Singled Out in Prayer

Over the month of July I was out of town almost every weekend, traveling for birthdays, weddings and concerts. While it was fun for the summer, it also removed me from my home church most Sundays. If I am honest, it was also a bit of a breather as I have been in some major wrestling on the state of the Baptist church as a whole and specifically the Southern Baptist church which I have been a part of for most of my adult years (and all of my childhood). That’s at least a chapter in my second book for sure-how to wrestle in the Southern Baptist ring.

Last Sunday found my first weekend home in what felt like ages, so part of me was looking forward to being back at church and the other part was really just hoping to sleep in. The wrestling of my inner dialogue that many have on a Sunday morning hit full force but I made myself get my butt to a seat in our church plant service. I glance at the bulletin to see what Scripture we’ll be reading and see it’s the Armor of God in Ephesians…

WOOHOO! I missed the entire chapter plus on marriage!” was my initial thought. But then our pastor does the ole switcharoo. Preaching off script on marriage instead. The weekend prior I was at a wedding. The weekend before I was celebrating another birthday being single. Needless to say, my head and heart wanted to get up and walk out. My emotions were closing off and crossing my arms, thinking “well this won’t apply to me, should’ve stayed in my pajamas with coffee.”

This also fell after a conversation earlier in the week where it felt as though I was being single-shamed because I didn’t have a husband and kids to keep me busy and therefore could take on something. (For transparency’s sake, this wasn’t at my job) It may not have been the intention of the individuals but we all need some self-awareness of our words, even especially me.

So as I sat in the building God built, alongside brothers and sisters, I started having this conversation internally that I have to admit was Spirit influenced. God was being very direct that you know what, His Church isn’t me-centered, it’s Him-Centered. As it should be. And what if me praying for the marriages in that room was what He needed from me today. It wasn’t what I could get from Him but what He was asking of me, obedience in what can seem such a meaningless thing in the work of God but what He wants of me. Not to be me-focused, seeking Jesus-and out of life, but what I can do to serve Him. Giving up more of me so I can be fully who He knows I can be.

What would it look like to pray for every marriage I am around, that I know of? To pray over friends’ and families’ marriages that they would be God-centered, building a covenant relationship around love and respect, Biblical submission and leadership, authority and mutuality. That they would be the relationships I see as God-honoring and desire after the good things in those, rather than the Hallmark-saturated romance we are often using for relationships. How would the church look then? How would our communities and workplaces look?

Having that change of ‘tude made me grateful I had gone to church last week, that I’d been in a sermon on marriage and that even at the end our pastor made it a point to say he knew there were single individuals present and for us to be in fervent prayer for future spouses as well, just as he’d directed the spouses present to pray for one another. It was a reminder that I may not have a future spouse but I can sure pray for each and every one of them I know, and for my single friends as well to have spouses of the same prayerful focus.

I’m Loving It

It’s Saturday and here in Nashville the sun is shining and it’s supposed to warm up….why not share some things I am loving right now? You know, other than a good run outside. Cause last weekend I got in seven miles and it was glorious!

POUND

It sounds ridiculous but I love a fitness class. Mondays never looked so good than ending the day doing this. It’s fun, it’s a workout (yes, I hurt after) but I look forward to it. ABC News did a story on it and it provides insight on the class, and how it is more than a trend. New release music along with weighted sticks and fast cardio.

Judah and the Lion

This new release from Judah and the Lion, Folk Hop N Roll, is outstanding and completely different. It was released yesterday and I cannot stop listening to it. All day I had it in my ears and I think you should too. I jammed it while I ran, lifted and worked on travel itineraries. Don’t miss this album and the absolute gold that it is. All the way through.

DNCE’S Cake by the Ocean

Speaking of fun music, this song y’all. It’s one of the routines from POUND class and I just cannot stop listening to this song. When I looked up the band, I was shocked to see another Jonas brother behind a song I really like. They are super sneaky like that (also, get Nick’s album because yes). I love some pop music, always have and probably will when I am 80 if it gets me tapping my fingers.

