Is singleness really a gift?

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I used to view singleness as a season, rather than a gift. When you view it as a season, you see it as a period of time to get through, perhaps enjoy, but a season that will definitely end nonetheless. We focus on the duration of the season, leading us to never realize what the gift of singleness actually means, what it really offers.

We get caught up on the superficial benefits of singleness that we unintentionally miss the spiritual growth awaiting us. We interchange singleness and independence quite often. For me, it’s been a time to focus on education, career, and being free and flexible to go wherever God calls, with little concern for another human being. But when married, you have to now consider your spouse, and once you have kids, them as well. Is this perhaps what Paul was referring to when he stated it is better to remain single in 1 Corinthians 7?

Can I say yes and no- what about maybe partially? It’s been hard for me to reconcile that would be all he meant- that you can’t do what you want fully because you have others to think about now. Because I’d argue with the right spouse, it would perhaps be easier to pursue your calling than it would if you were single. I have to believe it has more to do with our spiritual state and our relationship with God and less to do with our calling and what we are to accomplish here on Earth. I think he was referencing a level higher than we are accustomed to viewing.

As we focus on God, not just because we are supposed to but because we want to, things begin to change. This process has evolved for me. It’s like when you build a relationship with anyone; you enjoy getting to know that person and spending time with them- the more you learn, the more you know, the more in love you fall. I think I’ve just recently begun a process of experiencing God in a new light.

Not that my relationship with God in the past was bad, it just wasn’t as deep.

And when it’s not as deep, I think it’s easier for world to compete- for us to slide in and out of the world, for our priorities to become tangled, for our vision to become blurred. These were the times I struggled most with my singleness- the more my early 20’s grew into my late 20’s. The times I just knew marriage was in my cards because why would God keep anything good from me if He loved me? Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart, right?

My relationship with God very real at this time but perhaps more immature than I’d like to admit.

It’s hard to know what you don’t know at this time, but I’ve always pressed forward knowing God has a plan and that He loves me. I’ve never doubted that. And I think that’s what’s helped me to remain faithful.

Choosing to live more by what I know to be true and less by what I understand at the time.

But I’m just now realizing what a gift singleness has been for me personally. I’m at a different point in my life right now- a new point- where things are just different. My desires have shifted drastically- marriage and family desires perhaps still there in the background but an overwhelming desire to experience God deeper- trumping everything else in my life.

I crave it.
Crave Him.
Talking to Him.
Seeing what He does throughout the day.
Watching what He does through me.
What He allows me to do.
How He allows me to experience Him.

My love for Him has been what’s fueled my desire to “do” for Him, that I’ve only recently began grasp how much more He desires simply to “be” with ME!

He yearns for me. Longs for me. Where I’ve known He loves me, this is so much more. It fills me in ways I can’t begin to describe. There are no words. I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to experience the spiritual growth I have been lately without this time. How would I know I love Him more than everything I thought I always wanted if He had already given it all to me? He’s changed my desires and longings away from the things the world offers and more for eternal things- more for Him.

It’s not that singleness is a gift for us to be selfish and do what we want; it’s that singleness is uninterrupted time in our lives to spend with our Savior. To spend time with Him. Grow in Him. And fall more in love with Him. And for me, I don’t really know what could be a better gift than that.

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Release: My 2019 Word for the Year

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Consistency: Faith & Family- My 2019 Commitments. That was the original title of this blog post when I started writing it in the middle of December. I was so excited I had discovered my word early and happy with how crisp and clear my goal list was becoming.

And then something happened.

The last few days in December were spent going to church. Actually multiple churches. More than usual. I was on vacation and I found myself visiting churches I’ve never been to and spent some time just enjoying God and His presence. Sometimes I get so busy. Sometimes my checklist rules me rather than me ruling the list.

Rather than me enjoying my list.
Rather than me enjoying God.

