no other person in my social circle I felt I could tell. I remember how our relationship was built on a common interest and basically founded on having fun together, making me feel less stressed about trying to be friendly. Because of you, I realized much about myself, even when I wasn’t looking for answers about who I was and what I was capable of. You trusted me to lead when I was only doing what came naturally and you understood when I couldn’t be there because real life beckoned. I never once considered our friendship invalid because we weren’t able to meet physically, not once.

 

To The Friend I Have Not Yet Made:

You will make me laugh and at least once you’ll probably see me cry. I’ll probably talk about soccer at least once every time we see each other and I might even let you convince me I’m wrong about something ever once and a while. You will learn I’m a total dork, a clown, a nerd, a punk, a scholar, and a gentleman; but most of all, you will learn I would defend you to my last ounce of strength. You might discover I can bake a mean batch of cookies or that I know way too many random facts of trivia or that I’m so competitive I might lose on purpose to preserve our friendship. And most of all, I hope you learn that despite my calm exterior and nonchalant behavior, I constantly wonder what I did to make you like me and there isn’t a day coming when I won’t value you more highly than I do myself.

 

 

S.D.G.

 

 

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Taking a Chance and Doubling Down…

Well I’m about to cheat my usual pattern and combine my end-of-the-year post with a little triage about getting older. If, for some reason, you came across this blog of mine through some other means than my Facebook page, it is worth mentioning that I am celebrating my 28th birthday today. And by celebrating I mean I went to work and watched soccer and ate dinner at my parents, which is basically the same thing I have done for the past couple years. Honestly, I never really cared much for a large celebration or party. This sentiment goes back to my position on socializing (refer to An Introspective Reflection and A Retrospective Inflection, as well as this post here, which might be helpful in understanding some of the topics to follow). However, in my ever waning efforts to provide some sort of progress in my writing frequency, and in honor of my double-down birthday (is that even a term? double golden sounded kinda lame), I shall list off fourteen things I have learned over the past year about myself.

#1 I’m getting old- Now I say this somewhat facetiously, as technically at 28 I have probably 2/3’s of my life still ahead of me but I’m really referring to the slow and sure loss of youthfulness. This is visually evident in my gradual loss of hair in sectors 3.8-4.2 (Men in Blazers nod). However I notice more often there are times were I just have no energy, despite wishing to be active or involved. I also notice more minor injuries and ailments, such as pulled muscles and headaches, things I would have never worried about 5 years ago. These signs of aging have prompted me to really consider what I want in my future, as being young forever does not feel like an option anymore.

#2 I’m still not a socialite- But believe me, there were times I really, really wanted to try. I made efforts to get more involved in my church, serving in the children’s ministry and on the setup crew. I joined a new small group and maintained a steady attendance in my young adults group. Yet I still never really became a social person. Even attempting to put serious effort into my dating life over the summer and continuing until now has not really changed me much. I’m still just as happy to stay home and relax on the couch or at my computer. And I’m not entirely sure if this is because people are just too complicated sometimes or I just get bored with how bland the average social interaction really is.

#3 I’m 99.95% sure I’m not a INTJ anymore- That is, assuming I ever was one in the first place. However, it does seem entirely likely that an arbitrary measuring system for personalities such as the MBTI is not one of definitive certainty. I may have been the cookie cutter INTJ at one point, but in all honesty I cannot help to think I’ve always been an INTP, with some very strong J tendencies, especially in realms of life I place more importance on. But across the board I am too casual and spontaneous to truly believe myself a true INTJ. There is also an argument to be made for being an intellectual ISTP, but I feel like I am more driven by competition than I am by wanting to be physically active.