Audiobooks

I was looking for something new to read as my current options were getting a bit worn. I thought I’d try some memoirs from female comedians I enjoy but instead of reading I got the audio books. With about 90 minutes of commuting each day, and running/working out several times a week I have loved listening to them! I have tried leadership books on audio and hated them, but comedic memoirs, yes! I loved Mindy Kaling’s book far more than Amy Poehler’s…I just kept expecting more from Poehler and it never got there. Mindy though, I feel like she and I are friends now in some common ideas.

Stepping Out

Right now I am stepping out of my comfort zone on some things and I am loving it. I am exploring some different ways to write, how to explore creativity and not accepting less than producing content. I am also seeking how to widen my net of community. It’s scary and full of possible rejection, but instead of having a negative perspective on it I am choosing positive turns on it. So I encourage you to go beyond the norm for yourself, find a challenge and pursue it, no matter what criticisms come.

 

Reinventing Definitions

In sixth grade I was placed in the honors program at my school. They called us gifted, but I believe it was more along the lines of showing boredom in the classroom so they wanted to push us harder. I appreciate that looking back as it ignited within me a deeper longing to discover more about who I was as a person.

One part of the honors curriculum was preparing to take the PSAT and learning 500 words and their definitions. These were SAT-level words which we had to know multiple definitions for, their correct spelling as well as their use in language. It was an arduous task but one that I thrived in completing. It’s in my genes, having a mother who transcribed for doctors for more than 45 years. I was fascinated with meanings and usages of words.

I learned through that process one word can have an array of meanings, especially in context and usage. For many of us we try to make one word define us entirely, putting us in a box or living into one conformed meaning. In reality our lives, who we are and what we are created to be requires multiple words that have complex definitions and applications.

I used to let the term SINGLE put me in a box. I used to let it define me by how others interpreted it, wrote on it, used it and applied it. Quickly I was living their definition of SINGLE and not my own. I let it tell me that being SINGLE meant I was constantly kept from enjoying life. That I was to commit to long hours at my job. That I was to pine away and be okay with missing out on things because of my marital status.

Screen-Shot-2013-09-17-at-9.38.14-PM-576x284My marital status does not define me. Not solely. It is in fact way down on the descriptors of who I am, what I am, the person I am living into and desire to be. There’s been a dramatic shift in my perceptions and my living when I stopped allowing others define me (in so many ways beyond just the one I am touching on here). Most importantly I realized that SINGLE isn’t a means of defiance on relationships, nor is it a stigma to be attached to a person, nor is it a binding agent segregating a population of individuals to be “lesser than” others who are not SINGLE.

For me when I now mark SINGLE in boxes the definition is more in tune with the verb form use of the word for me: choosing someone from a group for special treatment. It is not a definition of me. Of the person I am. It is an action. Because for me, and what I hope is true for you too, is that we stop being defined and start defining. We put action to our lives, to our words, to our hearts. We reinvent the definitions that have locked us in, kept us out, or shamed us into a box.

May we start living out what we desire for our lives, what we were created to be…only then can we decide what words define us.

Singling Out Saturday 2.15

“A woman’s heart should be so close to God that a man should have to chase Him to find her.”-CS Lewis

It’s the Saturday following Valentine’s Day. Many probably woke up thankful the day was over. Thankful to have that reminder of their singleness not be thrown in their face. I believe often in singleness (and too in relationships) we lose sight of what it is to be pursued.

I don’t mean by another person, but by God.

While I won’t go all cheesy, single Christian on you here…I do believe that my first pursuit should be with God. I should be seeking after Him and having Him pursue me. And He does that, relentlessly.

We look to God to be our guide, our example. Why shouldn’t that be the case when we are single in seeing what pursuit and relationships should be modeled after? It means work, it means time, and it means focus. For some, that just isn’t their way of living in a relationship or in singleness.

