Feb 2, 2015

Angel By Your Side

I’ll be the angel by your side
I will get you through the night
I’ll be the strength you can’t provide on your own

Recently, Francesca Battistelli's "Angel By Your Side" has been on my mind.

At first, I really loved it because it expresses the kind of love I want to give my significant other. I want him to view me as an angel supporting him through everything. Then life happened. God showed me how much more giving and loving I can be, and this song has come to mean so much more to me.

This past year, I've fallen into despair more times than I would like to count. I've endured nights where I've wanted to lash out at someone, something, anything, to take the pain away. I've doubted myself and prayed countless times for God's wisdom when I couldn't rely on my own understanding. I've prayed for strength to work through the process of forgiveness and let go of my anger so that I could reconcile myself with God. It has been a long, convoluted path, and it won't get any easier with time.

Jan 26, 2015

Stop Trying to Make a Prince Out of Him

The good girl takes a bad boy and makes a good man out of him. It's a common plot in literature and television today.

Many girls thrive on these stories, dreaming of a bad boy who transforms through the love of a girl who sees his underlying potential. Back when I used to be more active in the book blogosphere, I would see bad boys triumphing over good boys more often than not when women talked about their book boy crushes. Why is the huge craze? I think that just as we love to see the rags-to-princess story of Cinderella, we love to see a bad boy reform his ways and become the prince that he is meant to be.

None of us are perfect. Most of us will never meet a real prince, and there's an even smaller chance that a fairy godmother will appear and dress us in princess clothes. It is thus left in our hands to make our own fairy-tale romances. It's no wonder then that we dream of finding a prince of our own. When we think that we've found The One, and it turns out he has some traits that run counter to our ideal image, it can be very tempting to change him so that he conforms to our expectations.

Nevertheless, there is a danger to trying to make a prince out of our men.

Jan 19, 2015

Why We Need Forgiveness in Our Relationships

We were angry and hurt. What was supposed to have been a simple discussion on how to improve our conflict resolution tactics had dissolved into another round of complaints and attempts to recover wounded egos. We couldn't even remember what we had been arguing about earlier. Only that it was petty and shouldn't have happened in the first place. (Though, truth be told, we've heard from others that couples should expect most of their conflicts to be over petty matters.) All we wanted was to be better, but we didn't where to start the healing process.

It was then that I realized what I needed to do. Forgive him.

Jan 12, 2015

Ten Strategies for Successful Conflict Resolution

When we enter a romantic relationship, none of us expect to fight all the time. (At least, I hope not.) Even if we know that real life isn't like a Disney princess movie, we enter with the hopes of smooth sailing into happily ever after. The reality is that the more time you spend with someone, you get better at annoying each other. You learn more about each other's weaknesses and about the buttons that will set each other off. One of my psychology professors described this eloquently as "building one's arsenal." That is, the more time you spend with someone, the more fodder you have to use against them in a conflict situation.

If we truly want to spend the rest of our life with someone else, however, we can't go around firing from this arsenal at will. Relational conflict does not mean war. Rather, it is a sign that there is something in our relationship that requires our attention. Something that needs fixing. Some of you may start shrinking away now. Conflict isn't something that many of us enjoy. Those of us in this company would happily delay addressing issues that come up in our relationship. In fact, most of us don't see room for conflict in our image of happily ever after and would love to do away with it altogether.

Today, I want to change how we view conflict from being the enemy to being an opportunity — an opportunity to change our relationship for the better, to learn more about ourselves and our partners, and to grow together through a shared trial. Thus, I want us to think of conflict as a positive influence in our lives.

Jan 8, 2015

Five Reasons We Shouldn't Rush Romantic Relationships

Our relationship started long distance.

It was supposed to move more slowly because of the limited time we could spend together in person and on the phone, and we were okay with that—at first. Then we began to think about what we would do post graduation with me being a year ahead in school, and the future seemed oppressingly close. We felt rushed to organize our life plans even though we were only beginning our second and third years of college. This put additional stress on our relationship because neither of us knew where we would be in two, five, ten years. We only had a vision of what we wanted out of our relationship, and without any practical details we couldn't begin to make concrete plans.

Jan 5, 2015

Reconstructing Cinderella: What I Learned in My First Year of Dating

My boyfriend and I celebrated our first anniversary not so long ago, a significant benchmark in the longest romantic relationship either of us have ever been in. For me, this has also been the only romantic relationship I've known—the only one I'll ever know if life progresses as planned. If there's one thing I've learned over the past year, however, life doesn't often take you in the direction you want to go. I've been forced to re-evaluate my way of thinking. I've learned things about myself that I didn't want to know. I've learned that if I want unconditional love, I must be willing to make sacrifices and offer the same respect in return. This seems intuitive but is much harder to practice than it is to preach. In this series of posts, I will share what I have learned in the first year of dating my boyfriend: what it means to be a couple, why it is important to grow as an individual first, how to deal and move past conflict, and who (God) should be the center of our relationship. Through this, I hope to empower my peers to reconsider how they view their roles in their relationships.

The women of our generation have been raised on Disney movies where the heroine achieves her Happily Ever After after encountering her prince charming and being rescued by him. While books and films today actively try to portray an independent heroine who doesn't need a prince to rescue her—and who may actually rescue her man herself, such as in the movie Tangled—many heroines still develop a romantic relationship in the process. Rapunzel ends up marrying Eugene Fitzherbert, better known as Flynn Rider, the man who releases her from her tower. We're taught to expect either a beautiful sweetness or exciting fireworks at first kiss, and we're taught to covet all these grand gestures of romance. We're taught that we'll know when we've found The One and that everything will follow from there. What books and movies don't often teach us is how to develop and maintain a functional relationship that will last long after the honeymoon phase has passed. True romance cannot thrive on passion and idealism alone.

Jan 1, 2015

Welcoming the New Year: 2014 Review and 2015 Resolutions

I remember walking to a dinner event at the end of August. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, the sky was so blue, and the foliage was so green. There was so much life around me. Everything felt so right, so peaceful, and I felt God's presence in the world. Much like that summer day, this past year of 2014 has been a year of revelations. It has been a year of challenges, surprises, joy, hope, sadness, and faith.

Some of the highlights:
  • Finding God: I returned to the church life Fall 2013, and it's been a rocky journey finding God in my life again. While I still have a long journey ahead of me, I can say that 2014 is the year I could begin to see that I was making progress in my faith.
  • Starting I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. My boyfriend gave me this book to encourage me in my spiritual journey, and it is now one of my favorite reads.
  • I discovered Phylicia Delta's blog, one of the most inspirational reads I know! Her blog came to me at a time when I was struggling with my faith and what it meant to my way of life, and it was instrumental in helping me begin the process of overcoming the temptations in my life.
  • My boyfriend and I celebrated our first anniversary together. He's been such a blessing and strong source of encouragement in my life. Sometimes, I wonder how I would have gotten through this year without him.