The Gifts

It’s closing in on 11 a.m. on a Saturday morning. April in Tennessee has decided to be a snowy/rainy/wind-chill freezing kind of thing. It resembles more February than it does spring time in bloom. I haven’t showered and I have consumed two very large cups of coffee and one slice of toast. I am in my favorite winter pajamas.

I was thinking about how my singleness looks, about the contrast of life with my friends who text me photos of their kiddos or the friends I see posting about their babies sleeping through the night or husbands whisking them off to fun birthday weekend surprises. There are days, moments, times where I get that sinking jealous feeling of it all. I love seeing their lives, but there’s a small ache within of coveting, of wondering and of doubt that it will happen for me too.

But then there are moments like these, where I find the freedoms of my life to be quite nice. Where there aren’t plans for the day, or worries over planning around nap times. Singleness looks different for each person living it, just like marriage and parenting and pretty much every single thing about living life. One thing is sure though, is that this life and the time we are given for it is a gift.

This morning as I was choosing my time in the Bible I found the words of Paul to a fellow believer to be something I needed reminding of as well. Timothy was around my age as well, called to minister at the church at Ephesus at the time we read Paul’s words to him in 1 Timothy. And some of the people had taken to legalism in the church, things that were good and created by God were being used as a form of legalistic religion instead by the church to set themselves apart as more holy or more devout.

Paul works through identifying the issue and encouraging Timothy in the fourth chapter of his letter. There nestled in between how to treat church members and the mystery of godliness is a small paragraph on ministry, and this phrase: “Do not neglect the gift that is in you…” It reminded me that I too neglect the spiritual gifts given me by God, those that are specifically designed just for me by the Creator of the universe. He knew I would be the only one that could use them in such a way for His kingdom and His purpose in such a time as this.

He knew that the still-in-her-pajamas, unshowered single gal on a Saturday morning would use the gift given her for Him in the way He designed her to use it. Just as He did the friends who are married, who are parents, who are divorced, who are single too. He has given gifts that reside in each of us that I often forget and neglect, letting doubt fuel the misuse or nonuse of the gifts, letting the words of others cause my gifts to look like obligations or ones I wish I could return. But then I remember the words of James just a few pages over from Paul’s letter to Timothy:

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”

The Legitimacy of Singlehood

I write and delete quite a bit when I am writing on singleness. Because I fear what I say will be misconstrued or even so boldly taken as offensive. But what I struggle with more is the tension I feel within the church more and more for singles. My heart is for them, because I am one of them. It’s something I have grown into wrestling with over the years and now find as I look around the landscape a desperate need for us within the walls of the church and in the community.

You’ve likely heard the statistics that people now-a-days are waiting to get married later in life (27 ain’t that late y’all) and there are more singles than in years past whether from never marrieds, divorce, widowhood.

So we’re prevalent in numbers and also in need. We are a subset based upon our marital status has left us wanting community, wanting a safe haven, a place to be. To walk out lives of faith with others. Sometimes that means with couples guiding the way, other times that’s in similar communities, and invariably it means living life with groups of the same sex because we are often drawn to what we know and do daily.

But when I look at the landscape of churches these days, I don’t see much modeled in the legitimacy of singleness in leadership. Yes, you’ll have a handful in the pre-school or nursery ministries, maybe even in kid’s ministry that are singles. You’ll have a couple of singles leading life groups that are for singles. But what you don’t see are singles in pastoral positions for the most part. (I put a contingent on there because I know of ONE) I don’t see singles in other leadership roles within a church staff.

To me it seems that we aren’t counted worthy in the church until there’s a band attached to our fingers. That we cannot be taken seriously as leaders, servants in the church, unless we have a spouse. I understand the difficulties of leading in ministry, and when you are single, the inherent loneliness that surrounds you in that. I have seen it first hand and heard from others.

It just makes me wonder what the undercurrent culture we are building in the church is saying to those of us who are single. That we aren’t worthy? That we only matter yea far and no further? That we can be responsible for babies and teaching kids, but don’t get us near a group of grown adults? Or that we’ll read Paul’s words in the Bible, learn from words given him by God and then forget that he too was single. Or that frankly Christ Himself was single throughout His ministry here with us. The Son of God brought forth here in earth was never married. In His 30s.

