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.

Habits Not Exclusive

It currently smells of both gingerbread and balsamic-Dijon mixture in my home. It’s our first really cold day of December and it felt perfect to have a pot roast and some gingerbread to anticipate the season.

For a while I had joked about being wife-material with baking and cooking since I am single. However the more I have thought on it, I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. I don’t have to cook well and be a wife, I don’t have to be a poor baker and single.

Simply stated, this is something that I enjoy and not a means to snagging a spouse. I just enjoy cooking and baking. I prefer a homemade cake to a store bought one (unless we are talking about Cheesecake Factory). Putting heart and care into preparing a meal for myself, or for others, is something I just plain enjoy doing most of the time. (There are nights when a frozen dinner or chips and salsa are all that’s happening)

But I think we often want to talk about preparing for marriage in ways that aren’t spiritually or emotionally sound. Learning to cook should be for one’s own gain and not for the allurement of another. Our habits are not exclusive to our marital status. In fact they should be grown and groomed apart from that as we are unique humans who have the interests and abilities gifted to us for our own enjoyment. We shouldn’t want to better ourselves for someone else, but out of our own desire for that.

I couldn’t help but think of this as I have watched this season of This is Us and the dynamic played out by the twins Kevin and Kate. They both are in to being that person for other people in alot of ways. I was really impressed with Kate when she finally told Toby that she couldn’t make it work with him because she needed to do her weight loss for herself.

Bravo writers! Our own self and our hearts should be what motivates us to lose weight, to take care of ourselves, to delve into a new craft or hobby, to learn a new skill. You cannot live off of someone else’s approval or attention. The economy of trade on that does not sustain a person for long before causing suffering or hurt.

So learn to cook, or don’t. Go to that class you’ve wanted to take at the gym, or don’t. Learn to paint, or don’t. Watch football, or don’t. But let it be for you and who you want to be, not the expectation of someone else.

My Imaginary Husband Prayers Pt. 3

This week I have shared on how I pray for my imaginary husband. You can catch up on this short series with part 1 and part 2. I took a pause yesterday in the midst of a difficult week as I felt called to just stop in life and be present in a certain situation.

Today though I wanted to come back and share another area of prayer that I have for my imaginary husband. While this has centered on things I pray for him eventhough I may not know him yet, I believe that if you are dating, engaged or married these are just as helpful points of prayer. Often I find I don’t come in focused on my prayers and tend to ramble (much like I do around here).

This area of prayer today focuses on his inward self a bit, and how that is lived out. If I am missing one, or would like to share how you have prayed in one of these areas, please share below.

  1. Pray that he pursues passions and activities that are healthy. I know this seems rather silly but often I have found in dating that some activities guys pursue are not healthy and rather detrimental to their lives and those around them if left unaccounted for. (Galatians 5:16)
  2. Pray that he practices forgiveness in relationships. That he knows how to forgive and how to accept forgiveness as well. (Ephesians 4:32)
  3. Pray that he would understand and know how to rest. This is something I believe none of us know how to do well, and yet we never ask for ways to grow in that. (Matthew 11:28)
  4. Pray for his doubts, fears, worries. Pray for his desires, truths and passions. That his worries and fears, the doubts he carries would be released and that he would cast it all at the foot of Christ. That in his desires and passions he would be looking at them with Christ’s eyes.
  5. Pray for his prayer time. I know we discussed that in the first part but it is vital, just as yours is, to be praying for him in his prayer time. (Romans 12:12)

What do you pray for with your imaginary husband? Has that ever occurred to you as a single woman to do? If you are dating, engaged or married, what would you add?

A Joyous Engagement

Three. That is the number of friends I have that are recently engaged. And by recently I mean within the last four weeks. I am so excited for all three of them. The happiness I see each of them have in their relationship is just beyond words. You see it, and you get it.

As someone who up until October was in a relationship headed towards an engagement (and it was the worst idea for that relationship to head towards in hindsight), there’s a part of me that gets jealous of seeing it. Seeing the photo or the status update…Then comes the mountain of guilt because these are my friends and I want the absolute best for them. This is their “best for them” moment and time. This is their story God is writing, as He writes a different one for me. I happened to read this quote late last week and I was reminded of it again this morning.

And so, every time a jealous thought enters your mind, flip the thought and give thanks. Gratitude heals and prevents jealousy.“- Jessica Turner

Instead of allowing jealousy over a friend’s happiness to enter my heart and mind, I can give thanks. Thanks for the image of love to be born out through their relationship. Thanks for God using their relationship to provide an example for me. Thanks that a friend is in a joyous time of celebration and newness in their life. Thanks that it’s not about me, and I would do good to remember that more often than not.

A thankful heart focuses on others, while a jealous heart focuses only on the self. Congratulations to all of those who are recently engaged and planning for a new adventure in life! I am excited to sit back and watch God do amazing things in your lives as marrieds!

The Reality of Life.

Yesterday I failed masterfully at my blog post. I could blame alot of things but truly I copped out. 31 days of writing is difficult, I cannot overstate that enough, and I applaud those who write professionally because it’s a tedious, draining piece of art. So no more cop-outs. Let’s get in to today’s post, k?

