Singleness and Community

Visiting new churches is difficult, no matter if you are a married or a single. I have mentioned this a time or two, and I know from friends that have kiddos that it’s especially hard to pull them up from the friend group to search out a new church home.

Recently I felt a bit uncomfortable with the comfortable nature I was feeling at my church of three years. The only tension I was finding was in seeing how comfortable the walls and rows had become with being right where they were. It bothered me so deeply that I decided to take a pause from my church and explore other options. Friends who are at other churches that I’d heard about or listened to their podcasts in the area suggested I check out their churches.

But I have to be honest here, I lost every bit of accountability the moment I walked out of my home church. If I didn’t show up that Sunday? Well that’s okay, no one would know but me…and God of course. And so for the past two months I have sort of coasted through this tension of my spiritual walk in finding a church based solely upon my expectations and not what the church is there to do-disciple and minister to the lost.

As I shared with a friend last night when he asked what he could pray for me on, I think I already knew where God was leading on this. Because as a single, we desperately need community rooted in the walls of the church. We need that accountability and that connectedness more than we need the church to live up to some expectation we have set for her.

For me what I didn’t recognize was a season of tension in my selfish expectations and the needs of the church right where I was at. I made it about me rather than about those around me. I directed it all inward rather than outward and upward. I pulled away from friendships and relationships out of a selfish need I discovered was rooted in lies, rooted in doubt and worry, judgement. Instead of taking it to others, I simply pulled up stakes and walked out.

When you are single, whether you are a leader in a ministry or even a pastor, you need that circle of relationships, you need the church and it’s community. You need the care and relationships that can sometimes be difficult and not what you expected, but it’s what God has placed there for you at that exact time. And it can be tense, it can make you want to turn and walk away. But more than anything, that’s when we need to cling even more to Him and His people. To the community. Even when we don’t feel like showing our weaker side, our doubt, our worry, our fears and our hurts. We like the comfortable when it comes to how we do church and community. We like the sheen of fine a bit more than we realize or admit. We worry about what will be said about us, instead of what we are living out of His Word.

It’s a difficult thing to admit you lived into your fears, doubts and anxiety. To admit you were selfish in your expectations. But it’s even more difficult to live it without community. Without the church.

Battles, Direction and God

If you haven’t noticed, I have been studying the life of David lately. If you don’t know, I am a Paul lady. Like hard-core crushing on him fandom. I have been for years. But the more I dig into David’s life I see why he was the man after God’s own heart. I see not so much the perfection of kingship, the shepherd turned victor.

I see the imperfect. I see the man. I see a man who went hard to be in wait for God’s promise, who was humbled in worship of God because he saw glimpses of the glory of God, promises fulfilled by only Him. I connect to the intimacy David sought with God. But the biggest piece I am learning in David’s life is that he went to inquire of God. Not of others, not of his own mind. He went to God before anyone or anything else early in his life (we aren’t to Bathsheba yet y’all).

Before engaging in a battle, he went to God.


I mean c’mon y’all. Do you do that? I’ll own that I do not. I let worry, fret and anxiety rule my mind and heart rather than going into intimate time before God to seek His will and direction in it. I either avoid battle or bear down straight into it a la Jon Snow at the Battle of the Bastards in season 6 (you know what I mean). I let emotions rule, or compartmentalize them away into avoidance.

Yet David, the great warrior and king in the Old Testament stops to convene with God, to seek God above all else. Because that’s what God desires of us, to seek Him out and be in intimate relationship with Him. To be the first we run to in times of worry and anxiety, not the very last.

It means instead of running through best and worst case scenarios, we run to His feet. Instead of searching through our friend list to text out for prayers, we search our hearts and minds for the lies that have shaken our foundation in Him. Instead of posting to social media vague diatribes for commentary, we sit in silence with God, listening for Him.

My life, my heart, could do with more of God and less with worry. Could yours? When the worries come, and they will, can we cling to God alone, taking them to Him and then listening for Him? Can we still our anxious hearts in the firm foundation of Christ, and allow our sense of control to be relinquished to God?  Can we turn to songs of praise in the midst because the Lord of all has given us a place of refuge and is in control of it all?

Psalm 34 is not only a song of David but a battle cry of facing anxiety and worry. It’s one that I have found to bring me back to intimacy to God instead of running after the fear misplaced in this world and circumstances. Recently I stumbled upon the Psalms album from Shane and Shane with their version of Psalm 34 as well.

I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!

 I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
    and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
    and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
(Psalm 34: 1-8 (ESV))


“Let go of dead yesterdays and unborn tomorrows.
The load of tomorrow, added to that of yesterday, carried today, makes the strongest falter.”

Yesterday I read those words.

They hit at a time where I was struggling to find words to encourage a friend because I too was hanging on to both dead yesterdays and unborn tomorrows. I was living not in the present, but in this in-between where both were being weighed against one another and loading me down.

I don’t know about you all but I bypass today. I look to tomorrow, the to-do list that didn’t get done yesterday, and the fret begins. I am always hanging on to past regrets, mistakes, faults to drag them to my tomorrows that always seem to have anxiety and worry attached preemptively.

It’s hard to live in today, as much as we want to do just that. So I leave those words above simply because I struggle with the exact same thing-even in this moment as I weigh thoughts and actions.

Worry Wart

I think if I could make a profession out of worrying, I’d be the CEO of the business. A Steve Jobs-level mastermind of it and ultimately creating an empire of worrying. Sometimes I keep my worries locked internally, running through so much in my brain that it overloads. Other times I share my worries, most often in the form of “scenarios” or “ideas” to others.

It provides a safe space for me to share, gain feedback all the while never disclosing how I am worrying over something. If I am asking alot of questions about something, nine times out of ten, it’s because I am ruminating on a worry. The last few months it reached a fever pitch with alot of things going on in life.