And yet, we can’t be bothered to consider how singles can impact the world with their faith just by pouring a bit more into them? That we’d rather discount their abilities simply out of the lack of a spouse. We’d discount their calling God has given them, their spiritual giftedness, simply due to their marital status.

Maybe this is my soap box currently. That the church has moved corporately in many ways to the family, without realizing the very definition of family was long ago crushed and restructured by Christ-brothers and sisters defined by faith and not blood. That we are all the Bride of Christ.

A One-Woman Man

Y’all, I normally don’t post mid-day and rarely link to other sites to get you over there but singles, this one stuck. I wanted to share this post over at Desiring God with you as a means of conversation and dialogue, among both women and men.

Because it is needed y’all.

So here it is. 

I’d love to open up the comments below and get your feedback, your thoughts and well…just your opinion on this. It’s something I am currently writing about in the book and definitely feel the need to place on the table with singles (and marrieds too y’all…)

Bachelor Wednesday

Y’all, I know I said I’d be doing this weekly but if I’m honest I got really sick of watching the Bachelor the last couple of weeks. The main reason being I couldn’t understand the attraction and competition of these women to Nick.

I know some of this show is just the push to get “known” and then capitalize on that to be an internet ad for various products. I’m not naive enough to think they all are in love with this man…and y’all it’d be hard to anyways.

But I know deep down, many of these women are searching for love. They long to be filled with a purpose and mend a heart that seems to have been broken in various ways and by various people. I look at the finalists after watching Monday’s episode and think about how each of them are some pretty awesome ladies, ones that I would more than likely be friends with in a given context. When you have edited content of these women’s stories you can put together a little about why they chose to come onto a national television program to compete for a man. You can see the lies they have been sold in that they need him to make life better, to complete them, to know what love really is for them.

I think that’s why I stepped away from the last few weeks of watching and writing on it, because it just made me sad. That we as women, as a society, have accepted that this is what love looks like or that is what we should be pursuing. Instantaneous physical attraction and just a few hours spent with someone means a match for the rest of our lives? It’s an immature approach to relationships, and most importantly, to a commitment to marriage.

I wonder if that bill of goods is now the generally accepted law among my generation and the Millenials. I wonder if deep down we are okay with the dynamic of our culture in pursuing takeaway relationships instead of deep-seeded growth with one another. Instead of being known by another person deeply, we’d rather have the immediate perception of coupledom and being wanted?


Becoming the Woman He’s Praying For

Recently I was looking back through the archives here on the site, pulling some content to expand on for my book. A couple of falls ago, I wrote on praying for your future husband. As I looked through several of those posts, I realized I hadn’t really been paying much attention to that part of my prayer life in the last few months.

Part of the reason (or maybe all of it?) is as I have grown older I am coming to terms with my singleness, that perhaps it’s just not in the story of my life to be married. As hard as that is to type, it’s harder to face head/heart on. If I am really vulnerable with y’all here, I don’t think it’s truth though. I believe firmly God does not give us hearts of companionship with another if it’s not meant to be part of the story of our lives. I think we often supplant the need for His Presence with that of a person, pushing into relationships or elevating dating/marriage to the level of our relationship with Christ (that’s a whole other chapter in my book…).

As I started to kind of pull through the mess that was my heart, God’s will, desires and my writing on the topic I started to lean into a really hard question, and it’s where I land today:

Am I becoming the woman that my future husband is already praying for?

If he is praying for me, just as I am praying for him, would it not seem to fit that I would be pursuing the difficult, leaning into God, working through producing fruits of the Spirit? Before I get too far into this, let me also say that we shouldn’t base our growth as a Christian, as a person, on anyone’s desire for who we should be to them….Not in the least y’all, so don’t start down that twisted path of becoming someone you were not created to be. No, what I am pointing to is if my prayers for him are for him to become who God has created him to be, then I should be focusing myself as well on living into God’s will and design for my life.

Maybe the question needs to look more like this…

Am I becoming the woman God has been desiring me to be in order fulfill His will in my life?

I shouldn’t desire to fulfill a standard of a man, but when the man whom God has created for me to be his partner is fervently praying for me to be in God’s will, for protection from the enemy, to grow closer to God? How can I not desire those same things for myself? When I look at the ways to pray for him, am I also praying and seeking those same things for my own life?

