Single, weeks forty five and forty six. Life and change.

Week forty five
I felt really convicted this week about the way I spend my time. I don’t remember what exactly caused it. I think it was a combination of the book I am still reading (Crazy Love by Franis Chan) and the lives of some of my friends. Jesus did not come to this earth to give us comfortable lives in nice two story houses with the pool, the dog, and the luxury of “enough money to be comfortable,” a concept I believe is wildly distorted in American culture. I don’t think enough people understand that toilet paper is a luxury, let alone the Starbucks we always drink, the beauty products we buy (because the media is constantly telling us we need them), the cars we drive, the education we get, the food we throw away…. I could make this whole update a list of luxury items we take for granted, but I have other things to say, so I won’t. The point is, I feel convicted in the way I have been living my life. I have too much, when so many people have nothing. I sit in my apartment updating my blog on my iPad, giant mug of hot tea next to me, and enough income to keep the thermostat to the temperature I want it at, while so many people sit in dirt, freezing, unfed and barely clothed. And in the same city! How can I truly be a follower of Christ if I do not follow His example? I am tired of sitting around. I am tired of just talking about it. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted from the world,” James 1:27. “Learn to do right; seek justice; defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow,” Isaiah 1:17. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”Matthew 23:22-24.
And these are only a few. Jesus makes it pretty clear that justice and mercy and serving are highly important. So why do we focus so much on only what John 3:16 preaches? I am not saying that verse is wrong, or should be overlooked in any way, please don’t misread these words. But I do believe there is too much emphasis on “a relationship with Christ is not about works.” A true statement can easily promote false thinking if it is not taught in full context. Christ is not concerned with your earning your way into heaven. If you have ever tried it, then you have probably had (or still have) that empty feeling, like nothing you do could ever be good enough. That’s because nothing you could ever do will be “good enough.” Jesus wants you to turn to Him, but the more I learn about Jesus and the more I live this life, the more I believe that truly following Christ means action. It is easy to know what to do & not to do it. Doing what Jesus calls us to is a hard choice, but I know if Jesus is the one calling me to it, it is a choice worth my life.
Please pray for me in this decision. I don’t know who all reads this crazy thought process of mine, or how much you know/believe about spiritual warfare, but I can tell you from experience that Satan does not want advancement in Jesus’ Kingdom. What that means for me in this situation is stuff like getting sick and having to skip opportunities to serve, or being more emotional than normal. Anything that would keep me from carrying out what I want to do to serve more and act more on my convictions. Please pray that I would be well Sunday mornings so that I can participate in a breakfast outreach my church does around town. Please pray for the group that seems to be forming to look into living like the book of Acts. Please pray for our safety and well being as we consider what it looks like for our lives to follow Jesus the way the disciples did after Jesus left earth.

Well that was more than I was thinking I would be sharing… Anywho, on to week forty six.
This week was challenging in old and familiar ways…which can really be more frustrating than new challenges. I hold grudges. Not terrible ones, not with everyone, not all the time, but I do. I can be quite unforgiving if I have been burned enough by a person. I am wrestling still with what it means to forgive and let go of something when I can’t really let go of the person. Some people who have hurt me, who I struggle with really forgiving, will not be gone from my life. It is easier to forgive people I don’t have to maintain relationships with. I think it is a good place to be, struggling with this, but it is beyond frustrating for this to still be a problem for me, not to mention embarrassing when it comes up. I want to forgive, and unforgiveness can hurt others as well as myself. I think more than anything I become afraid of getting hurt again, so I keep walls up. The bad thing is, those walls manifest in unforgiving tendencies and unhealthy defense mechanisms. I wage war against those who have hurt me because I don’t want them to hurt me again. I hide behind my walls of unforgiveness and throw insulting defense mechanisms at people before they can throw anything at me (which is sometimes just truth I don’t want to hear from those people). Please pray that admitting this will help me actually forgive people in my heart this time.

