Rings, Babies and a Steadfast Spirit

Ever have one of those times where you know you are being utterly ridiculous and yet you find that you just dive head first into it? Just me? Oh good.

9fdc122dc2de2dd09e55c2c0b7f97beb--funny-engagement-quotes-engagement-announcement-funnyI have a multitude of friends who are currently pregnant right now, like it’s crazy how many women I know expecting in the next three months. It’s that stage of my life where the weddings have subsided and the pregnancies have come flooding in. And I am so overjoyed for each one, to see God use my friends to raise up the next generation. Unfortunately I found that feelings and emotions of being left out, a reminder of the lie that I am alone kept bubbling up at times.

When I saw a woman I was distant friends with post that she was now engaged it caused all the emotions of being left out and doubting God to just flood out of nowhere. I am truly happy for her, but in that moment, I made it about me. I made it about the lies that are fed to us over and over again, to doubt God and to step outside of His promise for our lives. I was shocked at how suddenly it felt like a tide of just utter bitterness, jealousy and outright frustration with God Himself came pouring out of me. Y’all, it wasn’t pretty and it definitely wasn’t the marker of a  friend or a guarded heart.

It was a flashing warning light that an area of my heart had been breached and was undergoing attack. That I had allowed it to go unmaintained and unchecked because so easily I slip into this comfort zone of life and put myself on autopilot. For a bit I sat in that mood, in that temperament of just irritation and doubt. As I turned to the consoling nature that social media likes to tell us it is, a verse was at the very top of a post and it dug right into the real issue-a clean heart and a steadfast spirit.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10 

Jealousy and doubt had wormed in and shaken my spirit. I had allowed them in because I wasn’t resting in the steadfast spirit God establishes. Nope, I was resting in the comfort of my own strength (which is just weakness with an ego in the flesh) and my own way. I was deliberately choosing to doubt instead of trust in what I know to be true. To trust in WHO I know to be true.

And it’s hard y’all. It’s hard not to live in that jealousy and doubt, to not just walk away and do it in my own way, but He’s shown again and again He is faithful to what He has promised-which is my good. Not what I define as my good, but the very best that He knows there is for me. But I have to make the choice, over and over again, to seek Him to create that clean heart in me and to renew that spirit of steadfastness. I have to be dutifully firm in the spirit He has created in me. Unwavering when so many things seek to buffet me about.

It doesn’t mean I don’t get excited when friends share their news of an engagement or an expected arrival of a baby, or the purchase of a new car or a thousand other things. Because that is God’s goodness for them in their lives, and He’s got some pretty amazing things planned for me as well if I but remain steadfast in spirit. It means I deliberately choose to not doubt in those moments, but take them to Him with an honest heart.

The Single Writer Rant

Can I tell y’all something? I get a bit agitated when I read Christian single columns or books on dating. That’s my thing right? Like that is exactly what I’m working on a book proposal for, and I hate reading on the subject?

Yes, yes I do.

Here’s the reason why it bothers me so much.

Because at *almost* 36 years of age, I have a very hard time finding a substantive book on dating/Christian singleness that isn’t fluffy junk or preparation for marriage only written by another single Christian. Oh don’t get me wrong, there’s some good stuff out there and I am a big fan of several authors on the matter. The problem lies in when I scroll to their bio (on internet articles) or flip the back cover open. Every single one of them says “married to…” or “wife of…”

Yes I want their expertise and knowledge on this stage of life…but what if this stage is ultimately my landing spot? I want to know how to live in this place of life from someone whose navigating it themselves as a single. My ultimate goal in life isn’t marriage, and most days I don’t think about it. There are days I long for it, and pray about it, and my future husband, yes. (Y’all he needs your prayers, cause I’m obviously quite a handful) My ultimate goal in life is to live in obedience to God, moving ever closer to Christ and who He would have me be.

And so I bring my rant to you the church, to the fellow writers and singletons in the church…let’s step into our lives fully, and talk about them. Let’s be honest enough with ourselves and with our people to learn and grow from one another. I wouldn’t let a fresh out of college kid tell me about the navigation of retirement, so why sit back and let marrieds tell us about our single life? I bring it to the publishers, the editors, the curriculum people…singles in the church and out of the church need their voice in print, in studies, in in-depth richness that pursues more than a marital outcome, but a life shaped and molded for Christ’s use.

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?

