A Tale of the 3 B’s (Boys, Bad Choices, and Boundaries)

I am not a reckless person by any means. While, I am young; I am responsible. I am competent. I am holistically orientated. However, in my initial month of joblessness, I may have gone boy crazy.

Working in a residential foster community with limited access to men is pleasant, but not exactly conducive to forming healthy relationships with other people. I know I have a slightly unhealthy view of men. I fluctuate between liking them a lot to despising them altogether. Often, I prefer despising them. It gives off the appearance of self-sufficiency. It is when, I really like them that I get in trouble. Alright, back to the point. I have been free of my former job for a month now, and find myself around men again. Not only men from church, but I have been acquainted with a large dance community of Houston that inadvertently contains men.

Well, needless to say, I went man crazy. There were 3 of them that I had my focus on. Which leads to bad choice number 1. It is not in one’s best interest to fancy 3 men at one time. Looking back, I wish I had boiled it down to one. Though none of the 3 will work out, I would probably handle the loss of one better than the loss of three. In addition, honestly, it is not right for me to like 3 men at once. Something about that feels noncommittal. What does that say about how I view them? If the situation was opposite, and a guy did this to me, I would feel so worthless. No one- whether aware or oblivious-wants to feel optional. Fortunately, at this point of my man craziness one man was out of the vying. He didn’t do anything wrong, he is just a good man. I’m not saying, I don’t deserve a good man. I deserve a good man, but he is just so secure in himself and God, that I don’t know if I could handle it. The way he interacts with me is kind and respectable and clear. We are friends. I can handle that.

Moving on to the other two. Alright hombre number 2. There are several elements that make this terrible. So, I am going to disclose my bad choice and then elaborate. If you know a man has a girlfriend, you should not attempt to be his best friend…it does not work out. I recognize this is a large overarching general statement. I know you are going to say, “But, Tosin, me and (insert male/female name here) are really good friends. We are just friends”. No, no, you are not. If you have a significant other, I as a friend of the opposite gender should not know more about you than that person. Do you know why? Because increased amounts of disclosure have a positive correlation to increased amounts of intimacy. And, I don’t know if this is true for other people, but for me increase emotional intimacy creates a desire in me for increased physical intimacy. And that is not okay. If, I think biblically the mere thought of engaging with someone in relationship and attempting to take the place of their significant other is adulterous. I don’t want to be adulterous. Another rectification of this bad choice: If you and man you may potentially like do not share the same foundational principles and beliefs in life RUN! FOREST! RUN! I’m not saying don’t talk to them. All, I am saying is, as a Christian, our faith and beliefs are constantly being tested. Why would you want to test yourself knowing you are going to fail?

There there is the third man. He is the most difficult. I have known him the longest. I actually care about him, but because I didn’t enter into friendship well with him, I have made a mess of something that prayerfully will one day be beautiful. Advice for this guy If a man does not have a community of good men surrounding him, you (as a woman or as a group of women) cannot be that community for him. There is a benefit to friendships. I think God was intentional and purposeful in them. As a woman, the other women I depend on for physical, emotional, and spiritual support is everything to me. I don’t know what I would do without them. However, if I depended on a man for the same things it would be hard for me not to be attracted to him. I think it would be because that is the role of a boyfriend, at least in my mind it is. So, when a man or men rely on me for support and not a group of guy friends, I develop feelings for them. Even, if I rationalize that it would not work out. I am human and I have feelings that sometimes win out over ration.

So, we have covered the first two b’s. Which leads us into the most difficult B of them all: BOUNDARIES. Tuesday morning, I meet with the most amazing woman ever for discipleship. We have only met twice, but for some reason I feel very comfortable disclosing information I would not tell anyone else, not for the sake of gossip, but for the sake of advice. I told her in full disclosure about my boys and bad choices woes. She in all her loving-kindness gave me several points about having boundaries with people. (1) Boundaries are not about keeping people out; boundaries are about allow people to see how close they can come. Ugh, such a good point, I want to tattoo it to my face. Because, often times I am scared if I put up boundaries people will see it as a wall and walk away. The truth is some people will see it as a wall and walk away. Others will accept the boundary and operate within it. (2) Think of boundaries as a house. Think of the most intimate parts of your home. Just because one person has access to your living room does not mean that they have access to your bedroom. Meaning, two things for me. Boundaries are hierarchical, and different boundaries hold different levels of intimacy. With men, it is in my best interest to either stick them on the porch or not have them anywhere near my house. Finally, (3) boundaries benefit everyone. I have to guard my heart. It is in fact a wellspring of life. I already have suffered the consequences of an ill guarded heart. How can I not be more mindful of it. Yes, it will heal. However, isn’t the best care often preventive care? Also, I don’t know a man’s brain, but wouldn’t it make their life easier if they simply knew how close they could come, because I put up boundaries?

