Tag-Archive for » Jo O’Hanlon «

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015 | Author:

I’m not dating anyone right now. But I can guarantee you one thing: if I were, about 50% or more of the people in my life, upon me saying I was dating someone, would ask two questions:

  1. What’s his name?
  2. Does he love Jesus?/Is he following the Lord?/ Is he a christian?

storyofjo dating, Jesus, Church, Satire

Growing up in the church, it was clear to me that a potential partner (i.e. anyone I’d date, because why, for the love of pete, would you date anyone that you weren’t “probably going to marry”? —I have thoughts on that for another day) needed to go to church and be a Christian. Which, by the way, is the real question lurking behind the guise of the trite question “does he love Jesus” for at least 50% of those 50+% that ask.

Being a christian (read: church culture participation) was the most important thing. So much so that the people who know a guy or gal marginally enough to ask whether the person they’re dating loves Jesus often stop asking about the person after that question is answered.

My parents have been delicate in this with me, which I appreciate, but I didn’t know exactly what I thought about it until a couple years ago when I started to date someone who didn’t know how he felt about God and was not involved in the church. “American Christian/agnostic” was probably a good description of where he was at.

While we’re weren’t in a relationship, just going on dates getting to know one another, I found myself one afternoon in a car with my mom when she brought it up. I could tell she’d been thinking about it a while. It wasn’t her first or second question about him. But it still came to that question, or rather that concern (which, for the record, I think is fine. Parents, I hope you hope for what you believe to be best for your children. Christ, christian culture, church, whatever included.)

“I am a little concerned about the whole belief in God thing, Jo,” she said sensitively. I knew she brought it up because she cared.

My response, though it did not feel defensive, felt heavy, and my words surprised me and educated me on how I felt as they left my lips.

“He treats me well. He’s kind to me. He respects me as a human being. I’m sorry mom, but those are things that are more important to me right now than him believing in God. I’ve been hurt and disrespected by men who believe in God before. I’d rather date a kind, respectful man who doesn’t know what he believes, or knows that he doesn’t believe in God, than the opposite.”

I still stand by that. Because when it comes down to it, loving Jesus is a matter of the heart, and it changes you. I have known, and known of, far too many “christian men” who act in ways toward others I would never desire. I will choose a man with a loving, kind heart like Jesus’ heart (whether he thinks Jesus is a falsity or not) first and foremost, every time.

Ideally, I think life is often easier when couple’s belief systems line up. Ideally, I’d like that for my own life in the long run. Heck, ideally, I’d like to figure out what my belief system is for myself at some point. But when it comes down to it, when I’m dating someone, I will have far more questions that are more important to me than what his name is, and does he “love Jesus.”

Here are some good questions that should be answered about the man/woman you date or those you care deeply for are dating:

  1. What is his name?
  2. What do you like about him?
  3. Does he have a history of violent crime? (Yes, it’s still a crime if he wasn’t caught.)
  4. Does he batter women? (Yes, you count in that. Yes, every other woman counts in that.)
  5. Does he deal drugs?  (This can endanger you. Have you seen breaking bad?)
  6. Has he ever made you feel less valuable? (Chances are you are not “crazy” even if he says you are.)
  7. Does he participate in illegal dog fights? (Please tell me you’re not dating Michael Vick.)
  8. How does he treat the waiter when you’re at a restaurant? (Waiters are people too.)
  9. How does he treat poorer people? (Poorer people are people too.)
  10. Does he care about the earth? (We all should, but at least make sure you’re compatible.)
  11. Does he cheat on you constantly? (No, I’m not going to define “cheat” for you.)
  12. Does he cheat on you occasionally? (No, I’m not going to define “occasionally” for you.)
  13. Will you have to compromise your dreams, ambitions, or personality traits to be with him? (that’s right, sh*t just got real.)
  14. Is he part of the CIA and thus might have to lie a lot and probably get your house shot up at least once? (I know you loved the show Alias, but I’ve heard rumors that real life might be different than TV.)
  15. Is his main form of income acting in pornos? (Again, if you’re OK with this, fine, if not, it maaayyy be a red flag.)
  16. Is he racist, homophobic, or otherwise scared or hateful toward any people group? (No jokes here. 100% Legitimate question.)
  17. Does he ask you to have sex with others in exchange for money? (Unless you realize he is your pimp and you are ok with this. If that is not the case, this is not love, honey.)
  18. Does he require you to perform degrading acts in the bedroom that you do not consent to? (You have a woman-born right to get the hell out of that relationship.)
  19. Does he stone you for not wearing your burka? (Probably not a great guy.)
  20. Does he drown kittens for fun? (I mean, as long as he loves Jesus this one is probably ok.)
  21. Does he love to burn things to the ground and ask you to wait at home? (This is called arson and could leave you lonely while he is in prison.)
  22. Does he ask you to drive getaway cars when he robs banks? (This is participation in a felony — Orange probably isn’t really the new black. Just food for thought.)

