It’s time to come clean, to confess the compromises to my principals and beliefs over the last couple years and admit to the consequences of my choices. It’s like the song “Slow Fade” by Casting Crowns: “It’s a slow fade, when you give yourself away. It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray. And thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid, when you give yourself away. People never crumble in a day...” I didn’t set out to be in consumer debt again after working so hard with my ex-husband to get out of it. I didn’t set out to have an ex-husband. I didn’t plan to be dating in my late thirties proclaiming my boundaries publicly because our culture falsely dictates that hook-ups and friends-with-benefits are supposed to be normal not scandalous.
There’s a little known saying: “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” It’s a warning of sorts; the “little foxes” as they’re called in this Biblical passage are the little things that, over time, ruin us. The little foxes invade our thoughts, our relationships, our sensibilities and slowly eat away at the rich, ripe fruit we’ve tended to and watched grow. With stealth and cunning they sneak in and take and weaken and reduce our harvest. Little by little, day by day, without vigilance and accountability a luscious vineyard becomes a picked over field of lackluster fruit. Today, I look over a windy and battered vineyard that is my life and wonder... who have I become? I’m nothing like she who once was.
I know that life circumstances like mine lend themselves to a change in lifestyle. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it now; I’m blessed to have gone through this in the day and place we live. Had I been abandoned in a different time or country, I wouldn’t have fared so well. I have a job and community that supports struggling single women and doesn’t prey on them. I live a happy, comfortable, independent life that keeps me safe. It’s a good life I’ve been dropped into, but it’s different. I am alone; free and unfettered to and taste and see and hear and feel all that that I can... but also unaccountable. I don’t answer to anyone and, no one cares what I do with my time, talent or money... for me, this is the biggest little fox in the skulk.
Some people are loners and can effectively live and manage their vineyard on their own. While I am fiercely ambitious and motivated, I know that I am a companionable soul and work my vineyard best in fellowship. It’s not that I need someone to tell me what to do… no, no... I appreciate knowledgeable guidance but I’ll learn how to grow, water and nourish my fruit myself; that part I’ve got covered. It’s near the borders, where the creeping vermin sneak in, and in the bounty I have to share, where a companion, accountability partner, or teammate works best for me.
Let me explain…
If I am left to myself, yes, I want a vineyard capable of sustaining me, but so what if some of the fruit is consumed by pests? There’s still enough for me to live off of. Sure it’s not the best, it’s not the most, it’s not the smartest way to tend a vineyard but… who cares? As long as it’s enough for me, it’s good enough. But, add a partner to the mix, someone I know will also enjoy my fruit, suddenly I’m motivated to shoo those foxes away and build fences and borders to keep them out. Why? So I have more bounty to share with them of course! I have external motivation, someone else to give to, to share with. I have a reason to care.
It’s not the same as being desperate for a companion. I don’t need someone for my vineyard to grow. God has blessed me with a wonderful body, mind, soul and spirit. He has given me opportunity to grow good fruit. I do that, but there’s something about me that manages myself better when I know there’s someone else directly affected.
I lost my someone… my someones actually…
In the same amount of time that my ex-husband left, my kids transitioned from childhood into young adults, capable of making their own choices, quite independently of me. He didn’t want me. They didn’t need me. I, alone, was left to tend my vineyard, and the little foxes started creeping.
The biggest compromises came in the areas of finance and romance and it is in these two areas I must make my confession, but this is enough for now, confession is inevitable but it will wait a bit longer, just a bit...