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I think I could be accused of having whatever the opposite of delusions of grandeur is. The majority of those that know me or have worked with me in my profession can attest to this. I have seriously issues of what I lovingly refer to “realism” in my life. It finds a great partner in negativity and often pessimism joins in the club meetings.

I pushed hard for a couple of months to pursue writing more, and when life got a little too real and I was confronted with my own words, I stepped back. I started hearing the criticisms and voices direct my writing. I wrote from their place and not my own. It’s never good to write from someone else’s voice. Every writer will tell you it leads down a dark path to a very scary forest filled with doubt and fear.

Unexpectedly I had a friend email me and another encourage me over the last week in my writing. Writing that I felt was dry and forced because I just couldn’t drum it up. I couldn’t make the funny come and I couldn’t bring the cheer. I realized life isn’t always cheerful. There are days and weeks when the reality for many is just getting out of bed to do it again. Their cheer is found in surviving another day. Their joy is getting through a meeting without crying.

Sometimes you just need to acknowledge that life is real. It is difficult. There are moments when the smile is forced. There are days upon days that end in tears. There are weeks where rest won’t come. There’s no secret to gaining back the cheer or the joy. There’s no logic or understanding in it.

But there is one thing. One thing I know I can do in the realness, in the moments when phone calls leave you flustered and words do hurt. That is this:

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your path.

Proverbs 3:5-6

There is no adding to or taking away from that statement. There is simply living in it’s truth. I acknowledge Him in the days when joy just doesn’t seem to come, when life gets more real than I think I can handle. I acknowledge Him for what His work is and what He is doing to make straight my path.

Nosey Roseys and Debbie Downers.

The other day my friend posted on Facebook that during her normal nannying duties she had encountered a woman who said something rather shocking to her, in her singleness. It was incredibly invasive and ticked me off when I saw it. I jokingly commented to my friend that I would have asked the woman an equally snide and invading question about her personal life in response. (Sometimes I don’t take my own advice and pop off at the mouth, I am working on it y’all)

What my friend shared had me thinking about single lives (even when you’re dating someone) and how others (often married or divorced) feel it is their duty to tell you how to live your life. While I do understand and receive advice on specific situations from friends who are in relationships or married, I do find it unsettling when others offer up “sage wisdom” unwarranted and unasked.

When did it become okay to tell someone, possibly just an acquaintance, that they should really work on their fashion as that would help find someone? Or telling someone to harvest eggs just in case? Or my favorite on when you are dating someone is when people so lovingly tell you the way to keep your man.

We are society that has decided to butt into singles’ lives so that we can feel comfortable with our own relationships…with our own decisions. By telling someone they should think about ways to beef up their fashion sense, you are cutting their self-esteem and assuming they aren’t trying. Maybe, just maybe, they are comfortable enough with their singleness that dressing in a certain way doesn’t matter to them.

Do I walk up to you in Wal-Mart and tell you to wrangle your kids? Or offer ways for you to discipline them better? Do I chat over lunch that maybe your wife needs to cover up in order to not attract the wrong attention? No, I respect your boundaries and your life.

To all the marrieds, the long-term relationshippers, the divorcees, and broken-hearted people (there’s some of y’all out there too who willingly rain down on us fellow singlers), we ask you to stop. Stop butting in. Stop offering up unwanted and unsolicited “advice” to us. Respect the boundaries of our lives as singles. Let us share with you the good and the bad on our timeframe and ask for advice when we need it.

Joy Thief

I have to say for the most part I haven’t really compared who I am or the life I lead to others. I don’t sit and pine away for the life of celebrities in magazines or on television. For a while I did think the news anchors had a sweet gig, but that’s about as far as it got. I don’t sit and look at my colleagues at other places and wish I had that office or that promotion. I am just not the person who strives to keep up with the Joneses or Pitts. I have a blessed life that I am truly grateful for.

Photo courtesy of laurabunk.com
Photo courtesy of laurabunk.com

I have written previously about loving pieces of others-things I wish I could attain like a healthier outlook on my writing or shrinking my mancalves. Don’t get me wrong on this, I appreciate the beauty in others, their lives and their stories. However just as that quote states, if I continue down the comparison path, I will find discontent with the life I have.

I am just as unique as you are, as every one else is, therefore my path-my life-is unique to me. Why would I want someone else’s anything when I have the knowledge God has blessed me with everything He knows I can be responsible for? The Creator of all trusts me with exactly what I have-nothing less, and nothing more. (Let’s be honest, I sometimes manage to screw up even that.)

How is that for your joy? How is that for my satisfaction?

Maybe right now you are comparing your single life to a married one? Or let’s switch it, and say you are comparing your married life to a single person’s? Maybe you’re looking at someone who has this great boyfriend and you wish you had someone like that in your own life. Carry the knowledge you are meant for today. Exactly where you are. With exactly what you have. He wouldn’t have it any other way. So why should you?

“…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11