The Line of Compromise

If you ever want to render your mother speechless, ask her how she knew your dad was “the one.” Ask her how she knew—even realizing that he had habits and tendencies that would drive her absolutely crazy—that she could spend the rest of her life loving this flawed human being. Go ahead and ask her. If she’s anything like my mom, she’ll open her mouth at least a half dozen times before she finally forces out, “Well…”

But, you see, I had to know. I had to know because a few weeks ago, Cassi Clerget wrote the most beautiful letter to her future husband and, in light of her confession that she’s not ready to meet him yet—that she’s afraid of who she might become and what she might try to make him become—I had a startling realization of my own.

When I envision my future husband, I don’t picture him with flaws. It’s not like I don’t know he will have flaws, it’s just that I never really thought of what they might be. On those days that I sit down and dream about who my future husband might be, I tend to imagine that he looks something like James Garner (or Rock Hudson—I’d totally settle for Rock Hudson) and he’s patient and gentle and loving and… well, he’s perfect, actually. Nothing less than perfect.

And to be honest, that’s not really fair to him. Because no matter what he is in my fantasies, he’s human (just like I am) and he’s going to have flaws (just like I do). Or, as a friend of mine so eloquently stated when talking about his own dating relationship, “She’s got so many things going for her, and yet she likes Twilight.” Well, I’m not sure that’s a deal breaker (though another friend jokingly advised him to “dump her now”), but it does make me wonder about the line of compromise.

You’ve been told not to compromise in relationships? That’s funny, I grew up hearing the same thing. But when I look at it realistically, I find that there is going to be compromise. Let’s face it. They don’t make guys like James Garner anymore. Nobody’s perfect. And if I spend the rest of my life holding out for that flawless character I’ve created in my mind… well, I’ll spend the rest of my life holding out for that flawless character I’ve created in my mind.

So what I asked my mom on that infamous day she struggled for answers is, “How do you know? How do you know where to draw the line? At what point do you accept that a guy is flawed and human and at what point do you hold out for someone better?”

Because, thanks to Cassi and her beautiful, vulnerable heart, I’m left wondering if I’d force my guy to be something more than he was meant to be. I’m left hoping I’ll never settle for someone who is close to good enough only to live the rest of my life wondering if there was something better. I’m left pondering a question my mom couldn’t answer.

How will I know?
How will I keep from demanding too much or expecting too little?
And more importantly, how shall I live in the meantime?

love like this

be amazed

A Light That Shines in the Darkness

My mom recently asked me if I could recommend any Christian books my little sister could read. Having been reading young adult fiction for the last year, my list of “Christian” books isn’t very large. When I explained that fact to my mother, she teased me for my sudden fascination with “heathen” books and music.

Well, you know what they say. When you turn a sheltered, homeschooled child out on her own…

But seriously. My mom was completely messing with me, but if I’m honest with myself, I do sometimes fear that the stuff I’ve been reading is going to color my world with shades of gray (but not fifty shades of it because I’m not even touching that). So I started looking at the shape my life has taken since I stepped outside of the Christian genre. This may sound strange to say, but I think I’m better for it.

Young adult fiction challenges me in a way that Christian fiction never did because instead of flowing smoothly with the worldview I was raised with, it grates against every fiber of my core. There have been books that I’ve cringed through and others that I’ve set aside because they’re not even worth finishing. They present a series of “what if’s” that Christian fiction had protected me from.

The thing is… I like being challenged. I like questioning my convictions and wondering how they would hold up under fire. I like being stirred to anger or moved to brokenness over the scenarios that present themselves to me. I like when a song comes on the radio and I’m reminded to pray for the state of my world… even if it means I have to change the channel every couple of songs.

And I know there is a fine line between convictions and compromise. I know that when you walk too closely to the edge, there’s always a chance of falling. That’s why I spend my mornings with a Bible on my lap and a pen in my hand. That’s why I still crank up the praise music and dance my heart out in worship. That’s why I cling to the promise that God will hold me up if I will simply trust in Him.

Over the past year, my calling has shifted in so many ways. I stopped working at a mission’s organization because I wanted to write full time and because I realized that my calling was to this nation, not the nations. I decided that I’m writing YA fiction with an underlying theme of grace rather than overtly Christian fiction.

Somewhere in the course of the past year, I realized that I don’t want to be a light that shines amidst all the other candles; I want to be the one who stands alone in the dark.

And I know that suggests that I’m going to spend a large portion of my time feeling very, very lonely, but I’ll keep shining—keep calling others forth—hoping that I will one day leave a trail of bright, flickering flames where there was once nothing but darkness.

Sacrifices and Dreams

Wouldn't you like to marry this guy?

I used to think that I’d like to marry a man who sings and dances. Now I know it’s a requirement. What happened, you wonder? I moved away from home and realized that not everyone in the world believes that life is a musical. Most families don’t break into spontaneous song and dance routines in the kitchen. (I know, you’re shocked, right?)

The day I walked into my parents’ house over Thanksgiving, I was already singing. It’s a musical house. Something about the atmosphere makes me burst into song, and something about those laminate floors sets a girl’s feet to dancing. I can’t imagine the home I one day make for myself as being any different. There’s just something magical about the way five voices can join into a chorus of “Whiskey in the Jar” as my parents laugh along.

My future husband must sing and dance. This is a non-negotiable. You may be laughing and thinking I’m crazy, but I’m perfectly serious. Although I already wrote a post about trashing my list of things I’m looking for in a husband, there are still a few things that are permanently ingrained in my mind. I simply choose not to dwell on all of them at the same time, or even one of them for very long. Just because I want to marry a man who sings and dances doesn’t mean I’m taking auditions.

I hope you don’t feel like I’m sending conflicting messages by saying, “Trash the list, but know what you want.” If the list works for you, keep it. As long as the things you’ve set in your mind aren’t distracting you from life here and now, keep thinking about them. Just don’t ever compromise. Know the things that are non-negotiable, but don’t think about it all the time. Here’s my encouragement of the day:

Don’t sacrifice the big dreams, because you may have to sacrifice the small; and one day when you look back, you will have sacrificed them all.

The man doesn’t have to have dark hair and the perfect smile, but if singing and dancing is a requirement, don’t even look at that guy who’s barely squeaking through Amazing Grace. It won’t end well.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my feet are itching to dance…