 

My Extreme and His Opportunity

Earlier this week I shared a bit on the reality of a single. Most of what I shared was from a vulnerable place, but a real place nonetheless. It is one that I find I am not alone in feeling, as conversations have sparked with numerous friends after that post (and even before).

Over lunch yesterday I was talking with someone that I didn’t know a year ago. I had never met her, nor heard her story, and there we sat in the cafe at work discussing her family and mine. Our work life and our home life. I couldn’t help but put our lives down on paper in my mind at how different they are, with our commonality of pursuing God’s purpose for us and our lives.

The reality of both of our lives and the stories we are living out is that God meets us in them, in the hard and painful and in the joyful and contented. While my pain of singleness can often be hard to bear out, so can marriage and raising children. I can honor that and know that perfection and 100% satisfaction will not be seen this side of heaven. But it also shot through to me that in my extremes of life-job loss, singleness, illness, anxiety-God’s very present.

“My extremity may be God’s opportunity.”

-A.B. Simpson, Seeing the Invisible

When I am in extreme times of life, what if I considered those opportunities for God? In my agitation of extremity am I harming myself? others? my relationship with God? It’s difficult to see the opportunity when you have just lost your job, when that relationship has just ended. You can’t quite slap on the “glass half full” mentality.

But I want to see it as His opportunity in my life. I want to believe and hold fast that His miracle is at hand in my life. I desire that He shows up big and loud, and that it doesn’t have anything to do with me. I want that.

But I don’t ask for it. I don’t seek it out. I don’t allow Him the space in me, in my extremity to work. I get my hands and I mash up the clay He’s been forming, trying to make it into a jar to contain my life when He’s crafting a bowl to receive His goodness in. I don’t stop to see the opportunity for His work, but my chance at control.

I don’t live in the silence of opportunity, of His work, of the wait.

But I will. I must. I have to choose the cost of His opportunity in my life over the return of self, investing in His economy and not my own. Seeing the maturation of promises He gives rather than the immediacy of my will.

So I stand in an extreme, not wanting to be in the throws of my own will but in looking on it as God’s opportunity. Believing He is rather than what I think I am. Choosing His opportunity over my extreme self.

What If?

I sat there in a movie theater with a friend not really knowing what to say. We were at a screening and had decided to use the time to talk about some heart issues we both had been experiencing as of late. She looked at me with such fear and pain in her voice asking “But what if this is it?”

I looked at her and shared that I too had asked that same question, with longing, fear and pain. What if this is it for me?

She looked with such honesty, seeking an answer as if I held some secret. Me, another single female with a job and a mortgage. Me the woman seven years older, and supposedly wiser, yet still single.

What-ifOh my heart hurt, and friends, it still does…because this What If plagues us in some very quiet times-no matter our marital status. It whispers ever so softly that it echoes out into every corner and crevice of our lives. We begin to wonder what if this happens? what if that doesn’t? What if? What if? What if?

Those two words will slither and crawl throughout our lives when we are at our most vulnerable, when we aren’t on guard or we just aren’t prepared. I remember not too long ago my “What if?” snuck up and sucker punched me hard. I had to pull over because I had started to sob. It was speaking fears and doubts I had left unchecked and running loose. It was the reality of no control that I chose to carry with me as if I could control it. Oh that illusion of control will mess you up friends if you aren’t careful. You’ll think you’ve checked off this on your timeline of life and not its time to for that….when in actuality we are on God’s timing and that may mean you don’t get that, or not right now but when He believes you are ready.

I wish I could tell you that it’s easy to answer the what if of my friend, or of my own life. But it’s not. It’s difficult because the what if is a lie. It’s a lie of comparison. It’s a lie that our story has to be like that person or those people. It’s a lie that tells us that we can control it and we are in command. We aren’t.

You aren’t.

Neither am I.

So that night, after sharing that hard conversation with no answers with my friend, I began to wrestle once more with the what ifs? that were circling my own heart and mind. Then very clearly I realized that I had laid down that struggle before of my future but I hadn’t let go of my present. I was still wrangling it with both hands, herding here and there like wild cats. Yet God stood there all the while waiting for me to relinquish and rest. To allow Him His work and me to trust. I go before Him, even in the moments since, seeking to give my present and my future back over to Him when I try to pull it back.

It’s not mine.

Those questions? Well they are a lie that is used as a weapon to distract, manipulate and take us from His truth. And that’s when I cling to His word that tells me exactly where I am if I just keep faith and remember it’s not about me.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,  casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

1 Peter 5:6-10

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?