I am such a control freak. I feel like I can fix anything. And I try. I’m a huge fan of “You do your best and God will do the rest.” The problem is, more often than not, my actions show “You do your best and God will allow you to do the rest.” As if I am in charge of it. Fixing it. Solving it. I do my best and it’s done. It’s hard for me to do my best and wait. Extremely hard. But I think that is where God is teaching me, leading me lately. To understand, more fully, that I don’t have to do it all. In fact, God doesn’t want me to feel I have to either. He wants to do it. He wants me to watch and see.

Release.

I never use this word in my vocabulary. I had to make sure I even remembered how to spell it correctly. But it became so crystal clear. Stop focusing on doing. Focus on stopping.

Release.
Give it to God.
Relax.
Stop.
Let go.
Be open.
Simply enjoy His presence.
Release.

It was like a ton of bricks had already been lifted. It’s not that my passions are wrong. It’s that my methods on how to get there just needed some tweaking. I needed to remember my place. My position. My role.

I’m not someone fighting on my own. I am the daughter of the King. I have Someone that goes before me, Someone that clears the path and fights on my behalf.

I wanted to be more consistent in my quiet time. My commitments. Spend more time with God. Less time in the world. But I’ve realized many of my goals, my previous words for the year, are all by-products of letting go and letting God lead. My job is rather simple. As I spend time with Him, He directs my path, my actions, my words, my time. And that’s all I really want in life.

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Be the day date, not the late night text

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I would describe myself as a nosy person. Always watching, observing, putting myself into situations I probably shouldn’t be in. Eavesdropping at the table next to me, telling the person I’m with to be quiet. Quietly observing the couple across the room to see how their first date is going. And awkwardly walking way too close to individuals sometimes. In addition to these observations, I have spent numerous hours helping people try and navigate whether or not someone is interested in them. Within these contexts, you begin to discover certain trends, how people operate, and even start to follow their thought process. I think sometimes we want to believe someone likes us, even when we know better.

We call any attention, good attention. Get hopeful. Get excited. “At least I’m on their mind.” “At least I’m attractive.” “At least I have something to offer that they like.” We downplay our strengths and start to compromise in areas we shouldn’t. We become a pro at making excuses for how others treat us. For what we allow.

This is just the world we live in today.
If you aren’t giving it to him, someone else will.
I have to go after what I want.
I can win her over- I like a challenge.
They aren’t sure yet, but I’ll make them sure.
Once they get to know me more, they’ll like me.
No one is perfect.

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, the late night text reaches our inbox for a reason. Someone is looking to boost his or her ego. They want your validation when the person they really wanted didn’t value them at all. They took a hit and are now doing whatever they can to make sure it doesn’t knock them down. They are afraid to talk to the one they are really interested in because they fear rejection so they reach out to the one they know will respond instead.

So be honest with yourself-

Are they keeping their options open?
Are they pursuing you without wanting a label?
Where do you fall on their priority list?
Are you part of their plans or do you they stop by and see you after?
Are you compromising in your physical boundaries?
Do you just hear from them when they are lonely?

And probably, most importantly, how does that person make you feel?

Because I think if we are really honest with ourselves, we know when we are being treated poorly, when we aren’t really valued. And over time, that begins to take its toll on our own self-worth, on how much we even value ourselves. We will slowly forget, that we are worth more than a late night text, more than a meet-up only when it’s convenient, more than the bones they keep throwing at us. We forget that there are still people out there who desire to show us to the world. Ones that want to show us off. People not only willing to make the effort, but ones that want to. Someone that values our character more than our sex appeal. Someone that likes us for who we are, not just how we make them feel.

So be with someone that is vested, not lonely. Be with someone proud of you, not keeping you his or her best-kept secret. There is risk in that, commitment that shows intention, and a realness that makes you feel safe. And quite frankly, I don’t think you should settle for anything less.

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No Guys in 2018: Sixth month update

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First off- how the heck have I made it this long?! I was a serial dater. Not a serial committer, just a serial dater. Jumping from one guy to the next. Giving guys the benefit of the doubt with no real commitment. Actually, if I’m honest, emotional commitment without the relationship label. But is that really even better?