#4 I’m kinda burnt out on weddings and engagements- Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still very happy for my friends and family that get engaged and then married, marriage is a good thing and even a Godly thing. But these sorts of events require time, energy, and resources, all things I have other uses for. Not to mention the general large crowd of people I vaguely know and have little interest in interacting with. Most of them I will rarely interact with outside of this event, so why should I waste my energy trying now? Of course this is an entirely anti-social outlook, but one I have readily embraced as part of my particular brand of introversion. However, it does now stand to reason that I may be falling behind the ball on the whole marriage thing, despite my better efforts, which I shall talk about next…

#5 I’m really, really bad at dating- Once again, let me clarify. My problem is not getting dates, or even always having bad ones, but rather I have a hard time surviving the initial dating period on route to a sustainable relationship. And I know this isn’t due to me necessarily being a hard person to interact with, I can be very conversational and strive to be a gentleman on every date. Yet I also have a difficult time making sure I am eye-to-eye with the person I am dating on the purpose and direction, and any attempt to solidify these topics usually comes across as heavy handed and all too serious. This lack of suavity in my speech when it comes to emotional topics is a side-effect of my position as an INTP, as emotions are rarely my first influence behind my thoughts or deeds. I want to know people at a deep and personal level, and unfortunately, most people in today’s dating culture are not expecting this level of intensity. Maybe my problem is that I have a tendency to flip the traditional pattern of relationships on its head, by seeking a deep connection up front and then spending lots of time together instead of vice versa. Small talk is fine and all, but it lacks substance, and substance is what I genuinely crave.

#6 I’m a very emotional person- I just don’t wear my emotions on my sleeve like the stereotypical emotional person. Rather my emotions are a deep, dark pool within, constantly boiling in fear and rage, sadness and joy, passion and apathy. Just because I choose not to display my emotions to everyone around me does not make me less emotional, I just prefer to keep my emotions hidden from all but a select few I intimately trust.

#7 I’m hooked on podcasts- Seriously, these things are crack in audio form. With an insane wealth of variety and knowledge available in the pod-verse, it is often hard for me to limit myself on what I decide to subscribe to. I do manage to keep in to a “small” list of a couple dozen I listen to regularly, ranging from trivia to history to comedy to culture to theology. The things I have learned from podcasts alone over the past year is perhaps more relevant than anything else I have learned since completing my undergrad.

#8 I’m still really “good” at procrastinating- Something about waiting until the last minute (or hour, or day) supercharges my creative juices and I can just crank out assignments and papers. Now I will admit this strategy does not really work well for testing, as I learned when taking my insurance tests a few years ago. And it might not always produce stellar marks, but rarely do I receive a grade woefully below expectation. My level of intelligence is still above average (if not higher than most) and therefore I have been blessed with success when I put in the work, albeit last minute.

#9 I’m still absolutely in love with soccer- If there is anything that has persisted about my character since childhood, it is my love of sports, but soccer primarily. I relish watching the game at all levels, and have even gone so far as to obtain my referee license and will continue to maintain it for years to come. I also have coached at the middle school level for three years, and while it is uncertain whether I will be able to do so next fall due to student teaching, I hope to continue to coach at the advanced levels for years to come. I also was able to play in a couple leagues again this year, and boy did I love it! I might not be in the shape I was in high school, but I still read the game as well as anyone. However, my love for soccer has it’s dark side. I will intentionally turn down or reject other obligations just to do a soccer-related activity. This has always had a negative effect on my spiritual life, usually in the lack of steady attendance at my church. And it’s not that I don’t like my church, far from it, I am absolutely overjoyed to be a part of this church and its community, but rather attending a church service is yet one in a long list of social outings that I struggle to put much emphasis on…

#10 I’m slowly becoming Reformed theologically- Now some of you might be shocked by this, believe me, looking back on this past year, I was not really expecting something like this to happen. If you had asked me at the start of the year what the biggest changes in my life would be, theologically would not have been high on my list. But this journey is largely in part to the Reformed Pubcast, which I started listening to around the beginning of this year, maybe late in the year past. What initially hooked me were the five solae: sola fide (by faith alone), sola gratia (by grace alone), solus christus (through Christ alone), sola scriptura (by Scripture alone), soli deo gloria (glory to God alone). I have even considered getting the five solae tattooed on my body at some point in the near futureInterestingly enough, many of you may remember I have been signing off each post with S.D.G. for some years now, perhaps this was the very beginning of my journey into Reformed Theology. Basically, to put these five solae into a statement about the nature of my salvation I would say this: I have been saved by grace (alone) through faith (alone) for God’s glory (alone) through Christ (alone) under the authority of Scripture (alone). A statement as simple as this has not only given me assurance of my salvation but has molded the shaping of my view of God’s sovereign and perfect will. However I still struggle with calling myself a full-blown Calvinist, as I am relatively new to this. To wrap my head around every logical argument will take time, but at the very least, I would consider myself Reformed and believe in a sovereign God who choose me to be one of his children.

