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! :)