If I could use one word to sum up how I’m currently feeling, it would be seasons. I think this word gets tossed around a lot without fully appreciating what it means. It’s like we are always hoping for the next season to come without fully embracing the season we are in.

I want to date.
I want to get a job.
I want to go off to college.
I want to be married.
I want to have a different job.
I want to have a kid.
I want to have more kids.
I want the kids to leave.
I want to have grandkids.
I want to retire.

Never fully satisfied and constantly searching for more. Aside from a few relationships, I’ve been single my whole life. But I think this is the first time I’ve been able to fully enjoy the season of singleness. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved my single years in the past. But I fear I wasn’t experiencing the freedom I thought I had at the time. A relationship wasn’t consuming my life but guys still were. I have never, in all my years, fully realized how much of my time and emotional energy had been spent on guys. Guys feeding my ego, guys as potentials, going on dates just for the fun of it (which I’ve come to believe isn’t a real thing).

But this year feels so much freer. Like really free. What other word can I use to describe it? A control freak who has given up control. A planner open to new possibilities. A deeper trust allowing me to live my best life right now. And most importantly, a life so crazy and full of impossible moments, that only God can get the credit.

I’m surprised by how much I’ve done so far this year. But most importantly, I’m surprised by how much I’ve grown. It’s been a time for me to reset. To really prioritize and be intentional with my time. To push my limits. To say yes to scary moments. To figure out what I want most and what I don’t. To hear God, free of distractions. Knowing that whatever God has planned for me is far better than whatever I could ever hope or imagine. I know because it’s already happening.

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What are your demons?

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Whatever it is that tempts us, whatever it is we struggle with, it’s there for a reason. What pulls at you the most? What is it that puts you in conflict- that has you questioning God?

It’s easy to say you’re good, if you never have the opportunity to be bad- to choose what’s right over what you want, over how you feel. No, good is choosing what is right no matter the perceived cost. The problem is most of us make our decisions based on our vested interest and selfishness is easy to hide. So how can we judge?

While our demons may not be the same, we all experience them in some form or fashion. How we deal with them, how we choose to handle them is what sets us apart. I went through the bulk of my temptations in junior high and high school. It was a war. A war many people, unfortunately, choose not to fight. They surrender. They give in. And most of the time, people on the outside never know the difference- never know the choice you made. Yet, we remember distinctly if we’re willing to face it.

There are times we pray for the temptation to go away rather than for the strength to overcome. And when the temptations linger, we question God, we question ourselves. But I think there’s a reason God doesn’t allow those temptations to go away so easily. If they go away, nothing changes within. The temptation may be gone but we are still left weak. In bondage. But what if instead we chose to take action. Fight. Sometimes God wants to show us we aren’t as weak as we think we are. Not when we have Him. That we are capable of choosing what is right even when it is the hardest. Isn’t that when our true character shows?

This is what I love about my no guys in 2018 challenge. I remember hearing a sermon years ago about a girl who gave up dating for 6 months. I was shocked. I literally said, “ I would never do that. That’s stupid. What happens if you meet your husband during that period?!” I don’t think I was spiritually mature enough at that point to understand the pureness of a heart like that.

For so many years I thought a guy could fill holes in me that God couldn’t. I wanted God AND a husband. I thought I knew myself. I thought I knew what would make me happy. God has slowly but surely been teaching me a new type of peace. I want God and that’s all. Not because I don’t want a husband, rather I want what God has for me more.

I feel what I always knew.

God wanted me to choose Him. Not when it was easy, not when it was comfortable. But when it was hard. Even when my feelings pulled me in a different direction, He wanted to know if I thought He was worth it. If I truly trusted Him as much as I had claimed.

I think I needed to know too.

How easy it is to trust Him when things are going well. How hard it is when things are not. We face these tests everyday. Tests that reveal to us who we really are.

So who are you?

