It seems like we just met yesterday. He was tall, had an athletic build, and charmed me off my feet. We conversed in English, French, and Spanish. We spent hours watching movies, laughing about silly things, and talking about our future. I enjoyed every moment of our time together; it just felt right. However, we broached a topic that brought my happily-ever-after fantasy to an end.
“By choosing to stick to my convictions over all others, I’ve said goodbye to many men.”
Fellow navigator, please hear my heart. I’m not condemning those in mixed-faith relationships. If you are able to make it work, then more power to you. My purpose in telling that very real story is to illustrate a situation I’ve found myself in on more than one occasion. I meet a man. We hit it off. Then, we end up at a crossroads because our beliefs don’t align. By choosing to stick to my convictions over all others, I’ve said goodbye to many men. They were decent guys who would make just about any woman happy, but they were not for me.
If I say that my faith is a major part of who I am but hide it from the one I claim to want to spend forever with, then it never really held such a high place in my life. If I openly profess Christ to total strangers but fail to talk about him to my partner, then I am no better than Peter before the crucifixion. If I continue being with a man who denies the existence of a God I know to be real and true, then I am just like Judas and lead a double life.
“There is grace.”
There is grace, fellow navigator. God can change the heart of anyone at any point and time that He so chooses. I don’t doubt this. My apprehension comes when I knowingly enter into a relationship with a man who is at enmity with God or has his own views about faith that completely differ from mine.
There must be something in the water, fellow navigator, because I hear similar stories of women who’ve had to choose between a seemingly good man and God. Based on those I know, the ones who chose the former live good lives but have strayed from the faith. The ones who chose the latter continue to live on their own terms but have yet to say “I do.” It begs the question of why God would allow women who willingly choose Him to remain single…but that’s a post for another day.
Fellow navigator, have you ever found yourself in a position where you had to choose between God or a guy? What did you do? If you’ve tried having a mixed-faith relationship, how did it go? Tell me about it!
Once upon a time, I thought there was something wrong with me because men weren’t knocking down my door. I thought I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough, or worthy of the attention of a man. Several relationships ended because I wouldn’t “give it up” within the time frame deemed by my partner. (It’s sad to say that even the holiest of Christian men struggle with their libido.) Knowing that I deserved more, I did the only natural thing to keep myself from going down the endless road of trying to contort myself to fit a man’s image of who I should be—I buried myself in work.
If some of us women are honest, I wonder if we share a similar experience. How many of us who have been labeled as “career-driven” would say that our jobs only became a priority because we realized the men who were trying to capture our attention weren’t anything to write home about? I mean, I would much rather focus on my work and making my dreams come true than put all my energy into a relationship with a man who only views me as an option. Has this been true for you?
Fellow navigator, we’ve been greatly wronged in the way we’ve been conditioned. As young girls, we were taught to be meek and mild-mannered. Many of us grew up believing women were to be seen, not heard. We were told to suppress our sexual urges and act daintily in public. We were brought up to believe that everything a man says goes; we should never question his decision. We were instructed to put our lives on hold to focus our attention on family and home. Some of us were even raised not to dream or have aspirations of our own because only what the men in our lives wanted mattered.
I use the pronoun “we” when discussing the erroneous ways many of us were brought up because, at some time or another, we’ve all been faced with situations where our womanhood was called into question. For some, we’ve even had to choose between the wishes of our families and the desires birthed inside of us wanting to come out. As women, because of our sex, we are viewed as “weak.” Men say we need protecting because are fragile, and that is what they use to justify dominating our lives. Granted, not every woman lives like this. But it breaks my heart to think of the millions of women who continue to live in male-dominated societies and are never given the opportunity to discover their identities outside of the closest man in their lives. Their pain is my pain. But I digress…
I am not a bad woman or poor choice for a wife because I have ambition. In fact, I believe that makes me wife material because I’m the kind of woman who supports and encourages the one she’s with to pursue his dreams. When he feels like giving up, I’m the lone cheerleader letting him know he can do it. When the world beats him up and spits him out, I’m the safe haven he can find rest in and know that he still matters. I’m the woman who isn’t concerned with whether he’s bringing home all the proverbial bacon because I’m contributing, too.
He’s not my sugar daddy, feel good machine, or arm candy. No, he is my friend, partner, and confidante. We don’t have to concern ourselves with what the world thinks because we’ve learned each other and grown together. Society may try to pull us apart, but it’s really us against the world.
