An All-In Life

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My dad once told me that I am an “all-in kinda kid.” When I inquired further he said, “You put your all your eggs in one basket, and that means you are committed. But it also means you will probably get hurt.” This was in the parking lot of a Krogers when I was 13 or 14. My mom had run in to get a couple of things, and as per our parking lot history, the conversation turned deep. This is one of those conversations that has stuck with me. I am an all-in person, and that means I open myself up enough to get hurt. Yet that pain has not led me away from an all-in life – in most areas.

In friendship, in work, in church I do not know how to be an acquaintance – we are either family or just not. But there is one aspect of life that has eluded my all-in mentality: my feelings that extend beyond friendship for the opposite sex.

I wonder if it is because I grew up at the height of purity culture. Promise rings, True Love Waits, and I Kissed Dating Goodbye were the trappings of my Christian generation. And I was part of it. I had an amazing promise ring my parents bought for me; it was presented to me on my 13th birthday. My mom helped me get dressed up and my dad and I went to a fancy restaurant, where I received a beautiful ring and letters from godly adults in my life. It was a special night and I knew what all this meant, because in our home we talked about sex – it was not shameful, it was not gross, it was in God’s design for marriage. I think this is where my experience with purity culture differs from my peers. I may have signed the True Love Waits pledge and sang along to theme song – thank you Uncle Barry for that gem – but this commitment was not to shame me into self control. It was to lovingly guide me, the way parents should, armed with information and biblical truth.

And yet, when I have a crush, I talk myself out of being all-in. In my mind there is this alarm that goes off whenever I begin to crush on a guy. This alarm triggers a check list and this list has kept me single (or the Lord may have a different plan). It is a list that begins with self doubt and ends with self deception. Items on the list include: 1. A man like that would never be interested in a girl like me; 2. I will probably have to forego my calling to be with a man like that; 3. He is not going to want to be in the urban context that I love and cannot leave; 4. He probably wants kids. This internal list has held me hostage for years, and I want to shut it down. I want to be able to be all-in.

I think the idea of a list is universal – all women have self doubt. But how do we dismantle this list? How do we go from self deception to appropriate discernment? I do not know. What I do know is that I want to delete my list and rely on the Lord’s guidance and the gift of the Holy Spirit for loving who and where I am. Maybe that will lead to someday riding the ebbs and flows of a crush, until either something sparks or something fades. But for today I want to be all-in on erasing the list I made and replacing it with the list the Lord has.

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