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photo credit: emiel bleidd Defeating Demons via photopin (license)

Bachelor updates- Reaping What You Sow (Week Two)

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21 Guys going into this week and some of the real stuff is starting to show. The stuff behind the glitz and the glam. The stuff that may happen when cameras are gone. Emotions that cause pain and hurt. Uncertainty.

It was interesting to listen to the guys at the beginning and hear Blake comment, “one of you guys are going to get married.” Kinda shows where his head is at, at this point. The whole thoughts become words and words become actions sort of thing. Ironically enough, he was the only one chosen for a one-on-one date and the first one to get that privilege. Becca seems to really like Blake. He just makes sense given his recent heartbreak from someone he thought was ‘the one,’ as well. From my experience, it’s really difficult for guys to get over their exes, typically one specific ex. While he says he is ready to commit and fall again, and though he may want to, I still don’t think he is ready. However, I do believe the right person can change that.

8 guys went on the first date- Clay, Nick, Chris, David, Jean Blanc, Jordan, Connor, and Lincoln. Jean Blanc ended up getting the rose. I have no idea why. Lincoln won the challenge. Connor came in second. Neither of them should have gotten the rose either. Lincoln is just too much and sneaky in my opinion. He knew why Connor got upset. But acted like he didn’t know why to Becca. I’m still on the fence on how I feel about Connor’s reaction of anger because of Lincoln’s antagonizing ways. You want a man who gets angry at the right things and is still able to remain in control. However, I do like the way he redeemed himself later by having a picture of himself for Becca to throw and get rid of- symbolizing the fact that that person isn’t him. Who writes this stuff?!

10 guys go on the last date Garrett, Rickey, John, Ryan, Alex, Christon (pretty sure I thought his name was different in my last post), Trent, Leo, Wills, and Colton. They go play dodgeball and I just want to say I was super impressed by Leo. Anyone else? He is clearly too good for this show and I’m loving it. I also surprisingly liked Garrett this time. I really enjoyed how much Wills loves his family which is probably why he got the rose.

And then Colton’s big announcement- I thought it was about him being a virgin, yet it was about a weekend getaway with one of Becca’s friends. Hmm.. They had a spark but it wasn’t the right time to grow the flame- whatever that means. Umm maybe because he wanted to go on TV!! He said he wouldn’t have come on the show if those feelings were stronger so was he just basically using her. Hopefully we will find out tonight.

Becca Connor’s anger outburst and Colton’s past dating decisions, a lot of uncertainty is creeping into these “relationships.” While a lot of this show is probably fake, emotions are very real- whether we want to acknowledge them or not. This is why it is so important to be intentional with your choices. Neither guy could justify their actions because there is no right way to to say it. Bad decisions.

Jordan’s faces crack me up and keep me laughing. A mini Jordy?  LOL. I’m still liking David. He’s either going to be really cool or super weird. There is no in between.

Ironically enough, the two that had no date this week- Jason and Mike stayed, along with Blake, Jean Blanc, and Wills had the roses from the dates. Chris, John, Clay, Connor, Leo, David, Garrett. Nick, Ryan (so cute), Christon, Jordan, Lincoln, Colton were the others that received roses.

Three from the second groupd date left: Trent, Alex (weird crying), Rickey. That crying was just awkward. But sad at the same time. This is why you have to guard your hearts. This may be why people say I’m too guarded also haha.

I’m honestly wondering how some of these guys are staying but maybe they are better than the ones she let go. This is probably why I couldn’t be The Bachelorette. I would probably say bye to everyone but like 5 after the first night!

18 tonight, let’s see what happens.

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photo credit: gusdiaz Red is the first color of spring. via photopin (license)

30 plus 3 and finally free

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Married by 20. And then 20 kids. That was the plan. I was sure of it. My crushes on guys started at the ripe old age of 5. A new crush each year. Brandon in first grade, Brett in second, Shawn in third, a teacher in fourth, Jason, Shane, Doug… and the list goes on and on. In sixth grade I had made a list of all the guys and girls in our grade and coupled them off as I felt appropriate. Maybe that’s’ when my love for relationship topics, matchmaking, and unsolicited advice started.