Not every man is deserving of me. If you are a real one, fellow navigator, the same holds true for you. At just about every turn, your femininity may be called into question. And that’s ok. The wrong dude might say you’re not a “good woman” because you don’t allow him to win at everything. You might be labeled “too masculine” because you decide to go after what you want instead of waiting for it to be given to you. You may be considered “not soft enough” because you drive better and faster than many men.
I’m the kind of woman who supports and encourages the one she’s with to pursue his dreams.
One of the worst things you can do is lower your standards to match a man who isn’t worthy of you. Instead, keep working and grinding until the man who sees your value shows up. Recognizing him will be easy. He’ll be the one who sticks around at times when others have left. He fights fair and doesn’t hit below the belt during an argument. He’ll listen when you speak about your insecurities and fears, then do what he needs to do to make you feel safe. These men are few and far in between. They aren’t perfect by any means, but they know how to spot a good woman—another kind of woman—and work to keep her.
Fellow navigator, I wish someone had sat me down and told me that it was ok to be a different kind of woman before I entered the world of dating. To be honest, maybe someone did. Maybe I didn’t receive it or recognize the words as wisdom at the time. Nevertheless, I found myself in a pattern of dating the same type of man but only with a different name. What dating gems have you learned and currently apply to your life? Tell me about it!
“My body and overall health have taken a major hit since quarantine life began.“
Staying healthy in your 30s (and even older) can be a challenge. For the vast majority of us, our metabolisms begin (or continue) to slow down, and we just don’t seem to have the same kind of energy we once did. Earlier this week, before even deciding to write this post, I thought about how I’ve been feeling much more lethargic than usual. I can’t stay awake for eight hours straight without feeling the need to lie down somewhere for a few minutes.
My body and overall health have taken a major hit since quarantine life began, and I’m still feeling the impact now that I’m still semi-quarantined. Although I go out to meet with some clients, make my once-a-month Costco run, and take care of random errands, there is no place in my schedule for exercise. Taking a break from my 5 AM gym trips was a conscious decision made because Georgia did not (and still does not) have it together regarding how to deal with this highly contagious respiratory virus. There was no way I was going to put my life at risk because politicians were more concerned with maintaining favor with other politicians. (Feel free to read between the lines!)
Anyway, I went to the gym one time in March, saw how most members were not wearing masks, finished using equipment but not didn’t wipe anything down after, and decided that that was not my portion. Ha! You will not catch me out here in these streets knowingly putting myself in a position to catch a deadly virus. Since the gym was absolutely out of the question, I thought about going for a walk at the newly developed park near my complex. Sadly, I turned down that option down because of safety issues. I couldn’t get myself to go to the park at 5 AM in the morning, with no one knowing where I was or how to get to me in case of an emergency. Safety was also the reason I chose not to walk around my complex to at least get my steps in. Knowing that there were sex offenders living in that same complex, or near it, was enough to convince me that that was a no-go. The last thing I needed was some pervert seeing me walking by myself, studying my routine, watching me enter my apartment, then thinking he had hit the jackpot. No, I’m good.
“I’m still feeling the impact now that I’m still semi-quarantined.”
So, what could I possibly do to lose all the weight I’ve gained from quarantine after all these excuses about why I can’t work out? Nothing. There’s not a thing I can do. Just kidding. I thought about purchasing a yoga mat and doing home workouts, but I know myself enough to know that that wouldn’t work. Instead, I cut my calorie intake, reduced my food portions, and began eating foods containing more fiber.
Although modifying my food intake has kept me from gaining even more weight while basically being sedentary for the past five months, I recognize that I need to be physically active. My body was used to doing rigorous workouts 3-4 times a week. Abruptly ending my gym routine began to visibly show probably three months into quarantine. The truth is, exercise and eating right go hand-in-hand. We may be able to do one exclusively for a while, but they really must be done simultaneously to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Since it’s been almost two months since the state has reopened, I’ve decided to give the gym another chance. I’ll go in with my gloves and mask and only use one machine for a good cardio workout during my visit. After five months of little to no physical activity, knowing that I’m getting older each day, I’ve reached the point where I have to take action. We all get to that place at different times, fellow navigator. But when we do, our resolve is so strong that nothing can stop us.
My healthy living journey isn’t just about me. No, I’m thinking about my future children who will be active and rambunctious. They deserve to have a mother who will be just as engaged and involved in all aspects of their lives. I never saw myself being a mom who sat on a bench scrolling through social media while my kids were having the time of their lives going on imaginary adventures and role playing on the playground. I want to be able to join in and not worry about passing out or falling behind because I was out of shape.