Last night as I was praying through a certain worry that has taken root again, my mind jumped back to Saturday night. I heard Ellie Holcomb (go buy her album, seriously) admit to being a worrier too. I also heard her say these words, “But you know, I have never worried when I have gone to bed at night whether the sun would come up the next day.”

Gut Check.

Heart Check.

Head Check.

I keep coming back to her words. (and alot more from Saturday night’s event, but that’s for another time…) Last night especially, and then again this morning as I awoke. Why would I worry about the sun coming up? I know the Creator put the world into motion, the sun in the sky and defined Day and Night. So I trust Him with that.

But not the stuff I believe I can control, right? The stuff I think might be too minute or even too complex for the Creator of the universe to handle…The world gets me wrapped up in circumstances. It attempts to define me (and many times succeeds) rather than allowing me to choose to be defined by God.

_5C_22For with God nothing will be impossible_5C_22_0A_0ALuke 1_3A37

In Luke, as Gabriel heralds the coming of Christ to an unsuspecting Mary, he closes the interaction with the words, “For with God nothing is impossible.” She had just found out she would be the one birthing the Savior of the world into life on earth, as both God and man. She did not stumble in her faith, asking for a sign of this wonder. No, she sought to understand by asking “How?”

That’s not worry, that’s unabashed belief. That’s seeking Him in the midst of circumstance. It is evidencing that God is not defined by difficult circumstances. In fact He keeps His promises despite them.

Instead of being the master worrier that I have worn like a badge of honor, it’s time to start giving the Master credit for His faithful and enduring promises, His acts of mercy, His glorious consistency, and unending grace. Maybe it’s time to give Him credit despite my feelings about a situation.

Maybe it’s time to relinquish my belief that something is far beyond His hands.

Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

Jeremiah 32:17 (ESV)

Hush Up

My mom worries about me. Then again, what mother doesn’t worry about her child? (I am sure there are some, but let’s not delve into that pit okay? K)

She really worries about me. How do I know this? Well occasionally she tells me. Other times she tells my sister, who then tells me. Like for instance, after my high school graduation. She worried that I would run off to join the circus and they would never see me again. A couple of things wrong with this scenario….one I had already made big plans for my future at UT, and two I am deathly afraid of clowns. The circus was not an option.

I also have a bit of the daring gene in my blood. I seem to find trouble, either physically or verbally. Granted I was a reasonably good kid growing up, I only got in one fist fight and let’s be honest, who didn’t want to punch David in the neighborhood? Mom worries my mouth will get me in trouble that I can’t get out of one day.

Lately, God’s been pressing that point in on me as well. He has been very explicit in telling me to be quiet and to listen. That has been incredibly difficult to bear, much less to follow through on. I want to scream. I want to fight it out. But more and more God keeps pressing His gentle hand over my mouth, whispering “Just listen.”

At first I thought it was to those around me, that I had been ignoring some things that were being said. Then I thought it might be that I was just hearing and not truly listening anymore. (As I told a student, those are two different things.) I finally got it though just yesterday.

I took a jaunt out to hike (another thing my mom worries about with me) and got just how quiet it was there. Normally I pop in headphones and listen to a particular album while I hike, but yesterday I just wasn’t feeling music. God knew I needed to listen, for Him. He pulled me out there in the great quiet to hear Him. I scrambled and slid to the base of a waterfall, and stood with eyes closed and a big ol grin on my face.


Because I was hearing Him, I was fully seeing Him. It was breathtaking and emotional. It was truth on display for me. He needed me quiet. All of me quiet. So that He could speak. So that He could show. That I would hear and see exactly what He needed me to see, about Him and about myself.

Sometimes we need only listen.

After all, most of what we worry about doesn’t come true and all that we hope for does, if we but listen and see.

In the Ivy

I am worn out.

For the last few weeks that seems to be my song every morning and every evening. Emotionally, physically and even spiritually just spent. When I looked around this weekend I realized it was striving for naught. It was alot of moaning and groaning with not much there.

I spent a good part of Sunday afternoon rooting out English ivy. For those of you who I am not friends with on Facebook, my new home has a bit of an ivy issue. I keep finding it rooted in places. I had tackled the front porch to some degree and gotten it to a manageable state. But I had discovered it was also in the back off the patio as well. I have taken to cursing the former homeowner in planting this monstrosity.

It. Is. Everywhere.

I learned something though. You see that ivy taught me a valuable lesson about myself, and the tired state of being I have carried around for the last month or so. While it may look pretty and put together, it comes to no avail. It winds through things and causes  much struggle and hassle later. That’s where alot of my striving has gotten me as well…it looks good on the outside but truly it’s just choking out the good within. It’s crafting kings of my own making instead of laying it before the One True King.

I have worn myself out at the foot of the Mount, rallying the troops to mold an idol that looks alot like myself, my concerns and my work. It looks nothing like the God Who reveals Himself in my life, Who reminds me that this is but a vapor and that I am to humble myself before Him with these things. He looks at how I spend my time, in worry, in fret and in fashioning empty kingdoms.

When I realize it, I have to root it out. I have to stop and put it down. I see how God’s anger burns towards creating anything apart from Him. It’s unholy. It steals from Him. It elevates me into a position I have no right to be in. Ever. It takes my attention from what He has called me to be, to do, and to love. Instead of striving for a title, for accolades or for favor, I must remain faithful to the work He has called me to do and the daughter I am in His kingdom. Nothing more. Nothing less.

May the ivy remind me that it’s never truly rooted out either. That it is a battle that wages daily, that I must take great care to not allow to choke out the good and true in life, blocking the view of the King in which I did not create but that created me.