Well, that is the tale so far. I am still in the middle of it, but better to document it all now (so I can return to it and learn) than deny it all later and face the same fate all over again.

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Here in this Place

If you read through a couple of my blog posts (like the previous one) or have a heart-to-heart conversation with me, you will know I have had my lot of daddy issues. From hating the man to ignoring his existence to being here in this place with him, I have struggled greatly with the way that I relate to him, but all of that has taken an interesting turn recently.

September 17th, my and my dad had a conversation, where I let it all out. Many times, I have unsuccessfully attempted to do so. All ending in failure and frustration, but at the end of the conversation I said something to him that gripped both him and I. He often makes references to being the spiritual head of our family and how I should respect that. He talks about how he is without honor in his own home. Knowing God, intimately and personally, I take offense to both statements. One, because I honor him. My lifestyle brings honor to him. I am an African-American women, who has graduated from college with honors and without loans. I moved to Texas to work with people I have never met in my life and did extremely well. I was accepted into one of the top seminaries in the nation. My whole life revolves around how I can please the Lord. The one time I was drunk (and before some of y’all get ya panties in a bunch I realize bad choice), I kept screaming, “I’m so sorry, Jesus! Jesus is so ashamed of me.” So, the no honor thing just pissed me off. More than that I hated it, because that scripture (Mark 6:4) was used in a way to belittle me. And they did. I felt so little, but worse than feeling little I felt insignificant. I felt like everything God created me to be was pointless. And folks, that is a hellish place to be. But back to the conversation. I ended it with this phrase,

“If you want to have a relationship with me, you need to pursue me! Because that is exactly what God did for us. He didn’t ask me to meet him halfway or to pursue him. Because, HE is my Father and HE wanted a relationship with HIS child.”

After letting the tension settle, my dad agreed. He FREAKING agreed with me. I went into my room that night and bawled. I turned on a song called When I am Afraid by Laura Hackett and just cried. I don’t know why I was crying. The conversation ended as good as it could, but it was just one of those where I was overwhelmingly (and frighteningly) emotional. I haven’t thought much about it until today. Because, I realized something: I am worth pursuing.

I jokingly boast with friends that I am awesome, but oft-times I think of myself in relation to my deficits. I look at my left hand holding on to all the things that I assume make me lesser than some fictional other person. The biggest of them all being my body. Not simply just weight, but health issues that are out of my control. I would focus on them and just imagine, “How in the world am I going to present this to anyone? I’m so ashamed. Why would anyone even waste their time?” But in this time off I have had the time to concentrate on the abundance in my right hand. Oh my GOD (literally to God), the perspective. I don’t want to list them off, but the ways the LORD has blessed me far outweigh the pitfalls of being me. And it didn’t see that. I never noticed that and for that reason I am worth pursuing. Let me tell you why this is important.

I am the WORST at liking guys. I pick out guys based on my deficits. I say I don’t have a type, but I do. My (previous) type are nice guys with terrible decision-making skills. Typically, he is a well liked guy in a group of people, but he makes really really stupid decisions. More than that, I have always pursued these “nice-ish guys”. But I am not a tyrannosaurus looking for a partner so I don’t miss Noah’s Ark. I am a woman and I am awesome. I ain’t no Halle Berry, but let me tell you something Halle Berry ain’t no Tosin Akande. GOD has brought me to a place in our relationship where I am understanding myself a whole lot better, because I am understanding HIM a whole lot better. I am worth being pursued. I am worth being pursued because if God pursued me, then a man (the right man) can too.

I can’t believe that took 23 years to figure out.

So, if you are wondering about me and my dad. He is actually pursuing a relationship with me, but pray for me y’all. My heart very easily falls back into the bull it did before. I have forgiven my father. Forgiveness is a purposeful decision, but reconciliation is a whole new battlefield. Can I ask the readers of this blog to leave a prayer for me in the comment section or a message on Facebook that my heart would just soften towards my dad and I would just give him a chance. The way God is constantly giving me chances knowing I am a screwball.

Lord Jesus, here I am in this place. It is such a funny process walking with You. I always ask You to take me deeper than I could ever wander and You do. By the way, I meant physical location wise. However, this is much better than I had in mind. I never seem to know my destinations, but I get there and then everything just makes sense. I don’t ever think I said this before, but thank You for pursuing me. Thank You for thinking me worth the journey from perfection and holiness to sin and folly. Thank You for always loving me even when I never noticed and even when I didn’t love You back. You are so good to me. Thank You for this amazing journey. The past six years walking with You have been epic. Thank you for this month of reflection and recharge. Whether You send me to Mozambique or Sevilla or to Iran or Venezuela or to remain in Houston or return to Atlanta, thank You. My trust is in You alone, and as long as You are in my heart then I am home. I love you and Amen