But hey, pretty much all of these are fine if he goes to church. You know that, right? You didn’t? Oh, good, now you guys are set.

 

*Note. This is satire. If you didn’t catch that. Just wanted to be sure.


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Jo O’Hanlon is an adventurer and storyteller. She tries to be honest about the ugly and hard parts of life, and the beautiful parts too. This blog is one of the places she shares her thoughts and stories.

Other places are

instagram: @jrolicious         twitter: @jrohanlon        storyofjoblog@gmail.com

Wednesday, January 07th, 2015 | Author:

“We need to talk,” she said to me in a serious yet conspiring tone.

We walked with rushing feet to our personal conference room — the Children’s Church room at the back of the church where we’d hang out before church. We were two rambunctious 8-year-old girls who got to church early with our parents when they had to do something or another for the service.

Once within the confines of our private scheme-building room, we stood in the middle of the room, near the wall with the old piano that I’d play for us sometimes.

We stood facing each other, and I was not nervous as adults are when someone says to them, “we need to talk.” — I was eager to hear what was so important.

“Did you hear that his parents are getting a divorce?”

“I know,” I said, looking down, not knowing what that really meant or entailed, but knowing it was bad. “My mom told me.”

He was a boy in our grade who we’d known for the past few years. He was our number one enemy. His life goal was to annoy us. And our lives’ goals were to make him look like a fool by pulling pranks and such. This was the essence of most of our friendships with kids of the opposite sex, as seems to be the norm. But he and one other boy were our particular enemies and we paid each other more mutual attention than we paid the other kids.

medium_301168593photo credit: rolands.lakis via photopin cc

“I think we need to be his friend now,” she said to me, the decision already made.

“Yeah. I think you’re right. That would be good,” I replied. I hadn’t thought of that, or realized it was needed until she said it. But once she did, it was decided. Third-grader conference of the year over.

It was one of the most important, efficient, and impactful conferences I’ve ever been a part of, and the decision stuck. We started that day at church. We didn’t drop the enemy act, but we had changed our heart toward him, and he changed his toward us. We continued to be frenemies all through high school.

When we were in junior high, he gave me one of the best christmas gifts I’ve ever received — he bought, with his own money, the movie Princess Diaries for me on VHS. He knew I loved it, and that was far above the $1-5 gifts we had sometimes exchanged in the past. He told me I couldn’t tell anyone he had gotten it for me because that would show that we were friends, so I didn’t, but we watched it together nearly weekly for about a year until we moved onto other fixations.

I’ve seen him a couple times this past year, and each time, I’ve thought how much I enjoy him as a person and a friend. But I may not have been friends with him had she not pulled me into that children’s church room and presented her idea for what we needed to do.

She saw disaster on the horizon and proposed a plan of action. I just followed.

We were in high school when her parents divorced as well. I was still friends with her, but in the of-course-we’re-friends way, not in the I-am-here-for-you-in-daily-life way. Our paths had started to take us in different directions, and I’m sad that I didn’t have a conference with anyone, declaring “we need to be friends with her.”

The truth is, a lot of people stepped away from her in that painful time. The girl who intentionally stepped in at 8. The girl who recognized the severity of the pain of divorce before she’d ever felt it. The girl who put aside sacred cooty-laws and annoyance-wars to be a friend. She was pushed to the outskirts and left alone in her time of pain.

It is a hard thing to see and recognize that you do not always reap what you sow. Mean people sometimes prosper and good people sometimes get left. At least it feels that way sometimes.

But the thing is, the girl who has heart enough to decide to be friends with a hurting enemy at 8 years old, she will be a woman who will live life well. She will be the type of woman who has deep friendships with people she’s met in passing. She will be a friend even when she is in pain. And some of those relationships will give back to her as well. The humility that lets her put aside childhood feuds also strengthens her to reach out to people who need a second chance in her life.

And that gives me hope about life and about the world. Because, almost two decades later, I still remember her as the girl who decided to be a friend when she didn’t have to be, and she got me to do so too. And the woman I know her as now still has that same understanding, supportive, caring heart.

