Global Dating Part 1: He Said

I know many friends have wanted to hear more of the story behind my recent change in relationship status. And before you mark this post as spam, I’ll try to keep a balance between “just the facts” and “pass the Pepto”.

[This is a guest post by my awesome boyfriend, Joey Tyson.]

Joey and Laura

Laura and I are actually childhood friends. When I was 12, not long after moving to Atlanta, my family joined the church that her family already attended. Apart from teaming up once in an outdoor game whose rules I no longer recall, we weren’t particularly close growing up. But we reconnected while I was in grad school, and eventually found several shared perspectives and interests. By that time, I had moved to Virginia and Laura was still in Georgia. As our lives seemed to go in different directions, we lost touch for a while.

That changed earlier this year. Laura enjoys traveling, and since her current job allows her to work remotely, she decided to spend a few weeks exploring the San Francisco area while deepening her relationship with God. Fortunately for me, I had moved to northern California the year prior after taking a job with Facebook. The more time we spent time together, the more I began to realize how much we truly had in common.

After Laura returned home, we continued sharing thoughts on a range of topics via email. And through these conversations, we discovered that even our deepest values seemed to echo the same song. Our friendship continued to grow as we talked more often, including an afternoon in-person when I visited Atlanta.

The weekend after July 4th, I visited Atlanta once more, but not before asking Laura if I could take her out on a date. She not only said yes, but agreed to join me on a series of adventures while I was in town, from hiking Amicalola Falls to seeing the Georgia Aquarium to enjoying a fancy homemade dinner (although that last one was a surprise). We both had a wonderful time and endeavored to move forward with a long-distance relationship.

IMG_5736We knew that path wouldn’t be easy, but we’ve been learning to navigate it and are still very happy to be together even while we’re geographically apart. I’m continually amazed by Laura’s kindness and character; her friendship amplifies God’s goodness and joy in ways I never imagined.

We greatly appreciate the myriad encouragements we’ve received from friends and look forward to seeing what awaits us in the next few chapters of this story. 

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Traditions, Expectations, and Love: Valentine’s Day in Retrospect

I was highly amused by my Facebook newsfeed on Valentine’s Day and felt a few observations were in order. The newlyweds were gawking over the elements comprising romantic perfection (e.g. cards, chocolates, flowers, and special dinners). The singles were contrasting this day of love with their own life by generally either mocking the holiday, eating too much chocolate, or encouraging others with God’s love.

And then a select few posed an entirely different perspective. “Why should demonstrations of love be reserved for just one day of the year?” they asked.

This question puzzled me. As a sincere romantic, I initially thought this was disgracing the legacy of love. But thoughtful consideration has generated even deeper questions.

Photo Credit: Freakysita via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Freakysita via Compfight cc

Have we allowed holiday traditions to dictate our expectations of love? And consequently, have we reduced love to chocolates and roses?

Isn’t the truest love to lay down our lives for another? (John 15:13) To esteem others better than ourselves? (Philippians 2:3) Authentic, Christ-saturated love is not bound by time or tangibles. It is perpetual and powerful. (1 Corinthians 13:8, Song of Solomon 8:7)

Flowers wither in time and chocolates vanish once eaten, but real love never fades. Let me be quick to say, I love both flowers (especially gerbera daisies) and chocolates (the darker the better). And I realize these can be demonstrations of love.

My concern is the subtle replacement of intangible, self-sacrificing charity with tangible perishables. One box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day will never mask the absence of genuine love on the other 364 days.

Love endures long and is patient and kind;

Love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy,

Love is not boastful or vainglorious,

Love does not display itself haughtily.

Love is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride);

Love is not rude, unmannerly, and does not act unbecomingly.

Love, God’s love in us, does not insist on its own rights or its own way,

Love is not self-seeking;

Love is not touchy or fretful or resentful;

Love takes no account of the evil done to it (pays no attention to a suffered wrong).

Love does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes,

Love is ever ready to believe the best of every person,

Love’s hopes are fadeless under all circumstances

Love endures everything without weakening.

Love never fails, never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end.

I want to propose a 365-Love Challenge. It is simple: each day pick one aspect of love (listed above) and intentionally demonstrate it. Take it one day at a time. Love is a marathon, not a sprint.

My desire is to be an incessant conduit of Christ-saturated love so that by next Valentine’s Day there will be a legacy of authentic love to validate gerbera daisies and dark chocolate.

Will you join me in purposefully and authentically loving those God has placed in our lives, every day for the next year? Would you take 60 seconds to send me an email so I can pray for you and encourage you along the way?

Let the 365-Love Challenge begin!

Craving Community

We are all designed for community, regardless of personality.

And I’m not just referring to the kind of community that resides in the same zip code. We were created to communicate with others. Friends, family, colleagues, classmates, and clients are all part of this network called community. And with today’s technology and social media, it is easier than ever to connect with hundreds and even thousands of people around the world.

How is it possible then, that I can be drowning in connections and still crave community? Where is the disconnect between being surrounded by people and actually having community?

Intentionality.

Community springs from authentic relationships that require effort to initiate and maintain. Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and LinkedIn connections, are merely an avenue to facilitate building relationships. Assuming a social media platform will magically be transformed into community is a catastrophic misconception. It requires individual hard work and persistence. But most importantly, community demands intentionality.

Communicate purposefully. Invest relationally. Create your own community.