Also this week, I have been dealing with feelings for someone I thought I no longer had feelings for. I really wanted to make sure I have feelings for him for the right reasons, and that I am as intentional about things as I can be so no one gets hurt if they don’t have to be. This led me to start to unfold what has been in the back of my mind for a while. I knew that I still have unrealistic expectations for a relationship, but I did not know how to go about addressing and fixing it. I decided to make a list of all the things I expect and try to understand which are healthy expectations and which are selfish ones. After talking with a few close friends about it, the biggest things that I need to work on (however that looks) are starting over and knowing that being committed to someone is not better than being single, just different.
The first bothers me the most. The last committed relationship I was in got pretty serious fairly quickly, and for about two years marriage seemed like the only possible future. I don’t want to go into a relationship with someone with the mindset that we have to be married. I don’t want to date around, either though. There is a balance I have not yet found between being serious about WHO I am dating and being serious about the relationship. I want to follow God’s leading in all of this, but I can’t tell you it’s easy. I want to make sure I date someone who lives up to a certain standard without piling on unrealistic or selfish expectations. I am just not sure I know how to start over in the whole “getting to know a guy” thing. I don’t want to freak him out by being too serious, but I do take dating more seriously than I used to. I keep remembering this week that God wants us to wrestle with this stuff, to try to get it right, to put effort into doing things the way He wants us to.
The second bothers me still, but not as much anymore. I do enjoy being single, and some of the aspects of this life. The same can be said of being spoken for, though. I didn’t always enjoy being in a relationship. It is difficult to try to mesh your life with someone else’s, not matter how much you like the guy (or girl). Most probably, you were brought up a little differently, you have different ideas about life or the way some things should be done, you don’t always like everything about each other. There are good things about both times of life God has you in. Being single you have a lot more freedom, but it can feel lonely sometimes. Being in a relationship isn’t always as lonely, but I can tell you from experience the loneliness doesn’t just go away, and sometimes you can even feel smothered by the amount of time spent with the other person. Sometimes I still buy into the Disney “happily ever after” crap. I want it to be easy. I want to be in a place where all my troubles are gone and I am never sad again, but Jesus doesn’t promise us that in this life. And think about it, if you put that kind of expectation in a person, they are probably going to try to runaway eventually…wouldn’t you? Simply thinking and talking about reality in this case is helpful to changing my expectations. It’s that other one up there that’s going to take a whole lot of effort and prayer and awkwardness….

So, one person has responded to me, like, ever… Share your stories with me! Whatever you want. If you write short stories, or if you have prayer requests, or if you think I’m a big dummy and want to tell me, or you have something you want to talk about…. I’d love to hear from you! :)

Single, week thirty two. Boxes.

What?? A timely update? Unthinkable!

Hey, thanks to anyone who read through the unusually lengthy update last week. I love hearing from you guys & please feel free to msg me here or on facebook & share your struggles, stories, prayer requests, anything! I promise I wont post it to my blog (unless you say its ok) 

Got three new journals this week! I love journals…

Looking back at this week, the theme seems to be “Take me out of the box you have put Me in.”  I prayed for help to see God above all else, even when others see Him differently than I do.  I don’t see God fully, I don’t think anyone does, but I want to see Him more clearly. I have never fully believed what Paul wrote to the church at Colosse; “Christ is all and is in all.”  It has become my prayer that I truly see Christ in all.  I can easily see Him in the similarities between myself and others, but I rarely see Him in the differences.  I want to be able to understand Christ differently, better. And I know I can only do this if I am open to what He does in my life, to be open to seeing Him in different ways (outside of the box I have put Him in).  

We had retreat this past weekend.  It was amazing.  I didn’t cry at all, not that crying is bad or something I am not ok with, but it was nice to look back on past retreats and know that I wasn’t crying because of the work God has done in me. I typically cry at retreats because God is walking me through something (or if we are counting leadership retreat this past summer, then because I am mad at Him).  This is definitely a good thing, and something I am eternally thankful for, but I am also thankful for NOT feeling like crying on this trip.  It was a time of joy and excitement and time well spent with friends, knowing I have matured in my relationship with Jesus. 

Our focus this retreat was Paul’s letter to the church at Colosse (Colossians).  It is a book I’ve never read, and I am glad we read it this past weekend.  The letter is a great reminder of Who Christ is, what He has done, who we are in Christ, how to live (and why to live those ways), and encouragement all around.  It was not something that was totally life changing; I didn’t have some great revelation or new understanding, but I am ok with that.  Sometimes we just need to be reminded of God’s goodness and ultimate authority.  Colossians may become one of my favorite books in the Bible.