I don’t know about the whole reap what you sow thing, because life has dealt her a crappy and painful hand several times.

But I am confident that when you have that goodness inside that she does, that everything will be okay. That you will continue to make a life worth living. That you will continue to build friendships worth having. That you will continue to find your way, and choose your path. That while life may be ugly and painful and hard, you will be the type of person that responds, that works through it, and that decides to love life again.

And that is really what matters above all else. You don’t always get to choose what happens to you or those around you in life, but you do get to choose how to respond. When pain shows up, will you step in? Will you give up or keep trying. Will you choose to love life again and again and again?

Life may not always be easier for good people, but it is more beautiful and more worth loving when you’re the type of person who steps in.

Jo O’Hanlon is an adventurer and storyteller. She tries to be honest about the ugly and hard parts of life, and the beautiful parts too. This blog is one of the places she shares her thoughts and stories.

Other places are

instagram: @jrolicious         twitter: @jrohanlon

storyofjoblog@gmail.com
Tuesday, November 25th, 2014 | Author:

It’s odd, because this is now the end of November, and for a month that is usually saturated in social media posts about thankfulness, I actually have only seen 2 posts of the sort this month. The month has flown by for me, and without being intentional to cultivate gratitude in my heart in this season, it has almost passed me by. Except, for no November reason, last night I found myself thinking about how grateful I am for one specific type of people in my life.

 

Confidence has always come naturally to me. For example, as a two-year-old I distinctly remember being so upset my first time riding a horse because they wouldn’t let go of the reins and let me do it myself. I was sure I knew how to gallop, even, by myself, and that I had the situation under control. Sometimes I have self-doubt, or am uncertain about my body or my skill or the way I measure up to others when I play that ugly comparison game of life — but for the most part it’s just come naturally. Not in a cocky way, either, I would say, though it can come off that way.

 

But I’ve been changing, growing, breaking and healing a lot over the past couple years, but part of what’s been broken that I haven’t looked in it’s glaring eye is the fact that I am no longer naturally confident in myself in many ways. I have kept up the confident charm, almost out of habit I think, but this past week two different close friends called me on it. One sensed my laughter and doubt under my tones of false confidence, and it was painful to realize that as she said, “You ARE amazing, you know that don’t you?” I couldn’t even look her in the eye.

“Look at me,” she said sternly as she watched me involuntarily look down when hearing her words.

I looked up at her, met her eyes, and with pain that I couldn’t explain said, “Please. Don’t.”

“No. We’re doing this. Look at me,” she pushed.

“We’re in public, celebrating, and I have mascara on my lower lashes. When I cry, it’ll run,” I said as matter-of-factly as I could.

“You’ll cry?” She was taken aback.

“Please,” I could feel the tightening of my throat and chest as I sensed her need for me to hear her on what she sees as true and good about me.

“Ok. We’ll talk about this later, then,” she said, and she let it slide as I had asked her to, but she gave me the same look I was subconsciously giving myself — the one that asks ‘Who is this person who can’t accept the good truth about herself without pain?’ She certainly wasn’t someone who was always this way.

 

Then later in the week, another good friend called me on it, too. “Look at me,” sounded out again as my eyes found their downcast way as if on command when my friend tried to affirm me. Several times, persistently the call of “look at me” washed over me and a gentle finger lifted my chin up to meet the gaze of someone who knows me and affirms me. Again, it was painful, but so necessary for me to hear those words of affirmation, for me to be forced to look at what’s good in me when I forget that there is anything there that’s good sometimes.

I am so grateful that I have a few close friends who see me, really see me, and who persistently want to remind me who I am — what I am — when I don’t remember, when I don’t feel that way. I’m  grateful for these kind of people in my life who don’t just let me look down, but lift my face to meet theirs as they remind me of what’s true.

A long while ago, I wrote a poem with this line in it: “Grace stings the wounded soul like hydrogen peroxide on a skinned knee. The cleansing hurts.”

That’s the image I got again with these friends this week. I am thankful for people who are full of the hydrogen peroxide of life, and who continue to help me clean this metaphoric skinned knee inside of me.

 

Jo O’Hanlon is an adventurer and storyteller. She tries to be honest about the ugly and hard parts of life, and the beautiful parts too. This blog is one of the places she shares her thoughts and stories.

Other places are

instagram: @jrolicious         twitter: @jrohanlon

storyofjoblog@gmail.com