Maybe it’s not about praying more for a spouse but being intentional to pray for that person to be who God created him to be, and then also praying for you to be the woman who God created you to be…After all, He’s still in the business of answering prayers if we listen and pray in His will, seeking wisdom and relationship with Him above all others.

The Why Question

“There’s a lot of second best available; just walk by it like it isn’t even there.” -Bob Goff

How I wish I could scream that from the rooftops for every single gal out there. It is something I wish I could scream into my own heart as well. I sat around a table Saturday evening over dinner with seven amazing women, five of which are single…and the question lingers among us, to our married friends, to our families…

The why.

We wonder it too, so please don’t think we haven’t thought it a million times in the quiet stillness of our lives as singles. I try to ward it off when I see it coming in conversations with the marrieds. It’s an unspoken nod among us women and we wish we had an answer, eventhough everyone else seems to have one for us. As I sat there there at the table I saw seven truly fierce women, each astonishingly beautiful, witty, smart and loving Christ.

Hey guys out there, you don’t have to search too hard to find us, we’re at Blue Coast having burritos and chips and queso. We’re going to haunted woods and getting up and serving at the church the next morning. So I thought of that quote from Bob Goff I had seen some weeks ago as I left dinner with these women because they fill my heart, and I want the absolute best for them and for myself as well.

But we choose second best because it’s easy, it’s comfortable and we don’t risk all that much. Even as I was prepping to write this I found myself giving up my best to be second and not getting someone’s best for me. I had to really reexamine my own best and how I was allowing the comfort of second best to be the best option for me, when in reality I should keep on walking….choosing that it’s not even there rather than see myself less than through the eyes of someone that is second best.

Ladies let me encourage you if you are struggling right now in the midst of singleness that second best shouldn’t be an option for you. You deserve top-rate, five star, award-winning. Not runner-up. Don’t be someone’s runner-up and don’t let your heart be the second best because it’s the first hurt, and that hurt runs so very deep.

Your answer to why may vary but ultimately I want each of you to confidently expound that why you aren’t with someone or married by now is because you are picking second best in your food, your job or your home why would you do that with a partner in life? I want the very best for you, and if you have girlfriends then they do too. Those friends and family that ask want that for you too. So why should we want less for ourselves than others want for us, than for what we want for our best gals?

Praying For Your Imaginary Husband

Often I have conversations with single friends who say they feel like the possibility of a mate is slipping away, that it’s possible it was all in their head and they made up the desire to want a spouse. Then I talk with some engaged and married friends (because it’s good to have variety in life) and they share how they had felt it was never going to happen for them when they met their (soon-to-be) husband or wife.

This whole topic has had me thinking for quite some time on how we approach the desire for marriage when we are habitually single, and quite possibly losing our hope of marriage.

I do want to state this upfront that I have a very firm belief that God gives good desires. He gives us the yearning of more of Him and the desire to not be alone. I also think that comes in many forms, but for some He gifts them the desire to marry, a desire so wholly in Him to be in a triune relationship with God and a spouse.

But for the singles out there, do you get tired of praying “Where is he/she already?” I know I have as I meet the half way point of my Jesus year (33 for those of you not keeping score). I have thrown the gauntlet down with God and challenged Him on many a quiet day. Shouts of anger and frustration have gone up to Him as well. While God knows our hearts, He also has a plan. I am sure if you’re single you’ve had Jeremiah 29:11 thrown at you on more than one occasion.

I realized that while my prayers were honest before God, I had also taken a slight turn toward petulance and selfishness in them. I am focused more on what He’s doing for me and not in me. While there are moments and days when I still cry out in frustration, I have learned through His teaching to be praying for that husband whose not quite in my life yet (possibly).

Instead of focusing on what I don’t have, how would it look if I prayed over the man He was doing a work in simultaneously? So that’s what I have been doing for the last few months. I ventured into a conversation with a friend on this topic some months back to see that he too was doing the same. He shared over on his blog about how he was praying for his future wife, which I found to be eye-opening as I hope my future husband is praying over me in much the same way.

So all this week, I am going to be sharing ways we as women can be praying for a future husbands, ones that may be in our lives already or ones that we have yet to meet. Join me on this journey as we pray for our imaginary husbands and refocus our hearts in loving others as we are commanded.

Already dating someone, engaged or married? Join along with us and be praying for him as well.