This post took a turn from what I originally was planning to write about, but I like to let my brain and fingers do their thing. What about you, fellow navigator? How has quarantine impacted your workout life? What are you doing to stay fit? Did you lose motivation or face hurdles along the way? Tell me about it!
Believe it or not, I used to be pretty uptight when I was younger. To be completely honest, I probably still am when it comes to certain things. That’s neither here nor there. I wrote once that I’m a complex creature because there are so many layers to me that it would take a man a lifetime to uncover them all. There’s the version of me he sees when in a professional setting, another when we’re in private, and yet a different one when we’re among friends. It’s not that I’m two-faced or put on a show based on who is around. No, it’s because I’ve learned not to allow everyone to have complete access to my true self.
Business associates and colleagues have no right to know what I do in the comfort and privacy of my home. Workplace etiquette demands that I maintain a certain level of professionalism to ensure that I’m taken seriously and critiqued based on my performance. Similarly, friends (even close ones) don’t need to know the intimate details of my love life. This is not to say that those my future partner and I choose to take on accountability roles in our relationship won’t get this access. Instead, I’m suggesting that I won’t be running around in the streets telling people about every tiff my future partner and I have.
When it comes to everything that is me, there is the good, the bad, and the crazy. I’ve learned that just because someone plays some sort of role in my life does not give them the right to see me in every light. By setting boundaries, I guard my heart and keep people who may not be able to handle it all at bay. Past experiences have taught that I place myself at a greater risk of getting hurt and doing unnecessary emotional and psychological damage when I fail to establish boundaries.
Setting boundaries looks differently for everyone. For me, I’ve broken my world into the three categories previously mentioned: the good, the bad, and the crazy. This is my way of determining how close to allow someone to get to me. Everyone starts in the good and, depending how things go, make their way to the bad. If they are able to hang on, they ultimately cross the finish line to the crazy. While these are terms I use in jest, they actually accurately sum up what transpires in the three major categories.
Let’s start with the good. This is reserved for those who get to experience the joys of life with me. We cheer each other on, check in to hear about life updates, and encourage one another to achieve our goals. In a romantic relationship, this is the “getting to know each other” stage. We discuss our passions, hobbies, and things that generally make us happy. The relationships aren’t superficial, but they lack the depth of the other two.
Next, the bad is saved for those who are emotionally and spiritually stronger than I am. We go through the harder times of life together. We walk through moments of questioning it all and wanting to give up. When I feel like I’m on my last leg and hopeless, they’re the ones I turn to for prayer and support. When my fire looks like it’s about to go out, they add fuel to keep it running. In a romantic relationship, we discuss deal breakers, faith, politics, and just about every other taboo topic. This group of people are few, but they are dear. Made up of prayer warriors, positive personalities, and individuals who will keep it real, they speak the words I need when life just seems like it’s spiraling out of control.
Finally, the crazy is exclusively for those who see my heart in full transparency. There are no secrets between us because we’ve been through it all. They hear the unfiltered stories about my insecurities, see the heightened emotions, and experience the moments that leave me feeling debilitated. There is no judgment among us because everything is exposed. Some say you can never be 100% your true self with anyone, but I disagree. The very few people in my life who are able to witness the ugliness of my heart that manifests through words and actions are the ones who see my true self. In a romantic relationship, this is where we decide that only death will do us part. (I’m still single, so no man’s made it this far yet.) This type of relationship takes an enormous amount of trust, patience, and discipline because of the level of vulnerability involved. But if we make it to those point, where all the crazy hangs out, we will be together forever.
They hear the unfiltered stories about my insecurities, see the heightened emotions, and experience the moments that leave me feeling debilitated.
— Ethleen Sawyerr
Now, there are sub-categories, but we won’t get into them. Some in my life might experience the first two categories, not the last. Others may only be granted access to one. The point is that, much like in a relationship, we’re not supposed to rush to give ourselves away to just anyone. Instead, we take our time to learn each other until we’re comfortable letting the other into our complex world.
Fellow navigator, have you ever stopped to consider who you allow to celebrate your victories, walk with you through the valleys, and see your true self? What is it about those people that makes them worthy of your trust to journey with you in those moments? If you don’t place yourself into such broad categories, how do you define relationship boundaries? Tell me about it!