Now, despite my clarity about what God has brought me through, I’m not saying I have nothing left to go through.  I have PLENTY left to go through, trust me ;) Remember how I said I’ve been trying to keep God in a box? I didn’t come to this out of nowhere.  After I got home from retreat I spent some time with some friends of mine.  Their relationships with Jesus look slightly different from (at least the way I perceive) mine. I appreciate these friends a lot. They are usually more logical than I am, and they respond to my sometimes overwhelming emotions very well.  I love the honesty in my conversations with them, and the freedom to talk about most things.  I realized, after they went home, that the way I perceive Jesus is incomplete.  I know my friends all have relationships with Jesus.  They aren’t perfect, and neither is mine.  I realized that I have come to see Jesus in a very specific time/ place/ space/ etc. I am, and will continue to be, praying that this changes in my heart.  I want to see Jesus as all and in all, as Colossians says.  I want to see Jesus the way they do; differently from the way I do.  I don’t want to lose sight of the way I see Jesus, just to add to my picture of Him.

So, since this blog is technically about my year of being single, lets talk about boys, ya? I have been trying to figure out my feelings toward multiple guys recently.  One of them IS the guy I had talked about when I started this blog. Some days I am so sure I don’t have feelings for him, and other days I am not sure what to think.  Ultimately, it has come down to a) its not the right time, so let it go, or b) God’s in control in the end anyway, so let it go. I recently thought I liked him again, but now I don’t.  It may stay this way for a while (which is one reason I don’t keep writing about it) or it may stabilize one way or the other.  I have come to a place where, either way, I don’t care.  If I like him, then I can learn to keep my heart focused on Christ when I like someone.  If I don’t like him, great! It’s easier that way anyway. The thing is, falling in love and getting married is not the most important thing; Christ is. I mean, think about it, you aren’t going to be with that guy or that girl forever really. But you will be with Christ forever if you chose to be.  Colossians 3:1-3 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things about, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is not hidden with Christ in God.” 

Don’t forget what I said about sharing with me! I’d love to hear from you all :D 

Single, week twenty-six. As Long as it Takes

I had a thought today that I haven’t had before. Well, more of a prayer, “If it takes years, then let it take years.” 

I have been looking at the women in my life, and where they are at in their relationships with God and with guys. I want to be where they are. I want God to be more important than a romantic relationship. How am I to be a Biblical wife otherwise? How am I to be forgiving otherwise? How am I to show the people in my life Jesus’ love if I am so focused on my husband? I want to keep this mindset. It is not often I feel this way. I want to be single as long as it takes for me to be ready, to be REALLY ready, to be in a God focused romantic relationship.  

I have been noticing a difference in my relationship with Jesus. It has been easier for me to talk to Him. It has been easy for me to know & to see in my mind that He is right next to me, to hear Him talk to me, and to feel His presence. It is so different and so great. 

This week has been really amazing.  Mostly this weekend.  I had to work Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and had other plans all three days.  It was very busy, and by Sunday morning I was very tired. Saturday morning before work I had prayed that God would give me energy to get through the day, and it was a great day.  Sunday morning I felt a little more tired and a little more pessimistic about how I would feel throughout my shift.  I was sitting on my bed, not wanting to move (probably with a scowl on my face) and God asked me “don’t you want energy today?” I was being so cranky I didn’t even want to ask, even though I knew if I tried to get through the day on my own it would not be a good day.  When I got to work, I found out I was working a baby shower, and not the restaurant, so that made me happy. There was a woman at the baby shower who caught my attention. She wore a very modest outfit, as did her three girls. They stood out from the crowd.  Later on I overheard that her children were home schooled. I also noticed the way she carried herself, and the way she treated her children and those around her.  She was loving, forgiving, and it was easy to see she had a genuine care for people.  I thought to myself “She must be a Christian.” And God said, “Well, go ask her.” “You can’t just ask someone if they are a Christian!” (*me telling God how things are aaallllways works ;p….) Anyways, I asked if she went to church (halfway following God’s leading, halfway because I was curious to see if I was right). Her face just lit up and she said yes. She explained her story a little bit, we exchanged phone numbers, and she left and I went back to work.  It was such a good reminder of God’s presence no matter where I am, and that I can be “at church” and at work at the same time.  

