I’m not a fan of the quilt of my past. I don’t like the pattern all that much any more. Actually, I’m not really sure I ever liked the pattern to begin with, but changing a pattern isn’t something you just do willy nilly. Plus, I imagine a quilt with many different patterns wouldn’t match many people’s decor.

Initially, I decided to discard my “dating quilt” to focus on having a closer relationship with God. God told me I needed to pay attention. Well, He actually kicked in the face, but that’s my own fault for ignoring and disobeying for so long. During this time, I’ve also been able to take a step back and look at the pattern I’ve created in my relationships with men. It’s a fugly quilt.

Now that I’ve stepped back, my pattern wasn’t difficult to figure out. As single Carlene, I’m strong-willed, outgoing, happy, adventurous, fun, ambitious, lively, confident and decisive. As girlfriend Carlene, I become amicable, compliant, amiable, agreeable, needy and insecure. I’m not sure where I learned this behavior, but I know I need to unlearn it.

I don’t like the person I become when I’m in a relationship. I don’t think God really likes me, either, because those aren’t qualities He gave me. I become a shell of myself. And, if I were the boyfriend in these situations, I wouldn’t like me either. Lose, lose, lose.

My dating sabbatical has so many facets to it, I’m amazed. At first I think I decided to do this out of frustration, sadness and anger. I also had a deep desire to focus on my relationship with God and needed to eliminate distractions. I’ve learned so much about myself, but I’m also learning I need to continue on this path of obedience to God. It’s His plan, after all.

*Disclaimer: The author has never actually made a quilt.


Setting standards

During my dating sabbatical, I have realized I never set any kind of guideline for what I want and need in a partner. Therefore, default guidelines included being male and physically attractive. Subconsciously, he received bonus points if he had a girlfriend or a wife or if he was emotionally unavailable for any other reason.

I could launch into a rant where I list unattractive quirks I’ve experienced with my partners of the past. But, I’ve been making an effort to turn negative reactional statements into positive assertions by which to live.

While physical attraction is still important to me, I’ve found other important standards to seek in a future partner. So, here goes:

He will always consider my feelings. He will share my faith, values and spirituality. He will be comfortable with emotional vulnerability. He will be honest. He will handle my honesty and emotional vulnerability. He won’t be afraid to see me cry, but he will always delight to see me smile. He will value my thoughts and seek them. He will keep up with me, and value down time. He will be okay if we don’t talk or see each other every day. He will strive to understand and challenge my insecurities. He won’t shy away from taking risks with me. He won’t turn away when things get messy, difficult or intense. He will be reliable and understand his own emotional needs.

I could go on to come up with a list of more common needs that have to do with a desire to be healthy, etc., but those come naturally when compatibility is established. I’m more interested in the possibility to connect on a much deeper level.

So, basically, I might be single for a really, really long time.

Old habits

die hard.

I’m struggling with this. Because I am a very resolute person. A resolutionary*, if you will. And while I know not everyone can excel at being a resolutionary, I still struggle with mustering the compassion to forgive. Especially when someone’s old habit effects me.

My inability to feel compassion and forgive those who have pledged to change stems mainly (but not always) from my interactions with men over the years. And I know I’m not alone when I illustrate a scenario where a woman takes a man back because he’s vowed to change his ways. Or, when a woman decides a man might be worthy of her even though she knows certain unsavory details of his past, only to be proven wrong shortly thereafter.** And yes, I know this isn’t how it always happens. But this is how it has always happened for me. So far.

I’ve recently given up a lot of old habits in a continuing effort to surrender my life to God. And no, it isn’t easy. Despite being a resolutionary. But I’ve found even though I shouldn’t be angry about those past interactions where someone wasn’t quite able to maintain his or her resolve (mainly because the first step to changing is the will to change, or recognizing the need for change), I often can’t help it.

Through my process to surrender, I’ve often pictured myself walking on a balance beam. One misstep could cause me to completely lose my balance. So far, my balance hasn’t faltered. I’ve even knowingly put myself into a situation where I could have easily fallen back into my old habits. Seeing how easy it would have been has put some things into perspective for me. Maybe, instead of being a process, this is a series of slippery stepping stones. Balance is still necessary, but so is careful consideration and preparation before leaping to the next stone and some people simply leap too fast.

*Yes, I know resolutionary isn’t a real word.

**In the interest of being politically correct, please note these scenarios can and do work vice-versa.




Can you hear me now?

Yes, I can. I’ve been listening and watching. And I’ve learned a lot so far. About God and about myself.

Through reading, observing and my interactions with others, I’ve learned that God doesn’t deal in accidents. He puts us in front of each for a reason. Whether He’s trying to get my attention or send me a message, He’s used the people around me to do so.

I’ve always believed that everything happens for a reason. But there’s a difference between reasons and plans. The reason we meet people and have certain experiences is because they are part of God’s plan for us. I know in my past I haven’t done a good job of paying attention to God’s messages. Actually, I completely ignored them.

Looking back, I can pinpoint specific examples where God was trying to get my attention. After a long road of resistance, He finally has it.

Dealing with a D

I’m not talking about cup size. More, as a grade. Not quite an “F”, or fail, but almost. Lower than a “C,” or average, decent. A “D,” not quite a failure but still not good enough. How many times have you felt like a “D”? I do, all the time. I know I’m not a complete failure, but feeling I am good enough takes constant reminding.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about words that start with “D,” negative words and also positive words. Needless to say, I thought of a lot more negative “D” words than positive. However, I feel like the positive “D” words are much stronger than the negative ones. While I often feel the negative words for myself, the positive words told me how God felt about me and how God wants me to feel about me. And while it was so much easier to come up with the negative words (a very, very long list of them), the positive words seem to come into my mind in all capital letters with exclamation points. I won’t share my entire list with you, but here’s a sample:

Deception, Denial, Demean, Damn, Deprive, Defeat, Discourage, Dishonest