Playing for Keeps

Also known as: A quest for clarity

Last Saturday was another book discussion day for me with my awesome friends from my awesome book club. It was another awesome day (I use this adjective a lot, I know), and I’ll talk about it in the book blog. One of our activities in that discussion was to pick song verses that describe a specific moment in our past, be it good or bad. It was a hard thing to do, since I have so many songs that were really more like life anthems, but after a lot of thinking, I finally chose a song and submitted it before I chickened out. I remember thinking, It’s going to be a bit hard explaining this, and I thought of writing a blog entry about it before Saturday came, but I just didn’t have enough time.

Well, I didn’t really have a hard time explaining it after all, because as cheesy as it may sound, I took it all from the heart. I’ve always believed that for difficult situations and sharings, you just really have to be honest and say it all from the heart and people will see that effort and it will be okay. And I guess it pays when you pray about these things, too.

Anyway, my chosen song was one of Switchfoot‘s old songs: Playing for Keeps. Specifically, it’s these lines:

A little history: I love Switchfoot, but I honestly didn’t really think of this song much until sometime last year. You know how you just get hit by a song at a certain moment and you just know that that song describes exactly what you feel? I had that moment with this song last year, and it made this a hit for me. Truth be told, it’s a song that I could’ve chosenall lyrics to represent that specific time, but of course I can’t take that much space. :)

Anyway, I had my own interpretation of the song, but what better way to really know what this song was about than from the band members themselves? To quote Tim Foreman:

Eventually I think everyone experiences a time when he meets someone very special or just grows tired of the dating game, and he doesn’t want anything to do with someone that he’s attracted to unless that someone is reasonably serious about creating a lasting relationship. He would rather have that person tell him “it’s time to move on” then to be strung along only to have his heart broken. This is what it’s like to be ‘playing for keeps’: to be looking beyond the present to a meaningful and lasting friendship.

My explanation pretty much falls on the same page…

* * *

but wait. Another anecdote. Soon after I sent the song to the discussion leader, I came across this article from Boundless. I must quote (emphasis mine):

…I asked half-heartedly, comforted by Scripture about having faith as a mustard seed — I barely had that. It’s not that I disbelieved God could bring me a mate, I just didn’t think He would. Still my heart longed to be married.

And on it went. Then one day I met someone who helped me see my prayers for what they were: faithless requests for something I wasn’t even sure it was OK to want.

Her name was Mary…She talked differently about marriage than what I was used to. She said it was a good thing, that God created it for our benefit, and that He still wants Christians to marry and have families. But she didn’t stop there. “Be open about your desire to marry,” she said. “Talk about it with your friends, just like you talk about all the other things you hope to do.” She even went so far to say, “In our anti-marriage culture you have to be strategic.”

I was embarrassed to admit my desire, and here she was encouraging me to not only acknowledge my hopes, but also pursue them.

When I read this article, I knew I sent the right song.

A few years ago, I asked myself in my now defunct cryptic blog, Why is talking about my love life such a taboo? Why do we don’t take it seriously? Why do we keep on laughing about it instead of admitting that we want it too? I don’t know the answer to that until now, really, but honestly, it may be because I grew up thinking that girls who think too much about their love lives and romance are silly girls, girls who don’t have time to do other things. Other, more important things. I thought I had so many other things to do first, and so I crushed those thoughts of wanting romance. Not just that — it’s also because no one ever really came near me back when I was younger. Perhaps it took me a while to bloom, or maybe it’s also God’s way of protecting me — I don’t know. But back then, the best defense mechanism against loneliness is to be busy, to laugh about the desire to be loved romantically and make it seem as if it’s not important, even when deep inside you’re crying and wondering what’s wrong with you because no one seems to want to pursue you.

It carried over until now, and I have to say that it’s still hard to get rid of that taboo mentality. But I’m trying. And if talking about it honestly in a roomful of people is a step towards it, then I hope this helped.

* * *

So back to the song. The thing with this song that struck me the most is how it asked for clarity. I was talking to a friend in a not-so-distant past and she was telling me that what I needed then was clarity. Everything was fine with me yes, but that was what I needed: I needed to clear things up. I need to get rid of the ambiguity because she saw that it was suffocating me. Of course, stupid me didn’t see it then, but I just nodded to keep her quiet. But it kept me wondering, though, and eventually, it bugged me too and I realized that yeah, maybe I needed brand new specs. Because there really wasn’t anything clear about what I was currently in.

Image from we heart it

Sad to say (or maybe it wasn’t that sad, now that I think about), I never really got my taste of clarity then. And while I don’t really regret things from that experience, it made me kind of sad knowing that I could’ve made it easier for me had I been brave enough to ask for clarity earlier on, instead of allowing myself and things to end like this.

I realized this: even if sometimes I just really want to know what it’s like to be in a relationship, I know that when I really look into my heart, I really am playing for keeps.  I really, really just want to be with someone who wants to be with me and wants me for keeps. Who doesn’t want that? And I’ve waited long enough — why would I go for something temporary?

And if we’re not on the same page…then it’s better to just stop there and adjust all expectations.

Again, I will put a disclaimer: I don’t know anything about being in relationships and all this blathering on may seem like it’s me being idealistic. Maybe I am. For all intents and purposes of guarding my heart, I don’t want to settle for ambiguity. I want the real thing, and if I believe that I deserve that much, then clarity is key.

And if it means having to ask the difficult questions, if I should let go or move on or if I needed to know my place in the friendship/relationship…then so be it. I believe that I’d get the courage to ask them if I need to, in time. And like what this guy said (although this article is for guys, I figure girls can also benefit with this advice): The momentary sting of rejection will save you lifetime of wondering.

Of course, I won’t know how it feels until I actually get there…but like I said, I believe that God will give me a the strength and courage to face that if and when time comes.

Because I believe that I deserve that much, I’m playing for keeps.

* * *

Here’s an end note. Things aren’t always going to be clear, even if you ask the questions. Or, if you’re not ready to ask questions, then it will probably be not that clear at all. But you know what? I think that’s where trust comes in. Like what Blessed Mother Teresa said: I never had clarity; what I have always had was trust. So I will pray that you will trust God.

I kind of really like it that my blog entries of late connect with one another so much. :)

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