#11 I’m still really bad at not spending money- However, I am very happy to be “debt” free (I say this because I am still racking up student loans). I have no credit card debt, I have paid for my vehicle fully, and I now have a nice cushion of emergency savings. However my outlook on finances have always been a rather relaxed one. To say I have always trusted God to provide for my needs financially might be putting it rather casually, but simply I do not worry about having riches and wealth. My aim is to have enough to provide a comfortable live for me and mine, and the rest is to use on others. To say I enjoy being generous is putting it bluntly, because I don’t simply give away my money and possessions, but rather I enjoy not having to worry about how much I am spending to do things with friends and family. My budgeting habits are loose, but at the same time I know when to pull the proverbial plug. To be honest, my greatest weakness when it comes to spending is games. I estimate about 5% of my income is spent on new games or gaming transactions annually. This may shock many people, but when your expenses are only for one person, you have a significant amount of “fun” money. Not saying it’s something to be proud of, I’m just being honest with everyone.

#12 I’m looking forward to becoming a teacher- As some of you are aware, I began a certification program to obtain my Secondary Education license in Historical Perspectives at the end of this past summer. This is something I have been looking forward to doing for a few years and after several mishaps along the way I have now begun this transition in my life. I still enjoy working with teenagers, despite the frequent reminders of how much of a nuisance they can be sometimes. Honestly I have found I have a harder time working with younger kids, probably due to the uncorraled amounts of energy they seem to possess while lacking an ounce of rational thought. It is the desire to share my passion for history with others that has led me to this field and this passion propels me to pursue success in my studies to become a full-licensed teacher. My only fear is that I will have to leave my comfort zone here, near family and friends, to get the teaching position I desire.

#13 I’m kinda over Facebook- I have recently come to the realization that besides a few groups/pages I follow and the handiness of FB Messenger to contact people I otherwise couldn’t, I have no reason to use Facebook. It does serve as a handy platform to obtain information and link articles of interest (like this blog, when I actually write posts) but beyond that Facebook has turned into a cesspool of bad tempers, faulty opinions, political rants, and social failure. Were it less than convenient to have Facebook, I would probably go so far as to delete my profile. I’ve slowly come to realize nothing good happens on Facebook, especially after 2 am.

#14 I’m still a huge nerd/geek- Let’s be honest fellow nerds and geeks, we’re being spoiled right now. The acceptance of our culture has become more and more mainstream and hip. Heck there’s a new Star Wars movie coming out this week! The abundance of superhero, futuristic, and fantasy television shows is just another indication of our gradual takeover of popular culture. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is in full-swing and popular sci-fi series from the 80’s and 90’s are making resurgences. And one of my favorite authors (Orson Scott Card) is finishing up his latest series and, as always, it’s stellar. And I cannot wait to see how much better things will get in the future.

 

So there you have it, fourteen on the fourteenth for my twenty-eighth. Not a bad total, if I do say so myself. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a blessed New Year to all y’all!

 

S.D.G.

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A Short Summer-y (and a Brief Bio)

So admittedly I have been something of a ghost this summer, or at least when it pertains to writing here. This is partially due to a lack of inspiration as well as a lack of access to a computer when inspiration did hit. So to make up for my blogging absence, I intend to not only give everyone an update on my summer adventures but also a sneak peek into a post I will be making for an online class’ discussion board.

So let’s see, my summer started with soccer, as every summer should. I got my Grade 8 Referee License in the spring so I spent my weekends at the athletic complex in town making some spending money. I also coached a U10 Boys team for the local rec league and we were the regular season champions, however we lost 2-1 in the playoffs to the only team that held us to 1 goal in a regular season game. And then was the Women’s World Cup. Let’s just say I was in heaven for those few weeks, and got to watch the picture perfect ending with the USWNT taking home the trophy on an extremely convincing win.