What if, though, it became that way for single Christians? That the focus was taken off of their status and put on the One who made them? That all the striving was for a deeper relationship with Him first, with no side intentions of finding someone else?

For me, it’s never Jesus and… It’s simply Jesus. I don’t seek after Him for what He can give me, I pursue Him for who He is. I firmly believe we need to be lost in Christ, in His pursuit of our hearts to fully understand and see the scope of our relationships, and our singleness.

Singling Out Saturday 2.8

Today on Singling Out Saturday I wanted to share this quote from Mandy Hale, author of The Single Woman. With Valentine’s Day coming up next week, I thought it might serve as a good reminder of who we are and not what our marital status is at present.

What we are waiting for

is not as important as

what happens to us

while we are waiting.

Trust the process.

I don’t know about you, but I often don’t trust the process. I think it’s something many of us have ingrained in us from an early age…question the process, doubt any feeling that is uncomfortable, be wary of what you are learning.

In the waiting of meeting someone, in the waiting of healing from a broken heart, in the waiting of a new adventure to begin…what if we relish the waiting room we are in? What if we chose to see waiting as a good thing that is perfecting us, refining us, and growing us?

Waiting doesn’t mean doing nothing, but it does mean trusting God’s process regardless of our desires and wants. It means finding who we are in relation to Him and recalibrating to be in His will for our lives.

So as we approach Valentine’s Day, let’s enjoy the wait and all that it affords us as singles.

Singling Out Saturday

I hope you all have had a great week! While it was an abbreviated work week, it sure felt full!

Today I wanted to share with you a quote from The Sacred Search by Gary Thomas. As you know from past Singling Out Saturdays, I am fond of this book. I think every single believer should read this, every Christian dating couple should study through it…

Making a wise marital choice begins with giving proper weight to significant issues-a shared mission and character traits

This of course must be framed within the context of a believing relationship. That is most vital in any dating relationship, and one that you cannot attempt to rectify through marriage.

While I am not yet married, I have experience in dating and let me just say…these come out pretty quickly early on in dating. You can choose to value them at the time or you can play them off as unimportant, but they will surface. It is your due diligence to value what you value and hold to that.

Don’t forego values and standards, beliefs and faith in a relationship simply to be with someone, especially if they are not a believer or they appease your values for a short time.

Singling Out Saturday 2.1

For those of you new to blog, welcome first of all! I have gotten to share this blog with people for over three years now and it has morphed and changed a bit since it’s inception on NYE years ago! Occasionally on Saturdays I turn the focus to singles (since I am one) and I like to share some words from another writer/author that is directly related to them. It might apply even if you aren’t single, so have a peak and let me know!

In doing research for the book I am currently working for, I dug through many books related to singleness, relationships, and dating. In fact I am still perusing through some as a means of seeing what it is that I desire to say that doesn’t fit with the current trends in writing. I stumbled upon a book written by Mandy Hale, a fellow Nashvillian and single lady, called The Single Woman.

The list below from The Single Woman I felt was apt as many are resolving to find love this year. Let’s get a conversation going, what are your thoughts on this?

Love:

  • isn’t possession
  • isn’t codependency
  • isn’t jealousy
  • isn’t neediness or clinginess
  • is not meant to complete but complement
  • isn’t toxic (oooh, so good and true)
  • is finding an equal match (something we often forget)
  • is letting go when you want to hold on
  • never requires me to sacrifice my dreams or dignity (something I have forgotten in past relationships)

*parentheses are my thoughts

 

Is there something on this list that shouldn’t be? Something you disagree with? Or do you agree with them all? Something you’d like to add to this list? Share below in the comments.

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Pick up Mandy Hale’s book, The Single WomanLife, Love and a Dash of Sass, at your local book retailer or on Amazon. Follow Mandy on Twitter @thesinglewoman and check out her Facebook page. She can also be found at her website.