Something has been coming up a lot in my life lately.  2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  Romans 8:2 “because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Galatians 2:16 “know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.”  Works do not save me. Works do not grow me closer to Christ. They actually pull me further from Him. If I am trying to do good things on my own, and focusing on my actions instead of focusing on just BEING with God, I will become frustrated because I don’t do good things on my own. Experience has proven that I will fail myself, but God will not fail me. When I do ignore God’s leading and mess up, I need to remember that I am forgiven, and that because of Christ and the cross, I am not defined by my sin.  I have been redefined by what Christ has done for me. I am not a sinner saved by grace. I WAS a sinner, and AM saved by grace.  I have been and will continue to pray that this becomes my core identity.  When I messed up a little while back, I began to live again as though at my core I was a sinner.  Jesus has taken that identity, defeated it, and redefined me a saint. He has done this for anyone who chooses to follow Him, and it makes me sad to think of how many Christians never hear this, or don’t fully understand it. Without this identity, I know all too well the feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and shame, and how hard it can be to fight against the lies of the Enemy. 

abrupt stop? I think I ran out of things to say. Listen to this song. It’s a good one.

Single, week twenty five.

Two weeks, yet again.

I really don’t feel like writing today, so sorry if this post is lame.

I have been learning a lot about myself in the last couple of weeks. I have realized my priorities are more off than I had thought. I have still been too focused on guys, although I have been getting back to a place where I am growing in my relationship with God again. I have prayed that God take the things out of my life that are keeping me from focusing on Him. It had never crossed my mind that the answer to that request could be losing a good friendship (*not losing a friendship entirely). Through a conversation with this friend, I realized how much value I had been placing on the friendship. We both have agreed that the best choice in this situation is to remain friends, but not to be as close as we have been. It stinks that I have to back off of a good friendship, but I am happy that God is drawing me closer to Him.

I have also been praying that God changes my heart to more genuinely care about people. I find that I don’t typically take the time to ask people how they are doing, and I want to do that. I hate leaving conversations feeling like I am the only one who shared about how I am doing.  I have seen small changes, and am excited to see what God does in this area of my life. 

Ephesians 2 has come up a few times these past couple of weeks, along with other verses that are great reminders of the fact that I am saved by grace, and not by works. I think I have been living lately as if that were not true. I know it in my head as a fact, but sometimes I don’t allow it to become my identity. Christ has made me new by His choice, not by anything I have or could ever do. Allowing this fact to be heart knowledge, and not just head knowledge, has really changed my view of myself. I had been feeling unworthy, ugly, and unlovable (to a degree). This past week, however, I have liked who I am, at least more than I have been. 

One of the places this was brought up was at a group prayer time the church has on Sunday nights. Last Sunday (not last night) I got a text from a friend asking if I was going to prayer. I wasn’t planning on going, but I wasn’t really doing anything, so I went. On my way there, I thought of a number of things I could focus on. I decided to go with my low self-image, since that has been a problem for me in the past. God spoke through those who prayed for me into the other areas I was considering prayer for. I love the way He works! It is interesting to me how we can remain in the dark about a problem so long simply because we don’t address it as a problem. 

I have also had two really cool images come to mind.

the first was during prayer on Sunday. Jesus and I were standing in an open area in a forest. I had a lot of boxes behind me. The boxes were full of all my crap- every broken part of me, every sin I have ever committed, every time I turned from Christ. They were so full, a lot of them were still open. Jesus stood in front of me, took all my boxes, and put them behind Him. All that was left behind me was the brightest white light. 

The other image I had come to mind was during worship on Thursday. We were singing Awake My Soul  ( ) I had this image of Jesus and I dancing in a meadow. Ok, so that may sound like the cheesiest thing ever, but really think about it. Your Father, who embodied Himself to die for your sins and make you a new creation, alive in Him, is outside in the most beautiful place you have ever seen, and you are dancing together in celebration. It was something of what I hope heaven will be like.

A lot of the songs I have been listening to lately have felt like celebration songs. It is a strange and wonderful feeling to celebrate God. I have never felt worship this way. I would like to understand how to worship in ways other than singing songs. I love this form of worship, but I know our lifestyles and choices can be acts of worship. I want to understand this more. 