Next, I had plenty of time to be with family, which usually means plenty of good food (and Mountain Dew!), lots of games, and good conversation. I got to see all of my “Arizona” cousins, which can be a rare treat, and saw another sibling married off. Being able to maintain a regular sleep schedule also helped my summer go smoothly, something I did not really have last summer.

Also, I was able to persevere through several obstacles to entering a Transition to Teaching program to get my Secondary Education License for Historical Perspectives (so I can teach middle/high school history). These online classes (which started at the end of last month) will take roughly 16 months to complete (with a break during next summer) and will compound on my already rapidly filling schedule.

So there is my summer(y). However I also promised a transcript from my biography post for my online class so here goes:

“Greetings fellow cohort-ians! I hail from Warsaw, Indiana (the Orthopedic Capital of the world) where I currently share a house with my cousin and a friend of his from college. However, while I may appear to live a bachelor’s life, I am not currently single, as I started dating someone earlier this year. As the second oldest of eight children, the importance of family has had a large impact on my life and I look forward to the day I can start one of my own. If I had to choose three words to describe me I would turn to what my friends have used in the past and those would be witty, athletic, and genuine.

Trying to cover everything about my interests, hobbies, and favorite things might prove hard to do but I will attempt to be thorough. My favorite color is navy blue; I cannot claim one specific movie as my favorite but I do love sci-fi, comedy, and action movies quite a bit; my favorite type of food and dessert are pasta and cheesecake, respectively; my favorite restaurant is Fazoli’s; my favorite genre of music is pop punk; my favorite book is probably Ender’s Game; my favorite Scripture passage is Romans 7:15-20; and my favorite place to travel is a family camp in Michigan called Little Eden, where my family goes every year for vacation. My interests include soccer (among other sports), probable fiction, basic computer code and programming, and writing. My hobbies also include playing games with family and friends, coaching, and participating in church outreach. If I had a free hour, I would probably watch an episode of a TV show or a replay of a soccer game. With a free day, I like to spend time with friends or find a new book to read. With a free week, I would do the above as well as try to take a trip to see a historical landmark or museum. I do not currently own any pets but I am a sucker for cats and larger dogs.

My faith has been a fundamental part of my identity, as I am from a strong Christian family with a long Mennonite tradition. However I did not start my personal walk with Christ until after I had it out with God over the death of one of my siblings when I was in my late elementary years. This tragedy forced me to confront my views on religion, faith, and personal belief. Thankfully, God is infinitely patient and welcomed me back with open arms. The decade and a half since then I have grown in ways I could not have imagined back then. I currently attend a church that has a strong focus on community outreach and congregation relationships, two things I have a great desire to be a part of.

I hope this wall of text was not overwhelming for anyone but once I get going it can be hard for me to switch off. I look forward to reading everyone else’s bios as well as replying to your comments and questions. Cheers!”

There it is folks, hope this makes up for my failure to maintain any sort of regular schedule for blog posts. It is my hope to at least post something every other week during the next few months, if nothing else to just reflect on my thoughts of the soccer season (as I am also coaching the Jr High team again at my high school alma mater), my online classes, and (hopefully) my romantic endeavors.

S.D.G.

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Recreation and Relationships as an INTJ

To begin I will readily admit we INTJs are hard to relate to, and often the fault is our own due to our nature. But I would like to take a look at some stereotypes we INTJs garner and how these might be a little misconceived, especially in my case. There is a high chance of generalistic rhetoric, so consider yourselves forewarned (and I apologize to any of my fellow INTJs that may be offended by such statements).

Recreation

Stereotype #1- INTJs shy away from public outings and would rather do activities on their own.