Moving into my teen years, the Internet started to provide so many tools for my interactions with guys to flourish. I didn’t have to wait to see one in person, I didn’t have to wait for a call. Email, message boards, AIM, and the beginning of social media made a guy available to me at any time to satisfy my emotional needs. To make me feel worthy. To get my temporary fix.

20 came and went. I almost settled down in hopes of sticking to the plan. Thankfully, I realized ‘I had more time.’ I continued to enjoy the single life of my 20’s. I wasn’t too concerned…

Approaching my 30’s was different. I was older now. A real adult. Most of my friends now married with kids. Every song reminding me of my desire to be loved, every chick flick making me wonder when it would be ‘my time.’

“Maybe I need to settle. Maybe I need to learn to commit even if I’m not ready. Isn’t there such a thing as “good enough?” Am I being too picky? Maybe I can grow to love him. No one will be perfect. Just find a Christian, I can work through the rest.”

Thoughts flooding my mind. Talking myself into certain guys. Hope of finding true love dwindling. Rationalizing in my mind how many kids I could have and still be happy. Still have the big family I had craved for so long. Mapping out a new plan. Logically. Systematically. Planning. Seeking control as much as possible. Asking myself, “How can I still make this work? How can I still get what I want?”

But I think part of the problem was not really knowing what I wanted. Do any of us really know what’s best for us? Do we know what will cause us to grow? To make a difference? To feel at peace? To be fulfilled? When we are all alone. When we peel back all the layers of distractions that keep us from being real with ourselves, what is it we really crave? If we could eliminate societal expectations, what would we truly want? If we stopped limiting ourselves to what we could see, what would be our deepest desires?

God wasn’t done working in my heart yet. Still molding me into the person He knew I wanted to become. Knowing I crave something so much more than a husband and kids. Knowing I crave to have the purest of hearts, a love overflowing for people, a dependency only on Him. Chasing a spark that lights my fire when I’ve made a difference in someone’s life, the twinkle in my eye I get when I know I’ve spread a little hope to someone in need.

I’ve been a work in progress. Years of lessons. So many stories. Seeing purpose through the pain of multiple heartbreaks.

I’ve recently hit the point where I’ve changed. You may not notice it on the outside, maybe you do, but my heart is different. My passions long for something more, something deeper. While a husband and kids may end up being part of my story, they aren’t my story.

I can’t tell you what love feels like yet. True love. Soul mate type love. But I still believe it’s out there. And I can tell you what it looks like, based on knowing what love isn’t. I’ve experienced enough to know. Hitting this point at this age would have normally brought me into a state of desperation. No one would have seen that. But it would have been eating me up alive.

A husband…
Kids…
How will it even be possible? Options getting slimmer. Eggs getting older.

But I’ve changed.

I no longer need that text to feel validated.
I no longer need your time to show me I’m worthy.
I no longer need you to know that I am unconditionally loved.

You see 30 plus 3 and finally free has a deeper meaning for me. 33 was the age Jesus died on the cross so we could be free. Free from lies. Free from peer pressure. Free from society. Free from ourselves. Free from sin…

I wish I knew how to describe how I’m feeling but it’s beyond my comprehension. It’s not the peace I used to tell people I had, while looking over at the guy across the room wondering if he was ‘the one.’ The peace that was still anxious. The peace of knowing in my head God’s plan is perfect, but feeling in my heart a longing for human love.

No, this peace is different. This peace has thrown out all my plans. I’ve stopped thinking logically and I’ve given up control. I don’t want to be in charge anymore. I’ve just let go. It’s a peace full of trust and hope.

Hopeful of what is come. Hopeful to see the plans God has for me. Because this life hasn’t been a life of marrying young, with a house full of kids. This life has been so much more to me. Such an adventure. Full of things I didn’t even know I was capable of. Things I didn’t even know were possible.

I really don’t know what the future holds anymore but I am confident of one thing-

The best is yet to come…

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