I am really excited for what this year will bring, and where god will lead me, as well as the church and my friends/family. I had a feeling last semester that it was going to be an emotionally difficult semester, but that it would be good. Last semester I learned the value of transparency, and was able to finally change my dating habits. I have grown so much, and I am beyond glad that I did not get married before. I am happy that I have the chance to do what I actually want to do, and to learn what I really want out of life, and in a life partner. I am excited for this year because I feel like it’s going to be a good year. I am not quite sure what that means, but I have really positive feelings about it. 

Well, sorry if that was a little jumbled or whatever. I am just not in a writing mood today. 

P.S. prayer requests- I have been documenting my dreams because I have really vivid and sometimes scary dreams, so please pray that God would make it apparent  whether this is a gift, or something I need to ignore or pray against. Also, the Peace Corps/ mission work has come up quite a bit the last two weeks. Please pray that if this is the direction I am being led in, that that becomes apparent also.  

Please feel free to send me your prayer requests, ways God has moved in your life, or ANYTHING else you would like to share with me. You should be able to post anonymously if you would prefer me not knowing who is talking to me :) 

Ephesians 2:1-10

Made Alive in Christ

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Single, week three. Being Happy with Singleness

Psalm 46:10

Cease striving and know that I am God.

One of this weeks devotional readings was a little hard for me to understand. It explained that the Bible tells us to stop struggling to have a relationship with Christ. I really had to think about this. I have always viewed my relationship with God as something I have to fight for. I still think it is, but i think I have been viewing the word “fight” incorrectly. Yes, I do have to fight against the things in this world that want to pull me away from Jesus, but this devotional made me realize that in order to do that, all I have to do is trust in God & turn to Him. As I was writing & praying that day I felt as if God said to me, “stop trying so hard & just BE in my presence.” I think by growing closer to Christ I am fighting the ways of this world. By thinking of it as a war that I have to fight, I am taking my focus away from where it should be. This is a war God has already won. All I need to do is spend time with the One who beat death & sin for me.

I am blogging from Arizona this week, which poses a whole new set of problems. Most of the guys here are really cute, and the weather begs less and less clothing from everyone. The lifestyle here is just much different than the lifestyle at home. I love being here & getting to spend time with my sister, but this week could definitely be a challenge in keeping my mind pure. However, I am no longer worried about my actions. After sharing with my group of friends at home, I have bee able to stay open with people and have been more convicted to text or talk to someone when I feel I need a distraction from a situation. Prayer and faith in God have been the two biggest helping factors in dealing with sexual thoughts and feelings of loneliness. I am so thankful to have such a faithful and loving God. I have found on multiple occasions of needing to give up these thoughts and feelings, a prayer is all it takes. Now, don’t get me wrong, there have been more occasions where it has been difficult for me to give these things over to God, but when it is more difficult, I know I am forgiven and loved.

There has been one person who has become increasingly difficult for me to keep out of my mind. The more time I spend around him, the more I realize I like him. I still want to be single and I don’t want thoughts of this person to overtake the things I want to focus on. One of the things that attracts me to this person the most is his heart for God. I don’t even want to date this person right now, but I want my thoughts of him to remain pure. I have been praying about it, for God to take my feelings for this person, to help me focus on God over him. If you are reading this, and you have a relationship with Jesus, can I ask you to pray that this person does not distract me from my own relationship with Jesus, but that my time with him would only strengthen that relationship?

I have been reading a book by Joshua Harris called “Sex is not the Problem (Lust is). This is a book I would recommend to everyone, whether you think you struggle with this issue or not. It has been a really good book, and has helped me realize the areas in my life that need to change to help me have a better and healthier relationship not only with Jesus, but with other people. I have been able to see some of the things in my life that are harmful to my relationships with others, and some of the things in my life keeping me from having a closer and more open relationship with God. This week, the most important thing I realized was how happy I am with the decision I have made to be single. I used to think that I was throwing myself into a near bottomless pit of unhappiness, but I feel so free and like I am growing closer to the person I have wanted to be. I am not afraid anymore to wait for the right person. I am not afraid that I am missing out on someone. I know God has a plan for me, and by learning to trust in Him and His timing I have already felt more peace and freedom than when I was dating a bunch of guys who weren’t right for me.