As is probably true of most introverted dispositions, being in public isn’t necessarily something we avoid so much as something we must maintain balance. Since we draw energy from within and most forms of social interaction sap those energy reserves, we often limit the sheer quality of public interaction to prevent an over-expenditure. Meeting a large number of new people can be particularly daunting for INTJs, as we have a tendency to absorb information at a higher rate and in vast quantities because personal details are a key component to how we tend to relate to others. That said, there are a few things people may be surprised to learn about a INTJ’s social habits. First, you might find us frequent attendees of local trivia nights, as I mentioned previously we have a keen mind for facts and this allows us to “show off” our knowledge. Second, INTJs are usually very coordinated, as our control over mind and body is closely linked to our personal journey to understand the world and therefore we tend to be naturally athletic. It is perhaps more common than people realize for us to be found playing a variety of sports, even at the professional level. Finally, INTJs tend to gravitate to a specific set of close friends and would much rather spend time with them than on our own, as we have surpassed the phase of data collection and can simply reside in the group’s presence without diverting extra energy towards learning about them.

Stereotype #2- INTJs lack spontaneity and if something isn’t planned, they have trouble processing it.

While it can be easy to feel OCD about structure and maintaining a schedule, INTJs are often very relaxed and chill people. However, due to our tendency to maintain a reserved demeanor, it is often assumed that we don’t like unexpected change of plans. Likewise, we often take initiative when it comes to planning group outings, as this allows us to feel in control of the level of our social interaction. Yet INTJs are very adept at adapting to the unexpected, as we often mirror or mimic the environment around us. I fondly refer to this phenomenon as the “chameleon effect”, as myself in particular can reflect the general vibe of a group in an effort to either avoid drawing attention to myself or to enable the group in maintaining the status quo.

 

Relationships

Stereotype #1- INTJs are emotionless freaks that could care less about other people’s problems.

While we might be internal processors and admittedly terrible at displaying our feelings, INTJs are often some of the most emotionally intact people you will meet. Because we strive to maintain our own personal equilibrium, INTJs are capable of thinking both logically in an emotional situation and also allowing our feelings to inform our decision-making. However, when a spur-of-the-moment decision is made, we frequently choose based on rational thought, often leaving us to appear as cold and calculated. On the flipside, INTJs are good listeners by nature and, if approached by a friend (and sometimes even strangers, depending on the day) with a dilemma, are able to empathize quickly. We care deeply about those we have formed connections with and are usually more than willing to give of our time and energy if we see the need.

Stereotype #2- INTJs suck at dating.

Actually this is pretty much true, but that’s because the current form of dating within society is nothing like the cut-and-dry format we thrive in. INTJs usually know what they want, having spent long hours analyzing their likes and dislikes within as well as goals for a relationship, but frequently shy away from putting themselves (myself) on the line emotionally. This leads to a paradox of interests, as we often have a hard time reconciling the effort required to establish a relationship with the potential (emotional) cost of failure. Another strike against us is our disdain for small talk, as INTJs tend to find it superfluous. We desire deep connections, and thus can often come across as disinterested early on when dating, but those who have the patience to slowly peel back the layers can be pleasantly surprised by the devotion we show and effort we will put into a relationship.

Stereotype #3- INTJs lack initiative when it come to dating and relationships.

While it is common for INTJs to defer to the group in a social setting, within an intimate relationship we actually handle leading quite well. Since INTJs have very strong moral and emotional boundaries, we can easily set goals and structure the progress of our relationship as it pertains to those goals. Although I myself tend to look at emotional progress as the conclusion of a logical completion of certain criteria, this does not mean my feelings play little part in how I choose to build my relationships. In fact, there is a great deal of structure implied by an INTJ within their brand of romance, something that can be refreshing in a culture of free-flowing hook-ups and quasi-romantic hang-outs. Just because we are reserved when it comes to letting our feelings show does not prevent us from maintaining a relationship built on mutual respect and devotion and, most importantly, love.

 

Although I may have only scratched the surface, the Rational within me is satisfied with what I have produced in a short time (although I have been mentally writing this post for almost a week now). To my fellow INTJs, if you have anything you wish to add or feel I have misrepresented our kind, do not hesitate to point that out in a comment. To those who are not INTJs (which is like 90% of everyone), I hope this might shed some light on what actually goes on behind our poker face and helps you either relate to or better understand what we need in building relationships (particularly those of the romantic variety) or to encourage us to be a little more social.

 

S.D.G.

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